DEFINITIONDeception and dishonesty refer to misleading someone and deliberately making them believe things that are not true.  Bearing false witness against someone, cheating, and lying are synonyms.


Examples of deception and dishonesty include lying in business dealings, in relationships,  cheating on tests or in  financial matters, and deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.

Deception and dishonesty are common in politics and governments.  Unscrupulous leaders say what you want to hear rather than tell the truth.

Deception is common in religion.  There are many false teachers and cults that deceive multitudes of people around the world. The Apostle Paul warns:  “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.  For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).

Deception and dishonesty are sin.  One of the ten commandments addresses “bearing false witness”, which means lying (Exodus 20:16).   Leviticus 19:11 states clearly:  Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.”  Jesus repeated this command in Matthew 15:19; 19:18, Mark 10:19; and Luke 18:20.  The Apostle Paul emphasized it in Romans 13:9.

God hates lying.  Bearing false witness and a lying tongue are listed in Proverbs 6:19 among the top things God hates.

Satan is the father of lies.  Jesus told the sinful Pharisees: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He 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”  (John 8:44).

Deception will increase in the end-times.  The Apostle Peter warned about those who would scoff the Word of God and even say that the Lord was not going to return (2 Peter 3:1-7).  Timothy warns of “perilous times” in the last days, saying that men will be trucebreakers (dishonest) and that they will be “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”  (2 Timothy 3:17).   He also warned that these untruthful men would follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons (1 Timothy 4:1-2).   Jesus repeatedly warned believers to be on guard, lest we be deceived in the end-times (Matthew  24:4).  One of the  main characteristics of the Antichrist in the end-times will be deception.  He will work “lying wonders” through the power of Satan and will deceive many people (2 Thessalonians 2:7-11).


Deception and dishonesty are sin.  If you have been lying and cheating, you must recognize it is sin.  As with any sin, you must confess this to God and seek forgiveness.

Accept and act upon the truth of God’s Word. Ask God to put His Spirit of truth into your heart and mind (John 16:13).  Put off the “old man” of sin which is corrupt and deceitful  and put on the new self which is like God in true righteousness (Ephesians 4:22-23).  Ask God to put a new heart within you, because bearing false witness comes from your heart (Matthew 15:18-19).

Ask forgiveness of those you have deceived.  Be truthful and ask them to forgive you.

If you have a tendency to lie or deceive, make these verses your motto:  “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3) and “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips And from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:2, NKJV).

If you have been lied to or deceived, forgive those responsible. Forgive them, but in the future deal with them as they are, not as you wish they were.  Forgive, but unless they prove themselves to be trustworthy once again, do not place blind trust in them.

Ask God for the gift of discernment.  This is a supernatural ability given by God to perceive the truth in any situation  (1 Corinthians 12:10).

Immerse yourself in the Word of God.  Feasting spiritually on the strong meat of the Word will enable you to discern between good and evil and truth and deception  (Hebrews 5:12-14).  The way to deal with deception is to learn the truth, then you will not be deceived.



You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  (Exodus 20:16)

Do not lie. Do not deceive one another. (Leviticus 19:11)

You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the Lord abhors. (Psalm 5:6)

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol  or swear by what is false.   (Psalm 24:3-4)

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. (Psalm 34:12-13)

You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. (Psalm 52:3)

But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you.  (Psalm 55:23)

For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride.(Psalm 59:12)

…the mouths of liars will be silenced. (Psalm 63:11)

No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence. (Psalm 101:7)

Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. (Psalm 119:29)

I hate and abhor falsehood but I love your law. (Psalm 119:163)

Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips And from a deceitful tongue. (Psalm 120:2, NKJV)

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,  a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. (Proverbs 11:3)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. (Proverbs 12:22)

The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked bring shame and disgrace. (Proverbs 13:5)

A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.  (Proverbs 14:5)

He whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble. (Proverbs 17:20)

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1)

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free. (Proverbs 19:5)

Better to be poor than a liar. (Proverbs 19:22)

Getting treasures by a lying tongue  Is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.(Proverbs 21:6)

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. (Proverbs 24:26)

Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, For would you deceive with your lips? (Proverbs 24:28)

Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor. (Proverbs 25:18)

Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” (Proverbs 26:18-19)

A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)

Keep falsehood and lies far from me. (Proverbs 30:7-8)

O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? (Jeremiah 5:3)

Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth. They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sinning. (Jeremiah 9:5)

For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:37)

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  (Matthew 15:18-19)

…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people (Matthew 24:11)

… Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31-32)

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He 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.  (John 8:44)

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth,  (Galatians 3:1, KJV)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7)

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  (Ephesians 4:14-15)

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  (Ephesians 4:22-25)

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore do not be partners with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  (Ephesians 5:6-8)

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-10)

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.  (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,  and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie  and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.(2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.  By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.  (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:7-9)

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.  (1 John 4:1-3)

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”  (Revelation 21:8)

(See also “Lying” in this database.)

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