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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.

When someone hurts or disappoints us over and over, it’s natural to distance ourselves. But sometimes the pain is so deep that it feels impossible to trust anyone again. Situations involving betrayal, abuse, or even death can make us want to retreat from everyone rather than risk more pain by trusting again.

When we lose trust in people, we get skittish in our relationships, fearing that the bottom could fall out at any moment. The thought of being disappointed or taken advantage of again scares us. Feeling unprotected, vulnerable, and not in control, we’re alert to danger and always ready to strike back or run.

In one sense, trusting people is a choice to think the best of them. It is an aspect of love that, as the Bible puts it, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). That means not second-guessing people’s motives or expecting them to hurt us. We choose to trust in this way by closely guarding our thoughts about others and thinking only things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). It also means forgiving others when they do hurt us, overlooking offenses when possible, and not keeping detailed accounts of the ways we’ve been mistreated.

In another sense, trust is feeling safe around others. Feeling safe gives us a sense of freedom in our relationships in order to love without holding back. Like the poet who laid down and slept peacefully knowing the Lord was watching over him, people who feel safe in relationships are relaxed, confident, and willing to make themselves vulnerable. They can do this because the idea of others failing them in some way just isn’t on their radar.

Sometimes we want others to prove themselves so that we can trust again, and trust can often be built (or rebuilt) between two people through good communication and by consistently meeting appropriate expectations. But the truth is this…as long as we look to people to give us confidence and security we’ll never be free from distrust. Our confidence must be in God Himself. Rather than figuring out how to trust people, we must learn to trust God.

“It is better,” writes the psalmist, “to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8). This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to have healthy relationships, but it does mean that God is our ultimate source of love, security, and hope for the future.

God is our ultimate source of love, security, and hope for the future.

Even with good intentions, people change, have bad days, and can be careless or hurtful. If we’re trusting in them instead of God, any disappointment makes our world fall apart. But God is infinitely trustworthy. He never changes, never has bad days, and is never caught off guard by the trials of life. He is all-powerful and all-knowing. He keeps His promises. His love fills up all the cracks in our hearts, healing our deep scars. When our trust is in God, we have a secure foundation for life. Even when things are hard, there is hope and healing. He gives us sure footing in treacherous places.

When we feel unsafe, He is our protector. When we can’t discern if someone intends good or evil toward us, God gives us wisdom. When we’re lonely, God is the perfect friend who will never leave us nor forsake us. When we trust in God, we turn to Him when we’re disappointed…and we’re comforted. Our relationships actually grow stronger as we look to God, instead of people, to meet our needs. God is so completely satisfying that we’re free to love others without always needing something from them.

Trusting God means that when we want to withdraw from others, we hold on to God’s promises and keep putting ourselves out there. Fear gets us thinking only of ourselves and our own protection, but God wants us to be a blessing to others, to love and encourage them and to meet their needs if we can. Instead of withdrawing, we obediently follow Christ in loving others intensely, even unconditionally to the point of giving up our lives for our friends—“greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

We can feel safe in our relationships and can choose to love well, which happens only when we focus on God and His help. We build our trust in God by spending time with Him. Studying the Bible shows us that He is trustworthy. Praying to Him—telling Him our fears and asking for His help, just as we would to an earthly father—invites His work in our hearts and lives. Obeying God gives us a chance to see Him come through again and again, and our trust grows. As we ask God to open our eyes, He will show us how He has proven Himself trustworthy.

Additional Resources

Proverbs 3:5–6
Psalm 28:7
Hope (one-page PDF)

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