I want to begin a new series today entitled— What is truth?
When you hear this question, you might be reminded that this is same question that Pilate asked Jesus just prior to His crucifixion (See John 18:38). But like it was with Pilate when he asked this question and then immediately went out to again address the Jews, most people do not want to know the truth. The world might think they do, but very few people do.
But truth is not only something that we ought to be open to, it is something we should pursue and strive to know. And the good news is, the Lord has given us every opportunity to know it and walk in it, which will be a big part of what we will learn in this series of teachings.
Let me give you a little background as to why this subject has been on my heart:
Through the course of everything we have gone through over the past 18 months or so—everything from covid, social distancing, polar-opposite political views, vaccinations—there has been a statement I’ve heard over and over again, and that is this: “I just don’t know what the truth is.” And the reason people are saying this is because there are so many voices out there with so many different points of view from the news, the internet, our friends, family, etc. So, with all of these extreme viewpoints it’s hard to decipher who is actually telling the truth.
For example, there are those out there whose truth is that this virus named covid is extremely deadly and something we should respect and do whatever we have to in order to protect ourselves and others from. These have pushed for extreme measures to be taken for masks and other forms of social distancing and are now pushing for mandatory vaccinations and other radical means of eradicating this virus.
But on the flipside, there are those whose truth is that this virus was engineered by man to push a political agenda. So, they believe it was intentionally and strategically spread to “thin the herd” so to speak. And while these people might acknowledge that covid can be dangerous, they certainly don’t go to the extremes the other side does. On top of that, many of these on this side of it also believe that the vaccines are more deadly than the virus itself and, therefore, they are adamant about not being vaccinated.
So, what is the truth? I know there are people hearing this that have very strong views about it all, but let me tell you what I believe the truth is— The truth is that covid has been ultimately engineered by satan because it carries with it that same tendency to steal, kill, and destroy. Whether it was intentionally or unintentionally spread, I don’t know. But what I do know is true is that the devil was behind it, and that’s all that matters. Therefore, we ought to resist it as the Spirit instructs us to do.
But here is some more truth about covid that I think less of us have realized: Not only has the devil sent this damnable virus to destroy; he also sent it to divide and conquer—for we have seen so many of these different opinions and strong stances regarding it that has divided our nation and even those within the church. Therefore, those who are hearing the spirit of truth will not contribute to this division. They will strive for the unity of the faith more than they will their opinion, knowing that things like love and unity always trump anything else.
If you notice, the focus in this example was not on natural things, but on the spiritual side of it all. And what we need to understand is that this is where the truth resides. It is found in that realm that created this physical world we live in, so the world won’t tend to see what is true. It’s because their eyes are closed off to the spiritual, eternal world that we exist within. That’s where the truth lies.
And, church, there are things God has given us that clearly reveal truth to us and will show us exactly what to do when it comes to any of these things that we are dealing with in the world. So, we ought not to look for truth in the things of this world; we ought to be looking for truth in Him and in the tools He has given us to know the truth. Amen?
So, that is what I want to do for the next few weeks—I want us to answer that question—What is truth? —by looking at what the Holy Spirit has said the truth is. This will help you and I avoid erring and believing the lies that the world is propagating to us. We do not want to follow the voice of a stranger, but rather the voice of truth. Amen?
Church, this is why being led by the spirit of truth is so important for this hour we are living in. It is because the spirit of error is working overtime to get us to listen to it. Therefore, we must be homed into the spirit of truth to avoid being led away by the spirit of error.
Let’s look at a passage of Scripture that teaches us about these two spirits in the world--First John 4:1-6.
In these verses, the apostle John says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
The apostle John is here dealing with a similar thing to what we are in this hour. While he is dealing more with the spirits that were driving their religion, I believe this spirit of antichrist attempts to lead not only things in the church but also everything else that affects our world. Yes, like it will be when the man who embodies this spirit of antichrist comes, this spirit’s goal is total world domination with a one world religion that is certainly “anti-Christ.”
