Voices from the Past
The Danger of Being Deceived

Johnie Edwards

The Gospel Guardian, 1966

When a person has been led to believe a thing to be true when it is not, the person has been deceived. God warned people in the Old Testament against being deceived. "Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them" (Deut. 11:16). The New Testament contains warnings against being deceived. "Let no man deceive himself... " (1 Cor. 3:18). "Be not deceived," are the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Paul warned the Galatians, "Be not deceived.. " (Gal. 6:7). The Hebrew letter contains a warning about deceit. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13).

People Are Deceived by False Teachers

When a teacher can persuade a person to believe a false doctrine the person has been deceived. Solomon said, "He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit" (Prov. 12:17). The Bible warns us against false teachers. John said, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). In describing such false teachers, Paul said, "For such are false apostles deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

Jesus said, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matt, 24:24) False teachers are very effective in misleading people many times. The only way to keep from being deceived by false teachers is to be familiar with the truth. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Another safe guard against being deceived by false teachers is to demand book, chapter and verse for everything which is taught religiously. If a teacher can not produce the scriptural evidence for his teachings, then we must not accept such as being true. These false teachers "serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly: and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:18).

Teachers of the word must use the word of God like Paul did. "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts" (1 Thess. 2:3-4). The word of God must not be handled deceitfully (2 Cor. 4:2).

Riches Deceive Folks

No doubt people who have a lot of this world's goods feel a great deal of security in such. But there is a possibility that riches can deceive people and lure them into false security. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warned us against such danger. "He also that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22).

A person may become so concerned over gaining material wealth that he will be led away from the truth and become a man of sorrows. Paul told Timothy, "For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:10). If a person has been deceived into believing that if he is rich he does not need the Lord and the Lord's church, he needs to read what Jesus said. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26)

Strong Drink Deceives

Solomon said, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Prov. 20:1). A drinking man thinks he can "drown his sorrows. " No really - he is just being deceived. I recently read a beer ad which told how a particular beer was sparking, tasteful and delightful. I thought that it could have read - sparkling, tasteful and deceitful!

Satan Is A Deceiver

From the time Satan made his appearance on the scene of time to this hour he has been busy trying to deceive folks. Paul warned the Corinthians about this. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). Satan is so sly that he "himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11: 14). John described Satan in this language: "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev. 12:9).

Now let's take a look at some ways in which people are deceived:

If A Person Believes He Lives Above Sin He is Being Deceived

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10). When every responsible person reaches the age of accountability he becomes guilty of sin. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). After a person has obeyed the gospel, been pardoned from his past sins, he can still be guilty of sinning. The passage in 1 John was directed to Christians. Yet in spite of this teaching, there are those who believe they cannot sin. Really, they are just being deceived.

Man Deceives Himself When He Believes He Can Sow One Thing and Reap Something Else

It has always been a law of God that we reap what we sow. Paul expressed it this way: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). When you hear it said, "Go ahead and sow your wild oats, everyone has to do that." You just remember this law of God--"you will reap what you sow." If you are led to believe otherwise, you are being deceived.

One May Be Deceived by Misuse of His Tongue

James said, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain" (James 1:26). One may render his service to God as vain because he has been deceived into believing that he can use his tongue as he pleases.

Many Are Being Deceived by Placing Their Faith in Tomorrow

Too many people plan to do that which they know to do -- tomorrow! Someone has well said, "Tomorrow is the thief of time." Solomon said, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Prov. 27:1). We all need to live each day as if it were the last, for one of these days will be. Listen to James on this: "Go to now, ye that say, To day or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil" (James 4:13-16). We need to learn to be obedient and faithful to the Lord today. "...behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:3).

[The Gospel Guardian, Vol. 18 No. 13, August 4, 1966]

Editor's Comments:

Excellent, Bible based article!

We want to note some specifics, but not in the order they appeared in the article.

First, as for Satan being a deceiver, we should well understand that he will not come out and tell someone, "Do what I want you to and join me in hell, 'where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched'" (cf. Mk. 9:42-48). No, if he took that approach, people would turn down his offer. So, the Deceiver dresses up his temptations. He emphasizes the pleasure that sin will bring in this life (Heb. 11:24-25). Too, he will attempt to hide the consequences of sin, both those of this life (AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, jail, death, disease, broken homes, etc.) and that of the next--eternal damnation (Rom. 6:23). As was pointed out in another part of the article, the Devil will try to convince you that you will NOT reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7-9). Don't be deceived (Col. 2:8)!

Second, strong drink, alcohol, intoxicating beverages deceive men. However, some Christians, even preachers, are saying that social drinking is acceptable, just so long as you do not get "drunk." A man wiser that any living today, yea, an inspired man, wrote, "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper" (Prov. 23:29-32). He not only points out the problem with drunkenness in verses 29 and 30, but also the problem with drinking intoxicants at all in verses 31 and 32. In the latter he points out the fact that you must avoid looking on the wine while it is still in the cup and looks so good. At the end, because it is deceitful, it bites like a venomous, deadly snake! Yet, some are defending a Christian's "right" to socially drink. Don't be deceived!

Third, sowing and reaping is a universal law of God. A point or two needs to be mentioned about this. Notice the text, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Gal. 6:7-8). God has established a law in the spiritual realm, and we need not think we can escape it. We cannot avoid the reality of it! Don't be deceived!

Beware, we will reap later than we sow, and more than we sow! Think about that. The farmer plants seed in the ground, patiently cultivates it over a period of months or years, and then receives a crop. For instance, with corn, one seed produces an entire stock with several ears on it, but only months after it is planted. Likewise, we will not see the full results of our spiritual planting, for good or bad, until later. When men teach a little error, their young disciples of the next generation can be expected to teach a lot of error (2 Tim. 3:13). When men teach that which allows the fellowship of one type of false teacher, then their young disciples will teach fellowship with many types of false teachers. We have yet to see the results of what is being taught in the present. Therefore, let us be busy sowing to the spirit to stem the tide of those who are sowing to the flesh (Titus 1:9-14). Don't be deceived!

Finally, let us understand that false teachers do exist and do seek to deceive people, often while being deceived themselves (2 Tim. 3:13). The writer of this month's article said, "The only way to keep from being deceived by false teachers is to be familiar with the truth." AMEN! Sadly, though, many Christians, including some who preach on a regular basis, do not know enough truth to recognize error! The Hebrew writer put it this way, "...you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:11-14). Ignorance is destructive to the child of God (Hos. 4:6; Isa. 5:13). If we are not armed with God's word, we cannot fight the battle against Satan and his agents (Eph. 6:10-17). Therefore, let us be diligent in our studies. Let those of us who are blessed to preach regularly, teach our brethren the false claims of denominational error (exposing it in the light, Eph. 5:11-13), so they may know the difference between it and God's truth. Let us show them the distinction between what some of our own brethren advocate and what the Bible actually says. Don't be deceived!

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