Ireneaus of Lyons is popularly quoted: “Error never shows itself in its naked reality, in order not to be discovered. On the contrary, it dresses elegantly, so that the unwary may be led to believe that it is more truthful than truth itself.”

While Ireneaus wrote in the 2nd Century combating heresies (such as Gnosticism), his words ring true for us today.

Consider just a little logical thinking about being in error: No one actively considers himself or herself to be in error in their beliefs at any given moment. (By “actively” I mean that the person is aware of their error.) Once we are aware of our error, we begin taking steps to correct it. At the very heart of being in error is one’s sheer lack of realization about the error. For instance, if I thought that Jesus was only a man, and then I became convinced of my error, I would no longer hold to the error. This applies both to the Christian and the non-Christian. For the non-Christian, to be in error concerning Jesus is spiritual blindness and deafness with no realization that there is such a thing as sight or hearing.

For the believer, however, truth comes over a lifetime of growing in the knowledge of God. As we are being transformed into the likeness of Christ, the temptation at each step is to be satisfied with our place and our knowledge. Like the shore of the ocean continually pounded by waves, we must put ourselves in the place of being transformed, always humble enough to accept that our previous and current understanding may need to be tweaked or even abandoned completely. Like Job, we dare to stand before God and attest to our own correctness until the moment that our prior thinking is trampled by God’s revealed truth.

Turning back to Ireneaus’ words, error dresses elegantly. Hence, at times the truth may not look so pretty to us. Being deceived is quite deceptive.

Here are just a few ways a believer can respond:
1. Be humble enough to admit that I could be wrong.
2. See the need for spiritual authority and teaching in my life.
3. Allow Scripture to correct me rather than trying to always have it affirm me.
4. Remind myself of the gospel, namely that I am a sinner saved by grace.