Ethics: The Truth About Truth

This is the first in a 9-part series on Christian Ethics.

Of all of the character traits of God that He wants us to imitate in our lives, truthfulness may be the most important. The scripture teaches that we are designed by God to become like Jesus Christ in our character(Psalm 15:1-5, Romans 8:29). Of God’s many character traits, God’s truthfulness, and therefore his complete trustworthiness, is repeated in the scripture many times.

Jesus Christ spoke in clear terms about the sins of dishonesty and deceit, even going so far as to say that Satan (the chief of evil spirits) is the father of those who lie. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). As one popular saying goes, “We are never more like the devil when we lie.”

Jesus’ command to those who would follow Him is to be people who always tell the truth no matter what. “Let what you say be simply Yes or No; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37).

Sadly, there are too many people who routinely lie or act deceptively about both matters large and small. Without truthfulness trust becomes impossible. Because God is always truthful, He is always trustable, and He wants us to become people of truth who can always be trusted.

In this study we will discover the source of truth, how to acquire truth, and become men and women who can always be true.

Step #1 – Discovering Who Is True

The One and Only True God is the source of all that is true.

“For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek Me in vain’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isaiah 45:18-19).

“The LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jeremiah 10:10a).

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

God declares that He is the source of all that is true because His nature is completely true and without any falsehood. The scripture even declares that it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, God only reveals things that are true, and only He can reveal truth without it being clouded by deceit or error.

If we try to learn spiritual truth that does not come from the One and Only True God, will that truth alwaysbe true, or can it sometimes be in error?

God’s character is always true and cannot be false.

“In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).

“That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).

Because it is impossible for God to lie it is also impossible for Him to make an error when He reveals things to us about His character, or about our character. He perceives Himself truthfully, and He perceives our nature truthfully.

Since God always tells the truth and never lies, what does this tell you about how you can relate to Him? How does God’s view of us differ from our view of ourselves?

We cannot discover that which is completely true without coming to know the One and Only True God.

“Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.” (Psalm 25:4-5).

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ declared that He was the One and Only Son of the One and Only True God. He declared that He Himself was the Truth of God in human form.

If Jesus is the Truth of God, what does that tell you about His character and His teaching? If only God is completely true, what does that tell you about other so-called truths that are sometimes taught by people who know nothing of Jesus and the One and Only True God?

Step #2 – Learning What is True

The Bible is the One True God’s writtensource for truth about His character and man’s character.

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7).

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

Since the Bible is the written record of God’s word, it is true just as God is true. God is the source of the Bible’s content. Therefore, the Bible reveals God’s true feelings and true thoughts about us and about His nature.

The Bible teaches that man is separated from God because of sin (thoughts, feelings, and actions contrary to God’s truth). What kind of thoughts, feelings, and actions are contrary to God’s truth? The Bible declares God’s act of redeeming us from our sin, through Jesus Christ. Though we are sinful, what does Jesus’ sacrifice tell you about God’s thoughts and feelings toward you?

The Bible is always true and cannot be false.

“Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him” (Proverbs 30:5).

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

“…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).

Since God only speaks truth, then the Bible as the record of his word to us cannot be false. We can trust everything it says about how we should live our lives.

Since God has given us a written record of His thoughts, feelings, and actions on our behalf, what does this tell you about the Bible’s trustworthiness?

We cannot discover all of the Bible’s truth without coming to know the One and Only True God.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 14:6, 16:13).

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:8-9).

Since the Bible is written in human language anyone can understand the testimony it reveals about Jesus Christ. But not all of the truths of scriptures are open to everyone. Some people cannot understand God’s word because their “hearts are darkened” (Romans 1:20-22) from understanding until Jesus becomes their Lord.

If you lack understanding of the Bible, how can you gain God’s instruction to better understand it?

Step #3 – Becoming a True Person

My character can become a source that represents what is true about God’s character.

“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine” (Leviticus 20:26).

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).

“Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”(Ephesians 4:21-24).

God’s design is for us to have the same moral character as Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me just as I also [imitate] Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). When we let the Holy Spirit live through us, we can have godly character (Galatians 5:22-23).

What are some ways that your character needs to change to become like Jesus’ character?

What are you willing to change in your life so you can have a character like Jesus?

I can become a person of truth instead of a person who is false.

“What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar” (Proverbs 19:22).

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16).

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written,  “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:14-16).

A commitment to always tell the truth and not tell any kind of lie is a necessary step to conforming our character to be more like Christ’s. Without a commitment to be a person of truth we cannot truly follow Jesus and become like Him.

What commitment are you willing to make to become a person of truth? List some of the benefits you and others will receive when you make a commitment to be a person who always tells the truth.

I cannot become a person of truth without knowing the One and Only True God.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

To become like the Lord Jesus and be a person of truth I must first know Him personally and ask Him to transform my heart and my mind so that I can feel and think as He might. Only a God who is always true and never lies, and only His Spirit of Truth (John 16:13) can help me to become a truly, truthful person.

Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord? Do you want Him to transform your life to make you a truthful and trustworthy person?

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