The First Casualty of War
It has been said that the first casualty of war is truth. [Attributed to California Republican Senator Hiram Johnson (1866-1945).] Our experience tells us this is most often the case, for one side often has an agenda to promote, and truth is often the only thing standing in the way. The means of overcoming, or at least obfuscating, the truth is by propaganda and lies and, should those fail, eliminating the messenger of truth. Again, history and experience tells us this is a common pattern for those on the wrong side of truth.
At some point after God had created man and woman and put them in the Garden of Eden, He commanded them, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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” (Gen. 2:16, 17). The devil — being that he was on the wrong side of truth — initiated the first shot in the war against everything righteous and good and told Eve, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). He lied. She believed the serpent, and she took of what had been forbidden and then gave it to her husband to eat (Gen. 3:6), and the spiritual battle for souls has continued unabated ever since.
But for each and every spiritual battle, this fact about truth being the first casualty continues to be the apparent strategy of our spiritual adversary. As he did with Eve, our spiritual adversary will tell us, “One little lie won’t hurt anybody.” He will tell us, “No one will ever know,” when he attempts to lead us into sin. He will tell us, “God doesn’t really care what you do, as long as you are sincere.” He will tell us, “Jesus didn’t really mean that, because He just wants you to be happy.” He will tell a million other lies to get us to disbelieve the truth and swallow the lie and, once that has been accomplished, further lies become easier to believe and sins easier to practice without the old bothersome feelings of guilt. All because truth is no longer accepted as truth.
This is nothing new, obviously [seen by his lie in the Garden], but we have been warned. Long ago, God warned His people, through the prophet Isaiah, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). Many years later, the apostle Paul would warn the first-century disciples of those who would come, “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-12). The sad fact is, if one does not want to believe the truth, there are an innumerable amount of lies one can and will believe, instead.
And let us make this point clear: What God says is truth, for “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). Jesus noted a logical statement, then, in His prayer to God, when He said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17); the psalmist would further note, “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psa. 119:160). Since all God says is truth, then whatever or whomever contradicts it is not truth or not speaking the truth — otherwise known as a lie. There is no other option here, friends and brethren!
With this being a favored strategy of our spiritual enemy, we must take a hard look at ourselves and ask, “Do I love the truth, or is the lie more pleasing to me?” I also need to consider how I will respond when the truth I hear is difficult to accept; what will I do? Will I be willing to accept it and the consequences of accepting it, even if it means I will be excluded, ridiculed, or possibly even persecuted? These are not just imaginary scenarios because lovers of truth face these consequences on a regular basis; one day, it may be you or me that has to face those consequences of choosing truth over the lie. What will we do?
Our modern society has declared that situation ethics is perfectly acceptable, and that lying is, in many cases, preferable to the truth. The reasoning is, it might hurt someone’s feelings if we speak the truth, or someone may simply feel ‘uncomfortable’ if we speak the plain truth. Essentially, feelings overrule truth in such cases, which is a weak and dangerous strategy for getting through life, and is always a danger to us spiritually. Let us not be fooled by another lie of our spiritual adversary, that “one little lie won’t hurt anyone.” When John saw the vision of the New Jerusalem, he saw God on His throne, and He told John of those who would receive the reward, and of those who would be cast into the lake of fire — those He described as “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars” (Rev. 21:8). Yes, right along with all those ‘terrible’ people we would likely all condemn heartily is the one that might just describe us! Let us not be deceived: Lying is the very antithesis of who God is and what He is about (truth). Should we be surprised He takes such a hard line against that which is not truth?
Our spiritual adversary the devil sometimes “transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), and he has plenty of helpers who will help many men to be deceived, and it for that reason, we must “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Failing to do this may mean we are deceived and led astray, never reaching our intended destination of eternal life in heaven. That is the ultimate goal of our adversary, for he knows his eternal destination is already guaranteed (Matt. 25:41), and he seeks to bring as many souls with him as he can.
While God always speaks truth, the devil will, at most, speak partial truths which, in the end, is still a lie. He can’t help it! He is, as Jesus noted, “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Since God has truth, anything and everything the devil speaks, then, is a lie, for he only seeks to counter the truth. If it is not truth, then what else could it be but a lie?
Let’s be alert to the many lies that are out there, especially the ones that are very close to the truth. Rat poison is 98% cornmeal, but it’s that 2% that will kill you. The devil may speak 98% truth, but believing the 2% will keep you out of heaven. — Steven Harper