We live in a day and age when truth is at a premium. People misrepresent the facts, twist the truth, and jump to false conclusions. This flippancy about the truth reflects a transition from modernism to postmodernism. Although modernism rejected the Bible as the Truth, it still acknowledged that there was truth, although it could only be discovered by scientific means. Postmodernism rejects absolute truth and asserts that everyone is free to determine their own truth. The truth for you is what you think or want or feel. This rejection of truth means that many people will say or write whatever suits them and their agenda, with little concern whether what they say is true. The result is many lies being spread through our society.
There are spiritual forces at work behind this. Paul pointed out in Ephesians 6 that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powerful principalities and powers; evil, superhuman forces, and demonic foes. We always need to reckon with the work of the devil and his hosts operating behind what we see in our society.
The Lord Jesus Christ taught that the devil is a murderer and a liar. He mentioned these characteristics together in John 8 when He admonished the Jews for wanting to carry out the works of their father, the devil. “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own reserves, for he is a liar and the father of it.” In the beginning, he used a lie to instigate Eve and Adam to sin, so that they brought death upon themselves and their descendants. The lie remains a powerful tool in his arsenal to bring about death and destruction.
The devil used lies and twisting of the truth in his attempts to destroy Jesus. Jesus revealed in His deeds and words that He was true God. The Jews refused to accept this truth, and instead rashly condemned Him of blasphemy and tried to stone Him. The devil twisted Scripture when he tempted Jesus to sin: “Throw Yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple, for it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over you’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Satan used false witnesses to achieve capital punishment against Jesus in His trial before the Sanhedrin. Even this was unsuccessful, for although He died, Jesus victoriously conquered death and arose. Still, the devil did not give up, and the Jews paid the soldiers money to spread the lie that the tomb was empty because the disciples had stolen His body.
The devil has cast odium on the church with his lies. The early church lived under the shadow of the allegation that its Lord’s Supper involved child sacrifice. Slurs were cast on the reformed doctrine of election around the time of the Synod of Dort, that it makes God the author of sin, that it leads to sinful carelessness, and that it means that many innocent children of believers are torn from their mother’s breasts and tyrannically thrown into hell. The Church today labours under the odium that it is anti-science, misogynist, even engaging in child abuse by teaching children true doctrine.
The devil has used ideological lies to further his destructive work. Consider Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the millions who have died at the hands of communist tyrants. Think about all the destruction that Mohammed’s Koran has unleashed. Think of the lies of the sexual/cultural revolution of the 1960s, and the misery and disease it has spread. The lies of materialism take in many, that it is the accumulation of stuff that makes life worth living.
Thank God that He sent Jesus Christ into this world, who revealed Himself as the truth and the life. He embodied the truth and was the dependable source of redemptive revelation so that through Him, people receive eternal life. He also showed Himself powerful in using the word of God to overcome the lies of the evil one: “It is written …!!”
We need to believe in Him. We need to be governed by the truth of His word. His servant Paul pointed to the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, as an important part of the fighting equipment of the militant Christian. We need to know the truth of God’s Word, as we navigate a world full of lies. This does not mean that we will automatically be able to figure out what the truth is about the things reported on in the news, or the truth about climate change, or the truth about a host of other opinions people have. We will still need to do the hard work, discerning what are reliable sources, and how to determine the facts. Knowing the Truth will guide us as we do that work of discerning. That truth reveals to us who God is, who the Christ is whom God sent, and who man is, in his created state, in his horrible corruption, and in his Spirit-worked renewal. Then we will be on guard against loving the lie, and we will not be surprised at how prevalent it is. We need to be shaped by the Truth, as we work on figuring out how to get to the truth in the affairs of today, discerning reliable sources, seeing through Satan’s many ploys, and in all things, speaking the truth.