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The Hope of Transforming Truth - Shepherd of Hope

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” – John 8:32

 

We’re in the midst of another tweet inspired war of words in reaction to a statement of President Trump. In response to continued anti-American statements and accusations made by certain politicians, President Trump tweeted what many are now calling a “racist” retort.[1] Even though the President did not name names in his initial statement, the president’s words were taken as being directed to a “Squad” of four leftist liberal representatives.[2] Truth be told, only one of these persons is actually an immigrant. But the President’s point was made. Those who have such a problem with our country and who are so vociferous in their vilification of it, who spout hate toward America and so many of its people while refusing to call out those considered her enemies, such are free to leave. When one examines the statements and positions held by such extreme liberal representatives as Ilhan Omar, it’s hard not to question their true allegiances and views on various social issues. [3]

The war of words has now escalated as the President pointed out some of his Democratic critics who have tried to label him a “racist,” should focus on dealing with the poverty stricken plight of their own cities and constituents.[4] This has led to some very damning YouTube videos showing the reality of the poverty, rat infestation, and atrocious unsanitary living conditions of a major United States city where the Democratic representative in question has governed for decades.[5]

Adding to the general confusion is the news that a popular Christian author has renounced his faith stating he no longer considers himself Christian. [6] In his statement of rejection of Christianity, the author posted on Instagram a statement of “repentance” about his former beliefs as a Christian and in particular an apology to the LGBT community. He is now accepting of what the Bible calls sinful.

Folks, the Bible tells us that in “the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). That’s exactly what we are seeing in our day, demonic deception and demonic doctrine. Paul was inspired to go on to describe people in these “latter times” as those who will be “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). And that is what we are seeing today.

What’s the answer and solution to such demonic manifestations? What’s the answer and solution to such demonic infestations in government and in our cities? What’s the answer and solution to the hypocrisy and lies that hinder and block us from dealing with the actual realities that plague our society and country? Very simply, the truth. It is truth that will transform us from the dark decadence and depravity that demonic deceptions have snaked in among us.

There is a political tactic that is used today that aims to divide people in order to conquer them. Politicians lusting for power seek to incite and enflame passions to a rage in hopes that people will rush to judgment rather than review the actual facts of a situation. This is an age-old tactic of the devil. In Acts we see Elymus using deceit to withstand Paul (Acts 13:6-12). In Thessalonica the opponents of the gospel hired “evil men” and used them to rile up a “mob,” and “set all the city in an uproar” much the same as Antifa does in our day (Acts 17:5-9). So intense did the opposition become in Corinth that even Paul became afraid. In the night the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10). Those are words from the Lord Jesus we too should stand on when confronted by fierce opposition. “Do not keep silent.” We are not saved to be silent.

Later in Ephesus Demetrius organized opposition against Paul using the fear of financial loss and inciting irrational allegiance to a false god. Demetrius whipped up the people of the city into a chaotic wrathful rage in opposition to the mission’s team of Paul. Indeed, it states, “Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together” (Acts 19:32). Ignorance and emotion are the enemies’ ingredients to oppose the gospel. God is not the Author of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). Wherever you see disorder and confusion, understand there are dark forces at work.

It was only the intervening actions of the city clerk who prevented the physical abuse of the mission’s team (Acts 19:23-40). No doubt God in His mercy moved the heart of the clerk in this way. But where you see chaos and confusion like this, you can be sure the enemy is at work. God’s providence works in all of the circumstances of life. He is able to work with us or without us. It is our privilege to be included in His plans (e.g. Esther 4:14; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Colossians 3:17, 23-24).

What we see in our nation today with regard to the divisiveness, hypocrisy, lies, deception, false accusations, incitement to rioting, violence, shouting down opponents rather than allowing dialogue, all of this is nothing new. What we see today is an age-old tactic of the devil and his minions. Remember in all of this, the truth is, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). And that “truth,” that reality, is huge part of the answer and solution to what grieves us today.

That is what I want to speak to you about. We need a revival. We need a heavenly intervention in our nation, but also throughout the world. The truth of God’s prophetic word is that as we draw closer to the End, “Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). But that doesn’t excuse us to throw up our hands and give up. We have no excuse for adopting a defeatist attitude. No. Jesus called us to be salt and light. He called us to infiltrate and influence this world (Matthew 5:13-16). We are to labor to win the lost until Jesus returns.

