Truth in the Age of Deception
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me again this month as we take up another important end-time message. We are going to look at a very relevant topic. How do you hang on to truth with so many lies to wade through? Politics is fraught with lies. Business often involves deception. And even the church, whom Christ said is the pillar and ground of truth, often leaves you with falsehoods. Truth is actually a rare commodity, and when you have it you have a certainty of the future. When you don’t you’re vulnerable to hucksters, hoaxes, and worse soul-destroying deceptions, and you are tossed around and confused by every wind of doctrine.
As we begin, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, how grateful we are that you stand beside your faithful people and give them peace in the midst of chaos. Please come and be with us today as we study. Help us to cling to truth like never before. Lord, we don’t want to be deceived. And there are so many deceptions, but only one truth. As we study this compelling subject, I pray that we will have insights that we have not had before. And God of truth, please be our God, our protector, and sustainer. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Turn with me in your Bibles, to Revelation 12:7-9. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Notice that Satan was deceptive. That means he lied to Adam and Eve. But before that he deceived many angels in heaven. But for a mighty struggle over which Christ was the victor, he would still be deceiving at least some of the angelic hosts. Or at least through his lies he would be able to get sympathy. Lying has been going on for millennia. And Satan has deceived nearly the whole world into thinking that his way is better than God’s way.
But God has overcome Satan by truth. By sending His son Jesus to earth to speak only truth, he pulled the mask off of Satan’s lies. More than that, when Satan said that God isn’t loving, He showed that God is infinite love. When Satan said that God is exclusive, Christ showed that nothing is farther from the truth. When Satan said that God doesn’t forgive, He showed that God not only forgives, but restores those who are penitent.
Satan is the father of lies, the Bible says in John 8:44. Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Satan originated lies. They have become part of his DNA, so to speak. And he has used many human organizations and people to do this work over the millennia. For instance, in an especially egregious effort to deceive the public, Phillip Morris and other tobacco companies were found guilty in court of fraudulent marketing and intentional deception and ordered to make huge payments and other penalties to compensate for some of the damage to its customers over a long period of time. But the damage had been done by falsehoods and deception.
“On August 17th 2007, after 6 years of litigation, District Federal Court Judge Kessler issued a 1,683 page opinion holding the tobacco companies liable for conspiracy and corrupt organization by fraudulently covering up the health risks associated with cigarettes and for marketing their cigarettes to children (United States v. Phillip Morris). The judge wrote that the tobacco companies… “have marketed and sold their lethal product with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for human tragedy of social costs that success exacted.”
The judge ruled that the companies had coordinated their public relations, research and marketing efforts in order to advance their scheme to defraud by denying the adverse health effects of smoking, denying the addictiveness of nicotine, denying their manipulation of nicotine content and denying that their marketing targeted youth as new smokers. The companies also suppressed and destroyed information related to the dangers of smoking in order to maximize their profit and enhance the market for cigarettes. Here are the major findings of the judge.
1. Defendants Have Falsely Denied, Distorted and Minimized the Significant Adverse Health Consequences of Smoking for Decades.
2. For Approximately Forty Years, Defendants Publicly, Vehemently, and Repeatedly Denied the Addictiveness of Smoking and Nicotine’s Central Role in Smoking.
3. Defendants Falsely Marketed and Promoted Low Tar/Light Cigarettes as Less Harmful than Full-Flavor Cigarettes in Order to Keep People Smoking and Sustain Corporate Revenues.
4. Defendants Have Falsely Denied That They Can and Do Control the Level of Nicotine Delivered in Order to Create and Sustain Addiction.
5. Defendants Have Publicly Denied What They Internally Acknowledged: That ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke or secondhand smoke) is Hazardous to Nonsmokers
6. From the 1950s to the Present, Different Defendants, at Different Times and Using Different Methods, Have Intentionally Marketed to Young People Under the Age of Twenty-one in Order to Recruit Replacement Smokers to Ensure the Economic Future of the Tobacco Industry.
