What is Truth?
My Sermon today asks a question first asked by Pontius Pilate during his cross examination of Jesus. Speaking of His Kingdom Jesus says “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice“ and Pilate saith unto him, What is Truth?” John 18:38.
This is the question I am asking today “WHAT IS TRUTH”
for you and I both know that there is little understanding
of truth in our world today.
In many of our homes children are growing up understanding about money, about cars, about sport, about fashion and about fame – but understanding little or nothing about life, about death, about right and about wrong. They are being bombarded every second of the day with the “spin” of the media moguls who can get them to believe anything true or false, and get them to accept that they need things whether or not they do. Many of our young parents have no idea themselves about truth and what truth is, because fewer people go to Church nowadays, fewer believe in God or believe in any moral absolutes.
If there is no God then it matters little about right and wrong, truth and lies. In the minds of some everything and anything is right, and as long as you are not hurting anyone else, truthfulness becomes an option, even with our politicians. Thus most do not have any beliefs and consequently many have no real conviction about anything and no real or firm commitment to anything.
As a consequence of this kind of thinking, there is often no commitment in relationships and no commitment to friendships or even family members. People become depressed and disillusioned about life and we have suicides on the increase every day.
This is the landscape into which I must try today to paint some hope, and I can only do that as I bring TRUTH to bear on the awful mess we have manufactured for ourselves. So like Pilate,
I am asking, “What is Truth?”
Jesus himself gave us the answer. The answer lies in Jesus; He said I am the way the truth and the life – John 14:6. He did not say that he was A way of life, but THE WAY TO LIFE. He did not say that he was truthful, he said “I AM TRUTH” You see Jesus is the very embodiment of everything you and I will need to face life and (in time) to face death. We cannot have real abundant and overflowing life without him, and we dare not die or face death without him. He is, the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE! This means without doubt that his followers must walk in truth, it is not an option, it is an obligation. Truth is essential in your life and mine as Christians. To know the truth, to walk in truth and to speak the truth. So I need to ask you -are you a truthful person?
Truthfulness is an essential Christian Characteristic. When it’s lacking, both individuals and nations begin to crumble internally. In today’s scripture from the book of Exodus, we notice that because Jethro understood the value of truth, he advised Moses, his son-in-law, to only appoint men to positions of leadership, who feared God and hated dishonest gain. (Exod. 18:21). The truth is that we all influence others, so we must be people who know and speak truth. Though the world is reluctant to hear the answer, Jesus tells us He is the truth and that He has given His church the Spirit of Truth so they can know and understand His Word. However, our becoming people of truth won’t happen automatically.
We must be willing to accept and speak it, even when it causes us discomfort or pain. (Gal. 4:16). Truth is based not on feelings or desires, but on reality. Falsehoods, however, are always misleading statements that misrepresent the truth. This is why you can’t claim to be honest and tell lies or half-truths at the same time.
How can we tell if we’re honest? Self-examination is crucial in determining if we’re characterized by honesty.
Consider for a moment the following questions .. because your answers will reveal how much you value truth – for instance:
A. Do you consider yourself to be a truthful person?
Think carefully now before you answer. Remember that we were born with a bias towards the wrong and not the right. Do you make an effort to be truthful in every response. My Paternal Grandmother was absolutely convinced of such necessity. If I asked her “Do you like my new shoes?” and she didn’t, she would promptly reply “No, I do not!” Sometimes I felt hurt, and often uneasy about asking her, but one thing I knew is that
I would only ever always get the TRUTH from her!
B. Do you have a tendency to slightly alter the truth?
Where I was born and raised, we had a saying there “that if you
dropped a feather at one end of the village, by the time it got to the other end it would be a chicken”. Many people will feel perfectly OK about embellishing the truth – but Christians shouldn’t do it.
C. Do you sometimes feel threatened by the truth?
People who are easily offended are usually threatened by the truth and the offence comes because truth changes the parameters of their thinking and their imaginations.
Many folks in the Church take offence at the truth of the Bible simply because it often demands that they change, and change is one of the things people fear most, next to sickness and death.