It is in the context of Paul’s inspired discussion of our political and government responsibilities as Christians that Paul says, “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:10-14). Put on Jesus. Wear Jesus so people can see Him in you.

The clothes of God are righteous (Isaiah 61:10). Paul put it like this, “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). That doesn’t mean we are to wear Jesus in some fake way. To do that would be to lower ourselves to the ways of the world. What we wear in Christ is rooted in our heart. We dress from the inside out. Peter was inspired to write to wives, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward . . . rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, . . .” (1 Peter 3:3-4a). There’s truth for us to glean there whether we are men or women.

The Bible speaks of spiritual armor to wear in this battle of light versus darkness, truth versus falsehood, holiness versus sin. And the part of the armor that covers our heart is the “breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). Such “righteousness” (Greek dikaiosyne) is defined as the state of a person as they ought to be, the condition that is acceptable to God, integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting, justice – giving each their due. This should describe what is real within us, in our heart. Only the Holy Spirit can work such a “holy” work in us.

The Bible speaks of putting on this breastplate of righteousness. But it also speaks of putting on the “new man.” This speaks of the second birth; a spiritual birth. Jesus referred to it as being “born again” of the Spirit (John 3). In the New Testament we are exhorted to “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:10). We are to grow in our understanding and knowledge of such things. As we grow, we learn to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12). Paul sums up with the climactic all-encompassing words of exhortation “But above all these things put on love, which is the conf of perfection” (Colossians 3:14).

The late Warren Wiersbe aptly stated, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” The common denominators in both these phrases is “truth” and “love.” We are commanded in scripture to speak “the truth in love” and to “grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). The “truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21). He is “the truth” (John 14:6). Jesus mission was to save the lost but His instrument to accomplish this redemptive mission was to “bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). Jesus said that last statement when being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. When you speak truth, be ready for an interrogation. But stand strong in God’s truth, like Jesus did.

God’s predetermined purpose for us is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). That means we are to imitate Jesus. He gave us “an example” to follow (John 13:15). We are to “follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We are to “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). And that means we too should “bear witness to the truth.”

But where do we find the truth to bear witness to? Jesus said the sanctifying truth His followers were to be distinguished by was found in the word of God. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The psalmist was inspired to write, “The entirety of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160). It is the word of God, applied in the power of the Holy Spirit, that is able to wash us from deceptions and falsehoods. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9). What is true for young men, is true for every man, woman, and child. God’s word is a soul cleansing agent (Ephesians 5:26).

So, here is the point of my teaching. If we are to ever experience the world altering, nation altering, life altering revival of God in our lifetime, it will involve coming to terms with God’s truth. Truth is the instrument, the scalpel to perform the spiritual surgery we need. In a day yet future the prophet Isaiah spoke of song that would be sung in the land. That song involves other nations and conveys a principle that can be applied now. The lyrics state in part, “We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in” (Isaiah 26:1-2). The nation which “keeps the truth,” is the nation which “may enter in.”

Some have criticized the reference to 2 Chronicles 7:14 as more broadly applicable beyond Israel to all nations. The well-known verse states, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” I believe there’s a principle there for all nations to apply. But if that call to repentance from God is not enough for you, I point you to the words of God delivered through the prophet Jeremiah. The prophet was inspired to reveal from God that, “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (Jeremiah 18:7-10). If we as a nation are willing to put aside our evils, and turn to God, He will relent. There is hope.

If we as a world, as a nation, as individuals, want to see the hand of God move upon us and revive us and redeem us, we need to turn to His truth. We have to stop exchanging God’s truth for the lies of this world (Romans 1:25). We have to come to terms with God’s truth. We have to prioritize God’s truth in our lives. God’s truth has to be our guard and guide. We have to abide by God’s truth regardless of where it carves. We have to abide by God’s truth regardless of what it carves away of our political party affiliations and leanings. We have to set aside emotions and feelings and passions and human traditions and worldly trends. We have drifted from God’s truth. We have been deceived away from the simple yet profound truths of God in His word. Our objective is that everything and everyone must bow and abide to God’s truth. We pursue that objective truth applied to life in love. But that doesn’t excuse truth away. We have to love people enough to tell them the truth. How they respond to the truth is between them and God.

