Understanding the Concepts of Deception in the Bible! Righteous vs. Evil Deception! Part 3
(Ver 1.4) Today is Part 3 of a series of lessons on Understanding Deception in the Bible. I do not know if you can tell why I write this blog or not? My number one goal is to help you to understand the Bible better today than you did yesterday. If I can help just one person accomplish this, I believe that is worth the countless hours that I have invested in writing these advanced Bible lessons. If you know God better than you did after you read my lessons then I have succeeded at accomplishing my goal. Today’s lesson is about the complex subject of deception, but this lesson is much more advanced than the first two in the series. The first two lessons were general overviews of your enemy Satan and the techniques that he attempts to use to deceive people in the earth today. The first two lessons dealt with only one side of the subject of deception that I refer to as “Evil Deception”. Today I will introduce you to the other side of deceptin to show you that it can be used for positive outcomes and that will shock many Christians who have never been taught this side of the subject. If you have not read this series of lesson from the beginning I would suggest that you go back and start with “Part 1”. Also today’s lesson is intended for spiritually mature Christians since I will probably go into many things that you have never heard before from anyone and I do not want to cause anyone any confusion so please judge your level of spiritual maturity and make the determination if you want to hear something that is potentially new and controversial. If you do not want to learn anything new, then just go read someone else’s blog for today.
In the previous lesson on deception I talked about Satan being called a deceiver (Rev 12:9, 20:10) of the nations and how God looks upon these actions very unfavorably. One technique that Satan uses for deception is to take a truth and pervert it with an attached or alternative meaning. Another technique of deception that Satan uses is to associate a Bible truth with a false religion, causing Christians to reject it as the truth. Another technique of deception is to take a Bible symbol of truth and to possess it as a satanic symbol so that Christians again reject this truth completely. There are so many complex methods of trickery involved in deception and you should become intimately knowledgeable of every method that you can so that you are not the one deceived in the future. However, today I am going to flip the evil deception apple cart and introduce you to a brand new concept that you probably have never heard anyone speak on before in your life, especially in church. Obviously everyone teaches that deception and lies are an evil sin. But, today I am going to attempt to show you the positive side of deception found in the Bible. Right there your religious mind is probably giving you fits saying “I didn’t know deception had any positive side or use”. What I will show you in today’s lesson is that there are different kinds of deception found in the Bible and how that the Bible says not every deception is considered evil or a sin by God. I guess most people struggle with this subject because they do not realize that there are multiple types of deception found in the Bible and therefore they do not understand how that any level of deception could be permitted at times to achieve a positive outcome. Many religious people look purely at the existence of only one type of deception that they associate with someone telling someone a lie. They then lump all deception into this same basket category as being an evil sinful lie. I had a reader who read one of my Bible lessons on Abraham and left me a comment saying that Abraham sinned. In this story of Abraham, he went around telling everyone his wife was his sister so that no one would kill him to get her. If you read this Bible lesson called “Genesis 12: Was Abraham a Liar?” you should have learned that Abraham never lied, his wife Sarah was his half-sister (Gen 20:12). They both had the same father but different mothers, so they were clearly brother and sister to each other by definition, yet Abraham married his sister and she became the wife who gave birth to the promised child Isaac. So Abraham was clearly guilty of remaining silent on the important fact that Sarah was also his wife and not just his sister and this is all that you can accuse him of based upon what the Bible says. Let me start by asking you this question, is silence a sin? Can you find anywhere in the Bible where it says if I’m silent even on a key point of information that I have committed a sin? I searched my Bible and I could not find one verse that said silence was a sin.
