To Stop the Lie (7)
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow;
Suddenly they shall be wounded.
So He will make them stumble over their own tongue;
All who see them shall flee away.
All men shall fear,
And shall declare the work of God;
For they shall wisely consider His doing. Psalm 64.7-9
To stumble over their own tongue
Our desire in wanting to silence those who traffic in lies is not to put them down, show them up, or try to make them look bad in any way. Ours is a mission of rescue and recovery, not denunciation and belittling. Our motive for confronting them is love, and our desire is that they might be edified in the truth that is in Jesus. When a sharp rebuke is necessary, we will issue it in private, if we can, but in public if we must. We want those caught up in the lie to see the error of their ways so that they might consider the truth of God in a more objective and reasoned manner.
Nevertheless, for some people to get to this point, we will need to confront their worldview and expose their sinful behaviors by the Sword of the Spirit applied lovingly and with patient reasoning to their deepest beliefs and desires. We want them to see that their wrong-belief is inconsistent, unworkable, untenable, unreliable, and, in short, false, so that they will “stumble over their own tongue” in trying vainly to defend the lies that are keeping them from the truth of Jesus. We will show them that whatever of truth they may be clinging to comes not from their beliefs but from the truth of God, and that they have “borrowed” that truth either without knowing or acknowledging that this is so. And we will call them to repent of their folly and falsehood and give themselves to knowing God and Jesus Christ, which is true and eternal life (Jn. 17.3).
This is our appointed mission; Jesus calls us to judge with righteous judgment all that we see and hear as followers of Christ (Jn. 7.24) and not to back down from defending the truth when lies are in the air.
The goal in all this is to help others wisely consider and understand the work God has done for them and to receive His words as true and unfailing. This means that over, throughout, and underneath all we do in helping others break free of the snares of lies and deception must be the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Good News of what God has done and is doing through Jesus Christ. We must guard against letting our conversations degenerate into a combat of opinions or preferences – what we believe and how we live as opposed to the worldview and lifestyle of the one we’re seeking to persuade. The crucial issue is not between us and them; rather, it is between them and the Lord.
But if they’re going to understand that and consider the work of Christ and the demands and promises of the Gospel, we must be careful to keep these on the table throughout our conversations.
But what is the work of God? With respect to the Gospel it involves four things.
First, Jesus Christ has repaired the lost righteousness of men, and offers in Himself increasing renewal in God’s original created purpose for human beings. Jesus alone is the way to a right standing before the heavenly Father and an upright, wholesome, purposeful, joy-filled life. All have sinned, Paul explained, in that we have broken the commandments of God and proved ourselves to be unrighteous and unworthy of anything other than God’s wrath. Jesus came among us and lived a sinless life, thus fulfilling all the requirements of righteousness in Himself.
Second, Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God against our sins so that, through His righteousness and sacrifice, we may plead for forgiveness with the Father and overcome both the burden of guilt and the fear of death. He has taken our sins upon Himself, and God has accepted His sacrifice for our redemption: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5.21). God accepted Jesus’ righteousness as a substitute for our unrighteousness; and He accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as a substitute for the death we deserve.
Third, by His resurrection from the dead Jesus has opened the way to full and eternal life for all who believe in Him as Savior and Lord. He is truly alive from the grave, and in His resurrection all who believe may hope in the glory of God. Death could not hold Jesus because He had lived a righteous life. Now He lives in the fullness of His glory, calling us to come to the Father and receive the gift of eternal life by believing in Him.
And, finally, from His throne at the Father’s right hand, Jesus is advancing, in and through His people, a Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy on earth as it is in heaven, where reconciliation to God and renewal in every area of life are the daily experience of all who seek Him eagerly. He gives those who believe in Him the gift of His indwelling Spirit so that they might become more like Jesus day by day as they devote themselves to seeking His Kingdom and righteousness as the defining priority of their lives. And one day Jesus will return in glory to gather to Himself all those – living and dead – who have entered His Kingdom and lived as citizens and ambassadors for the glory of God.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom; this is what we must hold out to those who are living the lie, as we call them to recognize and repent of their folly and turn to the Lord for the hope, joy, meaning, purpose, and fullness of life for which they earnestly long.
David promises that when we are faithful in thus confronting the lie, God may be pleased to use our efforts, not only to loose the captives from the snares of the devil, but to bring the lie to silence for many others as well, as they observe the work of God and ponder all that He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
As John Stuart Mill observed, stumbling across an acorn of truth, “Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” If you and I fail to make the most of each opportunity for confronting, exposing, rebuking, and silencing the lie, then we can be sure that lies will continue to proliferate, with all their destructive and ruinous power.
On the other hand, if we believe God and His Word, and embrace the calling He has appointed for us, He may be pleased to use us to stop the lie and to help others discover the path of truth and life in Jesus Christ.
1. “The crucial issue is not between us and them; rather, it is between them and the Lord.” Explain.
2. Apply Mill’s observation to your church’s calling to stop the Lie.
3. To stop the lie we’ll need to be good listeners, patient conversationalists, and careful reasoners. How would you rate yourself at this time in each of those disciplines?
Next steps – Transformation: Meditate on John 8.32. How do people come to “know” the truth? What is your role in that process? Talk with some Christian friends about this. How might you help and encourage one another as opponents of the lie and agents of truth?
T. M. Moore
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