April 2024

Good morning,

Mark Twain told the story of Benjamin Disraeli, the British Prime Minister during the late 1920s. As Parliament argued over the statistical fallout of Disraeli's economic plans, the Prime Minister stood to his feet, pounded his fist into his open hand, and shouted, "Lies, damned lies!"

According to Twain, Disraeli then gave a quick lecture to the members: "There are three kinds of lies: 1) lies; 2) damned lies; and 3) statistics."

But politicians aren't the only ones who use slanted analytics to support their cause. Over the years, certain commercial advertisers have also skewed the facts with a pinch of truth and a barrel of promise. Those culprits include…

  • A national weight-loss program: "Get a gym body without going to the gym. It's clinically proven: just sprinkle our powder on your food, and lose weight as you eat." Ultimately, a class-action lawsuit forced the company to pay $46 million for false claims.

  • A high profile energy drink: "Improves physical performance and reaction times." The claims were unsubstantiated, and a $13 million settlement followed.

  • A frosted flakes cereal: "Your kids will have a 20% increase in school attentiveness." Ultimately, the Federal Trade Commission stopped the ad due to unsupported claims.

  • A well-known meat company: "More Americans than ever are making bacon a part of their healthy diet." They quickly pulled the ad when the American Medical Association publically challenged the statement.

  • A multinational cosmetics company: "Clinically proven to boost genes, leading to visibly younger skin in just seven days." What they didn't mention was, the subjects for the clinical tests were six college co-eds – not people like us with real wrinkles. The FTC concluded these were "falsified and unsubstantiated claims." A hefty penalty followed.

(Note to readers: feel free to insert the Prime Minister's comment from above!)

In fact, according to a consumer watchdog report, 17% of global ad impressions in 2023 were fraudulent.

In doing research for this letter, I came across a book at Barnes and Noble titled Statistics Done Wrong, priced at $25. I checked my wallet and, statistically speaking, I couldn't afford it.

Not surprisingly, the Bible also makes claims and promises – lots of them. In Herbert Lockyer's volume All the Promises of the Bible, he reports there are 7,487 specific promises that God made to man. Peter called them "God's precious and magnificent promises." (2Pet 1.4)

On the flipside, scripture also mentions the promises made by Satan – nine to be exact. They began in the Garden of Eden when Satan lied to Eve (Gen 2.17; 3.4). But his most despicable promise came when he tried to corrupt Jesus: "All the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me." (Mt 4.8-9)

The irony, of course, is that the Father had already promised His Son "all the kingdoms of the world," along with the title of King of kings and Lord of lords. But the pretense of Satan's promise was, "Jesus, why suffer for it; you deserve to have it now!"

Satan's claims often sound appealing, and he typically offers them at a discounted price. However, in the end, the cost is immeasurably higher. He is, after all, a counterfeiter and "the father of lies." (Jn 8:44)

Even today, Satan is bombarding God's people with false advertising. His cunning tactics can fool even the most seasoned believer. He specializes in masquerading wrong as right, error as truth, and compromise as justifiable.

So, how do we prepare our people to guard against Satan's deceptions? James 4.7 gives the answer in two words. "Submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

God's promises are ironclad – they're timeless and unbreakable. And, in the simplest of terms, James added, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you!" (4.8)

Now that's a promise to believe in.


Ron Walters
Ron Walters
Salem Media Group

© Copyright 2024 by Ron Walters

Ron Walters