December 13, 1994
In a MacLean’s article about unifying Canada, a movie director said, “The power to change what people think no longer derives from telling people the truth but from being able to tell your lies... If the hype gets strong enough, people will believe it.”
Experiments prove that peer pressure determines opinions, even on issues that can be objectively evaluated. For instance, an entire classroom except for one student is told to vote that the second shortest line is really the shortest. The one student who was not filled in on the deception will invariably change his correct vote to an incorrect one after he sees that he alone holds up his hand for the right answer.
Children and students are not the only ones affected by peer pressure and strong “hype.” Advertising is aimed largely toward adult consumers. Some of it borders on deception. For instance, how can a dozen stores that sell the same things all claim to have the lowest prices?
Determining what is true and what is a lie is easy when it involves measurements and dollars. What about discerning true religion? Literally thousands of spiritual claims, denominations, sects, and cults all declare they have the truth. Deciding which is valid is obviously much more difficult than deciding the shortest line on a classroom blackboard.
Try thinking of God as the person who draws those lines, even as the One who made the tape measure. Because He is truth, He knows what is genuine and what is not. He measures everything but also authored the criteria by which He wants us to measure all things. While His Word does not include everything there is to know about everything, it does tell us about Him and ourselves and about spiritual matters.
If truth comes from God, where then do lies regarding God and spirituality come from? Do people just make up things? Sometimes. However, the Bible reveals that the original lie occurred in Eden. God placed the first man and woman there and told them they could enjoy their home and eat whatever they wanted. However, one tree and its fruit was forbidden to them.
Satan came along. By skillfully twisting the truth, he tried to make Eve doubt that God had commanded anything, then convinced her that what God did say was not an expression of His love. God was only trying to keep them from becoming like Him.
Interesting line! She and Adam may have needed to mature in their expression of godliness (something they could not do by disobedience), but God had already made them in His likeness. According to Satan’s lie, they had absolutely nothing to gain by eating the forbidden fruit, but eat it, they did. Their disobedience plunged the world into self-centered sin.
That same lie, in various versions, continues to cast doubt on God. As long as we do not believe or obey Him, we cannot reflect Godlikeness as we were created to do. Instead, we sin, lie and get ourselves and others into situations of hatred and rejection.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” Truth is the way to God. He will not accept lies. They keep us separated from Him.
If lies separate and cause hatred, what can truth do? According to Jesus, it has tremendous power. He said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Current thinking aside, real freedom is never found in believing hype. It is only found in knowing and believing truth.