We all know that the devil is a liar (John 8:44), but we seldom think about the fact that he can and does tell the truth too.
Bedtime has often been a challenge for me. Perhaps it’s the caffeine, too much television, or too much screen time, or maybe my ADHD had something to do with it; but falling asleep has often been a chore. Lately I’ve been trying to build a bedtime routine of rehearsing all of the things that happened that day for which I’m grateful. It actually seems to help me fall asleep faster. Last night I forgot…at first.
As I lay there the thought occurred to me that I wasn’t worthy of God’s love. Now, having had a history of depression, that thought could easily have sent me in a downward spiral; but I’ve come a long way. But then it hit me… I really wasn’t worthy of God’s love! No, you didn’t misread that.
There is nothing that I can do that could make me worthy. I couldn’t possibly do enough good works, or give enough to missionaries, or pray long enough to merit God’s favor. But I don’t need to do those things to obtain His favor and blessing!
The devil thought that by attacking my sense of worth he would flush me down the toilet of life…again. But this time I was ready for him. I said, “Thank you mister devil for reminding me that I’m not worthy of God’s love. Everything I needed to become worthy was accomplished by Jesus on the Cross.” I began to give thanks to God and express my gratitude for everything Jesus has done, is doing, and will do in my life.
We all know that the devil is a liar (John 8:44), and the “accuser of our brothers” (Rev. 12:10, ESV), but we seldom think about the fact that he can and does tell the truth too. During Jesus’ temptation in Matthew chapter 4 the devil takes Jesus to the very top of the temple and tells him to jump. He quotes scripture, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone'” (Matt. 4:6, ref. Ps. 91:11-12). The scriptures he quoted were and are true! But the devil likes to season every temptation and lie with a grain of truth.
The key is knowing the scriptures, so that we can not only recognize the truth, but also identify the lie. I’m told that the U.S. Secret Service agents learn to identify counterfeit currency by studying thousands of genuine currency. When you really know the true, the counterfeit is obvious.
If it doesn’t happen daily, it will happen often enough to be sure. A thought will pop into your head. Don’t assume the whole thing is true just because part of it is. Identify the truth and be thankful for the truth. It may be that it will point out your need for repentance (that is often the case for me!). If so, repent and move on. Identify the lie. If you don’t, it may be presented to you again in a slightly different, more subtle, way.
Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (ESV). In verse 105 it says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (ESV).
Paul instructed Timothy, and by extension us, “Do your best [study, KJV] to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, ESV). Jesus used His knowledge of the word in response to the devil’s temptations. Three times the devil tried to tempt Him, once using scripture; and three times Jesus answered with scripture (you can read the full account in Matthew 4!).
Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-32, 36, ESV). Of course, that doesn’t mean that you will be free of temptation, or sin for that matter, before the Lord returns. But it does mean that you are free from condemnation through the work of Jesus on the cross.
The devil will bring accusations against you; and often there will be truth in what he says. At the Christian university I attended we were constantly told that all truth is God’s truth, regardless of where it is found. Identify it. Repent, and be grateful that, while he meant it for evil, the devil has brought you closer to your Savior.