Podcast Transcript. To listen to the audio version click HERE
There is no question in my mind that we were born to believe. We could not function or exist without it. Belief by its very nature drives everything we do. But where does belief come from?
Some might say from our parents, but then where did they get belief from? From their parents? And so you keep going backward and eventually you get to the origin of belief and yet there is no scientific explanation. Humans Believe. .Animals do not. Why is that?
Evolution can’t account for belief.
Belief simply is.
Now a much easier question to answer about belief is “What is it?”
Belief is the acceptance that something is true.
But is belief the same as truth?
Obviously we believe what we believe is true. But what if it isn’t?
You might say, “well it doesn’t matter what I believe as long as I believe it to be true then it is true to me.”
Ok. And if there were no consequences for believing a lie then it probably wouldn’t be worth discussing. But what if there are real life consequences for believing truth is a lie or believing a lie is the truth?
Consequences change things don’t they? Especially if those consequences are the difference between life of death.
So does what we believe matter?
Well now the answer might be modified to “it doesn’t matter what I believe as long as it is true to me and my beliefs are not harming anyone.”
With this answer we are at least acknowledging the danger of believing a lie, but the acknowledged danger is only subject to our current reality.
But what if there is more than our current reality that we should be concerned about?
What if there is an eternal reality?
What if the belief that we are all born with, but can give no account for its origins, actually comes from a God who created us?
What if there is moral truth: a moral law we were created to believe and obey?
The scriptures actually pinpoint the moment when the truth was first contested by the lie here on earth. In the book of Genesis we read:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” (Genesis 3:1–5 ESV)
Here we have the first moment in recorded history when belief really did matter. On the one hand the woman has been told God’s version of the truth,” if you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will surely die.” On the other hand she has been told the Serpent’s version of the truth, “you will not surely die. In fact if you eat this fruit you will set yourself free and become your own god, subject to no one but yourself.”
So Who was she going to believe?
Who was telling her the truth?
If she had relied on reason alone she would have believed what God told her, but in the moment of temptation she abandoned reason and instead decided to rely on her senses.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
Her feelings led her to believe the lie.
It looked good. It felt good. So it must be good.
But what were the consequences?
To be clear when I say death I’m speaking of its definition, “the absence of life.”
Thus death is the ultimate proof that God was telling the truth and the serpent was lying.
Death was not a reality before we believed the lie.
But afterward death was ever to be a part of our reality here on earth to remind us of the most fundamental moral truths.
The wages of sin is death.
The truth is we are daily surrounded by the reality of death. We read about it in the news. We are entertained by it on the screens of our devices. And ultimately it even reaches out and touches the ones we love.
We literally face death every day. And yet in spite of this death seems so unnatural to us. We all know we are going to die, but we rarely think about it or admit to if we do.
Instead of death we think about life. Even eternal life.
Why if death is a reality that we all must face… if there has never been evidence that any man has ever escaped its grasp… is there this universal belief in eternal life in every religion?
Why if we know we are going to die do we believe there is life after death?
There can only be two answers to that question.
Either we don’t actually believe in death (according to its definition) or we believe that we will be resurrected from the dead.
So let’s explore each of those scenarios.
If we don’t believe when we die we really die. (In other words we believe we continue to exist in another form throughout eternity) then we really don’t believe in death.
In fact, whether we realize it or not, we actually believe what the serpent said to Eve.
“You will not surely die”. “You will be like god.”
Immortality is the opposite of death.
Now there are some admittedly great benefits for not believing in death.
First, if there is no death then there is no sin and obviously no consequences for committing sin
And if there is no sin then there is no truth. No right. No wrong. No guilt. No judgment.
Sounds pretty good so far.
And it gets even better…
If there is no right or wrong than truth is subject to me. Not me to it.
I determine it.
What I like is true. What I don’t like is fake news.
And if I am the determiner of truth, then I am god.
I have to admit there is a lot of appeal to believing it.
If this is true then life simply is about discovering the god within me. How I live than only matters to me. How I treat others than only matters to me. They have their path and I have mine.
But what if death is true.
What if when we die we actually die meaning we cease to exist?
Than our only hope is in a resurrection.
But to accept that death is true we must also accept the cause of death: sin.
And what is sin?
The scriptures tell us simply that “sin is the transgression of the Law” of God.
And if there is a law that we are subject to than certainly we are not god, but are rather subject to the government of the God who established it.
So in the end, like in all things, we have a choice.
We can either believe the philosophy of the serpent “All is one” and “all is God.” “no right, no wrong, no rules for me.”
Or we have another choice.
We can believe,
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)
Believing in Jesus does not negate the reality of death.
In fact it is only as we recognize death for what it really is that we can appreciate the gift God has given us in Jesus Christ.
““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)
means much more when we understand the finality of death.
Jesus was willing to go to the grave eternally to give us eternal life
That is a truth that has power.
It is a truth that moves from an abstract concept to a relational reality.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
Jesus tells us that there is not many ways, but one.
There are not many truths, but one truth. And only by following the truth can we have eternal life.
And if we have to follow Jesus – the truth – in order to have life we must also follow his Word which teaches us how to follow him.
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 NKJV)
Freedom is not found in mysticism, finding our own path, making our own way, looking inside ourselves.
Freedom is only found as we follow the truth.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV)
Therefore any religious movement downplays the importance of truth is in reality downplaying the importance of Christ.
It is placing man’s thoughts and man’s opinions above God’s. It is buying into the spiritualistic lie that sin isn’t real, you will not surely die, and you can become your own God – deciding for yourself what is and what isn’t truth.
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23–24 NKJV)
Spiritualism teaches you only need to worship in Spirit. An outside source of truth is unnecessary to guide you. The truth is found within.
But God says that we are incapable to finding the truth on out own. Truth must come from outside of us through the Holy Spirit and God’s word
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13 NKJV)
You see the sad thing is that God will not condemn the world because of its sin. Jesus took care of that for us. The condemnation of the world comes because it refused to follow the truth once it was revealed.
You may have been told that you cannot know the truth.
You may have been told that truth is inconsequential to spiritual reality, but Jesus tells us otherwise.
Jesus says he is the truth, that the father is seeking those who worship in truth, and that the Spirit will lead us into all truth.
To be ready for Jesus we need to be ready for the truth. To believe the truth.
For there are very real consequences for believing the lie.
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because 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, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9–14 NKJV)
Even more than believing the truth we have to love the truth.
Don’t make the same mistake Eve did in the garden by allowing your senses to be the arbitrator of truth. Only the word of God can free us from the trap of trusting ourselves.
Belief alone won’t save us in the end, no matter how sincere our belief is.
Our only hope is belief in the way, the truth, and the life.