D. Do you think it’s acceptable to lie as long as you don’t hurt anyone? The Bible says we are to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) This means that there may be times when we are indirect with the truth. For example when I come into the hospital ward and sit down beside a dying patient, who asks “Am I dying Pastor?”
It may be more “loving” and more “caring” to say something like “well, we are all dying, every breath we take is a dying breath, but the important thing is when we take the last breath are we prepared for what comes next?” Then I can change the subject from dying to living for eternities values and not merely living for the trinkets and treasures of time. So before you tell lies, – ask yourself would I want someone to lie to me in a time of crisis?
Then ask yourself
E. How do you feel when you don’t tell the truth?
Do you remember those uncomfortable feelings, those feelings of guilt, those bad feelings? … They come from the conscience which God has placed within the heart of everyone to set the alarm bells ringing when we are walking down dangerous paths.
F. How do you feel when you know someone isn’t telling you the truth? And Do you want people to be honest with you? Dishonest people will always be avoided. They are not
the kind of folks I want as my friends. I may keep their acquaintance, but I should not or could not give them the commitment necessary for any real or lasting friendship.
Let me say a word here about Friendships. Sometimes I meet new people who I like a lot, and think to myself that “they would make great friends”. But the dilemma I face is that I do not have the time to be committed to any more people – for I believe that true friendship demands and deserves commitment.
If I am your friend, I will be utterly committed to you. I will be there for you, I will be available to you night and day, I will take care of you – practically and prayerfully. I will support you when others don’t, I will love you when others won’t and I will stand by you, even when I think I shouldn’t, because that’s what friends are for. Many of us lack commitment to our friends, and we think too much of the quantity of our “friends” than the quality of our friends. Be careful that you are not merely filling your address book, or your “face-book“ with names?
Why don’t you make a “grace-book” and fill that with the names of those for whom you should pray every day?
Next let us consider – What are the benefits of building truth into our lives? As Christians, when the Bible is our source of truth, we have a firm foundation for life. Knowing Biblical truth anchors our souls in times of difficulty and gives us guidance for crucial decisions.
A foundation of truth helps us live according to God’s will.
It provides the:
1. Guidance to know what to do in any given situation.
2. Wisdom to know our direction, or the best way to go.
3. Strength to enable us and empower us.
4. Courage to motivate and move us to do what God asks.
5. Comfort to assure us the Lord will handle the consequences.
and … 6. Faith to help us act and stand on the truth.
But what happens when we fail to build truth into our lives?
If we continue to deny or resist truth, let me show you what will happen. First of all – that we will:
Believe error. Those who fail to believe that God’s Word is the only source of truth will be misled and confused by false teachings and false doctrines. Without the knowledge of truth, it is easy to be led away and led astray into all kinds of weird and wonderful ideologies and theologies. Remember that not everything that sounds like God or looks like God is necessarily GOD? The Devil is a master at counterfeiting the real thing.
It’s his job!
Without knowing the truth, it is possible to
Develop evil habits. When we disregard Scripture and deny that certain activities are sinful, we can deceive ourselves and make them a part of our lives. We can too easily justify what God calls sinful or harmful, and many of these so called “justifiable habits” destroy lives, destroy bodies, and destroy relationships. Jesus himself said: “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32)
You can Live in emotional bondage without truth. The sin of falsehood affects our personalities. That’s why there’s no such thing as a harmless lie? One who habitually and continually tells lies soon begins to live a lie. They live in deceit, deceiving themselves and deceiving others. I have found in years of counselling and consultation that those who are habitually living a lie, rarely look me in the eye. Lying has effected their whole character and personality, usually, they have hurt themselves far more than they have hurt others.
As Christians, living without truth leads to a Lack of spiritual growth. As God’s children, we can’t ignore truth and mature in the Lord. Our growth in Christ is only ever through the nurturing and nourishing of his word … and His word is Truth. (John 17:17) Deny yourself a daily filling of the “Bread of Heaven” and you will starve to a spiritual deadness. It is sad when children do not grow up naturally. God too is saddened when His children fail to grow up in Him. The apostle Paul in many of his Epistles to the Churches addressed the believers as “Children” simply because he could not address them as Sons and Daughters of God; and he pointed out they had failed to mature, or come to maturity in Christ. (1 Cor 3:1)
Let me say something more here about Spiritual Maturity.
