True-ish Ain’t True

Once we understand we are in a fight, we need to be suited up and ready for the devil’s schemes.  What kind of schemes?  Lies.  The devil is a liar.  Jesus said this about him in John 8:44 He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

The devil is a deceiver and counterfeiter.  He tries to blind us to the truth of Christ and the Word of God.  And he is the best at what he does.  Satan doesn’t come at us with a bold face lie.  That would be easily detected.  He uses trickeration, falsehood, and things that are true-ish.  A true-ish statement has some truth to it, but it is off the mark a few degrees. 

Ask any pilot, sailor, or Boy Scout with a compass and they will tell you that being off by just one degree will not get you where you need to go.  You will get lost.  And that is exactly what Satan does to us.  He does not have to get us to head south when we are supposed to head north.  He just has to get us to head a degree or two off of north and he will have accomplished his purpose.  When Satan wrestled with Jesus he used the Word of God in a true-ish manner (Matthew 4:6). A true-ish statement sounds good and can even cause people to have hope for themselves and others.  But in the final analysis, it is a lie. 

And our enemy has been playing this game since the beginning.  He did it with Eve and he did it with the early church.  Paul wrote the Galatians because they had believed something true-ish.  Paul asked them, “Who has bewitched you?” (Gal. 3:1) and “Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Gal 5:7).

And it continues today.  Here is an example of a true-ish statement: God is love and he would never send anyone to hell.  This statement causes all kinds of havoc among Christians today, and rightly so because the implications are immense.  It has led many to believe there is no hell or that God does not judge sin.  It is true, God is love.  He desires that no one should perish which is why He gave His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.  Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.  (John 3:16-17).  But we must not stop there lest we believe something that is true-ish and miss our mark.  Jesus continues by saying that whoever doesn’t believe in the Son stands condemned already (John 3:18).

Condemnation is where a person stands without faith in Christ.  Technically, God doesn’t send anyone to hell.  By refusing to believe in Christ, they are there already.  That is the result of sin. The statement is close but it is off a few degrees.  It easily deceives.  It is true-ish.

So how do we tell the difference between what is true and what is true-ish?  The same way Treasury agents learn to distinguish between a real bill and a counterfeit.  They do not study all the different counterfeit bills.  No, they spend their time studying the real thing.  By knowing the true bill intimately, they can spot a fake pretty easily.  The same is true for us.  The more we know the truth of the Bible intimately, the easier it will be to spot something true-ish.  For no matter how close a counterfeit might be, it is still a counterfeit and a lie.

As disciples in the fight, we must spend time in the Scriptures.  We must know what the truth of God’s Word says.  Otherwise we will be deceived and off course.  We will be like the Galatians, “bewitched and cut-off”.  But by knowing the Scriptures and discerning what is true and what is true-ish we will be ready to implement God’s battle plan for victory!  That’s what we discuss next.

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14 Comments

Filed under Beliefs, Bible, Discipleship, Doctrine, Uncategorized

14 responses to “True-ish Ain’t True

  1. Nancy

    I need a battle plan! I can’t tell what is true and what is tru-ish.

    • Nancy,
      Truth is a person, Jesus Christ. A good plan is to get to know Him and stand beside Him. The best way to do that is His Word. The more time we spend there, the less chance of us falling for the true-ish.
      I have been praying Psalm 25 recently. “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths, guide me in your truth, and teach me for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.” He is faithful to answer.

  2. Frances Cutshaw

    Mike! Love this so much. So needed and concise. May I add a thought? I would add that it is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth. There are many scriptures that can be interpreted several ways. You did get at this… but to spell it out… people need to invite the work of the Holy Spirit into their lives so that, in reading the Word and in walking-around-living, they are equipped to discern true from true-ish. Don’t you think? Again, thank you so much. Frances
    \

    • Frances – Yes, by all means. Thanks for your addition. Along with the Holy Spirit, we discern His direction with each other. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Jim Campbell

    “… by knowing the Scriptures and discerning what is true and what is true-ish we will be ready to implement God’s battle plan for victory! ” This is the part I have had the hardest time with. I look forward to your next post.

  4. I agree with the comments that it seems so hard to discern sometimes. I’ve been praying about it. I recently re-read the New Testament with the purpose of specifically looking at what Jesus did and said. I know it is all important and God-inspired, but I really wanted to hone in on Jesus’ words and actions. Honestly, it made me feel a little like we are missing the point as a body of Christ these days.

    Joani

    • Joani – if you had to boil it down to one point, what would it be? I know that is an impossible question, but still I would love to hear your thoughts.

      • It is hard for me to boil it down and I’ve been wrestling with why I felt the whole time I was reading that we weren’t getting it. It didn’t seem like how we were living. If I had to boil it down I think it would have to do with serving and loving. True service, not just check off the list things…and really loving our neighbor as ourselves. I also think churches have become much more inward (serving each other, trying to bring people to us, etc.) instead of outward (going out, being the church in the community). Not that inward stuff isn’t important, but it just seems to be a much larger % of what we do than what it seems to me Jesus did. Jesus seemed to DO more of the messages than SAYing the messages. The actions were the words. Another one of my new favorite James verses “…but be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it, and so deceive yourselves.” I feel like we/I do much more listening to the message and not as much living it out. I certainly don’t have it all figured out though:)

      • I also wanted to say that I don’t mean to be condemning anyone else. These are things I have been struggling with for myself and my actions.

      • Not at all. I don’t think anyone would read those comments and think that. Paul writes that faith, hope and love are the things that remain. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is for the Father to glorify the Son. All good stuff. Like I said, impossible question. We’ll keep walking.

  5. Owen Fulghum

    I hear you Mike. Yet the problem remains that we all run around with our earnest, heart-felt, seemingly spirit-inspired interpretations of Scripture – and come to loggerheads over “truth.” Pervasive interpretive pluralism – everybody gets to be their own pope (at least in protestantism).
    – Owen

    • Hey O! I agree with you. This is a problem. History is full of examples when one person gets it wrong (hence the Protestant Reformation). As Wesleyans, we rely on Scripture, but when that is difficult to interpret we also look to tradition, reason, and experience. As you know, Scriptures carries the most weight and personal experience the least, but they are helpful in discerning the truth. Also, Wesley considered “holy conferencing” as a means of grace. (For other readers: “holy conferencing” means small groups.) Others are necessary as Christianity is not a solitary religion. We are a body after all.

      • Owen Fulghum

        Thanks for the thoughts, Mike. I’ve struggled with the dramatic lack of ecclesial authority lately. I suppose God will be patient with our good interpretive intentions (via Wesley’s quadrilateral, holy conferencing, etc.), but I’m also nervous about the road such good intentions pave… And even though I don’t want to echo the Israelites as they kept begging for a king, I think I now understand how they felt.

      • I will always be honored to conference with you.

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