“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Cor 2:11
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” Sun Tzu
“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” Sun Tzu
Some words in the English language are always understood as negative. “Deceive” is such a word. In preparation for this study I searched several dictionaries, looking for a simple definition that caught the underlying meaning of “deceive”. It was not easy. I’m not sure I found one that fully captures the visceral nature of our response when we learn we’ve been deceived. There is nothing positive about it. Yes, we usually tell ourselves we will learn from the experience and not be tricked again, but we leave with nothing but negative thoughts about the experience itself.
The American Heritage Dictionary lists the following synonyms for deceive: betray, mislead, beguile, delude, dupe, hoodwink, bamboozle and double-cross. Each of these words addresses a specific type of deception. For example, “betray” implies treachery (“to trick”). “Beguile” suggests deceiving by means of charm or allure. To “delude” is to mislead the mind or judgment. “Dupe” implies playing upon another’s susceptibilities or naiveté. “Hoodwink” refers to deluding by trickery. “Bamboozle” is to delude through the use of tactics such as hoaxing or artful persuasion. When one has been double-crossed they’ve had a confidence betrayed or a pledge willfully broken. The one on the receiving end of another’s deception does not leave the experience feeling good about it. To be deceived is always negative.
There’s another aspect of deception I wish us to fix in our minds before we proceed with this study. The deceiver never has in mind the best interests of the one he is deceiving. The deceiver always intends to harm, in some way, the target of his deception. Deception is not an innocent, unintentional act. Sometimes people are innocently led astray by another. In such a case the one leading the other didn’t mean to misguide them. They didn’t intend to harm them. For whatever reason their advice or recommendation was wrong, but not intentionally so. Deception is intentional and harmful.
In this study we will examine both our enemy and ourselves. Paul tells us we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (or evil purposes). We know how he works. The scriptures also tell us facts about ourselves that Satan uses to deceive us. My prayer for us as we go through this study together is that we will gain the insight we need into Satan’s deceptive tactics and our vulnerabilities so we can successfully fight the battle Satan is waging against our souls.