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“Believing a Lie”
Consider the following statement made by the apostle Paul. In Rom. 3:4, he wrote, “Let God be true but every man a liar.”
This is not meant to suggest that every single word uttered by every single man is a lie.
Instead it tells us that every person has the propensity to lie.
This is especially so when the lie somehow benefits the man.
God, on the other hand is totally incapable of lying. The same apostle Paul wrote in Tit. 1:2, “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” Everything spoken by God is always truth, and anything that man says might be a lie.
The things that are spoken by God are contained in the Bible.
1 Cor. 14:37 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”
This is so whether we are discussing 1 Corinthians or the New Testament or the entire Bible.
Therefore, whatever is written in the Bible is true because it comes from the mind and mouth of almighty God, who cannot lie.
Also, if any man speaks something contrary to what the Bible says, then you must know that he is a liar, regardless of who he is.
Now, let’s consider what is said in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, verses 9–12:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Did you notice what the apostle said? He said that some can and do believe a lie.
That’s right; it is absolutely possible to believe something sincerely, yet that thing be a lie.
Yes, it’s possible to believe a lie with all our hearts and be deceived and be in complete error.
This is possible because what we might believe is in complete opposition to what is revealed within God’s word.
We might be convinced in our hearts that what we believe is the truth, but at the same time we are deluded, and what we believe is actually a complete lie.
Let me illustrate what I mean in this way. You might sincerely believe that the food that you are eating is clean and healthy, but in truth it might be contaminated.
Will the fact that you sincerely believe the food is good keep you from becoming ill?
Also, you might be wading a creek and honestly believe that it is shallow, and suddenly discover that it is too deep to cross.
If you believe that it is shallow, will that somehow make it so?
You might invest your money in a banking institution believing it is sound, but your belief in its solvency will not keep it from crumbling and costing you your investment.
You and I might know someone who lost their life savings because of misplaced trust, and sadly their belief did not keep them from financial collapse.
You and I both know that our sincerity — that our faith in something or in someone — does not mean that we cannot be misled.
We may be sincerely convinced that what we are eating is safe and actually consume poison.
Our sincerity will not shield us from sickness or perhaps death.
We could be mistaken and all the sincerity that we have could not spare us the consequences of taking poison.
This is indisputably true in all areas of life.
So why do we have such problems with understanding this when it comes to matters of religion?
Why can’t we apply this to God’s word, the Bible?
Most people seem to feel in religion when one believes something sincerely, then he will be saved regardless of whether it is true or not.
Most people seem to conclude that in religious matters that sincerity is enough to shield us from the consequences of believing a lie.
Paul said that one could believe a lie, and in so doing be lost.
Just to refresh your memory, let’s revisit 2 Thess. 2:11-12: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Paul's point is that people follow after lies and perish for a very simple reason: "because they did not receive the love of the truth" which could have saved them.
It was for this reason -- their lack of love for the truth -- that God sends them a strong delusion.
It is not an arbitrary choice by God, but a measured response to an unreasonable position taken by some people.
God is not forcing people to believe lies, they already have swallowed them hook, line, and sinker.
Rather, God has lifted His restraint that was holding them back so that they would show themselves condemned.
Religious deception can be, and often is, strong.
One’s sincerity will not alter the lie and make it truth.
Being honestly mistaken and believing a lie will never make the lie into the truth, and it will not mean that God accepts those believing lies.
Whenever we encourage you to read your Bible so that you can learn the truth, it is because we do not want you to be misled.
We desire that you come to understand truth, because the Bible warns us against believing lies.
Sincerely believing lies are damning for several reasons.
Did you know that a lie can affect your mind and actions as well as the truth can?
That is, if we sincerely believe a lie, that belief will produce certain changes in our mind and in our deeds, just as truth will.
It is absolutely impossible to detach our behavior from our belief.
That is, if we sincerely believe a lie, that belief will produce definite changes in our mind and in our behavior.
Belief and behavior are two sides of the same coin.
