At Risk of Deception
The apostle Paul often spoke of his unintentionally wicked past. Acts 7 records how he supported and aided in the death of Stephen, a diligent servant of the Lord Jesus. After Stephen’s death, Paul openly sought to destroy the church by legally persecuting Christians (see Acts 8:3; 9:1-2, and Galatians 1:13-14). Paul’s mind was so skewed that he considered himself godly as he sought the life of every Christian. In Acts 23:1, during his trial before the Jewish council, Paul said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” Paul was a victim of cultural brainwashing to the extent that his conscience was unbothered even by murder.
Based on the penitent turn his life took after meeting Jesus in Acts 9, Paul would likely advise every person to examine their way of life against more than their feelings. In his younger years, he was deceived by what Jewish culture called good and evil. That is not to say Paul was ignorant or uneducated; on the contrary, he was well-learned, according to Philippians 3:5-6, and often presented complex logical argumentation in his writings. If someone as intelligent as Paul can be deceived, no one should consider themselves immune to deception.
Instead of thinking we are without vulnerability, God says we should carefully examine ourselves through His Word, allowing Him to show us the truth (see 2 Timothy 2:15 and James 1:21-25). Without God’s guidance, our culture will deceive us into accepting whatever errors they desire most. We must not allow ourselves to fall prey to the cultural brainwashing suffered by Paul and others. Instead, let God show you the truth through His Word and live according to it.