Protecting Against Deception – Part 3

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?

When a Wife Disagrees with Her Husband – Part 3

In this Mom’s Corner series, we are considering the common problem a wife will face when she disagrees with her husband. Every wife will experience this difficulty in her marriage to some degree, but some will have great struggles because the disagreements are so frequent or of such mammoth proportions. The difference of heart may be as simple as how an evening of time is spent or as big as how the children are educated. No matter what proportion it is, a wife wants to look to Scripture to determine the path the Lord Jesus would have for her when these situations surface. I would encourage you to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for the background from which we are continuing on this topic. This series of articles is not written for wives who are in abusive marriages.

Let’s review our key verses: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (1 Peter 3:1-6).

1 Peter 3 is written specifically to wives and gives detailed, clear instruction as to what they should do if they have husbands who don’t obey the word. Even though this husband isn’t following the Lord, the wife is still told to be in subjection to her husband so that her husband can be won without her saying anything, but rather by her meek and quiet spirit. The teaching is definitive. However, the daily living out of 1 Peter 3 becomes the challenge. It will be an ongoing battle with the flesh that wants to keep verbally pushing a husband for change and is fearful of the consequences of no change.

The example given to us of women who had meek and quiet spirits rather than words of disagreement are holy women of old, specifically Sarah. We are told that Sarah obeyed Abraham, even calling him lord. Yet, consider the husband she was obeying. In order to protect himself, Abraham told Sarah to say she was his sister—and she was his half-sister—if they were ever approached by the men of the countries through which they were traveling. This actually happened twice. Because of Sarah’s beauty and obedience to her husband, she was taken two times into another man’s harem. Sarah chose to be subject to her husband rather than give in to her fear. To save his own skin, Abraham let his wife down, but God didn’t. You can read these two accounts in Genesis 12:11-20 and Genesis 20.

1 Peter 3:6 tells us, “. . . whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” I think Sarah would have had good reason to be fearful, but she is set up as an example to us. We are encouraged not to be fearful. Why does a wife speak up to her husband when she disagrees with him? Often her motivation is fear. What will happen to our finances if he makes these decisions? What will happen to our children if he makes these decisions? What will happen to me if he makes these decisions? What will happen to our future if he makes these decisions?

Verse 2 of 1 Peter 3 says that our pure behavior is to be aligned with fear, while verse 6 instructs us not to be afraid. The fear in verse two would have to do with our fear of God and the desire He has for a wife’s submission to God as her Lord and to her husband. Verse 6 is referring to not being afraid of the outcome of choosing to be in subjection to a husband, to win him without a word, and to have a meek and quiet spirit.

A wife’s hope and expectation has to be in her Lord Jesus Christ, not in what her husband does or does not do. It is a spiritual path of growing in faith for a wife. Whether or not a husband is walking in obedience to the Lord does not affect a wife’s obedience to Jesus’ instruction in 1 Peter 3, where she is admonished to win her husband without a word, by her meek and quiet spirit, and not to give in to fear.

Let me share with you a testimony from a wife who has been reading this series and writes about her personal experiences:

“Thank you so much for addressing the issue of disagreements between spouses. My husband has been backslidden from the Lord for a few years now. I often hear these 1 Peter 3 verses, but it can be hard to actually apply them to daily living. I know how hard it is to be quiet, when all you want to do is shake his eyes open to the Word of God! It becomes even harder to obey the Scripture as the years go by without becoming bitter and resentful if no change takes place.

“So I hope you will also encourage ladies who have been there a while not to let their obedience falter. God told Joshua to ‘. . . be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law. . .’ (Joshua 1:7). As we submit to our husbands, our behavior must still be that which is godly. We must be patient, and have faith that God’s way is the only way which will prove victorious. I consider Moses, Abraham, David, and others—how long they had to wait to receive God’s promises. ‘Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass’ (Psalms 37:5).

“My husband’s heart has not turned back to the Lord yet, but he does allow me to faithfully attend church, homeschool our two children, and use Scriptures to guide them. I know that God would not be able to bless in these areas if I took the situation into my own hands.” An Obedient Wife

As I read this testimony, I sensed the pain this wife feels over a husband who is not spiritually leading his family, her overwhelming desire to be obedient to her Lord Jesus Christ in her own life, and the choice she is making to dwell on the blessings she has rather than what she wishes were different. What a difference it will make in a woman’s life if she will practice “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Practically speaking, that would mean doing what “An Obedient Wife” has done by being thankful for what she has and is able to do rather than being unhappy about what isn’t happening. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11). The Lord Jesus would have her be in subjection to her husband, despite his failures, rather than growing a critical spirit in her heart toward him.

May every wife study 1 Peter 3 and learn its application to her life. May we find the joy of obedience to the Lord Jesus in fulfilling our calling as wives—the easy aspects and the challenging ones as well. I still have more to share on this subject, so the series will continue.