The damages of deception
By Doug Cox
We are all prone to it. It happens to the individual, to couples and families, in relationships, marriages, business deals, churches, schools, colleges, organizations, communities and nations. The Bible predicts that one day the whole world will do it. I’m talking about believing a lie.
Lies are told to save face and to guard feelings. They are used to try to avoid trouble and unwanted consequences and to manipulate and gain control of someone or something. Our only protection against a lie is the truth and herein lies the problem. (No pun intended.) The truth is difficult to hear and hard to swallow sometimes because we find out something we want to be true, isn’t.
A lie can end up being a devastating and destructive force. On a funny note there’s the man who thought he was German when DNA revealed otherwise. He transitioned from wearing German lederhosen to a Scottish kilt. Not funny was Jim Jones promising people utopia only ending in mass suicide. Bernie Madoff promised riches and made off with billions of gullible investor’s dollars. Today well-known parents are facing legal consequences after being caught cheating their child’s way into college, which deprived deserving kids the opportunity. Social Security scams rob unsuspecting victims. Then there’s the politician who advanced her career by falsely claimed to be Native American. Her lie deprived some deserving person a job at Harvard. She claims her family told her she was Native American, so she believed it. The problem is believing a lie doesn’t make it true and doesn’t exclude the believer from possible consequences.
Lies can be advanced through traditions. Jesus confronted liars in His earthly ministry when some (offended) religious leaders came to Him saying, “why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” Jesus obviously not upset by the disciple’s poor hygiene answered saying “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? (Matthew 15:1-3)
The elders were offended because they had elevated the tradition of washing hands as a requirement. Clean hands in their eyes made participants right with God and the law. Being the ‘hand washing police’ meant power for them and if people defied the tradition it would nullify that power. Also, if people defied one tradition, they might also defy another tricky tradition they had in place to enrich themselves.
Deviously these snakes convinced people that even though God gave children the responsibility of caring for their aging parents they could instead give the money to them instead and God would bless them for it. It was a lie. This damaging, ungodly tradition not only left poor old mom and dad out in the cold but gave the deceived givers a false sense of security outside the blessing of God.
God can’t bless what’s not true. That’s why Jesus warns in Matthew 24:24 that in the last days “…false Christs and false prophets will arise… to deceive if possible, even the elect.” Through false doctrine people will be deceived and miss out on salvation because “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Jesus promised that “if you know the truth, the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). The question is where do we find it? Jesus declared Himself to be “the way, the truth and the life.” If He was a liar, He could not have risen from the dead.
A good start to finding the truth and avoid the possible eternal damages of believing a lie, is to read Jesus words and follow them.