If Christians are exempt from the risk of being deceived, Biblical warnings about deception (addressing Christians) do not make much sense
In a world where predestination is the only factor which determines man’s paths, the elect cannot be lost and the non-elect cannot be saved. This would be the world of the reformed believers (Calvinists) who do not believe in “free will” in the ordinary way. Yet, the Bible constantly reveals how God pleads with people, warns them and even punishes them for acting against his will. The Bible also tells us that certain people risk being deceived in such a way that their salvation is in jeopardy (not merely risking reduced rewards in heaven), and not even God’s “little children” are exempt from this risk. Why warning the elect that they might be deceived if this can never truly happen? Why warning the non-elect that they might be deceived if they are even born deceived and will remain in that state of mind for ever more?
Deut. 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them
Do we have an option to take heed or not, or will God make sure that (some of us) WILL take heed and thus avoid the risk of worshiping other gods? In that case, why the severe warning to take heed lest we be deceived?
Mal. 1:14 But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lordof hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.
Can such a thing really happen? A prophet which speaks corrupt things which God disapproves of and wishes that he would not have done? Yes, due to man’s free will.
“Deceive” in the New Testament is a translation from the Greek verb planaō (Strong’s 4105)
In the KJV it is translated deceive (24x), err (6x), go astray (5x), seduce (2x), wander (1x), be out of the way (1x). Below are a few examples:
Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Above we can read an analogy with a sheep going astray, but it is not certain that sheep that have gone astray will always be found. V. 13 tells us “IF so be that he find it….”, then there will be much joy. Moreover, there are apparently a group of people (likened with sheep) who are not considered lost, but others who are. Those who are lost are obviously those who are not together with the shepherd but have gone astray. Furthermore, we can read that God the Father does not want any of those little lost ones (sheep going astray) to perish. Sadly certain lost people DO perish, so God’s will is not always done. Is there really a shepherd who would want some of his sheep to go astray, and is it likely that a loving parent would want some of his/her children to go astray and remain totally lost? The son of man came to save that which is lost. There is obviously no need to save people who are NOT lost and who need no repentance – perhaps because they are innocent babies/children or because they have already repented and remained cleansed. Those who need no repentance are likely the “99 sheep” already with the shepherd, so he does not have to worry about their safety. They are already secure as long as they choose to remain with the shepherd. The shepherd will focus on those who are LOST and he will want to save as many sheep as possible. Shepherds do not place GPS-units on their sheep together with a modern device that can somehow force them to return home, but sheep rather have free will.:
Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
More examples of being deceived:
Mark. 13:5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (+ Luke 21:8)
Matt. 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.—11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.—20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:—22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Jesus is above talking to his disciples (and all of us), and he feels it is urgent to give us warnings to take heed since people might deceive us. The love of many shall wax cold in the end of days but he who endures to the END shall be saved. It does not say “he who is chosen to be elect and saved from the beginning of the world will remain saved”. Jesus also asks us (or perhaps those living near Jerusalem at the time) to pray that our flight will not take place in the winter or during a sabbath day. It certainly seems like we can affect the outcome with our prayers and that all things are not set in stone. What would happen if we do NOT pray about this? Will things turn out exactly as God has predestined anyway? Then why does Jesus so earnestly ask to pray about this matter if we cannot change what is already predestined? If people, like Jesus’ disciples, could never be tricked into following a false prophet, Jesus would not have to caution them about it. Some take v. 24 to mean that the elect cannot be deceived but that is not what it says. “Elect” means something precious and special, such as Israel, certain angels and even Jesus Christ. As born again christians we are certainly “a peculiar people” and very special indeed. The devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8) , and if there is a possibility that he can trick some of God’s children he will of course try. Why putting in much effort to deceive people who are already deceived and lost?
