When Labels are Fables by Tony Cooke

When Labels are Fables
Tony Cooke

Labels are FablesI’m curious. Who has defined reality for you? What is the basis for how you see yourself, the people around you, your circumstances, your destiny, and your world? How much of your sense of reality has been defined by your parents, your education, society, and the media?

The world around us works very hard to define reality for us.

  • If you buy this car, you will really be happy.
  • If you use this cologne or perfume, the opposite sex will be crazy about you.
  • If you wear this brand of clothing, you will be really cool.
  • If you drink this beverage, you will be really popular and will have great times with great friends.
  • If you hold these politically correct views, you will be socially acceptable.

It should go without saying—but perhaps it’s good to be reminded—that this world is full of people who will sell you a bill of goods. If you buy them, you’ll be left frustrated, empty, and disillusioned. Deception is referred to three times in Matthew 24—a chapter that deals with the end-times. Twice it says that many will be deceived (verses 5 and 11), and verse 24 says that, “…false christs and false prophets will rise and… deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

Don’t let anyone else define reality for you! David said, “Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head” (Psalm 3:2-3). You need to believe what you say—not what they say—and what you say needs to be based on the truth of the Word.

Proverbs 14:15 (MSG) tells us that, “…the gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.” If there was ever a time when God’s people need to be discerning, today is that day! Romans 16:19 (MSG) says, “I want you also to be smart, making sure every ‘good’ thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this…”

We need to be deeply grounded in the truth and have our minds renewed by God’s Word so that we are not conformed to or deceived by the world. If a thousand people say that “up” is “down” and “down” is “up,” it doesn’t make it so. Isaiah 5:20 (NLT) says, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” There was a time in Israel’s history where God’s own covenant people were so far off-track that God said to them, “Because of your great sin and hostility, you say, ‘The prophets are crazy and the inspired men are fools!’” (Hosea 9:7, NLT).

Rev. Joe Wright of the Central Christian Church in Wichita, Kansas, gave the invocation at the Kansas House of Representatives on January 23, 1996. He prayed:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Deception can come from outside the church, but also from within. In Revelation 2-3, Jesus spoke to local churches, and made it very plain that sometimes, labels are fables! People would claim to be something, but Jesus knew who they really were. He commended His people when they did not swallow lies! He did not want His people to be misled. Consider the following:

  • “…you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars…” (Revelation 2:2)
  • “…those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:9)
  • “…that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess…” (Revelation 2:20)
  • “…those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie…” (Revelation 3:9)
  • “Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” (Revelation 3:17)

Jesus is not impressed with slick talk, smooth words, self-promotion, rationalization, excuses, or false labels. Hebrews 4:13 (NLT) says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”

Jesus knows when labels are fables—He knows reality. He is not fooled by smoke and mirrors. One of the most sobering statements Jesus ever made is Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” This really drives home the truth of 1 Corinthians 10:18 (AMP), “For [it is] not [the man] who praises and commends himself who is approved and accepted, but [it is the person] whom the Lord accredits and commends.”

In the end, the reasonings of men will not prevail. Humanistic philosophies will not prevail. Popular opinion will not prevail. Political correctness will not prevail. In the end, only the Word of God will prevail.

People can either deal with reality now, or they can deal with reality later. But ultimately, everyone will some day face reality. John 12:47-48 says, “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” What is our mission? We are endeavoring to help people respond joyfully to the Word of God now, so that they do not have to react mournfully to it later!