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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 11, 2009
Spiritual Warfare Part 6, The Belt of Truth Part 3
Lies Against God’s Veracity & Wisdom
Last Sunday night Ed Colón began presenting Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project. The first session was an introduction in explaining that there is a battle among worldviews based on different perceptions of what is true. Truth was then properly defined as that which is according to reality, and reality is determined by the actual facts. We live in a society that wants to determine reality and even the facts by the perceptions of them, but our perceptions are easily deceived by false information, false assumptions and our own desires that twist our perceptions to make things seem how we would like them to be instead of how they actually are. When we add to this the efforts that others will make to purposefully deceive us, then it is easy to see that our perceptions and reality are often two very different things. How can we know what is true and what is false? Because there is a God who is true and has communicated that truth to us. We correct our wrong perceptions by aligning them to the standard of truth set in His Word.
The Truth Project is a perfect complement to what we are examining in our Morning Worship service. I encourage you to come out for each session as they deal with particular areas of knowledge and expose the false worldviews and contrast them with the truth of God’s word.
The Importance of Truth
How important is truth? I can’t think of anything more important. It is paramount to living life with meaning that transcends the feelings of the moment to something that will continue to have value throughout not only your own life but also in the lives of those you interact with. Can you think of anything more tragic than to come to the end of your life and then find out that you have based it on things that are not true? All the time, energy and finances you poured into something that turns out to have little true value. Those who pursue materialism find out too late that though they built their mansion, they squandered the relationships with those that could have filled it with joy. Then there is the perspective given in Ecclesiastes 2:18-19, “Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.” It gets even worse from the eternal perspective which Jesus described with rhetorical questions in Matthew 16:26, “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Truth matters and that is why the belt of truth is the first piece of armor God gives us to protect us from Satan’s schemes. Remember that Paul’s analogy here in Ephesians 6 is using the typical armor of the Roman foot soldier to describe God’s provision for us in spiritual warfare. The belt or girdle of the Roman soldier was an essential piece of equipment. It held the soldier’s tunic in place so that it would not encumber him and cause him to stumble. It also gave him a place to hang his other equipment. In the same way the belt of truth ties everything together so that we can move without hindrance. It is truth that holds the sheath for the sword of the Spirit, the Bible. Truth is foundational to the Christian, but that is also why the devil’s primary target is truth in his efforts to lead us astray.
The Devil’s Lies
The devil tells all sorts of lies since he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), but ultimately his lies are against the character and nature of God. We have already covered his lies against God’s existence (See: The Belt of Truth: God’s Existence) and his lies against God’s infinite nature. God is infinite with respect to time, space, knowledge, power and rule. God is eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and sovereign. (See: God’s Infinity) .
Satan has been effective with his lies against God. Atheistic philosophies purposely deny God’s existence despite the obvious evidence that surrounds them. Claiming to be wise they become fools, not only in morals, but even in the areas that they claim expertise, for they become futile in their speculations as well as having their foolish hearts darkened (Romans 1:18-32). I admit I get weary of those who profess to be scientists and yet in complete contradiction to the definition of the scientific method they claim evolution to be a fact though it is not observable, testable or repeatable. They have bought into the lie that somehow phenotype changes within a species proves macro-evolution. Shifts in the expression of what was already in the genetic code did not change the code. New and precise information added to the DNA would be required for that. That some dogs are very large and others are tiny, or that the antlers and size of whitetale deer vary significantly, or that dinosaur types such as the Ceratopsia vary in the size and number off horns and spikes, or that the average coloration of a population of moths shifts from light to dark and back to light says nothing about ancient goo evolving into you.
All false religions are based on Satan’s lies against God. They often tend to be occultic in nature because their doctrine arises from the same demonic sources as the directly Satanic. Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 10:19,20 that when the Gentiles made their sacrifices to their idols they were actually sacrificing to demons. Moses said the same thing in Deuteronomy 32:17. Idolatry in all its forms is occultic whether it involves animal sacrifice, as in voodoo and many animistic religions, or the more simple act leaving of fruit and other foods, or in the burning of incense before an idol or picture as is common in the Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and ancestor worship.
