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sabbath MAY 26

Gen. 3:1–6

Introduction Normalized Hoopskirts



How does an idea or practice become “normal”? This is a question that has endlessly fascinated historians.

Take, for example, a convention of nineteenth-century fashion: hoopskirts. In the latter half of the 1800s, the hoopskirt was a normalized feature of American dress. When it was introduced in 1856 as a replacement for the crinoline—a much heavier, expensive, and difficult-to-clean undergarment— women flocked to the hoopskirt as an ingenious and comfortable way to maintain the ideal feminine figure.* The pull of the fashionable hoop was strong. In the context of the times, it seemed to make complete sense.

How does an idea or practice become “normal”?

Yet today, many of us would be hard pressed to justify sewing steel Hula- Hoops into our clothing. And my feeling is that if time travel were possible, not a few hoopskirt-wearing women would be bowled over by how denizens of the twenty-first century dress themselves.

Like certain ideas and practices throughout history, deception comes in the guise of what seems “normal,” desirable, comfortable, reasonable, fun, exciting, or lifesaving. Deception never labels itself “deception.” (If it did, it would cease to be deception.)

In the Garden of Eden, Satan disguised himself as a beautiful serpent to convince Eve to eat the apple. The Bible describes him as “more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (Gen. 3:1). Through deception, Eve ate the apple. Yet this deception came in the form of what seemed reasonable and attractive. To her eyes, it appeared that “the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6).

Satan is in the business of deception: from his fall in heaven to the end of time, he works to convince or lull us into the acceptance of ideas and practices that run contrary to the principles of God’s kingdom.

Society, trends, fads, culture, and politics can never safeguard us against deception, often, instead, normalizing and desensitizing us to sin. God’s Word alone can help us recognize falsehood. The Bible orients us to His loving, lifesaving, beautiful system of truth—His “normal”—that runs so contrary to the world’s “normal.”

Do you want to ask God to help you commit yourself fully to living by His Scripture today?

* H. Kristina Haugland, “Crinoline,” Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, ed. Valerie Steele, vol. 1 (Detroit: Scribner and Sons, 2005), p. 317.

Michel Lee, Austin, Texas, USA

sunday MAY 27

Heb. 1:1–3;

John 1:14;

2 Pet. 1:16–21

The Word Made Flesh



God-Inspired Word (2 Pet. 1:16–21; 2 Tim. 3:16)

When Paul writes to Timothy in his second epistle, he states that the Scriptures (Old Testament writings) were given through the “inspiration of God” (2 Tim. 3:16). In Greek this can be translated theopneustos. It is a combination of two Greek words, theos and pneuma—theos, meaning “God” or “deity”; pneuma, meaning “breath” or “wind.” In the New Testament, this is synonymous with the Holy Spirit, the actual word breath. As Christians, we accept the written Word as God’s clearly communicated thoughts, and this directly impacts our individual relationships with Jesus (1 Thess. 2:13). When we believe God’s Word and receive it as His Word, Jesus can effectually make changes in our lives.

When we believe God’s Word and receive it as His Word, Jesus can effectually make changes in our lives.

The Word Made Flesh (John 1:1–3, 14, 18; Heb. 1:1–3)

In the book of John, this Word that was in the beginning with God and who was also God came to earth and dwelt among the people of earth in the very flesh! (John 1:1, 14). Even though no one has seen God physically (John 1:18), Jesus the Son of God came to fully express the true character of who God is to all who are willing to receive Him. From the time of our spiritual forefathers, God had communicated with His people through the prophets. However, when His Son Jesus Christ came to earth, the primary method of communication changed from the prophets to direct communication with God Himself in the form of a human being! (Heb. 1:1–3). When you heard Jesus speak or saw Him perform any action, it was like hearing and seeing God the Father speak and act because Jesus is the express image of the Father’s person. Jesus Himself testified to this, saying that whatever the Father does, the Son does in like manner (John 5:17–19).

