Our Greatest Threat
What would you say is the single greatest threat facing you today?
Death? Satan? The “other” political party? (And yes, some people might equate all three.)
What if I told you that the greatest danger to you (along with your friends and loved ones) is simply this:
To be deceived.
The greatest danger to you and to me is to be separated from the truth. Which comes about by not believing the truth, ultimately because we have believed one or more lies.
Why is that the number one threat? Because being deceived leads to living your life according to a lie. Which then leads to reaping the destruction that comes from those falsehoods, and, ultimately, leads to being separated, to one degree or another, from God, His perfect ways, and the life and blessings that come from faithfully living according to His truth.
What could be worse than that?
Satan may be our greatest enemy, but his greatest weapon is deception (2 Cor 2:11; 11:13-15; Rev 12:9; 13:3, 14; 19:20; 20:3, 10). And deception is the greatest method by which he destroys us. It is the first thing he did (Gen 3:1-7). It will be the last thing he will do (Rev 20:7, 10). Lying and deceiving is what he has done and will do every nanosecond in between. While Lucifer’s end goal is to “rob, kill, and destroy” (Jn 10:10), getting us to believe and live in lies is the primary means by which he achieves these things.
If this is true, then we absolutely must grow in discernment (Acts 17:11; Heb 5:14) and in love for the truth (2 Thess 2:10-13), all out of a love for God and others (Phil 1:9-11; Mk 12:30-31), so that we can spot the lies and the “schemes” (2 Cor 2:11) that deceivers use and which we can easily fall for due to the nature of our hearts (Jer 17:9).
The Good News
The good news is that God has already blessed us with all the truth, power, grace, and love we need to overcome any obstacle–especially the lies and deceit that ensnare and hurt us.
Recently, a friend who was preparing to speak to a group of women asked me what some of the top lies that women believe are. Not only did this friend ask a great question, there are incredible blessings that come from exposing these falsehoods and replacing them with the precise truth of God’s Word. Of course, I was thrilled to help by putting together a list of the most common lies women in particular struggle with.
Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of lies women believe (as with men). However, the ones we will explore here are those that come most readily to mind after thinking back over the hundreds of people I have had the privilege to counsel through the years. Some of these falsehoods that women fall for are not only the most common, they are also the most destructive.
How To Tell If I’ve Been Deceived
To begin with, we must always keep in mind that if we are deceived, then we don’t know we are deceived–because, well … we are deceived. Living a lie is believing and living according to a falsehood–all while believing it is good and true.
Nevertheless, there are other ways to tell if we have bought into and are living one or more lies. But how? Naturally, the first and best way is to routinely examine our beliefs by the supreme authority and standard for truth: God’s Word (Acts 17:11; Jn 17:17). Another way is by examining the fruit in our lives. The following “produce” often reveals the probable and most common warning signs that we may be living a lie:
- Lack of the fruit of the Spirit [e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control]
- Stress and feelings of being overwhelmed
- Relationship problems
- Resentment and bitterness
- “Trust issues” and “control issues”
- Struggling in your relationship with God (It is common to doubt God’s love for us, or even our salvation, if we are living according to a powerful lie. On the other hand, it is also common to think we are saved, and have good things happen, yet not be saved; see Matt 7:21-23.)
We all believe in one or more lies (if we go on the facts that no one is perfect, that we have hearts that are “deceitful above all things;” Jer 17:9, and that we all have endless room to grow in how accurately we believe). Yet, if one or more of the above signs are evident in your life, please consider that you might have bought into and are living according to one or more specific lies–perhaps even one of the lies we will be examining here.
When Truth and Good Become Dangerous and Deceitful
The closer any lie comes to the heart of the gospel, the more diabolical is the fruit it bears. —John MacArthur, The Truth War
So, how can smart, biblically literate people fall for lies that can be so destructive? Surprisingly, there is a relatively simple answer. Many people falsely assume that lies contain 100% error. But that is rarely the case. Furthermore, it seems that if a person sees some good, or some truth in an idea, then they will often discount the danger or possibility that it might not be true. To make matters worse, they will even defend falsehood or false teachings, based on some good or facsimile of truth in the lie.
The solution to this danger (also relatively simple) is that of more loving and assertive discernment in distinguishing between truth and error. However, it seems the Church has an ongoing weakness in this vital area.
But I do protest against the careless spirit of slumber which seems to seal the eyes of many in the church, and to blind them to the enormous perils in which we are placed by the rise and progress of false doctrine these days. I ask you to pay special attention to this point. Such is the simplicity and innocence of many in the church today, that they actually expect false doctrine to look false, and will not understand that, as a rule, the very essence of its ability to do harm is its resemblance to God’s truth. —J. C. Ryle
Lies often offer some real good, or even one or more aspects of truth. And some lies come closer to the truth than others. But all are false. Their nearness to truth doesn’t make them good, doesn’t make them better or safer than the flat-out falsehood, it just makes them more dangerous. Thus, the more believable a lie, the more inherent the peril.
The blending of truth and error is why lies appeal to us, why our sinful and deceitful hearts are drawn to them (2 Pet 2:18), and why we ultimately fall for them (Gen 3:6). This is also why deceivers know that they should always mix some good or truth into their deceit. They realize it is highly unlikely that most people will fall for a total falsehood.
Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.
—Dr. Harry Ironside
The belief in falsehoods is often accompanied by what the Apostle Paul warned against, that of “fine-sounding arguments” (Col 2:4). These are “arguments” that are in favor or support of a falsehood–or of the source or method of obtaining the false teaching–which is made to sound good and convincing (at least on the surface), but is in error at its core and foundation.
[ Read Part 2 ]