When have you ever believed something because of what someone else said or maybe what you decided on your own? Have you then shared your belief on that particular subject only to have someone else respond, “Are you sure about that?” Fact is, there are some things that we get wrong because we base our answer on what others think or what we think ourselves. We get in big trouble when we start making choices that way. “Jo said it wouldn’t break!” “I thought it was right not left.” “I know I gave him our car but the man said he’d bring it back.” Be careful about what other people say. Be careful about what you tell yourself.
This is THE problem that the human race has had from day one. The problem we have is that we’re gullible. If someone were to tell us in just the right way that a dog was actually a cat, we’d believe it. We have trouble believing a lot of what other people say. Still worse, we far too often believe what we tell ourselves. This is what got us in trouble in the garden of Eden. Look at Genesis 3. God’s law was simple: don’t eat that tree. There was nothing complicated to figure out. There was no trick. No mystery. Simply, don’t eat the fruit of that tree. But, believe it or not, Eve allowed herself to be deceived by Satan. Later she would blame the devil because he deceived her. Apparently it wasn’t very hard. Satan came along and acted like he was the authority on what God did and did not mean in His commands. Eve brought in sin because she listened to someone else (Satan and herself) instead of God. In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul said “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
The problem of being deceived when it comes to God and His truth has continued throughout history. This is one thing that we see warned of A LOT in the New Testament. We are cautioned not to let ourselves be deceived by others but also not to deceive ourselves.
“Do not be deceived” is found many times. It is obvious that there were those going around who were changing the Gospel’s condemnation of sin. Christians were starting to take lightly any threat of Hell-fire against sin. “It’s not a big deal.” “That’s not sin.” “That won’t lead to Hell.” Look at Paul’s answer to that in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul said for them not to kid themselves. they shouldn’t listen to others who say sin is ok. They shouldn’t listen to themselves justify sin. This is what is said many more times. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of [sin] the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6). “Let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous…whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil” (1 John 3:7-8).
“Do not deceive yourselves” is also found several times. It is too easy for us to do what we want, when we want, why we want and not take seriously what God says about the consequences of sin. That’s why we have Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” We can deceive ourselves into making sin out to not be so bad. We can deceive ourselves about our own wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:18), our own self-worth (Galatians 6:3), our guilt when we sin (1 John 1:8), why we are tempted (James 1:16), failing to do God’s Word (James 1:22), and not controlling our tongue (James 1:26).
Satan has been lying from the beginning. He is still lying today. He is trying to get us to listen to others who are already deceived. and he is trying to get us to do things our own way and blind ourselves to the truth. The lesson here is this: DO NOT BE DECEIVED. How do we know whether we are deceived or not? Go to God’s Word and listen only to Him.