How Can I Know the Truth?
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were both presidents of the United States. But they had something even more important in common - they were both famed for their truthfulness. When you think about it, only those who love and practice truthfulness and honesty ever become real heroes. No matter how powerful, rich, talented or good-looking a liar might be, no one really respects or admires him. And certainly no one trusts him. Nobody can honestly say that it feels good when someone tells him or her "I can't trust you."
In our hearts we all know that life is empty, shameful and lonely unless we are truthful people. But how can we be truthful unless we know what truth is and find the strength to live by that truth? Let's find out how from God's word, the Bible.
What question did Pilate ask Jesus? "What is truth?" (John 18:39). He did not stay to hear the answer, but turned instead to the voice of the crowd.
What is truth? The Scriptures are the truth. It's in the Bible, John 17:17, "Jesus prayed to His Father, "Sanctify them through Your truth, Your word is truth." "Your law is the truth." "All Your commandments are truth" (Psalm 119:142,151).
Truth is even more than a system of correct teachings, it is a Person. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" John 14:6; "And the Word [Jesus] dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
How can we know the truth? Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32). "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine" (John 7:16,17).
Do you have to be very intelligent in order to understand truth? No, you just have to be willing to let God teach you. Jesus said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight. . . Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:25, 28,29, NKJV). The chief qualifications for learning truth are humility and wanting to learn.
Does truth change over time, from generation to generation? No. "For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations." "The truth of the Lord endures forever" (Psalm 100:5; 117:2, NJKV). Remember that Jesus is the word made flesh, therefore His truth is as unchangeable as Himself. See Hebrews 13:8; Revelation 19:13.
It takes courage to openly believe and practice truth, because truth will be unpopular in the last days. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3,4). Compare with 2 Timothy 3:1-7; Dan. 8:12-14,25-27; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-13.
Where does God want to place His truth? In our hearts. "Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6). See also Psalm 119:11-16.
What benefits can we get from the truth? Salvation, victory and protection. "Of His [God's] own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." James 1:18, NKJV. "By mercy and truth iniquity [sin] is purged." Proverbs 16:6, KJV. "His truth shall be your shield and armor" (Psalm 91:4).
When we discover truth what should we do about it? Obey it, do not hesitate. "You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit. . ." 1 Peter 1:22. See also Romans 6:16,17; Deuteronomy 16:16-19; 27:10, and contrast this with Romans 2:8; Galatians 3:1; 5:7,8.
How can we keep on growing in the truth? Referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "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). "And we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32).
Answer: As long as we keep responding favorably to the truth and apply it to our lives, God will keep revealing more truth to us.