A call for spiritual discernment:
In one fiery encounter with the religious leaders, Jesus said this: “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8:43-45).
This is but one of many portions of Scripture which make it clear that there are such things as lies, and there are such things as liars. The Christian knows that truth is so very important, and the Christian also knows that there are plenty of folks working overtime to subvert the truth, to suppress the truth, and to distort the truth.
As Jesus made clear, there are liars out there, and they are doing what their father, the devil, always does. And as Jesus also made clear, deceit and deception are all around us, and we need discernment to know when we are confronting such things. As he said in Matthew 24:4, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
The Bible constantly warns against deception, falsehood, lies and deceit. See this earlier piece for example for more on this: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/11/07/beware-deception-deceivers/
As such, we must always be on guard, and we must be careful and discerning as to everything we encounter, hear, see and read. In the internet age this is especially the case. Whether it is on the social media or on interactive blogsites, there are always plenty of debates and arguments, and truth is not always a hallmark of them.
Lies and falsehoods abound, and we cannot be clueless as to the spiritual origin of all this. Sure, many people can just be confused, or not well-read, or lacking in crucial information, and so on. Not everyone who says something different from what you are saying is deceived or lying. But many folks are.
It should come as no surprise to the Christian that as we seek to share truth – especially gospel truth – on the internet and elsewhere, there will be a huge pushback, and much of that involves satanic deception and deliberate lies. We must be prepared for this reality if we are to faithfully and effectively get involved in the truth wars.
This is where discernment comes in. Who is asking an honest question, and really wanting to learn, and who is just a troll, and wants to argue and get you offtrack? One is humble and open to truth; the other is proud and closed to truth. We need to pray for discernment as we deal with others, especially when it comes to controversial issues and hot potato topics.
With a website such as CultureWatch, it goes without saying that I get trolls and those who hate me and what I do all the time. Again, the trick is to discern who is who. We should be willing to spend all day dealing with those who have honest questions, or may need to be patiently dealt with, as they have spent most of their life getting information from the unreliable – and often false – mainstream media.
They need to hear alternative points of view, and hopefully over time the scales will fall from their eyes as they begin to see that not everything they have learned is in fact true. They may begin to realise that they have been drinking the Kool-Aid for too long, and it may be time to do some careful research into some of these divisive topics of the day.
These sorts of people we should spend time with. As Paul said in 2 Timothy 2, we are to “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies [that] breed quarrels” (v. 23). Instead, we are to correct our opponents. Why? “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (vv. 25-26).
As I say, the work of deception and lies is to be found so often in things like an online truth-telling ministry. And we must be aware of this fact: if you are having any sort of impact at all, there will be those who will maliciously come to your site spewing forth all sorts of lies and disinformation.
They not only want to sow lies and deception to counter the truth you are sharing, but they will do this to wear you out and discourage you. They will deliberately try to get you to doubt yourself so that you will want to give up the work you have been called to do.
Over the years I have seen this happening so very often on my website. These serial trolls will keep on nagging you, hounding you, attacking you, and telling lies about you – all in the hopes of getting you to doubt what you are doing and to stop what you are doing.
I can give plenty of examples of this but let me mention just one. Often these folks will come along and play the censorship card on me: ‘Oh, you NEVER allow anyone with a different point of view onto your site. You are just a bigoted censor.’
Um, this is a straight-out lie. The truth is I have posted many thousands of comments by my enemies, my critics, and my opponents. But of course at the end of the day it is my site and I will determine who comes on. My commenting rules make this perfectly clear. Indeed, here are a few of my rules:
-This site is meant to express my point of view. If you are looking for a soapbox to promote your own views, create your own website or blog site.
-Comments which are simply attacks on myself, or are done in bad taste, or use rude language, or are possibly defamatory will not be posted.
-You must state your full name to have your comments posted.
I have had many thousands of comments come into my site violating all these rules, so of course these folks will not get a run. There is no reason in the world why I should even consider letting these people on to my website to spread their hate and deception and mischief. They are up to no good so I will not give them a free pass.
We need to know that this WILL happen, and we must guard against it. Satan IS at work. But we must not give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). We must be strong in the Lord and put on the whole armour of God so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-11). We need to be sober and vigilant because the devil is on the prowl, and we must resist him (1 Peter 5:8-9).
After all these years I can pretty easily see when Satan is clearly at work. I can spot these folks a mile away, and I will not give them a moment of my time. Their vexatious and false comments will just go straight into the bin. Just as we are to give no place to the devil, we are to give no place to those the devil sends our way.
We recognise who they are and what their evil intentions are, and we deal with them accordingly. We must not let them drag us down as they keep dishing out lies and deception. We are to spiritually rebuke the devil and his instruments. There is no reason to give these folks the time of day.
Again, we need wisdom and discernment here. As mentioned, honest questions deserve honest answers, and we should be happy to spend a lot of time with those who really want to learn and grow in the knowledge of the truth. But not everyone who comes our way is in that camp: many are deceiving trolls, fully doing the bidding of Satan himself, whether or not they even know of or believe in his existence.
They are not just “useful idiots” to use Lenin’s phrase, but they are Satan’s pawns. The devil has them just where he wants them to be, and he is sending them after God’s choice servants. So if you are involved in any way in getting truth out into the public arena (and all Christians should be doing this to some extent at least), you must be aware and discerning as to who is coming your way.
Not everyone is who they are letting on to be. Just as God has his workers in the world, doing his bidding, so too Satan has his workers in the world, doing his bidding. We must learn to discern who is who, or we will easily get waylaid and incapacitated from doing the work God has called us to do.