Beavers & Deceivers

One of my work colleagues was the proud father of two very nice boys. While they were growing up, they had a close relationship and part of what created this family tightness was their ability to play tricks on each other. One day, when the two boys were young, they were working on a school project on curling. My friend, a proud Canadian, decided to help them with a little historical insider content. He went about explaining the history of curling in quite some detail. He persuaded them that when the game was created, they didn’t use stones to slide on the ice because those weren’t invented yet. Instead, these innovative men from the north used to trap beavers, freeze them, and use them for their curling matches. He persuaded them that our curling forefathers would flip the frozen beaver on its back and use the tail as a handle to launch the beaver to the set goal. The next day, they presented their dad’s edition of the history of curling at school and things didn’t go quite so well. Let’s say that when they came home with death glares, their dad knew they’d taken the bait.

There is much we can learn from the beaver story, but I believe the moral is quite evident.  These boys should not have completely relied on their father history lesson especially in light that they knew of his tricky ways. In a time when we have access to an enormous amount of information, we need to heed the warning that this brings. We tend to trust people who exhibit brain power on adrenalin, who have authority over others and look to them as a source of influence. We trust them and rely on their expertise with complete confidence. We live in one of the most advanced civilizations in history so what could go wrong? Plenty! While I do appreciate this type of expertise, they can still be wrong. In know, I’m stating the obvious, but you can’t trust everyone! We live in a time where there are many ideologues who are willing to deceive for the greater good of their dogmas or have been deceived to believe a lie. Their ideas infiltrate sciences, media, and they have a few politicians and CEOs in their back pocket. Whether messages from our government officials or the media, or even your favourite artist or thinker, ideologies can make you believe strange things! As Christians, we seriously need to weigh their words carefully and yes, there are times we need to call their bluff.

The subject of deceit is something that is explored often in the pages of scripture. There are many warnings of paying attention not to be deceived or deceiving others. Obviously, most of us understand the ethical problem with deceiving others and the embarrassment of being deceived by another. We hate seeing people being taken advantage of. While these are reputable reasons to avoid deceit, the fact of the matter is that we should take deceitfulness seriously because God hates deceit (Psalm 5:6). This goes against His character and His law.  The term deceit or deceitfulness is mostly a translation from the term Dolios largely refers to one who trap or to bait another. So, as Christians, who love God and hate what God hates, we need to make sure we don’t take the bait or put the worm on the hook.

Family Deceit

Deceit permeates into our lives, not only by means of our culture but even in our family life. The first record of deceit in the bible was at the beginning of history through the father of deception who tricked a husband and wife to betray God and His law. So, the family was, in a sense, one of the first targets of duplicity. The apostle Paul had much to say about that this initial deception. We are not to be deceived by the craftiness of the devil like Eve who in return deceived her husband (Genesis 3:13; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14). The effort to deceive families is still ongoing today. Attempts are rampant to promote what God says about the nature of the family, raising kids, gender roles and divorce as God’s crusty law. We’re told that we need to put on the hat of progressive thinking and remodel the definition of a family. Women are told that they have more value in the workforce than at home and that the patriarchy is the root of all evil. The problem is that we’re seeing the effects of this leftist soup in our society and things aren’t getting any better but far worst. We don’t need a remodelling job but a restoration of God’s law in our hearts so that we aren’t deceived in defining a family in any other way than what God has commanded.

Be Ye Not Deceived

We mustn’t think we’re immune because we’re followers of Christ. Even believers are warned against being deceived if they take sin too lightly (Romans 7:11). Yes, that’s right, sin can deceive the believer and it happens every day. This ruse is one that we sail towards on our own and it comes in many forms but primarily by not breaking from our past. Christians are called to part with their past lives and remove any lust like taking off a filthy shirt and putting on a new clean one. We are to lay aside our former selves and its desire which used to deceive us as unbelievers (Ephesians 4:22; Titus 3:3). We should examine ourselves to make sure we are not being tempted by lust which leads to death (James 1:15-16) and practice righteousness to prove that we are righteous in Him (1 John 3:7). Folks, there are many men who believed that they were in good standing before God, and sadly they were not (Galatians 6:3; 1 John 1:8).

Ecclesiastical Con Artists

The practice of deception makes one a deceiver and while we all have a tendency to be a little tricky on occasions, there is a slight difference with one who purposefully misleads others in full swing with a plan to their gain. This happens even in churches! This is much more than those pious sister Ruth who tends to ask you to pray for someone simply to air out all that poor soul’s dirty laundry to the congregation. Though, admittedly, she’s not far off! In a church setting, there are wolves among the sheep. There are professing believers who use this type of treachery as a form of a betrayal, not only of people, but primarily of Christ. Within the church, there are those who are workers of deceit (2 Corinthians 11:13). These ecclesiastical con artists make a special effort to make themselves look the part. There are probably more reasons than I can name for pursuing this but from what we read in scripture, even in Paul’s day, they were looking for flattery (v.12) and Paul concluded they were false apostles who disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (v.15). These men were playing the double agent, saying that they were apostles of Christ but in reality, were playing the same game as Satan himself. These were men who wanted to run the show and get the glory. If you’ve never met such a person as this in a church, you just might be being deceived. Paul lumps these types of “religious men” with rebels who are against the gospel and who speak with inane talk (Titus 1:10). These types like to stir the proverbial pot even within the family household. Nothing would stand in the way of those who were looking out to gain for themselves (Titus 1:11). Likely, they were breaking up families by getting certain members to side with them and hence they have no limits. Notice that Paul doesn’t allow this type of deception to go on and commands that they be “silenced”. Churches are expected to have well-versed men to get involved in these situations to muzzle these types (v.11).

While there are moral ecclesiastical fraudsters, there are others who peddle false doctrine with an aim to deceive. They are focusing on deceitful spirits and teach doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). The last day apostasy was in full swing even in in Paul and Timothy’s Day and we shouldn’t be surprised to find those in our churches who practice the hypocrisy of liars. These religious tricksters, instead of attempting to be godly, and teach the truth, do exactly the opposite.  They are so involved in deceiving others that they become affected by their own treachery (2 Timothy 3:13). Religious deceivers come in the form of those trying to win others over to false doctrines, false philosophies, and a false morality to try to lead men and women away from the church.

The Anchor

Considering who we are in Christ, as the temple, we need to be careful to recognize that we are holy, and the extension is that we need to look portraying this reality. We are called to not destroy the reputation of the temple of God through seeking wisdom in this age but by putting on the foolishness of the cross (1 Corinthians 3:18). Yes, we can be deceived by seeking to be too smart for our own good. The foolishness of the cross is the wisdom we need to search for since if we seek to be “Christ-like”, we’re looking to become like one in whom there was no deceit (John 1:47; 1 Peter 2:22; Isaiah 53:9). The anchor that will allow us to forego being deceived by the world, by charlatans in the church, or the sinfulness of the flesh, is found in Jesus Christ. As believers, we should encourage one another, day after day, as long and it is still called “today” to not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sins (Hebrews 3:13). We should cling to the gospel and especially to the word of God. We should make this our top source of knowledge and when our dear politicians, newscasters and the local guitarist try to sell us something different, we make sure we don’t sell out.


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