A few days ago my phone rang, and I looked at the number before I connected to the caller. I’m glad I looked.
The number was just like mine. I had the same area code and first three numbers. Only the last four numbers were different. At first I thought a close neighbor or friend was calling me. I have a few friends, but none of them have a phone number just like mine.
A friend was sitting near me, and I told them about the call while the phone was ringing. That person knew what to do, ‘Don’t answer!’ Some scammer was calling me to extort money. That scammer had a good starting point, the numbers and area code were carefully chosen to make me think a friend was calling. If I had answered, I’m sure they would have told me how much money to send to them.
Internet and computer technology has made us very good at lying to each other. Someone had a phone number just like mine, and I’m sure they phoned other people with similar numbers. That is sophisticated technology, and they were able to pretend to be my friend..
Deepfaking is a way to use technology to tell amazing lies. This is much more than a familiar area code. Someone could take a picture of you or me, and make that person speak in a video. You could be manipulated into saying anything:
The human race is interesting. We have developed computer and Internet technology, like nothing else in the history of the world. With these amazing new resources, we send our friends funny pictures of cats, and we lie. Lying and scamming has become an epidemic in recent years, and there must be money in the business because the calls and messages keep coming. That call that I didn’t answer was just one. You probably get as many as me.
So, how many ways have you been lied to? Probably many ways, these days.
But here is the real question:
How many ways have you lied to yourself?
Why do we believe lies?
Have you ever heard that the Bible is full of lies? It is. We are not supposed to believe the lies, but we are shown how easily we deceive ourselves:
We are warned at least 365 times in the Bible to “fear not.” Our fear can be a lie that we tell to ourselves, and God told us, in one of those “fear not” messages: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
We are not supposed to tell the fear lie to ourselves. That opens to door to believing more and more false messages, and we know there are too many scammers out there.
Lies are sophisticated.
A simple fake message, usually has other layers. Most of us don’t like emotional confrontations, and we easily give in to an emotional threat. Hitler made angry speeches, some people cry, and comedians say shocking things, but it’s all good if we laugh. We also believe people who speak down to us with severe authority.
Many of the lies that we tell ourselves come from our insecurities and fear. Are you feeling any COVID anxiety these days? It’s everywhere, and we have anger, sad emotions, and many severe authorities.
If we can find some internal truth, the scammers won’t have a chance. Their lies will bounce right off of us.
One secret is, tell the truth to yourself, and then tell it to everyone around you. In our epidemic of lying and scamming, we can show the cure, to the world. And we can find the cure for ourselves. Those old Sunday School lessons are also good for adults, and the Internet, telephones, and messaging technology are taking the other way. In a world full of lies, we should be the bright lights in the darkness.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Ephesians 4: 25 to 28)