Receiving the Word (Luke 8:4–8, 11–15; John 1:11, 13; 8:31, 32)

In the parable of the sower in Luke 8, the world is likened to a simple seed. A seed can be defined as a germ or a reproductive source of anything. In the first stage of our reproductive process—changing from sinful human beings into perfect reflections of Jesus Christ—how we receive Him into our hearts, our daily lives, and our minds is of the utmost importance, and we need to get a good grasp on this. John 1:11, 13 and John 8:31, 32 present us with two opposite responses to Jesus and how He was received.

Feeding on the Word (John 6:41–51, 53, 54, 61–63)

The text that Jesus quotes in John 6:45 is Isaiah 54:13, where God makes a covenant with Israel saying that all will be taught of God. The Word is more than just a combination of alphabetical letters written in ink on paper. The words that are communicated are spirit and they are life! They are a source of light in a world full of darkness. There is nothing in this world that can give more quality and richness to an individual’s personal life than the Word. This is especially true when the Word is applied within the personal parts of one’s life. It is important to understand what Jesus is saying here. People consume bread and water periodically every day for energy and sustenance; without this consumption, the human body weakens. Likewise, for the Christian, our spiritual bodies will be malnourished and without good health if we do not consume Christ and the words He has for us.

Power of the Word (John 14:12–14; 15:5, 7, 8)

Without a daily consumption of Christ through His Word, the Savior says that it is impossible to do anything within the spiritual realm. Without Christ we can never gain victory over our incredibly selfish hearts; without Christ we cannot heal the brokenhearted or set any captives free or even set ourselves free from slavery to sin. The greatest evidences of the Word being made flesh in the Christian life are the changes and reformation that lives go through when applying the Word (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:17). The evidence seen within the personal life of that Word, indeed, within us and we within Him is a new life. It empowers us to overcome habits that for years have held us down with what seem like unbreakable shackles. The thoughts and feelings toward spiritual things completely change, and we fall in love with the principles of heaven. Our greatest passions, that rule the minds of the majority of the masses, are brought into submission to the power of the Holy Spirit. This is all done through Him who is the Word whenever we ask Him to re-create us anew, moment by moment every day. This He is more than capable of doing until we fully mature into the fullness of His glory when He comes to take us home.

REACT

1. What are some tangible ways in which you can commune with Christ through His Word?

2. Why is it so important that you understand that how you receive Christ affects your relationship with Him?

3. What is some evidence in your life so far that points to the Word recreating you anew?

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Wyson Ndovie, Detroit, Michigan, USA

monday MAY 28

1 Tim. 6:12

Testimony That Time Will Soon Come



“Satan represents God’s law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts. The fall of our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges upon the Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and suffering, and death. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of obedience. . . . He endured every trial to which we are subject. And He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us.”1

“Live the life of faith day by day.”

“That time will soon come, and we shall have to keep hold of the strong arm of Jehovah; for all these great signs and mighty wonders of the devil are designed to deceive God’s people and overthrow them. Our minds must be stayed upon God, and we must not fear the fear of the wicked, that is, fear what they fear, and reverence what they reverence, but be bold and valiant for the truth. Could our eyes be opened, we should see forms of evil angels around us, trying to invent some new way to annoy and destroy us. And we should also see angels of God guarding us from their power; for God’s watchful eye is ever over Israel for good, and He will protect and save His people, if they put their trust in Him. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”2

“Live the life of faith day by day. Do not become anxious and distressed about the time of trouble, and thus have a time of trouble beforehand. Do not keep thinking, ‘I am afraid I shall not stand in the great testing day.’ You are to live for the present, for this day only. Tomorrow is not yours. Today you are to maintain the victory over self. Today you are to live a life of prayer. Today you are to fight the good fight of faith. Today you are to believe that God blesses you. And as you gain the victory over darkness and unbelief, you will meet the requirements of the Master, and will become a blessing to those around you.”3

REACT

1. How has Jesus disproved Satan’s assertion that God has unfair laws? What does that mean practically for us?

2. How should we view the time of trouble, when Satan shall use his strongest deceptions? How can we be ready?

1. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 24.

2. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 60.

3. Ellen G. White, Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, pp. 142, 143.

Callie Williams, Columbia, Maryland, USA

tuesday MAY 29

2 Thess. 2:9, 10

Evidence Lying Wonders



Thessalonica was a major city of commerce, welcoming a lot of traffic as it connected Rome to the East.1 Because the city attracted people from far and near, it was inevitable that the church in this city would encounter varying beliefs—most of which acknowledged the supernatural.

Jesus, like a loving parent, warns us—not to scare us but to prepare us.

The word wonder is derived from the Greek word terasin or teras, which means “a miraculous wonder, done to elicit a reaction from onlookers, an extraordinary event with supernatural effect on all witnessing it.”2 On two occasions this Greek word is used in favor of God, but in the context of 2 Thessalonians 2:9, the adjective lying is used. Thus miracles or wonders are not limited to God and His followers, for in the last days there will be “spirits of devils, working miracles” (Rev. 16:14). So how do we distinguish between the wonders of God and lying wonders? Spiritual discernment is needed. The Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) guides us to discern between good and evil with the Word of God as our ultimate standard (Isa. 8:20).

In the end times, “all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception” (2 Thess. 2:9, 10, NKJV) will be witnessed. Paul needed to communicate this message to a church surrounded by beliefs not founded in Jesus. Today, we, too, are prone to these influences (Rev. 12:12). The devil is well aware that his time on earth is soon expiring; thus, he goes to great lengths to deceive and lead people astray.

Yes, there will be extraordinary marvels, things that shock us and maybe even distract us. But Jesus, like a loving parent, warns us—not to scare us but to prepare us. May our senses be unmoved by the “lying wonders” but focused on the true object of our attention: Jesus Christ and His truth. Let us focus on our first love, our first wonder, and the source of all true magnificent wonders, that we may receive the love and be saved.

REACT

1. What are some practical ways we can focus on Jesus, in spite of the lying wonders that surround us?

2. Are there lying wonders that we can distinguish in the present day?

1. “The Birth and Growth of a Church,” Bible.org, accessed January 18, 2017, https://bible.org /seriespage/1-birth-and-growth-church.

2. HELPS Word-studies, Bible Hub, s.v. Greek: “5059. teras,” accessed January 18, 2017, http://biblehub.com/greek/5059.htm.

Davina Buruchara, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

wednesday MAY 30

Gen. 3:1–7;

Rev 12:3, 7–9

How-to Deceived



The Bible warns us about being deceived by Satan. It is his very nature either to get us into trouble or to make us complacent with the way things are. That’s essentially the current condition of the Laodicean church.

After deceiving the angels to join him in his rebellion against the government of God, Satan gave his earliest, and perhaps clearest, example of how his method really works when he deceived Eve (Gen. 3:13b).

Eve’s deception included taste, vision, and intellect.

After finding herself separated from her husband, Eve was enticed and seduced by the words of the serpent. To the skeptical and cunning question “Has God indeed said . . .?” Eve somewhat defensively responded with her version of what God had commanded in Genesis 2:16, 17. Moreover, upon entering into a conversation with the serpent, she found herself to be enraptured by the promise of knowledge and power that she would gain after eating from the fruit. Sadly, Eve chose to distrust God’s command and thus believed a lie. Eve’s deception included taste, vision, and intellect.

So how can we prevent, avoid, and meet Satan’s deceptions today?

To know error, you have to know truth. God’s Word, the Bible, is the most reliable source for truth (John 17:17; Prov. 30:5). Although the world may provide many books that can inform, only the Bible has the power to transform your life. It is as easy as reading a short portion of His Word every day.

