We live in a culture where we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. One of the most disturbing and common phrases we hear today is ‘fake news.’ This term refers to stories are intentionally false in order to smear a person or an idea. Fake news has its own set of facts, some of which are true, some of which are close to true, and some of which are wildly untrue. This concept of fake news permeates our society, with some entire news networks being dubbed, ‘Fake News Network.”
The worst part of this is that there is a market for fake news. Many people are driven by hatred toward others that they seek out stories that are not true in order to solidify their position and hatred. This demand drives supply. And then of course supply fuels demand. It is a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately even Christians can get caught up in believing, seeking out, and disseminating fake news. The problem is, fake news is a form of deceit and lying. Fake news is not a misprint, mistake in reporting. It is a lie. The difference between a mistake and a lie is intent. If my wife asks where the pop tarts are and I tell her they are on the counter because that is where I think I last left them, that is a mistake. If I tell her they are on the counter when I know for a certainty that they are in the bottom of the pantry behind the cookbooks because I want to keep them for myself, that is a lie. This is the nature of ‘fake news.’
So if a Christian is not to participate in spreading lies, how can we equip ourselves to refrain from it? Well, part of the answer lies in not believing the lies. A Christian is a person of truth living in a world of lies. When we are made into a new creation, our ‘wanter’ changes. We no longer want to do the things that are wrong. We now want to do what is right. So how do we remain pure and not become part of the fake news culture by believing and sharing lies? How can we know what is a lie in a world that is saturated with lies?
It is not easy to spot a lie… unless you know the truth. Knowing the truth is the key to not believing lies. Being able to spot a lie is not about how many lies you know, but how much truth you believe. We need to become more acquainted with the truth if we want to remain unpolluted from the lies. The earth is filled with lies. It has been ever since the first lie in the Garden of Eden when Satan lied to Eve. He attacked the truth of God when he told her that she could disobey God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil without dying. She believed, and through her sin, the lie has multiplied. In fact, the world ‘lie’ is found around 197 times in the Bible, while the word ‘truth’ is only found around 168 times. This doesn’t mean that lies are more important than truth, but it does mean that they are more pervasive in a fallen world.
While Jesus was on the earth, He claimed to be the truth. And people were constantly having to choose between believing the truth about Him (He was the Messiah) or the lie about Him (that He was not the Messiah). At one point Jesus looked at those who had surrendered to believe the truth about Him and said, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) Christ will help you know the truth, and the truth will set you free from the lies. So how does this work in our daily life? Here are three things you can do to remain free from the entrapment of fake news…
1&2 – Limit your time with the lies. Increase your time in the truth. You don’t learn how to discern fake news by being engulfed by fake news. You learn what is right by being saturated with the truth. You may need to limit your access to media in order to flush the poison out of your system. Instead of clicking all of the links to various news stories, open up the Bible. Read what is true. Learn what is true. Love what is true. This is the best way to be able to notice what is not true.
3 – Surround yourself with people who love truth. People of truth can help you recognize lies that are out there, and also recognize those fake parts within you. This is accountability. This is about being around disciples who are also doing steps one and two. There is safety in numbers.
Truth will agree with truth. And the more you know that is true, the easier it will be to figure out what isn't true.
Today there is more fake news out there than there is truth. That doesn’t make truth less important, but it increases the value of those who know truth and speak truth. Do not dilute your witness by being part of the slavery that comes with fake news. Be a person of truth.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.