The Bible gives a threefold answer to this question.
- In the first place, Jesus says: “I am the truth.” (John 14:6)
- Secondly, Jesus says when He prays to God the Father: “Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17)
- Thirdly, He says that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17).
If these three criteria are in agreement, we know that we have discovered the absolute truth.
Guidance of the Holy Spirit
In this threefold presentation of truth, Jesus, God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, it is the specific task of the Holy Spirit to make the truth clear to us: “And the Spirit is the One that testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” (1 John 5:6) The Holy Spirit testifies of Jesus as the eternal Son of God, who shed His blood on the cross, as an all sufficient sacrifice for our sins. The Holy Spirit also testifies to the truth and authority of God’s Word. In order to remain in the truth, we need the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Blessed with the knowledge of God’s truth
The professing church of Jesus Christ is richly blessed with the knowledge of God’s truth. God judges us according to the degree of light (or “revelation”) which we have received. Peter proclaimed to the Christians in his time that judgment begins at the house of God: “And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). To remain in the truth, we must obey the doctrinal and moral biblical truths and not replace or obscure these truths by interpreting them in a way to fit our own insights and preferences. Paul warns us against this practice by pointing out a number of errors, i.e. sins, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. If we want to walk with God, we cannot compromise the truth. The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth, and satan, the father of lies, can never go together.
This became clear in a dramatic way in the first congregation, when Ananias and Sapphira decided to lie about the money they gave to the church (Acts 5:1-11). Another example is David when he slept with Bathseba and the prophet Nathan confronted him with his sin, which he wanted to hide (2 Samuel 12:1-14). In Psalm 51 (a psalm of confession / atonement) he confesses his sin and then says: “Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being.” (verse 6)
Walk in the truth
To continue to walk in the truth, we must be on our guard against the temptation of worldly riches and the cares of this world that will choke the Word (Matthew 13:22). We can be so preoccupied and focused on the life here and now, that the undivided attention for the Holy Spirit and the devotion to Jesus will come under pressure. To prevent that, we can humbly ask the Holy Spirit, who is “the finger of God” (see Matthew 12:28 and Luke 11:20) to place His finger on our sins, which we then must confess: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But only confessing our sins is not enough. The second step is forsaking them, as Proverbs 28:13 says: “But he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy“.
To escape the dangers of both compromise and materialism, our personal submission and acceptance of the authority of God’s Word is crucial: it is vitally important to examine that Word with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. To walk in that truth results in life and abundance – which is what our loving heavenly Father is offering us! Those who walk in this way of truth will be witnesses of this.
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