1 Cor. 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Why does Paul tell christians to not be deceived if it is not possible for them to end up deceived? Can born again christians choose to sin in such ways that Paul listed? Sure, even Jesus Christ could have chosen to sin but he chose not to. The Bible gives us examples of true believers who have chosen to sin and not all of them repented. Paul tells us that if people engage in sin, the same people are prevented from inheriting the kingdom of God. He does not suggest that born again christians are exempted from this risk, nor that they can get away with sin because they are unconditionally eternally secured. Regardless if agnostics or christians engage in sin, they are still labelled unrighteous, and Paul makes it perfectly clear that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. There will always be preachers to teach the opposite (“No worries, it is not possible to stop sinning but God still accepts you as you are as long as you believe in him”) but Paul’s warning is “Be not deceived” about them! Remember that it was Satan who managed to get Eve to believe that she could get away with sin (not obeying God) and still not die. As we all know, he lied. Sin separates us from God.
Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Above we are again asked to not be deceived, and Paul explains what we should not be deceived about. He wants us to understand that “he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (NKJV). This means that what we choose to DO will determine our future. If we do bad (use our bodies to sin) we will die spiritually, but if we do good we will get everlasting life. It is not enough to spend our lives just “believing” without showing our faith also with our actions, and neither is it possible to mix righteousness with unrighteousness and get away with it. Be not deceived!
Heb. 3:6 But
Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
There are many promises to God’s children above, but in connection to many “ifs”. We are partakers of Jesus house IF we hold fast unto the end and IF we will not harden our hearts. Believers must take heed (“brethren”…”any of you”) LEST they might depart from God through sin. “Today if ye hear his voice, harden not your hearts”. It seems like there is a possibility that believers might choose to harden their hearts, unless the warning is in vain. We can also read that there are individuals who “err” in their hearts resulting in not knowing God’s ways. This leads to the wrath of God, and naturally God would not have any reason to be angry with people who always obeyed his will. Those who do err will not enter in God’s rest, and that is the reason why we must take heed. It is up to us.
Jas. 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and above we can read that those who love the Lord will receive the crown of life. God does not tempt us, much less cause us to sin (the calvinistic style). If we sin, it is our own doing and we cannot blame anyone else and certainly not the nature we were born with. Sin continues to bring forth death unless we repent and live a righteous life. Beloved brethren are asked to not err (be deceived) about this truth.
Jas. 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
Again we can read that the warning to err from the truth concerns “brethren”. This means that believers can stray away from the truth they once knew and be lost due to sin. We can also read that if such a brother is converted, this same person shall save his soul from death. He is not merely risking to get reduced stuff in heaven.
2 Pet. 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;— 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Peter above has the same story as James. This passage is replete with warnings to christians, because a dog can indeed “return” to his own vomit which he previously got rid of. It is good to know that there is always a way out of each temptation even if temptations sometimes are hard to reject. The promise is for the “godly”, and it is the holy Spirit in our lives which makes us godly and with much power to overcome temptations. Those who choose to walk after their flesh will of course be more open to give in for temptations. The “unjust” will be punished, but of course, in a world where everyone always does the will of God there would be nothing for God to punish. We can read about people who have “forsaken the right way, and are gone astray”. V. 20-21 are very clear. “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (NKJV). A person can indeed go from salvation to damnation due to sin.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
In the middle of the above text we find the well-known 1 John 1:8, but the verses before and after are not as popular – probably because we can read about conditions for salvation. v. 6 tells us that we lie if we walk in darkness (if we sin), and v. 7 tells us that we are cleansed from our sins if we walk in the light. The solution to our sin-problem is to confess sin, repent from it and start living a righteous life together with Jesus. We can do all things with the power of the holy Spirit!
1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
Above text shows that “little children” can deceive themselves, and that is if they are not aware of that it is those who DOETH righteousness who are righteous, just like Jesus is righteous for the same reason (through avoiding sin). The verses do not suggest that he is righteous who takes cover behind Jesus to hide his sin from God the Father. “Little children let no man deceive you – he that doeth righteous is righteous”. Satan says the opposite – that it is not important to be obedient to God since we will not die anyway.
Rev. 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Rev. 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Rev. 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
Revelations show us that Satan certainly is the deceiver, and he can even seduce God’s
servants. We must particularly be aware of his tactics in the end of days.