Keeping Focus

Magicians are impressive to watch. While their skill at performing seemingly impossible feats is fascinating, I find the psychological aspects mostly intriguing. The most important element of a well-performed trick involves causing the observer to form a false belief by manipulating his or her attention. Magicians perform tricks by drawing attention away from the hand that pulls an object out of a secret hiding place, and instead brings the observer’s focus to the other hand whose purpose is to distract. The simple action of paying attention to the wrong thing causes the unwitting observer to draw all kinds of false conclusions.

Magic tricks are designed to entertain, so the impact on those sitting in the audience is generally inconsequential. However, not all tricks that employ the use of deception are harmless. Satan is a master at distracting people from the Truth. He does this just as a magician does — by drawing attention to some other tantalizing fiction while the actual Truth is concealed. By misrepresenting facts, Satan has successfully drawn angels away from serving God. He has likewise deceived the world to believe that all of creation has somehow materialized from nothing. The contrived creation theories inspired by Satan to leave God out of the picture fit the profile of a magic trick. These creation theories provide so-called intelligent explanations that distract people from seeing how Satan hastily hides the actual Creator of all existence behind the curtain. Unlike entertaining magic tricks, Satan’s tricks have a severely dangerous effect. Those who fall for his lies are led away from obeying God.

Avoiding deception is very challenging though. Just as a magic trick can leave the observer wondering how it was possible to defy the laws of physics, a deceptive argument that is logically sound can derail good judgment — unless we are rooted in faith. Paul warned the disciples of his time about this: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (compare Colossians 2:8). If we allow ourselves to focus our attention away from the Truth that can be proven from the pages of the Bible, and instead give our trust to any other way of understanding, we allow ourselves to be cheated. When we turn our beliefs away from the simple Truth of God and entertain other contradictory teachings instead, we set in motion a process which may lead to our eternal death. Unless we reverse the process of embracing and following Satan’s lies, we become cheated out of our salvation.

Fortunately, we have a choice as to what to give our attention. We can choose to pay attention to the Truth of God, hanging on to it faithfully, or we can choose to believe the lie. It might sound like an easy thing to focus on the Truth, but it can be a great challenge. The world that we live in bombards us with ideas that tug at our faith, which may compel us to give up on the Truth that stands so opposed to the ways of the world. But we need to dig in our heels and trust in God’s Truth, not man’s. Our love for the Truth is what will keep us grounded, protect us from becoming cheated, and keep us far from condemnation (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Our sight must remain fixed on God so that we don’t become deceived by distracting arguments and ideas that pull us away from the Truth. Even though the world says otherwise, we have to remember that seeking pleasure in unrighteousness has an ultimate end that is deadly. We are instructed in this regard by the wisdom of Solomon: “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:20-22). If we don’t want to allow ourselves to be fooled by the tricks of Satan, we need to focus on the Truth and never allow our gaze to turn away from it.

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