Five Tools to Help Discern Truth from Deception

Who is not mesmerized by the magician’s “trickery”? There is death defying antics, disappearing objects and reappearing people, all based upon illusion, misdirection, sleight of hand and pure skill. Everyone says the same, “how was that done?”

Magicians are masters of deception, but they are honest too, telling you upfront they plan to trick you. They are not alone in the craft of deception. From devious charismatic religious teachers to scammers to counterfeiters, our lives are saturated with lies and half-truths. Even society’s glitter draws crowds. Wealth, power and prestige beckon us. Sports, careers and material goods can wedge us from Christ’s ways.

Misdirection on the stage of life is where the simple becomes a slave to parasites. This is a stage you stand now and the next generation will stand soon, if not already. Are we prepared with “x-ray vision” to discern the deception? As Christ’s followers, we can’t risk being simple. Especially the generation, they need to know what is true and why it is true. This takes preparation, awareness and wisdom.

3 Ways People Come to Believe Something is True

People use three main methods to determine if something is true. Knowing these methods will make you more sensitive to your beliefs. Here are the three main ways:

  1. It is true because it feels good
  2. It is true because someone says it is true
  3. It is true because of the evidence

While most would exalt the third way, many usually rely on the first two methods. Let’s look at each one.

It is True Because it Feels Good

Many children believe that Santa will fill their Christmas stockings. But alas, it is a disappointment when they find out that Santa is just fiction. Every movie, every mall copycat, every picture is just make-believe. The same goes with fairies, elves and mermaids. While a belief may feel good, it does not make it true.

It is True Because Someone Says it is True

Uncle Bill, Aunt Sandra and Gramps may deny God’s existence. Society tells us we need the latest fashions. Friends may pressure us that bad is good and good is bad. Our subculture may assume some tradition is essential for Christianity. But logical fallacies abound with each, from appeals to authority, appeals to popularity, to appeals to tradition.

Even if well meaning, just because someone says something, writes something or assumes something, does not make it true. Good intentions do not satisfy unbending truth. Claims, dogmatism and opinions ought not to be confused with facts, nor should they be our grounding reasons for life.

If it is True, it is True

What makes something true is if it is really true. How do we know that? We know that by the evidence and the reasons. My beliefs, my faith, my feelings need to be grounded upon truth and upon reality, not the other way around.

For example, conspiracy theories are seductive. They are novel, exciting, contain “hidden knowledge” and affirm our skepticism of others. While many may have truth surrounding them, many are just fiction. Sadly, Christians are some of the first to fall for them, but we should the most discerning people.

The same goes with right and wrong. What makes something wrong is if it is wrong, and what makes something right is if it is right. How do we know that? The first is the person and teachings of Christ. Second, we can see what happens to people who oppose reality. Sin kills. Good preserves.

For example, Marxism may sound great on paper, but it opposes the Christian worldview and has massacred countless lives.

Knowing worldviews, biases and assumptions helps illuminate the bill of goods that is being sold. We need to question those assumptions. We need to be discriminators between facts and opinions. To “pull back the curtain”, we need tools like knowledge, wisdom and clear thinking.

Tools of the Trade

You need knowledge. You need to know something, at least in two areas. First, you need to know how to think properly and spot logical fallacies. Second, you need to understand the Christian worldview. But this requires a desire to learn, which is the next tool.

You need intentionality. You need to be deliberate and devoted to truth and correct answers. You need passion, discipline and dedication to know the truth of a matter.

You need integrity. Your own presuppositions and biases can cloud truth and the evidence. In addition, you need to seek multiple trustworthy sources and hear both sides, as Proverbs 18:17 points out.

You need skepticism. Assuming innocence until proven guilty does not mean you should not question ideas, motives and intentions. I would rather fall on the side of skepticism then on the side of acceptance. For example, just because an idea is birthed out of a “Christian culture” does not mean it is Scriptural.

You need support. Especially in situations where there is emotional and charismatic pressure to conformity, you need accountability. You need trustworthy mentors who can give clarity to your questions, thoughts and ideas.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Unlike the magician, the world does not give prior warning to deception. Truth demands us to push past our emotions, peer pressure and desires. Truth demands us to be objective with the facts. Truth demands us to desire to know the truth. Truth demands us to question assumptions. Truth demands integrity and awareness to our own biases. Truth demands us to take it seriously.


The apostle Peter taught us to have answers for our faith, which is what I try to do here. I would love for you to follow iApologia to get the latest updates to your inbox. Plus, I will send you my Free Quick Guide why that gives 8 reasons science points to God.


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John Benedict
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John Benedict

When you have the evidence and after examination, you find it to demonstrate truth, there is only one choice. And having found all the skeptical suggestions false, you have a solid platform for faith in Jesus Christ as Risen Lord.

Robert Russell
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Robert Russell

Informative article, it comes up short without providing resources, like books, videos etc., an class outline or agenda stuff like logic, apologetics etc. I find most articles or commentaries lack this information. It is not easy to know where to start