Living the Lie: Fallen Man’s Condition: Part I
The series: Living the Lie explores the origin of falsehood and its significance for daily life. Its antithesis is confessing the truth. Antithesis is a maligned and even hated word especially in our culture of relativism. In fact, for many the only absolute is relativism! Such is the lay of the land which affects any discussion that addresses how we should then live.
Daily living involves theology because every person is a theologian. How so you ask? The Triune God is the Theologian par excellence. Man is the image of God and is thus a theologian. In addition, every person has a relationship with God – He lives in God’s world as a creature, and a dependent being. Every person has a belief about God.
Moreover, man was created a thinking, desiring, and acting being. Therefore, morality, truth and error, truth and falsehood, and light and darkness are basic ingredients of living in God’s world. It is impossible to avoid any of these topics from the time you get up in the morning until you climb into bed at night. There it is a fair assumption to say that life is a theologian and life is theological!
These are truths that are and have been derived from some source and standard. Everyone functions from a standard and bases thoughts, desires, and actions on it. There are only two basic standards: God’s word and truth or the individual’s and the world’s definition of truth. In addition, the decision to decide which one to choose and use is a theological one. Since God is truth and His word is truth, our standard must be the Word of God (Deuteronomy 32:4; John 14:6; 17:17).
A major feature and theme of the Bible is antithetical thinking expressed as the doctrine of two ways. The Bible pictures this antithesis with the use of such terms as two paths; two roads; two mindsets; and two worldviews. Antithetical teaching is given in the context of contrasts especially in some of the wisdom literature (such as Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes). The contrast is pictured as fear of the Lord vs. fear of man; trust in God vs. trust in self; and lean on biblical wisdom vs. lean on self.
What is the origin of the reality of antithesis in terms of thinking, wanting, and doing? In eternity past there was no antithesis! There was only Light, Life, and Truth – all of which are summarized as God in His glory!
The question of origin forces us to the beginning. Even starting there is a source of contention for many. Some would say: up pops a molecule or something comes from nothing. Some say that something from nothing and time are the answer to the beginning. However, this supposed truth is a lie and it has created other problems. Those holding to something from nothing deny the God of the universe and expose themselves to judgment. However, to many, these worldviews are considered worthy to be taught, lived by, and control all of life.
I begin with a simple yet profound fact. All men are created and learners, leaners, choosers, and seekers. All men have a God-given standard for knowing, desiring, doing, and morality; every person is morally conscious and has a conscience (Romans 1:18-20; 2:14-15). Every person has the sense of divinity engraved on his heart. There is no escaping God! Scripture says so (Psalm 139; Proverbs 5:21-23; 15:3).
Observing how people live further testifies to these facts. However, we have something far superior: it is by God’s creational design that man seeks, chooses, learns, and leans. We can flatten that down to a simple proposition: a person at any moment in his life lives the lie – according to falsehood – or he lives according to truth. These facts raise issues: what is truth and where do we find it.
Isaiah tells us: to the law and to the testimony (8:20). Jesus tells us: truth will set you free – He is truth, God’s word is truth, and the Holy Spirit pours love and truth into the believer (John 8:31-36; 14:6; 16:13-14; 17:17; Romans 5:5). God and His word is our standard for truth. We begin with God’s word and move from there. Living the lie is not loving God. Loving God means loving truth, applying truth, and sharing truth.
- Every person knows God but not as he ought. What does that statement mean in terms of living the lie?
- Living the lie means what to you?
- What is the put on for it? How are you doing in putting on truth?
The Beginning: Part II
We continue the series: Living the Lie by stepping “back” into eternity. In eternity past, there were no antitheses. God was and is God and He is Truth, Light, and Life. The Bible teaches that the Father is light (Deuteronomy 32:5; Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16; Romans 15:8). The Bible also teaches that the Son is truth (John 1:14-18; 8:31-36; 14:6-9; 18:37; 19:11). It also teaches that the Spirit is truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:134; 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:6; 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Truth, life and light are thoroughly Intratrinitarian!
It seems amazing that in heaven before sin, there was only truth – no falsehood – and light – no darkness. The Triune God’s presence was untainted, majestic glory. Initially, only God could be in His presence. Yet apparently all angels functioned as true God-worshippers for a “time”! In God’s presence they did not die! He did create angels who were not His image bearer to share in His glorious presence and to worship Him.
