Why Some Choose to Believe Lies — Matthew 28

On Resurrection Sunday, Jesus and an angel proved to the women who went to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Everything Jesus had told them earlier about His death and resurrection had come true, and they believed. Later, when Jesus appeared to His disciples who were hiding in fear behind locked doors, Jesus proved that what the women had told them about seeing Him alive was true, and they believed. They did not persist in refusing to believe the truth.

Also, on Resurrection Sunday, the guards who had been safeguarding Jesus’ tomb felt the great earthquake, saw the angel, trembled in fear, fell like dead men, saw the stone rolled away and the empty tomb. They knew the truth surrounding Jesus’ resurrection. Given a few more facts, these guards and the guards who attended the crucifixion of Jesus had sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God (Matthew 27:54).

In addition, on Resurrection Sunday, the religious leaders heard the testimony of those who had guarded the tomb. These leaders had been closely following Jesus’ ministry for three years. They had tried Him and convicted Him and had persuaded the Romans to crucify Him. They would have wanted all the details of how Jesus had died, and how the tomb became “the empty tom.” They had all the evidence they needed to believe all that Jesus had taught about himself was true. Yet, in the final hours of Resurrection Sunday, they bribed the tomb’s guards to lie about what they had seen.

Why did the religious leaders choose to disbelieve all the evidence they had from so many sources (including their Scriptures and Jesus’ ministry) that Jesus was their Messiah, the Son of God? Despite all they knew, why did the guards choose to accept a bribe and lie about Jesus? Why were so many willing to believe the guards lies and pass on a lie from generation to generation of disbelievers? Closer to home, why are increasing numbers of people in the United States claiming to have no religion (according to recent polling)? Why are increasing numbers of those who claim to be Christians refusing to believe the Bible is the true Word of God written?

The Bible tells us why some disbelieve the truth about Jesus Christ and choose to believe lies, and why others lie and want people to believe lies rather than believe the truth. They refuse to believe the truth, and they lie, and they believe lies, because God is punishing them. Why is God punishing them? The Bible says, because they “took pleasure in unrighteousness” (NRSV); because they “took pleasure in wickedness” (NASB); because they “have delighted in wickedness” (NIV); because they “had pleasure in unrighteousness” (KJV, ESV).

Does this mean that all who believe a lie do so because they delight in wickedness? Certainly not! Good Bible-believing Christians can be deceived at times by those they trusted who tell them lies. According to the Bible, two facts must be present. First, the person refuses to believe the truth about Jesus, despite the fact that they have learned the truth and have learned good evidence supporting the truth about Jesus. Second, a person takes pleasure in wickedness or unrighteousness, and prefers to live in unrighteousness rather than repent and live according to the truth of the Bible. When these two facts are present, God will punish those who prefer wickedness to righteousness. Consider the verses below.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, the Apostle Paul wrote, “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” (KJV). The NIV reads, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” And the NRSV reads, “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.”

In short, those who refuse to believe the truth about Jesus and the Bible, and choose to believe lies instead, do so because they delight in wickedness or take pleasure in unrighteousness. Many people develop a nonbiblical theology because they want to live immorally (contrary to the Bible’s clear teachings) in one or more ways. Because of their wickedness, “they suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

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