Sunday, September 24, 2023

Love of the Truth

By Ron Bartanen
“(T)hey did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie, that they all could be condemned who did not believe the truth and had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10a-12).
    Truth is a precious commodity.  Proverbs 23:23 urges us, “Buy the truth, and sell it not.”   At the heart of saving faith is “the love of the truth”.  Since the fall of man in the beginning, two spirits have been at work in the world.  The apostle John identified them as the “spirit of truth” and “the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).  In v. 3b he referred to the spirit of error as “the spirit of the Antichrist which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”  This spirit denies that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (v. 3a), a heresy of Gnosticism being promoted by false teachers, a doctrine contrary to the apostolic gospel of Christ.  The world prefers a satanic system that would encourage them to take “pleasure in unrighteousness”.  Or, as John phrases it, “They are of the world.  Therefore they speak as of the world and the world hears them” (v. 5).   He had earlier reminded them of the error of the world, saying, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world” (2:16).
    The ”spirit of truth,” however, is identified by John as the Holy Spirit who abides in the true believers, assuring them that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b).  He made it plain to his readers that “He who knows God hears us (the apostles): he who knows not God does not hear us.  By this ye know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (4:6). Prior to His ascension, Jesus gave promise to His apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to inspire and empower them, which He fulfilled on Pentecost Sunday, as recorded in in Acts 2.   He said, “When he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13a).  Their writings are, for this reason, accepted as all other scriptures as the inspired word of God—the truth of God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16).  Because of the Spirit of truth inspiring the apostles, Jesus could tell them, “He who hears you, hears Me, he who rejects you, rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him that sent Me” (Luke 10:16).  Jesus made known to His disciples that He was more than just another prophet with a message of truth, but the embodiment of truth, saying, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  He, like the Father, “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), in contrast to Satan, the spirit of error, who “does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
    While we do not audibly hear God speak to us, we hear Him speak to us through His word—the Old and New Testaments—He does not remain silent.  Hebrews 1:1-2 encompassed all of Scriptures when it reminds us that  “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…”   The writers of the Bible were not expressing their opinions, but spoke and wrote the truth by divine inspiration.  They were—and still remain—God’s spokesmen.  We should not be surprised, then, when people who may not even believe Satan exists become, unwittingly, his spokesmen.  We are warned that “The Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2).  Note that this is not just warning us of a world deceived by satanic rebellion, but of , at least, nominal Christianity, departing “from the faith.”   Prominent denominations that once at least sought to make the Bible the sole authority in the faith have, with the passing of time, abandoned the Scriptures and conformed more and more with the world.  It is common now to know of churches approving abortion, sexual perversion, the “woke” ideology, etc.  Jesus is seen in such churches as just a man—a sinner like the rest of us, but not the virgin-born Son of God and Savior.  Truth, to such, is nothing more than what the denomination declares to be truth.
    The apostle Paul, describing those “whose foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21), listed numerous sins such as sexual perversion, envy, murder, etc.—sins that characterize our world today.  He summarizes the list by warning of the consequences: “To those that are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish on the soul of man who does evil….” (1:21-32).  As I view this, I believe one of the primary devices of Satan is to change “the truth of God into a lie” (v. 25).  Can we see that happening today? While God has said when creating humankind, “male and female created He them” (Genesis 1:27, defining two genders, now we’re led to believe there are innumerable genders.  I recently wrote that some were claiming there to be 57, but I heard recently that the number has gone up to 107.  I surely don’t know how they can define gender!  Satan’s newly devised “ruth” of transgenderism is spreading like wildfire.  God, at creation, defined gender as male and female, and it was defined by how we were made, with man providing the seed, and the woman the egg, from which a child of one of the two genders will be born, but now teachers in schools tell their captive audiences that they can have hormones and bodily mutilations to change genders.  And if you dare to not bow the knee before Satan by recognizing and honoring this change, you’ll pay the consequences. Marriage, as defined in Scripture as being a commitment of a male and female, but now needs not to be limited to the opposite sexes.    Same sex “marriage” is the new “truth” about marriage, and if you openly disagree, you may be subject to a lawsuit or loss of a job.     On all of the current issues, God’s truth is discarded as the world’s ears are attuned to Satan’s lies.
    Satan, who is described in Scripture as “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 5:4) who has blinded the minds of unbelievers to the gospel (2 Corinthians 4;4), Spiritual blindness comes from substituting “my truth” for God’s truth.  As Christians, we cannot bend the knee to the demonic gods of this world.  We must not only hold sacred truth in our minds, but also defend God’s truth by our words and conduct.  God has not called us to silence, fading our testimony into the world’s darkness, but to be the light of the world.   The ultimate light of the world is Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:24).  Because He would return to the Father, He appointed His apostles to be His light-bearers, saying, “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).  But it was not to be limited to them, as the apostle Paul made clear when he encouraged Christians to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).  Then he adds that in addition to being blameless, harmless and without rebuke, he adds in v. 16, “holding for the word of life….”  We, as believers, are not to cower in fear before the world, nor adopt the world’s standards, but to shamelessly present the light of truth, God’s word, as the life-giving message.  The world should never have to wonder where the children of light are standing in regard to false “truths” promoted by the powers of darkness.  We must never cease to stand up and speak up for the truth.  When Christians collectively let the light of Christ shine, the church lives up to its divine calling, as expressed by Paul, writing to the young evangelist, Timothy, defining the spiritual body of Christ as “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15b).
    Salvation is not available apart from divine truth.  Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  Paul declared that we are “chosen through “sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13b).  Paul said to the Thessalonians, “when ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe’ (1 Thess. 2:13b).   One who commits his/her life to Christ in faith and obedience to God’s truth, has reason to “rejoice not in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. After the passing of his beloved wife, Doris, Ron has relocated from Illinois to Florida where he is near family. He may be contacted at:

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