But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. – 1 John 2:27 NLT
Jesus called Satan the father of lies. Paul, when confronting a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus, called him “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10 ESV). In the days immediately after Pentecost, Peter had to confront one of the new converts for falsely claiming to have sold land and given all the proceeds to the church. “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” (Acts 5:3 ESV). Paul had to warn the Colossian believers, “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” (Colossians 2:8 NLT). Peter made it clear that false teachers would be a constant threat to the church. “But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered” (2 Peter 2:1-2 NLT). The reality is that, as Christians, we are surrounded by lies and constantly tempted to buy into the subtle deceptions of the enemy. It can become increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between what is true and what is false. But we have been given a reliable resource for determining right from wrong and truth from fiction. Jesus promised that when He left, He would not leave us alone, but would send the very Spirit of God to fill us and help us. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 NLT). John reminds us that the Holy Spirit lives within us, and He is not only our comforter and helper, He is our source of all truth. He can help discern what is a lie of the enemy and what we can trust as a word from God. We have not been left defenseless. We have been given the Spirit of God and therefore, we can understand the will and the mind of God. “For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:10-12 NLT).
John reminds us that we have the very Spirit of God living within us. He indwells us. He is our resident lie detector, providing us with the ability to know what is true and what is false. But we have to listen to Him. We have to seek His help and want to hear what He has to say. But the temptation is to ignore His promptings and to refuse to listen to His voice. One of the primary tools the Spirit uses to speak to us is the Word of God, the Bible. As we read it, He helps us understand it and apply it to our lives. He gives us the capacity to hear the voice of God through the written Word of God. But if we don’t read it, He can’t speak to us through it. It is impossible for Him to apply the truth of God’s Word if we refuse to take it in. The temptation we all face as Christians is to allow the philosophies of this world to fill our minds and deceive us with a reasonable sounding variation of the truth. Our sinful flesh, always at battle with the Spirit within us, constantly urges us to listen to its selfish demands and give in to its subtle suggestions. And unless we are filling our minds with the Word and listening to the voice of the Spirit, we will find ourselves deceived and distracted by the lies of the enemy. So Paul tells us, “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5:16-17 NLT). As John warned earlier, we are constantly faced with the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of our possessions and accomplishments. We need the Holy Spirit to see the danger we face and to give us the strength we need to stay in step with the truth. Left to our own devices, we will fail. But with the Spirit’s help, we can live discerning and disciplined lives. “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (Galatians 5:25 NLT). God didn’t leave us defenseless. But we must learn to live dependent upon the Spirit if we are going to live powerfully and profitably in this life.