“Not until halfway through the feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to preach. . . . Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.’” –John 7:16-19
Dirty. Soiled. Polluted. That’s how I feel this morning, not because of what I’ve done but because of what I’ve allowed the world to do to me—slap me in the face and in the heart with untruth.
Speaking God’s truth comes at a price, because whenever his truth is spoken, the enemy stands ready and willing to defend the ground he’s temporarily claimed and cultivated with his lies, his native language (John 8:44). Satan’s lies always start with a question . . . a thought . . . a probing not unlike the one he leveled at Eve in the Garden of Eden:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’” –Genesis 3:1
Did God really say?
Isn’t this the point at which all detours off the road of truth begin? When we initiate inward dialogue about what God said . . . says? When doubt muddies the waters of truth with opinion rather than fact? When we believe our own billing and trust our own instincts over the knowledge and character of God?
We do it all the time. This happens whenever we tiptoe around God’s truth and lean in to our own understanding—those inklings that scratch the itch of what’s comfortable, what feels good, and what allows us to keep living the sin, doing the sin, all the while calling it something else. Calling it personal preference; calling it a justifiable choice because, after all, no one should have to change who he or she is to suit another human being.
“For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. The will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” –2 Timothy 4:4
**NEWS FLASH: We’re not here to suit one another. We’re not here to suit ourselves. We’re here to suit God. To honor him with our lives and with our willingness to bend our sin-sickened hearts to the process of holiness. It’s never been about us—these years we’re allowed on planet earth. It’s been about God and his allowance of those years for each one of us. We’re wasting precious time, friends, arguing about truth. Truth isn’t relative. Truth is truth; there cannot be multiple versions therein. There is only one way, one truth, and one life—Jesus Christ, Son of the living God (John 14:6). When we begin our search for truth with him, our confusions and personal preferences bow to the firm conclusions and preferences of God. When we begin our search for truth anywhere else we bow to our flesh, we serve it, and we risk permanent and eternal separation from God. . .
Is that a risk you’re willing to take? If so, keep living unto yourself and keep slinging your mud at those who bravely speak truth to your soul. It might feel good to get a little dirty from time to time, to enter the pit of confrontation all in the name of personal preference. To rub a little sludge in to your neighbor’s eye and to throw in a few kicks to the gut for good measure. Go ahead, live your independence and call yourself brave. Stand for intolerance and carry the flag of self-preservation. Shout loud. Shout now. Shout for all you’re worth. Give it all you’ve got while you have some got to give because the time is fast approaching when your stage, your platform, and your voice will be silenced by the stage and voice of the King. And when he speaks, there will be no denying the truth. Instead, there will be hell to pay.
Did God really say?
Yes, God really did say.
And so must I . . . say truth, say a few words from time to time. Why? Because I love God, and I want to honor the King with a life of service to his truth and his cross. And secondly, because I love you, and because hell is too high a price to pay for the lies you’re willing to boldly and self-assuredly live on this side of eternity.
There are right words and a right time to speak those words. Today is that time for me. Accordingly, I risk your confusion, your anger, your mud, and your condemnation. Better to risk yours than to know God’s . . .
Peace for the journey,