Truth or lie? A call to hope: the Bible, part 3
The Bible is the manifestation of God's will and way. We need look no further than Scripture to find the created intent for our souls.
Yet our world wants to flood us with new “truth” and shame us for not subscribing. The Enemy wants to confuse us with half-truths, lest we forget that even the demons believe (James 2:19).
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).
This is not a new tactic, although we might feel it to be so in a culture where truth is deemed relative and dependent on a person’s point of view and experience.
Satan knows Scripture, too
Satan tried to make Jesus stumble on the very words of God, presenting them out of context when Jesus was weak from fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and nights.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Satan weaponized God’s words to try to trap Jesus.
But pay close attention to how Jesus combats Satan’s scheme, because this is the very defense we need to employ.
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:5-7).
Jesus fights back with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, speaking Scripture in context - "it is also written" - and rightly judging the illicit ideas of the prince of this world. Satan and those he uses have no hold on us who hope in God’s living and powerful Word.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
We can see clearly in the Scripture exchange that context is critical.
You cannot correctly interpret any verse without first asking yourself how it fits within the full counsel of Scripture. Jesus, of course, knew the importance of context when applying Scripture.
The enemy on the other hand is at war with the truth, and Christians are the target.
It’s not enough to own a Bible. We must know how to use it and pray for the desire and discernment to rightly apply its commandments to our lives.
It grieves me when I see Jesus loving people, perhaps unknowingly, follow false teachers who claim truth while spewing lies. Modern “scholarship” and the progressive “Christianity” movement takes Scripture out of context and interprets it culturally.
A red flag of a false teacher is one who does not view the Bible as God’s ageless, absolute truth; who does not view Jesus as the Son of God and the only substitutionary atonement for our sins; who does not view Jesus as the exclusive “way, truth and life” to the Father (John 14:6); who does not believe in a literal resurrection; and who does not believe in a literal hell. (There are other red flags but these are a few dead ringers).
God explicitly warns us about this:
“… There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words” (2 Peter 2:1-3).
Discerning truth from a lie
These false teachers (and followers) typically choose a position on a social issue and then search Scripture to justify the position, instead of searching Scripture to align their hearts with God about an issue. They are speaking, teaching and repeating half-truths out of context just at Satan did to Jesus. In doing so, they worship themselves and conform to the patterns of this world – the exact opposite of how God calls us to live.
“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
These erroneous teachings and social positions usually occur in the name of love, the "golden rule" and the greatest commandment. But here's the problem with this type of teaching.
God is both love and truth.
Biblical love cannot exist apart from biblical truth.
Love is not saying “do whatever you feel like.” Love is pointing a person back to what Scripture says, no matter how culturally unpopular, because that is where you will find the ultimate peace, joy and freedom.
False teachers exploit followers based on emotion. They tell them what they want to hear. They pull at their heartstrings. They provide an immediate sense of gratification in offering the wide and comfortable road to travel. They are quick to turn to a different gospel, as the apostle Paul warned, "not that there is a different gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7).
Discernment and diligence are needed to avoid this slippery slope of spiritual slaughter.
“As cultural fads ebb and flow, the inescapable truth emerges that century after century the power of the written Word has surpassed, and will continue to surpass, the exhilarations of momentary experience, which are conceived and die in an instant. We tenderly set a halo on the forehead of feeling ... but in times of greatest loss, it is the written Word that carries us through, not feeling,” said Ravi Zacharias, world renown Christian apologist.
We cannot spiritually renew our minds apart from Scripture. Only the fullness of God’s Word can do that for us, not an emotional whim or even a deep, heartfelt belief.
We are too prone to self deception: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9). We need God's Word to guide us.
If when you read the Bible – or Christian devotionals – you never feel convicted, corrected or challenged, then the Holy Spirit is not illuminating God’s Words of truth to you. Someone or something else is and it is fallible.
And that can leave you hopeless.
But if you receive and heed correction from the Word, you will walk in the Lord’s love and provision and a great hope will swell within you.
“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6).
God loves us too much to leave us just as we are. He will not waffle on His promise to bring us into the full measure of Christ, through the hope and power of His Word and Holy Spirit.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).
Guard your heart and mind
The apostle and elder of the early church, John, warned about false teachers and exhorted all of us to be cautious and “watch ourselves” and from whom we are receiving instruction:
“Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t greet him; for the one who greets him shares in his evil works” (2 John 1:9-11).
So many teachers under the guise of Christianity have gone beyond what the God of Creation intended.
When we listen to podcasts, read articles and books, indiscriminately follow on social media without knowing or scrubbing those teachers’ beliefs and positions against the truth of Scripture, we are inviting deception into our hearts and homes. We risk exchanging the truth about God for a lie.
If a teacher, speaker or author claims to follow Jesus but stands in direct opposition to any part of God’s Word, stop following him or her immediately. Do not invite these heresies into your house, car or morning walks.
It is a very dangerous thing to approve and applaud of those who disagree with God. But there is GREAT HOPE in the correctness of Scripture and the correction of Scripture.
John reflected God’s heart when he said, “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth” (3 John 1:4). Walk in truth and guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus in and above all things (Philippians 4:7).