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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

The Great Lie

Adolf Hitler famously said that if you “Make the lie big, make it simple, [and] keep saying it… …eventually they will believe it.” There is a big, simple, persistent lie being told throughout society today and people inside and out of the Church have swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. As with many lies, this one begins with a kernel of truth which makes it all the more believable. And the repercussions stemming from this lie are significant, quite harmful, and in some cases eternal. Lest you think yourself exempt, I will tell you that either you personally have been deceived by this lie or you know many people who have been.

Before I address the lie, I'll identify some truths that you must keep in mind to understand why the lie is so problematic.

First, you must understand that you are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Just like God is a 3-part Being (Father, Son, & Spirit), so are you. You are an eternal spirit, you have a mind which referees between your spirit and body, and you live in a body.

Second, you must understand that everyone faces temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). No one goes through life without being tempted. Even Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, & Luke 4:1-13). Although the experience of temptation is common to everyone, the individual sins which people are tempted to commit vary from person to person.

This brings us to the great lie—that temptation is the same as sin. I know, I know... Mature Christians like you don’t believe this lie. It’s all those “lukewarm” believers falling victim to this deception. But hear me out before you stop reading.

I mentioned that everyone faces different temptations. Jesus addressed a few of these in the Sermon on the Mount.

I will not examine them all, but briefly consider anger (which Jesus associates with more popular sin murder) in Matthew 5:22 and lust (which He associates with adultery) in Matthew 5:28. Before either of these become sins, they both begin as a temptation (frustration or physical attraction). They become sins by taking root in the mind (as anger or lust) and ultimately manifest themselves in the flesh as adultery or murder.

The same pattern is evident with Eve’s temptation in Genesis 3. In vv. 1-5, the fruit was just a temptation. In v. 6, Eve stares at the fruit, internalizing its appeal and allowing her desire for it to take root in her mind. This is when it became sin. Once she submitted to the temptation and allowed it to take root and become sin, it was only a matter of time before the sin was manifested in the flesh as she ate of the fruit.

Notice that the initial temptation is unavoidable in each of these sins. One cannot help but be frustrated, find others physically attractive, or want to eat the forbidden fruit any more than one can stop birds from flying over his or her head. However, as Martin Luther famously said, “We're not responsible for every bird that flies over our heads, only the ones we allow to build nests in our hair.” The great lie (that temptation is the same as sin) convinces us that we cannot prevent the nest-building either. The great lie tells us that frustration is equal to anger and that attraction is equal to lust.

Society is nearly fully persuaded that the great lie is truth. This is why we have begun to rely on birth control and gun control instead of self-control.

If we believe that lust is unavoidable because attraction is unavoidable, then it only follows that fornication, adultery, and rape (the fruits of lust) are also unavoidable. We see this in a society that doesn’t like to teach abstinence because “teenagers can’t exercise that kind of self-control.” Our world believes that these children are like instinct-driven animals and are going to be sexually active no matter what. The world’s best hope is to put our daughters on birth control and give our sons condoms in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies and curb the transmission of sexually transmitted infections. We see this “helpless” mindset in Ashley Madison and Brock Turner. Yet we have laws against rape because we expect people to suddenly develop and utilize self-control when they are attracted to someone who does not consent to sex.

If we believe that anger is unavoidable because frustration is unavoidable, then it only follows that murder (the fruit of anger) is also unavoidable. We see this in a society that devalues human life, is callous and jaded enough to laugh at tragedies, and believes that by making it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns they will somehow outsmart the human condition. Yet we still have laws against murder because we expect people who are frustrated to not take another’s life out of anger.

As citizens of the Kingdom and residents of the world, Christians must stand for truth. While it is not our job to legislate morality, believers have to stop pretending to believe the great lie. There is enough intellectual inconsistency in the great lie that Christians can point it out without ever bringing God, faith, or the Bible into the conversation. Love your neighbors enough to take a stand for truth. They desperately need it.


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