God Disapproves of Disinformation

Luisa Collopy

Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 05, 2024
God Disapproves of Disinformation

When we are close to being caught in a lie—or already caught in the lie—we spin another self-serving lie for protection.

In a docu-series, a professed “man of God” claimed passages in the Bible to explain his questionable actions, misleading many who are in his church. To solicit alleged sexual advances, the pastor was said to have likened himself to King David, allowed to have multiple wives—or a wife and several mistresses. And to gain financially from his congregation, he taught on the usual 10% tithe, but he brandished the “God loves a cheerful giver” passage in the Bible (2 Corinthians 9:7).  

Why the Need for Disinformation?

Without intending to sound political or take you, reader, down that trap, the best way to study disinformation today is to simply turn on your TV or go online for news. Many things have been said about the threat of fake news not just in the country but worldwide. We can summarize disinformation as a premeditated deception to advance a personally advantageous narrative. One crafts a lie as an acceptable truth. 

The “man of God,” the pastor who knowingly used Bible passages to control his followers, could advance himself for personal gain. We have the example of the late Ravi Zacharias, whose sexual misconduct became public. It was later confirmed that the allegations were true after an investigation was carried out. The same happened to Bill Hybels, founder and former pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, taking the church leadership down with him in the disinformation. 

Disinformation first destroys the victim and the victim’s honor. Then, the ones receiving the false news begin to have clouded judgment toward the victim, accepting the lie to be the truth. There is a lot to say about the persuasive power of a leader, especially one known to be a spiritual person, who spreads disinformation.  

Disinformation Is Not a New Thing

It’s interesting to note that disinformation happened to the Israelites while they were in the wilderness. Twelve men were chosen to spy on the land of Canaan, the Promised Land to Israel. Note that these spies were not just any man, but “every one a chief” among his tribe (Numbers 13:1). This secret survey required top-notch leaders, whom people looked up to and whom Moses trusted to provide a well-compiled report. The instruction was for them to “see what the land [was], and whether the people who dwell[ed] in it [were] strong and weak, whether they [were] few or many, and whether the land that they dwell[ed] in [was] good or bad, and whether the cities that they dwell[ed] in [were] camps or stronghold, and whether the land [was] rich or poor, and whether there [were] trees in it or no” (vv.18-20a). It was a long list!

The spies returned after 40 days of reconnaissance with a harvest of grapes, pomegranates, and figs, attesting to the fertility of the land. Unfortunately, there were two differing reports on the other items. The 10 said, “The people who dwell in the land are strong and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan” (vv.27-29). Caleb, one of the two spies who brought a different report, said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (v.30). 

But the disinformation continued when the 10 pounded the people with more bad news: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are…The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them” (vv.31-33).

For more than two years since they left Egypt, they had already seen so many miracles—the 10 plagues that set them free to their crossing of the Red Sea, the “cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night” guiding them (Exodus 13:21), the water they drank and the manna and quail they ate. Yet, this bad report was all it took to make the Israelites fearful. 

But why the disinformation from the 10 spies? we ask. If you read the entire exodus story of the Israelites, you will discover how many times they rebelled against God and doubted the leadership of Moses over them. They always returned to their miserable thoughts of being taken to the wilderness to die, with their best plan of going back to Egypt, in the hands of the merciless, though the same fate of death faced them upon return. 

Why not plant that seed of doubt to cause a people-power revolution? So, here we are again in the story where the people said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (Numbers 14:4). Was the plan to create chaos to bring down Moses?

We are good at this. When we are close to being caught in a lie—or already caught in the lie—we spin another self-serving lie for protection. We rally supporters who can be our voice, our lobbyist. In this way, we have alliances, the puppets, that can further advance our disinformation.

God Does Not Approve of Disinformation

There was no denying that the enemies of the Israelites were living in God’s promised land to them. But the hype created by the 10 spies to make God’s people fear for their lives made them disobey His instruction to take ownership of what He promised to them. It was the deal breaker. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, knowing that God would not let this new incident slide without punishment. Caleb and Joshua, the two spies with a different report, said to the people, “If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (vv.5-9). But the people were emotional wrecks and no longer thinking clearly; all they wanted was to stone the four.

But God had enough of the foolishness of the Israelites. In their continued, rebellious doubt, God told the people: “As I live, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies shall fall in this wilderness” (vv.28-32). 

The census of Israel’s warriors was listed at 603,550 (see Numbers 1). Imagine the number of bones scattered in the wilderness in the 40 years of living out God’s punishment. As for the 10 spies, they “died by plague before the Lord”—instant death for their judgment (v.37). 

Ask yourself today if you have been an advocate of disinformation. Perhaps you think you have the upper hand because of your position, using it to spread fake news about someone to protect yourself. Who cares if the other party gets badly affected by your words and actions? Think twice and remember that God, the Ultimate Judge, does not approve of lies and will judge right from wrong. Don’t abdicate your integrity as you don’t want to fall into His hands and suffer like the 10 spies and the rest of the Israelites who didn’t make it to the Promised Land. 

“You have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out” (32:23).

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/fotostorm

Luisa Collopy is an author, speaker and a women’s Bible study teacher. She also produces Mula sa Puso (From the Heart) in Tagalog (her heart language), released on FEBC Philippines stations. Luisa loves spending time with her family over meals and karaoke!