The Greatest Lie Ever Told


The greatest lie ever foisted on the universe was not the lie that death is not the result of sin or that sinners won't really die, as big as that lie was. No, the earlier lie was something far more subtle than that and actually is at the very base of every other deception that has followed in its wake.

This is a lie that has even become embedded right into our culture as an assumption that is relied upon to prevent people from getting hurt or taken advantage of. It is so common that most people would seldom even consider it a lie at all but weave their lives around it as if it were as reliable as the Law of God spoken from Mount Sinai.

And what is this diabolical thought that is so tenacious and difficult to expose? It is the idea, the belief, the deeply held suspicion that if something sounds too good to be true, then very likely it is not.

Can you see the lie in there yet? And even more, can you see the implications that permeate our subconsciousness and infect the very way that we interpret life?

Here's the kicker – what is the most disputed issue about good in all of history?

Like everything else that I have been learning over the past few years, every issue if traced back to its deepest roots always ends up back at our doubts and mistaken beliefs about what God is like and how He treats those He has created. The core issue that lies behind every other issue of contention is whether God really is as good as He claims He is or if He really does have at least a little bit of a mean streak in Him somewhere or may resort to force to get His way when things get too rough for Him.

Of course, in religious discourse we seldom ever consider questioning the accepted maxim that God is good. That is an integral part of our religious tradition. We sing about it, we talk about it and we think that we believe it. But look a little close and the hidden lie begin to emerge in all of its ugliness. We don't really believe in the absolute goodness of God nearly as much as we might think we do.

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn't.

I run into that maxim every once in awhile when I try to share my offer of a good home business opportunity to certain people. Some have become jaded by other companies that have exploited them, lied to them, taken advantage of them and cost them a lot of pain, heartache, credibility and money. They have come to believe that their only protection is a solid barricade of disbelief. I know what that feels like for I too was in that same mindset when I first heard about this company. I had lost tens of thousands of dollars a few years ago in a home business that looked very good. After that experience I had a very sour disposition toward anyone attempting to interest me in anything even remotely similar. And it took just the right combination of factors, people and divine promptings to get me to be willing to look at this and finally see that my fears were unfounded in this case.

But that pales to nothingness in comparison with the massive amount of deception that obscures the truth when it comes to God. Earlier this evening as I was pondering this the thought came to me that the word gospel means good news. I have known that fact since I was quite young, yet at the same time I always found it very difficult to be able to intelligently articulate anything significantly good about the religious ideas that were purported as making up this gospel that we were supposed to be preaching to others. Most things I had been taught seldom led me to feel good, particularly about God but more likely caused me fear, shame and even secret resentment. Working very hard to appease a demanding, stern, exacting God enough to experience temorary relief or to induce some level of hope for my future destiny generally left me feeling quite exhausted for many years of my life. To my heart the claim that my religion somehow was supposed to be good news seemed illogical and baffling to me at best.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

Jesus met someone one day that brought up this subject inadvertently not expecting Jesus to challenge the polite words he had used to ask a question about something else.

A ruler questioned Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone." (Luke 18:18-19)

How is this? Doesn't the Bible itself talk about good people and wicked people? This word good has very dubious uses in our language and even in its use over the centuries. Like the word righteousness, good is something that seems hard to define very easily as one begins to examine it carefully. Just what is good anyway? What standard of measurement does one use to determine if something or someone is good or not good? It would appear that good, like tall, dark, long and other such terms are all relative to something against which they have to be compared to have any real meaning.

We use the heavenly bodies in space to calculate and synchronize our definition of time.
We dedicate a piece of metal to establish how long a foot or yard is or some other increment.
We have various methods of establishing what is to be used as the standard for how much something weighs. Appointed authorities protect certain originals from tampering so that they can be used as the standard by which to measure all other copies in the world. But who is the authority that all have agreed on as the accepted norm for what is good? Don't just glibly say that it is God, for many people now don't buy into that notion and yet still have strong opinions about what is good and what is bad.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

In the discussion Jesus had with this ruler who asked Him how to inherit eternal life, the issue of keeping the commandments came up immediately. So is that what we look to to find out what good is? Is a good person one who simply doesn't kill, steal or commit adultery? Is restraint from doing all those prohibited activities listed in the Law make one good? Or is there something else here? After all, I think most of us could bring to mind people who are very intent on aligning their activities in conformity to the Law of God and yet are nearly impossible to life with as a result. Could that really be called good?

Oh, one might say, an additional requirement besides keeping all the rules God has imposed on us is that we also must love God and love our neighbor as ourself. But can love be commanded successfully? And this is yet another slippery word even more ambiguous than good. We talk about loving our computer, our clothes, our food or the sexy models that strut their stuff on the silver screen. But how can one take into account all the ways that people claim to love and reconcile that with all the pain and anguish and dysfunction that comes as a result of all these attempts to experience love and affection? Selfishness so riddles everything we think and do that the claims of love ring quite hollow.

