Tim Russo, M.A.
Believing the truth is the pathway to freedom over personal struggles. Jesus said, the truth will make you free (John 8:32). Freedom from fear, self-hatred, low self-worth, out of control anger, etc. can only come as a result of fully embracing the truth.
You may recall the scene from the New Testament account of Jesus being condemned to die. Pilate asked Him the question, “What is truth?”
Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38).
If we were asked the question, “Why was Jesus born?” Or put another way, “Why did Jesus come into the world?” we may answer:
- He came into the world to save sinners
- He was born to redeem mankind
- He came to reconcile the world to Himself
- He came to deliver us and rescue of from an eternity in hell
All of these answers are correct, but if we look more closely at the interchange between Jesus and Pilate, we find a clue in Jesus’ answer. He said, For this cause I was born…that I should bear witness to the truth.
Jesus is implying that truth is on trial and He came into the world so that He could be a witness on truth’s behalf—to testify for it.
What is Truth?
Pilate’s question has echoed through the centuries. This question, asked in our relativistic postmodern culture may be answered this way:
- Truth is whatever you claim it to be.
- Truth for you may be different from truth for me.
The Bible sets Truth as being objective and absolute (2 + 2 always = 4.)
Another person may say, “Truth is whatever the facts prove it to be.” But, facts do not always tell the truth. What I mean is; all the facts may not be available for you to determine what is true. For example: Let’s say that someone steals my cell phone. Since I cannot find my phone, I conclude that I lost it. In fact, I really believe I simply misplaced my phone. So, I purchase a replacement. The truth is, however, that someone stole my phone without my knowledge. My response to no longer having my phone was based on my belief that it was lost when, in fact, it was stolen. My limited facts make it impossible for me to find the truth.
Here is another example of how facts do not always tell the truth. Let’s say that we lived in the 1400s and someone asked a true or false question. “Is the Earth flat?” We would, no doubt, answer, “Yes” because people who lived then believed that the Earth was flat. Of course, we now know that the earth is not flat at all. The Point is, you and I tend to conclude what is true based upon our perception of so-called facts.
Bible Truth is Objective and Absolute
Allow me to chase this rabbit a bit longer. How would you answer these questions: Did Jesus rise from the dead? Is He Alive? Your answer will be determined by what you believe to be true. If you are a Believer in Christ, your answer will probably be “yes! He is alive.” If you are not a Believer, your answer may be “no.” Because truth is objective, the correct answer actually has nothing to do with what you believe. Whether you believe Jesus rose from dead or not, does not change the fact that He did.
Truth is absolute because two opposing claims cannot be true at the same time. For example, one person may claim that Jesus is the true Lord while another claims that Alah is Lord. Which is true? Relativism would say, “Whichever you believe to be true is true for you.” When the one claims that Jesus is Lord and calls it the truth, he is most likely basing his conclusion on his perception—what he perceives to be true. In such case, the individual makes himself the final authority on truth and thereby makes truth subjective rather than objective. He may have good reasons for his belief and for drawing his conclusion. But, he has minimized truth to his judgment. Truth is now determined by him and does not stand alone as objective.
Biblical Truth is objective. It is not subject to my interpretation or agreement. It is what it is. It stands alone with no need of assistance from me. Truth is not determined by something within me, but something outside of me. Thus, something can be true whether I believe it or not. When I tell you that I lost my cell phone, you believe I am telling you the truth. You may even tell someone else, “Tim lost his cell phone.” But it’s not true at all. Someone stole my phone. I did not have all the facts. Thus, I drew my conclusion incorrectly.
This brings us back to Pilate’s question: What is truth?
Jesus said He came to testify to the truth—to be a witness, to take the stand and give testimony that confirms the truth. One of His claims was that He is the truth (John 14:6). He repeated urged His listeners with the phrase, truly I say unto you.
Jesus came to show mankind what truth is. The fact that he came implies that He needed to come. There was a need for truth to be clarified to the world. This implies that the world is full of lies.
Jesus referred to Satan as the “father of lies.” Speaking to the Jewish leaders, He said:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and 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). In another place, He said: For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
Jesus describes two opposing forces at war with one another and the pivotal question is What is truth?
In the Garden of Eden, we see Satan at war with God’s truth in his interactions with Eve over the forbidden fruit. He attacked the truth with several weapons. He questioned what God said (Gen. 3:1). He contradicted what God said (Gen. 3:4). I.e. he lied to Eve. He twisted and distorted what God said. In his subtle and deceptive way, he turned the truth of God into a lie. Eve believed his lies and acted on them. By doing so, she invited sin and its consequences into what was formerly a peaceful and orderly world.