We, as followers of Jesus, must become courageous truth bearers like Jesus. We need to submit ourselves to being transformed by God’s truth into what God desires us to be. That is our hope. Our hope is bound up in God’s truth. There is a point at which people can lose the hope found in God’s word (cf. Isaiah 38:18). But until that point comes, we are the ones who seek to present the lost with the hope of God’s truth. We are the ones called to proclaim in word and deed, “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5).

Jesus is our example in all of this. As mentioned earlier, Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. And that truth is bound up in God’s word. How did Jesus respond to those who accused Him of not being a truth bearer? In John 8 the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Your witness is not true” (John 8:13). Jesus did not walk away from such an accusation. He firmly responded, “My witness is true. . . My judgment is true” (John 8:14-16). He appealed to their own law that “the testimony of two men is true” (John 8:17). Therefore, we too should respond with the truth. We stand on the truth of God’s word and share it. But we also see that with Jesus, an appeal to the truth was based on the witness of realities as far as they did not conflict with the truth of God’s word.

When people appeal to gender fluidity or that there is no such thing as “male and female,” we respond with the clear statements of scripture that God indeed created humanity either “male or female.” Twenty-nine times this is stated in scripture. It is stated in the first chapter description of God’s creation (Genesis 1:27). Jesus affirms this truth as well (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6; Luke 12:45). No amount of societal “evolution” can change that truth. But science itself bears witness to this reality in chromosomes, physiology and anatomy. There is the truth of God’s word. But there are secondarily, the facts of life. We should make use of them both.

We need to apply God’s truth to every facet of life. And we do so with the spiritual armor or weaponry God provides to us. We need to consider every piece of this armor. Only with our armor on will we be able to withstand the evil in this world at such a time as this. But there is a priority in the armor. There is a procedure to putting the armor on. The first piece of our armor is the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14a). That is significant. It is the truth of God that holds all the other armor in place. Truth holds the breastplate of righteousness in place in that the truth of God’s word defines and illuminates us about God’s righteousness in Christ (Ephesians 6:14b). The shoes of “the preparation of the gospel of peace” are fitted by the truth of God’s word. God’s truth makes the gospel the right fit. God’s truth prevents us from a gospel that is ill fitting and the wrong size for God’s journey. God’s truth assures us that we won’t get blisters from feet rubbed raw from the wrong size gospel shoes. God’s truth prepares us to know the gospel and know how to share it wherever we go (Ephesians 6:15). God’s truth strengthens our “shield of faith” because God’s truth feeds our faith and quenches the fiery arrows of deceit the wicked one shoots at us (Ephesians 6:16). God’s truth strengthens our helmet of salvation because it informs us and breeds certainty in our thinking (Ephesians 6:17a) And God’s truth sharpens the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Yes, we are properly fitted and well prepared for daily battle in this war-torn world when we put our armor on in God’s truth.

How do we practically apply such truth? Well, for instance, when we are faced with political dialogue that includes accusations and statements, we need to do our spade work and check the facts. We need to search for the truth. Like a soldier clearing a minefield with their bayonet, we probe for the mines of merely my-side-is-right and your-side-is-wrong. We need to not take everything at face value but scrutinize every claim and statement for the truth. We need to weed through the garden of stories. We should not allow politicians to obfuscate and avoid the realities of their record. What are the facts? What is the truth?

President Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.” That is often very true. But that can also be true whether or not a person is a liberal or a conservative. The point being, we need to approach politics, which is a very important part of life, as objectively as possible in the truth. When a politician has been “serving” the same constituency for decades and the same problems of poverty and perversity persist, they should be confronted with the facts. When campaign promises are made, whether or not they have been kept should become part of the truth-record. What is the truth about abortion? What is the truth about immigration? What is the truth about gender issues? What is the truth about the economy? What is the truth about our cities, our suburbs, our rural areas of life? What is the truth about our diplomacy? What is the truth in every area of life? We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We need to expose those who simply use and abuse their political positions for their own power and personal gain.

