Have you ever experienced the awkwardness of watching a TV show or movie where a salesman swindles the customer? You cringe a little on the inside, thinking “How could they be so stupid? He’s clearly deceiving them!” It’s no surprise the job of the salesman is to make deals that bring him the most money, but it’s difficult to watch a salesman making a fool out of a customer, even when we know it’s fake.
In reality, we prepare ourselves for such salesmen. When buying a car, we do our research ahead of time in order to know what we want and how much we’re willing to pay. We prepare for conversations with people who we know will argue their case and try to convince us we’re wrong. We enter into these situations feeling strong and prepared.
And then the conversation happens, and our defenses weaken. How many times do we walk away wondering how we caved that easily?
When our hearts stray
We’ve all experienced those moments of wondering how we let our guard down and gave in instead of standing strong. The funny thing is, we realize heading into those moments the salesman will try to state his case in a beautiful and enticing way. We’re prepared for that, but still we fail.
It makes you wonder how many times we give into the salesman without even realizing it.
Giving into sin looks similar to giving into that salesman. We know sin grieves the heart of God. We prepare our hearts against it. And yet we still fall prey to how enticing it looks. What about the moments, though, when we don’t even realizing we’re giving into it? Do you ever wonder how many times a day you sin without knowing it?
We understand Satan reigns as the ultimate deceiver. There are numerous scripture verses about how he will deceive the world during the end times. In 2 Corinthians, Paul worries the enemy has deceived the Church just as he did Eve, because the people allowed their pure devotions to stray from Christ when they put up with falsehood.
Paul wrote that these men and women put up with falsehood “easily.” It makes you stop and wonder why they would not have held closer to Jesus. Could it be they didn’t even realize their hearts were straying?
Could it be we don’t realize when our hearts stray?
Losing sight of the truth
How could that be possible? We’re not like that foolish customer, not understanding the salesman deceives him. We sin, yes, but we realize when we do, and we seek forgiveness and move on with our day. How, then, could we fall prey to the devil’s schemes without even realizing it?
Look at the world around us. Sin runs rampant. We witness people sin against God openly, even people who say they follow Jesus. It’s easy to point the finger at those people, accusing them of giving into the salesman. But like Jesus taught, shouldn’t we look at our own sin and fix our eyes on Him before trying to accuse others of their sin?
When we look at our own hearts, truly look, we’ll find we’ve allowed the devil to deceive us far more often than we’ve realized. Make no mistake, sin is still a choice. When we sin, we still choose sin over God. But Satan is tricky, and he can twist and shape sin until, if our guard is down, we don’t realize we’re sinning.
How exactly does he do this? By learning our weaknesses and showing us situations where our weaknesses are not seen as sin. At first, we might realize those weaknesses are exactly that. But once we immerse ourselves in enough situations where people look at those sins as normal and accepted, we lose sight of the truth.
Prayer and accountability
We all have different weaknesses Satan exploits. For some, it might be focusing too deeply on the things of this world, placing them before Jesus. For others, it might look like not giving their all at work as a result of feeling burned out or not enjoying their job. Still others might believe their constant emotional reactions aren’t sinful.
1 John 1:8-10 tells us we can deceive ourselves when we believe we aren’t sinning. There’s that word again: deceive. Not only do we allow Satan to deceive us, but we deceive ourselves! Satan plants the seed and provides ways for us to practice our sins, but we are the ones who choose to sin instead of follow God.
How do we recognize these sins if we’re deceived? It’s probably no surprise prayer is the first step. David prayed God would search his heart and show him any offense within him. We must do the same.
Pray for conviction. Pray for revelation. Trust the Holy Spirit dwelling within you will not allow sin to continue to deceive you if you seek Him with all your heart. It will be daunting at first to rid yourself of sin you don’t even think of as sin, one that has become habit, that feels a part of who you are. But that’s the beauty of what John wrote in 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, God is faithful to purify us from all of it.
Once you’ve recognized these hidden sins, find someone you trust and ask them to keep you accountable. If this sin is a habit for you, it will prove extremely difficult to simply ask forgiveness and tell yourself you won’t let it happen anymore. Allow yourself to experience vulnerability, and share your weaknesses with someone who will speak truth to you and help keep you accountable to ridding yourself of sin.
We’re not alone in this struggle. With Christ, we’re stronger than ever when facing sin, but we still stumble and allow ourselves to fall prey to Satan. Draw hope and courage from others who pursue Christ, and pray continually, asking God to create in you a pure heart. The more we do this, the easier it will be to recognize the salesman when he comes to deceive us.
Let’s Talk About It: How can you prepare yourself for Satan’s schemes to deceive you?