Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalm 119:89, NKJV)
Truth is determined in heaven, not upon earth. That is, God is the source of truth, not man. For example, many “laws of nature” (like gravity) have been discovered by mankind, but they were not established by human beings. The truth of these laws has existed since “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Likewise, spiritual and moral truth is not determined through the experiences and wisdom of humanity; it is established and settled in heaven. Heaven’s truth is the word of God. Jesus Christ emphatically agreed when He said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus possesses the full authority of truth in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). Humans have no standing to argue against the truth of God (authority of heaven). Human beings do not vote to decide what the truth will be. We have only to either believe and obey God’s truth to receive His blessings, or to refuse and disobey His word unto our eternal demise (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Truth will not change to our whims; We must be converted and follow it (John 8:31-32).
10 When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” 12 Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.” (Matthew 15:10–13, NKJV)
Jesus openly rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy of elevating religious traditions above the word of God (see Matthew 15:1-9). Instead of accepting the correction and repenting, the Pharisees were offended when He exposed their sinful error. Their traditions focused on spiritually inconsequential things (ceremonial washings, etc., Mark 7:3-4), persuading people to conform to their traditions to be considered “clean” or worthy before God. The Son of God does not approve binding religious traditions that originate with man. Jesus explained to the crowd that food does not defile a person, but what comes out of a person’s heart (see Matthew 15:17-20). Like Jesus, we must have the boldness to use the Scriptures to help people see their sin and the way of salvation. Otherwise, how will the lost soul he or she needs salvation (Rom. 10:13-14; 2 Tim. 4:2)?
“for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:28, NKJV)
If you intend to live by God’s truth, how do you measure what is truth? Whether a declarative statement, a direct commandment, or an unavoidable inference of a divine mandate and moral principle, is something “truth” because you or others have testified that it is the truth of God? Or, is a teaching and practice truth because it is found in the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? It is commonly said, and often practiced, that truth is “in the eye of the beholder.” In other words, many believe truth is relative; ever-changing and opinion-driven. But, Jesus said God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). The fact that Aratus, the Cilician poet (whom Paul quoted) had said 300 years earlier that “ever and in all ways we all enjoy Jupiter, for we are also his offspring,” did not authenticate Paul’s teaching to be true. It illustrated that even idolaters acknowledged the truth he spoke about our Creator and His nature (Gen. 1:26-27; 2:7). We do not assure our confidence of truth because an idolater said something that harmonizes with it. Neither did Paul. Nor are we assured of truth because a secularist or religionist happens to agree with what the Bible says on some point. Truth is what the Scriptures say. That we what we will speak and preach (1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:1-2). We must reply on the word of God, not on the word of men.
1 Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. 2 They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; With flattering lips and a double heart they speak. (Psalm 12:1–2, NKJV)
I just read an article about data mining that began with this provocative statement: “Everybody lies.” Is that statement true, or is it a lie? The author’s declarative statement is different from saying, “I have never lied.” And, it is different than saying, “I will never be tempted to lie.” His statement implies ongoing action. He asserts everyone always lies. We object to this over-broad pronouncement. Yes, the world is full of liars. But, you do not have to be one of them. The gospel calls Christians out of a life of lies, into speaking truth: “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). The Scriptures tell us that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Will everyone be lost? If not, then at least some liars are no longer liars. Some have repented of lying, obeyed the gospel and no longer lie. They were converted to Christ, and put away their lying. If you are a liar, then stop your lying and speak the truth. Your incentive is eternal life; your warning is hell’s eternal death.
16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:16–17, NKJV)
Should we charge Paul with arrogance for telling the Christians to imitate him? Was Timothy encouraging Paul’s hubris by reminding the Christians of how Paul lived? No, because Paul’s ways were “in Christ” (see 1 Cor. 11:1). Paul lived what he taught, and his faithful life is a pattern to follow (Phil. 3:17). It is also notable that the inspired apostle Paul taught the same thing “everywhere in every church.” Truth is not definable by time, place, or situation. There was not one truth for first-century Christians in Corinth, and another truth for 21st century Christians. Every attempt to shape and mold the word of God to our situations, instead of reforming our situations to that word, is destined to end in spiritual failure. The gospel that was preached in the first century “endures,” and bears the same fruit now that it bore then (1 Pet. 1:22-25). What we need is not a new truth; it is a new heart to receive and follow the truth that has been once for all delivered from heaven to men (Jude 3).
He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die. (Proverbs 19:16, NKJV)
Many who claim the name of Christ easily disparage Christians who are careful to follow the word of God as “hyper-conservative,” or even as “legalistic.” When the Scriptures are consulted, there is no doubt that careful obedience is precisely what faith demands. The progressive mindset is willing to broaden and expand the definition and application of truth. Pontius Pilate could be the progressives’ poster child, for it was he who said, “What is truth?” God has revealed truth in an understandable and believable way. Furthermore, its commands can be kept, for by so doing, one guards his very soul from sin’s death. When one is careless with the word of God, he is being careless with his soul. The evangelist Timothy was commended for carefully following the apostle’s teaching and manner of life (2 Tim. 3:10-11). Instead of sneering at those who keep the commands of God, follow their example. Your soul is worth keeping God’s commands (read Matt. 16:24-26).
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:24–25, NKJV)
Mankind is under the wrath of God, and for good reason (Rom. 1:18-21). The refusal to honor and thank God plunged humanity into the darkness of pride and the foolishness of elevating human wisdom above God and His truth (Rom. 1:21-22). This led to idolatry – the corruption of true worship (Rom. 1:23). Idolatry (false worship) feeds on fleshly lusts. Impure worship opens the door to immoral living. When God is ignored and His truth is devalued, the boundaries of moral restraint (that are set by divine truth) are increasingly ignored. Just as false worship abandons truth for lies, immorality abandons the moral restraints of truth. Instead of honoring God with the body, it is used to fulfill the sinful lusts of the heart (1 Cor. 6:13, 15, 19). One must not think he is honoring God while using his body to fulfill the dishonorable lusts of immorality. When the truth of God is exchanged for the lie of idolatry, immorality follows. God allows it to happen, but His wrath is revealed against it. You cannot serve the god of self, and expect to be blessed by God our Creator.