"Little children, let no one deceive you."
(1 John 3:7a NKJV)
We are little children. Because of this, we need to be aware of our tendencies to blindly follow the duping and deceitful voices of this world. We must walk wisely in the ways of our Lord, weighing carefully what enters our thoughts through the ears and the eyes.
Gullibility (defined) is a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into an ill-advised course of action. It is closely related to credulity, which is the tendency to believe unlikely propositions that are unsupported by evidence.
Notice that the definition says that gullibility is a "failure." A failure of social intelligence. In the spiritual sense, gullibility is a failure as well ... a failure of spiritual intelligence. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," says the LORD.(Hosea 4:6a NKJV)
It is upon the foundation of Godly knowledge and wise understanding that the spirit of man has witness with the Spirit of God. We know we are to obey God. Yet, we cannot obey what we do not know, but we shall not be excused for disobedience to that which has been set before us, even though we refuse to learn. Are you letting a refusal to learn more of God guard your heart from the devil who prowls through the earth with death on his mind and you in his sights? Are you filling your eyes and ears with what pleases your LORD so that you have a filter of Truth through which to weigh everything else? Do you toy with temptation and the world's ways, or stay as far away from them as possible.
Part of the solution is how we respond to grace. Just because grace "covers" us does not mean it encourages us to go on being foolish. Being foolish is not a heavenly virtue. If we see grace as the safety net or free ticket to forgiveness, thereby giving us freedom to fall into as many traps of the devil as possible, then we are deceived already! Responding appropriately to grace means that we seek holiness and purity, wisdom and knowledge, we build new foundations for our lives in the place of old ones. Grace should lead us to forsake and loathe sin because it was leading us to our death. We should respond by loving holiness and godliness.
We should also be careful not to wander into places where we are too guarded and cynical. It would seem that the easiest way to keep from getting "hurt" or "lured" would just be to withdraw from everyone, but that is not our Father's way. He does not want hermits for children, but rather wise and discerning in all our ways. The ways we interact are what concerns Him. God wants us protected but not isolated. God wants us to want the truth that will set us free. God wants us to love the wisdom that will give us guidance.
Little children... let no one deceive you... ever.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.