1 John 2:26. New American Standard Bible
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.
The word deceive here in the Greek is the word planaō and it means to cause to stray, to lead astray, and lead aside from the right way. These false teachers John is writing about have the sole purpose of trying to lead the true followers of Christ away from sound doctrine. They are simply agents of the enemy who have infiltrated the ranks of God’s people and through half-truths and deceptions, are trying to capture the hearts and minds of God’s people.
If Satan cannot tempt us to chase after gross, apparent sin, his next step will try to tempt us to chase after false teaching. This is why Paul told Timothy to rightly divide the word of truth or to be found as a worker who rightly handles the truth (2 Tim 2:15). There is nothing more devastating to the faith of a person or group of people than false doctrine.
Sound doctrine is vital in our relationship with God and walking in a right understanding of who He is. The false teachers of John’s day were attacking the deity of Christ. The schemes and tactics of Satan have not changed. Jesus will always be the focal point of Satan’s attacks because it is in Jesus that truth is found and it is in Him alone that salvation is found. If Satan can lead someone to abandon true faith in Christ, He can paralyze their faith and make them ineffective for God and His kingdom.
But John writes this letter because of those who are trying to deceive. They are working and scheming to lead the people of God astray. Jesus compared us to sheep and told us He is the Good Shepherd. The true sheep hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and they follow Him. But because Jesus compared us to sheep it shows us how easily we can be led astray and how dangerous it is when we get disconnected from the Good Shepherd.
But you may wonder “why does God allow Satan to operate and why does God allow false teaching?”. Often the Lord uses what Satan means for wickedness and destruction for His purposes and His plans. This is one of the ways that God separates a true believer from a false. A true follower of Christ will draw near to God, will hunger for Him and His word. Through the assaults of the enemy, they will be matured and refined. But the false believer will be led astray because ultimately it is by God’s grace we are saved, it is by His grace we are kept, and it is by His grace that we overcome.