Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another, day after day…so that none of us be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
In the book of Revelation, the devil is called Satan, who deceives the entire world. The word “deceive” is in the present continual tense; Satan and his demons continually deceive us.
Jeremiah reminds us that our heart is more deceitful than anything else and is desperately sick; who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9)?
Our hearts deceive us.
Jesus tells us in Mark 4:19 that the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things choke out the word of God.
The world deceives us.
And the verses in Hebrews say sin deceives us.
OK, so what is deception?
Deception is concealment—a distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading. It is the act of representing something as true that is known to be false.
There are many ways that sin deceives us, but we will cover just four here.
First, sin deceives us by providing temporary pleasure. There are many types of sins that are pleasurable, but that pleasure is temporary and soon transforms into pain and problems. In Genesis, Eve said to the Lord, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate of the fruit.” Sin entered the world. In contrast, Moses forsook the pleasures of sin. Moses was the second most powerful person in Egypt. He had access to all the wealth, power, women, and food he wanted. Yet he chose to suffer with God’s people rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin. We must be honest with ourselves: some pleasurable activities violate God’s standard. We don’t want to be deceived by temporary pleasures.
Won’t Happen to Me
A second way sin deceives us is that we think that what happens to others will not happen to us. We believe we are different, smarter, and will not get caught. That’s the deceitfulness of sin. But God said, “Be sure your sin will find you out“ (Numbers 32:23).
When I was in school, I took a test in my French class. I had written some answers in the palm of my hand, and I went into class with my hand closed so my teacher could not see. I was careful while I was taking the test to just peek at my hand occasionally. But twenty minutes into the test, the teacher got up from her desk and started walking down the aisle. She stopped at my desk and took my paper without saying a word. She went back to her desk, crumpled up the paper, and threw it in the trash can. The other students turned around and looked at me; I was very embarrassed. I got a zero on the test. When that was averaged in to all the other tests, I ended up flunking the class and had to take it all over again the next year. I thought I could get away with it. Pride and sin had deceived me, and I paid the price.
A third way sin deceives is by presenting rational alternatives that twist the proper application of Christ’s teaching. We might be presented with something that seems reasonable at the time. It may even have a Bible verse attached to it. But sin twists the proper application of Christ’s teaching. Remember when Jesus was in the wilderness and the devil came to him, tempting him? The devil started quoting Scripture to Jesus, offering him bread. But Jesus properly quoted the Scriptures and applied it to his life in the right way. He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 NKJV).
Lastly, a fourth way that sin deceives is by promoting bias as fact. News media, government officials, and really, all of us, have a bias about things, but we talk about them as though they are fact instead of presenting them—and receiving them—as merely opinions or perspectives.
What Deceit Leads To
Hebrews 3:13 says the deceitfulness of sin can harden us. The hardening develops spiritual insensitivity. One way we know we are being spiritually insensitive is when sin is not as painful as it used to be. When we are not as saddened or grieved as we used to be by things that we are doing or that are going on in the world.
My pastor once said, “When sin enters the bloodstream of society, it is first met with shock, then tolerance, then acceptance; then it is embraced and finally promoted.” We can certainly see evidence of that in the morality of our country and around the world.
It is especially important that men of valor stick together to encourage one another every single day lest we become fooled by the deceitfulness of sin. Our Lord loves us so much that He died for us. That is worth the cost to do as Moses did and forsake the pleasures of sin—and its resulting deceit.
By knowing God and His Word, men of valor guard against the deceitfulness of sin.