We live in an age of mass deception and in an “anything goes” society. “If it feels good, do it,” is the motto of many. Evil is called good while good is called evil. When asked what the signs were of His Second Coming and the end of the world, Jesus said deception was the number one indicator. Before mentioning wars, natural disasters, and other calamities, He said, “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name . . . and will deceive many” (Mt. 24:4-5). He predicted deception will be so pervasive that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Mt. 24:24). Keen spiritual discernment is needed to see through the fog of deception that blinds our society.
God asked the Prophet Jonah, “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left?” (Jo. 4:11). This figure of speech meant the Ninevites could not tell the difference between right and wrong. Millions of people today are in a similar situation because they have no moral compass. D. L. Moody said, “The best way to show a stick is crooked is…to lay a straight stick beside it.” The Bible is the “straight stick” we lay beside all the crooked views circulating in our culture.
The Apostle Paul described the symptoms of a sick society. After a long list of indicators of the moral breakdown of the last days, he summarized, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:2). You see, it is spiritual truth that sets us free from error, not merely facts, data, trivia, or general knowledge. We need more than human information and education; we need divine revelation and transformation!
Discernment is “the ability to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, to perceive, to detect, or to recognize.” The more familiar you are with a genuine item, the easier it is to spot a fake. We’ve all seen cashiers use a detector pen to test the authenticity of a $20 bill. The detector pen contains an iodine solution that reacts with starch in wood based paper. A black mark will appear on a phony bill made on cheap paper while a yellow mark appears on a genuine bill. The Bible is our detector pen—the best spiritual counterfeit detector known to man.
In Old Testament times, God gave Aaron, the High Priest, a unique way to determine His will on various issues. There was a pocket on the breastplate he wore that contained two objects (probably stones) called “the Urim and the Thummim” (Ex. 28:30), also translated the “sacred lots.” Apparently, if the High Priest needed to know God’s will on a given matter, he would pull out one of these stones. Presumably, one meant “yes,” while the other meant “no.” Personally, I’m glad we don’t have to carry around two rocks in our pockets to discern God’s will. Now, we have a much better method. “But ye have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 Jn. 2:20). We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, our personal tutor, to guide us into all truth and help us discern right from wrong.
We also have the Bible, God’s revealed will, which, like a fog light, penetrates through the hazy ideas in society to help us see issues more clearly:
- Society says evolution is a scientific fact; the Bible teaches intelligent design—the creation has an all-wise Creator.
- Society says an unborn child is merely fetal tissue to be disposed of if a woman so chooses; the Bible informs us that “the fruit of the womb is [God’s] reward” and infants are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the womb (Ps. 127:3; 139:14).
- Society says drugs and alcohol are a desirable lifestyle; the Bible warns, “Wine is a mocker and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Pr. 20:1) and “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
- Society says pre-marital sex and adultery are tolerable and that abstinence and monogamy are unrealistic; the Bible counters “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Heb. 13:4).
- Society says viewing pornography is just adult entertainment; the Bible says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Ps. 101:3) and “anyone who looks at a woman [or man] lustfully has already committed adultery with her [him] in their heart” (Mt. 5:28).
- Society says homosexuality is normal and acceptable; the Bible decrees, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Lev. 18:22).
- Society says it doesn’t matter how you live; the Bible declares we will reap what we sow and eventually all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Gal. 6:7, 2 Cor. 5:10).
Some might say, “We should be more tolerant and open-minded” or “the Bible is too narrow and restrictive.” One author noted, “Open minds like open windows need screens to keep the bugs out.” There are many views and opinions floating around but the Bible is the screen that helps us filter out truth from error. By the way, no passengers on an airplane complain that their pilot lands on a narrow strip of pavement called a “runway.” All passengers are grateful for a safe landing. Jesus called His way “the straight and narrow way” that leads to eternal life—the ultimate safe landing. May God grant us discernment to see through the fog of deception and help us always be open-hearted toward sinners but never be open-minded toward sin!