(Photo: Dan Delzell)
Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, asked Jesus Christ, "What is truth?" (John 18:38) It is a question which has puzzled millions of people over the centuries. Is the truth only something to believe....or is it more than that? Can everyone have their own "truth," or is truth absolute? And what happens to a person who accepts the truth, as compared to one who rejects the truth?
Well....Jesus said that He is "the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) So Jesus is the truth. Everything about Him is true. Everything that contradicts Him is false. He is not only the standard of truth....but He is also the means by which everything in life and in death gets evaluated and judged.
One of the marks of a person who does not know the truth is that he rejects the teaching that Jesus is the only way to the Father. That teaching makes a man squirm if he is walking in darkness. And yet, Jesus didn't hesitate to tell us the real deal when He said, "No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Natural man mocks this doctrine and calls it "too exclusive." Well....it is what it is....and it is true because Jesus said so.
Our tendency, even as Christians, is to assume that the "truth" is only something we believe....when it fact, it is much more. The apostle John wrote, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4) This is an astounding statement! It reveals to us that when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, he then begins to "walk in the truth" by living in a way that honors the Savior. So the truth isn't only what you believe....it becomes a way of life for those who know Christ as Lord and Savior.
The apostle Paul wrote about "the obedience that comes from faith." (Romans 1:5) That is another way of describing what it means to walk in the truth. A theological term which is used to describe this reality is "sanctification." Man is justified before God through faith alone....when you trust that Jesus paid for your sins on the cross. Sanctification begins immediately upon conversion as the Holy Spirit takes up residence within the believer. For that matter, so does Jesus.
St. Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20) That is meant to be interpreted literally. Christ doesn't only dwell in heaven....and outside the believer....but also "in" those who are justified through faith. Paul describes "the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27) The reason Jesus is able to do this is because He is the eternal God, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Christians have Christ living inside of them....while others experience what happens after you have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie." (Romans 1:25) Just as the truth produces a certain kind of life, so also does the acceptance of the lie. When a person rejects Jesus and the free gift of salvation, the result is a life without God's presence, forgiveness, and peace. By rejecting God's mercy and His plan of salvation, you end up "at the mercy" of your greatest passions and desires. Those desires have a way of enslaving you to a lifestyle that runs contrary to the truth. In that realm, "one is too many, and 100 is never enough."
Paul describes the life that flows from the lie this way: "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (Ephesians 4:19) There is no soul satisfaction in the life that flows from the lie. It is a very different kind of "flow" than the living water of the Holy Spirit. (see John 7:37-39) One stream flows north....while the other stream flows south. One path pleases God....while the other seeks to satisfy the flesh. One lifestyle comes from the truth....and the other, while popular, comes from the lie.
So you see....the truth and the lie are not only things you believe....each one actually rules the heart and produces the particular lifestyle that comes from that belief. What does your life teach about what you believe?
It is possible for a believer to act on a lie at times and allow some of that godless fruit in his life....but it is not possible for an unbeliever to experience any good fruit until he first meets Jesus through faith and has the Lord of the universe living on the inside. The only "good fruit" in God's eyes is the fruit which He produces in His children. God creates that fruit in believers when Christians "say 'no' to ungodliness and worldly passions," and "live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives" (Titus 2:11,12) through the power of the Holy Spirit.
If one of your loved ones, for example, was to repent and believe the good news about Christ, he would then begin walking in the truth. Genuine conversion always results in genuine fruit. "Faith without works is dead." (James 2:17) That doesn't mean that man's works create faith or conversion. The miracle of the new birth through repentance and faith is a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and soul of man. (see 1 Cor. 12:3 and John 1:12,13)
Everyone needs to know the truth. This is the only way to be brought into the family of God. Once that happens, your life will be on the "truth track." From that point forward, you will lose much peace in your heart whenever you choose to live according to the old desires. You will maintain your peace of mind as you walk with Christ and walk in the truth. For the most part, that will involve you saying "no" to certain things....and the Holy Spirit will produce His good fruit in you. (see Galatians 5:22,23)
As Christians, we need to just say "no" to the wrong desires, and God will fill us with His Spirit daily. Just say "no" to any lie and the fruit of any lie. Keep your heart and mind pure. That is far easier said than done. Even Christians have a stubborn tendency to sometimes say "yes" when we should say "no" to ourselves. When temptation comes knocking, we need to tell our "self" to forget it. Feeding the desires of the old nature will only lead to confusion, unrest, and deceit.
This is why the apostle John wrote about his joy over those who were "walking in the truth." (3 John 1:4) He knew that their belief in the truth was producing a lifestyle that was in line with the truth. He also knew where that path was taking them.
How is it in your life today....with your beliefs and your subsequent actions? Do you know where your path is taking you, and are you willing to make any changes to your beliefs or your lifestyle that are necessary in order to please the One who died for your sins on the cross? Hey....there it is....that's only about the most important question you and I could ever answer.
As you consider God's love for you my friend, always remember....the truth isn't only something you believe.