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Phil Johnson on ‘Five Half–Truths’

Phil Johnson
Five Half-Truths
Five Half-Truths

From the Author:

Admittedly, one of the joys of the publishing process is to receive encouraging endorsements from people who have had an immense impact on your spiritual life. Call them—faithful friends in the ministry. Phil Johnson is one of those men at the top of my list.  His contributions to the cause of Christ are profound in my eyes; and I’m honored to have his words as the first to be read in my book Five Half–Truths.

Flip Michaels


John MacArthur once said, “Half–truth? That’s a lie. I’d rather they call it a half–lie. It’s a lie intended to cover up or mislead.” Spurgeon would have agreed. He wrote, “The whole truth is wholesome. But a part of the truth may mislead, and cause us to make as great errors as if we had believed a falsehood. Half the truth is a lie.”[1]

A half–truth is a deliberate pastiche of truth and falsehood, designed to have the appearance of candor and credibility while undermining, obscuring, or contradicting the real truth. Half–truths can be even more deadly than blatant lies because they deny the truth with such sinister subtlety.

Jesus called Satan “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). A careful reading of Scripture reveals that the devil is also grandmaster of the half–truth. If you study the recorded lies of Satan in the Bible, you will discover many of them are furtive half–truths—deception and misdirection cleverly covered with a devious veneer of false sincerity. Sometimes Satan even fortified his falsehoods with partial, twisted, or out–of–context quotations taken from Scripture. That’s how he put Christ to the test. He quoted Psalm 91:11–12, for example, in an attempt to persuade Jesus to kill himself. The devil told Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’“ (Matthew 4:6). While that promise in the psalm is true enough, it speaks of God’s sovereign protection when bad things are done to us. It is not a guarantee that we won’t be harmed if we commit willful transgressions or wanton acts of reckless mischief. And since Scripture expressly forbids us to put God to the test, it would be a radically foolish sin for anyone to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple in order to see whether God would send angels to avert disaster. So Jesus answered Satan’s twisted half–truth with a simple quotation from Deuteronomy 6:16. “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7).

The devil told Eve, “When you eat of [the forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened . . . knowing good and evil.” True. But he added, “And you will be like God.” False. In fact, that’s a damnable and damning lie. That one half–truth led to the fall of humanity and opened the door to all the evil in the material universe.

The key danger of half–truths is that they tend to make lies and errors seem good, or sound appealing. We live in an era when multitudes—including countless professing Christians—are perfectly willing to accept half–truths, especially in the realm of Bible doctrine and gospel preaching. Anyone who has ever tried to correct a popular but deadly theological error knows this to be the case. People claim they can “eat the meat and spit out the bones.” But when a half–truth corrupts the gospel, the doctrine of Christ’s incarnation, or any other cardinal Christian truth, “eating the meat” from those bones is not a biblically sound or spiritually safe approach to dealing with error. See Galatians 1:8–9 or 2 John 7–11. There’s a very good reason no one tries to harvest the meat from six–day–old roadkill.

Flip Michaels has produced this incredibly helpful resource to help readers untangle truth from error in five of the devil’s most popular theological half–truths. I love the clarity and energy with which he writes. I love the skill with which he answers the enemy’s falsehoods. And I love his obvious devotion to biblical truth. In a simple yet profound way he gives us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That, of course, is the only acceptable way to present biblical truth. I trust this book will have a very long shelf life, and I pray that it will reach a very large audience.

Phil Johnson is the Executive Director of Grace to You, and a pastor/elder at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. He has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of John’s major books. Phil also maintains several popular websites, including The Spurgeon Archive, The Hall of Church History, and the Pyromaniacs blog.

[1]. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Salt Cellars:  Being a Collection of Proverbs, Together with Homely Notes Thereon, (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1889), 240.



This is an extract from Five Half–Truths by Flip Michaels. Out now in the UK and Dec 7 in the US. Pre–order on here:

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