“So put away… all deceit…”

1 Peter 2:1b

By Pastor Theo Siu

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of truth lately. I remember listening to a lecture by a college professor addressing some new students at the beginning of a fresh semester of coursework. In the midst of a busy semester, this professor took the time to teach his students a valuable lesson. “Don’t cheat!” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of reasons for this kind of principle. ‘You’re disrespecting your classmates who work hard, you won’t get a job if you don’t know the material, the professor of your class won’t like you if you do this.’ All of these things may or may not be true, but none of them are really great reasons why you shouldn’t cheat. The real reason is that if you start this early in your academic career to lie and cheat, you will inevitably be cheating for the rest of your time in university. Life only gets harder from here, and if you don’t develop the character necessary for living in light of the truth now, you’ll always be living in a lie.”

I can’t stop thinking about this principle. I recognize the impulse to cheat within myself. I know the temptation to lie about who I am in order to look good rather than face the harsh reality of myself and grow. Yet the more we lie, the harder it becomes to live in light of the truth.

Truth is humbling. Confronting the truth de-centers our own opinions and beliefs and forces us to contend with the realities we often don’t like to accept. I think so often many of us have grown accustomed to living within the matrix of delusions and lies that we don’t really see how fractured and contradictory we’ve become over the years.

Instead of admitting our weakness, we lie to others and force ourselves to believe that we are amazing and great because we don’t want the pain of seeing ourselves for who we really are. Instead of telling the truth about our struggles, we cheat and hide our messes from others, putting on a happy attitude, while at the same time degrading others who just can’t seem to hide and lie as well as we can.

It’s hard to live according to the truth. But the more I live and struggle to find my way in life, the more I’m convinced that it is far more painful to remain enslaved to a lie than to endure the burning, purifying light of reality.

In 1 Peter 1, the Apostle Peter admonishes Christians to live according to the truth revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Peter makes bold exhortations to Christians to “not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” and “[h]aving purified your soul by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1Pe. 1:14, 22). For the Apostle, the Cross of Christ reveals something fundamentally true of all of us that we, blinded by our own sin, could not come to on our own.

First, the Cross of Christ reveals the true depths of our enslavement to sin. It’s a bit of a crazy thought to think about. Humanity isn’t simply a bit off balanced or a little unstable. As useful as self-help, therapy, politics, and structured living may be, ultimately the Cross reveals that none of these are sufficient to break the stronghold of lies over us. No, it took the death of the Son of God himself to set us free. What is justice? What is holiness? What is true love? Friend, you cannot see any of this aright until you see this displayed in the crucifixion of Christ. Only when we grasp the height, breadth, and depth of the mystery of Christ crucified for the satisfaction of divine justice and redemption of sinners can we truly see how far we are from the truth.

But secondly, the Cross of Christ reveals not only the depths of our depravity, it also displays powerfully the mystery of the divine character of God. He is far more holy than any of us could ever have imagined, and he is far more loving than any of us could have dreamed. He sent his Son to die for us. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Rom. 8:32). The good news of Jesus Christ and his life, death, and resurrection is that in Christ God has made all the provisions necessary for us, lost as we are in our own lies, to live in the true light of his kingdom.

It is because of the grandeur of this news that Peter exhorts his people to put off the deceit of this world, to no longer walk in our former ignorance. We’re not that great. We don’t have the power to live coherently in light of the truth on our own. But God is good. In Christ, God has shown himself to be for his people. He knows our weakness. He has seen our distress. And he has made all the provisions necessary for those who put on Christ to walk in his holiness and truth. Therefore, “[c]onduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1Pe. 1:17).