Summary: People are deceived oftentimes. How can we overcome deception?
Deception is the act or state of deceiving or of the state of being deceived. The dictionary says to deceive is to mislead by a false appearance or statement. Sounds like the kind of environment we live in.
I was reading an account of California’s most colorful stagecoach robber, “Black Bart.” For 6 years starting in 1877, Black Bart committed 28 robberies wearing a flour sack over his head, brandishing a shotgun demanding, “Will you please thrown down your treasure box, sir?”
He was wounded in his last robbery, dropping a handkerchief with the laundry marking, FX07, which was traced to San Francisco where the police made one of the most surprising, arrests in city history. Black Bart the stagecoach robber turned out to be Charles Bolton, one of San Francisco’s leading citizens with close ties to the police department. He had a reputation as a non-smoking, non-drinking, God-fearing man with big business interests in the gold mines. The citizens of San Francisco were duped into deception, deceived by someone who had the appearance of one life but was living an entirely different one.
We also have experienced deception in our lives, hopefully being more on the deceived end than the deceiving. It happens in family life. Look at the recent conviction of Scott Peterson, he deceived his family, his wife and a woman who thought him to be divorced and he tried to work his charm into deceiving a jury into believing he did not kill his wife. It happens in the workplace. Top officials at major corporations in recent years have been confronted with deceptive business practices, deceptive ethical practices and a list of other deceptions which had not only affected them but the people who worked for them. Government has bore its burden of deception over the years and deception is not been isolated from the confines of the church. We have read of the scandals and seen the results when deception runs amuck.
As we continue our study in Galatians, the Apostle Paul is addressing the issue of deception and its devastating consequences to those pulled into its web. Turn to Galatians 1:6-9.
The New Living Translation says, 6I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way 7that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ.
8Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. 9I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person.
We need to ask ourselves, how do we tell truth from a lie? How do I know what the pastor is saying is the truth? How can I prevent myself from falling into the trap of deception and following after a false teacher? How can keep myself from being cursed by God forever?
Paul, in this passage is speaking his disappointment to the Galatians who so quickly followed after false teachings, people who twisted and changed the truth concerning Christ then he comes down hard on those who have lead them away, the false teachers, the false prophets who set themselves up letting everyone else down.
Lets talk today how we can prevent that from happening to ourselves. I want to give you some guidelines to use to enable you to make decisions based on knowledge not falsehoods.
1. Read Your Bible. Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:14-16 14Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
You have to know the words of God to protect yourself from false teachers who swoop in and lead many astray. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, with each temptation, the devil presented a part of the truth. How often do we hear something and think, you know, that sounds right, and often it is right, just not fully right. Jesus responded by giving the full council of truth, the Word of God says.
Fertile ground for recruiting for cults comes from the ranks of believers who have not been exposed to the whole truth. Jim Jones actively recruited from the Northwest among people who would have called themselves Christians.