The Apostle Paul, in describing those who turned away from God, says they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever (Rom. 1:25). This passage pulls back the curtain and reveals what Satan is really after—worship. He uses lies to lead us away from our devotion to God. He lures us into viewing life through selfish glasses (how will I benefit?). We will come back to this is a moment. First, let’s approach the question, What is truth?
Theologian and Apologist Ravi Zacharias gives this definition : Truth is defined as that which affirms propositionally the nature of reality as it is. R.C. Sproul writes: Truth is defined as that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God.
In other words, truth is whatever God says it is. He is the ultimate and only definer of truth. Because God never changes, truth never changes. Truth is always objective and absolute. It is outside ourselves. It is what God says it is.
What does all of this have to do with us?
Paul proclaimed boldly, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17).
Faith involves believing and trusting. But we ask: Believing what? Trusting what? True living is connected to believing and trusting what God says is truth. That is what faith is! Life is experienced as God intended when we choose to believe what He says—about us; about Him; about sin; about forgiveness; about everything!
The gospel involves believing and trusting. If you believe what Jesus said—that whoever would trust in Him would be saved and have life—then you will be saved and have life. Because you believe what God has said about salvation, you receive it and experience it. In this sense, your faith (trusting in God’s Word) saves you. Your faith leads you into life. Believing and trusting opens the door to new life.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, we read: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
The point is: If you will believe, you will have life! You will be free!
The Power of Truth
Jesus explained the connection between believing and freedom in John’s Gospel:
If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).
Notice the progression:
- If you abide (live, remain) in My word, then
- You are My disciples indeed (students, learners), then
- You shall know the truth (which implies that you previously did not), then
- The truth shall make you free (which also implies that you previously were not)
The Jews who heard these words were offended that Jesus said they needed to be free.
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (John 8:33-36).
What were they saying? They were insisting that they did not need freedom! They were implying that they were already free. They drew the wrong conclusion. They were believing a lie.
Jesus knew something about these men that they did not. He knew that they were in bondage and needed freedom. We can easily assume that, as in the case of these men, Jesus knows something about us that we do not. We, like them, may think we are free. But, we may have no idea what freedom is as God defines it–true freedom.
Jesus continues to draw them in:
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:34-36).
Consider this: If a person is not free, what is he? According to Jesus, he is a slave. Jesus is confronting these Jews with reality: You are not free. You are slaves! And you don’t even know it!
The Truth is, we are all in bondage—slaves to sin—until we embrace the truth (Rom. 6:16-20). Jesus could have easily made His point by saying: You are in bondage to lies! Lies keep us enslaved. They keep us suppressed. They create unnecessary burdens of darkness, fear, and confusion. If we are to be free and truly experience life, we must face the truth about the lies we believe.
Jesus promised that the truth will make us free—liberate us! Is this referring to Salvation? Yes! But, He is referring to more than the afterlife. He is referring to the here and now. He is speaking of practical living.
Think about it. If we are enslaved by lies, what are they? To make it personal, ask yourself, “What lies am I believing?” Most of us are not aware of the lies we believe. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth (John 16:13). As the Holy Spirit shines God’s truth into our hearts, He reveals the lies. We are able to see the lies when they are paired against the truth.
We are conditioned (brainwashed) to believe lies. We believe lies about God, ourselves, spouse, children, and parents. We believe lies about our past. We misinterpret circumstances through the lies we believe. Our lives are contaminated and dominated by lies and more lies.
Here is an example of how lies impact us. A friend sends out invitations to her child’s birthday party.
You do not receive an invitation. Your friend doesn’t bring it up when you see her. You become offended. You draw a conclusion based upon partial information and limited facts. You choose to believe the negative. You convince yourself that your so-called friend intentionally left you out. You are hurt, angry, and confused. How will you handle this breach in your relationship? Of course, you should contact your friend and ask why you did not receive an invitation. But why would you put yourself in a more vulnerable position and risk more hurt? Besides, you already know the truth! She did not want your child at the party! You brood in your anger. You feel sorry for yourself and your child. You believe these things. Therefore, you react to what you believe. If you had believed that your friend would never leave you out, you would have immediately contacted her to clarify the issue.
This scenario plays out in many ways in our lives. We believe, therefore we act.
If we fail to believe the truth, we will react in ways that will cause more problems and complicate matters.
Am I Believing Lies?
How do I know if I believe lies? Here is a partial list of symptoms that can reveal if you are believing lies.
- Do you struggle with uncontrolled anger?
- Do you struggle with depression?
- Do you worry?
- Do you have panic attacks?
- Do you struggle with pride, jealousy, and envy?
- Do you feel inferior to others?
- Do you have marriage problems?
- Do you have relationship problems?
- Do you have a low self-worth?
- Do you have a need for other’s approval?
These are just a few symptoms of slavery. If you struggle in any of these areas, you do so because you believe lies. Jesus promised that if we enter the process found in John 8:31-36, we will find freedom and life.