What comes to mind when you think of someone who is an enemy of truth? Richard Dawkins? Joseph Smith? Hollywood celebrities? What about a woman at church? Your brother? You?
An older Christian once warned me, “Even Christians can be enemies of truth.” We know that we battle the world, the flesh, and the devil—those are three categories that we can rattle off. But it’s easy to think of ourselves in the right camp and others in the wrong one. We make reality black and white in ways that it is not. Thinking of a believer—of ourselves—as someone who can actually oppose truth is deeply sobering. Here are three ways that it can be true.
We are enemies of truth when we refuse to hear the truth. This tends to come in two forms: not listening to someone tell the truth or refusing to accept it. Maybe we’re not willing to take the time to actually hear; other priorities seem more urgent. Maybe we’re afraid of what will happen if we do listen; understanding will require humility, repentance, and change. Maybe we do listen and understand, but we refuse to admit that it applies to us. Truth can be uncomfortable. It can mean that we’ve been wrong. Whether truth comes to us through Scripture reading, through preaching, or through the wounds of a friend, when we treat it like an enemy, we become the enemy.
We are enemies of truth when we hide sin. Perhaps it’s a besetting sin, such as anger, that we hide from people outside of our family. Perhaps we’re covering up the serious sin of an older child, pastor, or friend: we’re afraid of what would happen if we expose the sin, afraid that people will accuse us of not understanding grace if we do. Hiding sin could even extend to preventing biblical justice from taking its course, as in ecclesiastical or civil courts. Believers can do all of these things, and when they do, they facilitate a culture of lies.
We are enemies of truth when we misrepresent the gospel. This could be to our family, our church, or those outside of it. This sort of skewed picture could come from apathy, fear of conflict, or abuse of authority. Of course, we will always represent the gospel imperfectly, often unknowingly. But a conscious decision to do and say things—or a conscious failure to do and say things—in a way that facilitates a misunderstanding of Christ’s person and work places us in opposition to the truth. That is sobering indeed.
The fact that we will always sin while in the body does not diminish the seriousness of these dangers. Our mortality, our struggle with our sinful nature, does not absolve us from the responsibility to obey or from consequences when we fail. In fact, since we have the strength of the Spirit and the mind of Christ, we are able to be allies of the truth as it renews our hearts and minds.