Monday night 84 million people tuned in to watch Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debate their policies. There was up to the minute analysis on virtually every form of social media including fact checking to determine if candidate’s statements were true or false. According to Politifact, the two candidates have an overall combined truth rating of 34%.
Much is said in the Bible about the importance of truth. Proverbs 6:13-17 lists 7 things the Lord hates. Twice on the list is lying! In view of all the horrible things in the world, I would not expect lying to make the list, let alone twice.
Three Prominent Lies
The greatest adversary to God and believers is Satan. Jesus called him the father of lies. He said when he lies he is speaking his native tongue and that there is no truth in him. (John 8:44)
Satan has no power of his own that God does not allow him to have. Without real power his greatest weapon is lying. As the father of lies, Satan knows well that the way to tell a convincing lie is by twisting it with truth.
During the temptation of Christ, Satan tempts Jesus with three lies. Each one of them we should recognize as very familiar lies as they have been used on everyone before and after Christ.
First lie: You need something besides Christ
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus has no reason to prove his divinity to Satan, but Satan is trying to get hold of the conversation and gain power over Christ by getting him to comply with his requests. He thinks he can accomplish this by getting Jesus to believe his physical hunger is his greatest need. Of course, Jesus sees right through it and responds to this lie with truth. By stating that he needs God more than food, he dispels any ideas about other “needs” we have. We may want many things, but we should be hesitant to use the word need, lest we act foolishly as if it’s justified. Our greatest need is Christ.
Second Lie: There’s no consequence for our actions
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
The truth is that God will save Jesus, and us. The lie is that we can be careless with our actions. The way this lie plays out in our lives most often is when we disobey God based on the assumption that it’s not a big deal cause God will forgive us. Jesus replies with the truth that we should not test God.
Imagine a man wants to propose to the woman he loves. He scrapes together all the money he has and sells many things valuable to him in order to buy a diamond ring. He gives it to her and she loves it. Now imagine her friend asks her to help her with something that requires her to take her ring off. They are outside and the friend says to simply throw it on the ground for a minute. She would never treat her ring so carelessly both because of its great value and because of the love of the person who bought it.
The incredible forgiveness of Christ may not have cost us anything, but it cost God everything, even his own son. Christ’s died once on the cross for all sins. Our standing with God never rests with our obedience, but always on grace. If we think God’s forgiveness is a reason for us to be careless with our actions, then we have an under-appreciation for the value of God’s grace and of the love of the God who provided it.
Third lie: There is no God
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
If the evil one can’t get us to act foolishly based on our “needs”, or believe there are no consequences to our actions, then he will tell us there is no God. If there is no God then our actions are meaningless. No one can tell us what is right or wrong. We can have whatever we want or do whatever we want.
Whether we believe there is no God or we run from God to try to silence our conscience, the result is no accountability for our actions.
Jesus responds a third and final time to Satan’s lies with truth. There is one God and he alone is deserving of our worship.
What Do We Do?
- Know scripture
What’s striking here is how Satan quotes scripture. We may say, I read the Bible, or I’ve memorized some verses. This is great! Yet even Satan knows scripture. “You believe God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!” (James 2:19) We need to know scripture as Jesus did; extensively and in context. We should be careful of building theology on one isolated verse, or being unaware of the context of verses we know. Sadly, many people in the last several hundred years justified slavery with scripture they didn’t understand the full context of.
- Walk in truth
Lies permeate our world today. Lying is not only commonplace, but is done without a thought of conviction. The only way to fight lies is by speaking truth. Lies bring confusion, fear and darkness; truth brings clarity, hope and light. We should speak truth even when it seems insignificant or when it costs us. Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much…”
We can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5), let alone resist the deceiving half truth lies of the evil one. We need him. Thankfully and amazingly he is “interceding for us” even now at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34).
The prince of this world walks in darkness and falsehood. The King of Glory walks in light and truth. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy. Our king came to set the captives free. So to all he’s set free, walk in truth and proclaim the truth of the gospel that sets us free. In other words, let freedom ring.