Have you ever been deceived? It’s frustrating, often painful, and sometimes embarrassing. Most of us have trusted someone only to find out they were less than honest with us. So, who can you trust- especially when it comes to the most important issues in your life, like your identity, sense of purpose in life, choosing a spouse, finding true happiness? These are weighty issues. Below are three warning signs that indicate that you in danger of being deceived.
You have become your most trusted counselor. When it comes to the most significant decisions in your life, who do you listen to? Really, whose voice do you most trust? If you choose to listen to yourself over what is clearly taught in the Bible and over the counselor of wise, godly friends, you are setting yourself up to be deceived.
Rather than ‘leaning on our own understanding’ we are called to trust what the Lord says (Proverbs 3:5-6). Instead of listening to our own heart (which is deceitful, see Jeremiah 17:9) we are called to seek out and listen to wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14 and 12:15).
You consider obedience optional. I know, you’re probably saying to yourself, “I don’t think obedience is optional.” But hear me out. If you are in the habit of faithfully attending church or a reading your Bible, but there is no visible or noticeable impact on your life, why is that? Quick follow up question: how did you practically apply the teaching from the last sermon you heard?
James warned Christians about the danger of being a ‘listener’ to the Bible, but not a ‘doer.’ He said if we only hear the Word of God but don’t actually do what it says, we’re deceiving ourselves (James 1:22). Sadly, the church is full of expert listeners who are quick to critique the content or delivery of a sermon yet fail to respond obediently to its teaching. James’ warning stings a bit.
You believe that financial success means you’re on the right path (the deceitfulness of riches). Success at work is often rewarded financially. Those who meet or exceed their goals often receive bonuses or promotions, and rightly so. They earned it. But those who experience financial success also have to be on guard.
Jesus warned about ‘the deceitfulness of wealth’ (Mark 4:19). Why? Because money, and our pursuit of it, can become so important to us that it muffles and even silences the Word of God in our lives. Money promises ease and comfort, acceptance from important people, and security in the long run; money makes false promises. It is deceitful. And if we aren’t careful we will listen to the money we make more than the God who created and redeems us. What a tragedy for someone to gain the whole world and lose their own soul.
What about you? Whose counsel do you most trust? Are you selectively obedient? Has financial success lured you away from the self-denying and self-sacrificing path of the cross?