"For your eyes have seen all the great work of the LORD that he did."
In the previous verses, Moses reminded the Israelites of the signs and deeds God performed in delivering them from Egypt to the present day. The two examples he uses are the destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea and the earth opening up to swallow entire families during the rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16). Moses wants the people to remember the consequences of God's anger because he is preparing to set before them the option of God's blessing versus God's curse.
In verse 16, before presenting this option, Moses warns the people to "Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods." After experiencing both the blessings and the discipline of Almighty God since He brought them out of Egypt, it would seem this warning would be unnecessary. Because we know the rest of the story, the warning was necessary but went unheeded.
So the question for me is, how is the heart deceived? It would seem that because of all the great works of the LORD these eyes have seen, there would be no opportunity for deception. We know these people did turn aside and serve and worship other gods. Since their hearts could be deceived with all the experience and information, they possessed, how about mine? Am I deceiving my heart or allowing my heart to be deceived?
Revelation 12:9 says the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, is the deceiver of the whole world. Eve used the serpent's deception as the reason for eating the fruit (Genesis 3:13). Adam just blames God for giving him Eve (Genesis 3:12). They both had ample evidence of God's goodness, love, and provision, yet they chose to act on the lie. Maybe Eve was deceived by the serpent, but was Adam self-deceived?
None of us want to admit to being tricked, taken advantage of or deceived, yet we know it happens. What about when we deceive ourselves; when we are aware something is wrong but convince ourselves it is okay?
How do I protect my heart? Romans 1:18-25 is a great place to start. Paul explains how we all have sufficient knowledge of God through His creation, but we don't honor Him as the Creator, and we are not thankful for what He does. By doing that we deceive ourselves, and our thinking becomes futile, and our foolish hearts darkened. Paul says we claim to be wise but become fools and exchange the truth of God for a lie and worship the creation rather than the Creator. The first place I would start to protect my heart is by acknowledging God moment by moment and thanking Him for who He is and what He does.
In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul challenges us to realize as believers there is a war raging around us. Since the devil is the deceiver of the whole world, plainly we need protection from the enemy. Paul summarizes the entire passage with verse 13. "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." God has given us both an offensive weapon (the Word of God) and defensive protection (truth, righteousness, peace, and salvation). To protect yourselves and your family from the deceiver, suit up every morning. His objective is to deceive you and cause your heart to turn aside to serve and worship other gods.
Lastly, a verse we can so easily use about others is appropriate for ourselves. Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT) says, "Then we will no longer be immature children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church." Not only will others try to deceive us, but we can and do deceive ourselves. Speaking the truth in love to yourself is the start to ending self-deception.
By the way, verse 8 says obedience gives you strength to continue doing what God requires.
My LORD and God, I want to protect my heart. How can I love You with my whole heart if I allow it to be deceived? Holy Spirit, give me eyes to see Your truth and the lies of the deceiver. Please give me the courage to confront the lies that lead to the worship of other god's. Help me be truthful with myself. I certainly do not want my heart to be self- deceived.