In any form or intensity deception is persecution. It is experienced by all believers in various ways with the attacks being personalized to the individual. Seldom is the deception bold and brazen, but very subtle with appealing enticements to the intellect, the main target being the ego. Flattery is employed to disarm a believer's defenses, again appealing to the ego. Incremental 'baby steps' are used to dull the sensitivities to the more bold lies of the end game of all persecution: the ultimate recanting of faith in Christ and outright denial of Him. With the untold accounts of physical torture that has lead some to this end, the current mental persecution and deception may not lead to a verbal denial of Christ. However, if left unchecked, allowed to continue and expand the end result will effectively be the same: a useless and powerless voice. Rather than "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" such a person will be caught up in the "unity" and "love" movement that so permeates the "church" scene today. Truth becomes a swirl of gray, accommodation to anything with a "Christian sticker" on it is the order of the day, and compromise with everyone's beliefs is the new mandate of "unity." All of this is encased in "love," a "love" of the unbiblical, convoluted, ego-centric variety. Biblical, Godly love is never found in compromise with the enemy of the Cross of Christ who only seeks to lead people away from the Truth, one lie at a time.
The believer is charged with two tasks in this matter of persecution by deception. First, "Study to show thyself approved unto God"---2 Tim. 2:15. For too many this "study" is limited to some pre-packaged, recited Sunday School lesson after which they will doze their way through a "sermon" delivered by a "preacher" bereft of unction. The study that is approved by God goes far beyond what has become an exercise in futility that is approved only by the men that prescribed it. It includes, but is not limited to, being eager to search the Scriptures, not simply for an answer to a question, but for the revealing of Christ--in all His fullness--to you. Making every effort to find all there is to know on any given subject, an endless but most profitable endeavor. Doing the best that can be done, laboring to find out more of the Character of God and the riches afforded us in Christ as adopted sons and daughters. [Thanks to Strong's #4704]. Paul was addressing Timothy directly, but also every believer after him. It is beyond a duty or obligation, more of a joy and necessity to ingest the Word on a regular, daily basis. neglect leads to apathy, making one an easy mark for the deceiver.
The second charge to the believer is found in Eph. 5:11 "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." To effectively expose the works of darkness, a good operational knowledge of Scripture is a must. The workers of darkness are well studied and well practiced in their art of deception (a form of witchcraft). But the believer has the insurmountable advantage of the indwelling Holy Spirit who will teach us along our way bringing Scriptures to our mind to effectively oppose and expose the workers of darkness (John 16:13 & 14 and Luke 12:11 & 12). Sometimes you know something is wrong, but you just can't put your finger on it or know how to refute what someone else has said. This is when the due diligence of study will pay off. The seeking of His wisdom (James 1:5) is always pleasing to the Father as He "gives to all liberally" who seek His wisdom without pretense or ulterior motive. Don't be surprised at the wisdom you gain for He "is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Eph. 3:20). Hopefully we can all say "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee." Psa. 119:11