A very interesting account takes place in 1 Kings 13, from which the titled quote comes. In the previous chapter, we see the sad split of the twelve tribes of Israel. Although Jeroboam clearly had an opportunity to satiate a stormy situation that Rehoboam created (cf. 1 Kings 11:29-39), he rather created a disastrous distortion in leading ten tribes away from Jerusalem and the temple. In an effort to control the people who followed him, he set up false places of worship at Dan to the extreme northern edge and Bethel to the extreme southern edge, building altars at both locations. Thus, in 1 Kings 13, an unnamed prophet from Judah travels up to the southern edge in Bethel and pronounces prophetic judgment on Jeroboam while he is offering incense at the altar (heaping sin upon sin). When the startled king invites him to stay overnight, the unnamed prophet explains that God charged him not to do so. The record continues to reveal another unnamed prophet, this one from Bethel, who hears of what has happened and rushes to meet this man of God out of Judah. Upon finding him, he urges him to deviate from his divinely-appointed plan and go to his house, which at first, he declines, but upon his insistence with a story about an angel telling him otherwise, he consents. The words then follow: “But he lied unto him” (1 Kings 13:18). As a result, God pronounces judgment upon the disobedient prophet and sends a lion to kill him in punishment for his wicked ways.
As a result, we note the following three things. First, he heard the lie (1 Kings 13:18). Second, he believed the lie (1 Kings 13:19). Rather than questioning within himself as to why God did not communicate with him about the change of plans, with which he was quite clear since he communicated such earlier to King Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:8-10), he chose simply to believe the lie that this false prophet gave. Third, he obeyed the lie. While sitting in the false prophet’s house, God spoke through him to the man of God out of Judah (just as he spoke through the mouth of Balaam and the donkey in Numbers 22-24) and said that because he had heard, believed and obeyed the lie, he would lose his life (1 Kings 13:20-22).
At the heart of all lies is Satan (cf. John 8:44). He is the great deceiver and tempter. We see the same thing happening with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). Upon asking her about the instructions from God concerning the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Satan lied unto her with the words, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). She heard his lie, believed his lie (by noting the attractive qualities of the fruit as John portrays in 1 John 2:15-17), and obeyed his lie by eating of the fruit and sharing with her husband (Gen. 3:5-7).
In like manner today, false teachers are speaking lies. Every day, they spread forth their venom in hopes of gaining an audience and filling their wallets (cf. 2 Pet. 2:1-3). Every day, people hear their lies, believe their lies and obey their lies. This is why the following words from Paul are so important to ensure our love for the truth and to guard our hearts from believing a lie:
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:7-12)
In closing, I believe the situation in which we find Jacob serves as a great warning. When the brothers of Joseph had sold him into slavery and brought back his coat of many colors drenched in the blood of a goat, they deceived their father into believing a lie when they simply said, “This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no” (Gen. 37:32). For years, Jacob bought into their lie and believed that which was false. We must be very careful to guard ourselves from deception and lies. We should not hear, believe or obey anything unless we first search the scriptures for ourselves to see whether it is so (cf. Acts 17:11).