The ability to deceive another person has been called an art by some people who see deception as a way to acquire and achieve what one wants. Just in the past few weeks we have heard over and over again how deception has been used by President Clinton to cover up an embarrassing situation in his life. He said that he deceived others to protect himself, his family, and those he cared for.
It is interesting to hear the reaction to the President’s confession of deception. Some folks have been up in arms over the deception that has taken place while others have not seen any problem with the fact that we live in a society where it is becoming increasingly acceptable to deceive another person.

I heard a story this past week about a man who had been an honest man all of his life. He was repulsed by the thought of lying and had made a commitment to tell the truth at all times regardless of what it might cost him. One day while Joe was working on his farm he remembered that he was scheduled to take his mule to the vet. He loaded up the mule and headed off to the veterinarian’s office when he had an accident at a dangerous intersection.
When farmer Joe came to his senses he was hurting something fierce, but because of extenuating circumstances he toughed it out. After the officer left the scene Joe went back to his farm to try and resume his normal activities. After a few weeks had passed Joe decided that he should have been compensated for his injuries since they prevented him from working for some time.
Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company to court. In court the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. “Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine,'” said the lawyer. Farmer Joe responded, “Well I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the…”
“I didn’t ask for any details,” the lawyer interrupted, “just answer the question.” “Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine!'” Farmer Joe said, “Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…”
The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client.” I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.”
By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie.” Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, “Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ol’ Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, “Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?”
Now farmer Joe was an honest man, a man who had made a conscious decision to tell the truth no matter what it cost him, but under such circumstances he felt the need to convince the Highway Patrolman that he was feeling better than his favorite, and now deceased, mule Bessie.
Today, as we continue our study of Psalm 119, I want us to take a look at a subject that we normally don’t talk too much about – the subject of deception. God’s Word speaks clearly and consistently throughout its pages about the lure and illusion of lying and yet we seem to dismiss deception as part of the American way of life. Let me give you a sampling of what God says about lying.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Exo 20:16 NIV)

Do not steal. “‘Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another.'” (Lev 19:11 NIV)

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: {17} haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, {18} a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, {19} a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. {20} My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. (Prov 6:16-20 NIV)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. {20} There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace. (Prov 12:19-20 NIV)

