Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1966
NUMBER 33, PAGE 1-2a

"Enticed By What You Want To Hear?"

Roy E. Cogdill

(Second In A Series On "Obligations To The Truth")

"The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field" (Matt. 13:44). This is a picture of the value that every man should place on "things pertaining to the kingdom of God". Particularly, we suggest, this should be our attitude toward truth. We are obligated to love the truth. Until we learn to value the truth above all other considerations, especially, as it applies to our souls and their salvation, we are in jeopardy.

Those who do not love the truth are easily deceived. "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thess. 2:9-12). Unless one is determined to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, he is subject to deceit. When, however, truth has been so exalted in our hearts that we will be satisfied with nothing else, it is difficult to deceive us. For then one will not only search for truth but will "prove all things" and "hold fast unto that which is good" (I Thess. 5:21).

Jesus said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6). Again Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17). When truth is important enough to us, we will accept no substitute and will be satisfied only when it has been submitted to the acid test of whether or not it is in harmony with the Word of God. "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). If it is not in harmony with the Word of God, then it cannot be the truth and will not be believed by that person who properly evaluates truth and to whom it is as important as it should be to us all. When one loves the truth, he will not take this for granted but will be certain.

One who loves the truth and is determined to possess it, will accept no substitute. Burma Shave poetry by the roadside once said, "Beware of the store that says you should buy something else that is just as good". So we should beware of that teacher or philosophy that says that something that God has not said is just as good as what God has said. It is not so! Every defense that can be made for error falls flat in the face of the fact that God did not say it.

One who loves the truth will search for it until he finds it. Like the pearl merchant that was "seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it", so the one who genuinely loves the truth will constantly be in quest of truth until it is found and when it is discovered, he will possess it at any cost. People who do not constantly study the Bible do not love the truth. They have no appetite for it. This is many times true of professed Christians'. They do not read and study; they are not anxious to be taught, but seem to have no desire to know any more truth.

They either foolishly think they already know all they need to know, or they do not care enough about it to want to know more. A genuine love for truth will create within us an appetite for truth that cannot be satisfied or appeased.

But a lot of people have such little appreciation for truth, that they actually want to be deceived. God said, "A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jeremiah 5:30-31) That is a strange attitude but in the world it has long been recognized as true. It is just as true in religion. People are determined to worship and serve their idols and they want to hear that which confirms them in their idolatry. Paul wrote to Timothy, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4). Such people will go where they can hear what they want to hear, whether it is the truth or not. They want their ears scratched rather than their souls saved.

In the Old Testament is the story of Ahab and Jehoshaphat (Chapter 18 of II Chronicles). Ahab was King of Israel and wanted to go up to Ramoth-Gilead to battle and persuaded Jehoshaphat to go with him. Jehoshaphat wanted first to know if God approved their going and asked the King of Israel to call upon the prophets to see what the will of the Lord was concerning the matter. Ahab called in four hundred false prophets and they told him to go that God would deliver it into the King's hands. But Jehoshaphat wanted a true prophet of the Lord and inquired if there was one to be heard, The King of Israel answered, "There is yet one man, by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil; the same is Micaiah the son of Imla. And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so" (II Chron. 18:7). They sent for Micaiah. The messenger counseled him, "Behold, the words of the prophets declare good to the king with one assent; let thy word therefore, I pray thee, be like one of their's, and speak thou good" (V.12). But Micaiah, in the spirit of a true prophet, said, "As the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak." When he came before the King and prophesied, he said this, "And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead? And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner. Then there came out a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him. And the Lord said unto him, wherewith? And ye said I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail; go out, and do even so" (Vs. 19-21). Thus by the mouths of lying prophets Ahab was enticed by what he wanted to hear and went up to the battle and died as the true prophet of the Lord had predicted he would do.

So many of us want to hear that which is pleasing to us rather than the truth. When the truth condemns what we want to believe and do, we are unhappy. Somehow we deceive ourselves into thinking that when we hear what we want to hear, it must be the truth because it is pleasing to us. How foolish and futile are our efforts to deceive our own hearts because we do not want the truth. We may justify ourselves in our own hearts and we may hear what we want to hear and worship our idols in perfect self satisfaction, but the truth condemns us none the less.

"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of ,God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:3-4). God's Word is truth, whether we like and believe it or not, and it is all that can make us free. We should ''buy the truth and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23).

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