Seek the Truth
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17 (prayer of Jesus to God the Father)
Does idol worship exist today in our culture? You may think that it exists in some foreign country where uncivilized or uninformed people still create statues or carved images that they consider to be an image of a god and they pray to it, present sacrifices to it and fall down prostrate before it to worship the image. Certainly though, most would say that idol worship does not exist in today’s western culture.
I would propose to you that idol worship is rampant today in our western culture, but rather than a physical carved image we have invisible, mental images that we worship, and rather than falling down to worship in front of physical images, we worship and serve them in different ways, but serve them none the less.
An idol is anything that becomes a substitute for the true, living God.
In biblical days the people made physical carved idols of metal or wood that they considered to be a god, but in truth, they had no power:
“He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, ‘Ah, I am warm, I have seen the fire.’ And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’ “ Isaiah 44: 16-17
These people believed a lie. They somehow were deceived into thinking that this inanimate block of wood or metal had some power. It was self-deception and foolishness.
“They do not know or understand; for He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, ‘I have burned half of it in the fire, yes, I have baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood? He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and cannot deliver his soul, nor say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’ “ Isaiah 44: 18-20
This very same deception exists for us today! Rather than a physical carved block of wood or molten shaped metal, we have the lie and deception in the form of a mental concept, a false theory or false view of reality that causes us to shift our attention, our affections, and our service away from the true living God. The result is the same: God is not honored. God is not given the proper place in our hearts. Our thankfulness is not directed towards Him. And just like worshiping a physical idol, it is an abomination to Him.
Truth vs. Lies
At the core of this is the difference between truth and lies. The root problem is that a lie has been substituted for the truth. (Is there not a lie in my right hand?) This deception results in bondage, and we must purge out the lie and replace it with the truth in order to be freed.
I want to draw your attention back to the Scripture verse quoted above from the Gospel of John, from the prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples:
“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17
The word “sanctify” in the original Greek is “hagiazo” meaning in this usage “to purify” and more specifically, the context suggests this version: “to purify internally by renewing of the soul”, and the renewing of our soul suggests that we change the way that we think or change our internal views and understandings of the truth.
The way in which we establish truth in our life is foundational. All of our actions and decisions are based on this foundation of truth. If what we have accepted as truth is perverted or compromised in any way, all that is built upon it will not stand firm. As such, we need to be very much aware and cautious about what we have established as truth in our life.
Recently while riding my bicycle around my city by local fairgrounds I came across a fenced in area with a large banner over the main entrance gate entitled “Pagan Pride”. In curiosity I stopped and asked a man at the gate what it was about. We got into a conversation during which, in an attempt to get to the root of the issue, I asked him how he determined the truth. He replied, “Truth is what you make it to be. You create the truth.” Hopefully it is clear that a person’s method of determining truth is critical to their way of life. As long as people continue to believe in lies they will continue to be in bondage to their lifestyle resulting in pain and suffering that is a product of their sin.
I want to take some time to explain my definition of truth in this context. In general, I am not referring to the truth that men have established about our current physical surroundings like the mathematical truths (1+1=2) or laws of physics (Newton’s laws of gravity). The truth that I am referring to is what we use to establish reality; the truth that we believe and accept about our surroundings, especially about the past that has led up to and has influenced the present, and also what we believe about the future. The truth that I am referring to has a major impact on our lives. It has an influence on who we are, on how we feel, on how we think and make decisions.
For example, if we have accepted as truth that man has corrupted the earth’s ozone layer and has caused global warming and/or severe climate change that could potentially cause catastrophic and irreversible damage in the future, than we will behave, make decisions, be happy or sad in certain circumstances as a result of accepting this truth.
I want to be very clear about this. We must understand that the truths that we accept and believe will establish our view of reality, and this view of reality is not neutral concerning God. Either He is included in this view or He is not. Either He is the creator of this reality or He is not. Either He is in complete control of this reality or He is not. Either His revealed details of the history of this reality are true or they are not. Either His plans for the future of this reality are true or they are not. All of God’s truth, in its entirety, must be in place, otherwise we have created a mental falsehood that is an idol and an abomination, and it will cause bondage.
God’s word is truth
How then is this truth established? The answer to this is also found in the quoted verse from John 17: God’s word is truth. I would add to this an adjective: God’s word is absolute truth, upon which we can build a sure foundation that will ensure freedom.
God’s word comes in two forms. There is the word of God as has been revealed in the Bible, the Scriptures, and then there is the word of God that He speaks to us directly through His Spirit. In the context of the truth that determines our way of life, the absolute truth of the Scriptures is by far the most critical source. In fact, the spoken word of God from His Spirit should always be compared and weighed against the Scripture and if a conflict exists, than the Scriptures always override the direct word.
The problem with the direct communication of God’s word by His Spirit is that we are vulnerable to our own thoughts, prompted by our carnal mind or by our flesh, causing a great potential for deception. I am not saying that we should abandon our attention to the voice of the Spirit. On the contrary, I believe that the Holy Spirit was sent to lead us into the truth and to show us clearly the truth. I am saying that the Holy Spirit’s voice should not be a substitute for the Word of God, but rather should work in conjunction with it.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13
The voice of the Holy Spirit will not cover the entirety of the truths that we need to establish our view of reality. We need to seek truth from the Scriptures in order to get the full picture of reality from God’s perspective.
