If you’re like me, you grew up in circles where we learned that poor Eve, because of some inherent weakness, was deceived by the Serpent, but Adam, on the other hand, deserved the greater condemnation because he made a choice to rebel against God. In this theology, Eve was judged because she did not fall back to, or rely upon, the truth she knew: that which God had previously spoken. Hence, the words of the Serpent, “hath God said…”
In reality, deception – or the act of being deceived – is no better than choosing to be rebellious. And relying upon what you know is just as dangerous. In rebellion, we know and understand both sides of the picture: we can see the lie masquerading as truth, but we choose to align ourselves with the lie.
We might argue in favor of the deceived, that the problem is that they don’t know they’re being deceived. How, then, can that be as bad as knowing the truth but choosing the lie?
This is what the Lord says: Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find a resting place for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
And I set watchmen over you, saying ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not listen.’
The problem of deception is that we choose to be deceived through our failure of action, and consequently, through our action of self-exaltation.
When deceived, we act out of a place where we have chosen not to test the spirits; instead, we rely upon our intellect and wisdom. But perhaps we might argue, “I’ve read the word of God, I know what to do!” So, then, oh knower of the Bible, what shall you do with the fool?
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
So then, the question becomes, “do we answer the fool according to his folly, or not?” Without spiritual discernment, it is impossible:
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues …
(2 Cor. 12:10)
The Solution: Test the Spirits
To avoid deception, we must test the spirit of everything; it’s really that simple:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God
(1 John 4:1)
Therefore, deception is as wrong as rebellion because, like rebellion, deception uses self’s power over God’s mercies and grace. In deception, we elevate our intellect and abilities to know good from bad, right from wrong, above and beyond God’s fresh revelation and wisdom. This does not mean we ignore the word of God; it simply means we understand His ideas, but we take the time to double-check our actions. We live and walk through life using His word, in conjunction with His spiritual discernment to judge and course-correct:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin.
That is why we will not be excused, just as Eve was not excused, from the sin of deception.