Most false religions would not deny that the God of the Bible exists, but they do deny that He alone is the sovereign omnipotent creator. They would hold that the Lord God was like their false gods which were claimed to be powerful in some areas but not others. This was what the ancient people surrounding Israel thought. They believed God was limited and might even be defeated by some other god. 1 Kings 20:23 records this mentality, “Now the servants of the king of Aram said to him, ‘Their gods are gods of the mountains, therefore they were stronger than we; but rather let us fight against them in the plain, [and] surely we shall be stronger than they.’” 2 Kings 18 records that the Assyrian King Sennacherib thought the God of Israel would fall before his god, but in both cases the armies relying on the false gods were wiped out.
The various cults fall for Satan’s more subtle lies that twist the truth only slightly so that the path appears to be parallel with the truth, but a variation of only one degree will still lead you to a different destination. So it is with the cults because they also pay attention to the doctrine of demons (1 Timothy 4:11) and tickle the ears of people in telling the multitudes what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4), but they end up leading people to Hell. Their most common error is redefining Jesus so that their Jesus is not the same one declared in the Bible. They usually deny either Jesus’ deity or humanity and always His sufficiency to save them so that they add works to salvation. These will be like those described in Matthew 7:21-23 that though they deceived themselves into believing they were serving the Lord, they will hear Jesus say to them, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Truth is that which is in conformity to reality. Jesus is truth. Scripture is truth. Everything else is only a perception of reality and not reality itself. In our battle against the forces of evil, we must make sure that we are living according to the truth and not false perceptions of reality. Truth must be as a belt around us, holding the rest of our armor in place. Are you a truth seeker? Are you living according to the truth?
Lies Against God’s Veracity
Because our tendency is to project our own characteristics upon God, it is easy for us to fall prey to Satan’s lie against God’s veracity and wisdom. We end up thinking that God is not telling us the truth or perhaps is misleading us by not telling us the whole truth or is not actually directing us to what is best. This was the lie that deceived Eve and led to the fall of man into sin in the first place.
Satan could not have attacked God’s existence because Eve already knew God. Satan could not attack God’s sovereignty or omnipotence because Eve was well aware of how God formed her as well as everything else. However, Satan could slander God’s character and cause Eve to start questioning God’s truthfulness to her and Adam and the wisdom of his ways.
Satan’s first statement to Eve in Genesis 3:1 questioned what God had commanded, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the Garden’?” This was a not an innocent question but one carefully crafted to suggest that what God command was not so wise. Satan knew what God had commanded. Eve clarified that God had restricted them from the fruit of one tree and added that if they touched or ate of that tree they would die. Satan then contradicted God and said, “You will not surely die.” This is slander and a direct attack on God’s veracity. The devil is telling Eve that God has not told her the truth. Please note that God had not put a restriction on touching the fruit in Genesis 2:17 and there is no record that He had done so. Though we cannot be dogmatic since the conversation is not recorded, what information we do have lead us to believe that Adam added this idea. After telling Eve that God had commanded them not to eat of the fruit or they would die, Adam said something to the effect, “so don’t even touch it.” Eve took it that this was an additional command of God. If this is true, then it shows that communication between man and woman was difficult even before the fall. How much more difficult it has become after?
Satan in effect called God a liar and now he also challenges God’s wisdom saying, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan is telling Eve that God was holding out on them and that his plan for them was not wise. Eve believed Satan’s lies against God’s truthfulness and wisdom. She relied upon her own perception of reality and took of the fruit and ate and then gave to Adam and he ate plummeting themselves and future mankind into sin.
Satan’s Attacks Against the Bible
Satan continues to slander God. As already mentioned, false philosophies, false religions and the cults have believed the devil’s lies and now have a false perception of reality that will lead them to Hell. In order to keep the people the devil has deceived from coming to a knowledge of the truth, and in order to disrupt those who do follow God as much as possible, a major target of the devil’s attacks is God’s Word, the Bible. This is done both directly and indirectly.
