Yup, you read that right! Today’s encouraging word comes to you sponsored by NOTworthy.com! Ok, the title is a little deceptive to say the least…muahaha. But this is a goodie so let’s dive right in.
In the beginning was Adam and Eve. The FATHER OF LIES (or the devil), used deception (as he always does) to creep disobedience into the world by painting God as everything that He is NOT: a God who withholds from His children and does not know what is best for them. Then after Jesus came and ascended to heaven He sent the Spirit of Truth, vehemently opposed to the Father of Lies, to guide us in to, you guessed it! All Truth.
BAM. Zapped Dead.
In front of everyone.
Just as the church is gaining momentum and God is bringing a new beginning, the FATHER OF LIES tries to creep in again, this time through Ananias and Sapphira, who both present a portion of the money they received from selling a plot of land as if it was the full amount, and God has none of it. BAM. Zapped Dead. No joke. In front of everyone (ACTS 5).
This isn’t the first time God took lies seriously and we can see how He feels about them in Proverbs 6 and 12. In Proverbs 6, we learn of 7 things that are an abomination to God (yes, an abomination!) and guess what? Two of the seven are lying! I’m no mathematician but that’s roughly 28.57% of the things God abhors deals with lying (proverbs 12 repeats this sentiment).
But before you panic, let’s look at this from God’s perspective for a quick second: if you chose people to share a message of Love with the world and trust them to represent You, a perfect, loving, integrous and generous God who withholds nothing, what would be the one massive problem you might have?
You got it! If the people you entrusted the message with altered it and manipulated it for their own gain. If you are God and you have a ferocious love for humanity, you are able to forgive anything and give people a brand new start, then all you really need is an honest, empty canvas to paint your magnificent identity. Annanias and Sapphira seemed to do everything right, but were blinded by dishonesty.
you & I are very capable of living with half-truths, not so different from our lightning zapped friends.
Jeremiah 17 shows us how the heart is deceitful above all things, and notes that no one can understand it. I mean you know this, our hearts are deceiving! This is why you want things that aren’t good for you, and worry about things you cannot control. Also, it is why, if we’re honest, you and I are very capable of living with half-truths, not so different from our lightning zapped friends in Acts 5 (A&S).
Further, Mark 7:20 says what comes out of the heart defiles a man. That’s why the first thing God does when we meet him is give us a new heart (Ezekiel 36, Jeremiah 24, among many others) because we cannot trust the old one. Then, He gives us a new guide for life, the Spirit of Truth (John 16). Also in John 16, we see the Spirit never speaks on it’s own behalf, only what is instructed. We are the same then, as vessels of this truth, to only speak and live as we have been instructed, nothing more and certainly nothing less.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus addresses a very sinister deceit. He says, why do you call me 'Lord' and not do what I ask? I mean, that’s important to Him! He refuses to take ANY part of deception and lies. It seems so obvious, but c’mon, there is no way He is going to let us pretend to be His follower when we do not obey Him. He will have NOTHING to do with deceit...period. So, He urges us to stop misconstruing what it means to follow Him and to stop telling others we serve the 'Lord' Jesus Christ whilst we still cling to selfishness (ie. try to impress others, live for ourselves, hold on to relationships, family/finance/careers/children and anything else that your heart is deceptively clinging onto).
Further, James 1 says warns be careful not to be hearers of the word and not doers, as to deceive ourselves. IT IS SO EASY to live a life of deception when your very own heart is the root of the deceit. Do you agree? Do ever feel accomplished by just listening to God's instruction or after performing small acts of comfortable 'obedience'? While, in reality, we are subtly 'following' God the way we like, to the extent we are comfortable and in the manner we want to be viewed? But we ignore God's voice or never take the time to listen to what He is really asking. It's like when you have a ton of 'to do's' and tackle all the easy ones and shy away from ever doing the one that is most difficult, probably because it is the more important. Sheesh, is it not inherently deceptive to hear God’s instruction and to not do it completely? Wouldn't obedience be best measured by how we handle the things we do not want or like to do? Or, the things we receive no recognition for? Doing anything less is living a lie, deceiving ourselves into a comfortable apathy. In this case, we can call whoever 'Lord,' but our actions do speak louder than our words.
Truth recognizes truth.
So what is the solution? In Acts 5 we see that the Holy Spirit comes to those who are obedient, revealing how obedience and the Spirit work symbiotically even at first introduction. Maybe that’s because people of truth and character more readily recognize truth. John 1:10 says that Jesus came to this earth and was not recognized, yet as we keep reading we see someone who did recognize him: Nathanael.
THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT: Nathanael was a man who Jesus referred to as an Israelite without deceit, and he instantly recognizes Jesus as the Son of God (John 1). There is a saying in the sports world “game recognize game,” it demonstrates how good players, regardless of their team colors, are able to respect others who are experts in their craft. Well guess what? Truth recognizes truth. Yes, Truth is God and it comes from Him, but those who practice integrity and upright living are able to identify Jesus and, conversely, those who live in half-truths and constant compromise of the truth are only drawn to lies, becoming victim to their own deception.
If Jesus was here today in flesh and had a voice like ours I believe he would stand before the christian church and instantly deal with the obvious. How can so many call me ‘Lord’ and not do what I ask? He might not make it that much further. I find it interesting that Ananias and Sapphira would have had nothing to lie about if they had only given everything in the first place. When you live with no reservations, you have no reason to reconsider the truth.
So maybe that is the obvious solution; when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, the first thing they did was sell all their possessions. This is an instant cure to deception, a life fully abandoned to Jesus. After all, isn’t that how we are instructed to follow Him? What is there to hide when you have given it all away?
Friend, God is speaking to us. Be aware of the deceit of your heart that aims to drown out His voice. When we slow down, listen and value Truth, we find the answer. Often, we already know what it is. So I'm done with excuses, rationalizing and reserving. In the past I've recognized how easy it is to marginalize the truth and how truly deceptive my heart can be. Until I got a new one. Now I just trust and listen to His Spirit as He guides me into TRUTH.
The boldest lie we could tell would be the one lived everyday...
The boldest lie we could tell would be the one lived everyday. A lie filled with sacraments, prayers, church attendance, religious conversation, and tithing. It is the presentation of what appears to be obedience to Christ while we withhold any margin for ourselves. Take note: even good things, the best of things, can be cloaked in deception. Ananias and Sapphira gave a lot to the believers, but they presented it as more than it really was. Man, I desire for the church to be void of deception and instead, filled with power. Power that comes through the Holy Spirit, birthed through obedience and integrity.
Images by: deathtostock.com