Have you ever been deceived? I suppose we all have. I remember a few years ago when I saw a TV commercial advertising a device to help you do sit-ups. The people who modeled it had ripped abs and made it look so convincing. So, you guessed it – I bought one. Over the next several weeks I did hundreds of sit-ups and nothing changed. Would it have eventually helped if I had kept going? Perhaps, but I seriously doubt it. Probably the only productive thing about that device was that it made a lot of money for those selling it.
The Bible warns us about the danger of deception. The Apostle Paul wrote – 2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. Satan is a master of deception. He has the ability to cleverly mix truth and error so that we can be misled. Consider his deception of the people of Israel.
Joshua 9:3 When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they acted deceptively. They gathered provisions and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They wore old, patched sandals on their feet and threadbare clothing on their bodies. Their entire provision of bread was dry and crumbly.
Gibeon was a town just down the road and most likely the next target on Joshua’s list. The men of Gibeon knew this and that’s why they cleverly came up with a scheme to deceive Joshua and the people. The Bible says that they disguised themselves in order to make it look like that they had traveled a great distance. They put on worn-out shoes and carried old crumbly bread. At first appearance it seemed that they must have been traveling for days, perhaps even months. But in reality they were wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Why did the men of Gibeon go to such an extent to practice their deception? The Bible tells us that they did so in order to cause Israel to be more willing to receive them as their friends. “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” (Joshua 9:6) A covenant is another word for a solemn agreement. “Make a peace treaty with us” they were saying. If Israel had known who these men really were, they would have never welcomed them or agreed to be at peace. If the men of Gibeon men had been honest and said, “We’re from Gibeon just down the road”, Joshua and the people would have quickly recognized that they were a part of the enemy. But by pretending to be from those from far off, the men of Gibeon made themselves appear to be innocent and harmless.
That’s what Satan does. Satan never reveals who he is or what he is about. Instead he makes himself and his schemes seem to be harmless and innocent. Satan actually has the ability to make what’s wrong seem right. Paul warns us of his ability to disguise himself as an angel of light. (see 2 Corinthians 11:14) That’s why we must be on constant guard against him. Peter writes – “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)