Joshua and the Israelites had just witnessed God crumble the walls of Jericho. They are now taking ownership of the land God promised to them. God had commanded them to destroy every living thing in the land – Deuteronomy 20:16-18  (so that the Canaanites’ wicked and evil practices wouldn’t infiltrate into their daily life). But right in the beginning of conquering the land, they were deceived. The story is found in Joshua 9:1-27, when the Gibeonites presented themselves to Joshua and lied about who they were and where they lived. Joshua believed their story and made a treaty with them. 

This happens more than we think in the church. Christians can easily be deceived. This story reveals some things about Satan and what we can do to protect ourselves from being deceived.

I know people who are easily swayed by the sweet talker, the charmer, the manipulator. They know exactly what to say to get the person they’re trying to dupe to give them what they want. These people are dishonest and deceitful. Some people are so trusting that they’ll believe anything they say. Cheaters are not just in movies, but they are living among us. They’re in the church. They use people’s weaknesses to gain control. Now listen to me carefully: Christians can easily get victimized just because someone mentions God. I know a group of Christians who lost their life savings because they trusted in a fellow church member’s investment. He took their money and ran.

 This story of Joshua and the Gibeonites surely reveals how easy it is for the representatives of God to be deceived. There are three crucial things we learn about Satan in this story:

Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)!

I believe there are many people in our churches in disguises. Joshua and the leaders didn’t recognize the façade of the Gibeonites because these deceivers took great measures to put on old tattered clothes and carry worn-out wineskins. They looked authentic – like they were who they claimed to be. Warren Wiersbe said, “It’s much easier for us to identify the lion when he’s roaring than to detect the serpent when he’s slithering into our lives.” 

Paul says to Timothy about deceivers: “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that” (2 Timothy 3:5)

This is one sure way to detect the deceiver. Ask questions and find out what they believe about God. The one masquerading will skirt around the issue and eventually deny the power of God. We need to be very careful when we put our faith in people because way too many innocent souls have been scammed.

Satan lies (John 8:44)!

Satan isn’t just a liar, but he’s the father of lies (John 8:44). The Gibeonites looked Joshua right in the eyes and lied to him. You and I know what that feels like. We feel violated, taken advantage of. The church is full of hypocrites and they’re getting more and more prevalent the closer we get to Jesus’ return.

Satan deceives!

The Gibeonites pretended that they came because they heard about all that God did – all the miracles (Joshua 9:9-10). Christians can easily get fooled by imposters. Some of them just say the name of God. This is one of Satan’s favorite tactics to get to us. Remember that he boldly quoted Scripture to Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). Again, we need to test what people say. We need to compare their words to Scripture.

We may ask, “Why did Joshua and the leaders not recognize their deception? Why did they sign a treaty with them, when they were clearly warned not to (Exodus 34:12)? The answer is in Joshua 9:14:“They did not inquire of the Lord.” Instead, they used human reasoning by examining the facts, discussing the matter, and agreeing together to a conclusion. These things are never bad, but used alone, can be costly. If they had sought the Lord’s counsel before making a treaty with them, God would have revealed the evil intentions of the Gibeonites. Pastor Skip Heitzig says, “Divine proximity to the Lord is how to wise up to Satan’s attacks.”

So here’s the thing: ALWAYS examine what’s being said. Look out for deceivers. And if you are in the process of making an agreement with someone – a business partnership, a church assignment, or some other joint venture – then make sure to inquire of the Lord before signing your name on the dotted line.

Deception is abounding in the day in which we live. The Bible tells us that “in the last [days] some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons” (1 Timothy 4:1)

We need to be very careful that we are not numbered with those who fall into deception. Always inquire of the Lord and test everything by Scripture. This is our only safeguard.

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