Q. My question is: Are the deceived responsible for their having been deceived? Even the church is constantly warned in the Bible to beware of false prophets and false Christs, but it seems like there are an awful lot of Christians who have fallen for the tricks of cults and false messiahs. Some people might say that these deceived folks “must never have been real believers in the first place to be so misled” but that’s a pretty irresponsible cop-out if you ask me.
I’m a firm believer of the “OSAS” doctrine so I can’t believe these people are losing their salvation by believing the lies they’re fed, but I’m having a bit of trouble justifying that to myself or anyone else who asks.
A. In Romans 1:20 Paul wrote that the evidence for a Creator is so pervasive that it’s impossible to miss, leaving mankind without excuse. This is why one of the Greek words for unbeliever also means disobedient.
In the Kingdom Parables of Matt. 13, the Lord described four kinds of recipients of His Word. The first hears the word and doesn’t comprehend it. The second hears the word but it doesn’t take root. The third hears the word but is too preoccupied by the things of this world to pay attention, and the fourth hears and understands. In these parables the field represents the world and the seed is His Word, and there is no group who doesn’t hear the word , there are only groups who don’t accept it. In order for God to be just, everyone who stands before Him will have had to experience at least one legitimate offer of salvation.
He also said that the enemy tries to steal the word out of our hearts. Paul confirmed that the enemy blinds the eyes of unbelievers. (2 cor. 4:3-4) The word unbeliever there also means faithless and untrustworthy.
In 2 Thes. 2:9-10 Paul talks about people being deceived. There, he says that they’re deceived because they refused to believe the truth and be saved.
God gave us His word as a standard against which to compare all doctrine. His word says that the time would come when men would not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around themselves teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.(2 Tim. 4:3-4) The implication here is that false doctrine gains traction when rebellious men desire to hear it.
From all this I conclude that we really can’t be deceived unless on some level we’re complicit. Therefore we’re responsible.
Many believers have zeal without knowledge because they don’t make God’s word the foundation of their faith. They can be led off the track when what they hear suits their own earthly desires. This is why the so-called Prosperity Gospel is always so popular. But if we’ve truly accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, then God has accepted responsibility for keeping us until the day of redemption, regardless of the whacky notions we come up with. (2 Cor. 1:21-22)