The Battle for Truth
By Dave Hunt
Last month we noted that it is not denouncing the devil but embracing TRUTH that sets one free from sin, self and Satan. Nor is truth a magic formula to pronounce or a “positive confession” to make, but a revelation from God to believe and obey. “The just shall live by faith” (Heb 10:38) in God and His Word. And faith is not a power of the mind, a magic “force,” as the positive-confession and positive/possibility-thinking heresies claim, but a conviction understood, firmly held and acted upon. What and in Whom one believes determines one’s life here and for all eternity.
There is a battle raging for man’s soul and for control of the universe. It is a very real war between the “God of truth” (Deut 32:4; Ps 31:5; Isa 65:16) and Satan, “the father of [lies,]” in whom there “is no truth” (Jn 8:44). One either believes God’s truth or Satan’s lie. There is no neutral ground. The cosmic battle of the ages is the battle for truth. But what is truth?
An editorial entitled “Truth” in the Los Angeles Times noted that “in a contemporary eight-volume encyclopedia of philosophy, ‘Truth’ has only three lines-theories on how to talk about it.” Yet in the King James Bible the word “truth” occurs 235 times in 222 verses. Jesus, who said of Himself, “I am…the truth” (Jn 14:6), is called “the Word of God” (Rev 19:13)-and He declared, “Thy word is truth” (Jn 17:17). It is to God’s Word, then, that we must turn to learn of truth.
“Truth” has two meanings in Scripture: 1) temporal facts man may observe about himself and the physical universe, including truthful reportage of the facts; and 2) eternal and spiritual reality pertaining to God and the relationship all else bears to Him. Decrying the lack of truthfulness, the Times editorial was all about #1. It knew nothing of #2. The Bible, however, when it speaks of the truth, means the latter.
Isaiah wrote 2,700 years ago, “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies… judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street” (Isa 59:4,14). This description of Israel as it ripened for God’s judgment fits today’s world. In so many ways our society has opted for lies.
The state promotes many lies, from evolution to “safe sex”; it lies about AIDS, so that a highly contagious, deadly and incurable disease is protected as a “minority right.” Lenders lie about finance charges and salesmen about their product; TV commercials appeal to lust and ambition rather than to truth. And is there a politician who always tells the truth?
Success/motivation/self-improvement and “personal empowerment” seminars and group therapies teach that one creates reality with the mind. Eve’s descendants still love the Serpent’s lie. It’s the heart of Hinduism and of such pseudo-Christian cults as Christian Science, Unity and Religious Science. Norman Vincent Peale and his protegé, Robert Schuller, have even brought into the evangelical church the delusion that saying something makes it so. Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price, et al. teach the same lie, but conceal it with biblical language. Bereans are not deceived.
God designed us to personally know and love Him and His truth. Instead, many people allow a guru, the latest Mormon prophet, the Watchtower Society, the pope, a “professional psychologist” or some other deceiver to take the place of God. They have lost the battle for truth!
“Christian psychology” has brought Satan’s lies into the church. Truth is exchanged for feeling good about oneself. Even among evangelicals, sin, repentance and judgment are avoided as “negative.” A false Christ is preached, one who loves us because we’re valuable and who affirms our self-worth. Flattery is preferred to honesty, doctrine and correction are despised, and parents are told to praise their children always, even when they need reproof, in order to “boost their self-esteem.”
The major rationale for Christians turning to psychology is the specious saying, “All truth is God’s truth.” This delusion confuses categories #1 (temporal facts) and #2 (God’s eternal truth). That they are not the same should be clear. Jesus said, “the truth will set you free.” Obviously, telling the truth could, instead, put someone behind bars. Moreover, scientific facts have nothing to do with effecting freedom from sin, self and Satan.
Clearly, by the truth that sets free Jesus didn’t mean facts, scientific or otherwise. Therefore, even if it were a science, (which it is not), psychology could not be part of “God’s truth.” Freud, an anti-Christian, knew nothing of the truth to which Christ referred when he told Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth heareth my voice.” That non-Christians are not “of the truth” is clear from His words: “My sheep hear my voice” (Jn 10:27).
“His truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Ps 91:4) surely doesn’t refer to scientific knowledge. “Having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph 6:14) can hardly mean mere facts. When God said, “if ye can find a man [in Jerusalem]…that seeketh the truth…I will pardon it” (Jer 5:1), He didn’t mean a research scientist, much less a psychologist! Non-Christians know nothing of God’s truth, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14). “God’s truth” is only revealed by His Spirit to His own.
“All truth is God’s truth” is a major lie of Satan designed to justify the godless theories that “Christian psychology” is based upon. Jesus said: “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive” (Jn 14:17); and “when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13). If “the Spirit of truth” guides into all truth, and the world cannot receive Him, then Freud, Jung, et al. knew nothing of God’s truth!
What is “God’s truth”? Paul referred to “the gospel of your salvation” as “the word of truth” (Eph 1:13). He wrote of “the truth of the gospel” repeatedly (Col 1:5; Gal 2:5, 14). Christ, who “came…to give his life…a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45; 1 Tim 2:6), testified, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (Jn 18:37). Salvation comes through believing the truth-the message of the Cross.
Paul declared, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15) from the penalty God’s justice demands (Ps 9:8; 96:13; Eze 18:4, etc.). Christ said that He had come “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10) and “to call…sinners to repentance” (Mat 9:13). Christ saves only those who, believing in Him, admit to and repent of being lost, guilty sinners, unable to please God or to save themselves. Here is the truth that sets free!
