One of the things I pray most for myself is that I will not be deceived. I am not a fearful man, but I admit that I fear being deceived. The root of the ancient Greek word for deceived means, “not to see.” It means that you don’t see the truth, so you press on thinking that what you can see is the truth.

Yes, this scares me.

I’ve sat with men who were deceived about their wives. It caused them to blow up marriages that could have been joyous and fulfilling. They couldn’t see the truth.

I grew up mainly in Germany and heard often about “the days of deception,” those years when that nation was swept up in a Nazi blindness that killed millions. Parents of my German friends remembered and sometimes wept at dinner tables over what otherwise gifted and sophisticated people had done.

I have had a bit of experience in helping people get out of cults. It is astonishing what foolishness we can become absolutely convinced of, particularly when we think God is behind it.

I was reminded of this matter of deception when I watched the video of the Planned Parenthood doctor that has received so much attention. There on the screen was an attractive, young, articulate doctor discussing the dismembering of babies and the sale of their parts. She did it all very calmly, as though discussing her tennis game, over wine and appetizers at a stylish restaurant. She is deceived. She does not see.

I watched a second video this week by another Planned Parenthood spokeswoman. She calmly discussed “crunchy” procedures of abortion and the market value of what remained. She, too, is deceived. She doesn’t see.

We live at a time when deception is common. High school girls sneak off to join ISIS after watching a handful of YouTube videos. Men log onto adultery web sites designed for married people assuming that, since their partner in sex is married, they will be safe. There are odd religious extremes and addictions to every kind of pleasure. It is all fruit of deception.

I don’t want to be deceived. You don’t either. Here is what I do.

  • I ask God to open my eyes and guard me from being deceived.
  • In the arenas of my life that are arenas of deception for millions of people, I stand guard. These would be arenas like theology, sex, anything pertaining to my wife or children, and certainly my thinking about myself.
  • I recognize that anger and bitterness left untended lead to deception. I fight them. I ask for help from friends. I pray. I do what homework needs to be done in my soul.
  • I open my life to a band of brothers and my amazing wife. I create a “free fire zone” around me in which anything that needs to be said to make me better and open my eyes, must be said.
  • I read the Bible. I read history. I read the words of wise men. I read more than most folks about cults and strange religious and political movements. It helps me look deception in the face so I have a better chance of knowing it when I see it in my life.
  • Finally, I am careful to not want anything of this life too much. To put it in church terms, our idolatry leads us into deception. To put it in psychological terms, excessive passion deforms. To put it in Stephen terms, grasping for stuff too much makes me weird.

I’ll pray for you and you pray for me. Let’s declare a deception free zone in our lives.

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