Over the years, I have sought to make the point that deception is to lying and bearing false witness what killing is to murder. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder. Murder is prohibited in Exodus 20:13, and capital punishment required in the next chapter (Ex. 21:12). And all false witness is deception but not all deception is bearing false witness. The rule of thumb, as we see in Scripture, is whether or not it is occurring in time of war, or in what is tantamount to war.
I just recently noticed a striking and very clear example of this. The apostle Peter says this about guile.
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile”
1 Peter 3:10 (KJV)
If you want a blessed life, in other words, keep your mouth far away from deceitful speech. This is a citation from Psalm 34:12-16.
And what was the occasion for the writing of this wonderful psalm, and its celebration of truthfulness? It was when David feigned insanity before the king of Gath, who uttered one of the great sentiments of Scripture—”did you think I had a shortage of lunatics? It looks to me as though I am running a surplus.”
Now either David was a hypocrite with a huge blind spot, or those Christians who take an absolutist position about every form of deception . . . have a huge blind spot.
How would the author of Hebrews put it?
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets”
Heb 11:32 (KJV)
Time would fail us, all right. Gideon, mentioned above, who tricked the Midianites into thinking there were a whole lot more of them than there were. The Hebrew midwives, who were blessed by God with large families for deceiving Pharaoh. Rahab, who was justified by a faith that testified to its reality when she said that the spies went out in a different direction than they had actually gone.
And in pick-up basketball, it is no sin to fake left and drive right.