The Spirit of Truth
Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38)
Pilate was cynical. He was a judge. He was hardened by the lies and deceit he had seen in life, both within his government and staff and in those he judged.
The world has not changed in this regard. How are we to determine what the truth is when we know our media and government lie to us?
I watched a video the other day of our president saying something outlandish. Upon further investigation, I found that it was a clip taken from the middle of a speech in which he misspoke a single word. Taken out of context and picked up just where he misspoke, the video made the president sound like an idiot. However, in context, it is easy to see how he misspoke and the message he was bringing was actually cogent and necessary. It was clear to me that the person who edited and posted the video did it with malicious intent.
This is not a political statement in support of or against the president. It is an example of what I see every day as I try to sift through the information I am receiving from various sources.
However, we should not be surprised at the lies and deceit in the world around us. We are told that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19) What is more, Jesus made it clear that the devil is a liar, the father of lies and when he lies he is consistent with his nature. (John 8:44) He lies to us about everything. Some of the lies he has told are about drugs, about sex, about lifestyle, about ourselves and our eternal destination.
By the perversion of truth, the devil seeks to lead people astray and to keep them from entering into eternal life. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us about him saying:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (NLT)
The devil lies to us about our sin. He tells us that it will be okay. He tells us that everybody is doing it. He convinces us that we can get away with it. He appeals to our pride, our appetites and our desires. You probably know what I am talking about.
The devil lies to us about salvation. He says Jesus was a great man. He says Jesus was a prophet. He leaves out the part about Jesus being the Son of God come in the flesh. He leaves out the part that Jesus is risen from the dead and is alive.
The devil lies to us about the judgment to come. He tells us a loving God will not send people to hell. He tells us we can deal with our relationship with God later because we are too busy today. He tells us we can put it off.
As a result of his work in the world, many people walk in opposition to the truth. Jesus said, "And the judgment is based on this fact: God's light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil." (John 3:19, NLT) In this passage, we see the truth that many prefer lies to the truth, here called light, because their actions are evil.
Coming back to the question "What is truth?” we see that Jesus spoke of Himself as light, and in this we have a glimpse of what truth is. Google dictionary defines the word truth as "that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality." (Google Dictionary, January 22, 2018) Jesus offers Himself as truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) We find truth in the person of Jesus Christ.
In the introduction to his account of Jesus' life, John speaks of Jesus saying, "The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:9, NLT) Jesus is truth and light.
The light exposes the lie. Untruth and lies are likened to darkness and when light shines, it dispels the darkness.
The light exposes our sin. While Satan lies to us about our sin, the truth makes it plain that we are sinners.
The light shows us that salvation can be found only in Jesus Christ. While Satan lies to us about the need and the means of salvation, the truth explains God's plan of salvation through the atoning work of Christ on the cross.
The light warns us of coming judgment. While Satan lies to us about hell, judgment and God's wrath against ungodliness, the truth makes it clear that hell is real, judgment is coming and God's wrath is even now being poured out against ungodliness.
What I have just described is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:8, Jesus said, "And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment." (NLT)
This convicting work of the Holy Spirit is a natural part of who He is as the Spirit of Truth.
When Jesus was talking to His brothers according to the flesh, He said:
The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. (John 7:7, NLT)
He is speaking of what naturally happens when evil is exposed by truth or light. The world hated Jesus because He was/is the truth, and as such exposed the lies for what they were, like light dispelling darkness.
When Jesus went back to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ. (Romans 8:9, 1 Peter 1:11) Jesus called Him "the Spirit of Truth." For example, He said:
“But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. (John 15:26, NLT)
Now, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Now, we are the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden. Now, we are the light of the world, because we have the Spirit of Truth living within us. Therefore, our lives, our presence and our conduct expose the lies of the devil. Because of this, the world hates us.
Remember Google dictionary's definition of truth? --"that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality."
We must each determine for ourselves what truth is, and what we will hold to. We must each test for ourselves what is in accordance with reality.
Jesus spent three years with His chosen apostles teaching and training them. Near the end of three years, He asked them: "But who do you say I am?" This question determines the basis for our understanding of reality.
The big lie behind our modern world is the idea of materialism. By materialism, I do not mean the pursuit of money. By materialism, I mean the philosophical concept that all reality is material. Part of the lie is that this is the scientific view of reality. This is of course not true. Science only deals with the material part of reality, because by definition, science is limited to what we can observe and test with our senses. Because of this limitation, it cannot speak to truth or reality beyond what is material or measurable. Therefore, we have a whole field or realm of knowledge called metaphysics that lies outside of the scientific method, and upon which our use of the scientific method rests.
Whether we like it or not, we have been trained and educated by a world that views everything from a materialistic point of view. Because of this, we have been taught the theory of evolution. We have also been taught modern germ theory, and our understanding of human psychology has been heavily influenced by a materialistic understanding of the world.
The Bible starts with a completely different set of assumptions when it says, "In the beginning, God..." Our understanding of reality, and what is true is impacted by this statement.
While all creation speaks of the great God who made it, we cannot know Him unless He makes Himself known to us. If I may use an analogy, this is like the difference between knowing the artwork and knowing the artist. Certainly, things can be understood from the artwork, but this is in no way the same thing as knowing the artist.
The job of the Spirit of Truth is to make God known to us. He shines the light on reality because He makes known to us those things that we cannot know because of the limitations of our flesh. This is more objective than it sounds, because the Spirit of Truth is the Spirit that has given us the Bible. This is why 2 Timothy 3:16 says:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (NLT)
Thus, our relationship with the Spirit is built on the Word of God. As we read and meditate on the word of God, the Spirit of God speaks to us. 1 John 2:20 & 27 tells us:
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. (1 John 2:20,27, ESV)
In a world where the lie is preached on our televisions and in our movies, it can become difficult to know what truth is. This is why 1 John 2:27 says, "just as it has taught you, abide in him."
Jesus stressed the necessity of staying in the word of God when He taught:
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT) (The original says “if you do not depart from my word” or if you "abide" in my word.)
We must make every effort to stay close to Jesus. John 14:15-21 says it best:
“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (NLT)
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. How are you connecting with the Truth?