READ: Psalm 101, Jonah 3, John 5, Ephesians 1
More than fear, more than hate, almost equal to pride, deceit is a hallmark of the devil. In order to be completely free of the influence of the “father of lies,” we must be fundamentally and comprehensively true. For those who would bear the image of God there can be nothing false or deceitful about us. God in fact declares unequivocally through the Psalmist: “He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house. He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence” (Psalm 101:7). Deceit banishes us from the presence of God. Followers of Jesus need to be cautious that they avoid all forms of deceit–even the subtle kind.
Exaggeration. Of all the forms of deception, exaggeration is the most common. Public speakers are the most prone to its seduction, and we hide behind all kinds of justification, excusing ourselves for speaking hyperbolically. We must come to grips with the reality that exaggeration weakens the truth in the long term. Exaggeration seems to work in the short term, but over time it undermines both the credibility of the speaker. Truth needs no assistance and no varnish. When we exaggerate we are using the devil’s tool and we cannot think it will leave us unharmed.
Flattery. Insecurity has many forms and flattery is one of them. When we laud another, it is often because we want to be praised ourselves. We complement another because we desire the compliment to be returned. We praise for we crave recognition. Self-deprecation is the twin sister of flattery and it has the same intention. When we cut ourselves down, it is usually because we are longing for someone to disagree and affirm us. Both flattery and self-deprecation have at their root a desire to be praised. Both are at their core untruthful, even if they are factual, for their intended outcome is counter to what they present. God has no use and no respect for either of these impostors.
Discrepancy. The Psalmist vowed to “walk within his house with a perfect heart” (Psalm 101:2). How we deal with our spouse, children, family, and intimate friends is an indicator of our spiritual maturity. It is possible and prevalent for men and women to appear one way (gracious, patient, kind, respectful) in the public sphere, while at home they are rude, impatient, mean, demeaning, and angry. This is deceit and this is of the devil. To be a person of truth is to be the same in private as we are in public, and the greater the discrepancy between our private and public life, the more we are modeling ourselves after “the angel of light” who is in fact the chief demon. To be like Jesus is to be completely true and have nothing deceitful in us, nothing deceitful about us, and nothing deceitful coming out of our mouths.