In direct attacks Satan claims that the Bible is not the word of God, but that of men. If so, then it is of no more value than any other religious or philosophical work and simply presents a system of ethics that may or may not be helpful to man to one degree or another. This lie is popular among philosophers and the “intelligentsia” who think themselves to be wise. I already pointed out from Romans 1 that in rejecting the God of the Bible and professing to be wise they became fools. Colossians 2:8 adds this warning to believers about such human pride and foolishness, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
A little less direct are the devil’s lies that uphold the Scriptures to be from God, but that they are not the final Word. There are various forms of this lie, but they all have in common some other claimed revelation that is superior to the Bible. Islam respects the Bible, but holds the Koran to be the final authority. The Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, hold to the Book of Mormon and their other writings as superior. Most cult groups will not go as far as to say their further revelation replaces the Bible, but rather that the Bible cannot be properly understood and applied apart from their writings. This is the case for the Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, The Way International, The Children of God, etc. The Roman Catholic Church is also guilty of following this lie for it teaches that you cannot understand the Bible for yourself, but only the Roman Catholic Church through its traditions, councils and the Pope can properly interpret it for you. 1 John 2:27 tells us that the Holy Spirit is the teacher of the believer and 1 Peter 2:9 explains that every believer is a priest who can go directly to God (See also Hebrews 4:16 & 10:19). Those who have fallen for this lie substitute themselves for the Holy Spirit and many also substitute themselves as the mediator, the priest, between God and man instead of Christ Himself (1 Timothy 2:5).
Similar to this lie is one in which the individual substitutes their own thoughts and desires and claims them to be from the Holy Spirit. In this case, they become the final word instead of the Scriptures. Tragically, this has become common in many evangelical circles. In some churches this is made worse by those who claim to have the gift of either a “word of knowledge” or “word of wisdom” by which they then claim God is directing other people directly through themselves. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and believe most of this is from self deception, but some of it is simply a way for people to either easily justify themselves or to manipulate others. How do you know when it is the Holy Spirit leading you? Primarily because all that He does will be in harmony with God’s Word. God’s Spirit will not contradict God’s Word. (See: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit).
Satan has used the academic community to develop a series of lies in modern times that attack the authorship of the Bible. Source, form and redaction criticism, which are often referred to as “higher criticism,” are all used to depreciate the Bible and change it from being inspired by God as men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) into the writings of mere men who were not even honest. Generally these methods of criticism are used by those who have already rejected the Bible as God’s Word, but there are many others, even evangelicals, that fall prey to these lies. According to those who follow these lies: Moses did not write the Pentateuch, but rather a series of editors did so over hundreds of years. Daniel was written by someone living in the second century B.C. after the events predicted in that book had already taken place. The gospels were written by later editors who used the names of Matthew, Mark and Luke in order to give more prestige to their work. Evangelicals sometimes try to soften this by only claiming Mark wrote first and that Matthew and Luke were dependent on him. That is not only contrary to the historical evidences that all point to Matthew writing first, but it forces the ridiculous conclusion that Matthew, an apostle who was an eye witness to most of what he wrote about must rely on Mark was not present nor an apostle. The conclusion is that the writers of the Scriptures were liars and we cannot know what is true and what is not.
Some years ago a group of academicians using these methods gathered periodically over the years and voted on whether quotes from Jesus were spoken by him or not. The eventual result was a Bible with red, pink, gray and black lettering. If they did not believe Jesus said it, it was printed in black. If it was doubtful Jesus said it, but perhaps He could have, it got gray. If Jesus was thought to have said it, but there was some doubt, it got pink. If they all thought Jesus did say it, it was printed in red. Very little was printed in red.
The Bible’s Truth Claim (See: Why We Believe The Bible)
What is the truth about the Bible? It claims to be true and either it is or it is not. If it is not true, then it is a lie and worthless as a revelation of truth. It would fail even as a system of ethics because it would be self contradictory violating its own ethical system. If the Bible is not true, then only another system of moral absolutes could give guidance to pick and choose what was true from it, in which case the other system would be superior anyway. If it is true, then it must be believed and obeyed for everything in it has happened and will happen as it says, but that is what scares the unrighteous.
The Bible claims to be God’s Word. In the Old Testament phrasing such as “the Lord said” / “God said” / “the Lord spoke” / “God spoke” / “thus says the Lord” or the “word of the Lord,” occurs 1,130 times. The Old Testament is confirmed by Jesus and the New Testament writers. Jesus Himself stated that “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17) and directly referenced Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, Zechariah & Malachi and indirectly referenced the rest by citing the whole Old Testament Canon as Scripture in Luke 11:51 & 12:44. The apostles referenced most of the other Old Testament books in their writings.
