Guarding Truth

“The Word of God (truth) is like a lion. You don’t have to defend a lion. All you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself.”   – Charles Spurgeon/ St. Augustine

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 How important is the truth to us?  How much are we willing to give or sacrifice to seek it and protect it when we find it?  This is a question for everyone to examine and consider the answer. 

 Truth must have an absolute standard to be truth.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17 (NIV).   

“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:9-13 NIV  (13 He was born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. KJV)

 As believers we are called to guard truth: “Guard the good deposit (truth) that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  II Tim 1:14 NIV

Jesus Christ is the absolute standard by which we measure the validity in everything we believe – in other words, that which is “plum” in our lives, our north star – a constant that never changes. 

On the website GOT QUESTIONS?.ORG it states clearly how important an absolute standard is:

In order to understand absolute or universal truth, we must begin by defining truth. Truth, according to the dictionary, is “conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true.” Some people would say that there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Others would argue that there must be some absolute reality or truth.  One view says that there are no absolutes that define reality. Those who hold this view believe everything is relative to something else, and thus there can be no actual reality. Because of that, there are ultimately no moral absolutes, no authority for deciding if an action is positive or negative, right or wrong. This view leads to “situational ethics,” the belief that what is right or wrong is relative to the situation. There is no right or wrong; therefore, whatever feels or seems right at the time and in that situation is right. Of course, situational ethics leads to a subjective, “whatever feels good” mentality and lifestyle, which has a devastating effect on society and individuals. This is postmodernism, creating a society that regards all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims as equally valid.

The other view holds that there are indeed absolute realities and standards that define what is true and what is not. Therefore, actions can be determined to be either right or wrong by how they measure up to those absolute standards. If there are no absolutes, no reality, chaos ensues. Take the law of gravity, for instance. If it were not an absolute, we could not be certain we could stand or sit in one place until we decided to move. Or if two plus two did not always equal four, the effects on civilization would be disastrous. Laws of science and physics would be irrelevant, and commerce would be impossible. What a mess that would be! Thankfully, two plus two does equal four. There is absolute truth, and it can be found and understood.”GOTQUESTIONS?.ORG

In John 8:31-32:  “. . . Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus tells each of us that if we abide in Him, then we will reflect His truth:  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

If the truth is the Light, then the darkness is whatever God considers an untruth or misbelief.   In one of his online commentaries, R. Albert Mohler writes:

“When Isaiah told of the coming Prince of Peace, he spoke of light dispelling darkness. . . After all, even as John introduces his gospel by identifying Jesus as the Word who became flesh, John also describes Jesus as ‘the True Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.’ The image of light dispelling darkness is central to our understanding of the incarnation and its meaning. When Jesus was presented at the temple shortly after His birth, the aged Simeon recognized this child as ‘A Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’  The metaphor of light makes sense only against a background of darkness. In the Bible, darkness is a rich metaphor that points to a double reality. In one sense, darkness points to the simple fact of human ignorance. Those who are in the dark are those who lack knowledge. To the Jewish mind, this metaphor had particular application to the Gentile world—a world that had not received the grace of God through the revelation of the Torah, the prophets and the written revelation of God. Even today, we know untold millions still dwell in deep darkness, having never heard about the one true God or of Jesus Christ, His only Son. In a second sense, darkness refers to evil and willful blindness. This points beyond the mere fact of simple ignorance. In this sense, darkness refers to the fact that many will reject the light. As John explained, ‘He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came into His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.’   This is hard to believe—the Son of God took on human flesh and came to live among sinful humanity, but the vast majority did not recognize Him for who He is.”  www.albertmohler.com

 

Truth should be an absolute shouldn’t it, if it’s actually truth.  Fortunately or unfortunately, however it works best for you, we have a better chance of arriving at the truth when the human element as much as possible is removed. A common example is if you go to the dentist concerned that you might need a major tooth extracted and are relieved to find out that there is no need because the x-rays prove otherwise, then you know the dentist will make the right decision.   In another medical situation, If you suspect malignancy, the MRI and surgical biopsy can then bring great relief to both you and the doctor if that is not the case. In the area of our system of justice, If a person is accused of a crime, where DNA evidence is needed, then it can prove without a doubt the person’s guilt or innocence. Case closed!   But in the case of the DNA evidence, like all evidence, if the chain of command, who keeps it free from tampering, is handled by those who are less than reliable, lacking integrity, then the “truth” may not be the truth.  In that case, it comes back to the integrity of those in whom we put our trust.  Today, even dash-cams, uniform-cams and surveillance cams on buildings can lead to subjective interpretation that counters what is actually viewed based on the involvement of the human element.  We are seeing more and more instances where corruption is being exposed where visual truth is on display and the community comes together as one voice to call for action and justice.