Judge Kessler concluded that: “From at least 1953 until at least 2000, each and every one of these Defendants repeatedly, consistently, vigorously- and falsely- denied the existence of any adverse health effects from smoking. Moreover, they mounted a coordinated, well-financed, and sophisticated public relations campaign to attack and distort the scientific evidence demonstrating the relationship between smoking and disease, claiming the link between the two was still an open question. Finally in doing so, they ignored the massive documentation in their internal corporate files from their own scientists, executives, and public relations people, that, as Philip Morris’s Vice President of Research and Development, Helmut Wakeham admitted there was little basis for disputing the findings of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report at this time.”
That was quite a case. And besides the compensation, the tobacco companies have a lot of blood on their hands in Gods’ eyes because of those intentional lies. Notice too that all the lies were for the money, to ensure the economic future of the tobacco industry.
But there are lies older and even more deceptive than the tobacco companies’ falsehoods. And they go right to the heart of the most harmful organization ever in the history of the world. The Roman Catholic Church has perpetrated magnificent lies for 2000 years and is still doing so today. Its religious lies are notorious. Martin Luther uncovered quite a few of them, in fact. And the church is still lying. The church in modern times lied to cover up its child abuse and pedophilia, through mechanisms of its own, going back quite a few years.
While is isn’t necessary to explain here all the reasons to prove its lies are lies, I’ll just list a few of the falsehoods.
1. The Roman Catholic Church is the Church which was established by Jesus Christ.
2. That the Apostle Peter was the first pope of the Church.
3. The Catholic Church is the Church to whom He gave authority in the world.
4. Roman Catholicism is “the one true faith,” and “the pillar and ground of the truth.”
5. The pope is the “Vicar of Christ,” and has apostolic authority.
6. Man has original sin that he cannot eradicate.
7. Infant baptism.
8. Sprinkling is valid baptism.
9. Jesus’ mother Mary is co-redemtrix with Christ.
10. That salvation can be achieved by works.
11. Confession to a human priest is part of the salvation process.
12. That Sunday rest was authorized by the apostles or by Christ Himself.
13. That there is life after death.
And on and on… The lies are seemingly endless. And people still believe them, even after they have evidence that Rome is still lying today.
These falsehoods are historical. And many people are going to lose their salvation because of them. Rome has a lot of blood on its hands, too. These examples of major falsifications and lies, both ancient and modern, are only two organizations. There are many more. To these examples of institutional lying can be added lies of the dairy industry, the poultry industry, the food industry, the fashion industry, the used car industry and of course the Hollywood industry. The CIA, the FBI, the NSA and many other government agencies lie. They have too to maintain their cover. There are movements in the world with large followings and many supportive organizations that lie every day to sustain their movement, like the LGBTQ+ movement, and Marxist/socialist movements and QAnon. And there are laws supporting lies and falsehoods, like the abortion laws, and homeschooling prohibitions in some places. There are deep fakes that are really deceptive. Deep fakes are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. While the act of faking content is not new, deep fakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive. They can make you think you are seeing or feeling something that isn’t real, as if it is real.
Then there are political lies or fake news promoted by partisan media, especially on the left, though the political right isn’t innocent either. Politicians lie, in fact, all presidents lie, and I mean all of them. That’s why it’s not prudent to support any candidate. While, if you vote for a candidate you may be a participant in “sins they commit while in office,” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, page 475) there is a more important issue. You lose your prophetic end-time voice with many people because of the political positions you take. I sincerely hope you don’t or didn’t sin against God in this election cycle.
Perhaps one of the greatest deceptions of all is when a demon pretends to be someone’s dead loved one. This lie is a form of spiritism.
There are lies everywhere. Unless you have a guide that is only going to tell you the truth, and that guide has been tested over time, you will be deceived, sold down the river, or exploited for political or monetary gain.
What constitutes a lie? The dictionary says it is making an intentionally false statement, a situation involving deception, intentionally presenting a false impression. Have you ever done any of those things?
Listen to this from The Faith I Live By, page 69. “I am bidden to warn all who make untruthful statements that they are serving him who has been a liar from the beginning. Let us be on our guard against untruthfulness, which grows upon him who practices it. I say to all, Make truth your girdle…. Put away all prevarication and exaggeration; never make a false statement.
“An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood.
“There should be a continual effort to imitate the society we expect soon to join; namely, angels of God who have never fallen by sin. The character should be holy, the manners comely, the words without guile, and thus should we follow on step by step until we are fitted for translation.”
What is guile? The dictionary says it is “crafty or artful deception” or “duplicity,” which is deceitfulness in speech or conduct.
Speaking of the 144,000, John the Revelator says, “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” That’s Revelation 14:5.
So, our very countenance should express a conscious awareness that we are in the truth and of the truth. Every glance of the eye, every tone of the voice, every lineament of the features, should express the evidence that we have been with Jesus. Every expression should be marked with humility and love. I tell you I need and want that experience. Don’t you?
Here is a statement from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, page 494. “The custom of overreaching in trade, which exists in the world, is no example for Christians. They should not deviate from perfect integrity, even in small matters. To sell an article for more than it is worth, taking advantage of the ignorance of purchasers, is fraud. Unlawful gains, petty tricks of trade, exaggeration, competition, underselling a brother who is seeking to pursue an honest business—these things are corrupting the purity of the church, and are ruinous to her spirituality.
“The business world does not lie outside the limits of God’s government. Christianity is not to be merely paraded on the Sabbath and displayed in the sanctuary; it is for every day in the week and for every place. Its claims must be recognized and obeyed in the workshop, at home, and in business transactions with brethren and with the world. With many, an absorbing worldliness eclipses the true sense of Christian obligation. The religion of Christ will have such an influence upon the heart that it will control the life. Men possessing the genuine article of true religion will in all their business transactions show as clear a perception of right as when offering their supplications at the throne of grace. The life, with all its capabilities, belongs to God, and should be used to promote His glory, instead of being perverted to the service of Satan in defrauding our fellow men.”
So, everything comes under the purview of the law of God. “Make straight paths for your feet.” Hebrews 12:13.
What does the Bible say will be the end of all liars? Listen to Revelation 22:14, 15. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”
The prohibition against lying is found in the ten commandments. The 9th commandment says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Exodus 20:16.
So, tragically, none of these people who commit these things will be in the New Jerusalem. And they will become so hardened that they won’t be able to tell the difference between the truth and a lie.
And scams are everywhere. They are just as much a lie as anything else. There are scammers who will lie to you that they’ve inherited millions and they need a partner to help get the money out of Africa, or Russia or wherever, and they chose you, amazingly, to be their partner for which you will be rewarded with part of the haul, usually several million dollars. Then when you respond, they need a little money from you, no less, to process paperwork or for some legal fees, or whatever. It’s all a big lie.
Then there’s the sob story emergency where a person is stranded in Britain and their wallet is stolen and they need a little help, which gets bigger and bigger with each successful round of picking your pocket. Some of these scammers are very good at it.
People fall for lies every day, at the supermarket, when they buy a car, when they turn on the TV. They fall for robocalls, the fraternal order of police, and the needs of the fire department, and the missing persons association. Oh, then again, maybe some of them are genuine. But how do you know which are truly genuine? There is so much disinformation out there how do you know if anything is genuine anymore. Some of these lies don’t have much impact, but others have quite a set of consequences.
Even social media companies distort reality. About two thirds of US adults get their news from social media. Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other platforms have deep biases that are constantly pushed on users by misrepresenting the truth, which is a lie. Let’s talk about that for a few minutes because today, social media has become a major force in society.
We tweet, we like, and we share, but most people, particularly younger people, have grown dependent on social media for their facts or truth. But this is dangerous because these social media companies have a dark side. A new documentary shows how they are being used to break down our shared reality.
What do I mean by that? Before social media most people, no matter their persuasion on a given topic, had a common set of facts on which to base their opinions and decisions. They may have come to different conclusions or decisions, but they were working from a common platform. Today, that has changed. In fact, we aren’t all working from the same “facts” anymore. We don’t have a shared reality. And this makes it very difficult to understand each other.
Jeff Orlowski has directed a documentary film, available on Netflix, called the “Social Dilemma,” describing what is happening to society as a result of our use of social media. He says the advent of the iPhone created a more personal experience because that experience was yours and yours alone. It wasn’t the desktop computer that could be shared by the whole family. Now the experience could be tailored for the individual. Not only could the individual tailor the experience, but the social media companies have developed algorithms to first “enhance” that experience, and then to guide that experience.
