Trading the Truth for a Lie
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served the creature
rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen. Romans 1:25
I find it inconceivable that anyone would actually choose lies over truth.
How can that be? What happens to those who do?
What is Truth?
The Bible has a lot to say about the truth and it is clear that God not only loves truth, but He is truth. When Thomas was confused about statements Jesus made, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 1:14 tells us that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well that those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. It is impossible to truly worship God when your worship is based on a lie.
Jesus had an interesting exchange with some Jews in which He shared the connection between truth and freedom and obedience to His Word.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32
They became defensive at some of the things Jesus said, so He explained things a little more bluntly.
Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”
Ouch! Can you imagine the reaction to these words? Jesus disputed their claim to be children of Abraham (having one father, God), based on the evidence of their actions. They held no resemblance to Abraham because they didn’t follow his example. They had no relationship with God, as demonstrated by their rejection of His only begotten Son.
Jesus went on to reveal whom it was that they did emulate – their father the devil! The audacity of this harsh accusation might seem contemptuous, but it was coming from the One who claimed to be Truth, the one who is Truth, so it was true. This group of Jews subsequently questioned Jesus’ lineage and then claimed He was possessed by a demon.
Jesus then declared His deity in no uncertain terms, and the people responded by preparing (unsuccessfully) to stone Him.
Are we so different than that group of religious people?
The problem comes when we reject the truth – Jesus – and refuse to obey God’s commands. We allow ourselves to be deceived when we start dissecting God’s words and only keep the ones we like. You know, the blessings and promises, while we reject His call to be holy and worship Him according to His standards.
When Job tried to assert his own righteousness in a complaint about God’s actions, God answered him this way:
I don’t believe Job realized that this is what he had been doing until that moment. When he heard God’s perspective, he was quick to do what we all need to do: repent.
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:5-6 ESV
His is the example we should follow. We need to hear God’s Word, humble ourselves, repent, and obey Him. This is not a pleasant process; none of us likes to see the worst in ourselves. However, unless we examine ourselves in light of Scripture, we cannot see ourselves honestly and come before God in humility.
Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Mistakes We Make
2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of a future time, after the rapture of the Church, when the antichrist will deceive many:
Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-12
The people described here made three mistakes.
- They did not love the truth
- They did not believe the truth
- They took pleasure in wickedness
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17
Jesus is truth. God’s word is truth. John reveals that if we love the world, we do not love Truth. The cravings of the flesh and the eyes and the pride that trusts in material things replace our love for God and entice us to love wickedness. Our protection from destruction comes from loving God wholeheartedly and holding tightly to His truth.
While in captivity, Daniel confessed the sins of the nation and acknowledged the consequences of a nation’s rebellion in this prayer of repentance.
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us;
yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth.
This wasn’t the first time the nation had sinned against God through disobedience and idolatry as we note prior admonitions to repent. It’s amazing that God is so forgiving and gracious that time and time again He brought circumstances to help the people realize their need to put away their sinful practices and to return to Him.
“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
Walking in Truth
Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart;
for consider what great things He has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24
Throughout Scripture, we find that God desires us to walk in truth. This truth is evident in our speech, our actions, and the way we approach God.
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
When we approach God in humility and truth, we can be sure that He hears us and will save us.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
If you have any doubt that God is concerned about the basis of our beliefs, look at this portion of the prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples.
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
Not only did Jesus pray for His disciples to walk in truth, but He prayed that this would happen as they lived set apart in this sinful world. Here is the test to see if we are walking in truth:
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth 1 John 1:6
Let’s begin today to humble ourselves, repent of our fleshly desires, and turn to God with a whole heart. He will reveal truth to us as we seek Him through His Word and prayer and then live out what He shows us.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org