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The Big Lie

by J. W. Jepson, D.Min.

Life In Christ Center, 3095 Cherry Heights Road, The Dalles, Oregon 97058

(541) 296-1136

copyright 1978, 2001 by J. W. Jepson

All rights reserved, including the right to grant the following permission and to prohibit the misuse thereof:

The Author hereby grants permission to reproduce the text of this article, without changes or alterations*, as a ministry, but not for commercial or non-ministry purposes.

*Permission is given for publication of excerpts and condensed versions.

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(First published in The Pentecostal Evangel, June 18, 1978)

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If our deviation from reality is deliberate and knowing, we become guilty of moral and intellectual dishonesty.

I vividly remember an old man. He lived in a rest home our youth group visited each Sunday afternoon when I was a teenager. He was firmly convinced he was a 19th century European ruler-Napoleon, as I recall.

Naturally we all smiled at his senile delusion. After all, he was harmless. Believing that he was Napoleon did not make it so. Objective fact is well established in that matter.

The same is true about any objective fact. What we believe about reality does not alter reality itself; it alters only our perception of reality. Fact is fact. Any deviation from reality is unreal, untrue, false.

If our deviation from reality is due to honest ignorance or some prejudice of which we are unaware, no moral fault is involved. All we need is better knowledge of the facts or a better understanding of our own attitudes.

But if our deviation from reality is deliberate and knowing, we become guilty of moral and intellectual dishonesty, that is, of lying.

Many do that, we know. A man can look you straight in the eye and tell you that the used car he is selling you has brand-new brakes when he knows otherwise. True, a person can tell a lie so often over a long enough period that he seems to believe it himself. But even if that be true, the falsehood started out as a deliberate rejection of known reality.

Satan started the whole process of deception, and he did so by promoting the biggest, most fundamental falsehood of all-the big lie. Jesus said concerning him, "He is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44).

What is "it"? What is the big lie that Satan fathered? It is recorded in Isaiah 14:13, 14: "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God ... I will be like the Most High."

Notice particularly the assertion, "I will be like the Most High." That expresses the basic fallacy, namely, that a creature can be equal with the Creator and therefore independent of Him.

Now this bold conclusion is the result of a build-up of rationalistic assumptions, assumptions that are fallacious yet sound plausible and appeal to the human ego.

Here is the build-up:

-you want to be as happy as possible;

-to achieve happiness, you must make it your supreme goal: if you do not go after it, if you do not live for it, you will miss it.

-as much as possible, every obstacle to happiness, every hindrance to self-fulfillment, must be removed;

-to achieve full and total self-realization, you must be completely free;

-submitting to God means accepting restrictions on your personal freedom, giving up your self-determination, and being prevented from attaining your full measure of happiness and enjoyment;

-that means that God does not really love you; He is keeping you back from being fully happy; you are more interested in your own good than He is; He promises you heaven to get you to submit to His repressive sovereignty;

-therefore, to be truly happy you must be independent from God, run your own life, be your own supreme being, the sovereign of your own world.

Now no one can base such a fundamental assumption on objective fact. It is contrary to reality. It is illogical. Yet this total falsehood is what fallen humanity has believed and has attempted to practice for thousands of years. It is the assumption underlying the attitudes and behavior of the unconverted masses of our present sophisticated society.

Satan has been successful in perpetrating the ultimate fraud. He started by convincing himself of his own lie. Next he deceived a large number of the angels.

Then he went to work on God’s newly created masterpiece, mankind. He started with Eve. "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5).

Notice the pitch. "God doth know...." In other words, "God is holding you on you, Eve. There are soul-expanding experiences that you should have for full self realization, and God is keeping them from you. He does not want you to enjoy all that is possible and available for you. Be independent. See what you can make of yourself. You shall be as gods, sovereign, supreme."

Total autonomy. Independence. Fulfillment. The inner ecstasy of becoming like divinity.

Heady stuff for the human psyche. Eve fell for it, and Adam went along with her.

Did they become self-sufficient as a result of their challenge to God’s benevolent sovereignty? Did they become "gods" in the sense that Satan led them to believe? No, of course not. Instead, they incurred guilt, a sense of nakedness, fear, and death. Instead of becoming gods, sovereign. on their own, they lost paradise!

