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Deception & Deceivers (P2)

Discerners and perceivers,
    2Thessalonians 2:3 warns (Young's Literal Translation), "Let not any one deceive you in any manner..."

    Any any manner. That encompasses the spouse that shares your bed, the preacher that shares your platform, the friend that shares your meal, the child that shared your body, the politician that shares your values--any one, in any manner. This scripture, and many others like it, tell us the Lord expects us to develop a utilitarian discernment to near-foolproof levels. In other words, fool me once, shame on me.
    Here is a piece of the most current research. We hear 20-100 lies a day. Within ten minutes of a conversation strangers have already told three lies, and 60% of all adults tell at least one lie in any ten minute chat. Americans tell an average of eleven lies a week. The average married couple lies in one out of every ten interactions with their spouse.
    Speaking about all of humanity, Paul says this about every single person on earth (before Christ) in Romans 3:13 (AMP): "...they habitually deceive with their tongues..."

Introductory Exhortation

The Lord said the following about easily-deceived Israel in Hosea 7:11 (NIV): Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless--now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.
    Paul said the following about naïve, or easily deceived, people in Romans 16:18 (NIV): ...By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.
    Church, this cannot be us. We cannot be so easily tricked, get used and hollowed out, then sulk in isolation and ask, "Why didn't you protect me God?" Unless you are medically disabled cognitively, to such a degree that you genuinely cannot learn higher-level concepts, you have everything you need to develop advanced discernment and live manipulation-free. You have the written Word, the Spirit, behavioral research with consistent results, instant access to teachers everywhere, books galore, articles galore, videos galore, and on and on. Paul, who had far less to work with, still could say, "Let no one deceive you in any way."

Posterior vs Anterior Discernment

Part 1 explained the most proven indicators of deception from Scripture, behavioral research, and creative nuances the Spirit has taught me personally. We looked at the physiological, verbal, and sociobehavioral domains of deception, and how these domains must be considered holistically as an interrelated system. This means looking for clusters or patterns of tells, not isolated tells in silos that can be easily misinterpreted. Part 1 was about detecting deception, what I call posterior discernment--discernment after deception has already happened or is in progress.
    Part 2 is about anterior discernment, before deception has happened. Anterior discernment is proactive. It is a one-step-ahead strategy. It does, however, require keener insight and more sophisticated social skills. At the very least, make anterior discernment your goal to work towards.

Anterior Discernment, Preempting Deception
    Anterior discernment, and possibly preempting deception before it even happens, has three dimensions also. These will not make sense, though, without first understanding why people deceive and lie in the first place.
    Deception is sin, and is an expression of the law of sin and death (Ro 7). However, this dark instinct materializes into real-life behaviors through the opportunity, space, oxygen, provision we give it. Romans 13:14 says (NKJV), ...make no provision for the flesh...
One of the main spaces where deception and lying find opportunity is in a person's emotional valences--things we deeply crave and wish for, but mismanage.

Why Lie? Emotional Valences

An extensive variety of scriptures show us people lie and deceive from their (mismanaged) inner values, what we crave and wish for deep down. I will start with one everyone can relate to. This list is not exhaustive, but probably the most common.

Fear of Loss, Pain, Negative Outcomes
Genesis 18:15 (NIV): Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, "I did not laugh."...
    Joshua 9:22,24 (NIV): Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, "Why did you deceive us...?"...They answered Joshua, "...we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this."
    Who wants loss, pain, or negative outcomes? Even fetuses move away from uncomfortable stimuli and towards pleasurable stimuli. All of us, minus the tormented masochist, value avoiding loss, pain, and negative outcomes.
    Sometimes, however, loss, pain, and negative outcomes are deserved or necessary (Lk 12:47,48, Heb 12:11, Tit 1:13). Yet, instead of humbling themselves and taking their medicine stoically, many people lie or deceive to avoid the reckoning. Children lie to avoid being grounded or spanked. Spouses lie about their extracurricular activities to avoid the scarlet letter or getting John Bobbitt-ed. Politicians of both parties lie about more things than even God can keep track of. People deceive to avoid unwanted outcomes. We crave comfort and pleasure, green pastures and still waters, eating beneath our own fig tree. And if our character and life philosophy are not truly Biblical, we will lie and deceive to avoid losing or missing out on these.


Security (The Illusion of It)
Hosea 10:13 (NIV): have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors.
Isaiah 28:15 (NKJV): ...When the overflowing scourge passes through, it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.
Job 15:31 (NIV): Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.
    The above scriptures are intensely thought-provoking. Humans are drawn to illusions that give a feeling of security. I am especially touched by Isaiah 28:15. Isaiah sarcastically misquotes Israel by saying, "...we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves."
    We all wish for security, but when we do not seek it first through a daily supernatural experience with God, we start lying to ourselves, lying to others, believing other people's lies, to feel secure. Like Isaiah said sarcastically, we make lies our refuge, we hide under fake securities. The craving for security motivates many deceivers.


