Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. (ESV)
"In late September 1864 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was leading his troops north from Decatur, Alabama, toward Nashville. But to make it to Nashville, Forrest would have to defeat the Union army at Athens, Alabama. When the Union commander, Colonel Wallace Campbell, refused to surrender, Forrest asked for a personal meeting, and took Campbell on an inspection of his troops. But each time they left a detachment, the Confederate soldiers simply packed up and moved to another position, artillery and all. Forrest and Campbell would then arrive at the new encampment and continue to tally up the impressive number of Confederate soldiers and weaponry. By the time they returned to the fort, Campbell was convinced he couldn't win and surrendered unconditionally!"
- Today in the Word, June 27, 1993.
James knew that it was easy for believers to be deceived. In the previous verses he has discussed how we are led astray into sin. He wants us to know that it is not the Lord who leads us into temptation, but rather we lead ourselves there by following our own fleshly desires. The Savior wants to lead us away from temptation. He is our source of victory.
How often have you been deceived? I am sure that if you were to go back and look at every time that you have fallen into sin you could pinpoint a particular point in time where the deception took place. It always comes down to a disbelief in the fact that God is sufficient enough for whatever life situation you are in.
Deception is a distortion of belief. Our minds are tricked into believing something that we ordinarily would not believe. Just like this Union Commander in the story above would not have surrendered if the facts were not twisted, we also would not sin if we stayed with the truth that we know of God, in accordance with his Word.
So, what is the solution? How do we keep ourselves from being deceived? We stay away from deception by staying close to the source of all truth. The Word of God needs to be so embedded in us that when deception comes we can counter it with Scripture. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119, "Thy word have I had in my heart, that I may not sin against you."
Deception is real. But it does not have to overwhelm you. Spend time in the Word of God regularly so that you will be able to recognize the deceit of the enemy.