Didn’t Jesus live the perfect life for us to follow? Yes, but we’re unable to live up to His example. His sinless life “condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3) and is the standard by which mankind will be judged. His perfection both damns the sinner and qualifies Him to be our Savior, for only One perfectly holy could die for the sins of others. God’s truth includes man’s evil as well as God’s holiness and His righteous provision for sinners.
God’s love gave His Son to die; God’s justice laid upon Him our sins and demanded the full penalty. And man’s evil, self-centered, rebellious heart hated, rejected, and crucified Him. The cross fully demonstrated both the limitless love and justice of God-and the horrifying evil that lurks in the depths of the human heart. Amazingly, the very nails driven into His hands and feet and the spear that pierced His side drew forth the blood that saves!
The salvation Christ purchased with His blood must be received directly from Him (“come unto me”) as a free gift of God’s grace (Rom 3:24), “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:9). Acceptance of this gracious gift is by faith: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor 1:21). Believe what? The gospel. It is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom 1:16) that “Christ died for our sins… was buried, and…rose again” (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Sin’s penalty could not be set aside. God’s love cannot compromise His justice. Christ had to suffer the full punishment we deserved, so that God “might be the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom 3:26). This “gospel of God” has been declared “by his prophets in the holy scriptures” (Rom 1:1-2). It must either be accepted on God’s terms or rejected. It cannot be changed.
Here we confront a solemn question. How much distortion does it take to turn God’s truth into a lie, to corrupt the gospel so that those who believe it are not saved, but damned? No more important question could be asked. A Berean can accept nothing less than the biblical answer: the spiritual warfare that rages for the eternal destiny of souls is a battle for uncompromised truth!
To undermine the “truth of the gospel,” Satan has invented clever counterfeit gospels that promise life but damn the soul. Those who preach these lies, as we noted in April, are cursed by Paul-and rightly so. These false gospels are like rat poison-very tasty and 98.6 percent nutritious, but containing just enough hidden poison to kill. Bereans must be prepared to contrast the lie with God’s truth and to warn the unwary earnestly and clearly.
“Christian psychology” has brought a false gospel into the church. It replaces God’s truth of sin and the Cross with humanistic diagnoses (addictions, dysfunctional families, compulsions, co-dependencies, traumas buried in the unconscious, etc.) and pernicious “remedies” (self-esteem, self-assertion, positive self-talk, visualization, and a host of therapies) unknown to heroes of the faith (Heb 11) who triumphed without them. Roman Catholicism, too, is a false gospel. It denies Christ’s finished work and offers salvation through baptism, indulgences and sacraments administered by the Church through her popes, cardinals, bishops, priests and the intercession of Mary.
An equally insidious false gospel is taught by Hagin, Copeland and other TBN-promoted “positive confession” leaders. In spite of past exposés by ourselves, CRI and others, Copeland defended once again this heresy in his September 1991 Believer’s Voice of Victory, declaring, “it must be preached because it’s…the Truth and it sets people free.” To support this lie he insisted,
“The day that Jesus was crucified, God’s life, that eternal energy…moved out of Him and…He allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell as if He were the most wicked sinner who ever lived… [and] to come under Satan’s control…[or] His body would have never died….
For three days…every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him…. tortured Him beyond anything that has ever been conceived….
In a thunder of spiritual force, the voice of God spoke to the death-whipped, broken, punished spirit of Jesus….God’s Word…charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life….He was literally being reborn before the devil’s very eyes….
Before His body even had time to decay…Jesus Christ dragged Satan up and down the halls of hell….The day I realized that a born-again man had defeated Satan, hell, and death, I got so excited…!
He’d [Satan] murdered Jesus to annihilate Him….”
The many blasphemous lies are obvious to any Berean. That God’s life is “energy” is a New Age idea. Nor did death to Christ’s body come because He was “under Satan’s control.” It is outright heresy to say that Satan “murdered Jesus.” Christ “laid it [His life] down to take it again” (Jn 10:17). And He gave up His life on the cross, not in hell. Nor could “time” decay His sinless body. God would not allow it “to see corruption” (Ps 16:10; Acts 2:31).
Nor did “the devil drag Him into the depths of hell…[and] every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him….” Satan doesn’t run hell. He hasn’t even been there yet, nor have his demons-nor will they torture lost souls in hell, but will themselves be tortured. The Bible says that God “laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:6) and “It pleased the Lord [not Satan] to bruise him [Christ]; he [God] hath put him to grief [and made] his soul an offering for sin” (v 10).
As He laid down His life, Christ cried in triumph, “It is finished!” He had paid in full the penalty God’s justice demanded for sin-paid not to Satan, but to God. Christ said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Instead, the false teachers say He ended up in the hands of Satan, the debt not paid and much yet to be suffered for sin. Blasphemy!
The Bible teaches that our redemption comes “through His blood” (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14, 20). Yet Hagin, Copeland, et al. insist that our redemption comes through Christ being tortured by Satan for three days and nights in hell. Then if Satan didn’t torture Christ enough we’re not saved. And if he did, do we thank him for the vital role he played in our salvation? What perversion! This is surely not the gospel that saves!
What must our response be to the false gospels that abound and are deceiving multitudes? It is not enough to grieve or even to pray. Ask God to show you what action to take to oppose heresy and to rescue the perishing! Be a Berean. Search the Scriptures. Know the truth for yourself. Be convinced of it and live it. Then “[speak] the truth in love” (Eph 4:15). Love corrects. Surely the Bereans would have lovingly told Paul if their search of the Scriptures had uncovered that his teaching was false. Christ said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Rv 3:19). If we truly love others, we’ll do all we can to rescue them from error. As John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn 1:4). TBC