The Christian Walk Lesson 7: Walk in Truth and Sincerity

The Christian Walk Lesson 7: Walk in Truth and Sincerity

Pilate famously asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). This attitude still prevails among many in our culture today. Without a firm commitment to Scripture, we have no sure word of truth. But if we “walk in truth” with Scripture as our infallible authority, we’ll retain a firm foundation for all of life.

 

  1. Texts:1 Kings 2:4, 3:6,8:23, 9:4; 2 Kings 20:3; 2 Chron 6:14; Ps 26:3; Ps 86:11; Isa 38:3; Gal 2:14; 3 John 3, 4
  2. Principles
    1. The word “truth” as used in the OT means “firmness, faithfulness, assuredness” and suggests virtues like reliability, stability, and continuance.
      1. Truth is anything that conforms to reality; the actual state of a matter; conformity with fact.
      2. Truth is an attribute of God (Ex 34:6; Deut 32:4; John 3:33; Heb 6:18).

a)                  God is real; his existence has actuality.


b)                  God is the true God or genuine God in that He alone in His being, attributes, activities, etc., conforms to all that God ought to be. He alone fully answers the idea of God. He alone is veritably and authentically God. He actually is what He appears and claims to be. To say that God is true is to say that “He is consistent with Himself, that He is all that He should be, and that He has revealed Himself as He really is, and that He and His revelation are completely reliable” (Ryrie, Basic Theology).

c)                  All God’s actions conform to reality. He does not lie (Titus 1:2—lit. “the unlying (apseudes) God…” God is truthful in that the knowledge, declarations, and representations of God eternally conform to His being. He is the veracious God. He represents things as they actually are.

d)                 God is the source of truth in that all truth has its foundation in His being and nature. Ultimately speaking, God does not conform to reality; reality conforms to God. God is the basis of reality; God’s existence gives rise to all other reality.

  1. “Truth” in many biblical contexts is virtually synonymous with God’s revealed will (i.e., Scripture). Truth is not limited to Scripture, but truth is an attribute of Scripture.
    1. Lead me in thy [God’s] truth (Ps 25:5)
    2. The truth of the Lord endures forever (Ps 117:2)
    3. The truth of God (Rom 1:25)
    4. The truth of the gospel (Gal 2:5, 14; Col 1:5)
    5. To “walk in truth” amounts to obedience to God’s commands as revealed in Scripture. God’s way and his truth are virtually identical.

Walking in truth means having an authentic relationship with God. Our walk with the Lord if genuine must be based upon His Word.[1]

Note: The fact that God revealed the truth about himself in words is profound. People may sense God in various ways and have a range of religious experiences, but God’s communication to man comes through words. “In the spiritual realm God addresses His message to the hearing ear. In fact, it is only by withdrawing our physical eyes from looking at visible things that we learn to fasten the eyes of our heart upon God, while we reverently listen to His spoken Word.”[2]

  1. Virtues like righteousness and uprightness of heart often are associated with walking in truth.
  2. Another concept associated with walking in truth is walking before God “with all [your] heart” or walking “in integrity of heart.” The concepts of truth and sincerity go together (2 Kings 20:3—read).
    1. The word for “perfect” (shalem) or “loyal” means “complete, safe, peaceful, whole, full.”
    2. To be whole-hearted implies sincerity. Walking in truth and sincerity describes a life of genuine faith that produces godly behavior.
    3. Those who walk before the Lord in truth and sincerity can expect to receive God’s blessing.
    4. We expect genuine disciples of Christ to persevere in the truth.  Doing so produces great joy in spiritual leaders.
  3. Associated concepts
    1. Biblical writers describe failure to walk in truth in various ways.
      1. Satan “abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44).
      2. Unbelievers “do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness” (Rom 2:8; cf. Gal 3:1, 5:7).
      3. Some walk in craftiness and deceit, mishandling the word of God (2 Cor 4:2).
      4. Some fail to walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel (Gal 2:14).
      5. The unsaved “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thes 2:10).
      6. The unsaved “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thes 2:12).
      7. Some “turn from the truth” and accept fables (Titus 1:14).
      8. Those with bitter envying and strife in their hearts “lie against the truth” (James 3:14).
      9. Those walking in darkness “do not the truth” (1 John 1:6).
      10. Those claiming to have no sin or who fail to keep Jesus’ commandments do not have the truth in them (1 John 1:8, 2:4).
    2. Biblical writers describe lack of sincerity in various ways.
      1. Hypocrisy (lit. “play acting”)—pretending to be something you are not. Hypocrites make an outward show of faith without internal sincerity. Cf. Isa 29:13; Hos 6:4-6; Mt 6:2, 5, 16, 15:7-9; Eph 6:6; Col 3:22
      2. Hardness of heart (Mt 16:14)
      3. Double-mindedness (James 1:8, 4:8)
      4. Believing in vain (1 Cor 15:2)
    3. The challenge of post-modernism: truth does not exist.[3]

