In December we began a series focusing on protecting Christian families from deception. It is easy to be deceived, and the consequences can be far-reaching. There has been no greater deception than the first one recorded in Scripture, where in the garden, Satan won, and all mankind has suffered since then. When we choose not to follow God’s Word, even if the choice was due to being deceived, we will lose, and there will be consequences for our family. May this series on deception help Dad to be on guard against being deceived.
“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. . . .” (Genesis 3:1)
Subtil means that the serpent, controlled by Satan, was crafty and skilled in deception with a wicked agenda. Satan’s plan for everyone is contrary to God’s calling. Satan wants to separate us from fellowship with God and from being obedient to our Lord as we will observe in these verses. We must never underestimate the ability of our opponent, the weakness and depravity of our own flesh, and how that combination makes us vulnerable to deception. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
“. . . And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1)
Now we begin to see Satan’s wicked agenda as he exploits Eve’s weakness. Satan will attack the family through any vulnerability, whether it be the wife’s (1 Peter 3:7), the dad’s, or the children’s weak areas. One of the primary weapons Satan uses is questioning God’s Word, especially as it relates to the boundaries God places on our lives. He wants to convince us that there will be no consequences if we disobey. God places boundaries for our protection, but our pride wants freedom without constraint. The less we know of God’s Word, and the more insistent that we are “free in Christ” to do as we please, the more vulnerable we become to deception. Real freedom in Christ will be consistent with Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”
Often believers in the Lord Jesus Christ overestimate their own “goodness” and their resistance to deception. We still have the flesh with us, and therefore, our wicked hearts make us susceptible to being led astray. In one respect, we are a sin salesman’s dream come true since our hearts desperately desire what sin offers us, and we can choose to believe the deception. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).
Joshua was deceived by the Gibeonites because he didn’t inquire of the Lord as to whether they were telling him the truth. Eve should have taken the new doctrine she was hearing from the serpent to her authority, Adam. Satan’s initial deception involved Eve, who at this time had no sin nature. Of all people, she should have been the most resistant to sin. If she was deceived, how much more at risk are we? Keep in mind, though, Eve was deceived, but Adam disobeyed.
“And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:2-3)
Eve now reveals a disconnect with God’s actual command as stated in Genesis 3:11: “. . . I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat . . .” It is very possible that Eve had a resistant attitude toward God’s command not to eat from the tree because she added that they couldn’t touch it either.
What practical lessons can be gleaned from just this section on the initial deception? First, we can see that when we have a negative attitude toward God’s clear commands, we open ourselves up to false doctrine. Eve was not willing to accept God’s command not to eat the fruit—she changed what the command was.
In John 8:41-45 Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees. They weren’t able to receive Jesus’ speech as truth since they were disobeying God and obeying Satan. Because of their disobedience, they had embraced false doctrine and could not recognize Truth. As we obey the clear teachings of Scripture, we will find new truths become clear that we didn’t understand before. Sometimes a dad will wonder why his family is different, less godly, than another family. The answer may boil down to one of obedience. God gives more light and understanding of doctrine as we obey the light He gives. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
Next, we must always be suspicious when we are being challenged or encouraged to less obedience to the Word and more freedom of choice. We need to be in God’s Word daily discussing with our families how it applies to life and welcoming the safeguards God has put in place for us. Our flesh doesn’t like restraints, but it loves freedom. Paul was willing to restrict any freedom he had if it meant not causing a brother to stumble. “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Are we willing servants of the Lord Jesus who can deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24)? That doesn’t sound like much personal freedom of choice does it? An automatic red flag should appear anytime someone encourages us toward more freedom, questions obedience, and denies consequences.
Eve didn’t know that she was being deceived. Deception won’t tell us that it is not truth. Therefore, we must turn to our source of truth—the Bible. Our focus needs to be the Word and obeying the light God gives us. The Holy Spirit has freedom to direct us, but He will do so consistently with the Word. May we learn the voice of the Shepherd by hearing it daily. John 10 tells us that the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and will follow it. The more we are in His Word, the more our souls will be tuned to knowing our Lord’s voice from that of the deceiver.
Eve was in the wrong company. Dad, what company are you keeping? To whom are you listening? What sort of significant secular influences do you have—friends, media, music, or entertainment? We can deceive ourselves by saying, “It won’t affect me. I can take what I want and leave the bad.”
Years ago I was listening to a popular, secular talk show because I wanted to be informed about politics. This show is also very entertaining. It often mocks people and is filled with inappropriate innuendoes. I figured I could “tune out” the bad and receive the good. During that time, I found myself struggling with wrong thoughts. I would cast those thoughts down, but they just kept coming back. Finally, the Lord prompted me to discontinue listening to that program, and amazingly, all those wrong thoughts disappeared. Whatever we allow into our minds will have an influence on us. What sort of company does your family keep?
Why was Adam not protecting Eve? God gave Adam the role of keeping the garden, and he was likely aware that Eve was talking to the serpent. This would have been surprising because there is no indication that any of the other creatures were able to speak. Eve did not turn to Adam, nor did Adam intervene in protecting Eve. Are there influences that Mom is exposed to or “counsel” she is hearing that she would do well to discuss with her husband? Is her husband aware of what others are saying to her? Many well meaning “friends” might be “encouraging” her that she needs more time for herself, shouldn’t be homeschooling, or shouldn’t be having more children. God made a husband and wife to be no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, the wife should share the outside advice she is hearing with her husband. Do our wives have confidence that we have their best interests before the Lord always? Can they trust us with their deepest needs and thoughts? A great hindrance to a wife opening her heart to her husband is if he is a selfish man who cares only about his own preferences. That is why it is so important that we have hearts for our families with a vision for where those families are called to go. Then we must be obediently following the Lord.
If we don’t want our families to be deceived, we will lead them daily into the Word, the source of truth, and teach them to obey the Word. (Feed My Sheep: A Practical Guide to Daily Family Devotions is a resource encouraging you to have daily time in God’s Word with your family and then showing you practically how to do it.) A positive attitude toward obedience begins in our lives. We will guard our families from deceptive influences, again starting with us. Next month, Lord willing, we will continue to look at this subject of deception and the Christian family.