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You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:7-9 NIV)

The Allied World War II commander in the Pacific, Douglas MacArthur, once stated he only believed 5% of what he read in his intelligence reports. If General MacArthur were still in command, he might be even more skeptical. The difficulty with copying his approach is what 5% are we supposed to believe?

Intelligence briefings for the average Joe is packaged in news reports. What we hear, read or see is communicated by people who supposedly are in the know. From whom do these journalists receive their briefings? From intelligence or official sources in high places? If the 5% rule applies to the news’ sources’ sources, then how much remains to believe? Of the little that is fact, how do we tell the difference between it and fiction? Could 5% be true or is it a lot less?

The Apostle Paul understood the negative potential of the lie. He could not stand guard, monitoring who said what to whom. Believers, then as now, had to fine-tune their personal truth detection system. Like MacArthur, each had to detect the false in every report. “A little yeast works its way through the entire batch,” he warned.

This is where we need critical thinking or skill in making distinctions. I’m not merely referring to news sources, but to what Paul was addressing. He was upset by the lack of discernment among God’s people and by the little white lies (leaven) hindering the saints in Galatia. Paul had invested a great deal of time and effort. Would it be for nothing?

Lies take good people off track, preventing them from running their race. Opportunists cut in and divert attention and energy from the pursuit of God’s call.

Many of our distractions are “contrived arguments”. They are fake news or false stories. They are made up, a ruse, a trick, a strategy to lead one astray. Like pie and ice cream to the dieter, clever-sounding arguments entice the curious to indulge themselves. The little white lie we swallow today props the door open for the family of deceit tomorrow.

In Part 2, let’s expose some contrived arguments that threaten to undo us.

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