For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. (Romans 01:18-19, NKJV).
We live in a world filled with lies like the sea is filled with water. There is no escape. Truth is rare and precious and to be valued as a priceless gift from God, sought after and held onto like a rope dangling over the edge of an abyss.
For without truth, there is only darkness.
One of the things I remember most vividly when I first became a Christian was the fury I felt when I realized that my whole life up until that time had been based on deception. The things that I was taught by the world, lived by, and believed, were lies originating from the Father of Lies.
What was most infuriating was that most of these falsehoods were how I defined myself; they were the basis of who I thought I was and for 40 years I had been a willing dupe, an effective and compliant participant and coconspirator in my own blindness.
I believed that humans were accidents of chance over time, that the earth was an ancient piece of luck and nothing more. I believed that unborn babies were parasites, not persons, and that we adults were doing them a favor by allowing them to be born. Or perhaps it was no favor at all.
I believed that God, if He existed, was uninvolved and cruel, whether intentionally or because He lacked the ability to meaningfully control anything or anyone.
I believed that every human was born, lived and died, blinking out of existence at the end like a meaningless blob of incidental life that just happened for no reason, and no purpose.
And above all I believed and lived as if I knew the real truth of things, and all who thought otherwise were either ignorant, insane, or childish.
There was deep inside, however, a small part of me that rebelled against these beliefs, that longed for something different, that frantically searched for something that would give me the one thing that my religion of lies could never provide: hope.
Looking back, it is a wonder that I survived as long as I did, for I often behaved as if my life, and the lives of those around me, had no value at all, and I would be better off dead. Or more precisely, that it really didn't matter whether I lived or died.
To emerge from that entrenched darkness into the light of the knowledge of Christ is a miracle. It is a release from prison, a gifting of sight to the willfully blind, and when it happened the scales of deceit fell off and I saw, for the first time as an adult, Truth.
You must not think that I had anything to do with my own transformation. There was nothing special or redeeming about me that enabled my release from the prison I was in, nor did I seek some “better” path. For what I did was exactly what Paul describes above. I “suppressed the truth in unrighteousness”.
Everyone, everywhere, has an innate knowledge of God. It is part of our essential being. He builds it into us. For want of a better word, we call it a “conscience”, and there is no naturalistic explanation that accounts for its existence. It does not aid our physical survival, or the survival of our species. In fact, acts of conscience are very often diametrically opposed to mere survival.
We have it from our beginning, and it is placed there by a merciful and gracious Creator who desires that we come to know Him, and walk with Him so that we may live forever, and not die.
But because we are also born as rebellious sinners, descendants of our sinful forebears, genetically incapable of righteousness and godliness, we practice burying that part of ourselves that knows right from wrong, that speaks to us in the language of God.
And the world helps us do that in every way it can. It promotes deceit, removes God as far away as possible, and aids us in believing the lie that we are accountable only to ourselves.
Its methods are subtle and ingenious. When it cannot completely destroy a person's innate awareness of God, it undermines that awareness by misdirection and illusion, appealing to the one ally that each us carries around like a congenital (from birth) tumor – our self pride.
In and of ourselves, we are no match against this campaign of deception, and as we mature, we become willing traitors, crushing the impulses of our conscience, searing them with the fiery heat of practiced sin and encouraged lusts.
Instead of resisting, as we age, we feed the enemy, allowing it to gain more and more ground in our hearts and minds until we reach the point where we cannot do anything different, when we are confirmed in our evil alliance beyond hope of redemption.
For every man, woman and child, that point of no return is known only to God. We cannot know it in ourselves or in anyone else, and often the person whom we deem to be utterly beyond salvage is the very person that God transforms before us in the miracle of rebirth.
For it is God who opens the eyes of the blind, who gives light in the darkness, who replaces a hardened heart of sin and pride with a new heart that longs to follow after Him. Our part in this transformation is that we come to the end of ourselves and admit that we are beyond help and hope.
It is only then that we begin to cease suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. It is only when we catch a glimpse of who we really are in ourselves that we seek a Savior, and everything we encounter in the world fights against such self-surrender, and rabidly seeks to prevent it from happening.
Understand the three primal forces arrayed against you in this life, seeking to turn you away from God who is your only hope. Each of these enemies has one powerful weapon in common, deception, and is practiced in using it with ruthless effect.
First, and most intimate, is your own “old nature”, the being who you are “naturally” without God in your heart. It is she that haunts your every waking thought and can invade your dreams, and who will be at war with you all the days of your life on this earth. She is what the Bible calls the flesh, and she desires dominion.
Her two allies, the world and Satan, will use every lie at their disposal to embolden your flesh, to strengthen it in the battle, to provide her with ammunition and power to overcome that part of you made new in Christ.
The battle will sometimes seem hopeless. It will often be that you will feel utterly defeated and helpless, but that is also a lie, for you are never alone in the fight. Christ has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. He has promised to be with you even in the darkest night, and is far more powerful than all of your enemies combined.
But it is a war waged every moment. You will be tempted to turn away, but He will provide an escape for every temptation (1Co 10:13).
And remember this above all else, that the only protection against this pervasive deceit is immersion in the truth, and the only source of truth is Christ, who is “the way the truth, and the life.”
So my beloved...
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-- (Ephesians 6:11-18, NKJV).