Our actions arise from our convictions. Our convictions stem from our beliefs. Our beliefs reflect our view of truth. Wrong truth yields wrong beliefs, which yield wrong convictions and actions. So, what is truth? ◊
It’s an interesting thought. If we have a misunderstanding of anything, we can generate a response even over a lifetime or substantial period of our life that is based on wrong information. We got our facts wrong. We missed the truth.
The consequences can be trivial or significant. Minor or life altering. For instance, idolizing a sports or movie star hero and later finding out they are not a very nice person “in real life” will do no major damage other than bring sadness or disappointment. The impact on our life of misunderstanding or failing to know the real truth around some things or person, in this case, is minimal.
But what about bigger issues? Issues that impact our heart, mind, and will. Issues that drive deeply-held inner convictions that move us into action and direct the course of our life.
We act on what we truly believe. Our heart-felt convictions move us to act. Our convictions stem from our beliefs. Our beliefs reflect our view of truth. If we have the wrong truth, and there is such a thing, then that wrong truth yields wrong beliefs. And those wrong beliefs yield wrong convictions and actions.
One’s life can be built on wrong truth, like a house of cards. Or like a house built on sand versus on solid rock.
Truth does matter.
What Truth, Whose Truth?
Good question. Everyone should ask it of themselves and others. The opportunity for the receiving and dissemination of misinformation or wrong truth is clear. And this applies to all matters – religion, business, science, politics, history, and current events.
And any popular notion that “your truth” is real truth is actually bogus. Even if believed sincerely. As once wisely stated:
Sincerity is not a test of truth. We must not make this mistake: He must be right; he’s so sincere. Because, it is possible to be sincerely wrong. We can only judge truth by truth and sincerity by sincerity. (Jim Rohn)
This truth question was literally asked of Jesus by Pilate upon Christ’s arrest. Pilate, the Roman governor over the region of Judea, had heard people say that Jesus was a king. He wanted to get to the truth of the matter:
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. – John 18:37-38
Pilate really wanted to know and understand truth. It was standing right before him.
Jesus had earlier told his disciples about who He was relative to truth:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” – John 14:6-7
That’s a statement that should shake the foundation of what each of us hold up as real truth. That statement coming from one that many of us, Christian and otherwise, give nodding assent to his existence on earth and his good teachings.
In truth, we should always be wondering and asking “What is the truth?” “Who do I believe?” “Who is correct?” “Who is being honest?” “Who is actually lying to me?” Failure to exercise even a base-level of skepticism and discernment can lead to the pollution of any portion or all that is right, good, honest and true.
Is there a helpful way to wade through the noise on a path toward truth?
5 Keys to Discern Real Truth *
Yes, there is. Here are 5 key questions to ask yourself when confronted with information on any matter of import:
- Who’s Telling Me? – In other words, who or what is the source of this information you’re receiving? I’ve learned to accept the fact that any person, regardless of title or stature, may be very, very wrong on many, many things. They may be well-intentioned and sincere, but very incorrect. I’ve learned to be very picky about the source of information.
- What is Their Motive? – Behind every source of information is a motive. Even Jesus had a motive. It’s worth thinking through the particular motivation or driver behind the information you are receiving. This is not to say that most inputs derive from dubious motives; but rather to suggest one not accept all things at face value. Understand the “why” behind the message.
- What is Their Bias? – Assume there is always a bias or a leaning toward a particular point of view. That bias informs the point of view, which must be filtered by our own biases. Information that is good, right, bad, inaccurate, or wrong can come from all sides. Knowing the informational slant upfront is a key to any wise assessment of information flow or data.
- What is Their Worldview? – Jesus’ provocative statement to Pilate was misunderstood by the authoritarian leader. His perspective at that time did not understand the full context with whom and what he was dealing. A person’s perspective or worldview reflects their answers to big questions about life: 1) Who or what is God? 2) Who am I in context? 3) What is right and wrong? 4) What happens when I die? 5) What is truth?
- Am I Informed? – After assessing the source, motive, bias, and worldview of any entity presenting or delivering information, one should conduct their own homework on the matter. To merely believe one’s favorite information sources without further research is to potentially fall victim to misinformation or deceit. Deep research on both sides of the spectrum leads to a wiser and more knowledgeable perspective.
Implications of Misinformation, Misunderstanding, Wrong Truth
Think of this: Jesus was persecuted because of wrong religious doctrine perpetuated by the Jewish religious leaders. They failed to realize who He was. Yes, even today, church/religious doctrine can be wrong. The Romans persecuted, mistreated, and oppressed their subjects out of wrong governing policies based on power-keeping and disregard of human life. It’s human sin, practiced by more than just the Romans over human history. The Jewish people, as do the masses of today, followed wrong cultural whims not out of an interest in truth, but in reaction to popular trends and swing moods of the culture (“Crucify him! Crucify him!”).
And so, in essence, what is Truth? God is Truth. God is love. We sin. God forgives. Jesus is God in flesh. We are to forgive others as God forgives us who believe in Christ’s death as sufficient penalty. Go and sin no more.
Again, all actions stem from firmly-held convictions of our beliefs reflecting our view of truth. Which may be very wrong. And so truth matters, as wrong truth therefore yields wrong beliefs and convictions which can lead to wrong actions.
And as Jesus warned his disciples about the varied voices that would surround them: “See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4)
Do you understand Truth?
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. – 1 John 4:1-3
* NOTE: These 5 Keys originally appeared in Biblical Viewpoint, dated July 26, 2019: Are We Being Told the Truth?