Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! --John 1:47

There were many in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry who called themselves Israelites, but whose hearts were far from the faithful obedience of Abraham, and for whom truth was something which could be twisted to advantage. We see such tendencies in our modern age in which many Christians now believe truth to be a matter of interpretation and perspective rather than one of divine directive.

Freedom from guile is a characteristic of genuine faith

Let us remember that Jesus identified those who do the works of Abraham as Abraham’s children (John 8:39), and so if we are to be genuine believers and followers of Christ, we must also be free of deception. Indeed, if the absence of guile is an identifying characteristic of the true Israelite, then we must recognize that the same holds true for the genuine Christian. In Romans, we are told that the gentiles were grafted into salvation (Romans 11:7-24) which was promised to Israel. If we understand that to receive God’s promise, we must do His will (Hebrews 10:35-6), which certainly includes abiding in the truth in all matters, because Christ Himself identified deceivers as children of Satan:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Our very salvation rests upon believing in our hearts and confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and that He rose from the dead. If we truly believe that He is Lord, shall we dare to offend him with dishonesty? Let us also remember that the work of Christ’s crucifixion granted us access to the blessing of Abraham(Galatians 3:13-14), and so if we are indeed Abraham’s children, we must likewise exercise faithful obedience and depart from all dishonesty.

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

How can we manifest the truth if we hold on to deceit? One of the principal reasons so many are turned off by Christianity is the reputation that preachers have for dishonesty, which, to some degree, is deserved. The charismatic movement, for example, is well-known for inaccurate prophecies, falsified “miracles,” and a wide variety of tactics used to entice people into giving. It has become common practice among ministries to hold fund-raising drives during which they will claim that if they do not meet their goals, they will have to lay people off or shut down their ministries for lack of funds... even when they have billions in assets and hundreds of millions of dollars in cash reserves. Is this the manifestation of the truth? Giving is good and right, but the attempt to manipulate people into giving is abomination:

Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. (Proverbs 12:22) Guile is more than just lying.

In the financial industry, it is considered just as wrong to omit relevant information as it is to tell an outright lie, and the penalties for doing so in a securities transaction can include large fines and even prison time, and rightly so. There are people who lie outright, and then there are people who will simply leave out a few details in order to create the perception they desire for whatever purpose they hope to achieve, but both are liars, because they operate in deceit.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Jesus identified deceivers as children of the devil. Considering this, how can one operate in deceit and fulfill the Great Commission? Now, there are those who may say that it’s impossible to be completely honest in today’s world, or that “it’s just stretching the truth a bit,” or any other variety of excuses that are commonly used to justify deceit. What is God’s directive concerning half-truths, selective omission of relevant facts, and other tactics used to “edit” the truth just a bit?

Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

Even a little bit of deceit will corrupt your entire life. How do we know this? We must understand that deceit originates in the heart:

And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7:20-23)

The operation of deceit in one’s life is a clear indicator that corruption has taken a hold in one’s heart, and will therefore extend its roots into every part of one’s life. How do we know this?

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Proverbs 23:6-7)

The thoughts of our heart shape who we are, and who we are always affects what we do. If you think this is not true, try imagining a hummingbird stalking an antelope. If the mere idea of such a thing seems absurd, then consider that identity always leads to activity. Some may say that people can change, and they surely can, but whatever you are right now will affect what you are doing right now. Those whose thoughts are of deceit will practice deceit. Remember, Jesus didn’t say that these things might come from within and defile the man, but that they come (present tense) from within and defile the man.

We must deal thoroughly with the villainy of our own hearts.

One of the most common works of deception in the lives of people is self-deception. In so many ways, great and small, people deceive themselves into believing some very wrong things. Whether it’s the pretty little girl who thinks she’s ugly, or the pastor who thinks he can treat the “unimportant” people in his ministry in a way he would not want to be treated because he has “executive privilege,” self-deception is tremendously destructive as well as wicked.

One of the most rampant self-deceptions among leaders is the belief that we shouldn’t be “judgemental” or “dogmatic,” and so we ought not to speak out on issues of morality, doctrine, or integrity in leadership. Some contend that this is “wisdom,” because by not ruffling the feathers of the influential people who teach and do things the Bible teaches against, we can “keep doors open” and have a platform from which to deliver the message that God gave us in the hope that this message, whatever it may be, will turn the tide of wickedness “in God’s time.” In truth, the true motivation here is self-preservation with regard to the viability of a career as a traveling speaker in the hOpes of speaking at the larger (and more lucrative) venues. What does the Bible say concerning such things?

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:6-11)

By engaging in such a compromise, one will have become a partaker of disobedience, and we are specifically instructed not to have fellowship with the works of darkness. In these and all other matters, we must always be prepared to deal thoroughly with the villainy of our own hearts. As God said to Jeremiah:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

The human heart is desperately wicked! We must, therefore, never heed the world’s advice to “follow your heart,” and we must always yield our hearts to God’s direction in all things, measuring every reasoning, every thought, every idea by the standards of God’s word. There are doubtless some who will consider this to be “religious” or “legalistic,” and that is yet another self-deception that has become pervasive in the church, and it has lead many into deep bondage because of their unwillingness to obey the truth. Indeed, many who hold such beliefs shall be drawn into a strong delusion for their disobedience (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

As believers, and especially as leaders, we must take care to guard our hearts from deceit, especially the deceit that can come from our own hearts. We live in a time in which opinion has become exalted even above the Word of God. People may even hear the truth and acknowledge it as such, and yet they will deny it with such phrases as “I have different views,” or “let’s agree to disagree.” This is yet another great deception. If one of us says that God says we must all go north, and the other says God told us all to go south, someone must surely be wrong.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

We should never lay aside doctrinal differences, but rather resolve them, though often the chief obstacle to such resolution is pride. The “agree to disagree” philosophy is comepletely contrary to God’s word, because no scripture is of any private interpretation.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Let us bear in mind that because scripture is inspired by God, it is all prophetic, so the notion of “this is what I think it means” is presumptuous at best, blasphemous at worst. Why is this so critical? If we decide we can pick and choose whatever meaning suits us, we are thereby deceived even in our understanding of God’s word, and as such we will become unable to rightly discern matters even when using the Bible to do so. This tendency is readily apparent in much of present day “latter rain” or “third wave” teachings, which insist that the Bible is “dusty old truth,” and that their own “revelations” are somehow more true and relevant for our times. These and other such teachings are most often used to lure in people who do not want to hear those “dusty old truths” which condemn their sinful ways, and it makes for lucrative marketing, but it is demonically inspired. The Bible identifies only two kinds of doctrine: sound doctrine, and doctrines of devils, and so any doctrine or teaching which relegate the Bible to the status of “dusty old truth” cannot possibly be sound.

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Who is king in your life? if Christ is King, then we ought to obey Him, and turn from our own ways, opinions, and “views,” so that His truth reigns, and not the limited, faulted, and inevitably sinful guidance of our own hearts.

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Comment by Micah RaSun-Vann on March 18, 2009 at 12:04pm
..Broken cisterns! Thank you for this. A check for leaders and laypersons alike.
Comment by Eric Hancock on March 18, 2009 at 10:29am
I agree,,Good information

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