People of the Truth
Paul Niehoff (Australia)
Many years ago, I read a book, entitled “People of the Lie,” written by a psychiatrist. It is a book describing some people as being inherently evil as a way of life. The author points out that it is not just about doing evil things or sinning, which we all do, but being evil without ever acknowledging it. They may appear to be model citizens, hard workers, active in neighbourhood activities, but in their private life or family life, they may be continually evil. The author compared them with the biblical Pharisees.
It got me thinking that in our lives, we are not to be people of the lie, but God requires us to be people of the Truth. It helps to know what Truth is, and God describes it quite clearly for us. In Psalm 119:142 we read that God’s Law is Truth. So, Truth is based on the Law of God. In addition to that, we can read in John 14:6 that Christ Himself is the Truth as well as the Way and the Life. In all aspects of His life, He lived truth and is the One to define it. In John 17:17, where Christ is praying to His Father for His disciples, He asked God: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” So, the Bible itself is also a Book of Truth.
What was wrong with the Pharisees that the author of the book compared them with the people of the lie? Matthew 23 describes them very accurately. They certainly had an appearance of righteousness. They made long prayers but only for pretence (verse 14). They tithed exactly the required amount but ignored justice, mercy and faith (verse 23). Matthew 23:28 sums them up: “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Christ combined them with the scribes and called them hypocrites seven times in this chapter.
So how should we live so as not to be comparable with the Pharisees? God gives us many instructions in both the Old Testament and the New Testament for our way of life. Jeremiah 9:3 informs us that those who do evil continually are not valiant for the Truth. They are not striving or making every effort to live by Truth. In Psalm 15:2, David reminds us who will ultimately dwell with God in His holy hill: “He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart.” It is not just a matter of speaking truth outwardly, but being totally sincere with the Truth.
David reinforced this in Psalm 51:6: “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts…” Truth must be a part of us, not just an outward show. Zechariah 8:16 shows us how we should interact with our neighbours: “These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbour; Give judgement in your gates for truth, justice and peace…” So, we are instructed here to be truthful to our neighbours, but not just our neighbours, but everyone with whom we have dealings, in order to bring about justice and peace.
We must also interact in truth with God. Christ said in John 4:23-24: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
There are some warnings for us that we must heed. One is in 2 Thessalonians 2:10. This informs us that some will “perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” When we love the Truth, we will want to embrace it and not let go of it. Otherwise, the warning is that if we do not love the Truth, we could be deceived and thereby might not be saved.
Another warning for us is in 1 John 1:8-10: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” Saying we have not sinned makes us just like the people of the lie and the Pharisees. Denying our sins makes us self-righteous, and if we do not admit and repent of our sins, we cannot be forgiven.
So, we must ensure that we are people of the Truth. We must embrace it, speak it and live by it. This is well pleasing to God.