Financial, Material Opportunities
Genesis 29:25-27 (NIV): ...So Jacob said to Laban, "... Why have you deceived me?"...Laban replied, "...for another seven years of work."
    Leviticus 6:3 (NIV): ...if they find lost property and lie about it...
    Joshua 7:11 (NIV): ...They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions.
    Proverbs 21:6 (NKJV): Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
    In a world of gullible people, acquiescent people, lazy people, and willfully stupid people, a machiavellian can, with modest effort, bamboozle money, possessions, and opportunities. Frank Abagnale. Jordan Belfort. Bernie Madoff. Milli Vanilli. The College Admissions Scandal. Christian ministers lying about or exaggerating stories of miracles (I've busted a few of these immature clowns personally).
    We all need money to function on earth, generally speaking, so we all assign valence to it. How we manage this important value can lead us to ethical, godly, legal strategies of wealth creation, or, it can lead us to machiavellian machinations. Monetary or material opportunities drive many people to spin machiavellian webs to get the goodies.


Social Advantage, Dominance
Psalm 12:2,4 (NIV): Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts...those who say, "By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us--who is lord over us?"
    Jeremiah 9:3 (NIV): They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land...
 never read these verses the way I do now. They speak of people who lie to attain social advantage or dominance. When politicians flatter and brownnose certain chunks of the electorate to get elected, they are fulfilling Psalm 12:2,4. Or when men cake it on (compliments) to bait, date, or mate with a woman. When high schoolers start rumors about their rivals to be more popular and "triumph in the land", they are fulfilling Jeremiah 9:3. Or when one spouse lies or deceives about anything to gain the upper hand in the marriage.
    Most people value the top of a social ecosystem, not the bottom.
No doubt there are perks to power. However, if we do not develop healthy power in healthy ways for healthy purposes, depending on God's promise and purpose about this, we almost always resort to shadiness and slimyness to get the upper hand and triumph in the land. Deuteronomy 28:13 (ESV): And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the L
ORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them. 

Resentment, Revenge
    Proverbs 10:18 (NKJV): Whoever hides hatred has lying lips...
    Proverbs 26:28 (NIV): A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
    Psalm 31:18 (NIV): Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak...
    Most of us never associate deception with hatred, yet, God's Word says in these verses that contempt drives some people to lie about the object of their contempt. Think of a time you lied, or passed on unproven rumors and gossip, because you despised someone. During a bitter divorce, watch out, soon cometh the misleading characterizations. During election season, watch out, someone is always the Antichrist and someone is always the American Messiah. In the halls and locker rooms of a high school, rivalry-based rumors and gossip will be sharp and specific, sometimes traumatic, sometimes even ending in tragedy. When contempt rises in a person's heart, these scriptures say lying lips, unproven rumors, and false/exaggerated characterizations almost surely will follow.
    The inner value driving this nonsense is usually a bleeding need for justice. Every person I have ever known that was caustic, hateful, nasty, vengeful, quick to bite and quick to fight, or simply simmering and brooding at a calmer level, had a lingering spirit of injustice about some wrong or multiple wrongs.


To Appear Good
Psalm 78:36 (NKJV): Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, and they lied to Him with their tongue.
    Matthew 15:8 (NKJV): These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
    1John 1:8 (NIV): If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
    Matthew 23:5 (NKJV): But all their works they do to be seen by men...
    Behavioral scientists have thoroughly researched one of the strongest motivations (values) of human beings: to be seen as good. It pervades our language. How often have you told yourself, "I'm a good person." How often have others told themselves that. How often have you or others said, "He/she is a good person."
    We are incurably obsessed with feeling like we are a good person. Interviews with incarcerated killers, serial rapists, extreme white collar criminals, etc. is an educational experience. Even they try to polish and preen themselves as, quote, "a good person". And their crimes? Some inexplicable aberration, but, quote, "It is not who I really am." Well, you have three life sentences to learn the truth before you face your Maker.
    Humanity is haunted by the need to be good or appear good because of the law of God written on our conscience, bearing witness of right and wrong, Romans 2:15 says. But the law is only a tutor (Gal 3:24 NKJV), a temporary teacher to educate us about our need for a permanent solution to our sin--Jesus. After we are born-again, Paul said we no longer need that tutor (v25), because God cultivates His very own nature in us through His indwelling Spirit (3:3). Those
who are not born-again, however, continue to be haunted by that inner nagging to achieve "a good person" status. When they fall short, and they will, many will simply hide it or lie about it to continue feeling and appearing good.


White Lies
    In God's Word there is no such thing as a white lie. To our Maker and Moral Definer, lying is lying and deceiving and deceiving. One of the Law's most important moral absolutes is, Do not lie.