Of course it gets more complex than this because your silence is also tied to your motivation of why you are being silent and that fact alone make this subject infinitely more complex. We’ll talk more about your motivation shortly but, I searched and searched the Bible for a verse that said silence was a sin and I could not find it anywhere. So my reader claimed that Abraham committed a sin of an invented name called a “lie of omission”. According to his definition, a “lie of omission” would be to remain silent in any area that left out any important information that could have been said in order to purposely deceive someone. However, after I confronted my commenter, he had to agree that this term “lie of omission” and its definition was not found in the Bible anywhere and therefore what he had said was a sin came from his own human reasoning. The human intellect is an amazing God given blessing, however it is rarely God inspired thoughts unless you have thoroughly renewed your carnal mind with God’s spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Therefore, you cannot count on anything that comes from your carnal mind as being the truth. After all of this, my commenter refused to say that Abraham didn’t sin in what he did and he held to the concept that Abraham was therefore still a deceitful liar because he withheld information from the king. Wow, this is a very dangerous approach to take in your Bible interpretation. In Matthew 7:26 Jesus called this action of ignoring God’s word a foolish man who has built his house on sand. To base your beliefs on your own human reasoning instead of the Bible will cause you to be wrong 100 times out of 100 tries. What we must do is to build our house on the Rock of the Word of God and base our beliefs on what God says and only what God says, in order to be assured and have confidence in what we know and teach to others. You know I do not have to be right about everything that I say and teach. I am perfectly willing to change if you can show me the chapters and the verses that say something different than what I teach. I would rather change and be right than to stay with believing an error. However, if you are just telling me your opinion that I’m wrong because that is not what you think is true then you have a major problem, not me. Here is a web definition for the word “deceive” that I found:
Deception, beguilement, deceit, bluff, mystification, and subterfuge are acts to propagate beliefs that are not true, or not the whole truth (as in half-truths or omission). Deception can involve dissimulation, propaganda, sleight of hand. It can employ distraction, camouflage or concealment.
Here are some synonyms for Deception from the Thesaurus:
Trick, Trickery, Sham, Fraud, Con, Cheating, Pretext, Duplicity, Deceit
Wow this is a pretty amazing definition that is all encompassing, isn’t it? However, I noticed two things directly missing from this definition of deception;w with one being the motivation of the individual doing the deception and the other being the purpose for the deception or you could say the expected outcome for the deception. It further does not say or even imply that there are potentially times when deception is good and the results of the deception can cause a positive outcome to occur either. According to this lone definition that I found on the internet you can clearly see that Abraham was absolutely guilty of committing a level of deception for either evil or for whatever purpose. However, I believe that to remain silent is still a key area that is totally different than to deceive someone by telling them a lie. I can find many verses in the Bible that say “Thou Shalt not lie” (Lev 19:11, Zep. 3:13). But, to be silent I have still not found any verses yet that says this is a sin. In this story found in Genesis 12 and 20 of Abraham telling the kings that his wife was his sister, I could not find any verses where God rebuked, chastised or punished Abraham for what he did or in this case didn’t do. Can you find this anywhere? You can clearly see that these kings were either plagued (Gen 12:17) or had a dream from God that told him that he was a dead man (Gen 20:3). So God’s attention was focused on what the kings did and not what Abraham did or still in this case did not do. Do you understand this? So I want to introduce you to the first new factor about deception today that will upset your deception apple cart. This concept is called “Self Deception” where a person has deceived themselves into doing the wrong thing based upon their own personal thoughts, motivations or their natural physical or emotional desires. You can clearly see that the kings in these stories of Genesis 12 and 20 were only interested in themselves and what they wanted. Nobody asked Sarah what she wanted, did they? Of course back then it was a male dominated world and when a male king wanted a woman, there were no options for the woman given to her. When Abraham tells the kings she is my sister, the kings ASSUMES that she is available to be taken like a stray dog that doesn’t belong to anyone. They make a very wrong assumption based upon not knowing all the facts that they could have found out if they had just asked some more direct questions in order to find the truth. You can read scriptures about being “Self Deceived” in Jer. 37:9, Oba. 1:3, 1 Cor. 3:18, Gal 6:3, James 1:26 and 1 John 1:8. There are many factors that cause self-deception and these can involve pride, arrogance and wrong thinking where you think too highly of yourself and see yourself to be wise in this world. You should go and look up these verses to learn how people can deceive themselves and you should be able to see how these verses can easily apply to the kings in Abraham’s story.