Isa 59:14And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.

  1. Post-modernism is a reaction against modernism, the assertion that humans know facts objectively. Post-modernists are skeptical that people really know anything for sure. All we have is our personal perceptions and experiences, not genuine knowledge of what is.

a)                  Premodernism: God, creation, the Bible, the spiritual realm, truth, faith, obedience, norms, ethics/morality, certainty, conformity. E.g., Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, “classic” art and literature

b)                  Modernism/modernity: truth, education, science, mathematics, facts, rationalism, reason, deduction, argument, persuasion, meaning, optimism, certainty, progress, perfection. E.g., Star Trek, modern art, science fiction literature

c)                  Post-modernism: lack of the above; in fact, the annihilation of the above. No universal/absolute truth (esp. Christianity), no authority, no ethical/moral rules, total freedom, irrationality, absurdity. E.g., The Matrix, MTV, Harry Potter (?)

  1. Post-modernism asserts that there is no truth, only biased opinion. Since each of us perceives things differently, none of us has access to “truth.” We see things only according to our biases and through our personal lenses. What we think and perceive is different from what actually exists.
  2. Post-modernists hold that “truth” is a weapon used by capitalistic, imperialistic nations to oppress the masses.  Likewise, logic is a patriarchal, Christian, Caucasian tool of oppression, which forces women, non-Christians, and minorities into a sexist, bigoted, and racist system contrary to their natural thought patterns. Western culture, as the primary supporter of truth and logic, must be destroyed and be replaced by cultures that do not claim objective truth.
  3. Results of post-modern thought

a)                  Radical individualism: One cannot genuinely know anything or anyone beyond himself. Life dissolves into a constant struggle to satisfy oneself.

b)                  Radical relativism and pluralism: One cannot know the truth, so all he has is opinion. Every opinion is of equal value, so one should not try to persuade anyone else to change his opinion. No one has access to absolute truth, so any exclusive claims to truth (like those of Christianity) must be rejected. The primary factor in deciding what group to join is personal benefit—what’s in it for me?

c)                  Radical freedom: One cannot know true from false or bad from good, so one’s primary concern becomes “Do your own thing.” Ethic and moral considerations have very limited influence.

  1.  The Christian response to post-modernism

a)                  Some Christians advocate adopting a more post-modern theology where we downplay the absolute claims of the Bible and focus on meeting individual needs. The church facilitates personal experiences of religion rather than providing doctrinal instruction. The churches offering the most personally meaningful religious experiences in an inclusive, non-judgmental, non-doctrinal atmosphere will capture the attention of post-modernists (thus, the “emerging/emergent” church movement). Obviously, we reject this model as contrary to the tenor of the Bible.

b)                  The proper Christian response to post-modernism is the same response it has to all cultures: preach the Gospel, exhort people to repent and trust Christ, and train converts in the truth of the Bible. The Gospel message “is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16). We need not adopt every shift in culture that occurs. We “preach the word” (2 Tim 4:2), exhort people to accept it, and leave the results with God.

c)                  Part of the apologetic task of Christianity is to provide an answer and refutation of those philosophies hostile to Christian claims. One of the primary fallacies of post-modernism is that, by its own definition, it cannot be “true.” It is internally inconsistent and irrational.

 



[1] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen and H. Wayne House, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1997), 2 Jn 4.

[2] Cornelis Pronk,”Postmodernism’s Impact on Popular Culture,” The Messenger, Nov 2006.

[3] Some of this material from T.J. Klapperich, “Christianity and Post-Modernism.” For a good overview of the topic, see http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?1183

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