With so little truth in the world, it’s difficult to believe anything you hear, or read today. Between social media and a 24 hour news feed, there is so much information, it becomes a blur. Even general conversations are met with skepticism. What to believe? Who to believe? Who to trust? Is it true? How did we get to this point, and where did it begin.
While many factors have contributed to confusion and destruction of trust, and you could make a strong argument for any of them, I think we need to look a little deeper, go behind the scenes as-it-were, to discover method and origin.
It began with a simple, but deadly lie.
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
According the Genesis, God never said that. It was a cleverly crafted lie in the form of a question. A first glance, it seemed like the truth. Just like today. Much of what you hear, read, even see, seems like the truth, but it’s not, it’s a lie. Does Satan’s question contain some element of truth? It does. And it reveals how a lie, when mixed with the truth has a bad outcome.
In his book Disinformation, Whittaker Chambers writes about the KGB’s success in deceiving the people using this simple, yet demonically clever tactic. “Every story that is to be used as propaganda must have a kernel of truth, so it’s believable.” Who was Whittaker Chambers? He was a successful Communist operative in the U.S. For years he operated as an underground communist spy. Whittaker Cambers eventually found God, recognized the truth of what he was doing, and that truth exposed the evils of communism. Eventually, Whittaker Chambers testimony was what led to the conviction of Alger Hess, the notorious communist spy who had infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government and the United Nations.
The exposed KGB tactic, proved it’s usefulness in deception; you could lie to anyone, to any group, as long as the lie contained a ‘kernel of truth.’ So it was with Eve, so it was with Communist Russia, and so it is today. Most everyone has heard of the notorious Communist news media Pravda. It may interest you to know Pravda means truth, yet what they publish is anything but truth.
Genesis 2:1, the question Satan asked Eve was true -but only half true. He intentionally misquoted the first part of God’s word, framing it in the form of a question, and omitted the rest.
“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17-18)
We have the advantage of reading both verses, and are able to see the lie by comparing the two, but here is where Satan was very clever in instigating the lie. The command God gave Adam in Genesis 2:17-18 was given to Adam alone, Eve had not been created yet. God’s command was then relayed to Eve by Adam. Since she wasn’t there, God’s instructions to Adam, then relayed to her became, in a sense, second-hand-information. Satan knew it would be far easier to deceive Adam indirectly, so he started with Eve.
Compare this to today. How many times have we accepted a lie, based solely on second hand information? How many times have you seen a video that showed an ‘injustice,’ only to find out later it was only partially true. The video you saw contained a ‘kernel of truth.’ It happened, you saw it, but you only saw the edited version. The version the liars wanted you to see. You weren’t there, so what you saw was second-hand information. And the liars knew -once the lie had taken root, even when the truth was revealed later, you would still believe the lie.
And here is where evil forces gain a victory. People who believed the lie, furthered the lie, even embellished the lie, while passing it along. Yet when those same people find out later it was a lie, never want to admit it. Their pride won’t let them admit they were deceived and participated in the deception. Wouldn’t it be far better if once you found out it was a lie, that you admitted to it to everyone you told it to?
We are in a war, a war between the truth and the lie. In Ephesians 6:12 the Apostle Paul tells us;
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
The words the Apostle uses here deserve a deeper inquiry. The Greek word translated here as principalities, is also rendered as the beginning, or the origin. Warning us this war of truth has a long history, and will be difficult to overcome.
‘Against powers,’ or those in authority, especially when it comes to moral matters. ‘Against the rulers of the darkness of this age,’ with emphasis on rulers who assert their independence from God, and bring about moral darkness and gloom.
“Against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places,” wickedness is spiritual depravity, and ‘hosts,’ those having the ability to create conditions that lead to depravity of spirit. Both spiritual and physical. Lies lead to immorality, in all its forms. From depraved sex, to hate, to theft, to strife, to envy, or to murder. All can find their beginnings in lies.
The recent riots are the direct result of evil spiritual activities based on lies. These lies have that necessary ‘kernel of truth,’ but are lies none-the-less. All accepted and furthered based on secondhand information. Since when does social justice become wholesale destruction? When the lie is crafted properly. First the lie, then the anger, then the hate, and finally the violence.
Two similar words are an insight into the craftiness of evil: Misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is defined as “incorrect or misleading information.” And Disinformation is defined as “false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth.”
Misinformation could be obtained quite innocently -maybe we didn’t get the whole story, maybe we misunderstood. While disinformation is deliberate. Both terms describe the dissemination of evil through lying. A lie is a lie, it makes no difference if it’s innocent or intentional.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)
The Apostle lists the weapons we need to wage this battle. “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth”(Ephesians 6:14). Stand. Standing is an action. To prepare for battle we must act. We must stand up and confront the lie, and confront those that tell them, publicly condemning those who tell them intentionally. Paraphrasing Edmund Burke –The only thing necessary for the triumph of a lie is for good men to withhold the truth.
We are bombarded with so much information today, from so many different sources, told so many different ways, it’s hard to decide what to believe. And that in itself is the danger. If you don’t know what the truth really is, then you can be easily deceived into believing what you are told. It’s got to the point where what you see, read, and hear, is in so much doubt, fact-checking sites have become extremely popular. Even they are half-truths. Are we really to the point where we depend on someone else to determine the truth for us? Sadly, yes.
Once we are willing to fight, the very first thing we need to arm ourselves with is truth. How do we accomplish this? First, don’t decide what is true based on second-hand information. In essence every news story reported by someone else and relayed to you is second hand information. Did you ever think about that? The only first-hand information comes from the person or persons who were there at the time the event took place.
If you do a quick search after a ‘breaking news story’ comes out on multiple platforms, you may be surprised to find most, if not all of these headlines are derived from a single source. And if you take the time to examine the source yourself, you may find the headlines created from this source are far different from the original. They’ve been modified to fit an agenda, and are not longer pure in their telling.
Secondly, don’t allow emotion to determine the truth. That’s what evil does, it divides. Divides us by forcing us to choose sides. Evil provokes, evil ‘pushes your buttons,’ making you angry, instilling the idea you have a personal stake in the matter, when you don’t. Simply put -use your head to make rational decisions.
Third, don’t spread stories and opinions until you know the truth. Truth begins with God, and evil begins with a lie. Don’t be a willing participant in spreading lies. Don’t be a tool. Don’t allow evil to use you to spread rumors and lies. Why do we feel compelled to be a part of every event? Not everything that happens is your business. When we engage in this kind of nonsense we are hurting not helping the situation.
Finally, turn off the noise. The evil “powers” the Apostle spoke about use gloom and doom to control you. These powers condition you to love gloom and doom. People are addicted to it. They love bad news. They can’t wait to read about a tragedy, or better yet a tragedy happening to someone they don’t like. There is good news out there, daily. Seek out the good and reject the bad. The news is full of stories about a few hundred people doing evil things, while ignoring the millions of good things good people do every day. Our addiction to bad news is part of the war. Not easily overcome, but to be constructive and victorious, we must seek out the truth, and stand against the lie.
One of the miraculous things about God’s word is it offers practical lessons for life as well as spiritual ones. Let us take advantage of both. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).