Those Who Deceive

“Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us – Eternal Life. These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 Jn. 2:24-27)

Our friend gave us two free tickets to a Cubs game several years back, so my wife and I went. A professional photographer asked if we would like to have our picture taken for free. When we agreed, he gave us a card telling us how to access our picture online. But the site required us to pay $20 to get any useable picture. He “took the picture” for free, but he knew we would think we would get a picture for free. By making us believe something by way of suggestion, he deceived us. Although this kind of deception is relatively painless, I have watched serious damage released across the Body of Christ by spiritual lies that are perpetrated for the same reason… personal gain.

1 John 2:21 – “No lie is of the truth.”

By its very nature, a lie is untrue. It is a falsehood. The Bible speaks of seven things that are an abomination to God, and two of them involve lying: “a lying tongue,” and “a false witness that tells lies.” (Prov. 6:16-19) God hates a lying tongue! It undercuts the most valued reality in heaven and that is truth. When we are deceived, our natural tendency is to feel distrust and twinge at spoken promises made from that time on. Deception is a killer of trust, and therefore; it does more damage to our understanding of love and perception of truth, than anything else we can experience.

Definitions of lying and deceit:

  • “Lie” – “a false statement made with deliberate intent to misguide.”
  • “Deceit” – “an act or practice … intended to mislead by a false appearance or statement”

The difference between a lie and a deception, is that a lie is generally spoken; but deceit includes anything, whether words or deeds, that are intended to lead people to believe what is not true. Note – not everything that is untrue is necessarily a lie or deceit, but everything that is aimed to deceive ultimately damages our clarity of perception. Deception generally involves a deliberate falsehood, spoken or promoted through activity; with the intent of misleading or causing someone to believe error.

In transgressing and lying against the Lord , and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.” (Isa. 59:13)

Conceiving and Uttering from the Heart – Words of Falsehood or Deceptive Activities.

The key to understanding deception is in knowing where it comes from… the heart. One of the most powerful examples from the New Testament, is when Ananias and Sapphira sold property and gave part of the money to the Church. Although it was theirs to sell and their income to divide as they so desired, yet they conceived a plan and they told others that they gave the whole amount (Acts 5:1-9). The Apostle Peter asked, “How is it you have conceived this thing in your heart“. They had lied to God… conceived a plan to make themselves appear noble and generous and gave no thought of how it would effect others in their immediate fellowship.

Truth is Reality from God’s Perspective:

“God is not a man, that He should lie … Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19)

The implication is that, if God did not keep His promises, He would be guilty of lying. Remember what the Apostle John tells us, “no lie is of the truth”. Deception is serious, because it is a sin that leads us away from truth. God walks in truth, its His platform for reality! All who worship God must do so in Spirit and in Truth (Jn. 4:24). He expects the Church to rely upon His truth as a platform for their freedom in worship, Christian love and trusting relationships (Jn. 8:31-36). We are called to love the truth, obey the truth and abide in truth!

Watch Out – There are Those Who Deceive:

