The nature of deception is that you don’t know you are being deceived. So how do you deal with something you don’t know is there?? When deception finally comes to light, the reaction ranges from shock to anger to hurt, all accompanied by feelings of helplessness. Nevertheless, we can learn from the experience. The Star Trek character, Scotty, from the original TV series said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” He was rightly saying we have a responsibility to check things out, and not blindly accept everything that comes our way. The Apostle Paul likewise instructed the early church, “but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV)
If we truly need to test everything, what is the measure for the test? Since only truth can spotlight deception, we must go to the source of absolute truth, the Word of God. But, effectively utilizing scripture requires two things: that believers consistently read the entire Bible, and that the whole counsel of scripture be taken into consideration. Significantly, you can’t do the latter without practicing the former, or you end up dissecting scripture to make your particular point.
The writer of Hebrews makes a profound statement about God’s Word. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) These are not just words on a page. These words are alive! From John 1:14 we know that Jesus IS the Word that was made flesh. When we read scripture, we are actually partaking of Jesus. Holy Spirit Who wondrously lives in all believers partners with the living Word to give practical application of scripture to our personal issues. In this manner we have communion and instruction that ultimately brings us into deeper intimacy with the Lord, thus deeper knowledge and understanding of truth.
God’s Word is additionally surgical – like a laser that can perform delicate micro-surgery, or can be dialed up to become a weapon capable of blowing up figurative buildings of steel and concrete. This laser-sword works in the temporal and the non-temporal, specifically the soul and spirit which are both intangible. Our spirits are designed by God to commune with His Spirit, and that communion informs our soul — our mind, will, and emotions. That is how the Word judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.
This very personal work also teaches us how to identify truth and deception in others. Israel’s King Solomon recorded what he learned from experience in Proverbs 26: 24-26, “Whoever hates, disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; 25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; 26 though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.” (ESV) Once we spot deception, are we willing to expose it, or are we intimidated by it, allowing it to remain? On both a personal and corporate basis, we must remember the admonition from Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account.” God is not deceived, and He doesn’t want us deceived either. Are we willing to do our homework to know the difference?