There are three basic factors to deception that are critical to understand that are not normally taught. First, there are different types or methods of deception. You can clearly see this by someone telling a lie, but you can also see this by someone just failing to tell the truth. They are dramatically different types of deception in the eyes of God. Second, there are different reasons or motivations for using deception and the intended outcome for the deception. In other words is the person doing the deception doing it for someone’s harm, hurt or destruction or for a purpose of overall good? Then the third factor to consider is who the intended target for the deception is. Is the one being deceived a good person or an evil person? Can the one being deceived do me any harm if they are not deceived? All three of these factors matter in order for any deception to be called a sin in they eyes of God. You see there is an implied problem with deception that you have not fully thought of or comprehended fully. If you take the literal internet definition of deception and apply it as it was written that the omission of information or truth is called “deception” then God is quilty of deceiving us all. Is your God a deceiver? If you only take this definition, He is because He knows things that we clearly do not know and many of them.
Some have tried to conclude that all deception is sin like my commenter and this is just not what the Bible teaches. That statement is really going to shock many of my readers. However, what people have done is taken a complex subject and oversimplified it and caused all deception to be thought of in a negative light. But yet as we continue through this lesson we will see that this is not true. Let me give you an example of some deception that occurred in my life that might shock you. My own mother was a known and practicing deceiver; my mother deceived me when I was just a child in grade school. She tricked me into eating squash when I was a kid by mashing it up and stirring it into my cream corn. They were both yellow vegetables and when they were mixed together I could not tell that the squash was present. You see I liked cream corn but I did not like the squash and I refused to eat it. However, by her trickery and deception of her mixing the squash with my cream corn and then by purposefully not telling me about her methods, I ate it without knowing I was eating it. Clearly she withheld key information and truth from me and clearly it was an intentional act of a hidden deception. By the definition of deceive that we looked at, she is clearly guilty as Abraham was, but, was this deception a sin? Did my mother sin by hiding squash in my cream corn and not telling me about it? According to my commenter he would have said that she did. However, was this not just an example of the practical use of deception to achieve a positive outcome for me? I think that you can see it was the only way that I was going to eat squash so it worked. What was my mother’s reasoning and motivation for deceiving me? Was it to do evil and harm to me or was it to do something good and positive for me so that I benefited? In her mind it was to do good so that I would eat my vegetables and grow up strong and healthy. So hopefully you can see that not every type of deception is a sin from this one simple example. I do not believe that my mother was committing a sin by hiding squash in my cream corn, do you? So let’s change the scenario and say someone hid poison in your food. This of course changes everything dramatically. Now we have a different motivation for a different purpose and the expected outcome of the deception is completely different. Clearly anyone who would do this is well within the realm of committing a horrific sin by using a very similar deception method that my mother was guilty of. I hope that you can begin to see the impact that motivation and purpose play into the role of deception. Do you see the potential dilemma being presented to us from my two examples of food deception? It matters who is deceiving, why they are deceiving, who is deceived and what is the intended purpose of the deception in order to make a determination if it is a sin or not. Just because my mother hid squash in my cream corn and did not tell me that she did it, does not constitute an evil act of the sin of deception. Are you grasping these very important concepts? You see if you only used the web definition of the word “deceive” you can clearly see my mother was guilty of “deception”, therefore she should go to jail or hell. But, her reasons for doing it were justified to achieve a positive outcome for me. This is called “Righteous Deception” and I will show it to you in the Bible so that you can better understand how it works. I pray that you are beginning to see the complexity of the subject of deception and the potential use of deception to achieve a positive outcome for someone.
