Truth is a rare commodity these days. In a world filled with opinions, lies and deceit, the truth is often overlooked or ignored. Relative truth has become a fixation in our society and it is no different for those who are religious or spiritual; it has become their friend.
Evidence and facts are to our friend when we are pursuing the truth. They become enemies when one does not want to acknowledge them. Too many people react and get mad because they have the facts presented, they refuse to hear it and so they make a decision from incomplete information of a subject. A decay of Truth begins when we hear the truth and are offended instead of embracing it to change. For those who are found following false beliefs or in churches that teach falsely, the truth becomes an enemy of their soul, simply because they are told not to look elsewhere for truth and accept what they have been told. There is only one place to find the truth-in the Bible.
John the apostle writes to those he discipled: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 1:4). Because “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I Jn. 1:7).
The problem does not lie in the proclaiming of the truth but in those who do not submit to it; and want others to think they are walking in it. The cults who are not in the truth have always made themselves the arbiters of truth to their members and cut them off from listening to other points of view for the simple reason of not wanting to lose their control. For others it may mean they may lose financial support, they make sure that those who tell the truth are demonized so their members will not listen them to.
John 14:6-7 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Its not joining a church, or having a mystical experience that puts one in the truth but coming to the Father through Jesus Christ as the way, the way is by His cross. We are to proclaim Jesus Christ, and the cults do not, they promote themselves, telling people to join their organization their church etc. they then take the place of being a mediator to God.
Arriving at the truth
Everyone has an opinion on just about anything in life, especially when it comes to religion and spiritual beliefs. What is an Opinion? It is defined as: a belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge 2: judgment 3: a formal statement by an expert after careful study (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). An opinion according to the Dictionary is - a conclusion or judgment held with confidence, but FALLING SHORT of positive knowledge (Funk and Wagnall’s Dictionary).
Everyone has an opinion, but what we need to be concerned about is whether we have the truth. God gives us truth and it has nothing to do with men's opinions. Truth is absolute, eternal and unable to change. John 3:21 “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” It begins with our wanting to hear about our self - our sin, so we can be forgiven and God can change us. Once we receive the Spirit of God by believing in the gospel we can begin to grow spiritually. John 14:17 “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” This sets us apart from those in the world who live by the dictates of their own (sinful) hearts.
When it comes to living a spiritual life truth is most important. To come to the right conclusions we need the right tools. We do not interpret the Word by what does this mean to me, (application) before we discover what does this mean when it was written! Then we can ask what its application can be to us. Because of the practice of trying to apply mostly every scripture, we have made a pretext from the word and taken it out of its given context. For example: you have probably heard that all the promises of God are yea and amen. However true this statement is -- it also has to do with which promises to whom and when. For example: One cannot take the promise that God gave to Abraham and apply it themselves. God made him rich, this does not mean he will make us rich because we are called children of Abraham anymore than they we too will be a father of a great nation having as many children as the stars we see. Some promises are to a certain recipients only and to broaden its application is to use the Scripture illegally, taking it out of its context.
The Bible teaches that the truth is found in a person. The psalmist calls the LORD the “God of truth” (Ps. 31:5). Jesus said of himself I am ...the truth. God incarnate became man and spoke directly to us. Everything He said was the truth. Psalm 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth” John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” This truth is recorded in what is called the Bible and this truth has stayed the same, it has not change. Not everything is spelled out in black and white. It is for this reason many come to different conclusions on certain matters in the Scriptures. It does not always mean the truth is hidden or that it is evident to all. Sometimes it takes time to look at the context of the thought, to put it next to the plain Scriptures, or to look for the original words in the language. Other times it takes gathering all the Scriptures on a given subject and studying it through comparing them to one another to come to the correct conclusion. In other words, the Bible will not contradict itself especially on the core issues that support all its other teachings. It becomes more a matter of how we pursue the truth and how accurate we are in our understanding it.
Jesus - the Son of God said: “all those who hear MY voice are of the truth.” From the beginning man was intended to live with only the truth, until a liar came and told a woman she could be like God and never die, she listened and believed him and now we suffer the consequences. How many today are listening to that other voice lie to them about what God actually said. In Jesus’ day even those who did their religion out in public and were admired by the people Jesus said to them “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me” (John 8:44-45). Appearances can be deceiving, it is for this reason we need to go beyond the surface level to find out what can be taking place. We cannot underestimate our old nature. Our sinful nature easily accepts false teaching, especially when it contains partial truths. Our hearts being corrupt want to look to an individual we can see, allowing him control over us. This is what the cults are made of and why so many join them.
