Living the Truth
Living The Truth
Back in 1997, I wrote an article about living the truth that we Christians claim to believe. It is pertinent this time of year, so here it is. You can copy, print, and share this to your heart’s content. Thank you for giving reference to the source of this post in doing so.
Living the Truth…
Every day Christians take a witness stand for Christ to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Anxious to remain in the truth, we continually remember how Jesus suffered and died that we might have eternal life. Everything we do must be based on remembering what God has done for us.
As our lives testify about God’s truth and we grow in God’s word, we listen to Paul in Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore I appeal to you, fellow Christians, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. In doing this, you will be worshiping in a spiritual way. Do not follow the pattern of this world, but let yourselves be transformed by a renewing of your minds so that you can test and be sure of what God wants, namely, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” [NET]
Remembering God’s great mercy leads to a spiritual worship that does not follow the pattern of this world, but in which God guides us to be holy and pleasing. We already are holy by the blood of Christ and we continually go to the cross, humbly receiving help to live holy lives out of reverence for God’s sacrificial love.
Our spiritual worship is not spending an hour in church every Sunday morning. It’s the way we live from day to day. It’s the way God’s word transforms us by renewing our minds to think and be the way God wants us to think and be.
We are transformed into living sacrifices — people putting God first in absolutely everything. As such, we need to know what honestly honors God’s love for us. So out of necessity, our goal becomes a daily study of God’s word, the Bible, which transforms our minds.
With that in mind, consider 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 quoting an Old Testament passage, “So come away from their company, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord . . . Then I will welcome you, and I will be your Father, and you will be My sons and daughters . . .” [NET] God truly wants His children to be different from the world. The world needs to see us as transformed by God’s special love, separated from mindless, useless traditions that are remnants of our sinful past.
Like it or not, the world especially looks at our daily spiritual worship during Christmas, Easter, and Reformation celebrations. Many snicker saying, “See, Christians are not any different from us.” What in the world do they see?
For some Christians there is no “Christmas spirit” without a jolly “Ho-ho-ho” from the “real” Santa bringing gifts to all the good little boys and girls. Their Easter has no joy until an abundance of goodies from the good-hearted Easter Bunny has been found. Halloween involves a fascinatingly scary time for trick or treating and shivering wide-eyed over ghost and witch stories.
Have you ever considered that it is wrong for Christians to pretend that Santa and the Easter Bunny exist and that Halloween practices are innocent fun? Have you ever thought of how they dishonor God’s gift of grace and mock our relationship with the Lord Almighty?
If you have made statements to this effect, have your shocked listeners protested with: “Is this some new doctrine you have decided to promote on your own?” “The Bible doesn’t say anything about these matters. They are all in the category of adiaphora – neither harmful nor helpful.” “One can’t deny children the enjoyment of these special traditions, forcing them to be different from their peers.” “You don’t have a right to impose your personal opinions on anyone.”
Actually, the Bible has much to say concerning similar circumstances throughout history. Given a chance, God’s word can put things into perspective. From cover to cover the Bible warns us to not become involved in anything that leads away from God’s pure truth. God’s will is to have His children love truth and live totally in the truth.
Traditions surrounding Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Halloween center on myths. Webster’s definition of a myth is:
1. a traditional story of unknown authorship, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature, the origin of man, or the customs, institutions, religious rites, etc. of a people; myth usually involves the exploits of gods and heroes
2. such stories collectively; mythology
3. any fictitious story of unscientific account, theory, belief, etc.
4. any imaginary person or thing spoken of as though existing.
The bare-bone facts are that throughout Biblical history God condemns idol worship. Idol worship is based on myths. God calls these myths lies in Isaiah 44:20. The chapter describes how a person carves idols of wood and uses some of that same wood for cooking fuel. Then God says about the idol carver, “He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’” [NIV]
Habakkuk 2:18 adds, “What good does it do to shape and carve an idol? It is a statue and a teacher of lies.” [Beck] God says that myths are lies that delude us into forgetting His marvelous love. Because our sinful nature finds so much delight in these lies, God warns us to put away all myths. Our Lord lovingly wants us to focus on His truth and gain real lasting joy.
On the basis of God’s word about myths, we can conclude with assurance that our beliefs regarding Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Halloween are not in the category of adiaphora – which means things that are neither harmful nor helpful. They are all myths that God calls lies.
Many of Christianity’s first converts were Gentiles, former idol worshipers. The traditions and customs surrounding their idol worship were based on all sorts of myths. Some of the new Gentile Christians had difficulty in letting go of their past, wanting to mix their old customs with their new-found faith. The new Jewish Christians also had many traditions and myths that were not fit for children of God.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul reprimanded those hanging onto any kind of myth or tradition. He would do this by urging Christians to remain in the truth, be strong in the truth, and stand up boldly for the truth. Regarding Jewish myths that centered on the Law, he instructed Timothy, “. . . order certain men not to teach any wrong doctrine nor to busy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that give rise to speculations rather than presenting God’s plan of salvation, which centers on faith.” [NET, 1 Timothy 1:3-4]
Our whole lives need to present God’s truth of salvation to the world around us. The world should never have to view a two-faced Christianity. We must be centered on faith in Jesus. Focusing on the wondrous salvation God freely gives renders the customs of the world as futile and meaningless. Similarly, being busy with myths detracts from the faith that should be a light to the world.
