Have you ever noticed how often we use deception in various sports? Whether we’re talking about hunting, fishing, football, or some other competitive sport, there’s always some degree of deception involved in playing that sport. With hunting, it’s camouflage, a blind, or a call. With fishing it’s artificial bait and playing the line to make it look alive and enticing. With football it’s the dodge to the right, then running left, or a fake hand-off to a runner, followed by a pass.
In some ways, we might even suggest that the better we are at deception, the more successful we’ll be at those sports. But after all, deception is just part of the game. It’s the way we take that animal, fish, or beat our opponent. But there is another far more insidious kind of deception.
Just days before Jesus went to the cross, His disciples asked Him about end times and the sign of His return. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 21, the first thing Jesus warned His disciples was, “Watch out that you are not deceived.” (vs. 8) It’s notable that Jesus said this to His disciples. He didn’t say it to those who don’t know Him. He said to us who know Him, “Watch out that you are not deceived.” So, even we His children can be deceived.
How do we avoid being deceived?
It has oft been said that the way to distinguish counterfeit money from the real thing is to be fully acquainted with the real thing. I believe this is true in spiritual matters as well. Make it your life goal to know Jesus thoroughly. There have been times in my life when I’ve been tempted to act or respond to a situation in a certain way, but realized, “That’s not like Jesus.” “That’s not how Jesus would respond.” And I know that because I know Him.
Another way we avoid being deceived is by knowing His Word. That doesn’t mean we have to be a Bible scholar, but it means that we spend time in God’s Word, not just learning facts, but getting to know its Author. When Satan tempted Jesus in the Wilderness, at one point the devil even quoted Scripture trying to trip up Jesus (Luke 4:9-11). But Jesus recognized he was twisting Scripture to make the temptation plausible. But Jesus replied with Scripture, demonstrating its true intent (Luke 4:12).
Tragically, soon after Jesus warned His disciples about being deceived, Judas, who was one of the twelve disciples, succumbed to the deception of the devil and betrayed Jesus. This should sober us. Here was a man who had spent at least three years with Jesus, yet he allowed himself to be deceived. We need to take Jesus’ warning to heart.
“Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in My name, claiming, ‘I am he.’” (Luke 21:8)
Scripture Reading: Matthew 24:3-14
Personal Application: How well do you know Jesus? How well do you know His Word? Make it your life’s goal to know Him and His Word thoroughly.
Wendell Morton and Jim Grassi, D. Min.
We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5