This gives them awesome power over the mind through customized news, for example, because they can provide content that is very personalized to the individual. Its first effect is to give everyone their own personalized version of the world, their own reality, so to speak, rather than a shared reality with millions of others as it used to be before the iPhone. When the experience is decoupled from commonly understood facts, it becomes impossible to view politics, events, or just about anything from a common platform. And it becomes very easy, even very tempting, by manipulation and/or suppression of content to sway people’s opinions one way or the other regardless of the truth. The social media companies do this by providing content that agrees with the user’s views. Disinformation and misinformation are by this means, used to accomplish significant change in society. And the social media companies are doing just that.
What has happened to objective truth? Tristan Harris, President and Co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, said the business model of the social media companies is to sell “the ability to change your attention, to change what you are thinking, [and] feeling…” A personalized reality is more profitable than a more general, shared reality. A more general shared experience “is not going to be as successful in getting your attention than getting your own reality… [and] we’re not seeing the other information,” only that which agrees with us. They appeal to the innate instincts of human nature, which makes the experience very appealing.
This is the key, because the innate instincts are carnal mostly. And people think that truth is what they believe. But there is no objective moral truth on which to base that opinion. So, people take positions and opinions that are not based on the broad reality, but rather based on their perceptions given them by their own reality, supported and enhanced by their social media company. Once they’re locked into the reality that has grabbed their attention and held it, there is almost nothing you can do to change their view no matter how outlandish and false it is.
You are probably familiar with this phenomenon regarding fantastic conspiracy theories. But the concept is now being applied in the mainstream to everyone who uses social media. Once the shared reality has been fragmented or rather shattered by this personalization, it is easy to manipulate opinion and behavior. Thus, it will be very difficult to explain the three angels’ messages, because most people don’t have that common biblical understanding of objective truth that was once the driving force in Protestant America. Eventually, this will create a desire for some kind of authority. If not the Bible, then the magisterium of the Papacy will take its place as the objective truth, especially when God’s judgements are poured out.
“Everything [we’re] doing online,” said Jeff Seibert, former executive of Twitter, “is being watched, is being tracked, is being measured, every single action you take is carefully monitored and recorded, exactly what images you look at, for how long you look at it.”
Social media companies know when people “are lonely. They know when they’re depressed. They know when you’re looking at photos of your ex-romantic partners, what you are doing late at night. They know the entire thing, whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, or what kind of neuroses you have, or what your personality type is like.”
“They have more information about us than has ever been imagined in human history. It is unprecedented.”
“[The] business model depends on manipulating our attention and getting us to use it in specific ways for very long periods of time,” said Harris. “So, our default technology environment is a manipulation-based technology environment, and kids are growing up in that, and they will not have known anything different.”
“We have sent society through the washing machine of algorithmic personalization…,’ continued Harris, “[but] the harm shows up on the balance sheets of society, with everything from addiction, mental health problems, slow erosion of truth, worse journalism, shorter attention spans…”
So, what these social media companies do is, for example, flood you with recommendations that promote conspiracy theories and extremism, and the result is that eventually you will more likely believe the conspiracy theory. The flat earth theory was recommended hundreds of millions of times by the social media companies. Is it any wonder that there are those who firmly believe the flat earth theory today?
More insidiously, they can get you to hate some person by personalizing information on that person that they want you to hate. They know already your predisposition to dislike someone, so they build on that with content that gives evidence, given in a reasonable way, for that dislike. Eventually, the evidence has gotten stronger in your mind, and you begin to hate that person. And they’re not interested so much in your squabbles with your neighbor, but in the big picture. They are interested in the big issues of the day, like LGBTQ issues, or women’s rights, as in the pseudo-right to an abortion, fomenting dissent or riots, or in politics.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:12, “The love of many will wax cold.” Friends, this manipulation is satanic. And he wants to get people hating each other more and more. And, by the way, he uses race and prejudice as one of his most effective tools. He wants to spread discontent and conflict. He wants to spread distrust and disaffection. And he wants to increase the suicide rate.
