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What’s the difference between truth, untruth, and a lie? Here’s a quick breakdown. To make an accurate statement about something or someone is telling the truth. To unknowingly make an inaccurate statement about something or someone is sharing an untruth. To deliberately and/or deceptively make a false statement about something or someone is considered a lie.

It seems simple enough. However, those lines have become distorted with so much dishonesty in our society. This problem is compounded when people treat theories as truth, and human wisdom as infallible. History is replete with examples of widely accepted beliefs that were once considered true yet are now known to be false (i.e. the earth isn’t flat, the sun and stars don’t revolve around the earth, and celery is not a delicious vegetable!).

How do we determine truth? Majority opinion does not determine truth. The majority can be wrong. Personal convictions do not determine truth. Personal convictions are exactly that…personal. In other areas, the research of academia and the printed findings of science have been shown to be false on many occasions. Maybe another question might be, “Is truth that important?”

The short answer is…yes! Truth is important because there are consequences for being wrong. Giving someone the wrong amount of a medication can harm them. Making wrong financial decisions can impoverish a family. Boarding the wrong plane will take you where you don’t want to go. In I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Frank Turek states, “We demand the truth for almost every facet of life that affects our money, relationships, safety, or health…yet many of us say we aren’t interested in truth when it comes to morality or religion.” Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist, stated, “The fact is, the truth matters-especially when you’re on the receiving end of a lie.”

Nowhere is truth more important than in the realm of faith. During the closing hours of His life, Jesus was brought before Pontius Pilate. Jesus had been accused of sedition and treason against Rome. The crowds insisted that He be put to death. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). His question has reverberated throughout history. What is truth? Ironically, Pilate was looking directly at Truth personified, and he didn’t know it (John 14:6).

Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Jesus also said, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Put those two claims together. Jesus is truth and the Word of God is truth. Here’s why that’s relevant for truth seekers. For the person who has placed faith in Christ, he or she can measure the claims of the world against the claims of Scripture and character of Christ. We have a standard for determining truth, untruth, and lies.

Someone might wonder, “How can we trust that Jesus is truthful?” That’s a great question. Jesus’ claims were validated when He rose from the dead. According to Romans 1:4, Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead…” The resurrection proved the divinity of Jesus. Jesus is God. Simply put, if you’re trying to decide who’s right or who’s wrong, listen to the one who got up from the dead.

How do we know if the Bible is true? For centuries, people have tried to discredit the Bible and claim that it’s filled with inaccuracies. There have been attempts to pit science against the Bible, reason against the Bible, and the fickle leanings of society against the Bible. With every attempt, the Bible has proven itself trustworthy and steady. There are many wonderful articles and books that describe these attacks and the reliability of Scripture. If you’re interested in specifics, do a computer search titled “Is the Bible reliable?”

How does any of this conversation affect you? Life forces each of us to decide what is true, untrue, or a lie. There are consequences for being wrong. No one wants to be lied to, and no one wants to foolishly follow a lie. God has made a way for people to know truth, follow truth, and even be in relationship with truth. It all starts with Jesus.

Jesus is truth embodied. For those who have placed faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, He promised that He would send “the Spirit of truth” to be with us and in us (John 14:16-17). Jesus went on to tell us that “the Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13). We can trust that as we read the Word of truth (the Bible), while being in relationship with the embodiment of truth (Jesus), that we are led into all truth by the Holy Spirit.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). Satan tries to deceive us; Jesus came to redeem us and set us free. You can know the truth. It all starts by knowing Jesus.

Sometimes our instinct is to look within ourselves to get emotionally and spiritually healthy. We scrutinize our past, take personality tests, and spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and journaling about ourselves, as if self-awareness and self-expression had inherent healing powers. We often forget, or perhaps do not even realize, that “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). With that divine diagnosis in mind, we need to realize that focusing on ourselves will not result in good emotional or spiritual health.

At other times, we may look to science and psychology to heal us, as if losing our tempers or never feeling God’s peace was simply a matter of blood chemistry or internal wiring. We search in vain for that one technique that will teach us to cope. But the best the world has to offer will do us no good apart from God’s grace, wisdom, and power.

Still other times we simply give up and believe that we can never get better, that something has been irreparably broken inside. This is an evil lie that’s meant to destroy our faith and steal our joy. Nobody is too broken for God.

Emotional health and spiritual health are possible, but both realities come from God Himself, specifically through His Word (the Bible) and the Holy Spirit. The Bible has real answers for us, containing “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). It teaches us the Gospel, showing us how to be in right relationship with God, which is the only way we can have true spiritual health. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we get to know God better as we pray, read the Bible, and learn to love Him more through our obedient responses to the never-failing truth of His Word. As our love for God grows, the Holy Spirit makes us more like Jesus, who is perfect in spiritual and emotional health.

