A guy I know is trying to sell his car by listing it on Craigslist. One of the first responses he got was an email from what appeared to be a woman, asking if the car was still available. He responded to her, saying that the car was still available, and he asked her if she wanted to come take a look at it. Her next response said something like this:
I need to make sure I can afford the insurance, but I can’t get this quote to go through on my dial up connection. (slowwwww) Would you do me a favor and go to [some website…] and see how much the average quote is for our area? Thanks!
Thankfully, warning sirens starting going off in his head – why would she want him to get a quote for her? Would that even work? Don’t they take your credit and driving history into consideration for something like that? Wouldn’t they ask a bunch of personal questions, perhaps even questions about bank accounts or personal identification information? He quickly deleted her message, and forgot he had ever heard from her.
This story isn’t all that uncommon now days – people use all kinds of ways to scam others into giving them personal information and sometimes even money. And they’re successful, too! People somehow fail to realize that they’re being lied to, and they fall right into the trap that has been laid before them. Unfortunately, when it comes to the things of God, the same thing happens. Except the one laying the trap isn’t an identity theif sitting behind his computer in his underwear. It’s the devil, and he’s not only a liar – he’s the father of lies. So he’s pretty good at what he does.
When you really think about it, Satan hasn’t spread a lot of different lies around. He really only spread one major lie:
You can live your life apart from God.
All the other lies that we attribute to him are just offspring of this one simple lie. The lie that God doesn’t exist, that God doesn’t care, or that there are many ways to God – all these are offspring of the idea that we don’t need God. The lie that says that truth is relative, that happiness in this life is our main goal, and that we can do and be anything we want if we propel ourselves high enough – these are offspring of the idea that we are the center of our own universes. They all stem from the first lie ever told, in Genesis 3. After God had told Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, satan came long and spoke to Eve, saying:
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (v. 1-5)
Here, the devil twisted God’s words (“did God really say…”), he called God a liar, he challenged God’s motives, and he introduced the idea that humans could become like God, completely independent of God.**
So if satan tries to trap us, essentially using only one simple lie, how does he do it? Here’s a couple of ways:
- Blinds the minds of unbelievers – “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- Darkens the hearts of the self-interested –
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts… (Romans 1:18-26, emphasis added)
When people exchange the truth about God for a lie, they start a landslide of destruction in their own lives – a landslide that begins small and gets bigger the farther is slides. They start by suppressing the truth – they know the truth, because it is made evident to them by God, but they prefer their own wicked interests over those of God. This leads to futile thinking and darkened hearts, which is followed by God giving them over their lifestyle of sin.
- Keeps their focus on the lie – Even when people identify that they are being lied to, if all they do is focus on the lie, they are never freed from the lie. If the guy I talked about at the beginning of this post knew that he was about to be scammed, but he continue on by focusing on the lie, if he still went in and looked at the website that the woman told him to go to, if he went ahead and filled out the form that was probably waiting on that site to gather his personal information, he would have fallen for the lie. He could have known it was a scam, and if he continued in it, he would have still been scammed. Satan uses this – keeping us focused on the lie – to keep our focus off of the truth. He uses a miriad of tactics – anxiety, depression, fear, pride, comfort, affluence – to distract us from God, and to get us to focus on ourselves.
The only way to fight back against the lie(s) of satan is to focus on the truth. My study put it this way:
…it is vital to understand how God goes about purging the Lie from your life. He does not want you to become Lie-focused. We are not to put a spiritual magnifying glass to our minds with the objective of locating those places where the Lie still has a hold on our lives. If we do, we are simply falling into another subtle trap of the Enemy, who will use even this to distract you from the simplicity of your walk with the Lord. No, rather than being Lie-focused, we must be Truth-focused. It is the Truth that counteracts the Lie. And what is the Truth? The Bible tells us that “the truth” is expressed in two interlinked ways: Jesus Chris in the truth personified (John 14:6), and God’s Word is the truth transcribed (John 17:17).
** Online Bible College, The Power of the Gospel course, Lesson ES102-16: Exposing the Lie