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Everyone Is Deceived
Satan deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
We all are deceived. It’s just a matter on what and the extent of it. Most don't know they are deceived (e.g. Matthew 7:13-23; Ephesians 4:17-18), and that's part of the deception.
This world is full of deceit, so much so, Ecclesiastes says,
People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them. (Ecclesiastes 9:1)
Ecclesiastes further comments on the state of man in this same chapter along this same thought with these words,
Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (Ecc. 9:3)
Madness (“insanity” NAS) is in every heart. If you are insane, you are deceived. Insanity dictates a serious loss of touch with reality (truth), as all men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Such is the state of all mankind (e.g. Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18). “The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil.”
Now, those who believe the Bible have been and are being saved (in part, see below) and will be saved entirely from this madness (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). But, those who do not believe the Bible are especially deceived, as it is written,
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Satan even snatches the Word out of people's heart, lest they believe and be saved.
Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. (Luke 8:12)
What a horrifying reality with eternal torment (Revelation 20:10; 21:8)!
Nevertheless, even believers are deceived. Even those who do believe the Bible and are saved are deceived, even in the same way unbelievers are deceived. Both in the flesh say, “There is no God” or “There are no Gods” (אֵין אֱלֹהִים). Either, of course, is a lie. Nonetheless,
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God" [אֵין אֱלֹהִים]. They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.
2 God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3 Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. (Psalm 53:1-3)
These words apply to every last person on the planet, including verse one. All men are fools, as it is written,
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 21:2).
That equals, “Every man is a fool.” We have all been cursed to think our own ways are all correct. But, that is a lie. The reality is, none of our ways are right (Isaiah 55:8). “There is none who does good, no, not one“ (Psalm 14:3).
Moreover, we are not mildly wicked and deceived. We are intensely wicked and deceived, as it is written of the heart of every last person,
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
The heart of man is so “desperately wicked” and “deceitful” it can actually do “the work of the Lord,” yet in deceit, as it is written,
Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, . . . (Jeremiah 48:10).
This is the horrible state of all mankind, believer and unbeliever alike. We are so far gone we even make fun of deceiving others (Proverbs 26:18-19), and we even deceive ourselves (e.g. Jeremiah 37:9; 1 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 6:3; James 1:22, 26; 1 John 1:8).
In our deception, all of our thoughts are perverted with “There is no God,” as it is written,
A wicked one, according to the height of his nose, is without seeking. All of his thoughts are, “There is no God” [אֵין אֱלֹהִים] (Psalm 10:4).1
This is the basic folly of all mankind, of all fools, and “the folly of fools is deceit” (Proverbs 14:8b); and “The wicked man does deceptive work” (Proverbs 11:18). Thus is the sin that works within all mankind.
The basic deceit men work is a denial (among other things) of the very One of Whom and through Whom and to Whom are all things (Romans 11:36), good, bad, righteous, evil, or indifferent (Isaiah 45:7). Remove Him (as all men do in their own minds, Romans 1:28) and you remove the substance of all reality, the One who has created and creates everything, who causes everything to happen that happens, who upholds everything (Hebrews 1:3), as it is written,
If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust. (Job 34:14-15)
Thus said Jehovah, thy redeemer, And thy framer from the womb: 'I am Jehovah, doing all things,2 Stretching out the heavens by Myself, Spreading out the earth -- who is with Me?3 (Isaiah 44:24, Young's Literal Translation)
With Him are strength and prudence. The deceived and the deceiver are His. (Job 12:16)
We are all so terribly engulfed in this sin and deceit, even the godly escape not. Because, though a believer's spirit has been redeemed (Ephesians 2:5),4 the body (the flesh) is still engrossed in sin (Romans 7:14-24), and sin works through deception.
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. (Romans 7:11)5
Hebrews 3:13 speaks of “the deceitfulness of sin.” Even for the believer, “the old man . . . is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22 KJV).6 There is no complete escape from deception and sin while still in this sinful flesh. This is why we constantly need a Savior to save us (Hebrews 7:25) from ourselves, to save us from the sin and deceit of our own hearts, and to save us from the sin and lies of others, that is, the sin and lies of either a believer or an unbeliever (Proverbs 30:8a). This is something the godly need to understand, as Israel of old needed to understand.
For they are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! (Deuteronomy 32:28-29)
If they wised up to understand they were “void of counsel” and understood they didn't have “understanding,” then they would seek God for it, and they would be saved (Proverbs 2:1-5). It is as Paul wrote,
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. (1Corithians 3:18)
if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8:2)
For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:3)7
Is everyone nothing?
