(a) the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid: the act of deceiving
(b) an instance of actions and/or schemes fabricated to mislead and/or delude someone into errantly believing a lie or inaccuracy
(a) An idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder – Oxford Living Dictionary
(b) A false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence and is not explained by a person’s usual cultural and religious concepts (so that, for example, it is not an article of faith). A delusion may be firmly maintained in the face of incontrovertible evidence that it is false. Delusions are a frequent feature of schizophrenia. – MedicineNet.com
(a) the act of sending someone to hell or the state of being in hell
- b) To condemn to everlasting punishment or another terrible fate in the afterlife; doom
Deception and the Church
II Thessalonians 2:1-12 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
“ Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Now that we know exactly what the definitions of deception and delusion are, let’s examine what Paul stated in the above scripture from his second letter to the Church at Thessalonica.
He was explaining to them that they should not be alarmed, thinking that the Day of Christ was ‘at hand.’ Obviously, they had been led to believe (deceived) that the event was upon them. Likely, some evil servants of Satan had infiltrated the body of Thessalonian believers and were using deception to get them to believe a lie, that the rapture of the church was at hand or had already occurred. We all know that Satan is a liar and the father of lies, so the perpetrator of the deception was a tool (useful idiot) he was using to further his wicked agenda. If he could get them to accept the lie, they would become deluded, altering their beliefs and getting into contradiction with God’s truth. Paul explained where they had missed it and reiterated the teaching he had given them when he was with them at some point in the past.
Due to Paul’s evangelism and teaching among them, the Thessalonian Church had already received the truth, and the love of the truth. Paul was exhorting these new believers to stay in tune with God’s truth, which had been given to them at the direction of the Holy Spirit. As he has always done, Satan – through one or more of his followers – planned to get them just a little bit off in their thinking, just enough to alter their path and their relationship with God.
His deception, like all deception, begins with a lie. Sometimes it may seem to be a small thing, but the result of receiving the lie is that it immediately starts replacing the truth in a believer’s heart. Had Satan been successful, the believers at Thessalonica would have become deceived, and delusion would have followed the deception, with the saints believing something other than the truth presented by Paul. But God, in His infinite knowledge, had other plans. He instructed Paul to reaffirm the teaching provided earlier. The hope, as we read this scripture, is that all those saints at Thessalonica heard Paul and got back on track, in line with the Truth they had been taught and joyfully received.
Deception may come in many forms, but it always tries to supplant the truth with a lie. Anyone who does not have a good grasp of the truth, and who cannot seem to separate the lie from the truth in his or her own mind, will easily be deceived. Once the deception has taken root, it will lead to delusion, a personal belief that the lie IS the truth; and once that root begins to grow, changing the false belief becomes more difficult and less likely to happen.
One of the more obvious delusions that has almost crippled some mainline denominations in Christianity is that God is finished with the descendants of Abraham and that the Church is the new Israel. This delusion came from the acceptance of a lie and has caused a great many Christians to forsake the truth that God still has magnificent plans for the Jewish people. For this to have happened, those who accepted the lie must have taken their focus off the Truth of God’s Word. This is what Paul was cautioning the believers at Thessalonica against.
Deception and Delusion in the World
Many recent events have caused a lot of anxiety, confusion and hostility among the various cultural elements in American society, and indeed throughout the world. Most of these events involve terrorist incidents or domestic shootings that left many people dead and wounded, the most recent being the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. Very soon after all these events occurred, the extreme left-leaning people, accompanied by the MSM, began to jump on the gun-control wagon, having another go at blaming the senseless deaths on lack of gun control, or some other equally lame reason. These events naturally stay at the forefront of news reporting for weeks, sometimes longer, and provide the multitudes who seek not the truth with a forum to further their unreasonable, illogical ideas and accusations.
I have listened to these people spout their unreasonable and uncontrolled vitriol, some of it aimed at our president, as though he could somehow be to blame for such a tragedy. I began wondering how so many people could look at the event and reach so many improbable, illogical conclusions, to the point that they are ready go on a massive witch hunt for the perpetrators, when they have no idea who is truly to blame. It occurred to me that they might be hoping, by virtue of their incessant loud bellowing and with the assistance of the MSM, to convince others that they must be right. If this is true, they are working to deceive those who may not yet have formed an opinion on the subject.
Since the unbelievers in the world have little to no grasp of the truth and seem to live in an alternate reality of their own creation, it is hardly shocking that they so easily are deceived and readily accept the delusion that follows deception.
The delusion Paul mentions in II Thessalonians, verse 11, is a state of being that God himself will send upon the wicked of the world – those who ‘refuse to receive the love of the truth’ (verse 10). This delusion will dovetail perfectly with the false doctrine of the Antichrist when he is revealed. The result is that a great multitude of people will follow the Antichrist in his insane attempt to overthrow God and His Son. These deluded ones will possibly be the greatest enemies of the Church when real persecution begins, especially in America. Those who are true believers and suffer persecution at the hands of the wicked will reap the reward of ‘receiving the Truth;’ but, according to verse 12, those who refuse the Truth will accept Satan’s deception and the delusion sent from God, with the result being their eternal damnation.
All who would avoid damnation must receive the Truth of God’s Word. And the only way you and I can avoid the deception that Satan would use to lead believers astray is to remain committed to the Truth and totally focused on it, and ‘let no man deceive you by any means.’ This warning from Paul was very timely for the Church at Thessalonica, but even more necessary for believers today.