Living a Life of Truth

In Judaism, in the mind and the culture of the day in which James lived and wrote, truth was the basis of the law. Reading James 5.12 it would be very easy to hyper-moralise and say something like, 

You need to be so careful to tell the truth
so you don’t fall under condemnation.
Be a better, more truthful you.

The law-minded person would simply see this as a law to keep.

What about when we look at this through the lens of Jesus? We see that our character is lacking so we feel the need to make oaths, we feel we need to substantiate our claims by saying something like ‘I swear to God I will…I swear I didn’t…’

The fact that James is saying this at all is proof it was happening, isn’t it, you don’t teach about situations that don’t exist, do you? If we are honest, this is still happening; we feel the need to make stronger our own words, our own claims than with a simple yes or no.

Jesus, on other hand, didn’t.

Jesus spoke only truth in love. We fail, He succeeds. You will never be that more truthful you until you are a born again believer in Jesus with the Spirit of God living in you. How is that possible? 

Faith in Jesus makes this possible.

Truth, Biblical truth, Christian truth, Jesus-emanating truth is authenticity, Divine reality. John in particular in his account of the life, ministry, death, resurrection of Jesus uses this word ‘truth‘ to describe the fact that this reality, this authentic, Divine reality is actually possible for you and me as humans, but in our natural state, it’s out of reach. We are out of touch, out of step with it, but, through the revelation of the Word of God, the incarnation and work of and faith in the Word of God, it is reachable. 

So, with James writing about yes be yes and no be no, in our natural state, sadly, nobody is ever going to be able to get to that standard. No motivational speech, no self help, no self improvement, no amount of burden that you put on yourself will ever get you there. There is only one way to be able to live this life, there is only one way to practice truthfulness as God Himself is truthful and that is through the authenticity, the Divine revelation, the Word become flesh, through Jesus. 

Everything that we want, everything that we need to live a life of truth, true, actual, authentic, real truth, is available to us in Jesus, and nowhere else.

So, simply, your life of truth has to be rooted in, has to stem from, to grow out of, Jesus.

Beyond The Headline

Have you ever been taken in by a headline? It was just so shocking or attention-grabbing you had to watch, or read, or listen?

Every time we switch on the T.V., or pick up our phones there are headlines to read. Some true, some partially true, some not at all true. There are, research says, around 2million blog posts, 864,000 hours of video, and 400million tweets put out into the world every day ¹. Each comes with a headline that wants you to fully consume, digest, and act on their content. 

What does this mean for us, then? Well, it means the headline and the first bits of information we take in are very, very important. It’s important to think, do I want to pursue this information, or not, and how am I going to act once I have? Let’s look at a Biblical model and draw a conclusion.

In 2 Samuel 1.1-16 we see David getting information, investigating the information, and then responding accordingly to the information, and it’s a model for us in our Christian walk.

In vv.1-4 David gets the headline – Saul and Jonathan are dead. He lets the messenger give the news, in full, before asking any questions or even before speaking. How often do we want to jump in and ask questions, clarify things, argue, or interrupt?

In vv.5-10 David actually checks and investigates the claim with astute questions. 1 Samuel 31.4-6 and 1 Chronicles 10.4-7 seem to suggest that this guy was not telling the whole truth. 

In vv.11-16, David responds accordingly.

So David got the information, checked and investigated, and responded accordingly. If, though, David took the headline and acted on it after v.4 without asking questions, then this Amalekite could have been rewarded for his dishonesty, and David wouldn’t have had the full picture.

For us, it’s important that we look beyond the headline. It’s important that we don’t get caught up in and act upon stories that have a grain of truth in them covered with a large helping of opinion and conspiracy and agenda. 

Let me say it this way – Christian, you have no business in the proliferation, promulgation, or proclamation of highly charged cultural commentary, conspiracy, or agenda-driven soap-boxing.

Let me make it simpler – Don’t read it, watch it, listen to it, share it, post it, or comment on it.

Let me make it even simpler – Don’t.

Jesus didn’t die to give you a spirit of gullibility, conspiracy, or susceptibility. He came, lived, died, rose, and ascended to give you a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1.7). Believer, control yourself when presented with content that contains more falsehoods that verifiable facts.

Control what you listen to, watch, share, and indulge in (Philippians 4.8).

Control what you are fixing your mind on (Colossians 3.1-2). 

Filter what you take in through what you know to be true (John 17.17). 

