Chapter 4: ~ Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

If that’s not enough to convince you how important it is that we “know the truth,” maybe a few more passages will help:

“The time is coming and is already here when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  {John 4:23, 24 NLT, NIV]

Pretty much all translations use that word “must”: “those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” And since this chapter is primarily about the “truth” aspect of that passage and not the “spirit” aspect, I’ll only say one thing about the spirit aspect of the passage: I think this next verse reveals to us the key to worshipping God in spirit.

“They perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”  {1 Thessalonians 2:10 NIV, KJV}

It’s important to know the truth; it’s even more important to love the truth. And the more we love the truth the more we’ll worship God in spirit.

Continuing on with this question of the importance of knowing the truth: Now I want you to see what Jesus told His disciples shortly before His death; and so important was it to Him that He told it to them in three consecutive chapters:

“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth.”  {John 14:16, 17 KJV}

“When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth…”  {John 15:26 KJV}

“When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.”  {John 16:13 KJV}

Hopefully you agree that it’s no insignificant fact that not only does Jesus on all three occasions designate the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth,” but then in the last of the three passages He tell us, “he will guide you into all truth.”

One more passage by that same John, only this time from one of his epistles:

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  {3 John 4 NIV}

Similar to what we saw up above in that we must not only know the truth, but we must love the truth, it’s also critical that we “walk” in the truth:

“Remember, it is a message to obey, and not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself.”  {James 1:22 NLT}

(I’m convinced: if we truly love the truth, we can’t help but walk in it.)

One more passage—a bit different than the others, but equally important—showing us how important it is to know the truth;

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  {Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25 NIV}

Now, because this next point is something that really needs to be understood, and because “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us” (Romans 14:4 NIV), I’d like to share a little of what was written in the past to show you that for the most part truth has never been very popular—and not just with the world, but with God’s people:

“My people… refuse to stand up for truth.”  {Jeremiah 9:3 NLT}

“Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and invoke the God of Israel—but not in truth.”  {Isaiah 48:1 NIV}

“Justice is nowhere to be found. Truth falls dead in the streets, and fairness has been outlawed. Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who tries to live a godly life is soon attacked.”  {Isaiah 59:14, 15, NLT}

“This is the nation whose people will not obey the LORD their God and who refuse to be taught. Truth has vanished from among them; it is no longer heard on their lips.”  {Jeremiah 7:28 NLT]

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.”  {Hosea 4:1 KJV}

It’s pretty amazing: despite all that we just saw, and despite all that God did to try to show His people their true condition, the vast majority of them utterly refused to see it. Surely Jeremiah knew what he was talking about when he said, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else.” (Jeremiah 17:9 HCSB)

Now let me show you that this problem doesn’t apply only to Old Testament times—it applies with equal force to our own time as well:

“So, go now and write all this down. Put it in a book so that the record will be there to instruct the coming generations until the end of time. For these people are stubborn rebels who are unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instructions… They say, “Don’t tell us the truth. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies.”  {Isaiah 30:8-10 MSG, NLT}

“A time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear. They will reject the truth.”  {2 Timothy 4:3, 4 NLT, NIV}

I have to tell you, that “time” Paul warns “is coming,” is here. And hopefully you agree with me: while it might make us feel good to find “teachers who will tell us whatever we want to hear,” and “tell us nice things,” “in the end it leads to death.”

I want to finish with two final passages. Both are so short and so simple, yet so extremely valuable, that I encourage you to take a few extra minutes and try to memorize them.

“Buy the truth, and don’t ever sell it.”  {Proverbs 23:23 KJV, NLT}
“Is anything worth more than your soul?”  {Jesus in Mark 8:37 NLT}

Just so you understand why I included that last passage there: To sell the truth is to sell your soul; and as Jesus so clearly implies, there’s nothing in the world worth doing that for.