In my personal prayer time, I was praying for protection from deception. I was praying for that because I was thinking about how so many Christians have so many ideas about Christianity that are different… and all of them really think that they’re right. I realized that I’m a Christian who is settled in my beliefs about certain things… I really believe I’m right about some things. I guess no one thinks that they’re deceived. But I don’t want to be wrong… I don’t want to be deceived.
I know the quick answer to the question “how can I be protected against deception” is to ask, “by whose authority are you basing your beliefs on?” and then direct people to look at what the bible has to say. And if the bible is unclear on certain things, read it and pray that the Holy Spirit would enlighten you. In other words, if you are spending time with God, praying and reading the bible, then you shouldn’t be deceived. Simple. Right? But then I started thinking about the people who do spend time with God, pray often, and study the scriptures, yet are still in strong disagreement with other Christians who have the same devotion that they do. Is there some other piece to this puzzle?
The bottom line is that some Christians are deceived about certain things. Things that I believe are clear in the word. Probably because of the church they go to? Maybe the Christian crowd they’re a part of? Maybe some presupposition they’re holding to? Whatever the root is, they don’t think they’re deceived, and neither do I.
When I pondered all of this, I believe God spoke to my heart saying that one of the missing pieces of the puzzle is openness to the fact that I COULD be deceived. It sounds strange, at first, to say “you can be protected against deception if you first realize that you could already be deceived”; however, when you think about it, it makes sense. All of us at some point in our lives have been deceived about certain things. It’s not until we humbled ourselves and became open to the fact that we may have been wrong, that our hearts were prepared to hear the truth. You see, we had to be open to the fact that we may have been deceived before we could move into the light of truth.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be settled in anything we believe, or open to subjectivity (“the word means that for you, but since you could be deceived it doesn’t mean it’s true”). That’s not what I mean. I don’t think that we should always be wavering in our convictions… especially about the bible. I believe that the bible is true, and it has a specific meaning. I just also believe that there are certain things that I may be wrong about in my interpretation of it’s meaning. Therefore I must be open to that fact if I want to be totally free from being deceived. Then I can follow the other steps…
So I guess my point is that if you want to be protected against deception, the order is as follows:
1) recognize that you could already be deceived
2) ask “what does the bible say?”
3) pray that God would give you understanding