An internet meme I came across recently said, “Most people don’t really want the truth. They just want constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth.” This applies to so many circumstances it remains impossible to offer anything but a small sampling. After all, most of us recognize the conundrum offered by the classic question, “Does this make me look fat?” However, the spiritual application of this problem has dire consequences, yet I would venture that it occurs more frequently than any other. Why else would people look for a church based upon their personal preferences instead of considering biblical characteristics? Why else would someone get upset when pointed toward various passages of scripture describing biblical forgiveness? Most people do not really want the truth. They want validation—not salvation. But only the truth can free us from sin (Jn. 8:32) and sanctify us (Jn. 17:17). However, once pride takes hold, the quietest soul can have a will of iron, unyielding to truth or anything else.
Ahab lowered the standards of behavior in Israel lower than they had ever been. Surpassing the idolatry of Jeroboam, he introduced Baal worship under the influence of his wife, Jezebel. Toward the end of his reign, he gave a daughter in marriage to Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, in order to build an alliance. When Jehoshaphat visited several years later, Ahab asked him to go to war with him against Ramoth Gilead. The process he undertook demonstrated just how far from the truth he had strayed. His behavior, recorded in 2 Chronicles 18, reads like an advice column for those seeking reassurance while avoiding the truth. As such, Ahab would offer the following recommendations:
(1) Try to get your peers to agree with you. It helps with self-esteem (2 Chr. 18:1-3).
(2) Find some religious authorities who support your position because you can still feel religious without the responsibilities associated with truth (2 Chr. 18:4-5).
(3) Include some inspired references to keep up appearances for those who still care about such things (2 Chr. 18:6-8).
(4) Use personal authority and the power of numbers to try to influence those who still oppose your position (2 Chr. 18:9-14).
(5) Play the victim and blame the LORD’s messenger any time someone points out sin and error (2 Chr. 18:15-17).
(6) Accept a lie if that is what it takes to feel better (2 Chr. 18:18-27).
(7) Do not worry about the consequences of being wrong. That would be too depressing (2 Chr. 18:28-34).
The apostle Paul summarized this process in his prophecy of apostasy, describing how the devil is able to pull people away from Christ by using “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.” (2 Th 2:10–12). In brief, once you reject God’s truth, the only thing left for you to believe will be a lie. Therefore, Satan does not have to convince you of any particular error; he just must convince you not to accept the truth. For Satan, any ol’ lie will do.