A friend’s mentor asked him, “What do you think is the worst thing that can happen to any human being?” After reflecting for a while my friend responded, “Premature death!” “No” his mentor replied. My friend was surprised that his answer was wrong. So he took a much longer time to think about his next answer. Thereafter, he confidently said, “To die in abject poverty”. Again, his mentor said that is not true. After a few more guesses, my friend gave up on trying. Just then his mentor came to his rescue and said. “The worst thing that can happen to any human being is to be deceived!”
In his second book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell describes a concept he called ‘thin-slicing’. He explained thin-slicing as the human ability to discern facts (or better still, truth) from a very narrow period of experience. It is an idea that spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones. Thin-slicing could also mean having instinctive knowledge of something. According to Gladwell, we lose the sharpness of our instinct when we take an introspective look at issues.
Thin-slicing or the use of instinct is one of the proofs that human beings are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. Our thin-slicing ability is actually God’s way of protecting us all against deception. Therefore, it is important you pay attention to what your instinct tells you. While there are deceptions that can be detected through analysis, there are some that are so subtle that the more analysis you do, the more confused you become. Yet there are some that look so real that you would want to bet your life on their authenticity.
Types of Deception
There are two broad categories of deception: physical and spiritual deception. Both have deleterious effects but spiritual deception is, understandably, more lethal. The potency of spiritual deception lies in the fact that it is a cocktail of truth, half-truth, and lies, in varying proportions depending on the person it is targeted at. It takes a spiritual rebirth (being born-again) to see through spiritual deception because its chemist is Satan himself. “A person who isn’t spiritual doesn’t accept the things of God’s Spirit, for they are nonsense to him. He can’t understand them because they are spiritually evaluated” (I Corinthian 2:14, ISV).
The sub-categories of deception – the areas you must watch out for deception – are: lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, which we are told in 1 John 2:16 are not from God. Interestingly, these were the areas in which Satan attempted to deceive Christ (Matthew chapter 4).
Fatal Consequences of Deception
Check out the root causes of wars, terrorism, corruption, murders, kidnapping, hunger, lack and deprivation etc and you will find deception. Everything evil that we see around us today is because somebody was deceived.
Warning against Deception
There are several Bible verses that warn believers not to be deceived. Why? First, it is because Satan, who personifies deception, and his agents dwell among us. Second, the entire human race is a victim of Satan’s deception of Adam. This was what brought about death in the first place. Lastly, victims of spiritual deception will end up in Hell (second death). The above explains why God would not have us to be deceived.
Insurance against Deception
Self-interest is at the centre of all deception. When you’re greedy for gains, you risk being deceived. In the Garden of Eden, Satan said to Eve concerning the fruit of the tree that God warned her and Adam not to eat, “You shall not surely die: For God knows that the day you eat the fruit, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5). The allure of becoming a god was irresistible to Eve, so she believed Satan’s story and ate the forbidden fruit. She also gave it to her husband to eat.
The best insurance against deception is choosing not to be selfish or better still, not being greedy for gains. This was how Jesus overcame Satan’s deception; he rejected Satan’s food even though he was hungry. He also rejected Satan’s offer of fame and riches.
We also have our insurance against deception in Proverbs 4:23. It reads “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT). I explained how you can effectively guard your heart in detail in my book LIVE THE SIGNIFICANT LIFE. Suffice to say that the reason believers are admonished to guard their hearts is because we believe with our heart. So long as you don’t believe whatever Satan or his agents tell you, you won’t be deceived.
How to overcome Satan’s Deception
Revelation 12:11a says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (KJV). A cursory look at this Scripture passage would give the impression that there are just two steps to overcoming Satan’s deception but there are more steps in between. The first step is to accept Jesus (the Lamb that was slain) as your Lord and Saviour. When you do, you access the redemption from sin (of Adam) that God provided through the death of Christ. The other steps involve praying, fasting, studying and doing what the word of God says. As you take these steps, you experience signs and wonders in your life. The last step is sharing the testimonies (telling others about the wonders) of your new life in Christ.
My prayer for you, reader of this article, is that you will not be a victim of deception.