We all can come to the Bible with some predispositions to doctrine. This is why we are told to build on the firm foundation which is Jesus Christ. For if we build incorrectly or with the wrong materials our building becomes slanted and eventually will topple when the storms of life blow.
Thus, we must have an attitude of pursuing the truth no matter where it may lead us. This can be a hard thing for those who have been inside a church that has not given them freedom to pursue their own conscience. The whole point of being a Christian is to love truth and be willing to accept it no matter where it leads us. This cannot be emphasized more. We are told to walk in the truth and live by the truth which are the words written in the Bible. Jesus asked us to continue in His Word as the truth that will set us free. This is a hard thing because it is a narrow road that we must walk through in this life and goes against everything that is in the world and the way the world does things.
What are we Facing Today?
Jesus spoke on the last days and identified it with the spread of deception at various levels. What does deception do? It leads a person away from truth they are pursuing or the truth that they once held. We live in a time where people are chasing down God’s presence and ignoring His word. If you don’t care about doctrine you don’t care about the truth. Jesus said my doctrine is not mine but my Fathers. He said His word is truth, the teachings he gave were absolute and brought people to know the Father.
False practices can also take place in the church and there are those who want to help others see what is false and what is true. There are many that look with disdain on those who publicly defend the faith. For whatever reason they have been convinced that we should not say anything about what we see as unbiblical, false that is passed off as the Holy Spirit activity. Even if it harms people, they want only silence. What they do not realize is when they try to put a stop someone exposing errors and lies with the truth they are actually trying to silence the truth, something that God wants to be made known!
One sure thing, the spiritually correct, much like the politically correct have no opinions on anything except on those who voice the truth. It has become fashionable to not confront falsehood but confront those who confront the falsehood. This is appropriately identified as liberalism in the church. Many do not realize that they acting as a liberal when they ignore the falsehood that wrecks peoples lives and inadvertently protect those who teach it. Being bold in the face of opposition to the truth shows one is filled with the Spirit and has Holy Ghost conviction. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power love and a sound mind.
When Peter and John were arrested because they taught the people that Jesus resurrected from the dead they were brought to the religious leaders in Acts 4:17-21 it tells us “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” We cannot say we have seen the resurrected Christ as they did but we can certainly testify that we have heard the same message and it has the same effect. What would you do in a situation like this? Would you obey men who try to manipulate you to go away or God who told you tell the people? They continued and reached out not only to the religious but to the heathens and pagans. The attitude in the early church was not the same as today, however the culture and people are. They lived in a pagan culture and people were most heathenistic, they lived to please themselves; pleasure was the highest form of happiness. It is no different today. Unfortunately there seems to be more conservative talk show hosts that are salt and light in our culture than there are Christians speaking publicly on the issues.
Let me ask you a question: What if Peter and John or the early church had taken the religious leaders advice? We would not have much Christianity today. It would be so watered down and changed it would only be vestiges of a shell of the original. Well that is exactly where we are headed unless we take some hard stands. We are not affecting the culture as much as the culture is affecting us. A battle for the truth is taking place not just in the secular society with relativism, but inside the church. We are not immunized from the false teachers; they are putting their brand on many people. Their influence has become greater then those who teach the truth.
After the apostle Paul was saved the first thing we see him doing is going into the synagogue, back to his own people convincing them that Jesus is exactly who He said he is; the Son of God. He didn’t just do this quietly; he debated vigorously with the religious leaders. Sometimes we need to make little noise and not just be soft quiet sheep. People who are in darkness need to see a light to be attracted to it; not just be told there is a light to go to. We are to explain why they are in darkness and be there personally to lead them out. You might be yelled at, cursed and even segregated but if you know you are doing the right thing, it should not deter you.
There was a time when the church gave its life to keep and preserve the truth. People were hauled off everyday to die for Christ (Foxes Book of Martyrs gives a glimpse into the atrocities that Christians lived under.) It was not always safe to be Christian in the first few centuries, yet they were bold witnesses in the public and to rulers who wanted to see them dead. Why? Because they were affecting the people with the truth!
Does Truth Matter Anymore?
