FEW experiences hurt more than learning
that someone you trust has lied to you.
You might feel humiliated, angry, or even
betrayed. Lies destroy friendships and marriages;
they defraud people of countless millions of dollars.
Imagine, then, how you would feel if you
learned that you had been lied to about God.
If you are devout, the effect could be profound, as it
was for these churchgoers:
- ˘“I felt that the church had betrayed me.”
- ˘“I was angry. I felt that I had been tricked
—that my hopes and goals turned out to
You might hesitate even to consider the
possibility that you have been lied to about
God. What you know may have come from
someone whom you trust and who would
never intentionally hurt you—your parents, a
priest, a pastor, or a close friend. You may
have believed a certain teaching all your life.
But would you not agree that even a widely
held idea can be false? Former U.S. President
Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized this fact, for
he said: “Repetition does not transform a lie
into a truth.”
How can you determine whether you have
been lied to? Jesus once said to God in prayer:
“Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Yes, God’s
Word, the Bible, contains what we need in order
to distinguish the truth from lies.
Why not let the Bible expose five common
lies about God? You will see how the truth
can change your life for the better.
What you may have heard:“God works in mysterious ways.” “The Father incomprehensible, the Son Incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible .” —The Athanasian Creed, describing the Trinity taught by many churches of Christendom. What the Bible teaches: Jesus said that those “taking in knowledge of . . . the only true God” would receive blessings. (John 17:3) But how can we take in knowledge of God if he is a mystery? Far from concealing himself, he wants everyone to know him.—Jeremiah 31:34.
Of course, we will never know everything about God. This is to be expected because his thoughts and ways are higher than ours.—Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 55:8, 9. How knowing the truth helps you: If God is an incomprehensible mystery (1 & 2), then why even try to get to know him? Yet, he enables us not only to comprehend him but also to develop a close friendship with him. God described the faithful man Abraham as “my friend,” and King David of Israel wrote: “The intimacy with Jehovah belongs to those fearful of him.”—Isaiah 41:8; Psalm 25:14.
Does the idea of having an intimate friendship with God seem farfetched? Perhaps so, but note what Acts 17:27 says: “[God] is not far off from each one of us.” In what way?
Through the Bible, God provides what we need in order to know him well. He tells us his name, Jehovah. (Isaiah 42:8)
He has recorded his deeds toward mankind so that we can know the Person behind the name. More than that, God reveals his emotions to us. He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6)
Our actions can affect his feelings. For example, the ancient nation of Israel made him “feel hurt” when they rebelled against him, while those who wisely obey him bring him joy.—Psalm 78:40; Proverbs 27:11.
What you may have heard: “If God truly cared about mankind, then he would remove evil and suffering from the world. And even if he is concerned about people in general, he doesn’t care about what happens to me.”
What the Bible teaches: Jehovah God does not cause evil. (James 1:13) While he could remove evil at any time, he allows corrupt society to exist for now in order to settle moral issues that were raised at the start of human history. He will ultimately act in behalf of humankind and undo all the trouble caused by those who reject his rulership.—Genesis 3:1-6; Isaiah 65:17.
Besides his overall concern for the human family, God demonstrates an intense interest in us as individuals.Matthew 10:29-31 shows that he observes details about us that even we do not know: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.”
How knowing the truth helps you: We usually avoid people who are harsh or uncaring. Not surprisingly, the lie that God is uncaring causes many people either to avoid getting to know him altogether or to approach him only when they feel that they have no choice. Knowing that Jehovah God really cares could lead you to want to learn more about him and build a friendship with him.
For example, you might have prayed to God but wondered whether he was listening or if he would answer you. The Bible assures us that the “Hearer of prayer” keeps this line of communication open at all times for all who approach him sincerely.—Psalm 65:2.
God invites you to “throw all your anxiety upon him,because he cares for you.”(1 Peter 5:7)We can rely on his concern even in times of great distress, for his Word says: “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” —Psalm 34:18
What you may have heard: “God keeps track
of every sin and pays people back with eternal punishment in hellfire.” “God punishes sinners with natural disasters.”
What the Bible teaches: Second Peter 3:9 says that Jehovah “does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” Rather than focusing on our mistakes, he focuses on our good points. God’s “eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 Chronicles 16:9.
Hellfire is not a Bible teaching—the very idea of eternal torment is repugnant to God. His maximum punishment for the wicked is to revoke the gift of life. (Jeremiah 7:31; Romans 6:7) And natural disasters, which destroy indiscriminately, are not acts of God but, rather, unforeseen occurrences that can affect anyone.—Ecclesiastes 9:11.
How knowing the truth helps you: We can draw closer to God when we recognize that he is “ready to forgive” and not quick to condemn. (Psalm 86:5) We need not serve God out of feelings of guilt or a morbid dread of punishment. Instead, we can build our faith with the best motive—love of Jehovah. Such love serves as an uplifting force that moves us to do our best to please him.—Matthew 22:36-38; 1 John 5:3.
