The Power of Deception – Part 2
The Power of Deception: Part 2 — Jay Zinn
In today’s world, deception is not new. People are assaulted daily with scams, shams, and fraud in many areas of their lives. We don’t have to wait for the antichrist to come along and pull off his trickery. There’s enough of it already coming at us from the devil, corporations, organizations, oligarchs, political ideologies, the media, governments, scientists, political parties, and, yes, even religious organizations and leaders. We can do it to ourselves, too, and not know it.
Paul addressed this concern to the church in Corinth, Greece he had planted:
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough (2 Cor 11:2-23). —NIV
I boldened the words, “led astray,” because that happened to me (as I shared with you in my last blog). It means to be “taken off the beaten path into the brush and tall grass where danger lurks.” The Greek word phtheiro (translated as corrupted in the KJV) speaks to a shriveling or wasting away of our fruitfulness. Our minds are defiled and led away from pure devotion to Jesus whenever we use the scriptures to promote devotion to our own self-glory. Self-glory is always rooted in the sin of pride and comes directly from the schemes of Satan, who went from glorifying God to glorifying himself. Here’s what he said:
I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Satan chose to place himself above God, led astray by his own deception (note the five “I wills”). He tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and become like God by twisting God’s words and led her astray from the truth. The young man who deceived me went from pure devotion to Jesus to glorifying himself. Like Eve, he ate the forbidden fruit of self-enthronement. Satan took the bait of deception, Eve took Satan’s bait, the young man took the bait, and I took the lure of the young man that led me into deception. How does this happen?
First, we need to understand that deception involves the following:
Fundamental distrust of God.
Satan was not content with his role and purpose to lead the host of heaven in the adoration and worship of the Creator. He looked at his beauty and wisdom and chose to distrust God’s purpose for himself. So, he dethroned God and exalted himself to the throne of his personally contrived godhood. Satan then enticed Eve with “godhood” and distrust God’s plan for her life. She placed her trust in Satan’s lies. In the same way, I put my trust in another man’s lies about who he said I would be, rather than what God intended for me to be.
Satan disobeyed God by leaving his post and led other angels astray. Eve disobeyed God by listening to Satan and ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She led her husband into the same act of disobedience from God’s plan for their lives. I disobeyed God by listening to and following this man who appealed to my ego and pride. He told me I was a handpicked disciple by the manchild himself. I liked that. Who else, but I, right?
Rejection of the way of love toward others.
Satan turned from adoring God to adoring himself. To idolize oneself over God is to love only those who love you with unconditional loyalty. Once loyalty comes into question, the deceiver rejects and crushes the disloyal party to protect his throne. It’s a false love with strings attached, not the pure love of God.
In 1 John 4 and 5, the apostle clearly shows that loving God includes unconditional, selfless love for members of God’s family. Deceivers don’t care about God’s family above themselves; only those he or she can deceive into becoming unquestioning, loyal followers who the deceiver eventually separates from the main flock of God. My deceiver isolated me from the family and my spiritual leaders. According to him, I didn’t need fellowship with others because his mission and assignment transcended theirs.
When considering the potential we all have to be deceived by others, and how to guard ourselves against it, we need to understand that we are a part of the problem and not merely a victim. God didn’t treat Adam and Eve as “victims” of Satan’s deception and give them a pass. He held them both responsible as well as Satan. Because, in deception, we inadvertently refuse to trust God, obey God, or walk in authentic love toward others.
Three forms of deception
The second thing we need to understand is that deception is a process of something done to ourselves and others. This process comes in three forms:
Self-deception: something you do to yourself.
Being deceived: something others do to you.
Deceiving others: something you do to others.
Deception is to believe something is right when it is inconsistent with scriptures, inalterable facts, and principles. A person convinced that orange is blue is deceived. A person who believes 2+2=5 is deceived. An atheist persuaded that God doesn’t exist, is deceived (Psalm 14:1). Radical Muslims who are sincerely devoted and passionate in their convictions toward Allah and his prophet Mohammed, and who will strap bombs on themselves to kill infidels (i.e., all who do not embrace and practice Islam), are deceived.
The natural outcome of deception is to share false beliefs with gullible people who are convinced and won over by the deceived person’s passion and sincere devotion to their convictions. Leaders and members of socialistic parties are confident in their ideological persuasions. Atheists are passionate in their beliefs. Islamists are devout in their religion. The young man who deceived me was excited and convinced about his assignment. But they are all “sincerely” wrong.
The self-deceived will deceive others who are being deceived by someone who is self-deceived. Like the antichrist will be. And those who are becoming deceived, end up becoming deceivers themselves like the blind leading the blind. Sadly, this process can be just as prevalent within the Christian community in the smallest cultural, political, or doctrinal matters that divide us.
Grace and Peace!