Deception is one of the things I fear the most.
I fear it because by definition if I am deceived I will not know I am deceived, and I cannot correct what I do not know is wrong.
Deception can come as a result of sin, pride or bad teaching, but contrary to popular belief it doesn’t usually come as a result of merely being mistaken.
There are usually plenty of warnings before a Christian becomes deceived.
Here are 5 such warning signs that often accompany deception:
1. The Bible contradicts what you believe. I believe God gave us the Bible so we could have an objective source of Truth. When you find people quoting the Bible to you to show you are wrong, and you still believe you are right, there is a good chance you have become deceived.
2. Those God has placed over you disagree with you. Your parents tell you you are wrong. The person discipling or mentoring you tells you you are wrong. Your pastor tells you you are wrong. You don’t think you are wrong. You may be deceived.
3. You believe you are the exception to the rule. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians not to be deceived by thinking the principle of reaping and sowing did not apply to them. (Gal. 6:7). That’s what happens with people who are deceived: they think that they will be the exception for whom the rule does not apply.
4. Your beliefs followed a change in your behavior. You see this all the time with divorce. A Christian believes divorce is wrong (except for the few Biblical exceptions), then their marriage gets tough and they decide “God won’t mind if I get divorced because He just wants me to be happy.”
5. Those who know you best have warned you. It’s usually those who know you the best and love you the most who are most likely to tell you the truth. When you decide you know best you may be crossing the line into deception.
I had a pastor who went off the reservation, became a Universalist and ended up dismissing just about every belief central to Christianity. He was my pastor, mentor and a very close friend. I warned him. Other elders in our church warned him. The men he set in as authority over his church warned him. From what I hear, he still thinks he knows something none of us knows. Even the fact that his church has dwindled from 500 people to 30 didn’t shake him from his deception.
I’ve also seen this happen with Christians who do not go to church. They will tell you the Bible doesn’t really require you go to church. They will say they get fellowship outside of a local church. They will tell you church is a probably a good idea for most Christians but that really doesn’t apply to them. They’ve had all five warning signs above, and they don’t see it. And, of course, they don’t see that one of the reasons they should be in a local church is to be surrounded by a community of believers who love them enough to tell them when they are deceived.
Don’t think the rules don’t apply to you. Don’t disregard what everyone around you has told you, and don’t disregard what the Bible says. Don’t be deceived. GS