What Is Truth? Sermon #794
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all (JOH 18:38).
What raised this question by Pilate? When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a King, His answer convicted his conscience with the truth. In the previous verse we read, "Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." The truth was the central issue because He was brought before a judge. The accusations brought against Jesus were false, and Pilate knew it. The truth was that Jesus was innocent. The Lord Jesus convicted the heart of the judge with the truth.
Would not honesty be considered one of the first definitions of truth? Half or partial truth makes a lie. You cannot separate truth from honest, whole truth. See how the testimony of the truth burned in the conscience of Pilate, urging him to be honest. The Lord Jesus was glorified in that in the court in which He was tried, He was found innocent.
MAT 27:24 says, "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." Pilate emphatically ruled that Jesus was absolutely innocent before the bar of His court. No one could come back and say that it was questionable whether Christ had never sinned. The Lord Jesus did not have a jury trial. He was tried before a court of conscience, and before this court He was perfectly vindicated.
Even though we know it was ordained of God that our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be crucified, this did not excuse those who were responsible for such dishonesty. ACT 2:22-23 says, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." Now, the apostles called into court the consciences of the men of Israel.
Pilate refused to hear the voice of Christ in His own conscience. He would not pay the price of his own honor and popularity for honesty sake. This is sinning against knowledge. The fact that it was meant to be does not vindicate Pilate. After he declared Jesus innocent we read in MAT 27:25-26, "Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."
Truth and honesty were the two greatest virtues of the image of God. These were lost when man alienated himself from God by wicked works and joined affinity with the prince of this world. God spoke to Adam and Eve, but Satan stepped in and called into question what God had told them and got them to join with him against God, against truth, against honesty. COL 1:21-22 says, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight." The fall of man took place in his attitude toward God, toward truth and toward honesty.
Outside of Christ we are no different than the blind leaders of the blind unto whom Jesus said in JOH 8:44-45, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not."
Our Lord had just told these hypocrites that if they would turn from serving sin and "continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed, And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" as we read in JOH 8:31-34. The serving of sin is deceit. We cannot be honest and serve sin. Truth is being honest with our own consciences and honest with God and His Word.
Pilate did not continue in what the Lord had told him. He started out well by telling the multitude that there was no sin in Him at all. Then, however, he scourged Him and gave Him over to be crucified. How often do we start out being honest, and then when there is a little price to pay, we start putting just a little catch in the truth? Truth is honest before God.
By nature of the fall, humans are born as liars. PSA 58:3-4 says, "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear." Nothing destroys more than dishonesty. A little venom, like we got in the Garden of Eden, gets into our bloodstream and goes straight to our hearts.
This is one of the first sins we are charged to deal with as a gospel precept to the new man. This is so important because the lie is what brought about the fall. The venom of that lie circulates through our veins. EPH 4:24-25 says, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another." This does not mean partial truth, it means the whole truth.
I have sat in a courtroom and have seen church elders calling God as a witness to lies. It is enough to make the blood curdle. They tried to tell partial truths and made lies. Do not shoot the venom of the serpent into the veins of anyone who is a member of the Body of Christ.
Not only does the truth make us free from the service of sin, but truth cannot be separated from sanctification. Truth and honesty go to the point where we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In the day of judgment that is the court we will stand before. Our conscience will be our judge: Is that what you wanted someone to do to you? Is that the quality of truth that you wanted them to tell you? JOH 17:17-19 says, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." The word of God is a sanctifying truth. It has a cleansing and purifying effect. It cleanses us from that lying spirit that we inherited from Satan in Paradise.
Can you and I come before a court, like Jesus did before Pilate, and have the judge proclaim that he finds no fault in us at all?
How does the Spirit of Truth sanctify through the truth? By the Word of Truth! The Holy Spirit is sent as the Spirit of Truth, and He sanctifies through the truth by the Word of Truth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself "that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" as we read in EPH 5:26-27.
A man told me that twenty years after he made a deal with someone, he had to tell him, "I owe you a new motor for that car." He had not told him the whole truth. Shortly after he bought the car, he had to put a new motor in it. "I knew that motor was bad, and I did not tell him. The Lord laid this on my heart, and I had to be honest." At that time a new motor was about $150, but today a new motor is about $1,200. He sent him $1,200. He purged his conscience of a lie because he wanted to be able to sleep at night. Truth is a light that you will never escape. The Lord Jesus Christ is the light of heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ is the truth.
This washing or sanctifying is what Scripture refers to as the work of regeneration. TIT 3:5-7 says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace [or the divine influence of Christ abiding with our spirit as we see in PHM 1:25], we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." We start having a new attitude. We start seeing truth as truth. No lie, nor anyone who makes a lie can enter heaven. We need that renewing of the Holy Spirit, and we need to repent. If we have lied and gained an advantage by lying, we cannot come and say, Well, I think that Christ paid for that sin, and now I do not have to make restoration.
