P.T. Barnum is credited with saying, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” The message: human beings are vulnerable to deception.
Scripture graphically conveys that Christians are not immune from this propensity, warning us repeatedly not to be deceived. The New Testament cites our vulnerability to deception in areas such as fraud by false teachers, falling for erroneous ideas, and being duped into believing that some sinful commodity will bring more satisfaction than its godly counterpart.
This weakness for deception is especially dangerous since deceiving is one of Satan’s specialties, one at which he excels. He started his conning career early, deceiving Eve in the Garden of Eden, recorded in the third chapter of Scripture, and he stays at it until the very end, deceiving multitudes at the termination of the Millennial Kingdom, recorded in the third to last chapter of Scripture.
Contemporary evangelicals have fallen for the mother of all deceptions, the false confidence that they have not been deceived. I recently read an article identifying France and the United States as two of the most secular nations on Earth. How can the American church, probably the largest and most influential church of any nation, deceive itself into believing it has no culpability in this decline? This false self-assurance that we are okay is especially devastating because it prevents us from diagnosing our disease and taking the cure.
Study of Scripture provides the cure for deception. The evangelical abandonment of expository preaching in preference for cherry picking feel-good passages has prevented us from recognizing Satan’s hoaxes. I challenge every evangelical to read through the Bible and ask whether the God it portrays is the same as the God evangelicals worship. An honest analysis would demonstrate that P.T. Barnum was right.