We need to remember, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). It is more merciful to expose hypocrisy and lies now in order to give the guilty opportunity to repent. For, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Better to deal with sin now than feel its permanent consequences in the hereafter.

It is the truth of God that liberates us from sin and frees us from sins’ bondages. Jesus said to His opponents, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). God’s word is the gate we pass through to determine whether or not we are His flock (cf. also John 10). It is those who live within the parameters of His word that are truly His. People can claim to belong to Jesus, but if they persist in sinful lifestyles, no amount of cozy compromise will alter the reality of who they truly belong to; and it isn’t Jesus (cf. Matthew 7:21-23). Whether or not we actually belong to Jesus is based on whether or not we know Him personally (cf. John 17:3-4).

Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus doesn’t free us to sin, He frees us from having to sin. Jesus welcomes the sinner with grace. He forgives. But then He says, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Jesus said, “Most assuredly, “or without a doubt, “I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). That is the truth. That is the reality. No amount of condoning sin or excusing it away or rationalizing it as acceptable is going to change that truth. If you live in what God defines as sin, you are a slave to sin. And the wages or end of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Nothing society or even legislation allows is going to change the enslaving nature of what God defines as sin. You can have days and months set aside to recognize those who take “pride” in their sinful immoral lifestyles, but it isn’t going to change or transform the person in such sin to freedom. There will still always be the inner guilt of sin. The only way to remove such guilt is the blood of Jesus (Romans 5 and 8:1; Hebrews; 1 John 1:7 and 9).

The only way out is Jesus. Jesus said, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). It is the truth of Jesus word, of God’s word, that can “make you free” (John 8:32). That is God’s promise. That doesn’t mean the person who repents of their sin and comes to Jesus won’t experience further temptations in their area of sinfulness. It does mean that whatever temptations we struggle with, God’s promise is to provide a way to withstand it and have victory over it. The truth of such situations is, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). God will show you the way to be victorious over your sin.

When we come to Jesus and trust Him as our Savior, when we confess our sins and ask God’s forgiveness based on trusting in Jesus’ atoning work and resurrection, God will forgive us. He will regenerate us. He will transform us. He will give us new life in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is true! The choice is up to you.

There’s one final truth reality for us to consider here. The person who is not accepting of Jesus, who has not been born again, they are “under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The God of this world deceives and blinds those who reject Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4). Because of that, it truly is only by God’s gracious outreach that anyone is saved from their sinful plight (e.g. John 6:44). Jesus alone can free us and turn us from darkness to light (Acts 26:18). God in Christ reaches out to the lost, to the blinded, to the deceived, and convicts them of their sin and need of a Savior (cf. John 16:8-11). But having been enlightened about one’s need, the sinner must respond. Turn to Jesus. God offers a life-preserver to the one drowning in sin. All we need do is respond in faith and accept or put on His life-preserver. But we do have to receive what God offers us. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12). We were all born physically. We must also be born again, born spiritually, to be acceptable to God. That’s the truth.

I would close with a caution to those who reject the truth of God in Christ. Jesus had some very straightforward truth for those who rejected Him. He said, “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 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. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me” (John 8:43-45). Those are not my words but His words. This is the truth for those who reject the truth of Jesus. Where do you stand with God’s truth and Jesus? Are you willing to let the truth of God’s word transform you? Are you willing to accept and receive the hope found in God’s truth? I pray as a world, as a nation and individually we find the hope found in God’s transforming truth. I pray you will receive the hope of His truth in Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that one day you will “know the truth, and the truth will shall make you free.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://nypost.com/2019/07/14/trump-tells-freshman-dems-to-go-back-to-their-countries/

[2] https://nypost.com/2019/07/21/trump-the-squad-dems-should-apologize-to-america/

[3] https://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/search_results.html?keyword=Ilhan+Omar&author=&day=&month=&year=&submit=Submit

[4] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-elijah-cummings-president-calls-congressman-racist

[5] https://www.facebook.com/1438377889517963/posts/2370338422988567?s=1535711613&v=e&sfns=mo and https://www.facebook.com/2047158405402087/posts/2270167346434524?s=1535711613&v=e&sfns=mo

 

[6] https://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=28484

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