Every sort of myth raises speculations (especially in children) that do not glorify or praise God’s salvation. Along with raising foolish questions, they take people away from the truths found in God’s word, the Bible.
Although myths may be based on a fact, they are so far from the truth that they are actually twisted lies that bind people into superstitious beliefs, fears, and practices. As such, they are a tool of Satan to take people away from centering on faith in Christ’s redemptive work, away from truth.
Some seriously ask if putting away these myths shows a lack of understanding regarding freedom in Christ. Our freedom in Christ is based on God’s saving love and the faith He creates in our hearts. God’s love seeks to make us holy in truth. Myths do not seek holiness of any sort. Our gift of faith wants to live for God only — not for myths. Ours is a freedom from being enslaved to the sins and myths of the world. We are free to love God and neighbors. Love for God cancels any desire to follow myths.
We are free to eat whatever we please, free from the laws of tradition, free to worship in spirit. But we were not made free to love myths and desire them as an integral part of our heritage. Therefore, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:21-22, “You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the cup of demons. You cannot share the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or are we trying to make the Lord jealous? Are we stronger than He?”
So the reminder to put away myths is not some new law or doctrine but a description of what it means to have love and reverence for God. It is respecting God’s word as He tells us how to be holy — set apart from the world — His dear children.
In Matthew 15:19-20 Jesus teaches, ” . . . out of the heart come evil thoughts . . . lies . . . These are the things that make a person unclean . . .” [NET] Clinging to the lies of myths makes us unclean in God’s sight. Embracing myths means giving up our freedom in Christ. Trading the truth for a myth makes a person unclean.
2 Corinthians 7:1 encourages us, “Therefore since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that pollutes body and spirit, and let us continually do what is holy in the fear of God.” [NET] Christ cleanses us of all our sins and gives us a steady new spirit that needs to respond to His love by cleaning up our acts, appropriately honoring everything He has done for us.
Sadly, the way in which many people present these myths to their children puts them in the position of upholding lies as something precious and of declaring lies as truth. That makes the matter serious in the light of Revelation 21:27 which says of heaven, “And nothing unclean, and no one who does anything abominable and tells lies will ever come into it . . .” [NET] Revelation 22:15 adds, “Outside are . . . everyone who loves lies and tells them.” [NET] So we need to consider what we love and hold most important in life. Is it truth or myth?
Jeremiah 7:9-10 further clarifies this by saying, “What! Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear to lies, sacrifice to idols, and run after other gods you don’t know, and then come and stand before Me in this house that bears My name and say, ‘We are rescued!’ only to go on doing all these abominable things?” [Beck]
Remember, we are saved to become living sacrifices for God; saved to give up worthless living; saved to find joy and real freedom in Christ — the freedom to live as God’s children.
Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “A time will come when people will not listen to sound teaching but, following their own desires, they will surround themselves more and more with teachers who say what they want to hear. They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths.” [NET] That has been happening throughout history. Even in our modern, sophisticated society, people love myths because they are exciting, interesting, and “fun”. They sigh and turn away from God’s truth because they don’t understand it.
Do the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, as conjured by their advocates, ever honestly glorify God by adamantly pointing to the free salvation received through the blood and merit of Jesus Christ? Don’t they, instead, dominate seasons of celebrations that should be only worshiping Christ? Do Halloween customs teach us that we don’t have to fear evil because our loving, glorious Savior is God, the Almighty? Hardly, so we should not allow these myths to detract us from centering our faith on Jesus only.
In actuality, these myths promote greed, covetousness, and ungodliness. Although they feign to promote love and sharing, the pressures of these traditions often wrongfully obligate unwilling people to bind themselves to ungodly emulations for the sake of not being different. 2 Peter 2:19 tells us, “a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” Isn’t it much better to be a slave to Christ than a slave to myths?
Ephesians 4:15 teaches, “Rather, as we speak the truth with love, we will grow up into Him who is the Head.” [NET] Truth and love allow for growth in Jesus. Undoubtedly, all need to grow in Christ. As we yearn to be grown up in Christ, we must hold tightly to His truths in the Bible and honestly love them because they give us salvation.
1 Corinthians 13:6 instructs, “Love does not delight in wrongdoing but is happy with the truth.” Love for Jesus leads us to so rejoice in the truth that we know we aren’t missing a thing as we put away myths. Are these myths happy with truth? If they aren’t happy with truth, they aren’t built on love.
Our Lord says in John 8:31-32, “If you remain in My word, you are really My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [NET] In Christ, we are now free from superstition, free from myths, free from enslaving traditions —- free to live for God. Let’s really delve into God’s word and live it so we may grow in the joyous Truth.
This concludes the article written in 1997. I don’t know how God could be more clear in what he wants in our hearts. This article is long — but so is eternity. This is something to be studied and considered a little at a time as we apply God’s word to our lives. Our eternal life depends on whether or not we want to live in the truth now.
As we grasp how very important it is for us to have God in our hearts above everything else there is in this life, we will appreciate how deeply loved we are and say, “Hallelujah! Lord, the truth of Your love for us is our greatest treasure. We gladly give up the falsehoods of this world, so that we may live eternally in Your glory.”
A Christian devotional to glorify the LORD of lords and GOD of gods.
Pray for our country.
The LORD made this day, let us rejoice and be glad in Him.
The word of the LORD is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
Praise is becoming to the upright.
How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house!
They are ever praising Thee.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Glory in His holy name;
Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad.
Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.