Con men have elaborate schemes to delude their prey. The idea behind a con is to make something look legitimate when in actuality, it is not. Care is taken to cover every potential loophole and to answer every possible objection. Good con artists are articulate and smooth in the way they present their cons to unwary prospects. They often give the impression that to question them is naïve and foolish.
It is not until the con men are long gone and the dupe is left holding the bag that the real truth begins to dawn: I’ve been had! It’s unsettling to be conned. A person is stripped of his or her dignity and oftentimes left in a despairing emotional heap.
The New Testament has a word describing this kind of experience. It is the word, “deceive,” which is sometimes translated “beguile” or “delude.” This is the word used by Paul when he warns the believers in Thessalonica:
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction (2 Thessalonians 2:3 – ESV, emphasis mine).