October 6, 2019 What is Truth?

What is Truth?

Scripture reading: John 18:33-38

Pilate first asks the Lord is he is the King of the Jews. This is what he has been told. The Lord does not answer his question. Pilate asks a second question, “What have you done?” However, the Lord does not answer this question either. Instead, he makes a statement. He says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” When Jesus says this, there is an implication that he is a King because he calls the kingdom, “my kingdom.” Yet, it is not clear. So, Pilate asks him a third question: “So, you are a king?” And, for the third time, the Lord does not answer his question. He says, “You say that I am a king.” He is intentionally ambiguous. Then he says something that is both clear and profound.

For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.1

The very purpose that he was born, the very reason that He came to the earth, was to bear witness to the truth!

This statement informs us how important truth is! One could say that there is nothing as important as truth. If this is the very reason that Jesus came, to bear witness to the truth, then we must take truth to heart, we must understand it, and we must love it.

Pilate then responds sarcastically, “What is truth?” He is not sincerely wanting to know what truth is, because everyone knows what truth is, even if they cannot offer a definition of it. Pilate is being a skeptic. (A skeptic is a person who holds that real knowledge of things is not possible.) Although Pilate was not interested in knowing what truth is, we can ask this same question with sincerity. And, although everyone has a sense of what truth is and that there must be truth, we can come to a better understanding of truth.

[1.] Truth is what corresponds to reality. This is the simple, common-sense definition of truth. Aristotle said that when you say something about a matter and it is really that way, then that is truth. Of course, everyone knows this already. It is not a difficult concept by any stretch of the imagination.

[2.] Truth can be known. We live in a skeptical age. In a recent survey only 28% of the people asked believed there was such a thing as absolute truth. In other words, a large majority believed that truth was relative, rather than absolute. Amazingly, this same question was asked of Evangelical Christians and only 23% believed in absolute truth! But a relative truth is no truth at all. Because if something can be validated for one person and not true to someone else, then truth loses its meaning. 

Truth is objective and truth can be known. The reason we know that truth can be known is because Jesus came to bear witness to it. Our Lord is not going to waste his time telling us the truth if we can’t know it. More, Jesus promised that we could know it.

 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”2

The condition for knowing the truth that Jesus promised is abiding in his word. If we abide in his word we will know the truth! Because all truth originates with God and because the Scriptures are the very words of God, the more accurate our knowledge of the Bible is then the more truth we will know.

We have seen that truth is what conforms to reality and that we can know the truth. Next, we need to know that…

[3.] The devil is opposed to the truth and is a liar. When Jesus was disputing with the Jews he said this:

 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.3

There is no truth in the devil. He distorts reality so things are not as they appear to be. He will make right seem wrong and wrong seem right to those who are not abiding in God’s words. He lies. He is the father of lies, meaning those who subscribe to falsehood, even unwittingly, are of the devil. They will not think they are of the devil, just like the Jews did not think they were of the devil. They thought they were of Abraham. But Jesus said they were of their father, the devil. Peter didn’t think he was going along with the Satan’s plan when he expressed opposition to the Lord’s sacrifice. But Jesus calls him Satan because of it.

We must also see that the whole world is deceived by the devil. This means that the world, meaning its people, cannot see itself as it really is. It is a lie. Now physical things are real enough. It is the moral and spiritual realities that are either denied or obfuscated.

Deep down within, all people know the truth, but they suppress it. They keep trying to deny it so that, eventually, they may believe a lie consciously. Yet, in their subconscious they know the truth.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 4

Because they suppressed the truth God gave them over to lust. 

 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie.. 5

They traded God’s truth for a lie. This is the story of not just the heathen of Rome, but the world at large. It is our world right now. We are in a battle with the forces of darkness. The word “darkness” itself implies a lack of truth. This leads us to the next assertion about truth.

[4.] Truth is the first article of our armor that we are to put on.

2 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, 6

In the war for the souls of men, women, and children truth is first and foremost. Unless we have the belt of truth about our waste, we will not have the support we need to stand. A strong belt not only supports a person’s back, but the sword of the Spirit hangs upon it. Truth strengthens us and it is one with the sword of the Spirit. God’s word is truth!

Because Jesus came to let truth be fully known…

[5.] We must love the truth. 

8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.7

You see, in order to be saved, in order to believe, one must love the truth. Even if you do not believe the realities of the Christian faith presently, if you have a love for truth then you are in a good position.

The great scientist and Christian, Blaise Pascal said:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it. 

He was right when he wrote this in the 1600’s and, if anything, it is even more true now. 

We must love the truth in order to receive it and we must love the truth because, once we know it, it will set us free. If a lost one comes to know the truth and trusts in it, she will be set free. But this is also true of the disciple of Christ. We have been set free from the penalty of sin that once hung over our heads. But, we still need to be set free from the deceitfulness of sin. There can still be a kind of bondage that the follower of Christ experiences to the extent that they believe lies.

Love the truth!

There was a boy who loved to tell the truth. But it is easy to tell the truth when things are going well. It is not so easy when things go wrong. This boy’s family worked in the service of a king and lived in the palace. His friend, another boy, also lived in the palace, his family also being servants there. So, the boy was walking along with his friend and was telling him about a girl he liked. He wanted to give her a present but he had no money. As they were walking and talking down the main palace hall he saw a large vase filled with many beautiful flowers. “This is the perfect gift!” he said. So he took one and gave it to the girl. She was very pleased. The next day he was strolling down the same hall and thought, “I’ll take just one more. There are so many.” So he did. The girl was quite pleased to receive another beautiful flower. He did this again the next day and the next and the next.

One day, the King noticed how few flowers were left in the vase. He was so angry that he called everyone in the palace to assemble. When they were all before the King, the boy thought he should say it had been him who took the flowers. However, his friend told him to be quiet, because the King would be terribly angry with him. The boy was paralyzed with fear, but when the King came near he decided to confess.
As soon as the boy said that he had done it, the King went red with anger, but on hearing what the boy had done with the flowers, a smile appeared on the King's face, and he said,

"I couldn't have thought of a better use for my flowers."
And, from that day, the boy and the King became great friends. They went to the vase and took two of those wonderful flowers, one for the girl, and the other for the Queen.

This boy loved the truth and spoke the truth even though he thought it would get him into trouble. Because he loved the truth he became friends with the king. You too can be friends with the king. Love the truth and speak the truth.

The Lord Jesus came to earth to bear witness to the truth. Let us, each one, bear witness to the truth. Never fear to speak the truth. Let us fear to keep silent!

* Truth can be known.
* The devil and the world are opposed to the truth. This should not hinder us from defending it; rather, we must enter the battle.
* Be a soldier for Christ! Get off the couch and put your armor on. And, the first and foremost item is the belt of truth.
* Love the truth! Never be neutral! Love the truth!

How important is the truth? It was important enough that Jesus came to our world to speak it!

 

 

1 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 18:37). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
2 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:31–32). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
3 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:43–44). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
4 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 1:18–19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
5 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 1:24–25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
6 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 6:12–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
7 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Th 2:8–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

1