The Credibility Gap
November 1, 2009 - Jesus Christ had a very interesting encounter with Pontius Pilate about credibility. Jesus said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). And then Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).
by Billy Graham
That question is what universities are all about—searching for truth in the realm of science, philosophy, psychology and many other disciplines. What is truth? How do we get truth? And how do we know it when we have it? The debate that is raging in America now is about truth, and it reveals somewhat of a credibility gap.
Pilate must have faced the same thing 2,000 years ago; he had a credibility gap. He asked Jesus, “What is truth?”
If you look at a Bible, it says “Holy Bible.” Why do we call it a “Holy” Bible? You can’t pick up a book that has any more hate in it, any more killing, any more wars, any more meanness, any more wickedness, any more deceit than the Bible. But it is called holy.
You know why the Bible is called holy? Because it tells the truth. The Bible tells the truth about God. The Bible tells the truth about man. The Bible tells the truth about the devil. The Bible tells the truth about its characters. If this Book had been written by men who were not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you would never have heard about their sins and their weaknesses and their failures. But the Bible tells the truth about all of these things.
The First Gap
The Bible tells us that the devil himself created the first credibility gap. I believe that the devil is gathering his legions right now, all over the world, for an intensification of activity on a scale the world has never known, because we are approaching the end of the age. And Satanic activity is greater than it has ever been.
Jesus said a very interesting thing. He said the wheat and the tares will grow together (Matthew 13:26-30). There is a great interest today in Jesus. When you talk about the church, sometimes young people turn you off; but they don’t turn you off when you talk about Jesus. They are interested in the person of Jesus—what He taught, what He believed, what He said, what He did, how He died, how He rose from the dead, what His plan is for the future of the world.
But there is also an intensification of evil in the world. Never before have we seen such cruelty, such widespread hunger, such killings and wars. And have you ever read of so much crime—horrible crime, terrible crime—where people kill just seemingly for the joy of killing? Evil has intensified its activities. Jesus said the wheat and the tares will grow together.
The Devil is Real
The Bible teaches that behind all this evil is a real devil. There is a devil; there is a force of evil that is stirring up the evil in the hearts of people. Jesus never spared any adjectives in describing the devil; Jesus called him a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He said the devil is the god of this world (John 14:30), the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). The devil is behind all the deception and delusion that is going on in the world today.
In the second chapter of Genesis, we read about a tree of which God said, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Man was in a perfect paradise. No sin had ever been committed. There was no murder, no lust, no hate, no war, no poverty, no pollution. Everything was perfect, and God said, “It is all yours. You will enjoy it forever, but don’t take of that one tree.” Why? God was testing man, because God gave man the freedom of choice.
The Bible says the devil came to Adam and Eve and tempted them. He said: “You know God says that if you eat of that tree, you are going to die. But I am going to tell you something: You are not going to die; God is jealous of you. God knows that when you eat of that tree, you will be like God. Go ahead; eat of that tree. You don’t have to obey God. Listen to me” (Cf. Genesis 3:4-5).
They listened to the devil; they believed a lie instead of the truth of God. Man rebelled against God, and all the troubles and all the sufferings and all the wars of all history have come about as a result of the fact that man is in rebellion against God. The devil created the first credibility gap. And ever since that time, men have been stealing and lying and killing and hating and lusting and all the rest of it.
A Spiritual Disease
We can inherit physical diseases from our parents. But we also inherit a spiritual disease called sin. And behind sin, the Bible says, is the devil.
The Bible says that man believes a lie rather than the truth, and that we exchange the truth of God for the devil’s lies. For example, the Bible teaches that any sex outside of marriage is sin. But young people are hearing on every side that the only way to have happiness is to have sex outside of marriage.
Well, I want to tell you what the Bible says: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And you can never commit one sexual sin and get away with it. God will see to it that you will be caught, and you will pay for it.
Young people try drugs, alcohol and permissive sex in order to find peace and joy and happiness and purpose and meaning in their lives. But they find none of those. Why not? It is the devil’s lie. The devil is telling you a lie. He says, “You will be like gods. This is the way to pleasure, this is the way to happiness, this is the way to have a good time.” The Bible says there is pleasure in sin— “for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). But then comes the kickback: “The wages of sin is death.”
Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). What is truth? Jesus said, “I am the Truth” (John 14:6). He is the ultimate Truth, and He also told the truth.
Jesus told the truth about love. The Bible says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). God loves you! The greatest love story in the universe is God’s love for man: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And the greatest picture of love is on the cross, where Christ died in your place. That’s how much God loved you. He laid down the life of His Son. When Jesus cried, “My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), in that terrible moment Jesus suffered the agonies of hell and judgment for you. Jesus took your sins on that cross and died in your place.
Jesus told the truth about conversion. Don’t let that word throw you. That word converted means changed. You must be converted—not to a system, not to a philosophy, not to a church. You must be converted to the Person of Jesus Christ, so that Jesus Christ is your Savior and your Lord and your Master. Has that taken place in your life?
Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Have you been converted? Are you sure of it? Has there been a time in your life when you repented of your sins?
Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free.” Free from what? Free from the penalty of sin; you will never have to go to hell. Free from the power of sin. And someday you can be free from the very presence of sin, because when you die and go to Heaven, there won’t be any sin there. Have you been set free?
Jesus is the Truth; the devil is the liar. You have to choose. I am going to ask you today to choose Jesus. Choose Christ and say, “I will receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Master and my Savior. I want to follow Him and serve Him.”