To combat deception you have to be connected to the power source. As depicted in Ephesians 6:10–17, God calls us to put on His armor, and after putting on the armor we ought to pray (verse 18). Having all the knowledge about God’s Word and doing all the “right” things will not be sufficient unless you stay connected to God in prayer.

To meet deception and overcome it, you have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable to God’s correction. You can’t correct what you aren’t willing to confront. Satan’s deceptions are so cunning that one of the first natural reactions is to deny or blame others for our condition (just like Adam and Eve blamed each other and God after they sinned). But as we meet temptations, our heavenly Father wants us to overcome them with His help. When you are weak, He is strong (2 Cor. 12:9).

REACT

1. How have you been able to detect and avoid Satan’s deceptions?

2. Read Revelation 12:11. What does this promise mean to you in light of overcoming Satan’s deceptions?

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Esther Bettina Nanasi, Saginaw, Michigan, USA

thursday MAY 31

Matt. 4:1–11;

Rev. 12:9

Opinion Will I Be Deceived?



How good is the devil at deception? Let’s look at the devil’s best attempted deception ever.

The devil tried to get Jesus to prove His identity. In the first temptation, the devil started with, “If you are the son of God . . . ” The devil was trying to get Jesus to prove Himself just by saying “If.” Many of us have gone down horrible paths all because of an if. If you are man enough . . . or if you really love me . . . or if you’re not scared . . . We wish to be seen a certain way, and we even end up trying to prove to the devil that we are, in fact, children of God. You are what you are; you have nothing to prove to anyone.

A simple prayer suffices to fight the devil.

The devil tried to get Jesus to prove the power of God. The second temptation tackles faith versus presumption. Faith claims the promise and obeys; presumption claims the promise without obeying. Presumption is a different kind of if; it asks individuals to prove the power of God—to put ourselves in danger so that God delivers us. Presumption is getting into a romantic relationship with an unbeliever, trusting that God will change them, for instance.

The devil tried to get Jesus to do the work of God without the character of God. In the third temptation, the devil offered Jesus what He was hoping to save—the kingdoms of the world. The temptation lay in the fact that Jesus could get what he wanted—without suffering and pain, without difficulty—if he would only worship the devil. He tells us that we can flirt-to-convert, we can lie to win people to Jesus. It is to pass with top grades, while cheating— achieving what God wants us to do without trusting in God’s way. I call them Judas tactics because Judas wanted to get Jesus in the presidential office of Jerusalem; however, he chose to act dirty to achieve it.

A simple prayer suffices to fight the devil: “Lord, I’ve seen you fight the devil in ____ before; do it again in my life, help me to ____.” Whether identity, presumption, or Judas tactics, Jesus can beat the deceiver.

REACT

1. In which of the three areas discussed does the devil attack you the most?

2. What do you think are the best strategies against the devil’s deceptions?

3. What do you think about the short prayer at the end? Do you think Jesus can help us overcome anything that the devil throws at us?

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Rodney Matambo, Anasco Puerto Rico.

friday JUNE 1

Gen. 3:1–7;

Ps. 146:4;

Matt. 4:1–11;

Rev. 12:9

Exploration Deception Defeated



CONCLUDE

This week’s lesson brings to our attention the fact that we are living in a time when Satan will attempt to deceive us now more than ever “because he knows that he has a short time” (Rev. 12:12, NKJV). However, we are also reminded that we need to look unto Jesus, who has already overcome the deceptions of Satan (cf. Heb. 4:15, 16). Thus we have the hope that we, too, can overcome and that Satan’s deception can be destroyed through faith in Jesus Christ.

CONSIDER

CONNECT

John 1:7–11; 2 Corinthians 11:14, 15; 1 Peter 2:8–10; Revelation 12:7– 12, 17; 20:10.

Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, chapter 1, “Why Was Sin Permitted?”; The Great Controversy, chapter 33, “The First Great Deception.”

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Emely Umaña, Centreville, Virginia, USA