Encouragement for Today
“I’ve Been Scammed”
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor of P31 Woman Magazine, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member, firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Corinthians 11:13-15a, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (NIV)
I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. It came wrapped in a flattering official-looking letter, announcing that my son had been selected to be in “Who’s Who of Middle School Students.” It looked wonderful, but it was a scam.
Maybe I was thrown off by the colorful letterhead, the actual street address, and the website and phone number. Maybe it was the honor of my child being recognized nationally. Maybe it was the fact that they repeated over and over there was no charge to be in the book. It was also the follow up letter to say they had received the bio. I was hooked, and sent my check for $50 to purchase a copy of this wonderful chronicle of my son’s entrance into the national scene of accomplished children.
When the book didn’t arrive, I called the number and left a message. No response. I went on the website and sent an e-mail. No response. Finally a year later, I decided to try the Internet and typed in “Scam Who’s Who of Middle School Students.” Low and behold, I wasn’t the only one who’d been ripped off. Yuck!
I thought I was smarter than that. I watched for certain signs scam artists use, and when I didn’t see them, I plunged right into deception. In hindsight, I wish I had tried to see a copy of an actual book.
Paul warned about an even greater deception that would come upon Christians. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, Paul warned the believers about false teachers. Verses 13 through 15a read, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (NIV)
These false apostles weren’t preaching the true Gospel of Christ, and weren’t living according to Christ’s teaching, but the Corinthians still tolerated them in their midst. Paul warned them – don’t believe everything you see and hear!
The book of Matthew records the words of Jesus about this subject as He wrapped up what theologians call the Sermon on the Mount. In chapter seven, verses 15 and 16, Jesus warns, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV)
From these two verses we are warned that Satan will try to deceive us cloaked as an agent of God, and we can identify deception and deceivers by the “fruit” they produce, by the evidence of truth over time. Occasions for deception are at every turn. Scripture speaks often of false Christian teaching, but it can happen through trusting our emotions, trusting wrong belief systems (e.g. I’ll never amount to more), investment opportunities, and more.
My experience with the Who’s Who book taught me to watch and wait for “fruit.” Studying Scripture, learning about the unchanging heart and character of God, and learning the teachings of Christ and His apostles will prepare us to identify true spiritual fruit when we see it. And on the other side of the coin, to recognize deception too. As my pastor says, “Time and truth go hand in hand.”
My Prayer for Today:
Heavenly Father, You are the source of all truth and light. I praise You for Your goodness and righteousness. Help me to learn Your truth and ways so that I can identify deceptions when I see them. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Identify a time in your life when you were deceived. List reasons why you were deceived. What did you miss, or overlook that might have saved you from being deceived?
Read 2 Corinthians 11, verses 1 – 4. What is Paul most frustrated about? (verse 4)
According to these verses, how can we know if we are being deceived?
Again, using these verses as a guide, how can we prepare ourselves so we aren’t easily deceived?
Is there an area of your life in which you are easily deceived? Why is that?
What types of “fruit” can you look for as you seek to discern the truth of what you see and hear?
Matthew 7:15-16a, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV)
I John 4:1-2, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” (NIV)
Galatians 1:6, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (NIV)
Romans 16:17-18, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (NIV)
Ephesians 5:8-9, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (NIV)
Secrets of the Vine, by Bruce Wilkenson
Coming Out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland
P31 Woman Magazine
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst