Generally speaking, most people would want the truth over lies. This would seem to be self-evident, and in theory it works. Reality is something quite different. Very often people will prefer lies over the truth if the truth means telling them they are wrong. Look at this passage from Isaiah:
These are rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the Lord’s teaching, who say to the seers, “Don’t foresee,” and to the visionaries, “Don’t report truthful visions; tell us flattering things; envision deceptions; get out of the way; step off the path; let’s have no more ‘holy one of Israel.’”
The people of Jerusalem did not want to hear the truth from Isaiah because it would mean facing up to the fact that they had been idolatrous and had turned away from the Lord. Instead, they preferred to hear that they were doing fine and had no problems at all. In fact, they wanted to be praised for the lives they were living–lives that were running completely contrary to the will of God.
Because of this fact, Isaiah is filled with images of judgment and destruction. These messages are given as warnings to the people to repent and return to the Lord, the holy one of Israel, so that the disaster will not befall them. Isaiah also has a lot of images of restoration and renewal because God allowed him to see a time when people would return to the Lord and they would live faithful and faith-filled lives. Nevertheless, even with the images of a bright future, the Jewish people of Isaiah’s day had to stop trading the truth for lies.
We can still fall into this trap today. People want truth, but they also want their lives to benefit them and make them feel better about themselves. If the truth is going to tell them they are wrong, that is not welcome. This is especially true if the sinful behavior or action is profitable or pleasurable. If it makes money or feels good, people do not want to be denied it. “If it feels good it must be good” is a typical attitude in this present culture, and yet that is contrary to four thousand years of God’s involvement with humanity from Abraham through today (even longer ago if we look at the stories prior to Abraham in the Old Testament).
Truth is true no matter what my opinion of it is. Truth is true no matter anyone else’s opinion of it is. Truth is true even if the whole world decides reality should be another way. This is because truth comes from God and God is beyond us. We cannot change truth any more than we can change the size of the universe. As human beings in a world that God created and in which God is very interested and involved, our responsibility is to learn the truth, accept the truth, and live by the truth as completely as we can with God’s help. We are not allowed to redefine truth, renegotiate truth, or simply seek lies in place of the truth because the lies are more fun, more profitable, or more pleasurable. This is the route Israel tried to take, and they were judged for it.