As we said in the last post, abiding in the Word of God — knowing it, living in obedience to it, keeping it constantly in our hearts and minds — is the first line of defense against deception. Here are a few more antidotes:
1.) Guard your thoughts carefully. Philippians 4:8 lays down guidelines for healthy thinking: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.” Conversely, we could say, “Whatever things are not true, are dishonest, unjust, impure, ugly in nature, sinful, involve ingratitude toward the Lord and complaining, do not permit yourself to think.” We can train our minds to think right things. Meditating on God’s character and promises as revealed in the Bible is a good place to start.
2.) Avoid dwelling on the devil and darkness in your thoughts, speech, and prayer focus. Yes, I know we need to do spiritual warfare and bind things in the spirit realm. But if that’s where the majority of our prayer focus lies, and we’re forever talking about what the devil is doing, it tends to bring clouds of spiritual darkness and fear around us. Speaking of the Lord’s goodness brings a sweet spiritual atmosphere, as heaven bends low to listen in. It works the other way, too: talk about the devil’s activity all the time, and you’re going to attract that element of the spirit realm. If your focus is out of whack for too long, you start majoring on how big the devil is, instead of how big our God is. A lot of Christians give the enemy too much credit, and are consequently not living very victoriously. This is certainly deception.
3.) Humble yourself by being teachable, receiving correction when needed, and submitting to other believers. If we allow godly people to teach and correct us, we won’t get very far off the track before somebody helps us see the problem so that we can get going in the right direction again.
Proper alignment within the Body of Christ is a big part of being humble and teachable. We all need some kind of spiritual covering — an apostle, pastor, or elder who speaks into our lives. Meaningful correction most often will come from those who are over us, although we will also learn from our peers along the way. Many people who are deceived are in that condition because they are afraid to put themselves in a position of accountability under a godly leader. God honors accountability. 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 addresses the alignment issue: “And we plead with you, brethren, to know those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and correct you. Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake ….” It was a given in the early church that believers were submitted and in relationship with leaders. Lone ranger Christianity was not tolerated.
4.) Loving our Christian brothers and sisters goes a long way toward keeping us out of deception. Perhaps this is why loving each other is a central theme of 1 John:
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now. He who loves his brother dwells in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because darkness has blinded his eyes. — 1 John 2:9-11
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. — 1 John 3:14
If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen?
— 1 John 4:20
Any soulish, selfish behavior, including unforgiveness, envy, bitterness, and hatred, will cloud our ability to know the truth. We must strive for the mastery over such attitudes, always calling on the Holy Spirit to help us overcome them.
Putting into practice the actions consistent with loving others helps our thoughts and emotions to eventually line up with those actions. This is not hypocrisy, because we determine to do it from a heart that truly wants to be loving. We are training ourselves into right thinking. That takes time.
5.) Asking God for wisdom and truth brings it. God delights in a heart that sincerely wants truth, and He is faithful to enlighten those who want to be enlightened. Every one of us has areas of thinking that are a little bit off, but the Holy Spirit has a way of adjusting our thinking — sometimes by nudging us with little doubts about how we have always viewed a concept. If we ask Him to reveal the truth about something that bothers us, He will, often over a period of time.
Wisdom and truth are part of our inheritance as believers. When we diligently pray and claim Scriptures such as the following, God answers by increasing our wisdom:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives to all men generously, and does not scold, and it shall be given to him. — James 1:5
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. — Ephesians 1:17-19
What if you are already in deception, or are afraid of that possibility? If we put ourselves in the place of humility and teachableness, and ask God to bring us into truth and keep us there, He will. He has promised to set us back on the right path: “And your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). Our God is faithful and good. He wants us free of deception even more than we want it.
As we align ourselves with God’s Word, put our trust in His character, and activate our faith that He will protect us and deliver us from deception, we can be assured that He will. There is no longer any reason to fear getting off into deception. We can move forward boldly in Him, knowing that He will keep us safe.
Previous: Antidotes to Deception (Part 4)
Related Series: Holding the Line on Truth
Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual