Deception’s Bait & Switch: Freedom and Bondage

Genesis 4:6-7 says,
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why is your face gloomy? If you do well, will your face not be cheerful? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Later in Genesis 11:4 it says,
And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.”
 
Romans 1:18 says,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

John 8:34 Jesus says,
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
 
Later in 2 Peter 2:17-19 it says,
These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For, while speaking out arrogant words of no value they entice by fleshly desires, by indecent behavior, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what anyone is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

In John 8:31-32 Jesus says this,
So, Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
Deception by its nature is not straight forward. A cunning deceiver is very intentional in their actions. There’s nothing accidental in their words or deeds. Their deceptive words and purposes are never put on display at the beginning. It is hidden and misrepresented. If someone is making a proposal that will affect your life, it always pays to understand the goal and the motive of the one making the promise. There certainly might be a catch. Interesting word, “catch.” If you aren’t paying attention, you just get caught. Let’s look at the bait and switch of the enemy.

***

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Bait and Switch.” It’s a term used for a situation where what is presented at the beginning, the Bait, does its job by luring something in. But then there’s a switch. And what was promised at first glance is changed. It’s not unlike the lure a fisherman puts on the end of the line. And very much like the hidden hook on a fishing line, the end doesn’t match up to the expectation of the first glance.

Now, this doesn’t only show up in fishing. It’s seen in business dealings, in buying and selling, in relationships. In all of those examples, one thing remains constant. The one doing the baiting knows exactly what they’re up to. They are luring in their prey with one promise, all the while knowing that they have a different result in mind.

This is an element of deception that we need to be aware of. I say that because in reality, your life may depend on it.

In looking at deception, I’ve said it before but I’ll repeat it again. Our enemy is a liar. His intentions are selfish and destructive. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” He’s like the thief that Jesus describes in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;” Jesus made it clear that the Devil is a liar from the very beginning. I say all this to emphasize that nothing the enemy promises or proposes is trustworthy. In fact, it is dangerously wicked.

I said all of that because you have to understand that our enemy is the ultimate Mr. Bait and Switch. His deceptive proposals are always suspect. Every argument he brings forward and every direction he points to, should be viewed with suspicion. His deceptive promises that he uses in propagating his lies are motivated by selfish aspirations. He wants to defeat God, and he wants to control and destroy mankind.

Today, I want to look at the aspect of deception that the Devil has sold to the hearts of mankind. You see, he sells his rebellion as liberation against God. This liberation is the freedom from the control of God. But what really occurs is not freedom but slavery. Now, the key to understanding the contrast is found in the motive of the two sides that are involved. The heart and the intent of God is always good, pure and right. In contrast to that, the Devil’s motives are evil continually.

So, let’s take a journey in history and observe some of this play out. We begin in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 4:6-7 we hear God warning Cain.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why is your face gloomy? If you do well, will your face not be cheerful? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Now, recall the situation? Cain presented an offering as did his brother Abel. The Bible tells us that God had regard for Abel’s offering but not for Cain’s. Basically, Cain wanted to do things his way and it was not acceptable to God. This angered Cain. Then God warns Cain that his anger was a danger to him and that he must master it or it would master him.

Sin had already entered the world. At sin’s core was the idea, was the lie that a person on their own could define the rules. Remember? Butt, God sets the guidelines, but sin rejects those boundaries and moves in the way it wants. It’s the issue of control again. God basically warns Cain that if he continues on his sinful anger, then sin would control him. And of course, we know what happened. His anger led him to murder his brother.

Next, we go to Genesis 11 and the account of the Tower of Babel. Now, remember the chronology. The building of the Tower of Babel comes about hundred years after the destruction of the Flood. Noah is still alive. In that time the families coming out of the Ark had multiplied and formed groupings and nations. They began to spread about. They were fulfilling the command of God to multiply and fill the earth. But then an idea comes to men. Genesis 11:4 says it this way:
And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.”

Now, what’s going on here? Well, one thing you will notice, that there is no mention of God in their statement. The tower isn’t for God or in honor of Him in any way. The city and the Tower centers around mankind. It says, “Let’s build for ourselves… let’s make a name for ourselves.” The desire is to have a tower that reaches as high as heaven in this drive to reach heaven on their terms. This could even have been as a protection from another flood. In either case, Babel represents mankind’s united together not around God but around themselves. It is about an autonomy, a name of their own without God.

And one thing we can know for certain. This process and project displeased God. He judged the endeavor. He confused their languages and mankind was scattered. After this history continues to record the many attempts to bring all mankind under one rule through monarchs, empires and ideologies all the way to the end of the story. And regardless of the promised cause or a promise of utopian aspiration, they all end up in man’s subjugation. All you need to do is read history and then even go to the last book in the Bible. It’s all there.

A note of interest. The two cities most often mentioned in the Bible are Jerusalem and Babylon. One of them is the city with God’s name and interest written on it. The other city  which symbolized just the opposite. It is the seed-bed of every false religion and every rebellious ideology that has infected and will infect mankind all the way to the end. From the book of Genesis and into the book of Revelation, Babylon is the city and the symbol of mankind rebelling against the True and the Living God.

Remember, even though the Devil is not mentioned in the Tower of Babel account, understand this, his lie is at the core of what’s occurring. He is consistently promoting a way in opposition to God. It’s an existence with no need for the True and the Living God. He sells his rebellion as the way to freedom, to self-fulfillment, self-actualization. And yet, all that occurs for those who buy into his lie is bondage.

You see, the Devil doesn’t have to be present for the process to take effect. Once an idea is born, the mathematics of an idea take over. The enemy need only be involved in the origin of deception. After that, the lie has a velocity of its own. We have within us in our fallen nature and fallen minds the complete ability to take the lie and move from that point onward into total rebellion all on our own.

Also know this, once the lie takes hold, it is difficult to dislodge from a life. A person walking the path of autonomy and self, that life, that seeks his own way of being and purpose all in itself, it is vested in the direction it’s traveling. Only an intervention allows for a change to occur. That’s what God was seeking to do with Cain, to intervene in a life heading in the wrong direction. But such an intervention always requires a surrender. And pride is the gigantic obstacle to surrender. And the lies of the enemy will feed that pride so that no surrender can occur.

And while mankind thinks and proclaims themselves to be free, they are in truth slaves to so much less than they were created for. But worse yet, they are in opposition and rebellion to God and directly in the path of God’s judgment.

God said it plainly in Romans 1:18,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

This points out that mankind suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness. They willfully reject God. Paul goes on to say in verses 19-22.
because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

Whether it’s the promise of greatness, power, or superior wisdom, to exclude God is an empty promise. This is the lying promise of the enemy. We are warned that these lies can even come through false religious teachers who repeat versions of the old lies. But we are warned and we are told that even the deceivers are slaves of their own deception. 2 Peter 2:17-19 describes such false teachers:
These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For, while speaking out arrogant words of no value they entice by fleshly desires, by indecent behavior, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what anyone is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

Whatever bait the enemy deceitfully uses through such false teachers, they are without substance. Look at some of the phrases. “Springs without water… mists driven by a storm.” Neither of these provide substantive water. They are empty promises. And these empty promises in turn enslave both the deceived and the deceivers.

Jesus stated it very clearly in John 8:34, “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.” The lies of the enemy promote a path that leads to sin and sin ends in enslavement. Any and all enticements he has and ever will put forth are bait and switch. That’s the enemy. He is never interested in the welfare or future of those he deceives. I have a saying I’ve used. “The Devil will pick you up in a limousine, but when he is finished with you, he will toss you in the dumpster.

Just look at the last world leader who promotes himself as an answer to all of man’s problems. I call him the Mr. Ultimate Bait and Switch. The Bible calls him the Beast, the Antichrist. He will come in making all kinds of promises, but in the end, he ends up subjugating all the whole world.

It’s utterly insane when you consider the One who can truly set us free. The One who is the enemy fosters a rebellion against is the very One who provides true freedom. Remember what Jesus said in John 8:31-32?
So, Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The contrast couldn’t be any starker. The enemy comes spouting lies while promising freedom. All the while he has nothing to give us and his lies only place us in bondage.

 The Lord on the other hand, comes providing us with the truth and delivering freedom to those who will believe Him. The Lord tells us the truth about ourselves and about His gracious rescue. We surrender to Him and He sets us free. Freedom comes from God, but we must surrender our so-called sovereignty. We really don’t have control. It makes so much sense to trust a good God to take us safely through life and into eternity. The Truth, God’s Truth, sets us free. The Lord tells us the truth and He keeps His Word.

You see, Truth Matters.

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