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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Amish youth on way to youth meeting
Amish couple on their way to a youth meeting
along Elizabethtown Road in Lancaster County PA.

"Exchanging The Truth Of God For The Lie"

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Holy Lord God! I love Thy truth,
Nor dare Thy least commandment slight;
Yet pierced by sin, the serpent’s tooth,
I mourn the anguish of the bite.
William Cowper 1779

Romans 1:25"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen" (Romans 1:24,25).

I had an interesting experience which was distressing and took awhile to sort out. I received an email from my credit card company informing me that my email address they had on file had been changed. A few minutes later I got a call from the card company informing me that someone had taken over my account and changed my contact info with a new email address and no telling what else. Thankfully the email was also sent to my legitimate address (which I had not changed). I learned the fraudster was from Texas and had changed it to an email address that deceptively sounded like my name. We verified that, up to the point of our conversation, there had not yet been any unauthorized usage and I immediately closed the account. I then called the card company using the number on the website just to make sure the person calling me was not part of the fraud! (She wasn't.)

We are daily subjected to lies, lying, and liars. In our lifetime we've observed that lying is dramatically increasing, although it has been a daily part of life as we know it since the fall. There are big lies and little lies; lies in business, advertising, media, politics, among family members, etc.
With many politicians we've just come to expect that they are lying. There are lies in personal relationships and so many lies over the internet. And it will only worsen as mankind drifts farther and farther from the ancient, firm foundation of God's laws revealed to us in the Bible and specifically through the Ten Commandments.

But today's text refers to the most consequential lie of all, one that impacts every one of us. This simple, specific phrase that describes the consequences of rejecting God's revelation and truth goes right to the heart of the matter. They
"exchanged the truth of God for the lie".

This is the second of three times Paul uses the word "exchanged" in Romans 1. Last Friday's message dealt with the first based on verse 23, "Exchanging The Glory Of The Immortal God for Idolatry" and on Thursday we will examine the third use of the word in verses 26,27. (Exchanging the Creator's Design for Sexuality for Perversions)

In the early chapters of Romans we have a panoramic view of the human fallen condition. I find it interesting how various versions describe the section beginning with verse 18:
  • Phillips: The fearful consequence of deliberate atheism
  • ESV: God's Wrath on Unrighteousness
  • NASV: Unbelief and Its Consequences
  • NIV: God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
  • New Century Version: All People Have Done Wrong
  • RSV: The Guilt of Mankind
"The truth of God." Three times the Greek words "ta alatheia" is used in these first two chapters (verse 18, today's text, and 2:8), which translates specifically "the truth" (the definite article is very important). The Bible Knowledge Commentary states, "The truth of God is not only the truth concerning God but also God’s truth concerning all things, including mankind. This truth is that people are creatures of God and can find true lasting fulfillment only in worshiping and obediently serving God the Creator." That has been God's plan from the beginning.

"The lie" (the Greek "ta pseudei" has the definite article "the" which again is very significant).
The Full Life Study Bible has this note concerning this passage, "The lie is the word of Satan, the father of lies." This lie is that the creature can exist independent of God, self-sufficient, self-directing, and self-fulfilling. Mankind made himself his god in place of the true God. That was Satan's lie in the Garden, "You will be like God".

Mark Pulliam, a thoughtful friend, and I were discussing this series from Romans last week. He shared an insightful quote, "The taproot of evil is hatred of the truth." Don't we see a dramatic increase in hatred of the truth and for those who proclaim it!

The world hates this truth and the increasing craziness we observe is a result of rejecting God's truth. This predictable unraveling of our society is happening at a frenzied pace. This simple phrase
"The taproot of evil is hatred of the truth" very much explains why. Men hate the truth. Amos 5:10 states, "They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth."

We need to stand our ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness to defend ourselves against the ever-increasing onslaught of cunning lies. They're so cunning that many believers are being swept up in the frenzy as well. We seek to live with God's perspective and want to see the human condition through the filter of what is written in the Scriptures, not by the ever-changing opinion polls or expert advice of our day.

