Believing the Lies.

We live in a culture where “spin” and deception are seen as legitimate tools for achieving desired ends. Satan uses the influence of the culture we live in to bombard us with lies, and he is a master of skewing and twisting God’s truth to confuse us – at which point we’re in danger of trusting ourselves or what the world tells us, rather than God. The Bible teaches that God is good; Satan twists it to make you question whether a “good” God would ever punish people in hell. The Bible teaches us that we have to be humble and love others; Satan twists that into making us believe we have to equate what others say with what God says. Temptation is attractive and easy; otherwise, it wouldn’t work! When we focus on what the world offers, it can make us question whether the pleasures of the world are really that bad and wonder whether or not we could do/buy/have it, too. Godliness is not the easy choice. It’s the hard choice up front that brings all the blessing and protection and acceptance that the world is incapable of giving us.

You deserve what you want. In a whole garden full of fruit trees, Eve chose the one tree she was told not to eat from. The Rich Young Ruler walked away from the Great I am, Jacob stole from Esau, the rich farmer built bigger barns rather than share, Zaccheus cheated his neighbors, and Lazarus died of hunger at the rich man’s gate. In a moment you decide that you want that brownie more than you want to be skinny. You want to sleep in more than you want to go to church or have quiet time; you want to keep your money, rather than pay your tithe or full taxes. We become much more focused on building our financial security and protecting our “stuff” and our power than we are in building and protecting our eternal security.

If it feels good do it. Adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse all start out with pleasure. But the problem with trusting ourselves to be god is that we make choices that eventually make the source of our pleasure our god, and we lose everything else that we never noticed was threatened.

The ends justify the means. If we are well intended, bending the rules, the little white lie should easily be forgiven. Saul knew he had to sacrifice before battle, and Samuel was late. Toleration of foreign gods helped the ancient Hebrews and helps us get along better with our neighbors. But when we become like those who oppose our God, we separate ourselves from him and deny him the opportunity to show his power and give us the victory he desires for us.

Don’t you want to be like God? and Eve ate the apple, Nebuchadnezzar built a statue of himself for the people to worship, and we reject God’s plan for our own plan.

Don’t you want to be like everyone else? and the Hebrews began to worship the gods of their neighbors and insisted on a king and foreign alliances; we hesitate to take a godly stand for fear of being labeled a fanatic; we participate in secular culture so we’ll fit in. We watch the immoral entertainment this world provides, we adopt the world’s standards of success and methods of achievement, hoping we won’t be tainted by them.

Don’t you want to be loved? and Annanias and Saphira tell an unnecessary lie to gain respect for what they didn’t do and then they die. The lonely and the outcasts prostitute themselves to gain acceptance, and who God made them to be starts looking a lot more like who they think the world will accept. They become something they were never intended to be and are never loved for who they are.

Don’t you want to be powerful? and the Pharisees exchange love for legalism, King Saul tries to murder his best warrior, Saul the lawyer becomes both the detective and the executioner, and we subjugate our standards and joy for what we hope we can control. Pretending to have power over what we will never control will disappoint or destroy us every time.

Law enforcement officials who specialize in investigating counterfeiting begin their training by intensely studying what is “real”. They don’t study counterfeit money or bonds or art; they study the real thing so well that eventually they immediately recognize when they see what is not real.

May we as the children of God know his word and his heart so well that we immediately recognize what is not of God. He wants us to know…but he leaves it to us to seek to learn.