Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Is it a sin to be deceived? Or is it merely a misfortune?
From time to time we read of people who have been deceived by "con men" who pretend to have the power to double their money. Some are preachers, and they tell you that if you give them your life savings, they will "pray" over your money, and then you are supposed to receive twice as much as you had. But you know what happens: they disappear with the money. Now, was it a sin to be deceived by those men?
Some will say, No, it was just bad luck. But think more deeply: God's law says it is a sin to "covet ... anything that is your neighbor's" (Ex. 20:17; 1 John 3:4); the choice to try to double your money by an unlawful method is itself a sin.
The apostle James says "each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14, 15). The choice to double your money without earning it is "desire" which "gives birth to sin." Selfishness lies at the bottom of the deception.
It is a sin to be deceived, because Paul says that Eve "being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Tim. 2:14). The sin consists of believing the lie of Satan, which makes one immediately a partaker of Satan, a partner with him in his deception--deceiver and deceived become one.
Believing a lie requires the act of disbelieving the truth. When Satan performs "all kinds of false miracles and wonders," those who accept them and believe them will condemn themselves, for "they will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved. ... The result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned (2 Thess. 2:9-12, Good News Bible).
--Robert J. Wieland
From: God's Message for Africa, 1989.
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