If we are to be people who love, we must also be people who hate. If we are to love what blesses people, we must hate what harms them. In loving and hating in these ways, we imitate the God who both loves and hates. God reserves words like “hate,” “abomination,” and “despise” to describe the sins for which he has the greatest revulsion. We have already seen that God hates idolatry, sexual immorality, injustice, and hypocrisy. In this article we see God’s hatred for deceit.
God Hates Deceit
The Bible leaves no doubt that God hates deceit. Three times in the book of Proverbs he states it bluntly. In Proverbs 6 we read a list of “six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him,” and two of them relate to deceit: “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who breathes out lies” (17, 19). Proverbs 12:22 echoes the theme: “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight” (Proverbs 12:22).
Zechariah adds that God hates the kind of deceit that takes shape in false oaths, saying, “do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD” (Zechariah 8:17). As we assemble the evidence, it becomes clear: God hates any concealment of the truth, any denial of the truth, or any misrepresentation of the truth.
Why God Hates Deceit
God hates deceit because he so values truth. He so values truth because he himself is the source of all truth. “Sanctify them in the truth,” prayed Jesus, “your word is truth” (John 17:17). Truth reflects God’s holy character, his pure heart. God’s revelation is wholly and perfectly true because he himself is wholly and perfectly true.
Lies, though, have a very different source, for as Jesus told the religious authorities of his day, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). God is the Father of truth, Satan is the father of lies. No wonder, then, that God hates deceit and deceivers.
We learn elsewhere that deceit is the natural condition of those whose hearts are in rebellion against God: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3). Thus, deceit is a sure sign of our depravity. As human beings turn away from God, we immediately begin to speak lies, misusing our ability to communicate to deceive one another. When Paul describes human depravity in Romans 3 he shows how quickly that depravity manifests itself in deceit.
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” (10-13)
When we speak deceptively, we speak satanically. Our words reflect a heart that is submitted to Satan rather than God. Jesus said, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Mark 15:18-20). False words reveal a heart in rebellion against God. Defiled words come from a defiled heart.
God’s Judgment on the Deceitful
In Romans 3, immediately before describing the depraved deception of humanity, Paul says that all human beings are “under sin” (9). This means that all human beings are under the dominion of sin. We are no longer in submission to God but in submission to Satan. We are no longer friends of God, but enemies.
Because we are under the dominion of sin, we are under the curse of sin. We have become objects of God’s righteous wrath. We deceive because we are sinners and our deceit simply furthers our depravity. We attempt to deceive God, as Adam and Eve did. We attempt to deceive others, to benefit ourselves by harming them. We even attempt to deceive ourselves, convincing ourselves we are less sinful than we are. And through it all we call down God’s judgment.
Hope for the Deceitful
But still there is hope for deceivers. In Ephesians 4:22 Paul tells us we must “put off” our old self. We must stop being who and what we once were when we were under the dominion of Satan. He continues, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another” (25). Those who once deceived can now speak righteously. How can such a transformation take place? By the gospel of Jesus Christ. “But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (7). Jesus Christ offers forgiveness for every sin, even the sin of deceit. And those who have been forgiven now long to do what is right, to do what brings glory to his name.
Thus Peter can say to Christians, “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1). Instead, learn to imitate Jesus who “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Through the gospel and by the gospel we can. The gospel is enough to forgive and transform even the most deceptive deceiver.
Here are a few key verses to continue your studies of deceit.
- God hates a lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17)
- God hates lying lips (Proverbs 12:22)
- God hates false oaths (Zechariah 8:17)
- God hates a false witness who speaks lies (Proverbs 6:19)
- God tells us to put off lying and to put on truth-telling (Ephesians 4:22-25).
- God tells us to stop all deception and to imitate Christ in his perfection. (1 Peter 2:1, 2:22)