Chapter OneTRUTH . OR
"Become a World-Class Violinist Instantaneously."
"How to Play the Piano . Instantly!"
"`Instant Health' at the Flip of a Switch!" (Ad for a kitchen
"Melt 10 lbs. in 10 minutes! . a workout so easy, you do it in
"Delivers so much peace of mind it should be covered under
your health plan." (Ad for a popular car)
"Look Better and Feel Younger in Just Minutes a Day . The key
to a healthier, happier life." (Ad for an oxygen chamber. Price
Our culture is riddled with deception. It is everywhere, as illustrated
by these kinds of outlandish advertising claims.
Sometimes it is easy to see through the falsehood (as in the claim
that one can become a world-class violinist instantaneously). Unfortunately,
however, most deception is not quite so easy to detect.
Deception in advertising appeals to our natural human longings.
We want to believe that somehow, mysteriously, those unwanted
pounds really could melt away in just ten minutes-no sweat, no
discipline, no cost, no effort, no pain. That's why we buy the pills,
the diet drink powders, and the exercise equipment sold on infomercials.
A clever and cunning pitchman whose intention was to change
Adam and Eve's thinking about God and His ways designed the first
advertising campaign. Satan's objective was to drive a wedge between
God and His creatures. He rightly assumed that the man and woman
were not likely to support anything that appeared to be an all-out
assault on God. He knew that, instead, he would have to subtly trick
them, to deceive them, to seduce them by making an offer that appeared
to be reasonable, desirable, and not entirely "anti-God."
Satan deceived Eve through a clever combination of outright lies,
half-truths, and falsehoods disguised as truth. He began by planting
seeds of doubt in her mind about what God had actually said ("Did
God really say .?" [Genesis 3:1]).
Next he led her to be careless with the word of God and to suggest
that God had said something that, in fact, He had not said. God
had said, "Do not eat the fruit of the tree." However, Eve quoted
God as saying, "You must not touch it" (v. 3, italics added).
Satan deceived Eve by causing her to question the goodness, love,
and motives of God. "Did God really say, `You must not eat from
any tree in the garden'?" he asked. The implication was: "Has God put
restrictions on your freedom? Sounds like He doesn't want you to
The Truth is that God had said, "`You are free to eat from any
tree in the garden' [2:16, italics added]-except one."
The Truth is that God is a generous God.
In that entire, vast Garden, God had posted only one Keep Off
sign: "Do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."
Furthermore, the one restriction God imposed was in the best interests
of the couple and was intended to guarantee their long-term
blessing and happiness. God knew that when they ate of that tree, they
would die; their relationship with Him would be severed; they would
become slaves-to Satan, sin, and self.
The Serpent further deceived Eve by lying to her about the consequences
of choosing to disobey God. God had said, "When you
eat of it you will surely die" (2:17). Satan countered: "You will not
surely die" (3:4, italics added). He flatly contradicted what God had
The devil seduced Eve by offering her all kinds of benefits if she
would just eat the forbidden fruit (3:5). He promised that a whole
world of knowledge and experience would open up to her ("Your
eyes will be opened"). He assured her that she would be equal with
God-that is, that she could be her own god ("You will be like God").
Finally, he promised that she would be able to decide for herself
what was right and wrong ("knowing good and evil"). God had already
told Adam and Eve what was right and what was wrong. But
Satan said, in essence, "That's His opinion; you're entitled to your own
opinion-you can make your own decisions about what is right and
Satan deceived Eve by causing her to make her decision based
on what she could see and on what her emotions and her reason
told her to be right, even when it was contrary to what God had already
told the couple:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for
food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable
for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.
* * *
Eve took the bite. But instead of the promised rewards, she found
herself with a mouth full of worms-shame, guilt, fear, and alienation.
She had been lied to-she had been deceived.
As Puritan pastor Thomas Brooks put it,
Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst; he promises honor, and pays with disgrace; he promises pleasure, and pays with pain; he promises profit, and pays with loss; he promises life, and pays with
From that moment to this, Satan has used deception to win our
affections, influence our choices, and destroy our lives. In one way
or another, every problem we have in this world is the fruit of deception-the
result of believing something that simply isn't true.
Satan holds out the glittering promise of "real life"; he knows,
however, that those who respond to his offer will certainly die
So why do we fall for his deception? Why do we go for the lure?
One reason is that Satan doesn't usually appear in the form of a serpent-
he comes disguised as a New York Times best-seller, a
popular magazine, or a movie, or a TV show, or a Top Ten hit song.
He may also pose as a relative or friend giving sincere counsel, a therapist,
or even a Christian writer, preacher, or counselor.
Regardless of the immediate source, anytime we receive input that
is not consistent with the Word of God we can be sure Satan is trying
to deceive and destroy us. What we read or hear may sound right,
may feel right, may seem right-but if it is contrary to the Word of
God, it isn't right. If we could only see that the forbidden fruit,
that looks so ripe and tastes so sweet in the first moment, always
leads ultimately to death and destruction.
THE STRATEGY OF DECEPTION
Deception was-and still is-crucial to Satan's strategy. According
to Jesus, it is the devil's very nature to deceive:
[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.
When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
* * *
For reasons we cannot fully understand, Satan chose to target
the woman for his strategy of deception. Twice in the New Testament
the apostle Paul points out that it was the woman who was deceived:
"The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty" (2 Corinthians 11:3
KJV); "Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was
deceived" (1 Timothy 2:14).
