In December we began a series focusing on protecting Christian families from deception (please read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already). It is easy to be deceived, and the consequences can be far-reaching. Last month, we started looking at the first and greatest deception recorded in Scripture, where in the garden Satan won, and all mankind has suffered since then. We too will suffer when we are deceived. But who would choose to be deceived, and why then would God allow or bring consequences as a result of a deception? How can we guard against deception?
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).
After listening to the serpent’s deceptive words, Eve stood gazing at the forbidden fruit. She determined that it would be good to eat, that it was beautiful to behold, and that she wanted to be wise. She allowed her mind to follow the serpent’s deceptive reasoning when he indicated there were not any negative consequences of eating the forbidden fruit because there hadn’t been any when eating the other fruit. Even though Eve was deceived, God still held her accountable for the disobedience that came as a result of that deception.
Eve was the first to be deceived and to follow that deception into disobedience, reaping its consequences. However, we are vulnerable to doing the same. The longer we dwell on something forbidden, the more likely we are to deceive ourselves, justify wrong actions, and pursue it. First we behold, and then we hold. The forbidden fruit was pleasing to the eye. The flesh and sin appeal to our eyesight which is the door to our soul. How great is the danger.
Scripture tells us we must flee from temptation. “Flee also youthful lusts…” (2 Timothy 2:22). If we don’t want to be deceived, we will take our gaze off of the temptations of the flesh and run from them. We will stop looking at them, and go in the other direction. We will teach our children this as well.
When my boys go with me to the Kansas City homeless mission once a month, we often discuss the temptations of the flesh that have deceived those who find shelter at the mission. We discuss how the alcohol that has ruined some of these men’s lives didn’t tell them up front what the consequences would be. It was deceptive. It appealed to the flesh. It isn’t a temptation if it isn’t appealing, and the only way it claims its victims is by deception. No one who takes his first drink plans to become an alcoholic living on the street. The mission men have been deceived, and they have suffered the consequences of that deception in their lives and in the lives of their families.
Those are concrete examples I can show to my sons, but I find that fleshly temptations leading to deception also apply in Christian men’s lives who haven’t been deceived by those same appetites. Instead they are deceived by more subtle deceptions involving how they spend their time, how they use their money, and where they will put their focus. When we desire something, we are more vulnerable to allowing ourselves to believe a deception—because we want to believe it. If we ourselves are following deception, we can be quite sure our families will be as well.
Eve was deceived, but Adam was just plain disobedient. Eve took and ate and gave to Adam, who was with her. Scripture doesn’t tell us how close Adam was to her. However, she did not have to go looking for him. Adam knew God’s command was not to eat, he had not intervened when Eve ate, and he then had to choose either to follow Eve or to obey his God. By not taking action when he should have, he now had a far worse decision to make.
How could Adam have protected Eve? There is nothing to indicate in the previous verses that they should have been on guard. Adam had known no danger, nor had he any reason to suspect they were at risk. They were at peace living in paradise, yet danger was so very close. This is how deception works. A person is most susceptible when he isn’t suspecting anything. It may seem peaceful for us in our lives and families, yet we must be prepared and on guard against deception.
God had prepared Adam and Eve to withstand the deception that Eve experienced and the disobedience of Adam by giving them clear direction. He had said not to eat of the fruit from that one particular tree. Adam and Eve had the truth of His Word on which to stand against the deception.
We, as well, will protect ourselves and our families from deception by standing on the truth of the Word. We can only stand on it if we spend time in the Word and study it—individually and as a family. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). It is God’s Word that keeps us in the truth and away from the bondage resulting from deception.
The Lord Jesus uses the Word in our lives to change us from the inside out. By directing us to what edifies, He doesn’t have to have an endless list of things that we can’t do. When we focus on what is good, then what is harmful is not a danger. If Adam and Eve had set their hearts on God’s Word, they would have been content with the good fruit they could eat. They would have known that if God wanted them to have the forbidden fruit, He would have offered it to them. They would not have been vulnerable to the deception and disobedience. The same is true for us today. Instead of being concerned with the line of sin, we should concentrate on what is clearly pleasing to the Lord. When this is the case, we are shielding ourselves from deception and disobedience.
If only Adam had been continually reminding Eve of what God had commanded them, perhaps she wouldn’t have been deceived. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Adam could have been daily washing Eve with the Word of God, which would have fortified her in the Truth that could have allowed her to withstand the deception.
We protect our families from deception by not being deceived ourselves. Have you evaluated your life against Scripture? Can you Biblically justify how you spend your time, how you use your money, and where your focus is? Are you teaching your children to flee youthful lusts? Are you washing your family with the water of the Word every day? Are you continually putting your family’s hearts and minds on the Lord Jesus Christ?