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Why would God allow deception?

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Deception is the act of misleading someone through intentionally false statements or actions. It is the Devil, not God, who is the originator of deception.

In John 8:44, Jesus says the following of the Devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Not only does the Devil deceive, He is the father of deception.

The first deception recorded in Scripture proceeds from the Devil's forked tongue when he tells Eve that eating fruit from the tree that God forbade will not result in death (Genesis 3:4). This act fits the definition of deception perfectly as the Devil is making intentionally false statements in order to mislead Eve into disobeying God's commandment. However, the fact that Eve was deceived does not exempt her or Adam, who took the fruit also, from responsibility for their disobedience as they sinned against the truth that God had already revealed to them (Genesis 2:16–17). They chose to doubt and disobey God's truth and exchanged it for the Devil's lie. Their sin had the exact effect which God promised as they experienced fear, shame, guilt, and ultimately physical death (1 Corinthians 15:21). Instead of becoming like God, they became spiritually dead. They began to shift the blame for their knowing and willful disobedience, attempting to deceive God. Adam blamed Eve and indirectly blamed God Himself for giving Eve to him; Eve blamed the Devil (Genesis 3:12–13).

The sin of Adam and Eve was passed on to us, and we are therefore born with a sin nature (Romans 5:12). This is clearly seen both in Scripture and in life. If you observe early childhood development, you will see that no one has to teach a child to lie. It is natural to them. As we grow up our lies become more hidden and sophisticated, but we still lie. We may soften the blow by calling them "white lies," but who among us always speaks the complete truth one hundred percent of the time? Only God speaks perfect truth every time He speaks. God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). God is the complete opposite of the Devil. God speaks the truth because when He speaks, He speaks out of His character. God is truth and He is the father of truth.

Fortunately for us, God is not only truth. He is also love. Because God is love, He sent His only Son into the world to speak the truth and to die for sinners like us (Romans 5:8). In fact, Jesus claimed that He Himself is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). It is only by believing the truth that Jesus is the Son of God who lived a perfect life, sacrificed Himself for our sins, and rose again from the dead, that we can be saved from the eternal death which we deserve based on our sinfulness (Romans 6:23).

Sin itself is described in Scripture as deceitful (Hebrews 3:13; Mark 4:19). Why? Because it promises what it cannot deliver. Sin promises life, but ends in death; promises joy, but ends in despair; promises pleasure, but ends in punishment. Often we choose to be deceived by sin, wanting to trust its false promises and acting out of our fleshly nature rather than trusting and standing in the truth of God. God (who cannot lie) promises eternal life to all who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:15). God promises love and joy and peace to those who walk in and are filled by the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Those who forsake the fleeting pleasures of sin and place their faith in Christ can look forward to a heavenly city where they will reside forever with He who is true (Hebrews 11:10, 24–25; Revelation 21:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Thus far, we have defined deception, showed its origin, revealed those who practice it, and explained how to escape from it. However, you might still be asking yourself, "But why does God allow deception? Why did He permit Satan to deceive Eve and Adam? Why does He allow deception to continue? These are deep theological questions which we cannot hope to answer comprehensively in such a short space. Furthermore, there is certainly some mystery surrounding such questions and we don't claim to know all the answers (Deuteronomy 29:29).

However, here are a few points to ponder. God created the angels (which the Devil was at one time) and human beings with free will. It is the Devil and human beings who are the direct cause of sin. At the same time, God is sovereign over all of creation and He has put a chain on evil. It may only go so far and will only last so long (Job 2:6; 2 Peter 2:4). He has a plan and is working that plan out perfectly. Part of God's plan is to display who He is. The existence of sin (including deception) allows for the manifestation of His attributes, which brings Him glory. This can be seen most clearly in Romans 9:22–23, "What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory." The existence of sin allows for the display of God's justice in punishing sin and for the display of His mercy in forgiving sin. God's justice and mercy meet at the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the just penalty for sin on our behalf in order that we might experience God's mercy and grace. There will be justice for those who refuse to believe in Jesus' substitutionary atoning death, and there is mercy for those who believe (John 3:18).

I appeal to you now, do not be deceived, believe in Jesus Christ today and begin to live in the light and in the truth (2 Corinthians 5:20–21; John 8:12; Ephesians 1:13).

Related Truth:

If God knew the Fall was going to happen – that Satan would rebel and Adam and Eve would sin – why did He create them?

Why does God allow evil?

God vs. Satan? If He is really all-powerful, why doesn't God just kill Satan?

Can God lie?

What is truth?

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