As leaders, we must be aware of deceptive practices. Whether we are leading a business, a classroom, a church, or a family, the spirit of deception is active and attempts to keep us from accomplishing our God-given purpose on earth. Deception is a subtle scheme that makes sin look different from its true condition. Eventually, the false teaching or belief becomes acceptable when before it was seen as the sin it is. The great deceiver is satan, who manifests this deception in multiple forms. He is a master at the slow boil of the frog in the pot. Sadly, Christians have remained mute as satan and his minions covertly brought sin to an acceptable level in our government, schools, culture, and even in the church. This silence is tacit approval.

In Matthew 24:4-14, when asked by His disciples what the signs of the end of the ages would be, the very first thing Christ told them was, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” Interestingly, He did not start with a litany of physical or cultural manifestations that would announce the end of the ages. Instead, He personalized the warning to His disciples and now to us. Christ was not as worried about the signs of the times as He was about the sanctification and safety of His followers. The need for this advice has intensified.

Deception takes many forms. Employees try to deceive others to steal or avoid punishment, children try to deceive parents to obtain their desires, and criminals and politicians try to deceive courts and the public to hide their true motivations and deeds. The common denominator in any deception is satan. He has not changed since Adam’s day. Subtlety is his forte, and he continues to work that art form just as he did in the garden. Leaders need to know how to identify and combat this deception.

The serpent in the garden deceived Eve when he said, “You will not surely die.” He was playing a word game. He intended to get Eve to ignore God’s command by appealing to her appetite for the forbidden fruit and telling her she would not die “physically.” Today’s church leadership continues to allow this word-game deception and subtle lies. We see leaders making evil sound good and good sound unloving. I was recently reminded in 2 Timothy 3:1-9 just how far the deception has progressed. In this scripture, the scorecard of failings that will announce the end times is long and full of subtle sins. For one, men will be lovers of themselves. What does that look like? All you need do is walk around any campus, restaurant, or even family gatherings, and you will see everyone buried in their smartphones and taking selfies instead of engaging with their friends and families. Personal comfort and satisfaction (“lovers of self rather than lovers of God.” vs. 4) have invaded our lives and are acceptable to many. Are we not told to love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31)? How many videos of fights or muggings have you seen lately? Why not put the phone down and help the victims? The fact that our society seems to embrace this self-adoration over loving others announces the arrival of our love growing cold for each other (vs. 3).  

The list of end-time markers in this passage is long and painful, but an honest review will assure the reader that as leaders in God’s Ekklesia, we have been asleep at the switch while satan deceived his way into our families, churches, and institutions. For example, blasphemy (vs. 2) is particularly egregious since it leads to death and eternal separation from God. But our pastors and church members are talking about following cultural icons who openly blaspheme by participating with satan (music videos depicting witchcraft, dancing at award ceremonies to a satanist’s rant, wearing an upside-down cross, hanging out with a satanist at the Super Bowl). All the time professing to be a “Christian.” Sadly, I have heard pastors and church leaders endorse these icons and talk about listening to their music, watching their movies/T.V. shows, or allowing their children to do so. It would appear satan has been subtly invited into their pulpit. (See also my April 23, 2024 post on other subtle manipulations like LGBTQ, abortion, and scriptural misinterpretations). I have concentrated on arts and entertainment here, but there are many examples of blasphemers we have permitted to subtly invade our lives. We can look at the fields of education, government, business, and ministry for a plethora of examples. Perform an honest perusal of your playlists and recently watched shows.

How have we let these subtle sins slip past our watchtowers? Why are we ignoring the church, as Nehemiah questioned? I attribute it to one major cause: we stopped learning the truth as taught in God’s Word. We spend more time with counterfeit than the real. We watch TV more than we should. We listen to others tell us what we should think and what is acceptable rather than critically thinking. Our society has started punishing and discouraging critical thinking. A young teacher was recently fired for teaching his class to think critically through the words bigot and transphobia in relationship to understanding the science behind men and women, sex, and gender. It is another example of how culture has subtly embraced satanic deception. God made us male and female, and now Christians and non-Christians are attacked for speaking this truth. Or, more troubling, self-professing Christians are embracing the lie of LGBTQ and ignoring the teachings of God.

How do leaders combat this deception? First, recognize that God wants no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9). People involved in this deception are not our enemies but our mission field. He wants all to be saved, but He will not accept sin into His Kingdom. Then, immerse yourself in the truth of the science you teach/sell, the business you run, and the truth of God’s Word in the church or ministry you lead. Next, question everything, research, and challenge everything, and then stand on the truth you find regardless of what culture tries to do to you. The Bible tells us to test everything, hold fast to truth, and quench evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Unfortunately, many leaders today have chosen to remain silent to be culturally relevant, hold on to a job or money, and remain inoffensive. WAKE UP! You have let satan subtly hijack your business, family, and ministry. A leader’s best weapons are truth, boldness, and communication. Look again at 1 Thessalonians 5, but start at verse 16. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks, and verse 19, do not quench the Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit reign throughout your life. Apply these guidelines liberally, every day in order to stay awake to deception.

Note to Readers: In all of my posts, I refuse to capitalize the word satan, and I have been asked why since this is an acceptable/demanded literary construct. The word satan means accuser, and it is not a name. It is the office he holds. His name is Lucifer. The word accuser could be just as easily substituted for satan but likely would not have the same impact.

Thanks to my great friend Lon for walking me through how to make this important message even clearer. What a blessing!

Kevin Uncategorized

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