But I want to go back to what Jesus said about good. He stated categorically that God was the only one that could be legitimately classified as good. Now that is quite a strong claim but He did not take time to elaborate on it any further. Maybe that is because the people around Him felt so uncomfortable with that challenge that they wanted to quickly change the subject to something easier to deal with. But what did Jesus really mean when He said that only God is good? Was it just an attempt to get people to admit that He was really God Himself? Or is there a much deeper issue here maybe easily overlooked?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

I have been sensing more and more over the past few months that the further I get into my deeper psyche the more lies I begin to flush into the open. And the more of these I find emerging from even unexpected places from deep within me, the more a common theme is reinforced, that everything goes back to what I really think about God. And how does that expose itself?

When I begin to feel uneasy that my finances are not capable of paying my expenses coming due, at its deepest root I am really feeling that God is not going to handle this problem well enough to suit me.
When someone says something that makes me feel shamed and I feel resentful, in my deeper self I am still relying on their opinions about me to partially define my sense of worth and value to some extent instead of fully knowing and resting in God's value of me.
When I am afraid to deviate from the cultural norm for fear that people will think I am a fanatic even though I see in God's Word that I could be living in much more joy and open celebration of worship to God, then I am allowing those around me to be the standard of right and good rather than making God my standard of what is really good.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

My mind went back to what might have happened in the very first days of Lucifer's rebellion, before any other beings even suspected that anything was amiss at all. Lucifer may have ruminated long over the various things that he knew about God, and he certainly knew more than any other created being in the universe. Amazingly, he knew God and His character so well that he could dare to entertain thoughts out of harmony with God's character and not be afraid to do so even though he was living in the very presence of God's intense power. But somehow he must have missed that God could read his thoughts transparently or he just didn't think it would matter.

But how did Lucifer go about infecting other beings with emerging lies about God that were forming in his imagination and plant in others the seeds of sin and rebellion? I don't believe he started openly telling angels that God was a liar or tried to seduce them to break some rules. Indeed, up to that point the angels didn't even know there was any such things as rules because there had never been any need for such articulations from all of eternity. Where there is no rebellion or disharmony there is no need to articulate what one should not be doing. To do so would almost be to invite thoughts of doing things that may never have even been considered before, and God certainly would not desire to do that.

But what might have been the very first suggestions, the very slight shades towards dishonesty or untruth that Lucifer might have been able to insinuate about God in a perfect environment? I now suspect that Lucifer may have simply made casual comments about the incredible perfection and glories that existed all around everyone and began to wonder openly if maybe there might be something else that minds had never considered up to this point. Maybe all of this joy and perfect bliss and harmony might somehow, just maybe, be too good to be for real or last forever. Maybe life was too good to be true – maybe God was too good to be completely – well – trustworthy.

Once hints had been dropped he didn't need to do much more for awhile. Curious minds would begin to mull over ideas they had never entertained before and doubts could begin to grow. Sin had never existed before and so there was no sense of danger about thinking such thoughts. We know the terrible consequences of the later maturing of such ideas, but in the very earliest stages it would be so easy to simply question if God was really as good as everyone assumed that He was. And if not, then who should know better of any potential flaws or weaknesses in His character or way of governing than the greatest, wisest, more glorious archangel closest to God and that had been commissioned to reveal the truth about God to all the rest of the universe – Lucifer himself.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

The very foundation upon which all the other lies about God and the whole counterfeit system of government invented by Satan is the notion that God is not completely good. And if God is not totally good like He says He is, then logically He must then be a liar and is not worthy of all trust. This was the essence of the message Satan later used on Eve and it worked like a charm – quite literally. He told Eve that if she would only join him in his evaluation of what God was really like and believe that God was withholding something she needed, then He could not be as good as He had led her to believe. Therefore, by ignoring His warnings to her and embracing superior knowledge she could actually embrace a greater good that God had refused to allow her. She could even become a god herself and then she wouldn't need to be dependent on Him but could live independently and in greater freedom than she had enjoyed up to this point. Satan led Eve and even Adam to embrace the idea that God's claims of goodness were really too much to be fully trusted and that they should be challenged by checking out another alternative.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.

But who's statements proved to be too good to actually be true? We now see the terrible results of unbelief in the goodness of God and all the resulting pain and suffering and tragedy that has come as a consequence of trying to live apart from God. But even worse, we are now infected with the deeply embedded roots of rebellion that so permeate the psyche of every fallen human being that it is impossible to return to our former condition of innocence. We are now hard-wired to doubt that God is really good and unbelief is the norm for us instead of joyful abandonment in the will of our loving heavenly Father. It has really turned out that it is Satan's lies that actually sound too good to be true and yet are tragically not.

That is why I am starting to see that likely this notion is the greatest lie ever told and is at the very core of Satan's whole system of control over us. Until we are brought back into belief at the deepest level, in the complete goodness of God, that He is not what His enemies have made Him out to be but is always and consistently and completely good – we will suffer from the effects that the lies of Satan always produce in those who refuse to be drawn back to their original design and purpose as God's friends. The only prerequisite for living for eternity in perfect joy and peace with God is that we come to completely trust Him and believe that He is really good.

Comments

  1. I concluded years ago that at the heart of the great controversy is one's perception of God's character. And by "great controversy" I mean not only that between God and His enemy Satan, but the controversy which rages in our hearts as well and causes us at times to doubt God's love.

    God is love all the time, but unless we believe this we are bound to fall for all kinds of subtle untruths about His character.

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