  1. Those who tell “bold-faced lies” – the one who tells them is well aware that he has told an outright falsehood. He may consider it a “big secret” (one with serious consequences) or a “little white lie” (one he thinks will not have serious consequences), but he knows that he has told a lie. (Exod. 20:16)(Eph. 4:25)(1 Tim. 1:10) Liars are listed among other sins that are contrary to sound doctrine. There are direct commands against lying all through Scripture. Most people know that lying is morally wrong. Interestingly, people who often tell lies to others (like politicians) will often become very upset when other people lie to them and are often the quickest to accuse others of lying!
  2. Those who make “false promises” – Some people make promises they have no intention of keeping or know they cannot keep. This is a form of deliberately misleading people. Many stories about Jacob involve deceit. He bargained with his uncle Laban to serve seven years for Rachel. Laban agreed, but at the wedding he gave Jacob Leah instead. Jacob said Laban beguiled or deceived him. (Gen. 29:18 & 25) Pharaoh deceived Moses by promising to let Israel go if the plagues were removed. When that was done, he did not keep his promise. (Exod. 8:28 & 29) As humans, there may be circumstances beyond our control when we simply cannot keep a promise we really intended to keep. But when we knowingly make a promise we never intend to keep, or when we could keep it but we deliberately choose not to, that is deceit. How many of us are guilty?
  3. Those who use “flattery” – Often people want to make a favorable impression on others, so they say nice things that they don’t really mean or don’t really believe to be true. This may seem kind, but it is a form of deliberately deceiving others. When we don’t mean the nice things we say, we are lying. “They delight in lies; they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.” (Psa. 62:4) “Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied to Him with their tongue.” (Psa. 78:36-37) Here the people flattered God by professing that they would serve Him, but did not really mean it in their hearts. “False teachers often walk according to their lusts, speaking smooth words, flattering people to gain advantage.” (Jude 16) This is deception because they say nice things about others, professing to care about them, but really they just seek their own advantage.
  4. Those who teach “false doctrine” – When religious teaching is presented as truth even though it cannot be proved by the Bible, deceit is always involved. Satan told the woman, she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:4). Yet God had said she would die (Gen. 2:17). After Eve sinned, she said the serpent had beguiled (deceived) her (Gen. 3:13). [1 Timothy 2:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3] We see that Prophets prophesied lies in God’s name. (Jer. 14:14) He had not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them, but they prophesied a false vision and the deceit of their heart. “False apostles” are called “deceitful workers,” because they pretend to be servants of Christ, angels of light, and ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Many teachers present themselves as men of God teaching His Word, yet they teach things they cannot support from the Bible. Elymas, the sorcerer tried to prevent Sergius Paulus from accepting the gospel and the Apostle Paul accused him of being full of deceit and fraud (Acts 13:6-10). Note that false teaching is sinful for a number of reasons. But one reason is that it always involves deceit. Many religious leaders are deceitful, because they claim a teaching is from God when they know they don’t have the proof. Sometimes a teacher is sincerely in error and he really believes he is teaching truth; in that case, he has been deceived by someone else. All false teaching is ultimately a lie in that it all originates with Satan, who knows it is a lie. Satan’s goal is to deceive and destroy our passion for God’s truth, (Jn. 10:9-10) because he is the father of lies (Jn. 8:44).
  5. Those who “walk in hypocrisy” – A hypocrite is a deceiver because he pretends to be something he knows he is not. He tries to give other people the impression he is more righteous than he really is. “Those who depart from the truth speak lies in hypocrisy” (1 Tim. 4:2). Note, their hypocrisy is associated with lying. “Lay aside guile (deceit), hypocrisy, and evil speaking” (1 Peter 2:1). Again, hypocrisy is associated with deceit. Hypocrisy is deceit, because the hypocrite puts on a false front. He pretends to be better than he is. When one pretends to offer a sacrifice to God but refuses to give what He knows God wants, he is a deceiver who has come under a curse or a delusion (Mal. 1:14).
  6. Those who “speak half truths” – Some think they are innocent as long as they say what is technically true, even though they intend to mislead others to believe what is not true. It is possible to tell things that are technically true, yet we leave out pertinent facts or otherwise so speak that we lead others to believe untruths. Joseph’s brothers sold him to the Midianites, dipped his coat in blood, brought it to Jacob and said, “We found this coat. Does it look like your son’s or not?” This was technically true, but they omitted pertinent facts so they could lead Jacob to believe a wild animal had killed Joseph (Gen. 37:28-33). When confronted by Moses regarding the golden calf, Aaron said he threw in the gold and out came the calf. But he neglected to say that he had fashioned the calf with an engraving tool! (Exod. 32:4-24) Many people, even in the church, profess to serve God faithfully. But are we really doing what we know we should, or are we just deceiving others and maybe ourselves? Are we giving what we know God wants, or is it just a pretense?
  7. Those who “walk in self-deception” – One of the saddest forms of deceit is self-deception. People who don’t want to face reality can sometimes convince themselves to believe things that they really know are not true. Many passages warn about self-deception. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Cor. 3:18). People often think they are so smart that they fool themselves into believing error. “If anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself ” (Gal. 6:3). Sometimes people do not want to admit what they are really like, so they deceive themselves into thinking they are better than they are. This is why the Apostle James gives us this warning, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (Jms. 1:22 & 26). People deceive themselves, because they are in many ways religious. So they think they are acceptable, but God is still not pleased because of sins in other areas of their lives. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). “Some will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Notice these people end up believing error, because they do not like the truth. They prefer teachers who “tickle their ears”… tell them what they want to hear. So they may end up believing they are acceptable to God, but they deceived themselves.

Truth and Purity Walk Hand in Hand:

Its impossible to walk in purity and righteousness without the platform of truth. If we are to keep truth in our hearts and avoid falsehood, we must be very careful whose voice we listen to. You and I have an anointing from the Holy Spirit and we can know the truth and walk in the knowledge of God… especially if we abide in the Word of God daily. Yes, we should help liars repent and be forgiven. But if they refuse to repent and continue to speak lies, we must limit our association in order to keep our own hearts pure.

“Who will stand in God’s Holy Place? Those who have clean hands and a pure heart. Those who have not lifted up their souls to falsehood and have not sworn deceitfully. This is the one who will be blessed by the Lord.” (Psa. 24:3-5)

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