However, once they sinned, the fallen angels now sinners, lost their treasured position. They were exiled – cast out of God’s presence. They had lived the lie and would continue to do so – eternally. These beings will never know God as He can be known! For whatever reason, the fallen angels were God-want-to-bes. It is mind-boggling to ponder the fact that there is an eternal not-knowing God! Hell is full of God-want-to-bes. Eternally, there will be a rebellious group of people!
The celestial happenings – angelic rebellion – can be characterized as dark times. God was still glorious and truth, light, and life characterized the Triune God and heaven. But His temple – heaven – had been made unholy and unclean. Light – the presence of glory and the glorious God – had would-be competitors – darkness. As a result, God instituted the first exodus. The fallen angels were cast out of heaven never to return and enjoy God’s presence.
Rather, darkness filled their very being. Creation was darkened so that God’s glory in creation – the natural world – was used against God (Romans 1:18-23). The natural man denies God’s existence and power and glory. This was the result of and led them to live the lie about themselves and God. The gospels portray them as knowing God but not as they ought. Such is the cause and result of living the lie. In Romans 1:18-23, the end result is denial of the truth, truth-exchange, and idolatry. That is the picture described in Genesis 6:5-6.
In the metaphysical realm, darkness is similar to sin – sin is not simply an entity or the lack of goodness; it is the presence of evil. Spiritually, darkness is the absence of light but it is more: it is the presence of evil.
Genesis 1 speaks of God’s creative activity in regard to the cosmos – from created chaos: darkness and disorder – to a functional and orderly universe. The created darkness was best understood as a hiding of His glory much in the manner of the Incarnation. Jesus, the glorious God-man hid His glory in order to accomplish His redemptive ministry. He brought the ordered cosmos into being. Genesis 1:3ff record the process of progressive differentiation from chaos to order and shalom. This is a picture of redemptive history even before sin entered into material/physical world!
From the chaos God demonstrated His majesty, power, and wisdom. Supernaturally, He unfolded order and His glory. Initially, until the sixth day, the glory of God consisted of that which had nothing to do with man. However, on the sixth day, God created man out of nothing. He formed the man out of the dust of the ground and then supernaturally He interposed Himself – God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Man has a close connection with the ground. Man was created the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1; 9:6).
Man was at the center of God’s creation as noted in Genesis 2 and Psalm 8. The Triune God termed the results of His work good (Genesis 1) and for man, very good (Genesis 1:31). There was truth, life, and light. There was no darkness within man and initially none outside of him.
Up to this point only the fallen angels lived the lie: dissatisfied with self, God, and their lot, they rebelled. Self took on a new place in God’s world. The fallen angels were competitors with God. Even then we have evidence for a reversal of the Creator-creature distinction.
Most, if not all theologians, would not speak of a covenant arrangement with the angels. Many would deny the existence of grace and a covenant of grace even after the creation of Adam and Eve. However, God is eternally gracious! It is one essential aspect of His Being.
Initially in God’s created world, there was gracious simplicity and clarity because there was life, light, and truth. These summarize and even begin to explain God himself untainted in all His glory. God is Life Light, and Truth!
However, there was a problem. Satan and the fallen angels existed in God’s created world. Darkness, falsehood, and lies were now present. There must be separated! We see evidence of darkness and falsehood in Genesis 3 via the serpent. He tempted Adam and Eve to live the lie and as he followed Satan’s example. He encouraged them to do the same.
The lie was presented as two-fold. One: God cannot be trusted. He wants no competitors and is willing to keep you in bondage for His own gain. This is similar to Satan’s words to God in Job 1-2. He accused God of buying off Job! Two, for their own good, they had to trust another voice – the serpent’s. Their reasoning and wanting must be divorced from God’s word – biblical truth.
Inherent in the lie is the belief that God owes me. Living the lie becomes a patterned way of life and a motivating factor of thoughts, desires, and actions for every person. It is continual for the unbeliever.
Adam and Eve chose to compete with God. Because of Adam’s action and as covenant head, sin, misery, and death entered into the world (Romans 5:12-14; 6:23). All men became liars and rebels. Living the lie was an essential aspect of their being as it is for every person, believer and unbeliever.
- How was truth usurped?
- What was the choice that faced Adam and Eve?
- What does that choice look like in your life?
- What does victory look like and how have you been able to get victory?
Living the Lie: Fallen Man’s Condition: Part III
This is the third in the series: Living the lie. Paul in Romans 1:18-25 describes the activity of living the lie. He teaches that every person for some time in his existence is an unbeliever. As such he is a truth-rejecter, truth-exchanger, and idolater. He imitates Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44). Even believers return to the darkness. They live the lie and forsake God and His truth. That is heavy theology!