All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless. (Isaiah 40:17)
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?" (Daniel 4:35)
So then, do you want wisdom? Realize you are nothing before God, and realize how stupid you are (Psalm 14:1-3).
In speaking of all mankind Paul wrote,
"Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit"; "The poison of asps is under their lips." (Romans 3:13)
Sadly, this is still true even for those who fear God.8 Their flesh is still wicked, and sometimes it really shows itself, like the old prophet who deceived the man of God in 1 Kings 13. Now, one might think that a believer would be quite safe in dealing with another believer. After all, they both love God and want what is right (Proverbs 11:23a; Matthew 5:6). But, this “safety” factor is not always experienced.9
11 Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king.
12 And their father said to them, "Which way did he go?" For his sons had seen1 which way the man of God went who came from Judah.
13 Then he said to his sons, "Saddle the donkey for me." So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it,
14 and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, "Are you the man of God who came from Judah?" And he said, "I am."
15 Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread."
16 And he said, "I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place.
17 "For I have been told by the word of the LORD,`You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.'"
18 He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying,`Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.'" (He was lying to him.)
19 So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.
20 Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back;
21 and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD:`Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you,
22 `but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the LORD said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'"
23 So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back.
24 When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. (1 Kings 13:11-24)
Here we have an example of a man of God (a believer, a prophet) being deceived by another man of God (an old prophet) who lied to him. He should have known God doesn't change His mind like that, to give a command and then change it. That was part of Balaam's folly in Numbers 22 (1-33). Nonetheless, the holy man of God was deceived, and he died because of it. Deception can have some nasty consequences, even for the believer, as the above well illustrates.
Job's friends would have experienced the consequences of their own deceptive folly, had Job not prayed for them (Job 42:7-9).10 They had not spoken what was right in regards to God, and He was angry with them. They spoke deceptively about God and even showed partiality towards the Lord, which, even concerning the One who does no wrong, is not right. Job said to his friends,
Will you speak wickedly for God, and talk deceitfully for Him? Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God? Will it be well when He searches you out? (Job 13:7-9a)
Job also said,
My brothers have dealt deceitfully like a brook, like the streams of the brooks that pass away (Job 6:15).
Thankfully, Job didn't buy their garbage. He also said,
But you forgers of lies, You are all worthless physicians. Oh, that you would be silent, and it would be your wisdom! (Job 13:4-5)
"I will teach you about the hand of God; what is with the Almighty I will not conceal. Surely all of you have seen it; why then do you behave with complete nonsense? (Job 27:11-12)
Bildad got the drift. He asked Job,
Why are we counted as beasts, and regarded as stupid in your sight? (Job 18:3)
The answer? Because they were being stupid! The were speaking “words of wind” (Job 16:3). They were indeed deceived and downright wrong. They were condemning Job for being wicked, but he wasn't. They argued his own wickedness was why God had brought all this trouble upon him (e.g. Job 4:7; 8:6; 11:4-6; 22:4-5; 27:5; 32:3). But, that was a lie, as Job 1 & 2 well proves.
But, Job had some of his own error, as God later rebuked Job with,
Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 38:2 NKJ)
Job spoke “words without knowledge,” just as Elihu rightly perceived (see Job 35:13-16). In other words, Job was deceived, not by his friends, but by his own evil heart (Jeremiah 17:9). He couldn't understand (Proverbs 3:5) why11 all this trouble had come upon him, even though he had feared God and lived uprightly (Job 10:7a). He believed God had dealt with him unjustly (Job 19:6-7).12 Job later admitted,
I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. (Job 42:3)
In other words, he spoke out of ignorance, and he was wrong (deceived) in his ignorance. Amazingly, what he was deceived about is something very basic. Elihu corrected Job with these simple words:
Far be it from God to do wickedness, and from the Almighty to commit iniquity. (Job 34:10)
Shouldn't that be a “no duh”? As Elihu said to Job,
Will you condemn Him who is most just? (Job 34:17)
And, as God Himself said to Job,
Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? (Job 40:8)
Now, remember, Job was in some seriously intense pain, suffering, and tribulation (Job 1 & 2). That's no excuse, but his circumstances were indeed unique, and he obviously wasn't thinking right . It's no excuse, but there should be a compassionate understanding towards Job, as he himself well put in the midst of his turmoil and appeal to his friends,
To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty. (Job 6:14; see also Job 6:24-26)
So, the book of Job well illustrates that even “men of understanding” (Job 34:10) can be deceived.
