It has long troubled me how deception occurs. How can a sound mind come to believe a lie? Over the years, most have witnessed this process. People lead righteous, upright lives, seemingly filled with the Holy Spirit, then without warning, become seduced by society’s never-ending quest to disprove the existence of God and the authenticity of God’s Word, the Bible. Sadly, over time, they just fade away like the man walking into a London fog. Perhaps, you have known someone to whom this has happened. Invariably, the underlying cause is sin, and more times than not, it is completely hidden—known only to the sinner and God. If one continues to want and desire this sin, quenching God’s Holy Spirit, God will eventually let him have it (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Jesus Christ gave us the Law found in the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament), but keeping the Law is not enough. Christ said,
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Christ introduces us to a new concept. It is not merely enough to “do and don’t do,” it is how we think. Oh, it is really not new— it has been there all along, but we just didn’t see it. As a man thinks, so is he. It begins with a thought. But where do evil thoughts come from? God gave us five senses: taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing. We have all experienced how a smell can recall a past event buried deep in the recesses of our minds. Thoughts form by triggering one or more of these senses. However, thoughts may also come from the spiritual realm.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:13-15).
Make no mistake, the sole purpose of sin is to destroy. The process by which one becomes deceived is gradual, insidious. This is why the “hidden” sin is such furtive ground for delusion. There is no counsel, it is hidden. In time it affects all aspects of one’s life—the moral compass is lost, delusion is complete and what remains is a diseased, confused mind.
So what can one do? Just as an athlete must train rigorously and develop discipline, so one must train and learn to discipline one’s mind; exercising the Holy Spirit so we may rightly judge between good and evil. If I said to you, “Don’t think about the white elephant in the room,” you would immediately think of the white elephant in the room. Try as you may, you cannot not think of the white elephant. It is the same with evil thoughts. The trick is to replace the thought with a good thought. This we can do. We read in Philippians:
“. . .whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (4:8) “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7 NIV).