Unbelievers all the time and believers some of the time prefer darkness and deadness rather than the light and life. Consider these passages from Proverbs that describe living the lie using various terms:
- Proverbs 3:5-8: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bodies. Solomon describes two ways to live: think, desire, and act and the results. One path consists of holding for truth and the other is living the lie.
- Proverbs 4:18-19: The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. The contrast is clear: light, life, and truth vs. darkness, death, and falsehood. Solomon is not speaking merely of eternal life but now. It is dangerous and hard to walk in darkness!
- Proverbs 26:11: As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly. Solomon describes living the lie in terms of vomit: self-pleasing – for his glory and honor.
Moreover, Jesus never lived the lie! Rather He was covenantally faithful beginning in eternity past and continuing to the cross, the grave, and beyond! Living the lie can be summarized as covenantal unfaithfulness. The statement is based on the fact that God and man are covenantal beings. God gave notice and promised Adam and Eve He would take care of them. What an invitation and guarantee!
God required loyalty, allegiance, and devotion. This was most fitting given that the Triune God was Creator, Controller and Sustainer. The covenant was a binding arrangement. God promised and He keeps His promises. Such is the nature of God.
Living the lie or covenantal unfaithfulness is trusting self and in self, rather than God – His person, promises, purposes, power, plan, program, and provisions. It is based on self-sufficiency, self-dependency, self-justification, and self-exaltation. Living the lie is manifested by self-reliance. Self-reliance is depending on thoughts and wants divorced from biblical truth and from the motivation to please God. Feelings become the major tool for determining thoughts, desires, and actions. Pleasing God is replaced by pleasing self since self takes center stage.
Living the lie is played out in daily life of every believer in varying forms and degrees. We don’t always read of God’s response to the person who is living the lie. Yet God ministers to His people with truth, light, and life. The fact of God’s apparent silence does not minimize the fact that Jesus Christ never lived the lie. If He had, He would not be God nor the perfect Mediator and Sacrifice. Some of the heroes of the faith lived the lie.
Anyone, believer and unbeliever, can and does live the lie. To think that we/they do not is to miss the lingering effects of total depravity: our remaining sinfulness; and the resulting habituation to please self. Truth sets us free but truth is to be active and advancing. As believers we are not fully mature. We are called children of light AND to be children of light (Ephesians 5:8-14). At least this means that we still function as people in the dark – we live the lie which dishonors the Triune God, Christ and the cross, and the indwelling Holy Spirit!
The subject matter of the lie includes this trio: who God is, who I am, and God’s providence which termed life – those people and circumstances that God brings sovereignly into our lives. It includes the age-old topics that philosophers have handled non-biblically and include four major headings: origin, identity, purpose, and destiny. Get these wrongs and you will live the lie (Proverbs 4:18-19).
Miss the truth of your origin, your identity, your purpose, and your destiny and you will and are living the lie and are in bondage. Paul addressed these subjects in Acts 17. Some of those in the crowd got it. The light came on! Truth sets you free. It begins within – thoughts and desires – and is expressed within and without – actions known only to you and those observed by others. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:6 that God made the light shine in our hearts. Paul may have been thinking of the creation story (Genesis 1-2). We can never outshine or get enough of God’s glorious light – Himself.
His light – glory – is not damaging to us if we understand and respect who God is! In fact, God in His light is salubrious – health-producing – just what fallen man needs and searches for – beyond all measure. Heaven must be some place! We will not be blinded by all the light! We will be alive and well, worshipping and rejoicing with God.
In Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21, Paul prays that our hearts are enlightened. He is speaking of an inner-man renewal which heads up a whole-person renewal. He praying for a radical change: to live according to truth as we put off living the lie. Inner-man renewal in part means living according to truth in place of the lie.
- How do you define living the lie?
- How do you live the lie? What have been the results?
- What do you need to put on truth?
Conclusion: Part IV
This is the conclusion to the series: Living the Lie. I have chosen several examples from the Bible that illustrate how believers living the lie. Please notice that the Bible teaches that many of these people came to themselves or came to their senses. There was a change in thinking and wanting. Motivation changed for the inside-out. This is a supernatural activity wrought by the Holy Spirit. The examples include:
- Adam and Eve: we have discussed them.
