If Satan had a middle name,
it would be DECEPTION. Since the earth was formed and Adam and Eve were born, Satan has made it his goal to deceive mankind and draw them away from the Truth. He uses different tactics to match perfectly the weaknesses we each possess. For Adam and Eve, it was the desire for knowledge; for Abraham and Sarah, it was the desire for a child; for Jacob and Esau, it was the desire for the coveted birthright; for David, it was the forbidden fruit of another man’s wife; for Judas, it was thirty pieces of silver.
1 Peter 5:8 (NASB) tells us to “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” What does this say to you? If the above-mentioned patriarchs and even one of the chosen twelve followers of Jesus Christ could be duped by the devil’s deceitful ways, what chance do we have? Only One—that of daily throwing down the gauntlet of Jesus Christ. We are to be on the alert and guard our hearts and minds against the schemes of the devil. “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 (NASB)
Now, let’s get down to where you live. What does deceit look like in your world? Sometimes we do or say something that seems so innocent on the surface, and then are shocked when it unfolds into a terrible mess. Shakespeare is often mistakenly credited with this illuminating quote: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” (It was actually penned by Sir Walter Scott (Marmion, 1808). No matter what the deception, does it not usually end in regret? As a child, my moments of terror over being found out were much worse than the actual punishment I received for breaking a rule. I have seen that same look of dread in my granddaughter’s eyes, and I find it difficult to keep a straight face.
A less familiar quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe states: “It is better to be deceived by one’s friends than to deceive them.” It sounds like he may have known Jesus, or at least adhered to His teachings—“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31 (NIV). I was deceived by a group of women years ago, and I will never forget the terrible ache in my heart. As I readjusted my emotional compass—through lots of prayer and a dear friend who listened to my tale of woe—I was able to move forward without striking back. I came to realize that they were not Christians and would be watching my reaction. I’ve never been sorry that I remained faithful to God and the Golden Rule—deceit did not win that day.
Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV) states “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” This verse gets to the core of it—we are all born into sin and are able to deceive even ourselves. It is only through a daily relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit’s presence in us that we have the power to reject thoughts that lead to deception. Verse 10 goes on to say “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” There is a reward for doing life God’s way.