I think I might be able to illustrate this by reminding you of a Bible example showing where this occurred.
In the Old Testament book of Genesis, there is the account of the sons of Jacob selling their brother, Joseph, into slavery.
After watching their brother being led away by Midianite merchantmen, they concocted a lie to tell their father. We pick up our reading at Gen. 37:31–35:
So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said, we have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not? And he recognized it and said, it is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces. Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, for I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning. Thus, his father wept for him.
As we read this, we know that Joseph was alive.
But Jacob sincerely believed his son was dead, and he responded accordingly.
Belief always translates into certain behavioral traits.
Jacob wept and mourned just as if his son was dead, but he was believing a lie.
In his heart he knew that Joseph was dead, which is why he had such difficulty believing that Joseph was in Egypt when it was told to him much later in Gen. 45:26, “And they told him, saying, Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.
And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them.”
Do you see how we can believe a lie and that belief will affect how we respond?
Please remember that belief and behavior go hand in hand. What one believes will always influence his behavior.
There is another biblical illustration of believing a lie in the Old Testament.
It is the incident of the nameless prophet who rebuked Israel’s new king, Jeroboam, in 1 Ki. 13.
When God sent the prophet to rebuke Jeroboam, he also told him to return home by another way without accepting anyone’s invitation to visit, including the king.
Now, let’s read together 1 Ki. 13:7–18:
Then the king said to the man of God, Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward. But the man of God said to the king, if you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, you shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came. So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel. Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, which way did he go? For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. Then he said to his sons, Saddle the donkey for me. So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, Are you the man of God who came from Judah? And he said, I am. Then he said to him, come home with me and eat bread. And he said, I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the Lord, You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.
Now, watch carefully as this old prophet begins to hatch a lie.
He said to him, I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied to him.
This man of God then went into the house of the old prophet, his belief translated into behavior.
And, for believing the lie this man was killed by a lion upon leaving the old prophet’s house.
God said in 1 Ki. 13:21 that it was “because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you.”
This might be a hard fact for us to accept, but believing a lie that contradicts God’s word will destroy us, regardless of our sincerity.
We might think that this example of the prophet being slain by a lion is extreme, but it serves to illustrate that God must be believed.
Also, we can learn that one’s belief will always translate into action.
We cannot divorce belief from behavior.
When it comes to the Bible, if we sincerely believe a lie we still will be destroyed because believing a lie will lead us to disobey God.
Disobedience to God is sin, our honesty notwithstanding.
Sin is described by the word lawlessness in 1 Jn. 3:4.
There John writes, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
This word “lawlessness“ means a violation of law.
And the wages of all sin are the same. Rom. 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” All sin is fatal, sin that is knowingly committed will destroy, and sin that is ignorantly practiced will condemn us as well. Ignorance is not bliss —it is lethal, and this includes the believing and practicing of lies.
John tells us those outside of heaven in Rev. 22:15 includes those called “dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
It is academic to conclude that believing a lie is not the same as practicing a lie, because it is impossible to disconnect what we believe from what we do.
Therefore, we must be certain that what we believe and practice is not a lie, but the truth of God as revealed in the Bible.
Sincerity, or honestly believing something, does not make it the truth.
Paul reminds us of this when he said in Acts 26:9, “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Two things here!
One, Paul was acting sincerely.
That is, he genuinely thought a lie was the truth.
And, two, he acted upon that belief.
He thought Jesus was a fraud and charlatan, and he then acted upon that belief.
But faithfully following his conscience could not make him righteous.
Later he would write in 1 Tim. 1:13 that he “was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man.”
Was he sincere in what he believed?
Was he honest in what he did?
Sure he was!
He said in Acts 23:1, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”
Did his sincerity mean that God approved of him?
No, absolutely not!
He said that he was the chief of all sinners in 1 Tim. 1:15.
Likewise, if we are transgressing the will of God revealed in the Bible, we are lost.
We might have been taught something all our life, but if it is a lie, and we believe it and act accordingly, we will be condemned.
