The Age of Deceit - Part 1
All mankind is embroiled in a war that has been raging since the dawn of time where man is both the prize and the pawn in this deadly conflict. For mankind, it all began in the Garden of Eden.1 Because of the deception of Adam and Eve that was brought about through their seduction by the Nachash (the Hebrew word for “shining one”), mankind was plunged into a war that they did not start. We are told that God cursed the Nachash (later known as Lucifer or Satan),
“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Thus we have the seed-plot for the story of mankind’s struggle with evil throughout their generations.
It has been said for millennia, “In war, the first casualty is truth.”2 In other words, he who is blind in battle will most likely lose. In the classic book “The Art of War”3 the celebrated military strategist and author Sun Tzu writes, “All warfare is based on deception. Hence when able to attack we must seem unable. When using our forces, we must seem inactive. When we are near, we make the enemy believe we are far away. When far away we must make the enemy believe we are near.” Therefore, when it comes to being victorious in any kind of hostile environment, we need to understand that “knowledge is power.”4
The control of information is the key to any successful deception. The parlor magician creates visual diversions to draw our attention away from his sleight-of-hand movements in order to create the illusion that he has performed an act of pure magic. Given the propensity of many today to swallow candy-coated lies, many are suffering from chronic truth decay. Truly we are living in a time when we are witnessing the death of discernment where few seem to be concerned about the demise of common sense.
The Bible gives us a haunting end-times epitaph by stating,
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
1 Timothy 4:1-3
The apostle Paul’s teaching on this subject continues,
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
2 Timothy 4:3,4
Sun Tzu writes, “If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”5 Therefore, as you consider your response to the battle raging around and within you, you should both know your adversary and your ally. Concerning mankind’s great adversary, the Bible warns us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”6
Again, Sun Tzu writes, “Attack him where he is unprepared. Appear where you are not expected. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move fall like a thunderbolt.”7 Therefore, to be victorious in this cosmic battle for our very soul, we must clearly understand the field of battle and the tactics of our adversary.
The Battleground of our Mind
Throughout the history of man, philosophers and theologians alike have struggled to understand the complicated nature of mankind. The Psalmist tells us simply that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.8 The deeper we search into the physical makeup of life itself, the more we can be truly overwhelmed by the complexity and diversity of life.
With all of the awe and wonder surrounding the physical marvels that allow our existence, the one aspect of man that intrigues me the most is the mind of man. The mind is more than our brain. Although our actions are primarily controlled by our brain, there is more to the brain than just orchestrating functions in our body. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “This three-pound organ is the seat of intelligence, interpreter of the senses, initiator of body movement, and controller of behaviour.”9 It has also been said that our “brain is like a committee of experts”10 sitting in a windowless room. It literally shapes our perception and perspective and thereby produces the view of the world we see through our mind’s eye.
In general terms, the brain operates on two levels:
- The unconscious (or subconscious) mind
- The conscious mind
The unconscious (or subconscious mind) offers automatic control over various functions. Because there is considerable debate among professionals in the field neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, as to the precise definition and/or division of the unconscious verses subconscious mind, I will refer only to the “unconscious mind” as a way of summarizing this aspect of our mental makeup.
The unconscious mind is the “hard-wired” part of our brain. It works with the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) which controls the automatic functions like heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, and perspiration, maintaining homeostasis in the body, etc. It is also responsible for issuing the pre-planned actions of the body. In the documentary called the “Automatic Brain,” Dr Joseph Mercola states that it manages over 90% of our everyday functions.11 Therefore, a huge majority of human everyday life is automatic where we do not need to switch on our consciousness to pick up the coffee cup from the table, while we keep on reading the morning paper, while we keep on listening to a song on the radio. Here we experience the illusion of multitasking.
The unconscious mind processes 200,000 times more information than our conscious mind.12 It has its memory partially imprinted by our conscious mind through cognitive processing and practice. Here we see the result of a type of programmed bias made up of:
- Our Genetic Makeup
- Our Sensory Input
- Our Cognitive Processing
- Subliminal Impressions
- Spiritual Influences
The conscious mind is responsible for our cognitive thinking. It makes decisions on where we will focus and contemplate while the unconscious mind takes care of everything else. Our conscious mind is fed by our sensory devices (which can be fooled), our memory (which can be flawed), and/or our own imagination (which can be inventive). These perceptions form the building blocks of the world we navigate through which we call reality.
The Bible tells us that our mind needs to be cleansed and renewed. The apostle Paul warned the church in Rome that,
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Again Paul instructed,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
To clearly identify and avoid deception we need to sharpen our perception. We literally need to teach our mind how to focus on the things that really matter. Jesus illustrated this by saying,
“The light of the body is the eye: therefore, when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.”
The Gatekeeper of our Heart
The mind is the gatekeeper of the heart which is the repository of our deepest held devotion. In fact, the Bible tells us that we should be very careful concerning those things that capture our heart. King Solomon warned, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”13 As the gatekeeper, the mind needs to consciously filter the harmful influences of the world.
Experts in the field of human perception tell us that the only place we appear to operate cognitively is where we consciously place our attention. The cognitive mind is the watchtower of our unconscious memory storage. Everything else (our automatic brain reactions) guide us through the daily tasks of living. We naturally suppress information we determine is unnecessary. The more familiar we are with our environment, the more our conscious mind can focus on new information.
We have an ally who is more than capable to guide and carry us to victory. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”14 God promises to not only show us what is true but also what is false. As we gain an understanding of our adversary, we will come to recognize the Satanic tactics that have been used throughout the history of mankind “lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”15 As we grow in our knowledge of God, we will understand more of God’s abilities and capability to carry us to victory. In addition, the more you know God’s truth, the more you can identify and avoid Satan’s lies. Discernment is our first line of defense against the promised end-times deception.
Deception wears many different masks. Therefore, we will deal with each of these deadly areas of deceit. In subsequent articles I will attempt to explore some of these “devices” of our Adversary so that we might gain a better understanding of how to successfully combat these seductive influences in our life.