Have you ever been deceived? I have. Lots of times. When we believe something that is not true, that’s deception. It happens every day—by advertising, by politicians, by labels, by people who want you to believe something other than what is reality.
Deception happens for a couple of reasons: Fear, greed and pride are a few motives we have for deceiving others.
Deception is something that we can prevent most of the time. When people lie about a product by claiming it can solve all your problems or make you younger, or thinner, or richer, do you believe it and blindly purchase that item or that service? Probably not, because you’re savvier than that. Instead, the smart thing we do is to research the company, perhaps ask a friend or check the claims online, or pick up a copy of Consumer Reports.
The Bible nowhere presents an instance where lying is considered to be the right thing to do. The ninth commandment prohibits bearing false witness (Exodus 20:16). Proverbs 6:16-19 lists “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who pours out lies” as two of the seven abominations to the Lord. Love “rejoices with the truth”
When we read the Bible, we can know when something doesn’t quite square up with what God says is true. Read it often enough, and we can sharpen our discernment. But there are verses in the Scriptures that warn us to be careful; that deceivers will come and fool even the smartest, the most well-read student, the ones we always think are walking closely with God.
“Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. (Luke 21:8)
"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." (2 Corinthians 11:3)
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)
Some people are being deceived right now in these days. False teachers are everywhere. False doctrines, a different gospel, and even New Age demonic worship is being introduced into our churches through seemingly innocent books, music, videos, teachers and movements that claim to be biblical. And we’re eating it up!
People are being deceived. And Jesus compared false teachers to blind leaders who lead the blind. In the end, he said, both would stumble and fall into the pit—not just the teacher. That is a frightening thought. Because we know that even the elect will be deceived and will deceive others. Perhaps even us, if we are not careful.
We know we are to bring the Gospel message to people who haven’t heard. But many churches are making it their mission to do that in a way that soft pedals Jesus—and sells God out. He is somehow all about love and grace, and nothing more. With this Gospel there is no need to repent, there is no fear of judgment and in the end, everybody wins because we are ALL God’s children, right? We call this being Seeker Friendly, but its real name is deception. There is no need to twist the good news of Jesus Christ; there is no need to spin the truth. Paul wrote:
“…we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)
The first church did not practice to deceive and neither should we!