It has recently been my quest to find out more about “The Lie.” In these crazy times we see so many people being duped into believing the world system promises of a better way forward for the human race. Even those I consider brothers and sisters in Christ have shown, at least in some respects, to buy into the deception that this world offers as truth.
But what is this thing Scripture calls “The Lie?”
Some have sought to define it, such as Arnold Fruchtenbaum: “Disobedience to God will result in the highest good.”1
This is a very robust definition, and far be it from me to challenge Arnold, but I’m looking to capture the personal essence a bit more. In my research of this I have found that, in the original languages, there are seven places in Scripture where “The Lie” appears.
It is identified by a word meaning “lie” or “falsehood” or “vanity,” (there are several words which qualify) preceded by the definite article “the.” In both Hebrew and Greek the definite article sets that which it modifies apart as something specific, and known.
We will look at the seven occurrences in (Western) canonical order to see if we can find out some clues which we can use to help us identify “The Lie” today. Interestingly they all have some kind of link to the end times (eschatology):
1) Psalm 24:3-4
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.”
The phrase “lifted up his soul to an idol,” is literally “does not lift my soul to the vanity.”
Now it is not the purpose of this article to argue the eschatological understanding of this Psalm, but a very good case can be made that it addresses the Antichrist in his usurping of the rightful place of Jesus Christ. The Psalmist, speaking as the singular representative of Israel, begins by stating God’s credentials (vv.1-2), challenging the imposter (vv. 3-6), and then in verses 7-10 describes the true Lord’s grand entrance.
With this understanding we see that ‘the vanity’ (The Lie) is what he is subjecting Israel to in his oppression, forcing them to serve in its integration into Tribulation life.
2) Isaiah 28:15
“Because you have said, ‘We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, It will not come to us, For we have made lies our refuge, And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.’”
The phrase “under falsehood we have hidden ourselves,” is literally “under the falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”
The context here is the agreement Israel makes, which the Antichrist enforces to begin the Tribulation period (‘the overflowing scourge.’) The nation of Israel will foolishly believe they have achieved peace because they will have been taken in by ‘the falsehood,’ a.k.a. The Lie. Obviously this is prior to the mid-point of the Tribulation.
3) Malachi 3:5
“‘And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien—Because they do not fear Me,’ says the LORD of hosts.
It’s not so easy to spot this time, but the word “perjurers,” is literally “those who vow to the lie.” (Hence the KJV renders it “false swearers.”) This would therefore refer to those who have committed themselves to working for the furtherance of “The Lie.” This may well be synonymous to taking the mark of the beast.
In this passage the LORD of Hosts arrives to clean up the mess, as it were. So, chronologically, it matches up with the end of Psalm 24. Due to this correlation, the comments written previously on that Psalm suffice for this as well.
4) Romans 1:24-25
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
I have found myself coming back to Romans chapter 1 more and more as I see around me the moral degradation of society. If you follow the apostle Paul’s logic in it, he identifies that it’s mankind’s rejection of God as Creator—despite the created world pointing to Him (vv. 20-23) that begins this specific slippery slope.
The most grievous portion of this slide was initiated by the birth of the theory of evolution in the 19th Century, which became formally accepted in Western culture in the 20th. We have since been reaping the fruit of that harvest in increasing measure in these last days, exactly as Paul described. As a society we are rejecting the truth of God for “The Lie.”
5) 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11
“…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…”
This is probably the best-known occurrence of this term. The eschatological context is clear, and in fact this chapter provides us with some of the clearest information about the Antichrist in the New Testament—so it’s clearly in a Tribulation context. In this era of history, the Antichrist will aggressively promote “The Lie.”
In the quote given we see that those who are taken in by “The Lie” will only do so through God’s judgment in response to the stubbornness of their own heart.
6) John 8:44
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
“A lie” there is literally “the lie.” It is notable here that Jesus refers us to “the beginning” and how Satan is the “father of it” (“it” is singular, i.e. “The Lie”). I will get back to that shortly. But for now, note the fact that this specific deception has a source. And the source has a name—Satan.
7) Ephesians 4:25
“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.”