There are many warnings given in the Bible about being misled.
Consider what Jesus said in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
Then in verse 21, the Lord cautions, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
Then there is what Paul wrote in Gal. 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”
Sincerely believing another gospel will not prevent us from being condemned.
Sincerely following a false teacher will not make the doctrine we believe true.
Our sincere belief must be consistent with the word of God. That is, we must believe truth and not lies.
Now let us put what we have learned to a test.
For a few minutes, let’s examine some things that you might have been taught and see if they are supported by the Bible.
You might have been taught all your religious life that water baptism does not have one thing to do with your salvation.
Your preacher might become daring within his church building and even make sport of those who believe water baptism is essential for salvation.
And with this pretended boldness he has convinced you that one is saved without being baptized.
You might sincerely believe that salvation can be achieved without ever being baptized.
Chances are, you have been told that baptism is essential to obedience, but not to salvation.
You may even have been taught one is saved before and without water baptism.
But I tell you this evening that you have been taught a lie.
The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Pet. 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.”
God, through this apostle, says that baptism does save, and your minister says it does not.
Who are you going to believe, God or man?
God does not lie, man often does, and in this instance man is lying.
And believing this lie will keep you from obeying the Lord.
Belief and behavior are woven into a seamless garment.
This is why Saul of Tarsus, a chief sinner was told in, Acts 22:16 “and now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
He was told to be baptized in order to wash his sins away by Ananias, a man who was commissioned by Christ to tell Saul what he needed to do in order to be saved.
God said, through Ananias, that baptism washes away sins, and perhaps your pastor says that it doesn’t.
Whom are you going to believe, God or man?
God’s word does not lie, but man is very capable of lying to you.
And if you have been taught that baptism is not essential for salvation, you have been told a lie.
Remember the admonition of Paul in Rom. 3:4, “Let God be true but every man a liar.”
Now, let me move to another area.
You may have been taught all your church life that using all sorts of mechanical instruments of music pleases God.
Perhaps the church where you attend has a piano or an organ or even an entire orchestra, and their uses have become a big part of your worship.
Many churches have given over a large portion of their Sunday worship to musical arrangements.
But who likes this musical orchestration, man or God?
Even more important, who has authorized the use of musical instruments in worship, man or God?
If you have been taught that it is God who likes the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship, you have been told a lie.
If your minister has told you that God has authorized the use of instruments, you have been told an even bigger lie.
If you have been taught that it really does not matter if we use instruments of music, then you have been told another lie, because God has told us in His word what He likes and what He demands in the area of music in worship of Him.
His word tells us in Col. 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Now listen carefully:
If the church of which you are a member uses a piano, an organ, or any other musical instrument, it is in violation of the New Testament.
God does not authorize its use, and if you believe otherwise, you are believing a lie.
I would never question your sincerity, but you have been misled, and you are believing a lie.
Now if you think me to be callused in my approach, please reconsider, because I am just relating to you what God has said in His word.
Many preachers in the safety of the familiar confines of their churches chide those of us who point out to you that there is no authorization from Christ to use instruments of music.
They, with delight, mock and ridicule, but what they cannot do is give you one New Testament verse authorizing the use of pianos or organs.
Perhaps you have been persuaded by their feigned boldness, and have not stopped to consider the possibility that they are not teaching you the truth.
Does it matter?
Sure it does!
Obedience is crucial to our pleasing God and being saved. Heb. 5:9 says that Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”
And, remember that actions correspond to belief. If we believe a lie, we will behave accordingly.
Also, there is a great probability that the church where you attend does not observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, that is, every Sunday.
Many church leaders decide that monthly, quarterly, or yearly observations are frequent enough.
Some only make it part of their observance of Easter or Christmas, but not an important part of their weekly gatherings.
Why is that?
Why do many churches, and perhaps your church, not observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday?
I ask this because the Bible teaches us that we are to partake of this feast every Sunday.
In instituting this memorial, Jesus told his disciples in Lk. 22:19, “This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
How often did these disciples assemble to break bread to remember the Lord’s death?