While God wants everyone to turn to doing good, he knows that many will never do so. If he never acted against those determined to do bad things, then he would be no different from a ruler who makes laws without enforcing them, allowing injustice and suffering to flourish indefinitely. (Ecclesiastes 8:11)
Our knowing that God will not tolerate wickedness forever gives us a sound hope for the future. God has promised to remove those who persist in evil deeds, so that “the meek ones” can enjoy eternal life on earth as he originally intended.—Psalm 37:10, 11, 29.
What you may have heard: “God is in charge of this world, and everything that happens is by his will. Since the world is full of discrimination, injustice, and oppression, God must be responsible.”
What the Bible teaches: God is not the source of the world’s injustice.Describing Jehovah, the Bible says: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice.”—Deuteronomy 32:4.
God is generous toward all, including those apparently undeserving. For example, “he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) He treats people of all races and cultures justly, as acts 10:34, 35 shows: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”
What, then, is the source of injustice?
Many people choose to act unfairly, not following God’s example of justice. (Deuteronomy 32:5) Also, the Bible shows that God is allowing his enemy, the Devil, to exercise authority over the world.(1 John 5:19) However, God’s permission of this unjust rule will soon end. He has already set in place his means to “break up the works of the Devil.” —1 John 3:8.
How knowing the truth helps you: You might be perplexed by the seemingly endless reports of corruption, oppression, and injustice. Knowing the cause of the trouble helps you understand why conditions are so bad and why man’s best efforts to make the world a better place consistently fail. (Psalm 146:3)
Rather than devoting time and energy to making changes that would be temporary at best, you can have a sound hope for the future based on trust in God’s promises. —Revelation 21:3, 4.
Understanding the real source of injustice can especially help us when hardship hits close to home. When we are treated unfairly, we may cry out as did God’s servant Habakkuk: “Law grows numb, and justice never goes forth.” (Habakkuk 1:4) God did not chastise Habakkuk for saying this. Instead, God reassured His servant that He had set a time for correcting matters and helped Habakkuk to find joy in the face of trouble. (Habakkuk 2:2-4; 3:17, 18) Similarly, trusting in God’s promise to correct injustice can help you gain serenity and peace of mind in an unfair world.
What you may have heard: “Just as many paths and roads lead to the same destination, there are also many paths that lead to God. Each person must find his own way to God.”
What the Bible teaches: We must be sincere in our worship, avoiding pretense and hypocrisy. Jesus told the religious leaders of his day why God had rejected them: “Isaiah aptly prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me.’” (Mark 7:6)
Yet, sincerity alone does not guarantee that God will accept our worship. Jesus made this clear by exposing the key flaw in the worship offered by those religious leaders and their followers. He applied to them God’s words: “It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach as doctrines commands of men.” (Mark 7:7) Their worship was “in vain,” or useless, because they put their religious tradition ahead of God’s requirements.
Instead of supporting the idea that there are many acceptable ways to approach God, the Bible teaches that there is only one. Matthew 7:13, 14 says: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”
How knowing the truth helps you: Imagine how you would feel if you had trained for months to run a marathon and you had finished the race in first place, but then you were disqualified for unknowingly violating one of the rules. You could feel that all your effort was wasted. Could something like this happen with our worship of God?
Comparing our worship to an athletic competition, the apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone contends even in the games, he is not crowned unless he has contended according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5) We gain God’s favor by worshipping him “according to the rules,” that is, in the way that he approves.
We cannot choose our own path to God any more than a runner can run wherever he wants to and still expect to be declared the winner of the race. To please God, we must keep our worship free of lies about him. Jesus said: “The true
worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23) We learn the truepath to God from his Word, the Bible.—John 17:17
YOU may have heard or been taught one of the lies about God that this article has exposed. Still, you might hesitate
to change your beliefs, especially if you have held them for a long time. Such hesitancy is understandable. Some churches discourage the idea of comparing their teachings with what the Bible says. Others try to defend falsehood by saying that the Bible is complicated, not meant to be understood by everyone. Yet, most of Jesus’ disciples were ordinary people, without higher education, and they readily grasped what he taught.—Acts 4:13.
You could also hold back from scrutinizing your beliefs out of fear that doing so would display a lack of faith. But does it make sense that God would be displeased with you for looking into the Bible, his message to mankind, to understand what he asks of you? On the contrary, his Word encourages you to examine the Scriptures personally, saying:
“Prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:2.
Learning the truth about God is more than an intellectual exercise—it can change your life for the better.(John8:32) Deanne, mentioned in the opening in the top, has now built her faith on God’sWord. She relates: “I never realized that the Scriptures were so clear until I began studying the Bible. Now I know Jehovah, not just as an impersonal God, but as my loving heavenly Father. I’ve found a real purpose in life.”
Maybe you studied the Bible before without feeling that you benefited. If so, do not give up. Trying to understand the Bible when you have been taught lies about God is like trying to assemble a puzzle using the wrong picture as a reference. You might put a few pieces together correctly but then give up in frustration when these do not match the overall picture you were given. Start with the right picture, though, and the pieces will fall into place.