If you’re deceived, do you know it?
Let me ask you again, but a little differently this time: If you’ve been fooled or misled into believing something is true that is actually untrue, do you realize you’re deceived?
The nature of deception is such that, apart from God’s grace, we don’t recognize it when it has crept into our lives. And for that reason, we need to be diligent to keep a teachable spirit.
How do we stay teachable?
1. Return to God’s Word again and again. The Word is powerful. It is able to give you ever increasing levels of understanding as you read it, continually refining your theology to be in accordance with what God has said. It is more trustworthy than your favorite denomination, church, or teacher, and it is more reliable than the ever-changing philosophies of culture. Even more, it is exceedingly competent to convict you of sin. Let the Word of God saturate your mind and your life.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
“For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
2. Make it a habit to pray for wisdom. I think we would be surprised to see ourselves from God’s perspective and realize how much we rely on our own reasoning. Imagine how much we would benefit from continually asking God for the wisdom He promises to give!
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
3. Seek counsel and community. This is especially important when it comes to guarding against the deception of sin and pride. It can be so hard to see ourselves accurately. When we “do life” with other believers who love us, they can speak into our lives and gently correct us when we are off course.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (Proverbs 12:15)
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
4. When you “know” you’re right and others are wrong, ask God if that’s true. When we have strong thoughts and convictions, we believe that we are right. But when others are sure of opposing beliefs, they feel the same way. Someone is wrong and doesn’t realize it. Think of social, ethical, moral, relational, and religious principles, whether applied generally or specifically. We aren’t all correct, and none of us have perfect theology or philosophy. But how grievous when we refuse humility, choosing to fight instead. What if rather than raising our swords against one another, we prayed humbly? “Lord, am I right? Show me where I’m wrong. Don’t let me be deceived.”
“Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21)
5. Keep a heart of praise and gratitude. When we focus on God’s character and blessings, giving Him honor and thanksgiving, we guard our hearts and minds from being deceived.
“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
6. Pursue the things of God. Sometimes we are blinded by worldliness or our own lukewarmness. Our perceptions can be polluted and distorted by sin and the flesh. When we choose diligence and perseverance in the ways of the Lord, we keep ourselves on track.
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they do not make you useless nor unproductive in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the one who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)
Jesus won the victory, and one day we will see the full reality of that. But in the meantime, we have an enemy, Satan, whose main strategy is to lead people astray through lies and deception. He wants to undermine our effectiveness, destroy our lives, and keep us from bringing glory to Jesus. Don’t think for a minute that you’re beyond his tricks. You must be on guard. You need to recognize that you are prone to error, whether in theology, philosophy, or lifestyle. You must keep a teachable spirit.
Are you deceived? If you are, would you even know it?
The key is to remain teachable:
Jesus, You are the way, the truth, and the life. Help us to keep our eyes on you and to be teachable. Guard us from deception and pride. We want our minds, hearts, and lives to be pleasing to You. Thank You for all that You have done for us. You are good, and we can trust You. Thank You!
Kimberly Vaughn is The Connection’s blog editor, as well as a co-leader for their mentoring program, “Together.” She is a wife and a homeschool mom of two. Kimberly has a passion to encourage and build up other women, especially those who are hurting and broken. She has been involved in various aspects of ministry since graduating from Bible college over 15 years ago. It is her desire for women to experience hope and transformation in Jesus through the words she writes and speaks.