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. (Prov 12:22 NIV)
God’s Word doesn’t mince words about the subject of lying and being deceptive, but on the other hand there have been those who have allowed for or even encouraged the use of lies. The most famous of deception’s advocates is Nicolo Machiavelli, Italian author of The Prince. The book was a guide for rulers to use for conquering and ruling nations ruthlessly and successfully. Machiavelli contends that “great things may be achieved by those who have little regard for the truth.” He says that people deserve to be lied to anyway and each individual can fairly decide whom he or she can lie to.
This belief is often called utilitarianism. This philosophy disregards all morality in the idea of lying, or any other topic. Instead of deciding whether or not an action is “right” or “wrong” one calculates the usefulness of the action. This belief can be applied to lying today. According to utilitarian proponents lying is necessary to avoid bad or painful situations or to accomplish something that a person deems as “good.”
Another philosopher who condones lying is German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He says, “lies are necessary to live,” to avoid depression, and to just stay sane. He argues that a “great man…lies rather than tells the truth; it requires more spirit and will.” He calls lies powerful as well as “an artistic pleasure.” Man, he says, is weak and has “an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived.”
People have used deception, lying, and twisting the truth for as long as people have walked on the planet. The very first lie was told as Satan convinced Eve that God was deceiving her when He said, “Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden.”
What I want to do this morning is to show you how the seed of deception once planted in the heart of a man, woman, boy, or girl will yield a bitter harvest of broken relationships, lost integrity, and will eventually bring devastating ruin to the life of the deceiver. Our Scripture for this morning is found in Psalm 119:29 where we read, “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.” (Psa 119:29 NIV) The Psalmist pleads with God to keep him from deceitful ways. We would do well to issue the same plea to Almighty God this morning.
I want to focus our attention on one biblical figure, the man Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. I want us to see how, as a boy, the seed of deception was planted in Jacob’s heart and from there on was a constant option for him whenever he found himself in a situation that called for character and the tough decision to choose the truth. Because Jacob so often chose to deceive, heartache and sorrow marked his life. Let’s begin our study.
In Genesis 27, Isaac was on his death bed when Rebekah, his wife, figured out a way for her husband Isaac to give his blessing to her favorite son, Jacob, instead of the oldest son, Esau, who was due to the blessing of his father. When Rebekah shared her plan with Jacob he knew that what his mother was scheming was wrong and he pointed out her deceptive plan.
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I’m a man with smooth skin. {12} What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.” {13} His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.” (Gen 27:11-13 NIV)
The seed of deception was planted in Jacob’s family tree and it took root and began to grow. When Jacob decided that it was time for him to get married, to begin a family of his own, he found the girl of his dreams. She was a gorgeous girl, a beauty above all beauties and her name was Rachel. Rachel’s father had two daughters, Rachel and Leah. The Bible describes the sisters this way in Genesis 29:17, “Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful.” (Gen 29:17 NIV) From the context of the description it would be easy to draw the conclusion that Leah was a homely looking girl. Regardless, Jacob was madly in love with Rachel and he wanted to marry her.
Laban, the girl’s father consented to Jacob’s offer of working for him on his farm for seven years in exchange for his daughters hand. Seven years is a long time. Girls, if you want to know how bad that guy wants to marry you then tell him that he needs to work for your daddy for seven years before you will consent. See how many guys stick around after that! For Jacob, the seven years was nothing. In Genesis 29:20 we read, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” (Gen 29:20 NIV)
On the night of the wedding Laban threw a huge party with music, dancing, and lots of celebrating. While Jacob was standing at the altar with his tuxedo on and ready to head out to Hawaii on his honeymoon, a woman dressed in a beautiful wedding gown, with veiled face came forward, and Jacob took his vows. When he went to pull back the veil and kiss the bride he was stunned and his eyes grew weak – it was Leah. Aaaaaahhh!!! You think the kid on Home Alone can scream, you should have been there that night when Jacob realized that he had just married Leah!
Jacob was so stunned, and yet so in love with Rachel that he agreed to work for Laban for seven more years to have the chance to marry Rachel as well. Only this time Jacob made sure that Laban didn’t have any more daughters and absolutely no veils would be allowed at the wedding.
After Jacob married Rachel he agreed to stay on and tend to his father-in-laws flocks of sheep and goats. The seeds of trickery and deception that were planted by Rebekah continued to grow and yield a bitter harvest as Jacob devised a plan to deceive his father-in-law by breeding the best stock for himself. After Jacob had devised the plan he went to Laban and said,
Jacob said to him, “You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. {30} The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?” {31} “What shall I give you?” he asked. “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: {32} Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. {33} And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.” {34} “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” (Gen 30:29-34 NIV)
In Genesis 31 we see that Laban and his sons realize that they have been lied to and tricked by Jacob. They became so angry that God directed Jacob to leave his father-in-law before something tragic took place. And once again the seeds of deception yield their harvest of hatred and broken relationships.
When Jacob became a father the seed of deception that he had received from his mother came full circle. Jacob had used deception to get what he wanted, deception had been used against him to achieve Laban’s goal, and deception had been used to get back at Laban. Now that Jacob was a father he would suffer his most painful experience, an experience that was brought about because of deception. To make matters even worse, the hands of his own sons gathered the bitter harvest of deception as they plotted to deceive their father.
Jacob must have forgotten the pain that he felt when he realized that his father loved his brother more than him. When Jacob became a daddy he chose one son to favor more than the other eleven. Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph and his brothers despised him. Joseph’s brothers devised a scheme to get rid of his father’s favorite son by selling him to some passing merchants from Midian. They knew that it would rip their father’s heart out, but they went ahead with the plan anyway.
After Joseph was gone, sold into slavery, they had to have an answer to give to their father as to how Joseph had disappeared. They took his coat, the many-colored coat that his dad had made for him, and they smeared blood on it. Listen to what happened next.
Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. {32} They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” {33} He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” {34} Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. {35} All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.” So his father wept for him. (Gen 37:31-35 NIV)
The seed that had been planted by Rebekah and carried on by her son Jacob continued to produce bitter fruit in the family. The story of deception that began a generation ago, with Jacob’s mother Rebekah, now continued into the next generation with Jacob’s own sons deceiving their father and bringing him great grief.
I could continue the story of deception if we had the time because the bitter story of deception doesn’t stop with Jacob’s sons selling their brother into slavery. Joseph, the son sold, would later deceive his own brothers and have them thrown into jail. I want to stop the story at this point so that we can take a look at our own hearts.
I heard a preacher just a few weeks ago say, concerning the President and his admission of deception, “This is an opportunity for America to take a look at our own lives. We are deceivers. We have lied. God is calling us to come to His altar of confession and make known to God that we admit to the lies, deceit, and twisting of the truth that we ourselves have perpetrated.” I am in agreement with that preacher. It is time that we allow those who have the position to make assessments of the President’s guilt or innocence so that we can deal with a much more personal matter, our own sins of deception and lying.
Lying and deception are so common these days that most people rarely, if ever, give it a thought. A study has shown that
* Two thirds of surveyed Americans say it’s okay to lie.
* 91% of Americans lie regularly.
* 20% lie every day.
* Although most lies are harmless white lies, there are more “serious” liars now than ever before.
* The better we know someone, the likelier we are to have told them a serious lie. (Patterson, pg. 46).
The results of a different survey are as follows.
* Most people lie one or two times per day.
* Of exchanges lasting more than ten minutes, one third contain lies.
* Any one person lies to thirty percent of the people he or she interacts with.
* Spouses lie in about ten percent of major conversations.
* Dating couples lie to each other in about a third of their interactions. (Kornet 54).
Let’s go back to where we began and take a look at Psalm 119:29. The Psalmist writes, “Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.” We would all do well to issue the same plea to Almighty God since the way of deception leads to death – the death of integrity, the death of honesty, the death of relationships, the death of a future that will yield fruits of blessing and honor for those who will come after us.
I want to take the time to understand the diabolical devices of deception. I want us to understand what this “way” of deception looks like so that we can avoid it at all cost. There are two ways that you and I can choose to travel in life: The way of deception or the way of God. Those roads have never and will never meet. They are opposing ways that you and I can’t confuse. If, and when, we have chosen the way of deception and lying we have chosen that course of our own volition, at our own preference, with our own selfish interests in mind.
The Hebrew phrase rq,v-%r,D, (derek-sheqer) means, “The way of deception,” “the road of disappointment,” or “the path of lies.” The Hebrew noun rq,v, sheqer {sheh’-ker} appears some 22 times in the book of Psalms. The word means, “lie, deception, disappointment, falsehood, what deceives or disappoints or betrays, fraud.”
The way of deception and lying is pointed out seven times in Psalm 119 alone. Let’s take a look.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. (Psa 119:69 NIV)

