Deception is so dangerous because deceived people are wrong, but they don’t realize their wrong. Why don’t they realize they’re wrong? Because they’re deceived!
Scripture warns that all people can be subject to deception, but in the later times deception will become an exceptionally vexing problem. And while Christians ought to immune to the tricks and traps of our spiritual enemy, unfortunately, we’re not. Thus we’ve seen Christians ranging from celebrity leaders down to many of our very own children falling away from the faith for reasons that seem to make no sense. They’ve been deceived and they don’t even see it.
Why is this happening? Why are so many people falling into deception? Is there anything we can do to protect ourselves from this same fate? You bet there is!
The people who paid attention to false teachings and abandoned the faith had already seared their own conscience as with a branding iron. I understand that when you brand a steer, he winces in pain when the hot iron is burnt into his hide. In time, the pain of the burn goes away, but because the nerve endings never recover, the steer will lose all sensitivity at that spot.
Sin works the same way in searing our conscience. The first few times we commit a particular sin, our conscience cries out in objection, in pain, saying to stop! But if we continue in that sin, we sear our conscience, rendering it insensitive and silencing it from warning us of the wrong we are doing. When that happens, we become terribly vulnerable to deception.
Most people don’t get this point even though the Bible is as clear as can be: understanding spiritual truth is far more than an intellectual, or academic, exercise. If we want to discern truth from error, our heart must be right with God, we must have humility, and walk uprightly. Only then will our diligent study of the Bible pay off.