Deception in the Follower of Jesus
By Benjamin H. Liles
If we say, "We have no sin," we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. ~ 1 John 1:8, Holman Christian Standard
As I was growing up in my father's household he constantly reminded me things an honest man does: "He tells the truth and upholds his father's surname. He has a good character about him, A man who is honest and reputable doesn't have to remember what's he's said; a liar has to keep his story straight." To me it's a stark reminder of what God says in scripture: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6, King James).
To be honest, I give multiple credit to those who I have looked up to and admired for my life in Christ. From the Christian band Petra to my great grandmother (my dad's maternal grandmother); from reading books penned by Charles H. Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis (his deep spiritual ones), Ray Comfort, and Kirk Cameron. I can give my best assessment of why I am the way I am to these men and women. It's not a bad thing.
But I realize I am most thankful to my parents. It's true my family as we grew up (my sister and I), we never went to Church. I started going to Church as there were times my sister and I were babysat by our great grandmother. Thing is my parents are right about a lot of things. Some things they aren't. They don't understand eternal life as I do, so they receive a little bit of mercy from me. I pray for them a great deal.
Today was a wonderful day. Not just in helping my dad with projects they need done to the exterior of their house, but I was catching him up on what's going on in my life. I told him about being able to assess and give book reviews for Tyndale as well as the possibility of writing articles for an online Christian magazine for $20 an article (I'm praying I'll be able to do this). I'm coming to my point. I promise.
From there my dad and I talked about the history of the Church, the multiple and often confusing verse of scripture due to mistranslations of God's word. Quite honestly, and I believe him when he said it, my dad told me flat out, "Scripture doesn't make a lot of sense to me." He explained: "When you see the phrase 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' I'd love for an explanation as to make it modern, such as 'This is why tailgating shouldn't be a good thing.'"
Dad, this is for you, for when you read it. I went through all that to make this point: my dad never liked the fact I was taught how to lie. Yes, I am a former liar. There was a time in my life my lying was so bad I got caught in my lies by my parents. It was always the same: "Benny, lying is only going to make you look bad; keeping it up just ruins the name I gave you." He's absolutely right on that.
Deception. We learn it easily. Some times we learn it from so-called friends, other times bad parents (mine were not), peer pressure (not to be included with friends), and societal norms. In the life of the believer, as God says as well as those who followed Jesus, we see this: "You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up" (Deuteronomy 11:19). We talked a lot in our home as kids, my sister and I. We came from a very affectionate, huggable family. We love hugs!
So, yes, as the older I have gotten I realized that lying and deception aren't something I want in my life. I actually have to credit my parents, although they aren't believers as I am in Jesus Christ, for my Christian walk. The whole point and as clearly as i can make it in today's terms, to be applied (as my dad has always eloquently told me, "Honesty is the best policy." If you take a pen from work by mistake, put it back. Don't lie about it.
Is deception a sin? Of course it is. If so many people say lying is a terrible thing and they don't want to be lied to then they shouldn't lie themselves, right? It goes hand in hand with that golden rule of "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you" (Luke 6:31, New American Standard). Deception as a whole isn't meant to be in the believer's life at all. Think of it this way: the life you live tells others so much about what you truly believe. If you claim to love the truth, but you live in lies (deceiving others) what does that say about you as a person? This is what puts so many people off of coming to Christ.
Those who don't know Jesus Christ personally, such as my parents, they want the real thing. They want to see it lived out, in practice. These people are the ones Jesus Christ touched, healed, and so often received praise from. Jesus said this: "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14, Berean Study Bible). I have this question to ask and I'll wrap this up: Can a true believer in Jesus Christ, who says they love Him and do all these things in His name, be who they are and practice deception? No, they cannot. Their fruit betrays them every time.
Friends, when I say what I am it's because I want the best in my life, for your life, for my spouse's life, may sister's, my parents. I want to live what I say I believe so it means I cannot do those things which will hurt my testimony of my salvation with God. I am blood bought, I am saved. I have that assurance, that peace. Why would I want that destroyed because it's so much easier to live a lie? It serves no purpose. "Instead, let your message be 'Yes' for 'Yes' and 'No' for 'No.' Anything more than that comes from evil" (Matthew 5:37).
Let's apply this to our life and see how it plays out: When someone asks you to give them an answer, give them one, but--and when I say this I do it from love--give it from love, not anger, not hate, and certainly not from lying. It serves no purpose. Deception doesn't belong in a believer's life. The purpose of our lives is to show that Jesus Christ has changed us from worse to better; that our home is in fact in heaven and not based in hell. If the answer to a question deserves a "Yes," give a "Yes;" if "No," then "No." That's it. Loving God means being honest in everything; loving others is the same as that command: be honest with others too. Anything less than that tells others what you truly worship. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
Father, I thank You for the wonderful day I had today. Thank You for the conversation between my father and I. I love him as much as I love You. I always want that to be evident. I want my life to show what You mean to me. How I live my life affects not just myself, but others too. I want those who take these words I say to heart. I don't just want my life changed by You, Lord. I want other's lives changed too. I want the world to know You are her rightful King. I want people to know that giving You reverence is a wonderful and great thing. You have sustained me so far for my belief in You and I know You have all things in Your control. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.