“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”
1 Timothy 1:8–11
We see godly deception as an act of honorable war, or in a time that was equivalent to war, throughout Scripture.
I hate a lie.
Following Sun Tzu, our first responsibility is to attack the enemy’s plan. In the second place, we attack his alliances. In the third place, we attack his forces. . . .
To prevail in conflict is not possible without deception. Where you are weak, he should think you are strong. Where you are strong, he should believe you are weak.
Where you are present, he should believe you to be absent. Where you are absent, he should believe you to be present. When you are distant, he should believe you to be near. When you are near, he should believe you are distant.
When you have no plan, he should believe you do. When you are executing a plan, he should believe you are doing nothing.
Your strength is not measured by how strong you are. Your strength is measured by how strong your adversary believes you are.
Weapons are no substitute for a strategy.
Superior weapons do not make up for an inferior strategy. Superior weapons do not make up for inferior men.
The phrase “culture wars” should not be applied to mere policy differences. If one party wants to go left and the other wants to go right, there should be no culture war. If one faction wants to hollow the nation out from within, then we engage.
Sun Tzu was right — warfare is deception. A good general wants the enemy to believe the opposite of what is actually the case, in as many instances as possible. He wants him to believe he is far away when he is close, and to believe he is close when he is far away. He wants him to believe he is strong when he is weak, and weak when he is strong.
He lies, constantly and unremittingly. . . He holds to a lie, and then speaks his lies. . . . He cannot speak without lying. He listens to lies, he invents lies, he sends his friends out to lie for him, he delights in a lie, he spins lies like a juggler in a good circus, he schedules press conferences in order to have an opportunity to lie.
The Humpty Dumpty Syndrome
Who could forget the memorable interchange between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. At one point, Alice protests Humpty’s bizarre use of words. “When I use a word,” responded Humpty in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Getting the better of him, Alice retorts, “The question is . . . whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
After seeing how some Promise Keepers speakers and writers press Scripture into service to justify all sorts of teachings, one is left to ask Alice’s penetrating question all over again — whether Promise Keepers can make the words of Scripture mean so many different things. We call this problem the Humpty Dumpty syndrome, and it is more prevalent than most would care to admit.
“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”
Three quick points. First, the posting of this is encouraging and enabling a gross violation of the scriptural duty of keeping your promises and vows. If that scriptural point is not compelling enough, it is also a violation of the Westminster Larger Catechism. This is not just wrong; it is grotesque.
What is backbiting? It is spreading slander with the desire to hurt, annoy, humiliate, or damage someone’s reputation. It is spiteful, malicious, and false. The young widows in I Timothy 5 don’t have enough to do, and so they start wandering from house to house and ‘speaking things which they ought not.’ They are talking too much about other people’s affairs. This kind of careless speaking usually puts a spin on the real story, embellishing, exaggerating, attributing motives, complaining, and just plain making stuff up. And the truth is, God hates it.
Memo for the day: ‘You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.’ (Exodus 23:1)
The lake of fire is reserved for liars, and I take this as referring to those whose consciences are seared as with a hot iron. I believe this is speaking of men who don’t care about the truth, and are willing to advance stories that they know to be false. I don’t ever use that word lightly. One of my tasks in pastoral counseling, while trying to unsort human tangles, is to keep people from using that word.