Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” And his question continues to echo down through time. What can we believe? Is there objective truth apart from our perceptions and opinions? Or is truth merely what we want it to be?
Today we have to wrestle with philosophical propaganda, wishful thinking, blatant lies, and fake news all the time. It’s hard to figure out what to believe. In most cases we accept information we believe comes from a reliable source. If the person speaking is honest, trustworthy, able to think clearly without personal bias, and has never deceived us before, we are likely to accept what he or she says.
David’s relationship with God convinced him that he could rely on His Word. In the longest passage in Scripture, Psalm 119, he writes passionately about how much he loves and delights in God’s law because it provides a sure foundation for his life.
“Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true” (vv. 89, 105, 138, 142).
Those who don’t know God would find it strange – David delighting in laws they see as inhibiting their free expression and ruining their fun. Even back in Isaiah’s time there were those who didn’t want to hear uncomfortable truth. They told God’s prophets: “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. … Stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (Isaiah 30:10-11)
This Holy One of Israel came in human form and showed us by His life what the Word of God looks like. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus fully embodied God’s law. He told the people of His day they could know truth … and that truth would set them free! (John 8:32)
When someone suggests today that all truth is subjective, we who know Jesus can answer back with confidence: No, we have seen the Truth and He has set us free. Because of Jesus we can now make moral judgments, not because we’re morally better than other people but because we’ve heard from the One who was (and is) “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). He can speak with perfect authority because He is the only fully reliable source for truth.
Confusion abounds even in the church today. Some have drawn erroneous conclusions from Scripture. For instance, some say that Jesus was such a loving person, He would never condemn anyone’s sinful behavior. This is only a half truth. Yes, He is gracious and willing to forgive any kind of sin, but He never minimizes its harmful effects or condones it. He told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (See John 8:11.)
Christians are not fully representing God’s truth when we focus only on God’s love for mankind. Our sin (rebellion) was so serious to God it required sending Jesus to the cross. If we don’t understand the implications of continuing in our sin when we have the opportunity to receive Jesus and be set free from it, we will perish. That’s the message of John 3:16.
Every true Christian has undergone repentance – a change of heart towards God’s rule over them. As a result, he or she now values the Word of God and desires to walk in truth. Like David, they declare “I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws” (Psalm 119:30).
Of course I’m not advocating harsh, critical attitudes when we communicate God’s Word. We shouldn’t bash unbelievers over the head with our truth. But we do need to present it at every opportunity so people can be set free from their sin. Scripture tells us how to communicate God’s truth … “With gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
Nobody wants to go to their doctor and not hear the truth about their condition. Platitudes don’t help us get well. Sometimes we don’t like the pain that accompanies our recovery, but if the goal is to get well, truth is the only path to getting there. To be reconciled to God, we must come His way. Jesus said “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13).
In his song “When He Returns” Bob Dylan puts it this way: “Truth is an arrow, and the gate is narrow that it passes through.” There are not many ways to God. His truth is not negotiable, up for debate, or different from what it was centuries ago. As Creator, Redeemer, and Judge, God gets to have the final word.
Today we want to make the way to God easy for people. In the name of love we’ve sometimes watered down truth, but each is important for the life of a disciple. The following passage from the New Testament is as applicable to us today as it was in the first century. If someone desires to be reconciled to God through Christ, here is what they need to know.
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
The way back home is narrow, but when we welcome His truth we find the way glorious, fulfilling, and delightful. Those who know the Lord Jesus as their reliable and faithful source of truth will joyfully submit to all He says. The spiritually sick may not like the diagnosis or treatment prescribed in His Word, but they must hear and embrace the truth to be set free.
Whom do you love enough to share the truth with … so they can enter into God’s kingdom with you? “Speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) is how we help others enter through the narrow gate. Their spiritual healing depends upon our faithful witness. Will you be “a trustworthy envoy [who] brings healing”? (Proverbs 13:17).