There is a parallel passage I am also drawn to as I study this concept of exchanging the truth for the lie. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 refers to the great apostasy (falling away) and the coming of the lawless one. It ends with this statement, "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie."

Today we want to conclude with a call to all who earnestly seek to live by God's truth. Rather than be as those who "
perish because they refused to love the truth" let us full-heartedly love the truth so that we will live in the light here and now and dwell in the light of His glory for all eternity!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, I pray for a discerning spirit to help me recognize truth from falsehood. Help me to know when others are lying and help me also to recognize the lies I tell myself. You always speak the truth and You declare that which is right from that which is wrong.  When the world describes a lifestyle or belief system to be good when You declare it to be evil, help me to stand firm upon Your holy truths as I faithfully read them in the Scriptures. Give me bold conviction to stand firm for truth even when it seems as though no one stands with me. The "truths" as purported by this world shift like the changing winds but Your Truth stands for all eternity!  I stand firm as I tighten the belt of truth about me. And I protect my heart and mind with the shield of righteousness through Christ Jesus my Lord in whose name I pray. Amen.

For some reason most versions do not use the definite article before lie in Romans 1:25 but rather state "a lie". However the Greek has the definite article which I believe is very significant. Here's an online interlinear Bible for serious Bible students. Romans 1 (Note for some reason you may need to hit enter following the url after this link opens)

Note: The first part of today's message (verse 24) "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves" will be treated as part of tomorrow's message.

An absolutely essential key to determine who is lying and who is telling the truth is practicing discernment. John MacArthur states "In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think Biblically."

We become wise in our discernment through prayer, biblical understanding, and by observing the character of one who is either telling the truth or lying.  When confronted with two opposing stories by a youngster at school, the teacher will lean toward the one who has an honest reputation from day to day.    

For some time now I have been drawn to a study of Romans 1 and 2 Thessalonians 2 and specifically the blunt words "the lie" as found in our daily verses. *

Today as you are confronted with lying in the workplace, in the political arena, or in your own family, observe how this takes place and be on guard. When we first hear a lie it takes little discernment, for we quickly recognize it to be false.  But when that same lie is repeated often, given a different spin, dressed up or promoted by well-known personalities or someone who is asserted to be "smart" or "educated" we can gradually become desensitized or indifferent to the truth.  It's one of Satan's strategies in making our world more and more decadent.  It's also the reason why we must be vigilant in reading God's Word so that our continual exposure to God's truths keeps us guarded against error. 

Isaiah 45:19 is a majestic statement from the one true God. Although written in Scripture some 2,700 years ago it is always a present tense statement, for God does not change: "I, the Lord, speak the truth; I declare what is right."

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"The Voice Of Truth"
Casting Crowns

"We Limit Not The Truth Of God"  Video  (Musician not identified)

We limit not the truth of God
To our poor reach of mind,
By notions of our day and sect,
Crude, partial, and confined.
No, let a new and better hope
Within our hearts be stirred.

The Lord hath yet more light and truth
To break forth from His Word.

In the course of preparing today's message we discovered the old hymn "Holy Lord God! I Love Thy Truth" partially quoted from today at the top of our message. We do not recall ever hearing it but it has such rich lyrics. We unsurprisingly were unable to find a version on YouTube. Here are the other verses:

But though the poison lurks within,
Hope bids me still with patience wait;
Till death shall set me free from sin,
Free from the only thing I hate.

Had I a throne above the rest,
Where angels and archangels dwell;
One sin, unslain, within my breast,
Would make that Heav’n as dark as hell.

The prisoner, sent to breathe fresh air,
And blessed with liberty again,
Would mourn, were he condemned to wear
One link of all his former chain.

But O! no foe invades the bliss,
When glory crowns the Christian’s head;
One view of Jesus as He is,
Will strike all sin forever dead.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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