 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2 NIV

In the prison ministry that I offer in my victims’ advocacy work for Christos House, I have become very aware of how fragile truth is and how susceptible it is to distortion when human bias, prejudice and lack of integrity is involved.  Devastation in people’s lives is consequently the result – loss of your rights and freedom, loss of your parental rights, being labeled a felon the rest of your life and in hopelessness, spiraling down in addiction.

There are 2.4 million people incarcerated in America’s prison system, the largest number of any country in the world including China.  PBS Frontline reports that as high as 95% of all felony convictions are the result of the person charged in a crime taking a plea bargain rather than risk being proven guilty in a trial and receiving the maximum sentence whether they were guilty or not. 

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the accused who may in fact be innocent, pleads guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence or a reduced charge, not wanting to take the risk of not being able to prove their innocence in a trial by a jury that is not necessarily of their peers. 

So, being in prison is not always representative of the truth if you settled for incarceration because you didn’t have the resources or reputation to prove your innocence. 

In Frontline’s view:” America locks up too many people for too many things. The number of federal laws has risen from 3,000 in the early 1980s to over 4,450 by 2008. Many of these have poor intent requirements, meaning people are being locked up not to keep the rest of society safe, but for technical violations of laws they may not have known existed. This overreliance on imprisonment can be seen most starkly, and sadly, by looking at the juvenile population, which is just under 71,000 nationally. Around 11,600 are imprisoned for “technical violations” of their probation or parole terms, rather than because they committed a new crime. In 11 states such juvenile prisoners outnumber those incarcerated for crimes against other people. In only one state (Massachusetts) did juveniles imprisoned for crimes committed against people comprise a majority of juvenile prisoners. Around 3,000 are locked up for things that aren’t crimes for adults, such as running away, truancy and incorrigibility. Incarcerated children are less likely to graduate high-school and more likely to spend time in prison as adults. If America is interested in reducing its prison population, locking up fewer juveniles for silly reasons would be a good place to start.”  “Who, What, Where and Why” America’s Prison Population, The Economist.

Our true light is all God has to prevail against the pattern of this world to which we are not to conform.  The pattern of this world is living life with half-truths and lies based on man-made erroneous perceptions.  This is what God warns us about.  We might think that the truth is the truth and cannot be altered but that would be a great misperception.  As humans, our culture, pride, bias, politics and fear contributes greatly to our perceptions.  For example, if you are counting on a regular paycheck to take care of your family and your immediate superior sees the “truth” differently influenced by his/her own pride, bias, fear and whatever the status quo is in the organization that they are expected to maintain loyalty, you are most likely going to swallow hard and go along to get along – probably dying a little inside.  That too, is confirmed in the Scriptures: There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12 KJV

 

Your superiors are also influenced by their superiors.  Career individuals vulnerable to a lack of integrity that may exist in the status quo of the company can be influenced to accept and go along based on their hope of retirement with benefits at some point.  Unfortunately, this pattern of the world exists in religious organizations where the Light – the Truth with a capital T – should be easier to maintain given who their Superior is supposed to be.

 

What a debacle we face if we live and work where the truth is influenced by the status quo (how it’s always been done) and interpreted by those with the most power and who have the most, personally, to gain or lose by maintaining the status quo. In the Scriptures, the status quo where truth is manipulated to benefit the powerful only is referred to as strongholds. That is the pattern of this world.  If you are someone who has no power, then, what do you have?