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables”(2 Tim. 4:3-4). Here Paul writes us of a group inside the church that purposely does not want to hear the truth and listens to those who teach untrue stories. They lift up for themselves favorite storytellers to be entertained and can no longer receive the word and lose any spiritual growth.
You will always find these demonic qualities where the Devil works: Lies, deceit, falsehood, twisting the truth on its head; 2 Cor.11:14-15 “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” There is always enough truth to deceive those who are naïve and undiscerning. There are many a so-called reverend, minister, bishop, and doctor that know how to use the Bible and say the right thing to get what they want. But are they men of integrity, men of truth; or are they men who are promoters of themselves. One must listen and watch carefully to recognize this. On the other hand, Paul a true apostle said “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2). The apostles were the example to the church of being honest and open in their lives. They did not embellish their stories to gain more converts or bring attention to how God is using them as they went from town to town, country to country. Today it is the opposite; more time is devoted to stories and illustrations then concentrating on expositing the word. For this reason people are not being grounded or trained in the truth any longer, nor equipped to do ministry. Because of this, they cannot recognize or withstand what is false, so they side with it by default. Lies are embraced because it is easier to accept than the truth that requires time and effort to understand and power to put into practice.
Too often miracle stories are used as positive rumors to boost peoples faith and solicit their giving when much is unsubstantiated and has been used by numerous other ministries as their own story to gain support.
“For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me” (2 Cor. 12:6).
Paul was careful he did not exaggerate to promote the gospel or his ministry. If there was anything to boast in it was God, and they had proof of what took place. 2 Cor. 7:14 “For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true.”
We are not to take lightly what we say a fabrication used for good intentions is still a lie. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt. 12:35-37). Too many speak before they know the facts. Many parrot what they have heard as being true when in fact it is untrue Psalm 33:4 “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth.”
Does truth matter anymore? Jesus and those who followed Him thought it mattered; it could very well mean where you spend your eternity. When it finally comes to the end -- men will be held accountable for the words spoken that were not of the truth and for the wrong motives (this is where God will judge the secrets of the heart). Whatever they said that embellished the story to promote them-selves or used their own imagination for relating their spiritual experiences. Man may forget, but God will not forget it. It will all have to pass through the fiery judgment of their works to see if it will last into eternity. God will know the motives of our heart in what we did for Him. Revelation says among those kept out of the kingdom are liars. When the Lord comes back He will establish His kingdom on the earth we will no longer have to be concerned about lies and deception. Zech. 8:3 “Thus says the LORD: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the LORD of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’”
Loving the Truth FIRST
God says He is love but he also describes himself as the Truth; and we are told to by HIM to love the TRUTH. Paul who wrote what love is stated that love: “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). Do you rejoice in the truth even if it stings your heart? I know I have become uncomfortable when I find that I was not practicing the truth.
Many view Jesus as loving to all, believing he operated his life by a rule of tolerance. This is not the Jesus that the Scripture presents to us. The first thing we see Jesus doing in the Temple, even as young child is apologetics. “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47). He listened and he asked them questions and he answered them at the age of 12. It is no different today; we are supposed to be able to answer people. Some of us are old enough to know the answers.
We often hear “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” but it is also “goodness, righteousness, and TRUTH” (Ephesians 5:9). In our day, the definition of love has been changed to mean tolerance. Love must find its source in truth or it is NOT biblical love. It seems much of the church is still singing the Beatles tune “all you need is love, love is all you need…” The world we live in lies in the hands of the deceiver one who from his nature can only tell lies and oppose those who love the truth. Just as Satan opposes the truth we are to stand for the truth and oppose the lies. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first.” Why would the people hate Jesus? Because he told it like it is. Today society is hostile toward anything that would imply an absolute. Everyone wants to do what is right in there own eyes and the Church has allowed this influence inside its doors.
Some people (Christians) think that if someone speaks publicly about another’s teaching, proving that it is wrong from the Bible they are slandering them. Prov.12:17 “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit.” When one exposes lies and deception they are on God’s side. When one sides with falsehood, they have opposed the truth. Isa. 59:14-15 “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.” Truth can be proclaimed and fall to the ground because people do not want to hear it. And those who refuse it often go after those who proclaim it, to silence its voice.