Manipulation is most easily seen in politics. If the social media companies want one side to win an election, and they don’t want the other side to win, they bombard their platform with recommendations that promote opinions in harmony with their agenda. And the whole social media experience has gone from a general shared perspective, to personal experience, to manipulation of the mind through your personal experience. You think your opinions are your own, but they have been developed over time by algorithms with a strong bias. And mostly, people have no idea what is happening to them.
“We all simply are operating on a different set of facts,” says Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy Research at the A.I. Now Institute, and adjunct professor of New York University School of Law, “and when that happens…, you’re no longer able to reckon or even consume information that contradicts with that world view that you’ve created. That means that we aren’t being objective or constructive individuals.”
“Then you look at the other side,” says Harris, “and you start to think; ‘How can those people be so stupid? Look at all this information that I’m seeing, how are they not seeing the same information? The answer is, they’re not seeing that same information.”
Harris says, lies fly six times faster on social media than the truth does.
“Truth will never win in that equation.” says Orlowski. “We can spend as much time as we want doing very thoughtful careful reporting on certain things, and then a lying machine is just outpacing you, and you just can’t keep up with it.”
Social Media is more than just a neutral user-friendly service. It is an attractive, and deceptive place, with an agenda to undermine your ability to think from cause to effect, to tell the truth from lies. It will destroy your love of the Bible if you allow it to dominate your life as many people do. It is leading to a very dystopian future where the Bible is not understood, especially by young people.
And it’s leading in so many ways directly to the fulfillment of Bible prophecies. For instance, and this is just one, they could provide content that demonizes Bible Sabbath keepers and cause them to hate them so much that they would kill them. And many people will take matters into their own hands. Only the angels of God can defend God’s true commandment keepers.
Friends, the only reliable truth when it comes down to it, is the Bible. The only certainty is faith in the Word of God and in making that Word your instruction manual to guide you through the maze of falsehoods and deception. You won’t find a guide that’s committed to only truth anywhere in the world. Falsehoods and deceptions are all going to pass away along with the people who promoted them and have placed their affections on the world.
Here is a statement from Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, page 336 and 337. “Men are mortals. They may be sincerely pious and yet have many errors of understanding and many defects of character, but they cannot be Christ’s followers and yet be in league with him who ‘loveth and maketh a lie.’ Such a life is a fraud, a perpetual falsehood, a fatal deception. It is a close test upon the courage of men and women to be brought to face their own sins and to frankly acknowledge them. To say, “That mistake must be charged to my account,” requires a strength of inward principle that the world possesses in but a limited degree. But he who has the courage to say this in sincerity gains a decided victory over self and effectually closes the door against the enemy.”
“An adherence to the strictest principles of truth will frequently cause present inconvenience and may even involve temporal loss, but it will increase the reward in the future life. Religion does not consist merely in a system of dry doctrines, but in practical faith, which sanctifies the life and corrects the conduct in the family circle and in the church. Many may tithe mint and rue, but neglect the weightier matters, mercy and the love of God. To walk humbly with God is essential to the perfection of Christian character. God requires undeviating principle in the minutest details of the transactions of life. Said Christ: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”
There are two deceptions above all others that Satan has foisted upon the Christian world: Sunday sacredness and the immortality of the soul. All who fall for these and stick with them, even though Scripture plainly reveals the opposite, will lose their souls and bodies in eternal death.
Right before Jesus comes, there will be so much disinformation, fake news and deep fakes focused on the making the truth of the Bible look like a lie, that people will be totally confused. And they will think that the advocates of truth and the Sabbath are telling lies. They will persecute them, and eventually try to kill them. The truth will be trampled in the dust. And the world will cling to its disloyalty to its own destruction.
Friends, there is no safe place where you can hear only truth, except for the Word of God and those who are sanctified by obeying it. You must know the Word if you are going to escape the snare. If you are going to have nothing but the truth, you have to live by every Word of it. Give yourself to the truth of scripture. Let it become the guiding light in your life.
Let us pray. Dear Father, we especially need truth in this world of lies. You have faithfully given us Your word to help us navigate our lives through the maze of falsehoods and disinformation. Please help us to be faithful and side only with truth. Not political parties, not with governments, not with friends. Only truth. And we’ll praise You through all eternity. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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