But, first of all, notice in verse 1 how there are apparently many different spirits that are influencing the world around us. Now these are apparently religious spirits coming through many so-called prophets, but I think we can learn a couple of other things from this:
For one, just because someone comes claiming to be speaking for God and even attaches a “Thus saith the Lord” to what they are saying, doesn’t mean that they are speaking truth. They might believe they are and have good intentions, but we need to understand that not every spirit is of God. Even in the days of the Bible, king’s courts were filled with those who prophesied in the name of the Lord, but what they were saying was not true. Probably our most popular instance of this was in the days of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was prophesying truth, but Hezekiah was surrounded with other so-called prophets who were telling the king what he wanted to hear.
And isn’t this something that we hear out of so many mouths? The predominant voice is what everyone wants to hear. Now I am not saying that truth is only going to be correction, rebuke, and warning, but I would venture to say that truth will be a mixture of both the things that are encouraging, comforting, and uplifting with the things that are correcting, warning, and rebuking.
So, as the apostle John said here, it is important that we not just blindly believe every spirit that comes telling us things we want to hear but that we test them that we might know which ones are of God and which ones are not.
Now there are some obvious ways to test them, and John tells us here the ultimate way—they must confess that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (i.e., Christ) and that He has come in the flesh to save us from our sins. If one comes denying any of the truth of who Jesus was, is, and evermore shall be, they are what John goes on to call here, a spirit of antichrist and are not of the truth since Jesus is the truth.
And make no mistake about it—this same spirit of antichrist is in the world today in the 20th Century church just as it was in the First Century Church then.
You see, so many are looking for the incarnate antichrist who is to come but miss that the spirit that will drive him is already at work driving others. Yes, these spirits of antichrist have been working in the church as well as in the world for the past 2,000 plus years.
They are what the drive the majority view. They are what inspire most of what we watch, hear, etc. Yes, this spirit of error is all around us with a megaphone broadcasting lies, lies, and more lies.
So, this spirit of antichrist certainly influences the world, but it also influences the worldly that are in the church. This will be one of the reasons why there will be a great falling away in the church in the end times.
So, the solution is this—we overcome because greater is He who lives in us than He who lives in the world. In other words, we who have been born of God, have the mighty Holy Spirit inside of us, and learn to walk in the truth will not be overcome by the spirit of this world.
The apostle John goes on to say that they—these people who are being led around by the spirit of antichrist—are “of” the world. That means they are “out of” the world—not that they are aren’t still in it, but that this is where they have originated from. So, because they have come from the world, they speak as coming from the world. In other words, they speak in the spiritual language that the world tends to understand. That doesn’t necessarily mean that their verbiage is worldly but that they are talking their language regarding the way they think and their overall mentality. This is why those of the world will hear them.
But the good news is—if we’ve been born again, we are “of God.” And if we are of God, those who also are of God will hear us. But those who are not born again, children of God, will not hear us. And the apostle John says this is how we know the spirit of error and the spirit of truth—by who hears them. And the them that we are talking about is the apostles. So, while we do not have the apostle John, Peter, Paul, etc. with us today, we do have their writings. Amen?
So, we can surmise that to be of the truth is to hear the voice of the Lord through the Scriptures and not to follow the voice of this world because it will not tell you what the truth is. But a word to the wise—if it’s mainstream, then it’s probably going downstream. This is what the apostle Peter called the “flood of dissipation”—that is, that flow that the world is on and why they do the things they do (See First Peter 4:3-4).
It’s like a river, stream, or creek that is flowing in a certain direction. Everything and everyone in it, will just naturally be taken in the same direction. But the truth is—even though we are in the world, we are not of the world. Yes, we are surrounded by the world by living in it, but we are of a different species. We are like salmon, swimming upstream, going against the flow because we are of God and of the truth.
THE PARABLE OF THE PADDLE
Here’s a good illustration of what it’s like to walk in the truth versus being swept away by the spirit of error that’s in this world—it’s like going upstream in a boat with a paddle.
We all started off going downstream with the rest of this world before we were born again, right? I mean, we didn’t know any better. We had never truly heard the truth, so we just floated along like the rest of this world, going down the creek without a paddle.
But what happened was when we heard the truth, a paddle was put in our hand. Yes, we got born again and “repented” (which literally means to change our way of thinking) and were “converted” which means what? To turn! So, the whole idea of what happens when one hears the truth and believes the gospel in their heart is they turn—both in their way of thinking and in their behavior.
