Final Thoughts on Deception
Final Thoughts on Deception — Jay Zinn
In this week’s blog, I want to offer these final thoughts on deception. In DG Blog-12, I shared that deception is the process of something done to ourselves and others (i.e., the blind leading the blind). This process comes in three forms:
- Self-deception. This is the most challenging and difficult form because “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9)?” We begin to believe something about ourselves that we are not and cherish exaggerated ideas about ourselves (Romans 12:3). The self-deceived individual lives a Christian life that isn’t real until a test comes along to challenge it.
- Being deceived. This happens when we are baited or seduced from reality by way of an appeal to our ego and pride; much like the man of God from Judah led off course by a reputable prophet (1 Kings 13). Being deceived by someone’s appeal to pride can happen anywhere, at any time. Give glory to God for all things good that happen in you and through you. Acknowledge what you know to be true about yourself under the magnifying lens of the Word and God’s eyes, and the grace bestowed upon your life to accomplish his assignment. In other words, whatever “public press” you receive from others about your talents and gifts, remember you received that from God, so boast in the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 2:26-31; 4:7).
- Deceiving others happens when we think we’re something we are not or know something we don’t. For example, if we think we are at level 9 (on a scale of 1-10), but we’re really only at level 2, we want everyone to think we’re at level 9. This creates an unhealthy effort to leave an inaccurate impression of where we’re at in our home life, spiritual life, or financial life. It’s a life about image and of living a life of lies layered upon lies and more lies. In the end, the charade gets unmasked because the Lord will expose it to others.
Three instruments of deception (according to Deuteronomy 13:1-15).
- Spiritual (verses 1-4)—dreams, prophet, or prophecy. God warned his people in Deuteronomy of spiritual This is the means through which the antichrist and the false prophet will deceive Christians. It will include false signs and wonders to cause unsuspecting, ignorant saints to believe their lies. Today, spiritual deception comes through popular, trending preachers and teachers who speak of a “new” and better way to see God. God’s attributes are defined through the lens of subjective, feelings-oriented opinions rather than objective truth with balance. They fashion another god of contrived truth they call “their truth.” They make God more comfortable and approachable for others by only selecting portions of the Bible that match the personality and character of their contrived image of God, which is, in fact, another gospel. This effectively lays the groundwork for the antichrist.
- Loved Ones (verses 6-8) — spouse, family, parents, or friends who buy into the spiritual deception of a new doctrine [another god], can exert significant influence over family, relatives, and friends. It’s hard to resist the pressure of family members and friends you love who have been led into deception. God warned the children of Israel about this in Deuteronomy 13:6-8. Jesus, too, warned that pressure would come from family members to abandon their assignment or faith. He experienced this himself when his mother and brothers came to take charge of him and stop his madness (see Mark 3:20-21; 31-35).
- Public Opinion (verses 12-15) — what everybody else is doing! We live in an ever-increasing cultural shift toward “mob rule” through the vehicle of social media and virtual shaming. It is where a minority of the deceived population carry the loudest “marketed” voices to deceive others who do not do their homework. It is the “lemming syndrome.”
The purpose of deception
As weird as this may sound when it comes to the church, deception is one way that non-producing branches are pruned from the vine. God is jealous over his church and allows deception to filter out deceivers from the flock. In their deception, they eventually move out of the mainstream and get stuck in an eddy of doctrinal error somewhere along the bank of the river—while the church floats on in the kingdom purposes of God. Paul speaks of such a pruning in his letter to the church of Corinth:
“I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent, I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” 1 Corinthians 11:18-19
Deception is the fruit of what is truly rooted in a person’s heart, exposing the deepest choices within, hidden behind the mask of religious activity. Deception comes from not loving truth enough, which makes people vulnerable to believing a lie.
“The coming of the lawless one [the antichrist] will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” 2 Thess 2:9-12
Deception touches every aspect of our daily lives in the areas of religion, doctrine, ethics, moral standards, intellectualism, fanaticism, mysticism, sexuality, spirituality, and politics. Our only line of defense is to know God and the Bible so well that we can measure all these categories of deception against the clear, concise, unadulterated truth of God’s Word. This is why I have made it a life-long practice to read through my Bible every year to know God’s Word well. It’s how Jesus resisted Satan’s attempt to twist the scriptures to manipulate and lead him off course and away from his mission. Jesus responded with quotes from the same Word Satan quoted to expose the devil’s one-sided, half-truths. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on Deception and that it has provided you with some understanding to safeguard your pure devotion to Christ.
Grace and Peace!
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