How to Know When You’re Deceived

A close friend of mine quotes this phrase to me at times, “The very nature of deceit implies you don’t realize you’re held captive by it.” Sounds like something else, doesn’t it? Like being in denial? We’ve all known someone who’s been in that dark and disillusioned place, and may have called it home, ourselves.

What a hopeless state, where you can see someone you love is being fooled, or lied to; you can see the lies affecting them in a constant drip, never letting up, but your important words seem impotent. You watch the cycle of believed lies bearing rotten fruit which poisons the soul – yet your truth and guidance seem to fall on deaf ears.

These times can turn into seasons, marked with wrong thinking. And seasons, into a defeated life. How can anyone return to truth and reality when the lies we believe – we call the truth, and the facade we believe – we call our reality?  Another name for this is “belief perseverance“. Even when overwhelming evidence is presented, one’s false belief can be sustained (because fear is motivating them to stay in it).

Before change can occur, something needs to switch first. This switch must be the work of God, and its name is revelation. Only God can reveal to us what is fully true about a situation or about a person. Scripture says He is truth. And He is really, really good at gently revealing things to us when we ask.

Did you know the word “verily” means truthfully? In the single gospel of John, Jesus says the words, “Verily, verily…” 25 times! He was trying to get his listeners to trust that what he says is always true.  Are you one of those listeners today? Ask Him to give you some of His thoughts on what is true, and He’ll deliver. Pray for revelation.

What if you’re in that very situation where you don’t realize you’re believing lies?  You can actually start a new habit and ask God in every season, even if you think you’re “good” – “Am I being deceived about something right now?” What a simple prayer. His answer may come quicker than you think.

He may bring a phrase to mind. Or a person who is fooling you into believing something false about yourself.  He longs for you to know the truth, and not just keep it at knowing, but to take it further into believing. Along the same lines as the famous Edmond Burke quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”, a dormant (unbelieved) truth may as well be an active lie. We all believe lies and lies by nature, bind and enslave, whether we’re conscious of it or not. But truth can only lead to fruit-bearing freedom when it is shared in love and rooted in belief.

There is a line from a song that reads, “Jesus, the name above every other name”. As I was thinking about the defeating effects of name-calling a few weeks ago during a church service, everyone started singing this song. And this line became highlighted to me in a whole new way. And I prayed, Jesus, may your name be elevated above all other names. May the names you call me be the names I call myself – may they be above every other name I’ve ever been called or call myself as a result of a deep-rooted lie.

Disclaimer: the truth can look ugly at first. This kind of truth is called confession. Even if it feels ugly, and is difficult to utter, if it is admitted with a humble heart, this kind of truth is beautiful and nurturing. When it is spilled out, it can water the ground for more truth to grow in your heart. It can look like this, “God I suck at being a friend. I’ve failed so many times. Help me.” And then his overcoming truth will start to populate your mind with encouraging thoughts, “You’re my child. Of course, I will help you.” “My mercies are new every morning.” “You are not a bad friend. You’re just struggling with the concept of loyalty to this particular person, in this particular season.” “Keep your eyes on me, I will help you because I love you and you are worth it to me.”

As you can tell, this isn’t a step by step guide to knowing when you’re deceived, but more like a few ways to equip you to climb out of that ditch of denial, and to pass along the hope I have that real and loving truth, when believed, will bring you to a place of unbelievable freedom.

Let’s dare to ask for revelation and insight, dare to confess the hard truths in order to change our thoughts to match his, and also dare to be that friend who persistently loves with the truth, no matter the cost.


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