Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Can The Elect Be Deceived By Satan?

This is a question that many Christians have wondered for many years? Satan has been called the accuser of the brethern and he has deceived many since the beginning of creation. He deceived Adam and Eve. He even tried to deceive Jesus through temptation.

Jesus prayed for His Father to keep us from the evil one (John 17:15) and gave us the model to protect us from evil (Matthew 6:13). We are also told in Scripture that "the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 2:13) and "everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him" (1 John 5:18).

The Bible also says the world in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19) so the question is can Satan deceive someone who has been redeemed by Christ and no longer under any condemnation. Sinclair Ferguson answers this question:

In Matthew 24:24, Jesus warns His disciples, “False Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

These words appear to refer to the events surrounding Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70. But the deception Jesus has in view is part of an ongoing pattern. From the beginning, Satan has been deceiving God’s people (Gen. 3:13). He will continue to do so until the lawless one is revealed “with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9–10). John’s vision of the millennium ends with a worldwide rampage of deception on Satan’s part (Rev. 20:8). Jesus’ warning is therefore relevant to us.

Missing the Point

“Fortunately,” we may say to ourselves, “the elect are in no danger. For Jesus’ words imply that we are incapable of falling prey to Satanic deception.” But to read the text in this way is to miss the point, for two reasons:

It fails to take account of the evidence of history. Christians have been, and are, capable of being deceived. Have none of the elect been deceived in recent years into supporting “ministries” that have proved so tragically different in reality from what they professed to be? Sadly, we are more easily addicted to the spectacular (“signs and wonders”) than to the substantial, to novelty (“false prophets”) than to a wholesome orthodoxy. If we think Christians cannot be deceived, the deception has already begun.

It misunderstands the nature of the impossibility. Jesus did not say the elect were incapable of being deceived. We are all only too capable of it. Nevertheless, we are given this assurance: God will protect and preserve His people. Like Simon Peter, they will be shielded by the prayers of Christ and the power of God (Luke 22:31–32). This is accomplished through the activity of faith (1 Peter 1:5).


But how can we guard ourselves against spiritual deception?

By developing sensitivity, we become aware of Satan’s strategies in our lives (2 Cor. 2:11).

Have you learned what they are?

By developing self-knowledge, we recognize how weak we are. Since nothing good dwells in our flesh (Rom. 7:18), we need constantly to depend on the Lord.

Do you?

By developing an appetite for God’s Word, we are “trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:14, ESV), and we grow in discernment.

Is that true of you today?

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