The Danger of Deception in the Heart

The Ninth Commandment in the Prophets

4 min

The prophets of Israel played an important role in exposing the deceptions of their day and pointing God’s people to the truth. Today, we still need faithful men who are willing to counter the evil that comes from falsehood in all areas of life. “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22).

The prophet Isaiah had much to say about falsehood and lying throughout his book of prophecy. He lived in a time when the truth of God’s Law was neglected, and many false prophets abounded in the land of Israel. These false prophets yielded to the wishes of the people who begged them to “prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:10).

Isaiah, a true prophet of God, called his generation “a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD” (Isaiah 30:9). In addressing the leaders of Israel, Isaiah charged them with saying “we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves” (Isaiah 28:15).

This “hiding under falsehood” characterizes not only ancient Israel, but also the godless society of our own generation. Our rulers, our media, and our public education system have taken refuge under a massive system of deception. Good has been called evilEvil has been called good. God’s Word has become suspect, and critics of the Bible have an open platform to downplay the truth. We have left honoring the Creator and begun worshipping the creature. Babies have been slaughtered in the name of “choice.” Racial strife has been instigated in the name of “equality.” Gender confusion has corrupted the minds of both young and old. Righteous proclamation of truth has been suppressed in the name of “toleration.”

Isaiah warned the rulers of Israel: “Hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place” (Isaiah 28:17). Try as they may, men cannot hide from the truth. The truth will eventually prevail, and the refuge of lies will be swept away as a flash flood sweeps away everything in its path by its overwhelming power.

But Isaiah did not merely expose the problem of lying and falsehood in his society. He examined the very heart of the matter and then offered God’s solution.

In chapter 59, the prophet expressed mourning over the sins of Israel. When was the last time that you personally mourned over the sins of your own generation? Isaiah said, “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them” (Isaiah 59:12). He did not say of the rulers of Israel that “their transgressions are multiplied against them.” In great humility, Isaiah used the first person pronoun “our” to describe “our transgressions,” “our sins,” and “our iniquities.”

Isaiah then specified the sins that have grieved the Lord. “In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood” (Isaiah 59:13). Here Isaiah gets to the very core of cultural deception. It stems from personal deception in the depths of the human heart.

Falsehood cannot be blamed on the religious leaders, the false prophets, nor on the civil leaders of Israel, emphasized Isaiah. Rather, falsehood is conceived in the heart. Another prophet, Jeremiah, would one day come along and affirm this truth. According to Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Deception in society begins in the heart. False prophets are able to attract a following because the wicked heart of man would rather believe a lie than the truth. Before Isaiah could address the nation’s sinful actions, he realized that first he had to expose the root of the matter—a lying heart that conceives words of falsehood.

A steady progression flows from a deceitful heart to deceitful words. Isaiah proclaimed in the next verse that “truth is fallen in the street” (Isaiah 59:14). Without truth, Isaiah explained that justice was not possible and “equity cannot enter” (verse 14). He continued by explaining that “truth faileth” (Isaiah 59:15). With no truth, Isaiah stated, the result was the Lord’s great displeasure: “The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment” (verse 15).

Upon this gloomy note about deception, loss of justice, and God’s displeasure, Isaiah then pronounced one of the brightest and most glorious promises of his book. Chapter 59 closes with a promise of the coming Messiah. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD” (verses 19–20). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Champion of truth, and He is the One Who came to proclaim God’s truth.

The Lord Jesus Christ, the “Intercessor,” the “Redeemer,” came to carry the standard of truth against the falsehoods of evil. Upon this bright hope of a coming Messiah, the next chapter of Isaiah takes up the theme: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1).

Deception in a nation is the combined result of thousands of people believing in their hearts the enemy’s lies. But the Lord Jesus Christ has come to banish the darkness of error and shine the glorious light of truth into the depths of our hearts. As we walk ever closer with the Lord and are guided by His Word and the Holy Spirit, we will be able to discern the darkness of deception and walk in the light of God’s truth. When we spend our time on the internet, news, and following interesting but unimportant tidbits of information, we slowly allow the lies of the world to enter our hearts. What we need is a spiritual cleansing and a laying aside of all that clamors for our attention so that we can focus upon the matters of eternal value and unchanging truth.

As Christian men, let’s examine our own hearts, even as Isaiah did, with honesty and humility. What lies have you believed? What habitation of falsehood have you been dwelling in? Would you allow the Lord Jesus, the Redeemer, to shine the light of truth into your heart and set you free to walk in the light?

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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