Against the Delusions: The Spiritual Battle for Truth
I have a problem, right from the start here. We all do. I try to describe the depth of delusion our culture has fallen into, and I find no adequate words to speak it. There was a time when the word “insanity” would get the point across. Its’ been used so often, though — because it has true so often — the word has come to feel like part of the environment we live in, rather than a diagnosis to be taken seriously.
Let me tell you now: It’s not just an atmosphere word. It is real, and it is everywhere.
I will be bold and say that some of us have escaped the craziness. Some of us know a man who feels like a woman doesn’t know even know what it feels like to be a woman. We know this feeling can’t change reality. We know children are still children, parents know more, and they have responsibilities children can’t begin to comprehend, much less take on for themselves.
No one has duped us into thinking it takes a biologist to define the word “woman,” but at least a biologist would have a better shot at an honest, sensible answer than all the sociologists, gender theorists, and bandwagon-jumping celebrities.
We see how the madness has shadowed minds not only in gender theory but in sexual shame’s contorted, twisted shape that the world calls “pride.” Our eyes are open to the federal establishment’s corruption.
We have not been tricked into celebrating Palestinian terrorism, as so many others have.
We remember what “racism” once meant, we know its old meaning is still its proper meaning, and we see that today’s “anti-racism” is textbook anti-anti-racism. If the surgeon general issues a long, urgent report on epidemic loneliness in America, and if that report pays absolutely no attention either to marriage or divorce, we know that this is both wrong and deluded.
Supernaturally Hardened Hearts and Minds
But there is so much of it out there now. It’s one thing for a nation to be fooled a little bit for a little while, and something else altogether for a culture to disconnect itself so totally from reality. We have to wonder what on earth could be the cause of it. Or is it maybe not something “on earth” at all?
There are earthly causes, no doubt: everything from politics to economics to social media to devious yet skilled persuasion. I have trouble believing that explains all of it, though. This feels like more than ordinary delusion. There’s something supernatural going on here.
I take one clue toward that from a sermon this week by Mike Littell, Dayton area pastor and Stream contributor, from Exodus 4:18-32. In that passage, the Lord says to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.”
Pastor Mike commented on that (it’s near the -16:10 point in this recording), saying,
The Lord makes it clear that He will personally harden the heart of Pharaoh. Of course it’s not going to be against Pharaoh’s will. … Pharaoh hardens his heart with his own darkness and his own stubbornness, but then the Lord tells us He also hardens the heart of Pharaoh. Because there’s no way to understand how stubborn Pharaoh will become unless you realize that God is specifically involved in this crystallization of his heart.
You know how it plays out over the next several chapters. Pharaoh persists in a long series of patently deluded, arguably insane decisions, to the great harm of his family and his country.
Could God Be In This?
So if Mike Littell is right — and I think he is — Pharaoh’s stubbornness was his own, but it was also supernatural. When I heard him preach that, my mind flashed straight to our world today. Could this insanity be supernaturally influenced, too? Could God even be “specifically involved” in it?
Passages like this one in Exodus tell us God sometimes does involve Himself in hardening people’s understanding. I can’t claim to understand God’s purposes in it. I know somehow it’s for His glory and for the salvation of His people. More than that, I would not even begin to try to explain. But the evidence is there: God can work redemptively even when He hardens hearts: See how Israel was rescued from Egypt, and how God begin building a people for Himself from them.
“Sends Them a Strong Delusion”
I would actually call that another clue to what’s going on. We know that God can and sometimes does work in paradoxical ways. But there is a much stronger clue to come, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11:
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion so that they may believe what is false.
This is an end-times passage, so Christians will disagree about the details and the timing. No matter. We see another similar picture in Romans 1:18-32, showing how evil delusions can descend gradually upon a people as God “gives them up” to their own evil. No one thinks that passage is off in some distant eschatological future.
They “Refused to Love the Truth”
“They refused to love the truth,” it says, so “God sends them a strong delusion so that they may believe what is false.” Leave out God’s part for a moment, since His actions are less visible, and ask yourself, does that not sound like our age? Especially when we focus in on the grounds of it all: their refusal to “love the truth.”
Has there ever been a culture that has turned from truth as decisively as ours? No one loves the truth; they love their own “truth” instead. That, too, is delusion: They’re really just loving themselves.
I found further evidence while finishing this article. I searched on iStock.com for an image to head this page based on the word “truth.” Nothing. Not a single image featuring that word, not until the third page of results. The one you see here — just the fourth one I found — came from the bottom of the 13th page. There were plenty of “core values” images there. “Respect.” “Integrity.” Those are fine words, but what happened to “truth”?
Truth has died by degrees, that’s what happened.. First there was wishful thinking to evade reality. Then there was “relative truth.” From there it devolved to authoritarian “truth,” delivered by everyone from individuals with “lived experience” to big tech and big media, all the way up to the White House. Along with that came hatred toward reason, if it challenged that “truth.” And the final death knell for truth was rung when even science, that one last great bastion of trusted knowledge, bowed its knee to politics and ideology.
The Spiritual Battle for Truth
They “refused to love the truth,” so they fell under a “strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.” Is that not us? Are we not living in a world that refuses to love the truth? That lives under “strong delusion”? That believes what is false — and believes such false things, so intently, that the delusion seems something other than merely natural?
This is the picture of our age — an age living under supernaturally strong delusion. I am sure of this. But even if my diagnosis is wrong, the prescription is still the same. We are in spiritual battle, and we must fight it with spiritual weapons. That includes prayer. Fasting. A strong yet humble walk with the living God.
And it tells us we must love the truth. Love it enough to pursue it. Enough to fight for it — for ourselves, first of all: That we would wage our own warfare to discover and be convinced of what’s really real, from Scripture and from sound reason. We must love it enough to live it. Enough to stand with it even when they call us to join with them in their delusions.
Do you want to stay sane in this tormented, deluded world? Do you want the same for your loved ones? Then learn the lesson. Love the truth.
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.