Deceived! Have you ever trusted someone only to learn you had been deceived? Deception is as old as….well, as time itself. A deceiver works his magic by flashing one set of motives, while armed with another. Deceivers are cunning. Their tricks work for a reason. No wonder James warns us about deception in Chapter 1. But in order for deception to work, we have to believe the deceiver’s lie. Take the Garden of Eden for example.
The Devil appeared to Eve as he usually does…in an irresistible package (Genesis 3:1-13). He presented a temptation tailor-made for her secret longings. “You won’t die when you eat the fruit from the forbidden tree,” soothed the serpent. “God knows that if you eat the fruit, you’ll be like Him…knowing good and evil.”
Eve “saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.” Turning a deaf ear to the Father’s warning, she “took some of the fruit and ate it” (v. 6). She gave a bite to Adam, their eyes were opened, and they “suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.”
Horrors. Eve had wanted to be like God only to realize she was in no way “dressed for the job.” She and Adam were stricken by the cunning deception, shamed by their utter inadequacy. Sin was downloaded into their DNA, and humanity has wrestled ever since.
The more deadly deception, however, was the Devil’s attack on the character of God. “God’s motives are not pure,” he lied. “His rules are not from a heart of love…He just wants to keep you from being ‘all you can be.'” Sound familiar? Satan found a strategy that works, so he uses it over and over and over. When will we ever learn?
James gives us a chance to reflect on a foundational truth which, if we get it, can save us from “biting the apple.” He gives us a moment to ponder the heart of our loving heavenly Father:
Don’t be deceived,my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:16,17).
Everything good thing that has ever happened to you is from God. Think about that for a minute. Even His boundaries are for your good. And the bad stuff? Suffering will always be something of a mystery, but James challenges us to greet the hard places with joy. Throw a counter-attack, he urges. Trust the Father to use those very trials to grow our faith roots deep.
Make no mistake about it. You do have an enemy, but it’s not God. Don’t let anyone tell you that God is not for you! He is all loving, infinitely good, and in complete control. Grasp that one, dear friends, and you’ll resist the deceiver when he comes knocking.