Can a Christian be deceived? How is this possible? I am afraid I will not know how to distinguish what is true and what is false in my faith. Please help.
Perhaps deception is the most problematic of the fiery darts the enemy sends our way because by its very nature it remains hidden from our view. Paul wrote to Timothy about the coming deception when he said: “But the spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach.” (1 Tim. 4:1)
A person who is being seduced by a thought or belief that is contrary to the will of God cannot see the deception as it gets its grip on him/her. Job thought God was behind all of his troubles; however, it was actually Satan. (Job 1:20-22; 2:10; 42:11) If deception can happen to Job, it can happen to any of us. Even in the “perfect state of heaven” Eve was capable of being deceived. (Gen. 3:13) We must all be aware of the fact we can be deceived by the enemy. This awareness should lead us to always want to “check things out” with the counsel of the Scripture and the counsel of mature believers.
How then are we as targets of the enemy’s attack on our minds to defend ourselves? Dr. Neil Anderson suggests some key strategies for winning the battle for our minds:
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind with the Word of God. (Rom. 12:2) By filling our minds with the truth of God’s Word, we can experience peace as we let that peace rule in our hearts. (Col. 3:15) Christians have found that letting the truth that Jesus came to give us “richly dwell in our hearts” transforms and renews our minds. (Col. 3:16)
Prepare your mind for action. Peter directs us to be assertive and not passive in our thinking.Attitude about controlling our thought life. The enemy will lead us toward being passive about our thought life. God works through our minds to actively lead us to follow truth and to be intentional about it.
Take every thought captive. In Second Corinthians 10:5, Paul exhorts us to be assertive in our application of our trust and faith in Jesus. When a negative thought runs through our mind we are to take that captive by replacing with what is true. Tempting, lying or accusing thoughts are to be dealt with by choosing to believe the truth and to keep choosing it until it becomes entrenched as a normal part of our thought life.
Turn anxious, negative, tempting or accusing thoughts into a prayer. Paul writes in Philippians 4:6 that we are to, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer—let your request be made known.” I have found it so helpful to wrap up the negative thought in a prayer and turn it over to God, releasing it into His hands.
Assume your responsibility to choose the truth and commit yourself to live accordingly. Paul gives us a wonderfully practical model for how to choose truth. In Philippians 4:8-11, he lists what we are to think on: “…Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is loyal, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I hope this is helpful.