Avoiding Deception

by site founder, Connie Rice

I would venture to say that none of us want to be deceived, but the nature of deception is that we are unaware. We might ask, how do we protect ourselves from being deceived by others who may have an ulterior motive in deceiving us? Another question that applies to all people because of our human nature is, how do we keep from deceiving ourselves? The definition of deception is: “the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid”. Recent times have brought increased confusion as more and more public figures choose to use fallacies (a false or mistaken idea) in order to further their agendas. Unfortunately, logic is no longer taught in school so many people are unaware when an illogical argument is used. I was fortunate to have a father with a very logical mind, so learned about logic and how to identify illogical arguments from him. This issue is also a biblical one. Scripture teaches us not to be deceived and that we are each responsible for seeking truth; our choices have consequences.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Colossians 2:8

“Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise Him are devious in their ways.”

Proverbs 14:2

Identifying deception from others: There are various methods used to deceive. Some are blatant lies, but some are more subtle:- mostly lies with a modicum of truth, mostly truth with a modicum of lies, leaving pertinent facts out of the discussion, perverting the truth with false assumptions, repetition of false statements, attacking the character of a person rather than addressing an issue, and using illogical arguments (ie. circular reasoning, “straw man” arguments , etc.). Dave Coppedge, founder of “Creation Evolution Headlines” (CEH) helps us identify these in his “Baloney Detector”. A book on this topic is “The Fallacy Detective” by Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn. A book on logic by astrophysicist, Dr. Jason Lisle, might also be helpful for preteens and older. “Introduction to Logic” is his student book that answers questions, but there is also a leader book that even offers tests for those interested in teaching logic to a class.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7-8

God’s Word tells us in John 1:1-3 that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”. Later in the verse 14, we learn that the One being referenced was Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth“. We see in John 14:6 that in answering his disciples about heaven, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.” Later in the book of John (verse 8:31), Jesus says more about truth: “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’.” Those who are genuinely seeking truth can find it if they reach out to their Creator, Jesus Christ, with their whole heart.

Are we deceiving ourselves?: I found it both enlightening and a little concerning that the Bible teaches that being Christians does not negate our ability to be deceived or to deceive ourselves.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Galatians 6:7-8

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

1 Timothy 4:1

Again, the nature of deception is that we are not aware, so we need to seek the Lord in His Word and receive its truth, ask Him in prayer to reveal truth to us, allow the Holy Spirit to help us, and listen to people we trust who are close to us. Unfortunately, our tendency because of our human nature is to become defensive and reject these efforts by the Holy Spirit and other people (I unfortunately speak from personal experience as this tends to be my first natural response to criticism). When we deceive ourselves, not only can it cause unintended negative consequences in our lives, but it also limits what God can do through us. He is continually working in us to make us more like Christ and this is an area that can really limit our efforts to reflect Him accurately. The root issue is really pride and in order to be free from deception, we need to humbly seek the Lord and accept what His truth reveals in us. The article, “What does the Bible say about self-deception?” from “Got Questions” may be helpful.

“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”

Proverbs 14:8

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

James 4:6b

In our culture (especially recently), stating what is true requires one to have both courage and conviction. There are so many now who are quick to verbally attack those who believe differently. America has historically valued the Constitution – the right to free speech, property rights, and due process, just to name a few. We have recently seen private property aggressively destroyed at will and people vilified and their reputations and careers destroyed even before the facts of a case are known. The farther our nation moves away from God, the more we see our society breaking down. The Constitutionally protected rights of free speech belong to everyone – not just to those who share our same opinions and/or beliefs. An open debate of ideas is healthy, but each person is responsible to promote and practice civil discourse. This is necessary for a nation of free people to flourish. Please join me in praying that our nation turns back to God – so that the words of our 2nd President do not become completely prophetic:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

John Adams

Openly and respectfully stating the truth is one way to counter lies and deception, and choosing not to participate in perpetuating them is another. As Daniel Moynihan said, Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. If each of us refuses to repeat something until we have researched the facts for ourselves, it would make a positive difference. If each of us would also make a conscious effort (I need the Holy Spirit’s help here) to be respectful of those who believe and think differently, it would truly help. None of us are perfect, but very few people are completely evil – speaking of people in those terms is inflammatory and unjust (sin).

“Censors of all sorts depend on the cooperation of their victims. Don’t cooperate. Don’t participate. Serve only the truth. Live not by lies.”

Michael Egnor in article for “Evolution News”

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:13-17

© Constance Rice 2020

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