So let’s go back to the story of Abraham and see who did what, where and why? Abraham was traveling into the nation of Egypt where a foreign government was ruled by a people who didn’t know God. In fact in the Bible Egypt was a type of the world and Pharaoh a type of Satan. According to Abraham’s reasoning, he told his wife to tell everyone that she was his sister so that these godless people would not kill him to get to her. So the motivation of Abraham was not to do any evil to anyone, but to preserve his own life in an uncertain set of circumstances surrounding evil people. It was Egypt who was doing the evil and not Abraham by taking a woman just because she was pretty and good looking. You could compare this to rape today and this is clearly a crime. No one asked Sarah what she wanted; they simply decided what to do based upon what the king wanted. Was that the right thing to do? Obviously God did not think so and that is why He put plagues on the nation for what they had done. So Abraham was dealing with an uncertain evil nation of people who could potentially do great harm to him for what they wanted. So do you see any differences now in this type of deception initiated by Abraham? Abraham never had any intention of harm for any evil purpose to anyone in being deceptive. So by not telling them all of truth; did Abraham lie? I still do not think so! Did Abraham sin? I still do not think so. Abraham’s heart was clear before God. I hope that you can see this.
What I am attempting to show you is that not every deception is a sin in the Bible and you will see some more examples of this in these next verses also found in Genesis. This is a story in chapter 38 is one that is very informative of many things, but I’m only going to talk about the concept of “Righteous Deception” given to us in this story. In Genesis 38:6 you see that Judah the son of Jacob had a firstborn son named Er and Judah got him a wife named Tamar. However, verse 7 said that Er was wicked in the eyes of the Lord so God killed him. Not good for Er! So Judah had three sons the firstborn Er is now dead so Judah gives Tamar to Onan his next oldest son and tells him to have children for his dead brother Er. Onan is also wicked in the eyes of the Lord because he refuses his father’s request and God kills him also. Wow, Tamar is either really bad luck for the children of Judah or something else is going on here. We can read in this chapter that Judah tells Tamar to go to her father’s house and wait for his third son to get old enough and she will be his wife next. So Tamar waits and waits and Judah never mentions it again and finally Judah’s wife also dies. So Tamar does what? What is Tamar supposed to do? In Genesis 38:13 it says that someone told Tamar that her father-in-law Judah was going to a certain city to shear his sheep. So Tamar comes up with a plan of deception:
Gen 38:14 And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.
Here we have a part of the story that is easily missed. You see Tamar could see that Judah’s third son was grown up and she knew that Judah had not fulfilled his word to her. By not doing what he said; Judah has become a liar and that is not good is it? Therefore, Tamar takes off her widow clothes and disguises herself with a veil. In doing this Tamar has taken on the outward appearance of a prostitute and she places herself in the path of Judah on purpose.
Gen 38:15 When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.
So Judah sees the woman Tamar and thinks to himself that she is a harlot available for hire. It is very important to note that Tamar does not ever say she is a Harlot; it is only Judah who has assumed the wrong things based upon a perceived impression of outward looks. Judah could have asked to see her face or spoken with her in many ways to find out the real truth, but he has been self-deceived with natural human male desire. Isn’t that interesting? What we see is Judah has deceived himself into thinking the wrong way based upon human desire and lust and outward appearances. It sounds a lot like what the kings did when looking at Sarah in the first story of Abraham.
Gen 38:16 And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?
So technically speaking while Tamar never says she is a prostitute you have to look at what she says very carefully. It would appear that she is asking for money for her sexual favor, but examine her heart and think again. She is really just asking for what she was already promised by Judah. Nowhere in this story is her deception an evil intentional act for harm to Judah or an attempt to get back at him for his lie.
Gen 38:17 And he said, I will send thee a kid from the flock. And she said, Wilt thou give me a pledge, till thou send it?
Judah tells Tamar he will send her a kid from the flock, but Tamar know who she is dealing with and says she needs some security to insure that he will do what he says. So she says this:
Gen 38:18 And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy bracelets, and thy staff that is in thine hand. And he gave it her, and came in unto her, and she conceived by him.