It is not sufficient for us to simply say that we believe that God’s word, the Bible, is the absolute truth. We need to know and understand the content of the truth that was revealed and apply those truths to our life. We need to purge out the old lies from our past and replace them with the truth in all areas of our belief system. This process takes time and effort; it requires study and persistence. We need to prayerfully read and study the Scriptures, under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. Our attitude, our attention, our affections, our decisions, our goals, our happiness, all of our life should be based on the truth that we have established from the revealed Word of God. This is our spiritual worship and service to Him.
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12: 1-2
Sadly, many Christians today do not give the needed attention to the Word of God. They instead depend on other men to garner truth. They read books, listen to sermons, talk to other Christians, watch documentaries, none of which are bad, but they cannot replace the Holy Scriptures as the primary means of establishing the truth.
I say this of myself. My role is to exhort you, to encourage you to continue in the truth, and to direct you to seek Him. I don’t have the specific answers to your problems but I can direct you to the one who does – the living, all powerful and all knowing God! No man, including myself, should be the one you look to as a source of truth. Look to God and His Word.
I find it sad also that some would want to pick and choose what truths they want to accept from the Bible and mix them with other “truths” from various sources to establish their view of reality. The foolishness of this, as I see it, is that we don’t fully comprehend the limits of man’s understanding of our world or the limits of our knowledge of the past.
What is reality?
The gap between what we think we know and what is the actual truth is much wider than we can perceive or what we will allow ourselves to accept. In other words, we don’t know how much we don’t know, and in many cases we don’t want to know because we want to believe what we think is true. We can’t even know the truth about the reality that is happening in the present let alone the reality that happened in the near past and especially in the distant past. We all know that when an event occurs and is witnessed by many people we get a different version of the event from each person, all of which vary greatly. And yet we read accounts of past history as if they are completely accurate and true without the bias or misconception of the author.
Teachers teach subjects strongly influenced by their opinions and biases. New reporters report the news interlaced with their opinions and influenced by their biases, politics and world view. Scientists publish their discoveries and research finding with strong biases. History is written from the viewpoint of the author, whether it is from the country that they are from or from the side of the war that they fought on. Yet we take these opinions as truth and establish our view of reality based on these views. Do we also not see that there is a lie in our right hand?
If man is the source, it cannot be considered “absolute” truth. Only God’s truth is absolute and unchanging.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Luke 21:33
God has revealed His word at first by using Abraham and his descendants, speaking to them through the prophets and having them meticulously record and preserve their history and writing. He then revealed himself through His Son Jesus, the Messiah, as was witnessed by the apostles and disciples of that time and recorded in the Gospels, Luke’s record of the early church called the Book of Acts, and then the letters to the early churches, the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16
“First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of men, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1: 20-21
“So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” 2 Peter 2:15-16
This is God’s revelation to mankind. We must understand that He has preserved and protected His word. The entire Bible is under His protection and must all be considered as authoritative. If we can remove any part of it, then all of it becomes invalid. In other words, if we can disqualify any single portion of the Bible from being the authoritative inspired word of God, then it opens the door for any other part of it to be disqualified. It is an all or nothing proposition. No but rather we must trust that God is all powerful and able to protect and guide the formation of His revelation to mankind, and to keep it intact throughout the ages.
We must also examine our motive for not accepting some parts of God’s revelation. Is it because it conflicts with the desires of our flesh? Does it cause us some pain or discomfort to implement the truths that were revealed? Sometimes the truth hurts, but in the long run it is well worth the pain.
Years ago I overheard people talking about their plans for the future. They didn’t realize that I could hear them. Their plans had a strong influence on my future and my happiness. Upon hearing this I was greatly upset and discouraged. As I looked to the Lord, His Spirit spoke to me (I wrote this down) saying, “Don’t be discouraged. What you see and hear is not the reality of things. What you think in your mind is not reality. What you suppose is going to happen is not reality; only what I ordain to happen is reality. I know reality for tomorrow today. Trust in me and lean not on your own understanding.” I can now testify that the things that I feared did not happen and in fact the opposite occurred.
Seek the Truth and Establish Reality from it
My point is that we are too quick to establish our view of reality, whether it be the overview of our world or the view of specific circumstances. The truth is that only God really knows what is real. Much of this reality has been revealed in His Scriptures and is available for us to use for our own lives. How great a privilege it is to have this opportunity to access these truths that He has taken the time to establish through His prophets of old and through the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t neglect this privilege. Don’t neglect the study of His Word. Don’t reject parts of His Word because you don’t understand them or because you find them to be a source of pain or discomfort.
Truth is invaluable and essential to our Christian walk. We must vehemently seek after this truth and use it to purify our inner thoughts and view of reality. Don’t take this lightly but be committed to the pursuit of truth through the Holy Scriptures.
Once the truth is established, having applied our faith to this truth, we then attain the assurance of hope, the result of which is true love in our inner nature. We become a new spiritual creation with love written on our heart, and able to generate the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
I leave you with these thoughts about truth from the Scriptures:
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ “ John 14:6
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
“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.” John 8:44
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,” Ephesians 6:14
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” 3 John 1:4