I mentioned in the introduction to this series that there are warning flags that can tip us off that we are deceived. I’ve often heard the teaching that deceived people don’t know it. I’m not so sure that is completely true. God does give us some clues to help us figure these things out, if we’re just willing to listen. He wouldn’t be a good God if He didn’t. Here are some indicators to watch for:
1.) Are you consistently not peaceful inside? I have known people who claimed to be in right relationship with Jesus, yet they admitted having no peace inside, and even turned to yoga in an attempt to achieve peace. Romans 5:1 tells us, “Therefore, being justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace is part of our heritage as believers. When we lack peace on a regular basis, usually it is a sign that the Lord is trying to speak to us about something, and we don’t want to listen.
2.) Do you feel confused a good deal of the time? “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,” according to 1 Corinthians 14:33. 1 Corinthians 2:16 tells us that believers “have the mind of Christ.” Jesus was not confused in His mind at any point. The enemy is the author of confusion, and if we are in that state most of the time, deception in our minds is probably the culprit.
3.) Are you unwilling to be connected with a church fellowship and sit under a pastor’s teaching? There are a lot of unchurched people who think they know so much about the Bible that there is no reason for them to listen to a pastor preach and thereby learn something. Paul had an answer for this attitude: “If any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). I have also come across unchurched people who say they have a deeper relationship with the Lord than they did while connected with a church fellowship, yet five minutes’ conversation reveals that there is grave biblical error in their thinking that they do not perceive.
Why are you unwilling to be part of a local church? It is a question demanding an honest answer. The root problem needs to be faced before the Lord. He is the One Who said not to forsake the assembling together of ourselves (Hebrews 10:25).
4.) Do you refuse to take correction from your pastor? An unteachable heart harbors pride, and as we will see in our next post, pride is a major open door to deception. God exhorts us, “Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you …” (Hebrews 13:17).
5.) Are you blaming other people and being critical all the time? When someone is busy pointing the finger at others, or trying to shift blame, they’ve got something to hide, something they are afraid of having exposed. Or, they think they are superior to their fellow believers, which is deception in itself. “For I say … to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think …” (Romans 12:3). The root of this one can also be feeling grossly inferior and insecure, and wanting to feel superior to others as relief from insecurity. This is deception, because God has already assured us that every one of us is immensely valuable to Him (Luke 12:7), that He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and that each of us has a unique place to fill (1 Corinthians 12:14-26).
6.) Do you avoid reading the Bible and make excuses for staying away from it? (Do you read books by Christian authors and tell yourself that you get enough Bible through them?) Avoiding the Bible indicates a fear of the truth. The deception inside does not want to be exposed. Jesus said, “…Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light … for everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, for fear of his deeds being reproved” (John 3:19, 20).
7.) Do you shy away from intimate quiet time with the Lord? The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing to our attention things that God is not pleased with in us. When we avoid spending time communing with Him, there is likelihood that we are uncomfortable about something in our lives that we would prefer to hang onto and keep hidden. We are afraid He will put His finger on it. But the proper response to God is laid out for us in Psalm 139:23, 24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Anytime that we want to hide from ourselves, our God, or other people out of fear of exposure, there is deception going on. The Lord wants us to be able to “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7). There is complete freedom in the light.
Next time, we’ll talk about ways deception creeps into the Christian’s life.
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual