Who Are The Targets Of Satanic Deception?
From the beginning of time, there was a promise of perfection and good things to come; Scripture makes this abundantly clear. God stood back and saw all that He had done, and was overwhelmingly satisfied. We read from Genesis:
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
By the time we reach chapter three however, we are introduced to a new personality who would change the course of human history. The serpent, being used by Satan himself, would use his powers of guile to effectively draw mankind into disobedience.
“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).
From that day until this, Satan has used deception as a means to lure the world at large, and God’s people in particular, away from biblical truth. And while every child of God is subject to Satan’s craftiness, others become his specific targets. Who are these targets of Satan’s unholy deceit?
The Biblically Illiterate Being diametrically opposed to God’s truth, Satan approaches and attacks us on the basis of our relationship with the Word of God. The biblically illiterate are those who do not read the Bible. It is not that they cannot read or are unable to read – they simply do not do it. A Christian who does not read their Bible is like a cardiologist without a stethoscope, or a carpenter without his hammer; the two just go together.
The reasons why Christians don’t read the Bible may range from lethargy to apathy, but the results of this chosen course will be the same. Those who are biblically illiterate place themselves in the precarious position of being undiscerning.
Discernment, for the Christian, simply put, is the ability to judge between truth and error, and between right and wrong. This ability does not come from ourselves; it flows from the reservoir of the Spirit that dwells within us. Our level of discernment will always be commensurate with our own personal intake of the Word.
The great 19th century theologian Charles Spurgeon made a powerful statement that has stayed with me ever since I first heard it. He said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong; it is the difference between knowing right from almost right.” Because of the unfortunate infiltration of false teaching into the body of Christ, it is the spiritual responsibility of every child of God to guard against becoming a victim of Satan’s wiles.
The overall goal of being biblically informed and doctrinally sound is not about becoming a theologian, or a scholar; it is about being equipped. The apostle John warns us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Testing the spirits involves measuring what is spoken by man by what has been written by God in His Word. The unfortunate truth is that those who are biblically illiterate don’t always know the difference; because they have set aside truth, they have become ignorant. I define this type of ignorance as, not knowing that you don’t know. Just because something sounds good, does not mean that it is right.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).
One other point to make clear is that those who are biblically illiterate can never attain to spiritual maturity; at least not as long as they remain in that condition. They can never move on to “solid food” (or they should not attempt to), until they have gotten the basics right. But this is not always the case.
The Biblically Complacent Have you ever made or thought statements like, “I know that already,” or, “I learned that a long time ago?” As a young Christian, the nickname, “the Bible answer man” was given to me by many of my peers, because I always seemed to know what the Bible said on a given subject. The problem was that I began to believe my own hype. I can still recall telling myself that I was incapable of doing certain things because I knew better.
Unfortunately, what I thought I knew, did not stop me from backsliding for a period of time. Obviously, I forgot the Scripture that says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18), and “…let a man that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Those who find themselves in this condition ultimately open themselves up to biblical complacency. This is the state of believing that you know enough to get by. Is that the goal of the Christian life, just to get by? Of course not; the goal is to grow up in Christ. We should never rest on our laurels, and believe that what we know will suffice; there is always more at the table of His Word to be eaten. We remember the words of the angel of the Lord to the prophet Elijah:
“And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, ‘Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God” (1 Kings 19:7-8).
As Elijah needed food for his journey, so we too need the spiritual food that is God’s Word for ours. However, unlike physical food, when there are times we ought to be pushing ourselves away and know when we’ve had enough, we should never decide that we’ve had enough of His Word. The enemy can sense complacency as he observes our daily biblical habits. Do you spend time in the Word in between Sundays? How much time do you spend in the Word on a daily basis? Are you easily distracted from it? These all serve as barometers to your dedication to the Word. Let the enemy see and know that there is no place for biblical complacency in you.
The Biblically Unfaithful To be biblically unfaithful does not just consist of not doing what the Bible says, but it also means to believe something that it doesn’t say. When Christians reach beyond what is written, and buy into error over truth, they have become unfaithful to it. Satan promotes this type of unfaithfulness relentlessly by using those who have gone astray by looking for something new or something deeper, rather than taking the Word as it is.
Why does this happen? Because on a certain level, they are dissatisfied. There is nothing wrong with desiring more of Him. One of the ways we do this is by reacquainting ourselves with His Word. But some pastors and teachers, in an effort to give their respective groups or congregations something fresh, end up compromising Scripture in some fashion.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
We must all avoid the “itching ear syndrome;” desiring to be told good things alone, while disregarding weightier matters like sin, repentance and holiness. When this happens, inevitably both teacher and student or congregation will be the worse for it, for they have both become unfaithful to the Word. It is no wonder that Jesus spoke these words:
“But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch’” (Matthew 15:13-14).
This will be the miserable result of biblical unfaithfulness. This is why we must be careful not to become the targets of Satanic deception. But it can be avoided. How Can I Avoid Satanic Deception? Do you know how to treat biblical truth? The proper response to biblical truth, mixed with discernment, will begin to ensure that you don’t become a target of his deceit. Let me leave you with these three “anti-deception” questions:
“Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it” (Psalm 119:140).
1. Do you consider His Word to be pure, and do you love it? “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
2. This is a difficult question to ask, but do you believe the truth you read? Is there a measure of doubt concerning any portion of His Word that lingers in your spirit?
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
3. Is His Word the absolute final authority for all matters in your life? With the sword of the Spirit in hand, and remaining sharp, we can live deception-free lives, blessing the Lord along the way.
That's the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.