They discovered by bitter experience that a right relationship with God is absolutely essential to human happiness, that by disobeying we work against our own good. Yet their descendants have not learned from that bitter lesson, even though we all have had to live with its consequences.

People were living the big lie in Job’s day. Listen to Job’s report of their boastings: "What is the almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?" (Job 21:15).

Then there was Pharaoh sneering arrogantly. "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" (Exodus 5:2).

Satan had Balak convinced too. When Balaam refused to curse Israel. Balak stormed at him: "I thought to promote thee unto great honor: but, lo, the Lord hath kept thee back from honor" (Numbers 24:11).

We hear that voice in every suggestion that the only way to get ahead is to compromise, cheat, to be less than truthful. It’s the old lie, and it comes from the father of lies.

Satan was bold enough to try it on Jesus. "If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine" (Luke 4:7). It’s the same old lie that you heard in your moment of temptation when selfishness seemed to offer more than the law of love did.

Jesus conquered it by the truth: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (v.8). Our victory is in the same truth.

The devil had better luck with Demas. "Look at yourself. Demas. You’re stuck here with an imprisoned apostle, throwing your life away. Forget this whole thing and make something of yourself. Think what you’re missing by doing God’s will"

Demas took the bait, and the apostle had to write: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2Timothy 4:10).

The old trick works today too. "Intimidate. Win. God is your only real competition. Dismiss God from your life, and you are supreme."

Sometimes Satan comes as an "angel of light"(2Corinthians 11:14) with cozy promises that no matter what you do or how you treat the claims of Christ, everything is going to be all right forever. Be "spiritual" in your own way. You can have "peace" through inner meditation, without the inhibitions of moralizing Bible precepts.

Or he might suggest that you have the right to run your own life, that God has no business dictating your future.

The Bible warns us repeatedly. "Be not deceived" (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 6:7); "Let no man deceive you" (Ephesians 5:6; 1 John 3:7); "Ye ought to say. If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that" (James 4:15); "There is a way that seemeth right onto a man: but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 16:25).

Self deception is a tragedy. It starts out deliberately: "For we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves " (Isaiah 28:15).

As the unreasonable commitment to self-deception progresses, the mind loses the ability to distinguish truth from error. The soul begins to believe its own delusions. Isaiah 44:20 describes the result: " A deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" Sad, sad indeed.

According to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, a world deceived by Satan is ready to follow the Antichrist. Yes, a modern, sophisticated age. Why? Because it has already accepted Satan’s whole structure of humanistic, rationalistic thought is built on it. In such a situation Antichrist will be the "logical " choice.

Darkness, indeed. Deception. Bondage.

But. Thank God, set over against all of this is the truth that sets men free. It is embodied in what we call The Lord’s Prayer: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth" (Matthew 6:10).

Jesus emphasized it: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you "(v. 33). He lived by it in Gethsemane: "Not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42).

The truth is that God loves us. He is committed to our highest good. He seeks our greatest happiness. And because our true happiness depends upon our remaining in harmony with Him, His will and His moral authority, we are working for our own good only when we obey Him in love. We are truly happy only when Christ is in control.

Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life. and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10); and, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"(Matthew 11:28); and, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it "(Matthew 16:25).

It sounds like a paradox to the carnal mind. It is the opposite of what Satan has led the majority to believe. Yet it is the truth.

Self-supremacy is so totally wrong. It is pride. It is the basic sin. It dishonors God, hurts others, and ruins the soul.

Yet sinners hold on to self-sovereignty in their own self-centered world as long as they think it is working. That is why God has to allow their self-run world to crumble, their idols to topple, their autonomy to fail. He does it because He loves them and wants to save them.

Some dear folk learn the hard way. Only after they have made a mess of things for themselves do they see the big lie for what it really is--Satan’s means of destroying them by promising them the world.

If you are trying to live without God, give it up before you completely ruin yourself and those you influence. Surrender to God. Recognize that He loves you and knows how to make you happy. Accept His forgiveness. He offers it to you now in Jesus Christ.

It costs you nothing; yet it costs you everything-your self-supremacy, autonomy, and independence from God. But you did not really have that in the first place. It was only an illusion.

Give up your dream world. Face reality. Confess the truth. Confess that Jesus is Lord. Trust Him as your Savior. Then and only then will you receive real happiness and true fulfillment.

Your Savior is waiting. Come to Him now.

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