That freedom, or Christian liberty from the service of sin, which we obtain by walking in the truth, cannot be separated from honesty, unto which the gospel precepts call us. Lets go through some of the gospel precepts that call us to honesty. PHI 4:8-9 says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
If we are talking about our fellow man, do we do what we can to reveal their sins? If we revealed our own sins, we could keep our crowd entertained without having to talk about anyone else. Sometimes I look back and wonder how God could be so merciful to a monster as me. The more I see of my own sins, the smaller the sins of my neighbor become. Paul says that if we are going to speak about our brother, say something that is true or honest. Do not tell lies about him.
Do we want to live in peace with God? Do we want to have a heart filled with that peace that passes all understanding? It begins by being honest before God. This peace of God cannot be found in a body where there is schism. We are called unto honesty and truth, which leads to oneness in the body. ROM 12:16-18 says, "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." You cannot separate the gospel precept of honesty from salvation. You cannot have a heart filled with dishonesty and claim that you have Christ. Can two waters flow from one fountain? Can truth and lies come from the same mouth? The Lord has no pleasure with one who speaks with a forked tongue, because that is too much akin to Satan.
Pilate tried to tell the truth and turned around and made a lie. In JOH 18:37 Jesus said, "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." The Word of God, the voice of Christ, speaks in your soul when you tell the truth. These are discerning words. How do we know if we are among those who hear His voice? LUK 8:15 says, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Truth and honesty are the evidences before the world that we have the Holy Ghost. These are essential characteristics to become a candidate for an office in the church of Christ. I have found that those who profess to be Christians are the dirtiest snakes when it comes to doing business. Many profess to be Christian to gain your confidence so they can take advantage of you. I have always said that I do not need to tell anyone I am a Christian. If you cannot tell it by talking to me and by doing business with me, I am not a Christian.
ACT 6:3 says, "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." Honesty is so essential in those who hold office in the church of Christ that they may handle the administration of the church without bringing reproach upon the worthy cause of Christ.
Can you picture a man being sued and put in jail because under the pretense of being a minister he had taken millions of dollars from widows? This brings blasphemy on the cause of Christ. 2CO 8:20-22 says, "Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you." They were choosing men to take to Jerusalem the money they had collected for the poor there, and they looked for honest men.
We are called upon by gospel precept to be honest in word as well as deed without any appearance of evil that the enemy of souls may not be able to bring any just accusation against the cause of the cross of Christ. 1PE 2:11-12 says, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation [which includes your actions as well as your words] honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
Walking in truth and honesty before men is equated with godliness in 1TI 2:1-4, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." Can you imagine what the day of judgment will be like when the thoughts and intents of every mans heart are made known?
Truth and honesty are preached as gospel precepts throughout Scripture, but have we learned to know truth as a person? JOH 14:6 says, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." He is saying that no man can come to God outside of the truth. We cannot hide anything from the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ is the truth. If we have the mind of Christ, we will be honest before God. There is no other way to the Father but through Christ, who is truth.
Learning to know truth as a person is to know the Father, because Jesus said in JOH 14:7-9, "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" The way to the Father, the way to heaven, is by the way of truth. The Lord Jesus Christ is the truth. His words are true. The Word of God is true. Everything about Him is true. We learn to know truth as a person in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In what respect is it that seeing the Lord Jesus Christ is equated with seeing the Father? It is as we read in HEB 1:1-3, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the [Truth, or the] word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." When you have learned to know the Lord Jesus Christ, you have learned to know the character of the Father.
Not believing the truth as a person is the only thing that can keep us away from a personal relationship with Christ. We need a personal relationship with Christ, and what concourse does darkness have with light? Until we are cleansed from our deceit and dishonesty and become honest before God what concourse do we have with Christ?
JOH 7:37-38 says, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." Can we believe in the Lord Jesus and have a heart that is not honest before God?
Those who believe the truth are those who are spoken of in PSA 110:3, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." Those who believe are those who are made willing to want to come to the truth. They want to be honest. They want to stand for truth.
No man in his natural state is willing to forsake all and follow our Lord Jesus Christ in the way of the cross, but the call of the gospel is unto all who are willing. REV 22:16-17 says, "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The Lord wants a willing people. The Lord has no pleasure in anyone who serves Him out of compulsion. Are we willing to become honest before God? This is the free call of the gospel that is free to every living soul.
It is only for those who love the truth that there is any beauty in the truth as a person. Can you tell me that you see beauty in Christ and cannot come honest before God? That is a contradiction.
Our blessed Saviour says in REV 22:13-15, "I am Alpha and Omega [the A and Z], the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." These are those who love not the truth, those who do not love honesty. What is truth? It is to be honest before God. It is the Lord Jesus Christ in person.
It is only those who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who love the truth. JOH 4:10 says, "Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water." Can you imagine the Creator of heaven and earth sitting on a well weary asking a prostitute for a drink?
What is meant by these living waters? JOH 7:38-39 says, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"
As the Holy Spirit of truth indwells our soul, He takes those precious things of the Person of Truth and reveals them unto us, which constrains us to will and do of His good pleasure. 2CO 5:14-15 says, "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."
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