In an era of fake news and false headlines we can’t imagine life without lies; but in the beginning that wasn’t so. Man existed in a world where lies didn’t, a world where lies were only foreign ideas; and telling the truth was everyone’s first impulse. No resident of that antediluvian paradise knew the pain of deception until Lucifer whispered into Eve’s adolescent ear, “You will not certainly die.” She believed the lie, and awful concept became a reality. From that moment we have been spending our days fighting to find our way, cutting through the undergrowth, and digging through the garbage trying to uncover the truth.
Lucifer told the first lie, and he’s been lying ever since. Falsehood is his native language, and he is a fluent communicator. Even when he tells the truth, he only tells the part that will get him closer to his goals. He is the father of lies, and he makes sure his family keeps growing every day.
There is a method behind his madness. He lies to rob God of glory; he steals glory by distracting and capturing the hearts of those God loves. Every fraudulent claim he makes is a calculated move toward that end. Satan is no fool. He is aware when men get a glimpse of who God is and what He has prepared for His own, he will lose all control. So, he weaves intricate alternatives to the truth to keep our hearts too preoccupied to ever think about such troubling subjects as life after death. He knows heaven is the home we were made for. So, he spares no effort in keeping us from getting there. To those who dare to ponder the realities of heaven and hell; he happily presents a set of tall stories that fall far short of the truth. He has assembled his lies to look and feel so much like the truth that most people never look close enough to discover the difference. Yet, we must be aware–no matter how pretty the wrapping–that garbage is still garbage.
I believe there are three primary lies that the Prince of Hell likes to tell about heaven. The first being, heaven isn’t a real place. This lie works on two levels. If the skeptic can be convinced that there is no such thing as heaven, then they will give little concern to how they live on earth. However, to the believer the hope of heaven is what gives us the courage to suffer loss in this life knowing all we will gain in the next. Satan and his minions enjoy nothing more than destroying that confidence by placing a question mark where God placed a period.
This basic lie is sold in many different forms–heaven is a myth the weak need to get them through life; we live, we die, and then we cease to exist; death has a rotating door that allows us to be reborn an infinite number of times. The packaging may be different, but the statement is still a lie.
This lie always performs as if it is a proven fact. It claims science and logic as its chief advocates; it demands to be believed without cross examination. Interestingly its claims to be true are based on unfounded theories that have not and cannot be tested and proven by any measure.
The desire to know the truth must be accompanied by a willingness to listen when it speaks. Far too often we arrive at conclusions before we have even asked the right questions. What if the Bible is true and Jesus was exactly who He claimed to be? The claims of scripture are too great to be ignored. The only course of action a reasonable person can take is to make an honest inquiry into the evidence. The lie says, “just believe me and I won’t lead you wrong,” but the truth is not afraid to be put under the microscope.
The second lie is, heaven is for everyone. The 1989 release of a seemingly innocent children’s movie put a new name on this old story. The title was, All Dogs Go to Heaven, and the lie was that heaven will not exclude anyone. The problem is we’re not dogs, and heaven is an exclusive place. Simply put, heaven isn’t everybody’s home. Heaven is God’s city, and He reserves the right to legislate who gets in and who doesn’t. Citizenship in the City of God is not granted by doing good deeds; it is a gift of grace. American citizenship must be worked for, but heavenly citizenship must only be received. Citizenship belongs only to those who have repented of sin and by faith trusted in the death of Christ for their forgiveness.
The second lie may be more dangerous than the first because it cloaks itself in a religious overcoat. It differs from the first in that it appeals to the heart rather than to the mind. The first lie says, heaven can’t be seen so it can’t be real. The second lie says a loving God would never punish anyone. In soft pious tones it appeals directly to the emotions. It loves to ask questions, but it doesn’t really want answers. It assures the fearful that though heaven has walls they won’t keep anyone out.
The truth is, heaven is open to everyone, but everyone who gets in must come through the door. Jesus Christ said, “I am the door.”
It is often argued, if Christ’s death was sufficient for the sin of all mankind then shouldn’t everyone go to heaven? This seems logical until we consider that the scripture repeatedly emphasizes man’s responsibility to repent and believe. Scripture says that eternal life is to know God and His Son whom He has sent. Jesus’ death purchased pardon for sinners, but reconciliation only belongs to those who accept His gift of grace. Mercy is available to everyone, but it is only experienced by those who receive it. The reality is that men don’t miss heaven because God rejected them; they miss heaven because they rejected Him. Everyone is invited to the party, but only those who RSVP get in.
The final lie is that heaven is a boring place. We will discuss this lie in greater detail later in this series. If the devil is that father of lies, then this lie looks particularly like its daddy. Satan has a personal vendetta against the place he once called home. He can’t go back, so he doesn’t want anyone else to either. Lucifer knows his days are numbered. Soon the deceiver will deceive no more. His eternity can be summed up in five words–Liar, liar, pants on fire. He would love nothing more than to have company, so he posts detours along the path to keep us off the narrow road that leads home. Some of his lies keep us out of heaven while others keep heaven out of us.
Be assured, the truth is always better than a lie and the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us really is out of this world. For now, we look for a city and long for the land where dreams come true.
-Pastor Benjamin Webb