A Disturbing Diagnosis

We have entered into a very dark and immoral time that has accurately been defined as the post-truth age. What makes this epoch more hideous is that this particular belief system and mind-set has made its way into the house of God, and into the lives of the called-out ones.

How would one describe a post-truth age? It’s an age in which important objective facts are less influential in shaping one’s opinion. It’s an age that is driven by selfish ambition and self-appeasement; therefore, one’s personal feelings are elevated above obvious facts. The post-truth age sets the stage for perception to triumph reality. Speaking lies is not harmful as long as it brings one to his or her expected end. In essence, it’s an age of glorified dishonesty.

This sort of moral conduct and belief system is antithetical, at the core, to the church’s foundation. In 1 Timothy chapter 3, the apostle Paul describes to his spiritual son Timothy the conduct that should be displayed in the church. In doing so, Paul identifies the church as the possession of the living God. In other words, those who are assembled and are called out from the world, exclusively belong to Him. And because they belong to Him, therefore built on the Truth (Christ), they now have a responsibility to be a pillar and ground of the truth (v.15). These people have been granted grace to display the truth and to be a dispenser and defender of the truth, in spite of cultural trendiness. But when God’s people no longer uphold or adhere to these three essentials, make no mistake about it, perilous and dark days will appear.

To gain a better perspective on the times that are currently before us, it’s important that we look behind us, for we know that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles. 1:9). Biblically speaking, God has frequently used hindsight as a teaching tool to reveal or uncover insight, to better shape or develop His people’s foresight. One such example is the apostle Paul admonishing the believers in the city of Corinth, concerning how God dealt with His people many centuries before.

In his letter, he writes,

Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11).

 The apostle is warning his current and future audience of our serious responsibility, and of the severe consequences that we must uphold, or reap, if we don’t learn from Israel’s past mistakes. Once again, it’s God’s method of looking backwards to foster a better perspective for the now. G. K. Chesterton, an English writer, poet, and theologian once said:

The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.”

In order to diagnose what we see in our culture today, let’s go back to a time period that, on the surface, resemble our days remarkably; it’s the days in the scriptures that describes the culture in Israel right before the Babylonian captivity. It’s a nation that’s in crisis. It’s a people headed toward something that’s cataclysmic; and sadly, no one recognizes it.

In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah allows us to capture and discern the mindset and the belief system of those who should have known better. These people were so diluted in their perspective of God, they ultimately misdiagnosed their current position with God. When God’s people neglect what they know, but yet, convince themselves that they are in right standings with Him, mark this down: the culture around them will turn putrid.

What was the culprit behind the downfall of the people in Jeremiah’s day that runs parallel to our times? Lies! Believing lies and spreading lies had become normal. The culture had become so engrained and desensitized by lies that the truth sounded like a lie. The late British novelist, Dresden James once said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” As such were the times. In Jeremiah chapter 7, we see this diagnosis in God’s response to the people: “Do not trust in these lying words..” (v.4); “Behold, you trust in lying words..”(v.8).

God’s love for His people was in His admonition not to trust lying words. But based on His evaluation, the people cast aside His warning and embraced lying. Why is a lie believable? Because it appeals to the flesh. It confirms and strengthen something in man’s falling nature. It creates a sense of security and confidence. It allows one to live in an illusion in order to escape the realities of the present. It fortifies ones self-worth and importance. But in spite of the self-gratifying promises of these things, at end of it all, is a lie. Because a lie is so unsure of its rhetoric, it never looks to stand alone. To make it seem credible, it recruits others to repeat mindlessly its language. Does this sound familiar? Keep in mind, the culture itself was spiraling out of control because God’s people had joined themselves to the lie. One would expect the unredeemed and unregenerate to believe such since that’s expected; after all, this was our former testimony, as well. In the letter to the believers at Ephesus, the apostle Paul said:   

And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins, in which you were living in the past, after the ways of this present world, doing the pleasure of the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God; Among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment of God was waiting for us even as for the rest,” (vs. 1-3).

Who is the prince of this world? Satan! And who is Satan? He influences the thoughts and minds of those who work against God’s will. He is the father and originator of all lies. How did Jesus describe Satan? No one can rightly determine Christ’s diagnosis of a person or a situation to be invalid since He is the essence of truth; He is the Truth! Jesus, in describing Satan to religious men who challenged His identity, says:

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

When a society is overcome by lies, danger is approaching. When Adolf Hitler, the despicable dictator, ascended to power, the country of Germany was submerged with lies. The concept he used to help overthrow the country was that “if you tell a lie long enough and with enough persuasion, the people will believe it’s the truth.” It’s been well documented that Hitler was quoted saying, “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it”; “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies, but would be ashamed to tell big lies.”

The same controlling force that influenced Hitler, is that same force that was dominating the nation in Jeremiah’s days, and even in our times. When God’s truth is denied, and no longer desired, Satan, the father of lies, will fill that vacuum with a lie. I must mention that you cannot divorce a lie from deception. Once you embrace a lie, you are essentially deceived. The dangerous thing about deception is that it’s deceptive! The last person who thinks you are deceived is you. I once heard a saying that said, “Deception is lethal because at every point you trust the lie, you cannot believe a truth.” This is what the prophet Jeremiah was up against. His calling was to proclaim God’s truth to a people who had trusted lying words. His faithfulness to God set him in direct opposition of the very people who claimed they knew God. In chapter 9, God speaks through the prophet to give the people a result of their spiritual evaluation.

The results are so heartbreaking to Jeremiah that his tears are like a fountain that flows continuously (v.1). Sorrow fills his heart because he knows it’s what the people chose, not necessarily what God wanted to do. In verse 2, disgust overwhelms him because the people chose their sins over God’s mercy (repentance); therefore, he sought a place of refuge to remove himself far from them; far from their sins. In verses 3-8, we are able to hear God’s report directly from Himself. These verses highlight God’s diagnoses of the people, therefore reveals the reason that calamity is brewing. Disintegration of the culture is near because His people had given themselves over to lies and deception.

In verse 3, God uses some pointed and vivid imagery while describing their sin:

And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on earth….”

 Their tongues had become like a bow. It had become a skilled weapon for telling untruths. Their lies were premeditated, aimed with power at their targets. Repeating lies were so normal and acceptable that people lost the courage and strength to embrace truth.

If that was not discouraging enough, God continues with His assessment of the nation: “Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves to commit iniquity. Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the LORD.

What a devastating analysis! A culture so entrenched in deception that being untrue to one another had become a sport and a way of living. Winning at any cost had replaced fairness and respect. Truth and honesty had become such a victim that people would literally wear themselves out from telling such lies. What a dark time!

This has become the America of now. From the White House, to the State House, and sadly, to the church house, truth has been sacrificed at the altars of political correctness, power, and pomp. What was God’s answer to His diagnosis? “Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the LORD. “Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?”        

For the righteous, we need to take out this time to allow Christ to build and to remove things from our lives that doesn’t meet His standards. God is building us like Noah built the ark. He is building us to float above the tides of lies and deception, refining our expectations to long for that eternal reward that’s reserved for those who trust His coming. Let’s make it our aim to keep ourselves unspotted from this world. We must strive to become blameless children of God in the midst of a distorted and wicked age. We must make it our aim to work while its day; because night is quickly approaching, when no man can work.