Be very careful, it’s a slippery slope.

As Charles Simeon once said, 

“Once a man engages in [controversies like this] it is surprising how the love of it will grow upon him; and he will find both a hare in every busy, and will follow it with something of a huntsman’s feelings.”

Simply, once you get started in this kind of story watching, this kind of keyboard-warrioring, it will be very, very difficult to stop. Use that spirit of self-control to regulate what you allow into your life, use that spirit of love to think of others before you post or comment, and use the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to keep your mind fixed firmly on things above, where Christ is. 

Moses – His Preparation

As we move into Exodus 4.1-17, Moses is prepared for the task given to him in chapter 3. He is given powerful signs to authenticate the truth claims he is making about God, such as,

…So he threw [his staff] on the ground, and it became a serpent…v.3,

he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh…vv.6-7,

…you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground…v.9.

It’s so important when we see miraculous events like this in the Word we consider why they are happening, and, often, if we read carefully we will see,

that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you…v.5, cf. John 20.30-31

When we see miraculous events, they always testify to a truth claim about the Lord. Here, it was to verify that Moses was the guy chosen to lead in this particular period of time, and that the Lord was with him.

The same is true for Jesus, read Mark 2.1-12, for example.

What this means for you is that Jesus authenticated His claims with miraculous, unexplainable, wonderful works in order to show that what He said was true, is true.

For you, this means that when He says He loves you, He means it.

When He says your sins are forgiven, He means it.

When He says that He came to give you life abundant and life eternal, He means it.

He’s established that whatever He says is true, comes true, and is nothing but true, and that is great news for you!

2 Timothy 3.6-9 – Jesus Over All

Those with a focus on self are to be avoided, as Paul wrote, and here we see what they seek to do.

For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

Paul writes that they creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions. What is going on here is that the false teaching, self-centred, difficult people seek to influence the households of those they come across with a constant stream of new and exciting looking teachings (v.7), but these never actually hit the mark. We read that these false teachings never arrive at a knowledge of the truth, because new always seeks new, emotionalism always seeks greater feelings, and passionate self-centred teachers always seek more of themselves.

The spirit of the last days (v.1) was present in Jannes and Jambres (Exodus 7, 8) and it is very much present in our modern world. We don’t need to look very far to see those teaching things that don’t honour God, magnify the Lord Jesus, and align with the mission of the Holy Spirit. Our unshakeable hope, however, comes when we read that they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of [Jannes and Jambres]

The spirit of the last days well and truly meets its match in the person and work of Jesus, and that is where we must look to combat these ear-tickling but not Scripture-expositing teachings. Things may look wild and wonderful, may sound amazing and passionate, but never forget that miracles can be done by those posing as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11.15).

Believer, never forget though that He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world (1 John 4.4), and this is the standard against which we must judge the words of those who wander. Through His Word, His Son, and His Holy Spirit, God has equipped you to battle with and overcome this spirit of the last days.

We read that the people 2 Timothy 3.1-8 will not get very far, but by following Jesus over all, you will.

Life Defined

All I am
my life defined
By I’ve been crucified with Christ
The life I live
I live by faith
In Jesus Christ who lives in me

Identify seems to be something of a hot topic nowadays, doesn’t it? Everyone seems to be choosing who they are and what they want to be, who they want to be, defining themselves.

I heard someone say recently that at the core of this is a rejection of authority. People don’t want to be told that you are made in God’s image, because they reject the authority and actuality of God. 

People don’t want to be told that your life has worth and dignity and value because of the price paid for you at Calvary, because they reject the idea that they need salvation.

But what about those of us who accept the authority of God, how are we defined?

Our Christian worldview will only make fullest sense when it affects and influences all we are, and our lives are defined by the fact that God is real, He made us, He sent His Son to die for us, and through faith in this we are defined.

The Bible uses many terms to define you, such as;

Adopted son/daughter – Galatians 3.26, John 1.12

Heir – Galatians 3.23-29

Believer – 1 Timothy 4.12

Saints – Colossians 1.2

The church – 1 Thessalonians 1.1

The life we now seek to live in one of faith (2 Corinthians 5.7); faith in God, faith in Jesus, faith in the fact He now lives in us through the person of the Holy Spirit, and faith that any definition of ourselves that we can come up with will never be as good as who He says we are. 

Life Defined starts at 12:00 minutes.