''Winging It' with Stan Smith
Originally posted on 09/13/2017
After the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus spoke in the temple (John 8:20). He ended up in a discussion with the Pharisees (John 8:13) in which they, obviously, take Him to task. In that discussion we see this exchange:
They said to Him, "We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of My own accord, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me." (John 8:41-45)
Now, of course, they aren't happy about Jesus characterizing them as being of their father, the devil. What's interesting here, however, is His characterization of Satan. He lists two features: 1) He was a murderer and 2) He is the father of lies. We see that he was a murderer "from the beginning" when he managed to kill the entire human race by inducing Eve to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1-7). It constituted the spiritual death of all and, without divine intervention, all humans would have ended up eternally dead.
What I want to focus on here is the second feature. Jesus calls Satan the "father of lies". In fact, He says it two ways. "He is a liar and the father of lies." The devil continually lies and originates lies. If there is anything we know about Satan, it is that he lies. It's his forte, his modus operandi, his standard approach. We know that he likes the "Did God actually say" (Genesis 3:1) gambit. It's one of his favorites, judging by history from the start up to our own day when God's Word is constantly questioned and denied even by so-called Christians. We know that he lies to God about Christians. In one scene in heaven in Revelation John says, "And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.'" (Revelation 12:10) The image isn't vague. Satan stands before God accusing us "day and night". His end is coming, but is not yet. So "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1) We have a Lawyer who paid for our sin. "Yes," our Lawyer can say to each and every accusation, "that's true, but I paid it in full." The truth, then, in this case is yes, the accusation is valid, but the crime is paid for, the penalty paid, the story is over. The accusation is valid but incomplete. It is, then, a lie.
As it turns out, this is critical for us to know ... for our own benefit. Satan lies. Now, he is also called "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), so you can be quite sure that his lies are prevalent. That is, in a world whose god is the father of lies, expect lies ... everywhere. As such, you can expect the world to lie to you. You can expect your friends, your family, your coworkers, your spouse all to lie to you. It's going to happen. And anyone with any intelligence knows it. What we fail to understand is that we lie to us. All the time. And we need to know that, to be on the look out for that.
How do we do that? Well, we tell ourselves that we know best when God says "X is true" and we say, "No, Y is true." "Yeah, yeah, Scripture is clear that sex outside of marriage is a sin, but we know better." Lies. "Sure," husbands will say, "we're commanded to love our wives, but she's just unlovable." Lies. "Oh, no," you will certainly hear, "wives don't have to submit to their husbands." Lies. We lie ... to ourselves. We lie to ourselves when we tell ourselves about ourselves. Many of us will tell ourselves, "I'm not that bad of a person." Lies. Others will be more "honest" and say, "I'm a loser." Lies. Most of us suffer to some degree or another with guilt. "I did these things wrong and stand condemned." "I've done so many bad things God could never love me." "God may have forgiven me, but I'm pretty sure He doesn't like me very much." We range from "I'm God's gift to the world" to "I am good for nothing." Lies.
Brothers and sisters, we ourselves suffer from a daily barrage of lies. Most of them are lies we tell ourselves. That's why Paul warns us to "be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Romans 12:2) We believe lies about God, about Christ, about doctrine, about how we should behave. We believe lies about ourselves and we do it in both directions -- too highly and too lowly. We lie to ourselves about what's important, what's good, what's right, what's true. Counteracting these lies is a full-time job. And a necessary one.
The good news is in Jesus's words.
If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32)
So the take-away is this. Abide in Christ. Abide in His Word. I love the way Paul puts it. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." (Colossians 3:16) Let it wash over you. Soak in it. Live there. We live in a world of lies and we tell ourselves lies, but Jesus says the truth is there. Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." (John 16:13) So, remind yourself that you tend to lie to yourself and that the world is of its father, the father of lies. Remind Satan that he's a liar. Instead, abide in the Word. It will set you free.