So, in our illustration, we received the truth, which is the paddle, and use it to start turning the boat we were in around and start going upstream.
Now this usually starts off a little easy because like a father might give his son a little push to get that bike going when he’s teaching him to ride, our Heavenly Father gives our boat a little push as well. But then the time comes where we have to start using that paddle that’s in our hands.
Well, you start out good. It’s not too difficult to paddle against the current because the truth has made you free, hallelujah! You see things a little different. Your discerner is much more in tune and you know what the truth is. It’s all fresh and exciting. But that’s when the first obstacle comes—which is complacency.
You see, when we’ve been swimming upstream for some time, the tendency is to become a little indifferent. Perhaps you get a little tired of doing the same old paddling, and it becomes a little wearisome to keep doing the same thing. So, you stop putting forth the effort. You don’t study your Bible like you used to. You don’t pray like you used to. You don’t go to church meetings like you used to. And guess what you are doing when you stop doing these things? You pull that paddle out of the water.
Well, what do you suppose happens to your little boat when you stop paddling? The current of the water will just automatically turn that boat back around and take you back downstream. You didn’t necessarily want it to turn around, but it’s just the natural flow of this world.
Like I’ve said time and time again, the only thing you need to do to be carnal, selfish, and self-serving is NOTHING. You will just automatically become the worst version of your flesh if you don’t have your paddle in hand and use it to turn yourself upstream.
I’ve watched this happen many times—like with the youth. I’ll watch youth groups go to summer youth camps and come back on fire! And that fire will burn bright, for a little while. But because they don’t get in the Word themselves and press into the things of God on their own, there is no wood getting put on the fire. And what will happen to a fire that doesn’t have any wood periodically added to it? It will always go out.
But, by God’s grace, we pick up that paddle again and start turning that boat back around and heading back upstream. Again, it’s called repentance and something every believer has had to do time and time again. But then the next obstacle comes downstream at us, and that’s the trials and tribulations of this world.
Those problems and adversities come right at us just as we are promised by the Lord that in the world, we will have tribulation. I’d say it this way—in the ocean, we will have waves.
So, those waves start causing our little boat to start moving from side to side and water starts getting into it, and then what starts happening? We start worrying about our boat sinking and we stop paddling. Then, just like it was with Peter when he started looking at the waves while walking to Jesus on the water, we start sinking and all because we stopped paddling, putting our attention on the tribulations.
You see, Jesus had told His disciples “Let us go to the other side.” He didn’t say, “Let us go halfway and drown.” So, when the lie was telling them that they were done for, they should have recalled the truth Jesus had spoken to them and kept paddling towards the other side. Amen?
But like we see in these accounts of Jesus’ disciples, the Lord is there to bail us out again. So, we get our attention back on Him and start that paddling again to “the other side”, back upstream.
That’s when the third and final obstacle comes against us, which is arguably the worst—when both those in the boat with us and those on the banks of the river start yelling at us, discouraging us from going upstream. And oh, there is not much worse than this persecution, especially when it comes from those in the boat with us.
And oftentimes those words have an impact on us. They might discourage us from going the opposite direction as those around us. They might make us question what we are doing in the first place. And guess what we do? If it’s those on the banks of the river, we might start paddling over to them and start trying to explain ourselves to them. Well, even if we convince them that we are following the truth, guess what we are not doing? Continuing in the truth and going upstream.
What about that person who’s in the boat with us, telling us we are doing it all wrong? Well, we might be able to take it to a degree, but guess what happens more times than not? We pull our paddle up out of the water and turn around and give them a piece of our mind. Well, what’s happening to our boat while we are letting them have it? It’s turning around and heading back downstream.
My point is—don’t let the voices around you get your attention and keep you from doing what you have to do to paddle upstream.
Church, these obstacles will come, and this going upstream of continuing in the truth is not easy, but it is right, and it is worth it. Amen?
So, what I wanted to encourage you with today is this—Do whatever you need to do to pick that paddle up and head upstream. It might not be what the majority is doing. There might be adversity from going against the current. You might even receive a lot of persecution from following the truth. But the “truth” is, you are doing it right, and continuing in the truth has a great recompense of reward. Amen.