- Cain and Abel: all people are religious and worshippers by God’s creative design. Both brought sacrifices which was not the issue. Abel came in saving faith and brought himself and what he considered best and worthy of the Lord. Cain was trying to earn or was simply going through the motions (Hebrews 11:3-4). Cain lived the lie before the sacrifice and when he brought the sacrifice. He continued to live according to I want. +
- In Genesis 12 (Abram) and 20 (Abraham), he lived the lie. He lied about his wife twice putting her at risk in order to protect himself. Ironically, in Genesis 20, he said he sinned because there was no fear of the Lord there. Giants in and of the faith live the lie not as a pattern!
- Throughout Genesis, Jacob, the trickster and heel-grabber, lived the lie. He trusted himself almost at every turn. God repeats His covenant promises to Jacob and he does come to his senses. He had used his senses to detect facts and interpreted the facts from his perspective not God’s. He used his eyes, ears, and touch to determine that Joseph was alive before his face was lifted up! He did come to his senses but late in his life and his sons bore the brunt of his delay. Living the lie has consequences for self and others.
- Joseph is not portrayed as living the lie. But he was not Christ. He certainly had many opportunities to wonder what God was up and to demand that God fix him and his situation. In many ways he was a type of Christ. He knew well and personally Genesis 50:19-21 which was a forerunner of Romans 8:28-29. This highlights trusting in a good God who is in control.
- Moses, Israel’s mediator evidenced living the lie. He complained to God that he was not qualified to be God’s man (Exodus 3-4). He was not allowed into the Promised Land: he struck the rock rather than speak to it. In contrast, Jesus did not have any leeway: He could not and did not live the lie. We know Moses lived the truth imperfectly as a patterned way of life. Hebrews 11:24-27 says it well: Moses left Pharaoh’s palace and presence which the author of Hebrews termed the pleasures of sin. The pull to self-pleasing is strong but Moses chose at that time to live the truth! He came to his senses. He did not live the lie.
- Job lived the lie until he entered into God’s presence. He began well (Job 1:20; 2:10). But he began to view God as Someone who owed him and must explain Himself. He was living the lie. Many would blame his response on his circumstances. If they do, they would be blaming God and would be living the lie themselves! God did not leave Job or David. Each came into the presence of God and came to their senses (Job 40:2-54; 42:1-6; Psalm 34:8). Both could not get enough of God – His person and not so much for what He could give.
- Asaph in Psalm 73 describes himself: he was a brute animal: 73:21-22. He had thought and lived via the lie – he had it wrong! By default, he blamed God – God had it wrong! Yet he came to his senses. In the presence of the God – that is, a focus on one true God. He cherished God as his portion: verses 25-26 because he sought the presence of God). There is also Korah in Psalms 42:5, 11; 43:1 who had two choices: to live the lie of circumstances without relying on the God of those circumstances or to live the truth: the God of those circumstances. He chose to live by truth and trust God. He did not live the lie and trust in self.
- David was tempted to live the lie throughout his life and he did on some occasions with consequences as described in Psalm 32, 38, 51: the Bathsheba incident and his fathering or its lack, and his response after Absalom’s death (2 Samuel 14-18). Yet, he was a man after God’s own heart and he did not lie the lie as a patterned way of life (Psalm 34:8).
- Daniel 1:8 records Daniel’s response as a young man faced with the command to rely on the Babylonian culture and mindset. The passage reads that Daniel resolved – decided in his heart – not to defile himself. He chose antithetically. I tend to think that Daniel chose the way he did out of concerned for pleasing God who happened to be the God of the universe! It was not simply choosing Israel’s way of food, drink, and personal law-keeping but choosing Israel’s God – his God. He did not live the lie. In fact, he asked the captain for permission to live the truth! God granted him that request through the captain.
- I think of John the Baptist (John 3:30), the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:17-18), Peter (Luke 5:8), and Paul (Acts 9, 22, and 26) to mention a few in the New Testament. They were believers and yet they still had the orientation to live the lie.
The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, goes to great lengths to draw the lines in the sand between living in the light or the darkness (see these references for starts: Joshua 24:14-15; 1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 10:32-38; 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23-25; 14:26-27; John 12;25). God will not be mocked. His grace is sufficient. Knowing the truth means knowing and enjoying the Triune God as revealed by the Son and the Holy Spirit through the Word.
- Distinguish between living the lie in general and in particular in your own life in contrast to living by truth.
- When is it easy to live the lie? Be specific.
- Read Psalm 119:9-11 and answer: how does it help you to stop living the lie by putting on truth?
- Truth must be learned and acquired. What is your plan to read, recite, memorize, mediate, verbalize, and actualize biblical truth daily? If you need help, ask someone!