The mere possibility of falling into this kind of deadly trap ought to be enough to breed extreme humility in the most experienced believer and most accomplished church. It ought to call us to radical commitment to measuring our lives by what the Scripture calls us to be and do and by nothing else. It ought to make us willing to listen to criticism–even criticism from those who openly oppose us (in this regard some of my strongest opponents have served me best because had no interest in sparing my feelings, as friends sometimes do, and therefore have spoken honestly, if harshly, about my faults).
Have you ever noticed how many times and how many ways the Bible warns of being deceived? By clear admonition as well as by graphic example God repeatedly calls us to be on our guard against believing lies. That’s what deception is–believing what is not true. It is one of the great works of the enemy of our souls. So the Lord repeatedly warns us about it in Scripture:
- Luke 21:8, Jesus warned His disciples: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am [He],’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them.”
- Romans 7:11, Paul describes the role of deception in his spiritual bondage: “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed [me].”
- 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul identifies “cheap grace” with deception: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
- 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’”
- 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
- Galatians 6:7, Paul warns those who think that they can get away with sin: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
- 2 Timothy 3:13, This is a problem that will constantly threaten us in this life: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
- Titus 3:3, It is the very condition out of which we have been converted: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”
- James 1:16, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
- Revelation 20:8, 10, It is the devil’s design to “deceive the nations.”
This is a mere sampling of the Bible’s warnings. Deception is spiritually deadly because at every point that you believe lies you cannot believe truth, and it is the truth that sets us free and by which we are sanctified (John 8:32, 17:17).