The Bible doesn’t simply give us information as other books do. Instead, it is literally “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), and the power of God is in the Word of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible literally revives (Psalm 19:7) and saves our souls (James 1:21). It guards us from sin (Psalm 119:11). It pierces through to our secret thoughts and draws out what is hidden (Hebrews 4:12). It brings joy and delights the heart (Jeremiah 15:16). It accomplishes everything for which God appoints it (Isaiah 55:11).

When we doubt the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s power to bring us emotional and spiritual health, it may be because we don’t understand the problem. The issue isn’t that we’ve been dragged down by a hard life and personal difficulties that now need to be figured out and overcome one by one. In fact, focusing on our problems is a sure way to defeat!

The issue is how we stand before God. Do we stand before God reminding Him of all the things that have gone wrong and are still wrong, or do we let Him lead? Do we let God speak into our lives? Do we let go of our own perspective and embrace God’s perspective as revealed in the Bible?

In our brokenness, we keep turning back to what we need to be healed from, but God turns us to what He’s healing us for: freedom, clean hearts, renewed minds, and abundant life in Him. The emotionally and spiritually healthy person isn’t the person without problems but, instead, is the person who daily turns away from self and circumstances and faithfully focuses on God, even when it’s hard and seems impossible.

The Bible doesn’t describe challenges of life in terms of emotional and spiritual health but, instead, addresses challenges in the context of maturity. As maturing Christians, we’re growing in our emotional self-control, our sense of security, and our ability to reach out to others. Instead of looking primarily to our own interests, we focus on trusting God rather than our ability to cope with new challenges or any other things we associate with strong emotional and spiritual health.

Psalm 1:3 describes the mature person as being “like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Like a tree with extensive roots continually soaking in good water, the psalmist says that this person is nourished and satisfied, moving through the stages of life and growing spiritually as he ought to grow. He is resilient to the changing seasons and unexpected weather patterns of life. This person is the picture of emotional and spiritual health.

Psalm 1 contrasts the healthy tree–one that is firmly rooted–to chaff, which has no roots and is swept away by external forces. The healthy tree produces sweet fruit that gives energy and life to others. Chaff, on the other hand, produces only dry leftovers.

The difference between the two is that the first seeks God, specifically delighting in God’s Word as he meditates on it continually (Psalm 1:2). Like a tree made strong by adequate sunlight, the emotionally and spiritually healthy person lives in the light of God Himself. He may be weak with few resources of his own, but because God is his refuge, he meets life with eagerness, stamina, and skill.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, you have already been transformed into a new creation with a new identity. If you once were the person who was lost, weighed down by life, and fearful, you are no longer that person. As you learn to walk like the new person you are, there may be things outside of the Bible that seem good and helpful, but you will realize that only the God who knows it all and can do it all can guide you into strong emotional and spiritual health. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).

Additional Resources

John 6:63
Romans 15:4
1 Corinthians 1:18
Philippians 2:13
WordTruth Article: Divine Sufficiency or Divine Deficiency
Holy Spirit (one-page PDF)

What is the essence of the Gospel message?

From the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation, the Bible shares a relational message. This message is called the Gospel (or Good News). The Good News of Jesus Christ is expressed in 6 basic statements.

  1. Humanity was created for relationship with God (Genesis 2–3; Leviticus 26:12).
  2. Our sin separated us from that relationship (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23).
  3. There is nothing that we can do to reconcile this relationship on our own (Ephesians 2:1–9).
  4. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin (Romans 5:8–10; Ephesians 2:13–16; 1 John 4:9–10).
  5. Jesus rose from the dead that we might have life (1 Peter 1:3).
  6. Jesus offers eternal life (or a reconciled relationship) to those who will repent of their sin by placing faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16; John 17:3; Acts 2:38).

How can you receive eternal life?

John 3:36 tells us that “He who believes in the Son has eternal life.” A person receives eternal life by placing faith in what Jesus has done for them. What did Jesus do for them? He died on the cross for their sins, He rose from the dead that they might have life, and He offers eternal life to anyone who will repent of their sin by placing faith in Christ.

Following Christ is a journey that never ends, but it can begin with a simple prayer. Use this prayer to guide you. “God, I know that I’ve sinned. I recognize that my sin has separated me from you. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, and He rose again on the third day. As best I know how, I turn from my sin by placing faith in what Jesus has done for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you have placed faith in Christ today, we encourage you to share this decision with others. For more resources on this new relationship with God, go to www.thisisthegospel.com.

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