September 2011 - Vol. 52
 Revising Truth 
How to discern between reality and lies
By Charles Simpson

When does twisting the truth produce a lie? Someone said, “A half-truth is a whole lie.” The enemy of our soul hates the truth, and from the beginning has sought to revise it into a lie palatable to the naïve.

Satan began this process in the very beginning with Adam and Eve, when he asked, “Did God say that?  He really didn’t mean that if you ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that you would die! You will not surely die.” But God did say it, and He meant it.  Yet they ate the fruit, and they died.  People have died ever since.  God says what He means and means what He says.

The enemy is too savvy to bluntly say, “God lied.” He just plants doubt and revises the truth into a lie. His method has not changed, and sadly, it still works too often with too many people.

Revised Version
I remember my dismay when the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (RSV) first appeared and translated Isaiah 7:14 this way: “the young woman is with child” instead of “a virgin shall conceive.” One of my seminary professors was on the committee that produced the RSV. After its completion, he rejected it because they consistently chose the weaker meaning throughout many Scripture translations. I admired his stand. Slight revisions can alter the true meaning.

Some believe the Bible is God’s Word to us, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Others believe the Bible “contains” God’s Word to us. The latter position leaves us to decide what is and what is not the Word of God…the “pick and choose” version. Those who take that position often take a similar position with other subjects, even science or math. “The truth is relative, whatever you want it to be.” That approach is often used in textbooks or press releases. Misleading has become a science itself.

“Adjusting” the facts in order to make them more palatable and bring about a different result is a dangerous activity. It is putting nice clothes on a naked truth. It is the “fig leaf” that the disobedient use to hide embarrassment. It brings death.

Revelation 12:9 calls Satan the “Deceiver of the whole world.” There is a very large audience for his insidious work, and he has many willing accomplices. He does not work alone. And the idea that “smart people” are not subject to propaganda is itself a deception, as we shall see.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I have recently read Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. It is a well-written and well-documented work. Metaxas portrays Bonhoeffer as a deeply committed follower of Jesus, all the way to martyrdom, at the very end of World War II. What I found amazing is how Adolph Hitler and the Nazis manipulated the intellectual community and religious leaders of Germany to accept his Satanic agenda. He cloaked himself in patriotism and German history to ultimately murder millions and bring about the death and destruction of hundreds of thousands more in the war. Hitler often used Christian terminology to deceive. The devil seldom comes to us naked.

Hitler also fooled heads of state, like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. After reaching a supposed deal with Hitler, he said, “I believe it is peace for our time… And now I recommend you go home and sleep quietly in your beds.” Less than one year later, England and the world were plunged into World War II by Hitler’s continued aggression. Political power and human intelligence are no match for the “deceiver of the whole world”. We may believe that Hitler is gone and Germany was an exception, so the danger has passed; thinking this way would be a tragic error.  Revisionism is alive and well in America.

Perhaps the most influential person in the last 150 years has been Friedrich Nietzsche, the nihilist cynic, the “God is dead” philosopher. Metaxas calls Nietzsche, “Hitler’s John the Baptist.” Skepticism and doubt are forerunners of hell on earth. Martin Bormann, a high Nazi official, stated that Christianity and National Socialism are incompatible. But the National Socialists did not mount a frontal assault on Christianity. They revised it and adjusted it, until it became something else entirely. The hell they ceased to believe in became an earthly reality. After Hitler shot himself, his body was literally consumed by flames. 

Before I elaborate on Hell, let me confess my own neglect of the topic. I have always believed in existence, but too often failed to discuss it. Failure to address it has a similar result to denying it. But the Bible does address it.

In seminary, I had a professor who rejected the idea of hell. Though I disagreed, I said little. I do know that sometimes hell refers to “the place of the dead” or place of “retribution.” Hell and destruction often appear together in the Scriptures. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus adds the word “fire” to hell. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, hell is described as a place of torment with no exit.  In the book of Revelation, we are told that Jesus holds the keys to death and hell and that hell is a “lake of fire”.

The revisionists hate the truth of hell and vehemently attack these references from all sides. What they really hate is the natural and spiritual law of accountability. They seek the removal of the fear of God and eternal accountability, to trivialize moral law; to remove evangelism, missions, and the Ten Commandments. By attacking the doctrine of hell, they have pulled down a culture. By attacking the Word of God, no other document is safe.

We might ask ourselves, do we really believe there is a place called hell? If so, how does that motivate us? Or, does neglect have the same affect as unbelief? Who is more guilty, the one who takes the wrong road, or the one who removes the signs?

How can we see clearly through the revisionist fog? Here are some ways:

  • Study the Word of God; it is the “lamp for our feet.” 
  • Humble ourselves before God and acknowledge our blindness.
  • Love the truth and hide it not from others.  Buy it and do not sell it for any price. 
  • Study history from those who actually made it.
  • Walk by truth and not mere emotions. 
  • Be accountable to God and godly friends.
  • And do not be passive about evil; it is malignant!
You are not alone in your desire for truth. Many are coming to realize that they and their children have been robbed. We do not have to agree on everything, but we can agree to seek the God who is true…together, in love. We can love freedom and hate the lies that would bring us into bondage. And, we can seek to walk worthy of those who died for truth so that we might have it.

[This excerpted article was originally published in One-to-One Magazine, Autumn 2010, © Charles Simpson Ministries. Used with permission.]
 Charles Simpson is senior pastor of Gulf Coast Covenant Church in Mobile, Alabama. He is author of The Challenge to Care and Courageous Living (Servant Books) and is Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine..

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