14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (Ephesians 4:14–15, NKJV)
Maturity in Christ equips us to achieve and maintain the “the unity of the faith” to which we have been called by the gospel. Christ gave the work of inspired men (through which that gospel came to earth from heaven), and the work of uninspired men (who continue to proclaim and teach the gospel) to thoroughly equip us to serve the will of God as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). In today’s text, our spiritual maturity prevents us from being tossed about like children by the prevailing winds of false doctrine. The “trickery of men” describes the sleight of hand by which one defrauds another. False doctrine defrauds and plunders the unsuspecting of their spiritual treasure (Colossians 2:8). The “cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” describes the deceptive method of sophistry that attacks the simplicity of the gospel of Christ (Romans 16:17-18). As our maturity in Christ protects us, it also enables us to speak the truth in love. God’s truth equips us to grow in Christ, while protecting us from spiritual danger, and securing our standing with Christ (the Head of the church). Let us determine to grow up in Christ by becoming strong in the truth.
“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; And seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her.” (Jeremiah 5:1, NKJV)
The Lord God sent Jeremiah into the streets of Jerusalem to look for a righteous man; a man of justice (“judgment”), and one who seeks the truth. Such a discovery would prevent God’s punishment upon the rebellious, obstinate, sinful city (Jeremiah 5:3, 7-9). But, what Jeremiah found were lies instead of the truth (Jeremiah 5:2). None were found among the poor; they did not know the way of the Lord (Jeremiah 5:4). None were found among her “great men;” they had burst the bonds of divine rule in favor of destructive, sinful pleasures (Jeremiah 5:5-9). Does God find you to be a person who is just toward others? Do you seek truth, and pursue it? Or, have sin’s allurements enticed you away from Him, hardening your heart toward His will? Jerusalem reached a point of no return, and she was destroyed for her sins (Jeremiah 52:3-30). But, it is not too late for you to return to the Lord. His longsuffering continues to this moment, longing for sinners to repent (2 Peter 3:9). If you will heed His call and repent, He will pardon your sins, and you will escape His wrath (Romans 2:1-11).
I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. (Psalm 119:30, NKJV)
We are taught from an early age to think about the course of life we wish to pursue. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is often asked of the youngster who is just beginning to be aware of the great, big world outside. One may choose any number of career paths in life, but the way of truth is by far the most important path to take. All other courses of life ought to be measured by truth. The psalmist had already made his choice; he would follow the path of truth. So, like a map, he laid out God’s righteous judgments before him. They would guide his steps. They would direct his values, his character, and his faith. God’s judgments “are true, and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9). Be sure that whatever course of life you pursue, it is measured and directed by the truth of God. By doing so, you will find good success that reaches into eternity. But, to shun God’s holy judgments will insure a destiny of despair, from which there will be no escape (Romans 2:1-11).
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12, NKJV)
Those who believe they have had a vision from God should consider this simple, scriptural fact: there are “lying wonders” that deceive those who do not love and believe the truth. Could it be you have been deceived into thinking your experience was from God? There is a way to find out. Test it against the Scriptures. You see, Scripture says God speaks to us now by His Son, through His apostles – not by visions and dreams (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:3-4; John 13:20). Therefore, to accept an experience as a divine message contradicts the Scriptures (which, by the way, completely equip us for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). When we want to believe a lie, the Lord will let us (2:11). Please know that God speaks to us all in the Scriptures, not through experiences, feelings, dreams, and visions. Love the truth. Believe the truth. Be saved by the truth. Or, perish by the deception of error. This is the choice each of us must make.
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.