The New Testament also claims to present the word of the Lord. Hebrews 1:1,2 state, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in [His] Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” 2 Peter 3:1,2 says, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”
Jesus claims to be giving direct revelation from God in many places. A couple of examples: John 14:10, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. John 12:48-50, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. 49 “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. 50 “And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
The apostles also claim to be speaking what God had revealed to them. Paul says in Galatians 1:11,12, “For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but [I received it] through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” John says his writings came directly from a revelation to Him (Revelation 1:1). Peter cites Paul’s writings as scripture (2 Peter 3:15,16) and cites his own writings as from God in 2 Peter 3:1-2.
Paul explains in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Peter further explains in 2 Peter 1:19-21, “And [so] we have the prophetic word [made] more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Where Satan cannot be successful in attacking the Bible he seeks to skew it or pervert it through poor translations and study editions. We praise the Lord for the diligent scholars that have produced many very good translations in English and other languages. The KJV, NKJV, NAS and ESV are all examples English translations that have tried to stay as true as possible to the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic and still make sense in English. However, there are also a host of poor and even extremely bad translations. The notes in some study editions are just plain heretical. Sometimes error is simply due to poor language scholarship, but sometimes the texts are purposely mistranslated to back up the preconceived theological positions of the translators. The New World Version produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is such an example. Others loosely translate or paraphrase the Scriptures so that what is produced contains a lot more interpretation than just translation. These versions may communicate the overall message of the Bible, but they could not be used to determine any fine points about what God has said. The CEV, NEV, Living Bible, and The Message are all examples of this, though The Message is so bad that it shouldn’t be compared to any legitimate paraphrase much less a translation. The NIV is translated by a method known as dynamic equivalence which makes it a very good reading Bible, but a poor study Bible because of the interpretation inherent in their translation method. Poor translations mislead people about what God has actually revealed about Himself.
In another twist to Satan’s lies there are some that view all modern translations as threats to the true Scriptures and claimed that only the King James Version is the true word of God. It is sometime called the “authorized version” to back up the claim, but the phrase only refers to King James of England authorizing its production. While the KJV is a good translation, those claiming this are actually detracting from the Bible as true by both hindering people’s ability to understand the scriptures and producing a mentality that ignores historical fact, and that is a very poor basis for proper interpretation.
The Bible was written in Hebrew, Greek and little bit of Aramaic. All English versions are at best translations of the original languages and at worse paraphrases of other English versions. All translations are made for the purpose of allowing people to read and understand the Bible in their own language. When the language of a translation becomes archaic, as the KJV has, then new translation is in order so that people can easily understand the Bible again.
Another problem with the KJV only mentality is that it ignores historical fact. The Bible they carry is not a copy of the 1611 KJV as so many of them think, but the 1769 update. Some argue that basis for the KJV is the “Textus Receptus” (Latin for “received text”) and therefore it is superior. However, the fact is that the “Textus Receptus” was not even compiled until 1633 which is 22 years after the KJV was translated. The 1769 version takes into account all the Greek texts available to that point in history and not just the Textus Receptus.
Again, the KJV is a good translation, but those using it need to keep in mind that they must not interpret it by the modern meanings of words but use an old dictionary such as the 1832 Webster’s reprint to define them. Modern translations that are good include the New American Standard (NASB), New King James (NKJV) and the English Standard Version (ESV), a new translation which has received good recommendations from conservative theologians. Which ever translation you use it needs to be 1) Accurate to the original languages, 2) Relatively easy for you to understand, and 3) It helps if there are footnotes to any textual questions so you can study the issues for yourself.
Satan seeks to turn people away from God by lying about God’s truthfulness and in particular about the Bible. Those who believe the devils lies do so at the risk of their souls. Christians who believe the devil’s lies will waste their lives. Are you wearing the belt of truth?
The next sermon in this series is: Spiritual Warfare, Part 7; The Belt of Truth, Part 4: Lies against God’s Wisdom)
Sermon Notes – 1/11/2009
Spiritual Warfare, Part 6; The Belt of Truth, Part 3: Lies Against God’s Veracity
Truth is that which is according to __________ as determined by actual facts, not perceptions.
