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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Essence of the Lie

The opposite of the truth that is in Jesus.

The fool has said in his heart,
There is no God.” Psalm 53.1

The truth
The simplest way to define truth is the way Jesus does: He Himself is the truth of God (Jn. 14.6), and the Word of God, which points throughout to Jesus, is also God’s truth (Jn. 17.17; 5.39). All other truths and true propositions derive from Jesus, Who is the Word and truth of God. All other truths are secondary and derivative and find their ultimate meaning in Him. The whole universe holds together in this Word of God (Heb. 1.3), and He causes all created things and all the events of time to serve His purposes (Ps. 119.89-91; Eph. 1.11).

God has made human beings to know the world and His truth – not completely, but truly (Eccl 3.11). However, we may only know truth when we are operating out of the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16; Jn. 8.32; Eph. 4.17-24), and not according to our own best ideas, or even the best ideas of our day. Only the truth as it is in Jesus Christ and the Word of God makes us free from the corruptions, distortions, and deceptions of the lie.

Jesus Christ and His Word are the truth. All who refuse to acknowledge and embrace Him as such consign themselves to lives of folly. In Paul’s language, they exchange the truth of God for a lie of their own making, and thus consign themselves to lives in rebellion against God and their own true reason for being. By turning away from God and refusing to give Him thanks, they do not become unbelievers but wrong believers. They are like the person who, ignoring the flashing lights of the warning sign, wrongly believes that the bridge is not really out ahead, and so continues on his way toward catastrophe, confident that he knows better than the highway authorities.

In other words, all who prefer the lie to the truth that is in Jesus are what the Bible describes as fools. And in an age such as ours, an age in flight from God and wholly immersed in folly, we who believe in Jesus and inhabit the fertile plains on the truth side of the human divide, must conduct ourselves with vigilance, walking circumspectly lest we fall into the ways of a foolish world and lose our hold on the truth that is in Jesus (Eph. 5.15-17).

The lie
But if Jesus is the truth, then what is the lie?

The lie is the exact opposite of the truth. The lie insists that God and truth are mere constructs; men define God and truth in terms agreeable and useful to them and their purposes, including, if they choose, to define such ideas as nonexistent.

Thus the lie claims to be the truth, but, at the same time, it insists that truth is personal, relative, pragmatic, and utilitarian. Truth, from this perspective, is not absolute, but dynamic, changeable rather than fixed. It is conditioned by circumstances of time and place. At the end of the day, people are the final arbiters of truth, and truth is whatever they find to be useful for their purposes. Ultimate truth is that which people impose on others by one or another kind of force, whether intellectual, political, or physical.

The lie thus takes the form of many different worldviews and philosophical perspectives. Show its inadequacy or insufficiency in one form, and it simply morphs into another. Carried out to the extreme, the lie points to a grim future for mankind and the cosmos: Existence is an accident, and has no purpose; hence, it can have no true or lasting meaning. The universe is a coffin, and life is a struggle to survive. Chance, not man, is the master of our fate; culture is relative and temporal; and each person must find his or her own way in life, all the while knowing that death is the best one can hope for in the end.

I do not intend to say that all who participate in the lie are liars, that is, that they intentionally and habitually deceive and mislead. Rather, we insist that they are consumers and purveyors of – believers in – a view of life that rejects God, His Word, the authority of His Law, the certainty of truth, and the promise of blessing and glory He extends. And they do this on no other basis than their own opinion, wishful thinking, the influence of friends, or the biased reports of pundits, educators, politicians, scientists, and other sophisticated self-seekers.

In God’s image
At the same time, because all people are made in the image of God, fools pursue lives of meaning, purpose, and happiness, believing that these are their undeniable right and destiny. The inconsistency and absurdity of living in such a way, since one has denied all truth but that which he prefers, seems never to occur to them. And even when it does – as in the works of Albert Camus – the determination to press on against the absurdity of life becomes a duty or obligation or burden that must be borne, even though it can only end in disappointment. The bridge is out? The bridge be damned! Full speed ahead!

Having rejected God, those who dwell on the lie side of the human divide seek happiness and prosperity in a world where nothing is certain, and everything is tenuous and finally degenerates into nothingness. They inhabit a cold, impersonal universe, where looking out for their own best interests is the highest form of morality. Made in the image of God, they strive for a transcendent ideal and hope. But caught up in the lie, the only transcendence they can imagine is some temporal set or condition that lies just beyond the next horizon. Their vision is blurred; their desires are corrupted; and they consign themselves to frustration, disappointment, and a form of happiness which is fleeting and flat. They are believers in what Steve Smith referred to as an “immanent religiosity”, even though they do not acknowledge as much (Pagans and Christians in the City).

With Tennessee Ernie Ford, they load their 16 tons daily, while with Peggy Lee they sing plaintively, “Is that all there is?” And with Jack Nicholson they wonder aloud in quiet desperation whether this is as good as it gets.

And within the framework of the lie, for those who wrongly believe the promise of mere immanence, the answer is, Yes. This is as good as it gets.

For reflection
1.  What does the Christian worldview mean by “the truth”? How does this apply to our daily lives in a fallen world?

2.  How would you explain the essence of the lie? “The lie claims to be the truth.” Do you agree with that assessment? Why or why not? What’s the problem with that claim?

3.  Is idolatry a problem in our society? Explain.

Next steps – Preparation: On the truth side of the human divide, all of life is devoted to serving Jesus, Who is the truth. Are there any aspects of your life which are not consciously and continuously devoted to serving Jesus?

T. M. Moore

The lie holds our age captive in a death spiral of wrong belief. We need to understand our times so that we will know what we should do. Our book, Understanding the Times, can help. Order your free copy by clicking here. We also need to make sure we are not captive to the lie in our Christian lives and churches. Our book, The Church Captive, raises this concern. Order your free copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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