So we can see that Judah is still negotiating the price and the collateral like any normal business transaction. Tamar asks for his signet, his bracelet and his staff for collateral. Do you understand the principle and symbolic meaning of these items? A signet was like giving your credit card to someone today. With it they could command you to pay everything that they charge with it. The first time bracelets are mentioned in the Bible it was when the servant gave Rebekah two bracelets for her to become Isaac’s wife, so this is a clear parallel to this story in Genesis 38. The staff was of course a symbol of power and the main instrument of a shepherd to herd his sheep. So Tamar was not asking for trivial things, these were signs and symbols of this man’s identity. In the Bible you can find where it says that having sex with a prostitute causes you to become one flesh with her. So the sexual act is considered to be a marriage covenant between Judah and Tamar. Therefore, Tamar was gathering items that could easily be used to identify him later as the one who had sex with her. Anyway Judah must have missed sex a lot so he agreed and gave her these three items and then he made Tamar pregnant with his children and then he went back home.
Gen 38:19 And she arose, and went away, and laid by her vail from her, and put on the garments of her widowhood.
Tamar departs back to her father’s house and changes her clothes back to the widow garments and then waits. Meanwhile, Judah sends people to find the prostitute with the sheep that he promised so that he could get back his possessions and they cannot find her. Nobody has ever seen this woman, so she was clearly not a prostitute for financial gain or income. So if money was not Tamar’s motivation what was the motivation of Tamar and who did she deceive? It is very clear that it was deception in the “nth” degree. But, I did not see anywhere that said that Tamar ever lied with her lips to achieve this deception, nor do I see where she did it to cause hurt or harm to anyone else. The purpose of this deception was not for evil but for the good outcome of the continuation of the family name of Judah. So in effect this deception of Tamar was only done for the good of Judah and not to do him any evil. This is a very important story in the Bible and you just do not realize its importance right now. So Judah finally hears about Tamar when she begins to show her pregnancy. It’s funny how words in the rumor mill can travel so quickly to everyone. Everyone knew that Tamar was a widow so when she shows up pregnant it is a perceived problem for Judah and the community. So Judah calls for Tamar so that they can put her to death for being a whore, but when Tamar shows up at his house she has his signet ring, staff and bracelets that show who the father is and Judah cannot not deny it because of these facts she presented to him. Judah then makes this statement:
Gen 38:26 And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She hath been more righteous than I; because that I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he knew her again no more.
You can clearly see that Judah was calling her deception a “righteous justified act”. Because, of this woman’s trickery the family line of Jesus has been preserved and Jesus can still come into the world as God had designed. You can clearly see this honor by reading the genealogy of Jesus given to us in the book of Matthew chapter 1. There are only 6 women mentioned by name in this list of father names and Tamar is one of them. She earned a mention of prominence by a simple act of righteous deception. Tamar has arisen to the level of rock star status in the Bible because she used deception for the good of someone other than herself. This is a very important part of deception that is rarely taught and seldom mentioned. Here is another mention of her name in the Book of Ruth:
Rth 4:12 And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bare unto Judah, of the seed which the LORD shall give thee of this young woman.
Tamar is again mentioned in the book of Ruth as being a righteous woman who did great things for the good of mankind and the house of Israel. You cannot deny that this was deception, but God elevates her to a level of importance for doing this deception that few have understood until today. At no time did God accuse this woman of committing any sin for what she did, do you see this?
I actually have many more Bible verses to go into this subject of deception, but I have gone too long for today. So I will wrap this lesson up with that story of Tamar and hope that you can now see and understand that not every deception found in the Bible is a negative sin in the eyes of God. In my next lesson in this series I will give you some more examples found in the Bible of “Righteous Deception” and these will help to establish the truth in the mouths of two or three witnesses. I hope and pray that you have learned something from today’s lesson that you can take away in growing in your relationship with your God. God Bless!
If you would like to continue reading in this series on deception, you can go to “Part 4“.
If you want to know how to get saved and know that you are with confidence you can go to: How do I get saved?
Posted on November 9, 2010, in Advanced Topics, Bible Study, Understanding and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, deception, God, Jesus, Prophecy, Religion, Revelation, sin, Truth, understanding. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.