Not only does God expect it, but God will exact it from those who he loves. As “babes” or spiritual babies, God sometimes “winked” at your failings (Acts 17:30) but He still answered your prayers. Now when you pray, God is silent and not answering. It may be because God knows it is time for you to grow up, to put off childish thinking and to put on truth, put
on maturity in the word. God will exact this kind of maturity from those Sons and Daughters that he wants to “look after the Fathers Business”- so you may expect some pressure and some problems and some pain, it may be Gods way of creating maturity if you are otherwise avoiding his Truth, his Word?
Without walking in the truth, you may Be thrown off balance emotionally. Dishonesty always creates emotional and mental conflict in us. From years of ministry experience I have also discovered that people who lie usually cry. Let me explain. Someone wants you to believe their story, that they did
not steal that article from the grocery store, so they enforce their story by adding tears in the hope that tears will convince you. The truthful person wrongly accused will rarely shed tears, but will show agitation and anger at being wrongly or falsely accused. Even though sin has messed many of us up big time, Gods grace and mercy is still reaching out right now to all
those who have failed and fallen in this regard. Thank God.
Then, walking without Truth can Destroy our testimonies.
If we have bad reputations and are known for not telling the truth, no one will ever believe us when we talk about Jesus.
I am convinced by something Jesus said: “my sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27) I am convinced that there is a “sound” accompaniment to truth that is not an accompaniment to “lies or error or falsehoods” True believers all know that “joyful sound” and I can tell it as clearly as I can hear my phone ring, when there is falsehood in the air. It may be the Spirit of discernment which comes with my preaching and ministry anointing, but I simply put it down to what Jesus said;
“my word is truth” (John 17:17)
Do you carry the testimony that you are an honest person?
Then LIES, Grieve God’s heart. In His eyes, lies are not categorized, there are no black lies or white lies …. Every falsehood causes God grief. Be true to each other and be truthful with your children. Remember of course particularly in December or at this season of the year (Santa?) that God is always gladdened at the sound of happy children playing. God is not too much bothered by your children’s pretend stories,
but would of course expect believing parents to ensure that the “stories of Jesus” were always first. I preached my first sermon
at the age of Seven, in a pretend game with some sheep,
when I asked them…“lets pretend Church” and I’m sure I heard a few “Ameeenn’s” Don’t ever spoil your Children’s innocence and playtime. Soon enough, they will be all grown up.
The untruthful, Suffer continual disappointment. As Christians, we cannot lie and have peace in our hearts. We’ll always be dissatisfied if we don’t heed the Spirit’s promptings.
They will Have poor relationships with others. Deception causes a lack of trust, which is essential in any relationship.
The dishonest Dwell on past failures. If our lives have been characterized by dishonesty, we will likely keep looking back on our past wrongs rather than moving forward. God wants us to understand that he is not looking so much at what we were, nor at even what we are, but rather on what we can become. Some people will never see you any differently from what you were when they first met you, but don’t allow dishonesty to hold you back and keep you down. The past may have no help in it for you, so look to the future and look to God. Without truth, none of us will ever achieve all that God has planned for our lives.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Understanding truth’s importance is not enough. We must build it into our lives, our hearts and minds by:-
Recognizing truthfulness is a foundational principle for life.
Examining past failures and understanding dishonesty is never worth the consequences. Accepting the Bible as the ultimate guidebook to practicing truth. Choosing to speak the truth and carefully observing the results. Being honest about our failures and why we veered from the truth. Asking God to give us an
ever-increasing desire for truthfulness.
Identifying any areas of weakness, finding applicable Scriptures and quoting them daily. Filling our minds with God’s Word. Purposing in our hearts to be trustworthy, reliable people
whose words are true.
AND … The most important truth to understand is that of eternal life. Until you recognize your sins have separated you from the Lord and that you can never be good enough to gain His acceptance, you’ll be deceived. This world will tell you that there are a thousand different paths you can take to be reunited with God in heaven, but the simple truth is that Jesus is the only way, – and His Word is Truth
God Bless You – Amen