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In her 1865 book Hans Brinker, American author Mary Mapes Dodge chronicled the heroic story of the little Dutch boy who saved his country from catastrophic flooding by plugging a leaking dike with his finger. When the boy recognized the imminent danger of a potential broken dike and the destruction that would occur if a small trickle of water were allowed to slowly break away into a larger inundation, he flew into action. The story goes: “Quick as a flash, he saw his duty. Throwing away his flowers, the boy clambered up the heights until he reached the hole. His chubby little finger was thrust in, almost before he knew it. The flowing was stopped!”

What is to be done when the lies of this present world spring a leak through the truth that holds back the world’s torrent of scheming deception? How are believers to respond when imminent danger threatens our families, churches, and neighborhoods? When the enemy chisels away at the truth, revealing an ever-growing fracture of deceit, what are the righteous to do?

Some would like to run for higher ground and cloister themselves away from this growing danger. Others think themselves immune from the peril and rush to swim in the streams of the world, thinking they will never be soiled, only to end up drowning in the rushing waters of compromise. Still others, quite sincerely, just don’t know how to respond.

A Witness to the Truth

Standing before Pontius Pilate during the final moments of His life, Jesus declared the reason He came into this world was to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). Jesus added, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Notice in His testimony that Jesus proclaimed that He came to bear witness to the truth––not a vague, obscure concept, open to one’s own personal interpretation of what truth is. Jesus came to bear witness to God’s truth, the objective truth. The whole of His ministry fulfilled this divine charge of truth bearing. It was prophesied that He would be “full of . . . truth” (1:14). He later calls Himself “the truth” (14:6). His whole teaching and preaching ministry was characterized as one of “the way of God in truth” (Matt. 22:16, NASB). Jesus entered this world proclaiming the truth, pointing to the truth, bearing witness to the truth, and confirming the truth in all those who listen to His voice. Jesus is the full and definitive expression of God’s absolute truth.

Throughout the millennia, Satan has not changed his strategy of deceit since his first encounter with Eve in the garden.

Pilate responded to Jesus’ confession with his famous rhetorical question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Notice Pilate’s omission of the definite article “the” before “truth.” Some might say this is insignificant, but it’s not at all when you recognize that Pilate had just put truth back into a relative framework. Pilate epitomized the worldly skeptic where truth no longer exists in absolute categories but is merely a relative concept left to one’s private interpretation and circumstances. In contrast, the words of our Lord affirm that absolute truth––God’s truth––exists and is the powerful reality to which His life bore witness.

A Worldly Response

With every passing day, and in seemingly greater frequency, the world is not only ambivalent to the truth, but it hates the truth. The very concept of truth elicits severe mockery in favor of lies and half-truths that claim, “I will decide what my truth is!” This type of subtle deception stems directly from a shrewd serpent who began twisting the truth in the very beginning when he asked Eve, “Did God actually say . . . ?” (Gen. 3:1). Twisting God’s truth, Satan is cunning and crafty in chiseling away at the dike of truth that holds his lies at bay. His deceitfulness plays out in three stages. First, the devil casts doubt on God’s words. We see this evidenced in the question he asked Eve in Genesis 3:1. Second, Satan casts doubt on God’s goodness. Eve soon falls prey to his trickery and begins to question the kindness and benevolence of God toward her and her husband by believing that God has kept a vital happiness from them (vv. 2–3). Third, this fork-tongued dragon convinces Eve to doubt God’s authority by contradicting God’s words. He tells Eve that God may have said she would die, but “you will not surely die . . . [but] your eyes will be opened” (vv. 4–5). Satan’s objective is always the same––to convince you to doubt God’s words, doubt God’s goodness, and doubt God’s authority. It’s as if he wants us to ask Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

Throughout the millennia, Satan has not changed his strategy of deceit since his first encounter with Eve in the garden. He has inundated every area of society—from government, educational systems, and mass media to the family and even the church—with lies and half-truths. He has convinced the world, for instance, that life only begins at birth and not at conception, that living beings spring forth from nonliving coincidence, that true happiness is found internally, that one’s gender can be chosen, that eternal life is the result of many paths, and so on. Satan wants us to eat the deadly fruit of doubting truth.

The Apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Satan delights in leading believers away from faithful obedience to God and His Word by inviting them to swim in the waters of worldly lies. Unless held captive by God’s Word, the minds and hearts of believers are susceptible to Satan’s cunning deception. This is why, surrounded by a world of lies, believers must be ready to plug the dike with the truth.

Proclaimers of Truth

Followers of Christ have been called to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them” (2 Cor. 6:17). How do we actually achieve living in the world while being separate from it? First, believers separate themselves by refusing to be conformed to this present world and its evil systems of lies and unbelief by being continually transformed into imitators of Christ (Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 11:1). Second, believers separate themselves by proclaiming the countercultural truth of God’s Word in love before a hostile and unbelieving world (Col. 4:2–6). Third, believers separate themselves by developing wisdom through discerning every word and bringing it captive to be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). When believers do this, we will be hated (Matt. 10:22), slandered (1 Cor. 4:13), and persecuted, possibly unto death (Matt. 24:9). But rest assured, those who persevere to the end––loving the truth, proclaiming the truth, living the truth––will be saved (v. 13).

Therefore, all believers must stand bold and firm in their faith, redeeming the time and shining as blazing gospel lights in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). Stand bold upon the authority of the Word of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and expose the lies of this world by proclaiming the truth of God (Eph. 5:11).

It’s easy to lose heart when we’re surrounded by lies at every turn. But in each of our vocations and stations in life, we are called to persevere in the truth. Do not lose heart, parents, as you teach your children to properly distinguish between the truth of God and the lies of the world. Teach them to worship God in holiness, cherish God’s Word, adore Christ as Savior, and give their lives to Christ’s church, and when they are old, they will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6). Do not lose heart, pastor, as you seek to lead your flock through these turbulent waters to a safer shore. Saturate all your preaching and teaching with the truth of God so that your people will be on constant guard for their adversary the devil (1 Peter 5:8). Do not lose heart, young person, as you face opposition at your university or place of employment from a world hostile to lights set ablaze with gospel truth. Refuse to hide your light under a politically correct basket but set it where all the world may see (Matt. 5:15).

Be What You Are

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lovingly gazed over the crowd of people and proclaimed, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). Not that any of us emit light of our own because of some inherent good within us. He calls us light because Jesus is “the light of the world” and He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, shining through us (John 8:12). This is the truth He came to bear witness to––as He is the radiant reflection of His Father’s glory, so all believers reflect the same radiance of Christ. In other words, all believers are mirror reflections of the image of Christ. And the world, full of hate, lies, deception, murder, half-truths, and even death, is illumined by this light. So, be what you are––blazing lights in a world of lies.

Once he had plugged the leak that threatened his whole country, the little Dutch boy thought “with a boyish delight, the angry waters must stay back now! Haarlem shall not be drowned while I am here!” This should be the cry of every believer in Jesus Christ: “The world’s lies, and deceit must stay back now! My family, my church, my neighborhood, my country shall not be drowned while I am here!” Do we have enough boldness to plug our finger into the leak? Do we love God’s truth enough that we will give our all to proclaim it from the heights lest the waters be unleashed and destroy all that we love and hold dear? May God grant us such courage.

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