Was Jesus slandering when he used the Pharisees as examples of what not to do? When Jesus publicly condemned the Pharisees calling them whitewashed tombs, full of dead men's bones, he was not being unloving, he was acting in love, watching over his flock! (Matthew 23).
When Peter received a revelation from the Father and proclaimed Jesus as the Christ the Son of the living God, he was commended. But right after this he was prompted by the Devil to prevent Jesus from accomplishing his mission. Jesus did not overlook his error because he did something right beforehand. Nor did he say his good outweighed the bad. What was at stake was the truth, so Jesus did not keep silent and allow Peter to influence the others falsely. He loved him enough to correct him, even in front of others. This is not the Jesus the liberal’s want, but is the real Jesus, one who loves you enough to tell you the truth so you can change.
Anytime truth is compromised someone will be hurt. Was the Apostle Paul unloving when he rebuked Peter publicly for his compromising with the Galatians? Paul writes Gal. 2:5-8 “ we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Yet in verses12-14 speaking of Peter “for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”
Paul openly rebuked Peter who was an apostle a leader in the church. Because of his compromise he ended up influencing others, even a good man named Barnabas. This is how compromise works. Paul’s correction was harsh but necessary. We should not think of Paul as unloving when he named the name of false teachers and messengers such as Hymenaeus and Alexander several different times in his Epistles? He realized that speaking correction for those straying would hurt, so he wrote, “Have I then become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Is truth your enemy or friend?
The Bible teaches us that we are not to judge hearts but we are to judge teachings and actions. We are to be walking in the truth, but by following false teachers you can be removed from doing this. How can we know what is false unless it’s compared to truth, only then does it becomes evident. Discernment tells you what is wrong and only by making a judgment do you make a decision on what you know is wrong.
The way immune yourself from falling for deception is to know the truth first- and then not compromise when confronted with people who present something other than the truth
John addressing the effect of the anointing explains in 1 John 2 :20 “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.”
John in the greater context is saying if you have the one that is truth, then you have the influence of truth to withstand the deceptions of the antichrists. The church had been made thoroughly acquainted with the truth. John is asking the believers to be on guard against the deceivers that are trying to corrupt the church. They prove they know spiritual truth by resisting falsehood. Truth is always anti-falsehood; by its own nature it always focuses on what is against the truth, it will shine its light in the dark or the shadows to show what is not of light. Falsehood always feels like it is under attacked when it is compared to the truth. You will find those who side with the false will react in the flesh unable to cope with the truth.
There is a balance and a tension of edifying with the truth and using the truth to challenge anything that raises itself against the truth. The truth will either make people glad or make them mad. You can say it in the most loving manner but if someone is not able to receive it they will become angry and hostile. But you can be assured it is not you they are mad at but really the message you are delivering. Despite this misunderstanding, our goal must be “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28). As Peter says in his second letter, “And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2:2). So we must speak up.
What we don’t want to be like is the generation Jeremiah spoke to, who were obstinate in God’s truth and loved the false prophets (Jer.5:1-4) “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. Though they say, 'As the LORD lives,' surely they swear falsely.” O LORD, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, “Surely these are poor. They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the judgment of their God.
Jer. 7:26-28 “Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.” Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you.” So you shall say to them, ‘This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the LORD their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth” (Does this remind you of what Timothy said would happen in the last days?)
Jer. 9:3-5 “And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the LORD. “Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers. Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves to commit iniquity.”
False teachers doing immense damageinoculating themselves and their followers from truth that can set them free. “A true witness delivers souls, but a deceitful witness speaks lies” (Prov. 14:25). It is mostly carnal and new believers that gravitate toward false teachers
I know I speak for many when I say “We speak out because we care,” others do not speak because their love has grown cold for people and for the truth.
Our heart in doing ministry is this: “These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine”(29:24). Some have swallowed enough “false teachings” they have spiritually choked. It is time to seek the correct interpretations of the word that is Spirit and life; forget about all those who proclaim new words and revelation. Get back to a real and uncomplicated relationship with the Lord.
God needs to get a hold of the leaders in the church to be committed to the truth and others who are in the truth to stand up for it. Without this we will not survive what is now taking place. In a time of war, peace is fleeting but sought; in the time of deception the truth needs to be unwavering. We cannot keep silent when something affects the core doctrines, or changes the gospel. 2 Cor.13:8 “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for it” (the Apostle Paul). We can do no other, for if you don’t have the truth you have nothing.