May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts. (Psa 119:78 NIV)

All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for men persecute me without cause. (Psa 119:86 NIV)

I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. (Psa 119:104 NIV)

You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their deceitfulness is in vain. (Psa 119:118 NIV)

and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path. (Psa 119:128 NIV)

I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law. (Psa 119:163 NIV)
The Psalmist says that God rejects those who stray from His path. He also says that because he loves the way of God, he hates every wrong path. You and I need to understand this morning that we have to cling to the path of Almighty God or we will find ourselves traveling down the road of deception.
I want to take another week to fully deal with this issue of the way of deception, but before we go today I want us to understand that we can take the other road – the road of Truth.
To choose the road of truth we must first realize that there is absolutely no truth in any of us. We are a people who have been, and are, marred, terribly marred by sin. The only way that we will ever have the power to choose the way of Truth is to allow the One who is the Truth, the Way, the Truth, and the Life to come and live in our hearts. He can and will live through us and enable us to live a life of honestly, integrity, truth, and right relationships with God, one another, and ourselves.
When we choose to allow the Lord Jesus to come and live within our hearts then He will make adjustments in our life. We, each and every one of us, have lied and our lies will find us out. Jesus said,
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. {3} What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:2-3 NIV)
What have done will be found out and has already been found out by Almighty God. God calls us to make things right. When we have deceived someone, led them astray, and lied to them, Jesus calls us to have the integrity to go and make it right. Oftentimes that is difficult, but it is not nearly as difficult as continuing down the road of deception, the road of destruction and denial.
Chuck Colson wrote about the difficulty of leaving the road of deception in an e-mail I received from him on October 2. He writes,
On the surface, Daniel Crocker was the typical suburbanite. He had a wife and two kids and a good job as a warehouse manager. But Crocker had a dark secret: Nineteen years ago, he had taken the life of a Kansas woman named Tracy Fresquez. Over the years, the burden of this secret became intolerable. Eventually, Daniel Crocker turned to God for forgiveness, became a Christian, became active in an evangelical church, and he and his family grew wonderfully in their faith. But he could not bring himself to tell the police about his terrible crime.

It was when Daniel began ministering to a prison inmate that he came under conviction. One day after Daniel returned home from a prison visit, he prayed with his wife, Nicolette. Daniel then began planning how to go about surrendering to the authorities. For assistance, he turned to the Reverend Al Lawrence, a Prison Fellowship staff member and assistant pastor of a local church. Lawrence is an ex-offender himself, and he counseled Crocker and helped prepare him for prison life.

Lawrence told the Washington Post why Crocker was taking this extraordinary step: “[Crocker’s] faith,” he said, “told him he had to deal with that part of his life that he’s been skirting over the years.”

For Crocker, the hardest part was telling his children, nine year-old Isaac and eight-year old Analiese, why he had to leave them. As the children tearfully begged him not to go, Crocker, himself in tears, told them: “I have to do this. I’d be a hypocrite if I raised you by the Word of God and I didn’t [turn myself in].”

So last week Crocker boarded a plane for Kansas where he was met by startled prosecutors and charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutor Paul Morrison says that while Crocker will receive credit for turning himself in, “he also did a horrible thing” for which he ought to be held accountable.

The apostle Paul writes that “godly sorrow leads to salvation and brings no regret.” By contrast there’s “worldly sorrow”: grief over being caught, not over having sinned. Paul warns that this kind of sorrow “produces death.”

The Crockers’ remarkable story is a timely lesson in what it means to repent. The kind of repentance Paul describes produces changed hearts and changed lives. It doesn’t ask “what can I get away with?” but rather “how do I make things right?” I talked with Nicolette, and her faith is rock-solid. She will hold that family together while Daniel’s away. (c) 1998 Prison Fellowship Ministries
Every one of us is guilty as charged. I’m not asking you to turn yourself over to the authorities, unless of course that is what God is calling you to do. What I am calling each of us to do is to turn ourselves over to Almighty God. Confess. Come clean. Make it known to God that you are aware of the fact that you have been walking down the road of deception, but that today you want to renounce that road and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior so that you can travel down the road of truth.

The Survival Guide for Believers In a Wayward World (Part 3)
The Fraudulent Facade of Deception