It’s funny how the smallest things can have a huge influence on our life. My mom taught me when I was very little that deception was, “A whole lotta truth with a little bit of lie.”
I think I had admitted to her that, while I did eat the icing off the brownies, I most certainly had help from my (innocent) sister. She explained to me that half a truth is still a lie.
Her definition has helped me understand quite a few misconceptions in the modern church. We have values and morals summarized by terms such as selflessness, love, forgiveness, trust, etc. Our understanding of these words are based largely on how the world portrays them.
Selflessness- Putting everyone else before yourself.
Love- A feeling.
Forgiveness- Forgetting a wrong.
Trust- Believing someone would not hurt you.
On the surface, these seem like reasonable definitions. It’s a good thing to put others first, love them, forgive them, and trust them. However, it is those very definitions, among countless others, that are crippling the church.
The Devil’s Toolbox Of Deception:
Duplicity: For every pure moral or value expressed in the Bible, the devil has a slightly altered, worldly definition. Example: Love=Peace
Parallel Values: For some morals and values in the Bible, the devil has a counter-offer. Example- instead of forgiveness, practice tolerance.
False Negativity: Some of our teachings, the devil has branded as evil. Example: Salvation. “If Christianity were truly loving, then everyone would go to Heaven.”
On the surface, the devil seems to have a point. However, a deeper understanding of love will expose his lies and reveal what he is trying to accomplish.
Why love? Why not truth, grace, or forgiveness? Because the underlying fundamental basis for the entire Christian religion, and every teaching associated with it, is love. Even Christ Himself said the greatest commandment was to love God.
Love: What It’s Not
Love is not tolerance.
The world has preached tolerance as the battle cry for many social justice issues. How dare we call a sin a sin? If a person believes what they are doing is right, then it’s right. Right?
Furthermore, if calling a sin a sin hurts someone’s feelings, then it must be wrong. Bringing pain upon someone is not loving, right?
Wrong. We are clearly commanded to discern between right and wrong. Remember, God loves those whom He corrects, and He can correct others through us.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Love is not peace.
This is not to say that love does not bring peace. This simply means that love can also cause division. Love draws a very clear line in the sand between right and wrong. If you feel called to reveal a weakness in a fellow believer, out of love, and they respond unfavorably, the outcome is not peaceful.
Peace is also used to usher in other beliefs as “ok.” For example, Islam is wrong. However, people are inclined to accept it anyways because it has been labeled peaceful. Homosexuality is wrong, as is abortion, but if supporters are seen as peaceful, then they are seen as good, and therefore right.
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
Love is not a feeling.
Again, love can elicit loving emotions. However, love itself is not an emotion. Love has nothing to do with liking someone. Alternatively, acting out of like is not necessarily acting out of love.
Jesus died for the sins of every human being that has ever, or will ever live. He died even for those nailing Him to the cross. I am NOT Jesus, but I don’t think I would be full of emotional love for that man with the hammer.
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Love: What It Is
Love is forgiveness
The ultimate show of love was Christ dying on the cross. He was crucified to forgive us for all past and future sins. Forgiveness does not equal forgetfulness, and it is also not a feeling. Choosing to forgive sets us free from anger, and allows God to handle the situation.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Love divides good from evil
When Jesus died, he drew a definite line in the sand. He proclaimed that anyone who was not with Him was against Him. This is hard for the world to swallow, as most people like to believe that if they are basically good and decent, they will go to Heaven.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Love is an action
Even as Christ was about to die for our sins, He chose to deny His flesh and follow the will of His Father. Love is not always easy. Choosing to hold your tongue, forgive others, pray for your enemies, etc., is not a natural action. Only by denying our own desires and choosing to act as commanded can we truly show His love.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Obviously, a few paragraphs and bullet points are not even going to scratch the surface on Biblical love. However, they do help us to form a basis to dissect the mistruths the Devil has laid on Christianity.
Underlying all of the little lies is one big lie. It’s a bit like the telephone game. Just tweaking one word a little bit is enough to change the entire meaning, and gives way for people to leap-frog from one tweaked conclusion to the next.
The Big Lie: Good=Right
I can see how this is easy to confuse. If those things that are right are also good, then shouldn’t those things that are good also be right?
Let’s use the telephone game logic on this.
- God says to visit the elderly
- Bob visits the elderly
- Bob is doing something good
- Bob is therefore good
- Bob is a homosexual
How can a good person also be bad? The conclusion the Devil has drawn for us is that since Bob is a good person, then what he does is also right.
The world has defined anything that doesn’t cause conflict as good. If Bob isn’t hurting anyone by being homosexual, then it’s not bad, which means it’s good, which means it’s right.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what Bob does. He is loved and forgiven by God. If he chooses to accept that, he is made holy. If he chooses not to, then he remains a sinner. All of the nursing home visits in the world won’t make up for him denying Christ. Likewise, all of his sins are immediately forgiven, regardless of good works, if he accepts Christ.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
In short, it doesn’t matter if the world has labeled you “good” or “bad,” all that matters is if you are saved.
Now that we understand the fundamental lie, we can see how love truly exposes deception.
The Big Truth: Love=Right
The true test as to whether something is right is to see how it aligns with true, Biblical love. Let’s take Islam, for example. Many commentators in the news proclaim Islam is a peaceful religion, with a few radical wingnuts, and is therefore fundamentally good, and should be tolerated.
However, when held to the standard of Biblical love, we see a different story. Our God demands that we love no other God but Him. Allah cannot be God, because the very definition of God lies in the Trinity, and Islam denies Christ. Therefore, Islam is not loving. If it is not loving, then it is not right.
The same can be said for homosexuality. Again, pop-culture holds fast to homosexuals being mostly peaceful, good people, who want to be free to love whomever they choose. They claim to be born with the same desire to love as everyone else, it is just focused on those of the same gender. They are a peaceful, tolerant group of people who just want to be happy.
Again, when measured against Biblical love, we can see the lie. The Bible clearly states marriage is between a man and a woman. Any desires outside of that bond are a sin. This includes adultery, premarital sex, and homosexuality. All of these sins are based on the worldly, emotional definition of love. True, Biblical love discerns between right and wrong and corrects those who sin. If you are living in sin, you cannot live in love. Therefore, homosexuality is wrong.
Unfortunately, many churches have succumbed to worldly definitions of Biblical values. Telling the truth, out of love, usually causes some conflict. For example, if you’re reading this, and your son is gay, I’m sure you were offended by the fact that I believe it is wrong. If I were instead to claim that being gay is just another form of love, you would happily read to the bottom and go about your day.
For this same reason, churches avoid teaching a black and white truth. They don’t want to offend their members and lose attendance, so they mix in a little of the world’s teachings to soften the sermon and make it more palatable. Is this avoiding conflict? Sure. Is it loving? No.
If we continue to conduct our churches in an almost loving way, where we pretty much tell the truth, we are still lying.
As Christians in a dying world, we must realize that appeasement is usually a sign of accepting deception. God clearly tells us, unfortunately, that if we are doing our job, we will be hated by the world, because we are not of the world.
Ironically, if you are showing true, Biblical love, then worldly people will hate you.
Accepting this fact, and loving anyways, is one true test of a Christian. While the calling is not easy, and the path will continually be narrowed, God promises that those who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt. 24:13).
I plan to have more posts delving a little deeper into deceptive, worldly definitions of specific Biblical values. If you are struggling with deception in your own church, or have questions regarding discernment, please visit this page for more information.
Of course, as always, please feel free to spur some discussion with respectful comments!