In his true story on WWII espionage, Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory, the author notes a crucial ingredient that needs to be present in order to deceive a foreign power’s secret service. “ Deception is a sort of seduction. In love and war, adultery and espionage, deceit can only succeed if the deceived party is willing, in some way, to be deceived. The betrayed lover sees only the signs of love, and blocks out the evidence of faithlessness, however glaring.” In other words, we open ourselves to deception when we love something too much.
Paul tells us that spiritual deception works the same way. “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12).
The love of something more than the Truth will set us up for deception. In other words, idols are the root cause of all deception. We love popularity, so we refuse to believe the truths that are unpopular. We love a pet theory of God, so we reject verses that contradict that theory.
A seminary education will not insure freedom from deception. Repenting of mental idols is the best way to insure orthodoxy. Daily repentance is the best way to insure walking in the Truth.