“How careful should we be not to put the cheat upon our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us daily beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves in the concerns of our souls.”
Matthew Henry, 1721 (Emphasis mine)
How we need to live in constant apprehension of the deceitfulness of our hearts, and of the insidiousness and power of our utterly corrupt sinful nature. In Galatians 5: 17 Paul tells us that it is always warring against the Holy Spirit in us to bring our soul back under the control of our evil passionate cravings. In respect to this constant battle, the writers of the New Testament are continually warning us not to be deceived.
“Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6: 9 -10 ) (Emphasis added)
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.” (I Cor. 15: 33 ) (Emphasis added)
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:16 ) (Emphasis added)
“Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil;” (I John 3:7-8) (Emphasis mine)
We can and do deceive our own selves, according to scripture. Our pride is the root of the deception.
“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you…” (Ob 1:3 )
“Stop leading yourselves astray. God is not being outwitted and evaded. For whatever a man is in the habit of sowing, this also will he reap.; because the one who sows with a view to his own evil nature, from his evil nature as a source shall reap corruption. (Gal. 6: 7-8 Wuest Expanded Translation) (Emphasis added)
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. (James 1:26) (Emphasis mine)
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8) (Emphasis mine)
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise” (I Cor. 3:18) (Emphasis mine)
Satan uses fellow human beings to deceive us and they are in the visible church according to the word of God:
“And they” (false prophets) “will not put on a hairy robe in order to deceive;” (Zechariah 13:4b) (addition mine)
“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.” (I John 2:26) (emphasis mine)
“They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls,..” “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption;” (2 Peter 2:13-14, 18-19)
“I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument,” (Col. 2:4) (Emphasis mine)
“See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men…” (Col. 2:8) (Emphasis mine)
“But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13) (Emphasis mine)
“…for this you know absolutely and experientially, that every whoremonger or unclean person or covetous person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God. Let no one keep on deceiving you by means of empty words, for because of these things there comes the wrath of God upon the sons of the disobedience. Stop therefore becoming joint-participants with them;…” (Ephesians 5: 5-7 Wuest ET) (Emphasis mine)
Satan has deceived the whole world. His has blinded the minds of those who are not in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He has placed false preachers, pastors and teachers in the body of Christ. Some are obvious and some are not. NEVER be lulled into deception by a “hairy robe” or some acknowledgement of supposed “learning”. He can have a wall full of diplomas or years of experience but if his message does not line up with the word of God, he is a wolf in sheep clothing. It is our responsibility to know what the Bible says and to be led by the Holy Spirit so we can discern false teaching and not be deceived. In Revelation 2: 2, Jesus commended the Ephesus church for exposing the false apostles that came to them.
Did you notice above that false teachers entice through our passionate desires? We need to guard our hearts against the desire to be someone important, be recognized or we believe we have some special revelation or some other prideful desire, which opens ourselves up to Satan’s manipulation and deception. Our goal as Christians should be to serve our brothers and sisters and be a living witness of the goodness of God.
Now may the Lord cause us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Bless His Holy Name for giving us instruction and warnings.
(All scripture is from the NASB unless otherwise noted.)