One of the saddest aspects of life today is that we are finding it harder and harder to recognize the truth. There are so many voices and views out there, many of them contradictory to each other, that it is increasingly difficult to sift through them and to discern which ones actually line up with reality.
The task is made harder because many people don’t believe truth exists at all. Others believe that truth is what you make it and that it can be whatever you want it to be. But Scripture tells us something very different. In one of his last letters to the young churches, the Apostle John warned us to try or test the spirits – the forces and ideas behind what we are hearing – because there are many counterfeit or false ones out there and we can easily be deceived. The price of that deception can be steep. Paul warned the Colossians about the danger. He said in Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” We risk losing the freedom God has given us as His people when we follow false ideas and allow ourselves to be captured by empty philosophies that are really of the world and not of Him.
So how do we recognize those false ideas? My brother-in-law used to be a bank manager. He had worked his way up from the bottom, serving in every position before the bank finally promoted him to that job. He told me something about his experience that I think has an application for us as followers of the Lord.
He said that the bank tellers were trained to recognize counterfeit bills by working exclusively with genuine currency. Now, I would have thought that the bank would show them every fake bill that had ever come across their counters; but they didn’t! Instead, they spent hours and hours handling only the genuine article. They became so familiar with the sight, the feel, the weight, the ink of the real money that they easily spotted a forgery when it came their way! And it’s no different for us when it comes to trying and testing those spirits as John told us to. The more time we spend correctly handling God’s Word of truth, the easier it will be to spot the things that don’t line up!
Day after day we are bombarded with different ideologies that promise all kinds of joy and satisfaction. We’ve all heard that “If you have this new item you will be happy” or “If you join this group, people will marvel at your success.” But the happiness these things offer is always short-lived, for what they promise can never truly set us free.
The wisdom of the world says that truth depends on the individual, that life is what you make it, and that possessions can buy meaning but these are hollow and deceptive philosophies. Counterfeits that fall far short of God’s truth. According to Philippians 3:7-11 Paul considered every worldly advantage he had a loss, compared to the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”. Willing to lay the things the world held as important aside he wanted only to “to know Christ” and “the power of his resurrection” and as Christ’s disciple, Paul was willing to hold to Christ’s teaching even if it meant suffering and eventual death. Why? Because it is in Christ alone that truth is found and that truth brings us to freedom!
Jesus said that a person comes to know the truth by being His follower and by holding to His teaching. In John 8:32 Jesus added that if we do that “we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.” As we follow Him and hold to His teaching, we are brought to true freedom, true satisfaction and true joy that does not depend on our external circumstances. We need to spend time in His presence, become familiar with His voice through the Scriptures, and then act on what He says to us – because that’s where truth and freedom are really found.
Blessings on your day!