How True Is Your Reality?
Your perception of reality is the most crucial thing in your life. Why? Because everything you do in life depends on this one critical thing. Therefore, if you have a false perception of reality, your life will literally be unreal: You will live in a fantasy world, out of touch in varying degrees with the real world, and you yourself will be less than real, less than you could be and are meant to be. Conversely, if you perceive reality correctly, as it really is, your whole life will be in tune with its surroundings because you will be true to the true nature of things. God’s Word, the Bible, confirms this fundamental truth of our existence:
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt. 6:22,23).
It is popular these days to scoff at such a pronouncement. Such scoffers say that there is no such thing as a single, correct way to view reality and that one person’s viewpoint is no better or worse than another’s, that each person’s view of reality is just as valid as another. Such reasoning is, in itself, a false view of reality. It comes from the human soul and mind that does not want to submit to the reality in which it finds itself, which is a reality it did not create but which was created by God, with that God as the ultimate expression of that reality. Since a self-centered created human being does not want to abide in such a reality, it creates illusionary realities of its own, where the creature is its own god, it thinks, and therefore what it decides reality is really like is what reality is. In other words, man creates reality because man is god.
There are many such alternate worldviews or realities in which people operate and in which they live their lives. This is a consequence of God giving human beings free will. He created man good, but also gave him the incredible freedom to accept reality as it stands or to seek out his own, self-made reality. This man has done:
“God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes” (Eccl. 7:29 NIV).
A person actually can live for a while in such schemes and fantasy worlds. Our world is full of people who do so, people who are, in some way or many ways, out of touch with the real nature of reality: Alcoholics, drug addicts, New Age practitioners or other occultists, or people who just refuse to face certain facts or aspects of life, such as faulty relationships, respecting others or even self; those who live only for this world and its pleasures; dictators of countries or churches or families–the list goes on and on. These are people of which Scripture says:
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19 NIV).
As was said, it is possible to live for a time in such a fantasy world, out of touch with reality. But eventually, all who do so find their unreal world come crashing down upon them. The Bible records one such group of people, prophets who went about telling people that all was well when it was not. We see today the same deception, though those who preach it truly believe what they preach. But what they preach is false. They say that because God is love, a loving God could never send anyone to hell; therefore, hell does not exist. This is God’s judgment upon them and all who follow such false realities:
“Because they lead my people astray, saying,’Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, ‘Where is the whitewash you covered it with?’ Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, ‘The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it'” (Ez. 13:10-15 NIV).
The consequences of having a false view of reality are most severe. For no matter what false reality people prefer to God’s actual reality, they all run up against the one spoiler of all such alternate realities. That universal shatterer is death. In the end, there comes that one, inevitable event that cannot be ignored: Death puts an end to all imagined worlds.
“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” (Jer. 5:31 NIV).
But even here, masses of people pretend to be able to do away even with this one, universal obstacle to those who would be their own god, in command of the reality that was created by the only true God. They boast:
“‘We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place'” (Is. 28:15,16 NIV).
But just saying words or even believing in them fanatically does not affect reality. Reality is not under the control of man, not affected by his words or desires. Reality is stronger than man–and death is the universal evidence of this, for all must fall to its power.
“No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death” (Eccl. 8:8 NIV).
So, even though those afraid of death and seeking to do away with its power over them claim that they have discovered how to do this through secret arts and various means, God tells them:
“Hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through” (Is. 28:17-19 NIV).
Hail is mentioned in Scripture as playing an important part in this sweeping away of the lies of men in the end times judgments of God:
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?” (Job 38:22,23 NIV).
“From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible” (Rev. 16:21 NIV).
Like hail beating down all on which it falls, so God’s judgment of man’s refusal to accept the true nature of reality and the absolute God of that reality beats down all such rebels. At the end of the Isaiah passage quoted above stands a most terrifying warning:
“The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror” (Is. 28:19 NIV).
Because the nature of this message is indeed so terrifying, many refuse to confront it and consider it. Instead, they choose to create their own, false realities that soothe their fears with false hopes of never having to face the absolute God who will judge their lives. In this life and this world, they are yet still free to do this, to plant the seeds of alternate realities in their minds and hearts and cultivate them there, even, perhaps, seeing those self-created ideas come into bloom in the real, external world–for a while–thus giving them further false hope that they really are in charge and masters of reality, their own god.
But God has the final say. He will cut short all such apparent challenges to his own garden of reality and pull up all others as weeds are pulled up from a garden:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” (Mt. 13:24-30 NIV).
“You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain” (Is. 17:10,11 NIV).
Incurable pain. That is one way to describe the eternal torment of hell, reserved for all those who refuse to accept God’s reality and choose their own. For now, in this world and this life, they are free to choose to continue in their refusal and rebellion. But that time of freedom to choose is not unlimited. The day will come when that time ends and is cut off. God warns all who persist in their stubborn rebellion against reality by choosing their own false reality:
“What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? . . . Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain” (Is. 10:3,4 NIV).
What will you do? . . . What indeed? The defiant tone of all who proudly reject God’s reality for their own creations of the sinful human mind and heart will be beaten down in that day of judgment. Then, instead, these rebellious creatures will change their tune and say instead:
“They told the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?'” (Rev. 6:16,17).
Who can stand? Only those who submit to reality as God has created it, who acknowledge him as the Supreme God and Savior of those who must die for their sins but who also believe in the one way he has given them to escape his righteous punishment for their sins, his only Son, Jesus Christ. For that way is the way (Jn. 14:6), for only he is the true, one way to defeat death, not the supposed covenants with death that fearful mankind has imagined in its mind and heart.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55,56 NIV).
“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24).
Only Jesus, who is God, has the power to defeat death–and he did. But he did this not by making a covenant with death, and him who has the power of death, the devil (Heb. 2:14), but rather he refused to compromise his view of reality and steadfastly rejected the devil’s offers to covenant with him in exchange for escaping death. This Jesus did this three times in his temptation in the wilderness and his confrontation there with the devil (Mt. 4:1-10).
We who now live in this world have the same two choices presented to us. We can either accept the reality before us as the creation of God and submit to his way of dealing with that reality and living in it safely by faith in Jesus Christ; or we can reject that reality and choose to create one of our own that does not involve surrender of our very soul to Christ as Lord–though that is a false reality, which falseness will be thoroughly exposed on the day of our death and judgment.
Which is it for you, dear reader? Are you an honest and true person who accepts truth and reality as they are revealed by God in his Word, and who surrenders his or her soul to Jesus Christ as Lord? Or do you insist on going your own way–while you can, in this world–only to be confronted with a final rebuke from a stronger reality at your death and judgment by the true Reality above all imagined realities? I pray that you have chosen truth and reality, God and his truth, over your own imagination.