Yes, another one where the concept is somewhat obscured: “put away lying” is literally “put away the lie.” But there is no eschatological context there, is there? Well, just notice that there is a quote there from the Old Testament, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”
It is interesting to note that it comes from Zech. 8:16, which is in a chapter prophesying about the renewed Jerusalem in the Millennium. I also note with interest that in Zech. 8:17 (the next verse) the inhabitants are adjured “do not love a false oath.”
So in Ephesians 4:25, Paul is drawing upon God’s description of the Millennial restoration process in Jerusalem, which would involve a dismantling of the structures, systems, and morality of “The Lie” and applying a part of that to his exhortations to godly living in this, the Church Age.
So, having investigated all the occurrences of this term in the Scripture, I would still venture to say that at best we have general characteristics of “The Lie” but not a really clear definition.
Here is where my dear wife saved me (in the non-soteriological sense!). She insightfully pointed out that the first lie would be the place to look. Genius! And that’s when it dawned on me: Jesus was giving us exactly this clue in the John 8:44 reference—go back to the beginning!
Go back to where the Devil started out. He is the father of lies, he is the accuser, he is the deceiver. Distortion, confusion and doubt are the fruit of his labours. And nowhere in Scripture is there a more fundamental summary of Satan’s tactics than his first appearance on the biblical stage, his temptation of Eve in Genesis 3:1-5:
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?
And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’
Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
How shall we summarize what Satan does here? He first sows doubt, “has God indeed said?” (a line I hear too much in the Church today) knocking Eve a little off balance, in a sense. Next he flat out denies God’s direct Word, “You will not surely die” and follows it up by falsely representing God as a tight-fisted spoilsport who is hiding better things from Adam and Eve. This has the resultant effect of Satan appearing to be the source of enlightenment, and even the saviour from this allegedly unfair situation.
This is Satan’s prototype of deception. This is important to keep in mind, as in Scripture so often the first occurrence of something sets the tone by which the rest of the Bible should be understood. How does this first lie help us define “The Lie?” Let’s look at the defining characteristics as gleaned from the seven references:
· Israel will be forced into “lifting up its soul” to “The Lie” under the Antichrist.
· Israel will foolishly believe it has achieved peace by seeking shelter under “The Lie” during increasing tumult in the last days – specifically the covenant enforced by the Antichrist which marks the start of the 7-year Tribulation.
· Those who commit themselves to “The Lie” will be the target of the cleansing fire of Jesus Christ at His Second Coming.
· People will increasingly exchange God’s truth for “The Lie” as the Day approaches.
· Any sinful heart will be given over to “The Lie” as the Antichrist spirit invades the earth.
· Satan is the father, the originator of “The Lie” (back in the Garden of Eden).
· We should be seeking even now to fight against “The Lie” in the present age.
So, taking these together, along with the spirit evident in the work of Satan with Eve in the Garden, I propose the following definition of “The Lie”
Satan whispers: I am your saviour.
This works best if you follow along with those who believe, as I do, that the Antichrist is actually indwelt by Satan himself (certainly in the second half of the Tribulation, at least). Then he will really feel like he has successfully usurped the true Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Now this lie can take on a variety of forms, not unlike its father.
Evolution is an aspect of it, because it denies the Creator.
The globalist agenda is certainly part of it, because that seeks to control the world, under Satan’s guidance, rather than submit to God.
One of the most common is to falsify empowerment by telling you that, individually or collectively, we can do things by ourselves – i.e. without God. “Yes we can!” comes to mind.
As does evolution.
As does buying into the globalist agenda.
As does relying on our own understanding apart from God’s enlightening Word.
All of these are open doors to Satan’s lie that it’s not Jesus who saves, but him.
How he longs to own the title of “Saviour.” How he craves the worship that is Yahweh’s alone. How he yearns for the adoration of those who should be worshipping their Creator, not because he cares about human beings at all (because he doesn’t). But because he can’t tolerate seeing God receive it.
As we see in Job, Satan has no concept of true mutual love between God and humanity. He thinks it is all selfish expediency. His perverted heart can rationalize it no other way.
But love is the way.
You have two offers open to you to be your saviour – Jesus Christ, who is the Life, or Satan, who is death. One lived openly as the Truth, the other whispers “The Lie.”
May we all follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
1 Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p.95, 2009.