What is truth?

By Johnny O. Trail — There was once a man who decided that he wanted to lose weight. To that end, he weighed himself on his bathroom scale and determined that he weighed 250 pounds. For the entire next week, he exercised and tried to cut back on what he ate. At the end of the week, he got on the scale and determined that he weighed 260 pounds. He was so angry at what the bathroom scale told him that he took the scale into the garage, got a sledge hammer and beat it to smithereens.

The next day he determined that there had to be something wrong with the scale. So he drives to Wal-Mart and purchases a brand new one. He returned home, made sure that it was properly calibrated, and stepped on to ascertain his weight. The scale revealed that he weighed 262 pounds. It was not what he expected, but he accepted that as a good starting point for his newly renewed attempt at weight loss. For the next week he exercised and watched his food intake (to some extent).

After the week was over, he got back on the brand new, recently calibrated scale and determined that he weighed 272 pounds. Once again in a state of rage, he takes the scale into his garage, obtains a sledge hammer, and beats the scale until it is little more than springs, dials, and twisted metal.

Afterward, he travels to “Bed, Bath, and Beyond” to purchase a brand new state of the art scale. This time he is convinced he will get the results he wants.  He comes home with his new treasure, but this time he tries a new method of calibration. Instead of setting it to reflect zero with no weight on the device, he sets it to 42 pounds off of zero. Thus it was really set at negative 42 pounds every time he or any other person stepped on the bathroom scale.

After one week of exercise and very little monitoring of food intake, he stepped on the scale and weighed 240 pounds. He was very excited that he had lost ten pounds in about a three week period of time! In actuality, he weighed 282 pounds! By his own actions, devoid of an accurate graduate of weight (an authority), he invented his own truth.

Regardless of how many scales this man destroyed, manipulated, or changed, the truth remained that he was gaining weight instead of losing it. Many people seem to believe that they have arrived at the truth when they have invented it to suit their needs, wants, and desires. Sadly, this is the way many people treat God’s truth, the Bible.

Some people seek to destroy the truth. King Jehoiakim took out his pen knife cut God’s word into pieces and burned it in a fire.

“And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he [Jehoiakim] cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.”  Jeremiah 36:23-24.

The truth can be destroyed in various ways.

Some people attack God’s word by saying that it is not accurate, reliable, or trustworthy in regards to the way it was recorded and transmitted. The truth of the matter is that the history, archeology, geography, and terminology of the Bible is extremely accurate. The Bible has the greatest attestation of any book from antiquity. It is beyond compare in regards to criticisms that have been leveled and defeated by scholarly examination.

Over the centuries many have sought to manipulate the truth to suit their own needs. The Sanhedrin produced false witnesses that lied about Christ’s comments regarding His earthly tabernacle.

“And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together.” Mark 14:55-59

Their lie composed portion of the prevarications that nailed our Savior to the cross. Lies have consequences even for those who are not guilty of having told them.

Finally, some have boldly lied about God’s word and sought to change it to their own perverse ends. Sadly, there are people in the religious world who are guilty of this very thing. Balaam was courted by Balak for the purpose of bringing a curse upon the people.

“And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.” Numbers 22:16-17.

As a result of Balaam’s compliance in the whole affair, God showed His anger.

Notice how Balaam’s intentions are characterized by the angel of the Lord.

“And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine donkey these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the donkey saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.” Numbers 22:32-33

Balaam was running headlong into doing the very thing that displeased God. Balaam did not do it out of ignorance—he did it in spite of what he knew to be true.

Unlike Balaam, sometimes people do things through ignorance. Peter believed that there were individuals who were ignorant about the true identity of Jesus. He says, in Acts 3:14-15, 17,

“But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses… And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.”

Sadly ignorance will not be an excuse on the Day of Judgment (Luke 12.48).

The truth is a very precious thing, and it should never be taken for granted! John 8:31-32 says,

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Any honest, objective treatment of God’s truth will set one free from sin and death.

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