Some theologians believe there was something in the way Eve
was created that made her more vulnerable to deception-that she
was inherently more "temptable," or "seducible." Others suggest that
because God had placed her under the headship of her husband, once
she stepped out from under that spiritual covering and protection,
she was more easily deceived.
Regardless, the point is that as fallen women, we are particularly
prone to fall prey to Satan's deception. Remember that he did not
first approach the man; he deliberately approached and deceived the
woman. It was the woman who led her husband into sin, and together
they led the whole human race into sin (though Adam, as head, is held
ultimately responsible). I believe there is something significant about
that progression and that, to this day, there is a unique sense in which
Satan targets women for deception. This is part of his strategy. He
knows that if we as women buy into his deception, we will influence
the men around us to sin, and our sinful choices will set a pattern
for subsequent generations to follow.
Sometimes, as was the case with Eve, Satan deceives us directly.
Sometimes, however, he uses other people as instruments of deception.
In the fifth chapter of Ephesians, Paul warns, "Let no one deceive
you with empty words" (v. 6). Repeatedly, he challenges God's
people to speak Truth to one another. When we are not honest with
each other, we actually do Satan's work for him, acting as his agents,
deceiving and destroying each other.
According to the Scripture, we can even be deceived by spiritual
leaders-those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of
shepherding God's flock and communicating the Truth to His people.
Sadly, many leaders abuse their calling and their followers by failing
to speak the Truth. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God addresses those
leaders who deceive people:
With lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad .; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way.
by promising him life.
* * *
Ezekiel 13:22 KJV
I believe this is an accurate description of much of what is taking
place in the Christian world today. Walk into almost any Christian
bookstore, leaf through many Christian periodicals, tune in to
many religious radio and television broadcasts, listen to many popular
Christian mental health professionals, and you will find respected
"Christian leaders" who are deceiving their followers. In most cases,
I do not believe they intend to deceive people-in fact, they may
not even realize they are being deceptive. However, that is exactly
what is happening.
In many cases, they "strengthen the hands of the wicked" by suggesting
they do not need to repent. They promise God's blessing and
grace to people who do not qualify because of their willful disobedience
and unrepentant hearts. Their teachings help people justify .
• anger ("healthy expression of your true feelings");
• selfishness ("You've got to place boundaries between you and
• irresponsibility ("You are dysfunctional because you have
been deeply wounded by others"); and
• infidelity ("You are free to divorce your mate and marry
someone else; God is the God of the second chance").
At the same time, they make "the righteous" feel "sad" or guilty .
• for taking personal responsibility ("You're codependent");
• for demonstrating a servant's heart ("You shouldn't let others
take advantage of you"); and
• for being faithful to their vows ("God does not expect you to
stay in that marriage").
OPEN YOUR EYES
Sadly, most people-even Christians-have unthinkingly exposed
themselves to so much deception that they do not even realize they
are being deceived. That is the very nature of deception-it blinds
us to the fact that we have been deceived.
One of my goals in this book is to urge Christian women to open
their eyes and begin to evaluate what is going on around them-to
wake up to the deception that is so pervasive in both our secular
and our Christian cultures. So much of our lifestyle is rooted in ways
of thinking that simply are not true. The result is a house built on
sinking sand. One lie leads to another and another and another.
Unfortunately, most people mindlessly accept whatever they hear
and see. We listen to music, read books and magazines, watch movies,
listen to advice, and respond to advertisements without asking ourselves
• "What is the message here?"
• "Is it really true?"
• "Am I being deceived by a way of thinking that is contrary to
Satan's promise to Eve was tantalizing: "Your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). Who
could resist such an extraordinary offer?
The forbidden fruit was "good for food and pleasing to the
also desirable for gaining wisdom" (v. 6, italics added). If it hadn't
seemed so attractive, do you think Eve would have fallen for the
offer? If that fruit had been rotten and crawling with worms, would
she have considered disobeying God? Of course not. What makes Satan's
offers so alluring and so deceptive is that they look so right.
The problem is that Eve didn't stop to evaluate what was really
happening. She didn't take time to discern truth from error. She
didn't stop to consider the cost and the consequences of what she was
about to do. If Eve could have imagined the ugly, painful, deadly consequences
of her choice-in her own life, in her relationship with
God, in her marriage, in her children, in her children's children, and
(through the sin of her husband, who followed her) in every human
being that would ever live on the planet-do you think she would
have listened to Satan's lie and disobeyed God? I doubt it.
But we have precisely the same problem. I have discovered that
very few Christians seriously consider the consequences of their
choices. We simply live our lives, responding to the people, circumstances,
and influences around us-eating what we crave at the moment,
buying the newest gadget advertised on TV, adopting the latest
fads, and embracing the lifestyles, values, and priorities of our friends.
It all looks so good; it feels so right; it seems so innocent. But we
end up in abusive relationships, head over heels in debt, angry, frustrated,
trapped, and overwhelmed. We have been deceived. We have
fallen for a lie.
In an unforgettable example of this kind of deception, a young
mother of seven children told me that she had become involved
with a man she had met on the Internet; she was thinking of leaving
her husband for this other man. As we met together one night,
she acknowledged that what she was doing was wrong. "But," she said,
"he is so good to me and to my children."
For two hours, I begged her to see that this man was not truly
interested in her or her children-if he were, he would not be breaking
up her marriage; if he really loved her, he would not be leading
her to violate God's law. I warned her that the road she was on, though
it seemed so appealing, would certainly lead to destruction. I tried
to help her see that she had been deceived and that her only hope was
to believe and embrace the Truth.