“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”
When I first heard this phrase, I didn’t like it, as I figured the shame should be on the deceiver the first and second (and really EVERY time) because deceiving people is bad!
I wanted the saying to read, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, more shame on you!”
I later realized the point was that we shouldn’t let someone fool us twice; that we should learn to be wary and keep ourselves from being tricked once we know the person to be devious.
In our legal system [correct me if I am wrong!], contracts can be nullified if information was falsified; the victim of deception gets off the hook. But does it always work that way?
God’s instruction book shows us that we should be honest. We should not go around deceiving people! Logically it would follow that those who deceive others should be punished, and the victims of trickery should receive mercy, or in essence a “free pass,” right?
Sometimes God’s sense of justice has a different timescale and end result than our sense of justice does. Throughout the bible, we read numerous examples of what seems like ‘injustice’ to us in that the deceiver is not punished, while the deceived has to deal with the consequences of the deception.
Recently I’ve been given some perspective on some things I might be deceived on; things I was starting to get comfortable with that I shouldn’t have been. It served as a reminder that we have to keep watch vigilantly, especially in these times, as many false prophets and teachings are flowing like a fire hose all around us!
Involuntary deception goes not give you a “get out of jail” card. This was true in many cases in the Torah, as well as in Jesus’ day and the 1st century church, and it will be true in the end times.
Gen 27:19 And Jacob said to his father, I am Esau your first-born. I have done as you asked me. Arise, I pray you, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.
Gen 27:35 And he said, Your brother came with deceit, and has taken away your blessing.
In the historical narrative of the bible, we follow Jacob (later Israel) as the “good guy” that we root for, even though we see his flaws. Yet, I can help but feel bad for Esau here!
He was the proxy victim of the deception. Isaac did not undo his blessing because of the trickery. Later Jacob sees the other side of trickery and deception with Laban, and had to deal with the consequences (working 7 more years for his intended bride)
Abraham deceived Pharaoh about Sarah and Pharaoh had to deal with the consequences, even though it wasn’t his fault!
Sisera fell for “one of the oldest tricks in the book”: [Judges 4]
Sisera, meanwhile, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there was an alliance between Jabin king of Hazor and the family of Heber the Kenite.
Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she covered him with a blanket.
“I’m thirsty,” he said. “Please give me some water.” She opened a skin of milk, gave him a drink, and covered him up.
“Stand in the doorway of the tent,” he told her. “If someone comes by and asks you, ‘Is anyone in there?’ say ‘No.’ ”
But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
Ehud tricked a man while going for a handshake and stabbing him with his left hand, Tamar tricked Judah, etc…
Let’s not forget the actual oldest trick in the book: the serpent deceived Eve into thinking that her sin would not lead to death. Did Eve get to say “well, I was deceived, so it doesn’t count!”
God doesn’t want robots. He wants children that choose to follow and love Him – a process that involves avoiding deception of the enemy (which can come in various forms through deceived folks, media, thoughts, etc..)
New testament examples
We see many warnings in Jesus’ teachings about avoiding deception.
Matt 24 is a very full chapter that speaks of things that were soon to unfold, and others which will occur in the end times. This is how he starts off his answer:
Matt 24:4 take heed that no one deceives you!
Dotting the landscape of the new testament are rebukes and warnings for hypocrites, rich men, Jews, and others who were deceived. They were in for a bad fate because they were in opposition to God’s truth. Granted, sometimes their hearts were not in the right place, but one of the greatest deceptions in today’s churches is that ‘just a feeling in your heart is enough’ or that if you just ‘accept Jesus in your heart’ you have no obligation to avoid sin, deception, stagnation, etc… Christianity is a verb, and spiritual vegetables will not be “approved workers”
1 Cor 15:33 – be not deceived, bad company corrupts good behavior. Why are we not to be deceived? Because we will bear the consequences if we do! Unrighteous behavior is not acceptable
It doesn’t matter (well, sort of – in that God searches the heart) whether the people who are deceived know they’re going against God’s word or not, the consequences are the same.
Say you were born on a spaceship and taught that gravity doesn’t exist on earth. Upon your first visit to Earth, you decide to dive out of the spaceship and twirl through the air, but instead fall flat on your face and break your nose. You were deceived. Do God’s laws of physics care? Does your sob story make a difference for the cause and effect system God put in place? Nope.
Similarly, we see so many warnings in Jesus’ ministry about not being deceived. It was well understood that we’re accountable for what we believe (in the confines of God’s calling) and that if we believe in a lie, we will suffer the consequences of the lie, and sometimes the liar seems to get off the hook.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. -Gal 6:7
Do not be deceived on this topic: God is not mocked so what they sow, they will reap God will have justice in His time for the liars and deceiving. For now, our concern is to avoid deception!
The end times
In Revelation, we read that Satan deceives the whole world. Those who are deceived and receive the mark of the beast and worship its image… Well, they don’t get a free pass because they were lied to about this fun Beast program they opted into without reading the fine print and ‘terms of agreement.’
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
If we are in the Laodicean era of Revelation 3, we need to take heed lest we deceive ourselves!
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Cor 10:12
Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. Luke 11:35
In the end times, there will be many false teachers, performing signs and wonders. We read this and think, “well, sure that’ll be easy to spot,” yet there are many dangerous things already happening that millions of people follow so passionately.
The enemy knows he can’t trick many people by blatantly selling a lie, so he masquerades as various spiritual movements that lead people away from the truth of the bible, which is THE ONLY source of truth (John 17:17)
But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 1 Cor 11:4
There is a dangerous movement still gaining momentum that seeks to bind “the body” together by a common spiritual experience instead of having doctrinal unity. The bible is often neglected, as people see signs and wonders, and follow extra-biblical revelations and misapplied claims of spiritual gifts.
Some may notice that shrieking uncontrollably, foaming at the mouth, rolling around on the ground, soaking up ‘anointing’ from graves and tombstones, speaking ‘gibberish’ that no one understands, and numerous other new age mystical practices are not from God and have no biblical precedent, yet many are gladly taking baby steps toward these “manifestations of the spirit.” For the sake of this common “experience” doctrine and the scriptures necessarily have to take a backseat. We are accountable to seek truth from the bible, and need to make sure we are not lead astray by feelings and experiences! We don’t get a free pass for deception.
The day of salvation is now sooner than when we first believed. Now is a pretty good time to prove all things, test the spirit of what you surround yourself with, and take heed that you be not deceived!