There is a God who is true and has communicated that ________ to us in the Bible
The Importance of Truth
Truth is paramount to _________ having meaning beyond the moment and beyond yourself
The Belt of ________ holds everything together and provides a place for the sword of the Spirit
The Devil’s Lies
The devil is a ______and the father of lies. His lies are ultimately against the character & nature of _____
God is __________ with respect to time, space, knowledge, power and rule
Atheistic philosophies purposely _______God’s existence despite the obvious evidence (Romans 1:18-32)
Evolution is not ____________because it is not observable, testable or repeatable. Change evolution.
All false religions are based on Satan’s _________ against God’s nature and character
The cults usually deny either Jesus’ deity or humanity and always His ____________.
Lies Against God’s Veracity
We fall prey to Satan’s lie against God because we project ___________ characteristics on Him
Satan could not attack God’s existence, power or sovereignty to Eve, so he ____________God’s character
Satan’s question in Genesis 3:1 was a suggestion that God was not __________.
Satan directly _______________ God in telling Eve she would not surely die (Genesis 3:4).
Satan slanders God’s wisdom and ____________ in saying that eating the fruit would make Eve like God.
Satan’s Attacks Against the Bible
Satan attacks the Scriptures to keep people from coming to the _______and to hinder the Christian’s faith
Satan directly attacks the Scripture when he claims it is the work of ________and not of God
Colossians 2:8 warns the believer about human pride and foolishness of _______________& traditions.
Satan attacks the Bible in claims that there is another ____________ revelation to the Bible.
Satan attacks the Bible in claims that only a particular book / institution can properly _________the Bible
Satan attacks the Bible in claims the “leading of the Spirit” is apart from / _______________ to the Bible
The Spirit of God is always in _______________ with the Word of God and never contradictory
“Higher criticism” attacks the _____________of the Bible and makes it something without certainty
The Bible’s Claim
The Bible either is or is not _________ and it should be rejected or accepted on the basis of truth
The Bible claims to be God’s word, “God said” or an equivalent occurs ____ times in the Old Testament
Jesus said “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17), quotes many books directly and cites all of it as ___________
The _____________ reference most Old Testament books in their writings.
Paul claims ________ scripture is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Peter says men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from _________ (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
Satan attacks the Bible by skewing it or perverting it through _______ translations and study editions
Very good __________ translations include the KJV, NKJV, NAS and the ESV
Some translations are ____because of poor language scholarship while others are purposely mistranslated
Paraphrases and loose translations interject much ________________making them poor translations
Poor translations ___________ people about what God has actually revealed about Himself
Claims that the KJV is the ________________ Scripture detracts from the Bible as being true
The KJV is a ________update of the 1611. The “Textus Receptus” was not compiled until ________
Satan seeks to turn people away from God by _____about God’s veracity and in particular about the Bible
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Count how many time the Bible / Scriptures / God’s Word is mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents about the importance of God and His word being true.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Define truth. What is the relationship between actual truth and perceptions of truth? Why is truth important? What are some of the consequences to living based on fallacies? Why is truth part of the armor of God in spiritual warfare? What is the nature of Satan? How has Satan been effective with lies about God’s existence? How has Satan been effective with lies against God’s infinite nature? How do lies against God’s nature and character underlie all false religions, philosophies and cults? What are the most common heresies in the cults? How did Satan get Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Why does the devil attack the veracity (truthfulness) of the Bible? What is Satan’s most direct attack against the Scriptures? Name some of the false religions and cults that claim to have a superior revelation to the Bible? Name some of the cults that claim that the Bible can only be properly understood through their writings / leaders? What is the claim of Roman Catholic Church concerning the Bible as the final authority? How can you know whether a person’s claim to being led by the Holy Spirit is true or not? What is “higher criticism” and what are its dangers? Why is it important whether the Apostle Matthew wrote his gospel account on his own or if it was written later by editors based on the writings of Mark? Why does it matter whether the Bible is true or not? If the Bible is not true, what would be the proper response to it? If the Bible is true what should be the proper response to it? What does the Bible claim about its self – its origin? Its author? Its veracity? How did Jesus confirm the truth of the Old Testament? What did the apostles claim about their writings? Cite the verses if you can. How are poor translations an attack on the Bible itself? What are some of the sources of error for poor translations? For heretical translations? What is the danger of a paraphrase or a loose translation of the Scriptures? Why is the claim by some that the KJV is the only true Bible detrimental to establishing the Bible as truth? Why is that claim a fallacy? What are some good modern translations? Explain. Are you a diligent truth seeker?
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