Scripture illustrates other men of God have been deceived (in particular) throughout the ages. Isaac by his own son Jacob (Genesis 27), Jacob 10 times over by his father-in-law, Laban (Genesis 31:7), Jacob by his own sons (Genesis 37), Jacob's sons by Joseph (Genesis 42-45), Joshua by the Gibeonites (Joshua 9), Jonathan by his father (Saul, 1 Samuel 20:1-3f), prophets by God Himself (e.g. Jeremiah 20:7; Ezekiel 14:9 KJV), were all deceived in different circumstances. It would be nice to say believers can't be deceived, but that is far from the truth. The fearful thing is, some deception is to eternal doom (e.g. Solomon, 1 Kings 11/1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Peter 2:1; 3:17; etc.).
This all keeps the godly in constant need of God, which is exactly what God wants (Mark 12:30; Acts 17:26-27; etc.). As Psalm 107 well illustrates, God brings trouble upon men, that they might seek Him, and He might deliver them; and they might give Him thanks. God has brought deception upon us, and He expects us to seek Him daily to be delivered from it (Isaiah 55:6; 64:5). This is what we are called to (John 16:33), to understand the error of our ways (Lamentations 3:40), to seek Him for deliverance, and to give Him thanks for both the trouble (the deception) and the salvation from it (Ephesians 5:20 “for”; 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “in”).
Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31)
Whoever is wise will observe these things, And they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD. (Psalm 107:43)
1See likewise ESV, NASB, and Darby. Psalm 10:4 in the Hebrew reads,
רשָׁ֗ע כְּגֹ֣בַהּ אַ֭פּוֹ בַּל־יִדְרֹ֑שׁ אֵ֥ין אֱ֜לֹהִ֗ים כָּל־מְזִמּוֹתָֽיו׃
2“doing all things” - עֹ֣שֶׂה כֹּ֔ל (oseh kol) – this could also be translated, “making everything.”
3“who is with Me?” - מִי אִתִּי (miy 'itiy, written in text) - מֵאִתִּֽי (mê'itiy, what some read, a marginal note) - “by Myself” (KJV; NKJV) or more literally, “from with Me.” In other words, “all alone” (NAS).
4See Psalm 32:2 (“in whose spirit there is no deceit”); Proverbs 11:23a; John 1:47 (“in whom is no deceit”); 1 John 3:9; 5:4.
5Is sin always through deception? It would appear so from Romans 7:11. But, Adam was not deceived when he sinned (1 Timothy 2:14). Nevertheless, he was unique, in that, unlike Adam (Ecclesiastes 7:29), all humanity after him was born in sin (Romans 5:12-19), with no inherent ability to not sin (Psalm 16:2; Jeremiah 13:23; Romans 11:32) apart from God given faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
6“lusts” - ἐπιθυμίας – more literally, “desires”
7Even Job said,
I am blameless, yet I do not know myself; I despise my life (Job 9:21; see also 1 Corinthians 4:4).
8See also Ecclesiastes 8:12-13.
9And, things can get terribly bad, with no one godly to be found. See, e.g., Micah 7:1-9.
10“For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly (Job 42:8 NKJV); “For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly” (Job 42:8 NAS); “for surely his face I accept, so as not to do with you folly” (Young's Literal Translation). כִּ֧י אִם־פָּנָ֣יו אֶשָּׂ֗א לְבִלְתִּ֞י עֲשׂ֤וֹת עִמָּכֶם֙ נְבָלָ֔ה
The wording in the Hebrew in Job 42:8 for "I will accept him" (KJV; NKJV, speaking of Job) or "his face I accept" (YLT) is more literally, "his face I lift up" (פָּנָ֣יו אֶשָּׂ֗א). This is the same kind of wording in the Hebrew in Deuteronomy 10:17 where, speaking of God it says, "who shows no partiality" (NKJV). That is more literally, "he does not lift up a face" (לֹא־יִשָּׂ֣א פָנִ֔ים). This kind of wording is used for partiality (e.g. Leviticus 19:15; Job 13:8, 10; 32:21; 34:19) and, as here in Job 42:8-9, the acceptance of a person in a good sense, not evil (e.g. Genesis 19:21; 1 Samuel 25:35).
11Job asks why 15 times (Job 3:11-12, 16, 20, 23; 7:20-21; 9:29; 10:2, 18; 13:14, 24; 21:4, 7; 24:1). See also Job 7:17-18.
12Though Job believed God had done him wrong, Job still loved Him and put His trust in Him (e.g. Job 13:15-16; 19:25-27).
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