The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
Most people are familiar with that phrase from courtroom dramas. It is a standard part of the oath a witness swears to when taking the stand to testify in a civil or criminal trial. The ideal suggests that all the pertinent and factual information about a subject will be explored and presented — and always in an objective manner.
Anyone who has been involved in a court proceeding knows that the reality often strays far from that ideal. In our “adversarial” style of legal process, defense attorneys and prosecutors each highlight facts in an advantageous manner. “Truth” itself can become a casualty of overwrought legal wrangling, conflicting interests, and bias on the part of every participant involved.
The Coronavirus episode is proving once again that truth is illusive in human experience. The world has learned that Chinese medical experts became aware of a new and dangerous strain of Coronavirus as early as December 2019. Dr. Li Wenliang made a point to publish his findings and share a warning within the medical community. Sadly, the Chinese government — controlled by the Chinese Communist Party — immediately denounced his findings. Police detained him for “spreading false rumors.” Government officials even forced him to sign a statement retracting his warning and apologizing for threatening the security of the Communist state. The final tragedy for Dr. Li was that he contracted Coronavirus himself, and according to Chinese officials, he succumbed to the disease weeks later in February 2020.
The Chernobyl Cover-up
We have seen governments mislead their own people and the world in a misguided effort to protect their own power before. In 1980, the Soviet Union experienced a cataclysmic disaster at its Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Toxic radiation was spewed out at unprecedented levels for a period of days, and yet the government placed a moratorium on warning the local populace. Even when nuclear and medical experts advised senior officials of measures imperative to contain the unmitigated catastrophe, they were reluctant to act decisively.
As documented in the HBO series, Chernobyl, the Soviet system intentionally replaced truth with lies and squelched accountability under an oppressive regime. The result was an explosion in a nuclear reactor that could have been avoided and an attempt to cover up the disaster that actually cost more lives. In the initial stages of the state response, apparatchiks were intent on sealing off the city — not to save lives, but to prevent the flow of negative information. In the long run, the extreme cost of containing the radiation, resettling the population, and decontaminating the environment contributed to the collapse of the entire Soviet system.
The Propaganda Machine
This fixation on self-preservation and control is a feature of one-party and autocratic governments. Official propaganda ministries are empowered to prevent the truth from being revealed. An unending and shameless denial of reality is broadcast for audiences at home and abroad. For instance, following Israel’s breathtaking destruction of the Egyptian Air Force at the start of the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt Gamal Nasser lied to his Arab allies for days rather than lose face by admitting his ignominious defeat at the hands of the IAF. That deception extended the war and ultimately drew in Jordan — resulting in its expulsion from Judea and Samaria (what the biblically illiterate call the West Bank).
The propensity to mislead is not limited to the “olden days.” When the United States invaded Iraq, propaganda minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (mockingly known as Baghdad Bob) was still broadcasting claims of Iraq’s glorious victories as American tanks were seen rolling through the capital city. Even today, South American dictator Nicolás Maduro is proclaiming Venezuela’s glorious prosperity while his people starve.
Without a doubt, democratic governments have at times shaded or buried the truth as well. We tend to excuse that during a time of war — as when Churchill declared, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” Other examples have not been inspired by so lofty a motivation. Politicians as a class are seen as prone to self-preserving deceptiveness.
The Other Global Pandemic
China’s handling of the COVID-19 Coronavirus demonstrates that the results of obfuscation or boldface lying can be deadly and global. This human tendency toward deception offers us tremendous spiritual insight. The Bible is clear on this subject.
After proclaiming, “I am the Light of the world,” Jesus said, “My testimony is true” (John 8:12,14). He also encouraged His disciples, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32). Contrasting truth and lies, Jesus also said those who oppose Him are children of the devil. He declared that His own word is truth — while the devil was “a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:31-51).
The current Coronavirus epidemic is proving to be medically, socially, and economically devastating. But, there is another global pandemic hanging over the head of every person who has not been washed clean from their sins through faith in Jesus Christ. And, while the Chinese Communist Government deserves the scorn of the free world for its self-serving and ongoing deceptiveness, a far more significant lie has been perpetuated upon the world. Satan has endeavored to spread the same lie he foisted on Eve in the Garden of Eden, namely, that disobedience to God will not result in eternal consequence. Satan directly contradicted God’s declared punishment for eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God said, “for in the day you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Satan’s great lie was, “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 2:4).Tim Moore: Concerning the current #Coronavirus epidemic, there is another global #pandemic hanging over the head of every person who has not been washed clean from their sins through faith in #JesusChrist. Click To Tweet
That original lie has reverberated down through the millennia and continues to lead millions into everlasting damnation.
Satan’s effort to mislead the masses will only grow more pronounced. Bible prophecy tells us that the antichrist will be the deceiver; but it also warns “that many deceivers have gone out into the world,” and then defines deceivers as “those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” (2 John 1:7). John also wrote, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (1 John 2:22).
Jesus offered a perspective that applies even in the midst of this current health crisis. Speaking to His disciples He said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). For Christians around the world, that verse has offered assurance in spite of persecution and mortal threats for the past 2000 years. Even in the face of a microscopic but deadly virus, His Word is a comfort.
The Truth and the Life
This viral outbreak will eventually subside and the world will return to a semblance of normalcy. The markets will recover and travel will resume. People will go about their lives and may reflect that paranoia exceeded the real risk of sickness and death. Whistling past the graveyard, they will forget this brief moment of introspection when they realized their own mortality. But, we proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Psalm 2 offers prophetic wisdom:
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:10-12)
That same warning applies to all mankind, for there is not one person who is too far gone for the long arm of God to reach. God sent His Son — who declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” — to offer eternal life to all who embrace Him (John 14:6). John the Baptist testified, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
Satan would like to keep you tangled in a web of lies. His goal is to lead as many to eternal damnation as possible — attempting to discredit God as he drags men and women into Hell with him. But, Jesus has come, offering rescue from the lies and salvation from condemnation.
In the end, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is fulfilled in only one person: our one God and Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6, 1 Timothy 2:5-6).