Truth in Plain Clothes
In John 13:17, after Jesus had finished explaining to his disciples the role of servant leadership, He punctuates this lesson with an important principle about truth–simple yet profound:
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” John 13:17
In this succinct statement, Jesus summarizes one of the most important aspects of truth. Knowing the truth does not bring joy to life; in fact, knowing the truth of God without obeying it and without a relationship with Him is probably one of the most miserable positions a man could find himself in. It was the first sin that man fell into; Satan offered Eve the ability to know both good and evil apart from God, and she gave in.
It’s interesting to notice what happened after she and Adam ate the fruit. First, they knew they were naked. Shame was introduced into man’s nature. Second, they hid from God. The natural reaction to shame is hiding; and isn’t it interesting that God called them? Of all the things God could have done in His omnipotence and His omniscience, He called them. He knew where they were, but this was not primarily about punishing or being punished, it was about revealing a broken relationship. They wanted to know truth apart from God and God’s first reaction was not to destroy or ridicule them, it was to call them. God is often portrayed like Zeus, hurling thunderbolts at evildoers when in reality, He has always intended for truth and love to go hand in hand.
Truth Amid Error
This of course bring up a very difficult and valid objection. Is there no place for the defense of truth? How can we defend the truth of God’s Word in an age that runs so contrary to any truth, let alone religious truth?
The first and greatest way is sincerity. The word ‘sincere’ is actually derived from the Latin phrase: sine cera which means ‘without wax’. Ancient merchants would hide cracks in cheap pottery with a colored wax; to counter this, sellers of quality pots would stamp sine cera or ‘without wax’ on the pottery to ensure the buyer that it was “authentic” and not doctored in any way. The best testimony we can give to the truth is that the truth has changed our life. The most difficult question I’ve ever been asked is, “If God’s Word is true, why do so many Christians who claim to love it not believe it?”
Think about the gospel story in John 8 of the woman caught in adultery. It’s fascinating that Jesus’ statement in verse 7, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” would break down even the most hardened Pharisee; but they were convicted because they knew that the truth they were willing to kill to protect wasn’t a reality in their own lives. The best way to stand against falsehood in the world around you is to saturate yourself in God’s truth. Let it control your life. Demonstrate the importance of that truth in your priorities. There’s no better testimony than the testimony of honest life.
What Is Truth?
And we find ourselves back to the original question: “What is truth?”
Eve sought the answer apart from the relationship. The crowds have little patience for the answer, because the materialistic need for bread and circuses seems so strong. Pilate did not stay long enough to hear the answer, because the crowds were waiting.
The only real and lasting answer can be found through the person of Christ in a true and holy relationship with God, the maker of all truth.
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, eve as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:13-17