A quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln powerfully reminds us falsehood has gone high tech’ – “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.” Lies and deceit were around long before the internet began to pump them out. It began in the Garden of Eden when a serpent showed up. Adam and Eve had unlimited access to every tree and their fruits save one sole restriction God announced in Genesis 2:17 – “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” But the serpent slithered in and with a blunt and bald-faced lie denied God’s word in Genesis 3:4, “You will not surely die.” With slick-sounding words he convinced Eve God was holding out on her, suggesting that if she ate of the forbidden fruit, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” We might paraphrase his words, “God is keeping you in the dark, Eve! You’re missing out! There is knowledge you don’t have. If you really want to be wise, do what I say. Surely, if you can of every other tree, you can eat of this one, too.” You can read the whole sinful, sad, tragic account in Genesis 3. And it all began with a lie about knowledge and wisdom.
Mankind’s struggle to sift out what is true from what is fake and false is age-old. Jesus warns in John 8:44 that every time the devil opens his mouth a lie flies out since “he is a liar and the father of it.” The apostle Paul, in response to a false religious idea and slanderous suggestion about the faithfulness of God, exploded with this objection in verse 4, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” The devil or God – at the end of the day all of us believe and are governed by the teaching, philosophy, principles, and worldview of one or the other. Today our world is virtually baptized in lies, fake news, and falsehoods. A great challenge all Christians face, especially younger believers, is filtering out what is false from what is true. Rory Carroll wrote an article in The Guardian (8-1-2016) entitled
Can myth-busters like Snopes.com keep up in a post-truth era?” Carroll quotes Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson who said, “There are more and more people piling on to the internet and the number of entities pumping out material keeps growing. I’m not sure I’d call it a post-truth age but . . . there’s been an opening of the sluice-gate and everything is pouring through. The bilge keeps coming faster than you can pump.” But the sluice-gate where falsehood pours through has long been open. That’s why the apostle Paul closes 1 Timothy with this urgent appeal – “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” Profane and idle babblings and moral / spiritual contradictions falsely pronounced as knowledge are in the cultural air we breathe! The contemporary church must not breathe it in. God has committed the truth of the gospel as a trust to His church (1 Tim.3:15). Our sacred duty is to guard that truth as a treasure even as we share it in a world saturated with falsehoods. God’s word is truth (John 17:17). Let us, in the inspired words of 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).