Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 9 Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. – 1 John 3:7-10
I would so love to say that I have never been deceived. But I’m that guy: the one who gets hooked when the bait is thrown out for the gullible one to bite. Did you know that they’ve actually created a way to get to the center of the earth? OK, maybe I won’t fall for that one, but I seem to be an easy target for the practical joke, the fun-poking set-up, the let’s-see-just-how-far-we-can-take-this tricksters. More often than not it is harmless. I’m ready to run out and buy a last minute birthday cake for the staff because they convince me I forgot and it’s my month to provide the cake.
Sometimes, however, the deceit is more grave. This really isn’t a sin. You won’t surely die. Did God really say…? Jesus has strong words for those who lead others astray – especially little ones.
And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents,forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
Interesting connection between forgiving your brother and deceiving people or causing people to fall into sin. The gravest deception of all is that there is no forgiveness possible. Perhaps the greatest show of love is to forgive someone who has sinned against us. This is our calling as children of God. To refuse to do so is sin of the worst kind.
Save us from such sin, gracious God!