In our age of fake news, researchers at MIT admit that lies travel farther, faster, and deeper than the truth. But this is nothing new. In the time of Saul and Barnabus, Elymas Bar Jesus was a local purveyor of deceit, lies, and evil schemes. He held sway in the court of Sergius Paulus, the proconsul in Paphos, Cyprus. But Saul recognized him for what he was and ousted the false prophet, so the truth could be preached. Paul dealt with others in Rome and elsewhere who willingly exchanged the truth of God for lies. But, Paul’s advice to the Gentile believers was to reject the empty, foolishness of lies in order to embrace the truth. The truth would renew their minds and overcome spiritual blindness and apathy.
Paul hearkened back to Moses' instructions when writing about false prophets and teachers. Moses warned the people to avoid the diviners, sorcerers, and mediums who dealt in lies and deception. Rather, the people of God were to follow the truth and be blameless. And, God promised that he would raise up a prophet who would teach them the truth. They were commanded to listen to him, for that prophet speaks for God.
Who was that prophet that would come and fulfill Moses’ prophecy? It was no mystery to the disciples of Christ. In his gospel account, John, made it clear that Jesus was the one who was sent to speak on the Father’s behalf. Unlike the religious leaders of the day, Jesus did not listen to the “Father of Lies.” Rather, Christ came from the Father of Light, to bring the truth that would set people free. The religious and civil elite wanted to kill him, because they could not bear the truth he was teaching. On trial for his life, Jesus made it abundantly clear to the Jewish authorities that he was “that prophet.” And he prophesied of his coming again in power to establish the Kingdom of God. This gives believers hope and confidence as they speak the truth in love to a world that is caught up in deception.
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