In John 1:47 we read: Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” This was the estimate of the Lord Jesus of this man Nathanael. Would that be His recorded assessment of me and my life?
We must then ask what it is to be without deceit. Deceit is that aspect of character whereby we fail to present ourselves as we genuinely are. Actually, when operating deceitfully we are operating in a way contrary to what is presented. That is what deceit is and it can be found in our words and our actions.
The first use of the word in the Bible gives demonstration of what the meaning is. Eve gives her commentary in what happened when Satan came with his temptation by saying “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Gen. 3:13b). Though the serpent Satan presented himself as one set to bless Eve, his actual purpose was to destroy. Always undergirding deceit is the drive to maximise self-interest, Why is deceit found in a person? It is because they want to promote the interests of themselves or of their grouping. Satan was the original self-interested deceiver.
Deceit then is a natural outworking of our sinful hearts. Paul says to the Ephesians that they are to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (Eph. 4:22). Further he says: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Eph. 5:6). Deceit is to do with the workings of our hearts in opposition to God. Deceit naturally flows in this world which is dominated by self-interested motivations.
Is God deceitful then? To which we answer No; never. We read of our Saviour that He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. (1 Peter 2:22). Our God always deals in a straight way. So we read: For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ez. 12:25)
As those who are born of God we are called to a Nathanael type life. We are to be those who put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander (1 Pet. 2:1). Moreover we realise that For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit (1 Pet. 3:10).
Alas as believers we so easily go in the ways of the flesh and we need to realise it is a complete abhorrence. Deceit should be shunned and hated with all our beings.