 

As a believer in Jesus Christ, we can protect and sustain the truth even when we are being pressured to conform in order to receive that next paycheck and those retirement benefits. Read the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.  His experiences are a perfect example of standing up for your beliefs.  Our integrity through truth is of number one importance.  There are people to whom we are accountable on the corporate or social ladder so to speak, who are looking to us to stand for and protect the truth – their truth and our truth.  We may be the main interface where passing along, speaking it or documenting the truth begins.  What shape will the truth take as it goes forward from us?  How much will it be altered by our fear, bias and pride?  In the past twelve and a half years of being a victim’s advocate, I have worked with on average 100 new families per year in Texas and Wright Counties. I have seen too many ravaged lives in my work because of the altering and loss of the truth.  This happens too often because of the powerlessness created by poverty, abuse and mental illness which includes drug and alcohol addiction.  The majority of the inmates in our jails I’m discovering are there due to these root causes.  

 

A judge in Wright County visited one of our interagency meetings in 2015 and stated that they had so many who were being incarcerated for not being able to pay court fines that they were working on being more creative in helping people stay out of jail so that they would not lose their jobs, their only capacity to pay the fines.  Being in jail, costs inmates upwards to $50 a day which is fair in our thinking as taxpayers, but if they are there because they are not getting that paid and other court fines, then doesn’t it behoove us as members of society to help solve that problem before worse  circumstances befalls our brother or sister?  Quite often, the worsening circumstances can begin to impact our personal lives as well as his or her hopeless life spirals down out of control. There is no wonder that drugs have such a hold in some people’s lives stripping away truth and hope.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:1-10 NIV

In II Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV, we understand that through the work of the Spirit, we can change our thoughts and take control of them in Christ’ name: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

As the Scriptures are showcased in Sweetwater Journey writings, we must include Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV to learn about the armor of God that we can use to help us guard truth:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

In December, 2015, after the San Bernardino, CA terrorist attack there were visceral reactions to what happened as it was the sixth mass killing that week in our country.  In England, a news anchor stated “Just another day in the U.S. in another city with guns, chaos and panic”.   People were questioning the substance and authenticity of telling someone that they would keep them in their prayers, shocked when one person stated she didn’t believe in God.  On the front page of the New York Daily News in large letters that covered the whole front page it stated “God Isn’t Fixing This”.  How is God supposed to fix this without our help?  His light can only shine within us if there is absence of hate, fear and prejudice.  It is that light that will shine wherever we are and exponentially grow in its influence for good. The Ephesians 6 counsel about the armor tells us what we should do.  The gospel of peace and praying in love for all of God’s people which means all of humanity, not just the Christians, is our way through this.  We are counseled not to compromise what is truth according to Jesus Christ but we are also not to use that lack of compromise to disguise hate and prejudice.  This is not truth.  This is not Christ’s truth.  We are to be the salt – the silent work of influence, and the light – the visible manifestation of God in people’s lives living the truth whatever disruption or inconvenience it causes us personally.

 

What is truth?  2000 years ago, TRUTH was put on trial and was crucified because of the status quo with its misbeliefs and hidden agendas supported by the masses that went along with the “patterns of this world”.  We are blessed in that in our blindness, Truth embodied in our Lord, Jesus Christ, laid down His life for us to complete God’s rescue plan that would in the end hopefully, save us all.  Nevertheless, that same power of misbeliefs and hidden agendas that killed Christ, still live in the world today and seek to snuff out truth wherever it is manifested.  

We begin today by telling ourselves the truth.  Then, we tell each other the truth.  Just imagine the positive changes in our communities . . .

 

 

 

 

Selected Scriptures and quotes on the importance of truth:

“Truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed; then it is violently opposed; then it is finally accepted as being self-evident.”

A. Schopenhauer

 

Psalms 15:1-2 NIVO LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;”  

Zechariah 8:16These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”  Thomas Jefferson

Ephesians 4:25Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

1 John 1:8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 3:18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

“When in doubt, tell the truth.”  Mark Twain

Proverbs 29:18 NIV “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction” Prov. 29:18 NIV

“Truth is strong, and some time or other will prevail.” Mary Astell

Psalm 119:160The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”

Psalm 25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Psalm 86:11Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

Matthew 22:16And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances’”.

John 13:17: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Romans 13:12 NIV “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. . .”

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