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“Take Heed That You Not Be Deceived”

By Rich Carmicheal

    This issue of the Herald focuses on the need to embrace truth and to beware of deception.  These are obviously vital themes with tremendous ramifications.  On one hand, truth brings us into the light (John 3:21), sets us free (8:32), sanctifies and purifies us (17:17), leads us to salvation (Eph. 1:13), bears good fruit in our lives (Col. 1:5-6) and preserves us (Psa. 40:11).  On the other hand, deception and the suppression of truth lead to spiritual darkness (Rom. 1:18-21), slavery to sin (1:28-31), loss of relationship with God (Deut. 11:16; Rom. 1:28), spiritual captivity to the will of the devil (2 Tim. 2:25-26) and spiritual death (Rom. 7:11).

    The battle between truth and deception is as old as mankind.  Even in such an ideal setting as the Garden of Eden, the devil schemed and successfully deceived Eve into doubting and disobeying the truth of God.  Though God had clearly warned Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17), the devil tricked Eve into believing just the opposite:  “You will not surely die.  For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:4-5; 2 Cor. 11:3). 

    The battle against the truth of God rages to this day, as the devil, the father of lies and the great deceiver (John 8:44; Rev. 12:9), continues to oppose the truth and to attempt to deceive and derail God’s people.  The deception comes at us from every side – from the devil and spiritual forces, from false teachers and false prophets, from the world, from the deceitfulness of sin, from the deceitfulness of wealth, and even from the deceitfulness of our own hearts.

    And this battle is only intensifying in these last days.  Jesus warns us that “many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11).  Likewise, the Apostle Paul writes that “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).  He also warns that “the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).  The devil knows his time is short, and so the attack is ruthless and relentless.

    Have you noticed in our day the suppression and rejection of God’s truth, along with the prevalence of falsehood and deception?  Do not the descriptions by Jeremiah, Isaiah and Hosea fit present conditions:  “This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction.  Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth” (Jer. 7:28); “…righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street…” (Isa. 59:14); “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (Hos. 4:1)?  Or what about the description in Romans of the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18), and who have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (v. 25)?

Embrace the Truth

    In light of the spiritual battle we face, Paul exhorts us to put on the whole armor of God that we “may be able to stand against the wiles [scheming] of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).  Notice the very first piece of armor mentioned:  “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth…” (6:14).  Truth is absolutely vital!  May we, like the psalmist, renew our commitment to the truth:  “I have chosen the way of truth…” (Psa. 119:30).  May we gird ourselves with truth, embrace truth, obey the truth and walk in the truth.  May we look to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to guide us into all truth (John 16:13).  May we devote ourselves afresh to God’s Word – the Word of truth (17:17).  May we keep our eyes and hearts set on our God who abounds in truth (Ex. 34:6) and whose truth endures forever (Psa. 117:2), and on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6; cf. 1:14; Eph. 4:21).   Let’s heed His warning to us in these last days:  “Take heed that you not be deceived…” (Luke 21:8).

    “Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!  Let them lead me; let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your tabernacle” (Psa. 43:3).