Veritatis et Offensi ad Veritatem. (Of Truth and Offenses towards Truth).
Part I – Definition and descriptions of Truth and our duties towards it.
“But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.”
– Galatians 5: 15-17
Those who attack their fellow brethren in Christ for sake of “truth”, who deliver a Gospel of animosity, division and condemnation, indeed know not the truth which they preach.
Like infants with outstretched hands, they reach for some unknown and terrifying thing. Once obtained, they may embrace this wholeheartedly, discard it from dissatisfaction or in rabid curiosity, utterly destroy it.
“What is truth?” echoes Pilate’s renowned question. He, a pagan governor asks when standing before his Savior- the very answer to his longing.
If falsehood is the most-evil, depraved and harmful thing, then it stands truth must be most-good, noble and beneficial thing. Thus, truth does no evil, it brings no one down, it maims not nor injures. What are attributes of truth?
-Truth is not just vain words or lip-service
– Truth does not contradict itself
– Truth is unifying
– Truth is not popular
– Truth reveals the nature of Christ
– Truth is for everyone
– Truth has been handed down by the Apostles
– Truth is humbling
1 John 3:18 -“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”
1 John 3:18 –“My little children, let’s not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth.”
Truth is not just vain words or lip-service; it acts in accordance with love. One may claim to speak truth, but if his conduct isn’t truthful or worse so, he lacks love, sowing hatred within the heart. Truth acts with compassion and tenderness. It is merciful ready to forgive, meek existing for service and kind unwilling to wound or desert friends. Not only upon lips but inside hearts, truth must dwell.
John 14:16 -“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be for ever with you–the Spirit of truth.”
Truth does not contradict itself nor sow confusion. If two people testify to truth, and both are speaking truly, then will their words oppose each other? No, only one must be true, the other is lying. Truth doesn’t change over time. If it’s true the sun always settles in east then the sun always sets in the east.
In justice, truthful testimony serves aids right judgment. Contradicting witnesses are tossed from the court, arguing is disdained, refutations irritating to a judge. The truth can’t argue against itself.
1 Corinthians 5:8 –“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”
Truth is unifying. When delivered with kindness and dignity, the truth always brings people together. The need for food is true whether one be rich or poor. The reality of birth and death unites all nations. Around a common truth that all seek love, fulfillment and purpose, people live their lives, forming society. Man’s common aspiration for higher needs: religion, philosophy, science and art, results in great empires.
Truth ultimately gives edification, it uplifts the soul. It bestows strength not weakness, community not mutiny.
Galatians 4:16 -“So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Truth is not popular. Some dislike truth because it has expectations. At times, hearing the truth is inconvenient. However harsh truths always serve to correct, to instruct, to better. Healing follows the brief sting caused by a necessary truth. After the offense comes joy.
There exist persons closed off to truth, wounded souls. For them, truth can only be presented little-by-little and with meekness. Thus, the old proverb: “You can bring a horse to water but can’t make it drink.”
Ephesians 4:15 -“but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ.”
Colossians 2:2 –“In order that their hearts may be cheered, they themselves being welded together in love and enjoying all the advantages of a reasonable certainty, till at last they attain the full knowledge of God’s truth, which is Christ Himself.”
Truth reveals the nature of Christ. It is Christ-like and creates love for Christ. Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He is truth himself. Therefore, all true speech, acts and teaching betrays God’s very nature. It is divine.
Those who speak truthfully do not act like children of the devil, they aren’t stumbling-blocks. Rather, they are evangelists, bringing light and joy into the world. When they depart, sadness and darkness isn’t left behind. Servants of truth do not mix rotten things with their truth.
Spreading truth wards off evil spirits rather than inviting them. You know truth exists where peace, love and self-sacrifice exist. It doesn’t dwell in violent, hateful or confused places.
Truthful persons act like Christ, not belittling, vindictive, condescending or unwholesome. True words are wholesome words, true acts are loving acts, true instruction is helpful instruction.
1 Timothy 2:4 –“Who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.”
Truth is for everyone– not reserved for a select-few. It doesn’t belong only to elites, wealthy people or the educated. Truth binds all humanity together being necessary for wisdom and righteous-living. We have rights to know truth and those who hide it from others, committing deception or half-deception in matters of God and His salvation, sin against their fellow-man shaming themselves.
Titus 1:1 -“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s chosen ones, and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.”
Truth has been handed down to us by the apostles. First and foremost, Jesus promised to his apostles the Spirit of truth. Truth in instruction, discipline and guardianship. Defending Christ’s flock from untruth, from false philosophies and temptations is the apostles’ charge- their primary function amongst God’s people. It was fitting Christ gave his apostles rule over matters of faith and morals. Therefore, where the apostles and their successors are found, truth is also- a solid-rock foundation that’s not defeated by confusion and deceit from the surrounding world.
1 John 1:8 –“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Truth is humbling. It does not gloat, taunt or self-exalt. People often find truth most-clearly revealed in simple and holy persons. Those leading prayerful lives, aware of their sins, abounding in love become vessels for truth.
Truth does not dwell nicely with those who declare themselves righteous- for righteous people don’t need instruction. Instead, they subject others to their “version” of truth, their opinion of what’s best for everyone else. Unless one removes the plank from their eye, they remain unfit messengers of truth. When the plank of the eye is removed, sins acknowledged, contrition felt, truth shines radiantly to others.