Category Archives: Evangelism

Differentiating the Truth from Falsehood

Scripture Reading:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognise the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. — 1 John 4:1-6, NIV.

Reflection:

The world is filled messages. Some of these messages are actual news from credible sources. However, most times, the news that reaches us first are fake news that are spread through satire sources. Often times, it becomes really hard to differentiate what’s true and what’s not. In the real world, the issue about fake news is on the rise. The government of many countries are doing their very best to educate its people on how to differentiate what’s true and what’s not. However, it is also important to note that not many people are equipped with the relevant skillsets to draw the appropriate conclusion.

The issue about fake news is not a modern phenomenon. In fact, it has been prevalent since the dawn of time. Prophets were thrown in jail and sentenced to death because of fake news. Apostles were sentenced to death because of fake news. Even our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the grounds of fake news. From the Holy Scriptures, we see that fake news is a very true phenomenon. However, it is important to note that fake news does not only have its physical manifestations but also have its spiritual implications. Through many passages, the Bible gives us a deeper insight into the spiritual implications of fake news.

“Because many false prophets have gone out into the world,” John wrote in 1 John 4, therefore we must “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”. In these few verses, the apostle John gave us an insight on how to differentiate right from wrong; to recognise the “Spirit of truth” and the “spirit of falsehood”. As long as the spirit acknowledges that Jesus Christ is from God and has come in the flesh, it is from God. If it doesn’t acknowledge that Jesus Christ is from God and has come in the flesh, then it is not from God. John added that the spirit of the antichrist is already coming and is “already in the world”. It was for this reason that we as believers need to be careful. We are not to believe in everything people say, even if they are coming from close friends or from beloved family members. Even Job’s wife called Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9) and Jesus’ own brothers do not believe in Him (John 7:3-5).

In the world where no one can be trusted, we as Christians find comfort in the Word of God. We know that even if the heavens and earth pass away, God’s Word will never pass away. God’s promises have been thoroughly tested and we love them (Psalms 119:140). We know that God’s statutes were established to last forever (Psalms 119:152). It is the Law of God that will sustain us (Psalms 119:175). Jesus came into the world to testify to the Truth (John 18:37); the Truth that the world find it hard to accept (John 18:38; 1:5; 14:17).

But here’s the thing. We are called to be Light of the world (Matthew 5:13-17). Just as how Jesus Christ shone in the darkness of the world (John 1:9), we are called to pick up the baton of Christ and enter the darkness of the world with the Light of Christ (John 17:15-18). In order to do that, we will need to be able to discern right from wrong, truths and falsehood.

Jesus has prayed to the Father for us and will continue to pray for our protection (John 17:11, 15). With this assurance, we can boldly go where God has called us to go and do what God has called us to do. “Do not fear, for I am with you,” God tells us. “Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

With this added confidence, we can walk into pagan temples and understand their cultural beliefs. We can study pagan scriptures to understand Divine revelation from falsified mythologies. Just as how Paul pointed out the Truth about God through pagan scriptures and led many to salvation (Act 17:28), so we are to boldly study pagan cultures and understand God’s purposes for them.

The revelation of God does not stop with the Jews or believers of Christ. Rather, the revelation of God transcends people groups. God reveals Himself to different people groups throughout world’s history (Isaiah 65:1; Romans 10:20). Whether or not they understood who He is is not the point. Rather, where there’s a revelation from God, there will be a portion of the Truth that was revealed. Segments of Truths revealed by God can be seen in the notion of Divine-sonship (Acts 17:28, Son of Heaven [1], Krishna [2], Taiping Rebellion [3]), notion of rebirth (John 3:3, Reincarnation [4]), notion of Divine Law (Romans 7:12, Dharma [5]), and the notion of Unity with the Creator (John 17:22-23, the Unity of Brahman and Atman [6], and the breaking away from Samsara to achieve Nirvana [7]).

On the surface, it appears that all of these are pagan beliefs and are “inherently evil”. However, because they are Divine revelation mixed with cultural beliefs and the passing of time, it is our duty as Salt and Light of the world to peel back the many layers of influences and identify the Truths of Divine revelation so as to point people back to the Ultimate Truth.

We live in a relatively “religious” world (Acts 17:22) who is in every way, lost. Therefore, if our calling is to put ourselves on the stand and light up everyone in the house (Matthew 5:15-16), we are called to stand on a Divine-appointed platform to light up the darkness around us.

May God help us.

Notes:

[1] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_Heaven
[2] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna
[3] – https://www.jstor.org/stable/25188290
[4] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation
[5] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma
[6] – https://www.sryahwapublications.com/journal-of-philosophy-and-ethics/pdf/v1-i1/2.pdf
[7] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirvana

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