Anterior, Proactive Discernment

By understanding the deeper emotional values that drive people to deceive, we can possibly preempt that deception and accomplish an even greater goal: win them to God. To win them we have to engage with their deeper self, not their surface self or their machiavellian self. This means proactive discernment on the front end (anterior) about what they value deep down and presenting Jesus as the I AM fulfiller of those values. When possible, we cannot stop at Part 1 of this article, merely recognizing deception. Jesus loves even the deceiver, and He wants to win him/her through proactive strategies and engaging their deeper self.

Here are three aspects to anterior, proactive discernment. It will take some practice and training with the Spirit, so make it a growth goal.

1. Pinpoint their arrowtip values.

Each person has numerous emotional values, but two or three are the strongest and sharpest, what I call the arrowtip values. Until the individual is born-again, grows, matures, and balances out, those arrowtip values motivate most of their personality and life. To win someone to the Lord, you will have to get a sense of who you are dealing with. What do they crave in the main nerve center of their psychology? Using great observation skills, listening skills, and depending on the Holy Spirit in prayer, try to pinpoint at least one of their arrowtip values. The more you do this the better, sharper, and faster you will get, and the faster you can gearshift to #2, validating and having meaningful conversations about those values.
    Philippians 1:9 says our love must abound more and more in...emotions? Nope, not emotions. Paul said "more knowledge and depth of insight" (NIV). Another rendering says "more knowledge and all discernment" (NKJV). The next verse says, "so that you may able to discern what is best" (v10 NIV). Adapt these verses to loving and ministering to a dishonest, or imminently dishonest, person. Get knowledge, depth of insight, and all discernment on that person, so that you may be able to discern the best tactics to draw out their deeper self and engage meaningfully with it.

2. Validate, have non-threatening conversations about, those values.

If you are accurate in tapping into the person's values nerve center, and they know that you know their deeper instincts, they will probably feel naked or destabilized or awkward. Validate and have non-threatening, meaningful conversations about those values. Ask conscientious questions about them; do not interrogate. Listen well, with real care and interest. Do not rush into lecturing that Jesus will meet all their needs with His riches in glory. You will have to present Jesus in the right way at the right time initiated by the Spirit's manifestation.
    Every second you conversate meaningfully with a person about their deeper values is another second they are not thinking about manipulating to fulfill them. Read that last sentence again. For example, instead of thinking about contempt and vengeance, your conversational shepherding will focus on their deeper need for justice and who really hurt them way back when. What you are doing is enrapturing their soul, however brief, with a healthier, godlier reality. Over time these brief conversational spaces of a better way can pay off, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is...." (Pr 23:7 NASB). Conscientious, skilled, Spirit-assisted conversation is far more powerful than many people realize, for it is by words that new worlds are framed (Heb 11:3 NKJV).

3. Create space and pathways for those values to be fulfilled the right way.

If you are dealing with a born-again brother/sister who has the problem with deceptiveness, you can work with God in a special way to help fulfill their deeper values the right way. This is part of the New Testament one-anothering we are supposed to do. If they let you, lead them in inner healing prayer for that bleeding injustice that drives them. If finances or resources are the area of cathexis, how can you help and guide them towards ethical economic empowerment? If they are lying or faking or hiding mistakes to preserve that "good person" aura, show them, if they let you, the real roots of that nagging, perfectionistic inner voice. Show them how God defines and creates true goodness in us in the New Covenant. And so on and so on. Create space and pathways for their nerve-center values to be fulfilled the right way.
    The goal here in #3 is to eliminate deception's attractiveness by offering them what they desire deep down, but God's way. If we can show people, especially our siblings in Christ, that they do not need to deceive to fulfill their deepest emotional valences, perhaps they will finally and fully surrender to "the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy" (1Ti 6:17 NKJV). For the ekklesia in particular, Jesus promises to be the one "who fills everything in every way" (Eph 1:23 NIV). He will fill every single empty jar (2Ki 4:1-7), if only we bring those value-jars to Him and cooperate with Him filling every single one in His way, in His time, for His glory, and for the overflow benefit of more than just me.

Those Who Lie At Destructive Levels

What about those who lie and deceive at destructive levels? At levels that cause significant disruption and dysfunction? Psalm 62:4 says there are those who "...enjoy a lie..." (Young's Literal Translation). This scripture parallels what secular professionals call a psychopath. We need to recognize when a person will not or cannot be redeemed. In Romans 1, Paul said three times "God gave them over" (Ro 1:24,26,28). This means He stopped trying to win them to salvation and wrote them off permanently. These scriptures should chill us to the bones like nothing else. Proverbs 29:1 says the same (NIV): Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed--without remedy.
    If someone in your social ecosystem is deceiving at psychopathic levels, or even at significantly disruptive levels, set up a safety system and create firm distance. Psalm 101:7 speaks about this precisely (NKJV): He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.

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