Tag Archives: truth

The Spirits of Truth and Error

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“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:6)

Here we are given assurance that we will be able to tell the difference in people by the way they respond to the Word of God. The emphasis is on the believer’s ability to discern a spirit (attitude or character) of truth or error among those to whom we witness.

This is important because we are told not to cast “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6) and to “shake off the very dust” from our feet against those who will not receive our witness (Luke 9:5).

Others disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness when they are really the ministers of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). How can we tell which is which?

The spirit of truth is relatively easy to discern. Those who hear the Word (Mark 4:18-20) and receive the Word with all readiness of mind (Acts 17:11) are of the truth (John 18:37). Such people come willingly to the light (John 3:21) and ask for a “reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

The spirit of error can be more difficult to discern. Its source is Satan (John 8:44), who deceives (Revelation 12:9) and uses his servants to manipulate and mislead (Ephesians 4:14).

Some of these run among God’s family and live “in error” (2 Peter 2:18). They can be fruitless trees and “raging waves . . . foaming out their own shame” (Jude 12-13), or like “tares” among the wheat that even the angels have trouble recognizing (Matthew 13:38-40). These won’t listen to truth.

Our job is to be ready to give the answer to the one and to reject the other. HMM III

How to Know the Truth

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“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)

The apostle Paul, in his last epistle, wrote about certain philosophers who would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). In the next verse, Paul makes it clear why such people, no matter how scholarly or well educated they seem to be, are still incapable of accepting real truth. “So do these also resist the truth,” he says (v. 8). They could not learn the truth because they were not willing to believe or obey the truth when they learned it.

For example, a very vexing controversy among modern Christians is whether or not the Genesis account of six-day creation can be so interpreted as to accommodate the billion-year, geological-age system of Earth history.

Perhaps the difficulty, in this as well as in other such doctrinal controversies, is a basic unwillingness to believe doctrines plainly revealed in God’s Word when they conflict with doctrines based solely on human reasoning. When the Lord Jesus spoke the words of our text, He was speaking to arrogant religionists who regarded Him as nothing but an itinerant preacher, rejecting His teachings, even though they knew these teachings were fully biblical.

His rebuke of these hypocrites is truly a timeless criterion for recognizing God’s truth and knowing His will. Such a heart does not try to twist God’s Word to accommodate a human philosophy, nor does it try to accommodate one’s personal will by persuading himself that it is God’s will. God’s will is always consistent with God’s Word, which is written to be easily understood by anyone who is willing to believe His Word and do His will. HMM

Sinning Against the Lord

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“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13)

A basic truth is expressed in this confession of David’s: Every sin—not only the sin of blasphemy or of unbelief—is essentially a sin against the Lord and His nature of absolute righteousness.

This does not mean, of course, that sin hurts no one except God. In David’s case, his sin resulted in the murder of a faithful soldier, Uriah; the implication of Bathsheba in David’s adultery; and then the death of his infant son. It probably also contributed to the subsequent sins of two other sons of David, Amnon and Absalom. Furthermore, as Nathan said, it had “given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (v. 14).

Nevertheless, it was, above all else, a sin against God. God had chosen David as king and had blessed him abundantly, yet David was not content and elected to make his own decisions in rebellion against the will of God and the Word of God. But when he was made to realize, by Nathan, what he had done, he immediately repented of his sin, and thereby received forgiveness.

God, in His grace, has made a wonderful provision for forgiveness and restoration because “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Therefore, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9).

Confession must be specific and sincere, of course, not general and superficial, to be effective. But if this is done, then we can exclaim joyfully with David: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered,” because he first, as he said, “acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid” (Psalm 32:1, 5). HMM

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