Don’t Believe the Lies:
Three Lies Good People Sometimes Believe
…they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:11b,12 NIV
(Author’s Note: These three stories are true but names used are not the real ones.)
The Happiness Lie
Betsy told me that she just wasn’t happy and she hadn’t been for the last fifteen years of her twenty-nine year marriage. She was ready to dump a faithful husband, provider and honest servant of God. Another man had come along who said things that made her feel good. She found happiness at last.
She believed the lie.
What lie? The one that says a marriage is about being happy.
When a husband and wife set out to find individual happiness in their marriage, they are almost guaranteed to pursue divergent pathways. They may not just drift apart; they may fly apart in record time: another marriage ruined by the pursuit of personal happiness. Popular culture has propagated this lie and we have believed it.
We think that being in love with someone is more important than loving them.
We seek the feelings of being in love: the thrill, the throbbing heart, the cold, sweating palms and weak knees.
And when these feelings dissipate, as they usually do with time, we feel that we have fallen out of love and must find someone else to make us happy
But, Jesus didn’t promise us happiness, He promised us joy:
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11 NIV
There is a huge difference. Happiness is a temporary emotional state; joy is a condition of the spirit. Emotions are like the waves of the sea, driven by the wind of circumstances and constantly changing directions. Joy will remain constant and deep in the spirit when the circumstances of life storm around us in the most unpleasant ways because it flows from deep commitments that weather the changing circumstances and are not moved by prevailing winds. A husband and wife can emerge from the storm intact and even stronger than before because the joy of the Lord has been their strength.
How can this be?
Because the joy is the joy of Jesus.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV
The circumstances of the cross were certainly not those of happiness but there was a joy in Jesus in a place deeper than the lash, the nail or the spear could reach. What was this joy that endured such suffering? –the joy of the relationship Jesus would have with each of us.
Happiness is rooted in selfishness; joy is rooted in relationship.
In God’s plan, the husband’s goal is to love his wife as Jesus “loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Eph 5:25 NIV) That means the man’s goal is to meet the needs his wife and dedicate himself to helping her become everything God intends for her to be. He is to be as dedicated to her dreams as he expects her to be to his. The focus of the wife should be on her husband. Her goal is to meet his needs and to see him become all God intends. When a man and wife set out to each meet the needs of the other and to fulfill each other’s destiny, an interdependent relationship grows. Joy grows, too, and, ironically enough, happiness, the real kind, the kind that lasts!
The Animal Lie
Judy is a church kid. Her mother had been in serious trouble but is better now. There is no father in the home. A boy has come along, one who pays attention to Judy. Somehow, he has come to live with Judy and her mom. In the loneliness of the night, the loneliness of these two young souls met and passions ignited. The world tells them that these passions are overpowering, uncontrollable. There in the shadows, it seems the world is right. The need for love is strong and there is not enough truth to counter it. The concern of pastors and friends can only go so far and that is not far enough. The mother fears losing the daughter. What will happen? Can virginity be called back? Will a new life be formed? Will the bonds formed between a boy and girl ever be completely broken, even when they are man and woman? There in the shadows of night and need, who can think of the future?
We are facing a generation of people who believe the animal lie.
They have been taught that they are just animals, the result of the random forces of evolution.
- Animal passions must be satisfied.
- Restraint is unnecessary or even impossible. Urges are meant to be fulfilled not restrained.
- There is no such thing as the spirit or the eternal soul.
- There is no God to face in the next life because there is no next life. This is it, all there is.
- If you don’t like it, check out. If you don’t like someone, take them out, even if the person is your unborn child.
- There is no eternal judgment.
What a pack of lies!
But the truth is, we are each, from the frail fetus to the fleeing felon, a special creation, destined for eternity somewhere. Each of us has a destiny in God that we can embrace, ignore, or fight but the consequences are unavoidable. There will be a judgment day. We will give an account.
We are people, not animals.
We can and must control our urges. Civilization depends on this personal restraint.
- Anger must not become violence.
- Temptation must not allowed to grow into lust.
- Lust must be stopped before it becomes action.
Delayed gratification is still a sign of maturity. Everything isn’t instant. In fact the best things involve delays:
- sex must wait for marriage;
- some purchases must wait for savings instead of easy credit; and
- great careers still must wait for education and experience.
Have you believed the animal lie?
The Truth Lie
Tom was raised in the faith found in small southern towns. He loved the music and the feel of worship. He grew to be a tall young man and good looking. He had a quick mind and talked incessantly. He loved people and ideas. Despite his humble beginning, his gifts made room for him. There were scholarships and grants and soon the finest of educations was his. It was inevitable that he would go into law and into politics.
Truth became a willow in his hand.
He bent it wherever he needed it to go. Elections were won. Powerful men noticed him and made plans for him. He could tell people what they wanted to hear and make it sound like he meant it and that it was true.
There was only one problem: all those babies.
Deep inside, Tom knew that abortion was wrong, but surely that was just the small town religion speaking. A preacher told him that the Bible said there was no life until there was breath. This was what Tom was looking for: a lie dressed in Scripture. He pushed his conscience aside and soon he was the darling of those who wanted the government to approve of their aberrant lifestyles. Tom made it big, but with a trail of evil in his wake, and when the gospel singers sing for him, he cries every time.
The most amazing lie is that there is no truth.
This is the one that sets all the others in motion. It goes like this:
- there is no absolute moral truth. It is all a matter of circumstance and personal choice.
- My truth may not be the same as your truth.
- No one can tell me how to live. Any course of action is justified by the results it brings.
- It can be OK to lie, to cheat, to murder, to abort if it serves our purposes.
- What matters is what works. Amoral pragmatism rules the day
But it is a lie. God has given us absolute truth!
It is not up to you and me to decide what the truth might be today.
- The ends do not justify the means. How we do things is just as important as the things we do.
- While we each have our individual destinies, they must be carried out by the principles of the Kingdom of God.
- The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth.(John 14:17)
- Jesus said the Father was looking for true worshipers who would worship Him in Spirit and Truth.(John 4:24) Jesus said, “I am… truth…”(John 14:6)
Truth matters; it is the thing that sets us free. (John 8:32)
The Happiness Lie, the Animal Lie, the Truth Lie.
There are more lies, bombarding us everyday through the media, in the classroom, and on the job. It is as Isaiah predicted: “Truth has stumbled in the streets…and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.”We’ve got to learn the truth so that we can recognize the lies. The truth sets us free but when we believe the lies, we are headed for bondage and condemnation. Will you believe the lies?
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
Isaiah 59:12-15 NIV
For our offenses are many in your sight and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived.So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.