God has not left us in the dark. He told us in Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread.”
Ever since the church was established, and disciples sought to worship according to the pattern given by God, and men and women of faith have assembled each first day of the week to break bread in memory of Christ.
Have you been taught this?
Have you been taught that we are to assemble every Sunday to have this communion feast?
If you haven’t, then you have not been taught the truth.
You might have sincerely believed that this was something that was to be done every great once in awhile, but not weekly.
But your sincerity does not change what God has said in his word.
Belief and actions go hand in hand.
Also, perhaps you have heard your Preacher say that we should not observe the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, that to do so it to trivialize it, to do so would be to make it meaningless.
Maybe you have been told that what makes it more meaningful is to do it less frequently.
I often wonder how that can be taught with a straight face, because the same God who revealed that we are to partake of the Lord’s Supper each Sunday also said that we were to take up collections only on Sunday.
1 Cor. 16:1–2 says, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper.”
Why aren’t these men saying the same thing about the collection?
Why aren’t they as concerned about the collection becoming too trivial?
Why are they not as concerned about the collection as they are about the Lord’s Supper?
If one becomes too routine because it is done every week, then why doesn’t the other?
I believe I know why, but I will reserve comment.
The point I’m making is this, if you have been taught that the Lord’s Supper is not to be eaten every first day of the week, then you have been taught a lie.
Some honestly believe that once a month is fine, but remember we can be honestly misled.
Our conscience might be clear and we would still be wrong.
The devil wants you to believe that you can worship God in any way you want to as long as you do it from the heart.
He might say worship at the church of your choice, after all every church is the same.
Don’t sweat the details because there are many roads that lead to heaven.
Many have believed this lie and that is why we have so much division in the religious world.
There are over 2000 different denominations who worship God in many different ways.
This is the complete opposite of what the Word of God teaches.
Let’s look at: 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Jesus is the one that purchased the church with His own blood and His church should bear His name.
God demands unity based upon His Word and He has never approved of man-made doctrines or churches.
Jesus makes it clear that there are not many roads that lead to heaven in:
Matthew 7:13, Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Jesus said there only two roads a person can take.
They can either take the broad road, which lead to destruction or they can take the difficult road that leads to a narrow gate, which is one that lead to eternal life.
So, there is only one road to heaven and that road goes through Jesus.
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
The only church revealed in the Bible is the one built by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18), and Jesus is only the head of it (Colossians 1:18).
Jesus purchased only His one true church with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
Jesus’ one true church is His one body (Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4), which is His one bride (Ephesians 5:22-32).
Since Jesus has only one true church, He will "present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).
When the Lord saves people who have obeyed His word (Mark 16:16), He adds only them to His one true church (Acts 2:47), the church of Christ (Romans 16:16).
The only sure guard against believing lies is to know for yourself what the Bible says.
And, you can know what the Bible says!
You are commanded to know what the truth of God is.
The apostle Paul said in Eph. 3:3–4, “How that by revelation he made known to me the mystery (as I wrote before in a few words, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).”
He also wrote in Eph. 5:17, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Whenever you listen to preachers, listen with your Bibles open and check everything you hear by the Bible.
Be like the noble men and women of Berea, whom the Bible says in Acts 17:11 “were more fair minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
Have an open mind and then search the scriptures to learn if what you hear is true, because you can believe sincerely something that is sinful.
And believing that which is wrong will not make it true, and believing lies will cost us our right to eternal life.
The truth of God is the only thing that will set us free from our sins.
Jn. 8:32 records these words of Christ, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
In order to be a Christian according to God’s word,
You must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, (John 8:24)
Repent of your sins, (Acts 17:30)
Confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, (Romans 10:9)
Be baptized in water for the remission of your sins, (Acts 2:38)
You must remain faithful to God. (Revelation 2:10)
If you are a Christian, have you remained faithful to God?
You must repent, (Acts 8:22)
And confess your sins. (1 John 1:9)