If we listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice, we will hear the voice of truth…
In today’s episode, Jordan explores why the ability to discern truth from lies is so vitally important, and how it’s actually part of the spiritual battle happening on Earth and throughout humanity, every single day.
Join Jordan Loftis, Editor of Short Daily Devotions, as he talks through the ways the Bible guides us in deciphering truth from lies in our world today.
Today’s devotion by Jordan Loftis, author of The Men With Bare Feet, host of The Bible Better Podcast, Bible Teacher at Valor Global Online School, and teaching pastor.
All right. How many of you think you are a good judge of character. I ran a little Facebook and Instagram poll here in the last couple days. And it’s interesting 100% of people who responded to the poll on Facebook Are you a good judge of character. They said, Absolutely. I’m a good judge of character 100% of people now on Instagram people are less confident which is interesting, they said, just a little over half of them said yeah I’m really good at judging character so I don’t know if there’s a huge difference between my Instagram and Facebook folks, but I think it’s because on Instagram I can’t see who it is who voted so maybe there’s a little bit of anonymity that makes them a little more honest.
Well, recently I was reading this book by a guy named Malcolm Gladwell it’s called talking to strangers, and he writes about this study that was done on truth telling and lying. And there were these researchers who got all these college kids together, and they stuck him in a room and had them take this test. Well some of the kids in the room were in on this study, and they encouraged their fellow test takers to cheat. And so after the exam. When they came out, the researchers had video equipment set up, and they interviewed these kids and they asked them, did you cheat on the exam. Some of them lied and said no I didn’t cheat when they actually did some of them told the truth, you know, no I didn’t cheat or yes I did cheat. And then what the researchers did and this was the point of the study, they took the footage and they showed it to these experts in human behavior I’m talking like psychologists and therapists, police officers. I think there was some intelligence agents right like there were these people whose whole job it is to understand the human psyche the human mind to understand human behavior, and to see these little tells when someone is lying or not I mean think about like a police officer it’s so important to be able to make those snap judgments like whether or not someone’s telling you the truth I mean it could be life and death The stakes are that high. Well, here’s what they found these professionals, got it right. 54% of the time, just over half of the time they were right. And they were wrong, almost half the time. This is crazy. If you think about it, that the best. You know the best analyzers of human behavior, the most incentivized it and analyzers of human behavior, got it wrong about half the time. And here’s the thing. We need to understand that is just normal folk. If the professionals get it wrong that often. Oh my goodness, I think we’re probably a lot worse at judging character than we think. So Facebook friends on the Paul, I’m sorry but you’re wrong, and Instagram friends, you’re pretty much right although you’re probably overestimating yourselves as well because I don’t think I’m friends with that many cops but I want to share a passage here from the letter of first john it’s chapter four verses one through six, and we’re going to look at why the ability to discern truth telling from lying is so vitally important. And it’s actually part of the spiritual battle happening on Earth and in in throughout humanity, every single day.
But here’s what the Apostle john wrote so many years ago he says, beloved, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets, that’s the liars, have gone out into the world. By this, you know, the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is coming the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard was coming, and is now in the world. Already, little children, you are from God and have overcome them. For he who is in the world is greater than or pardon me for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world. Therefore, they speak from the world and the world listens to them we are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of Truth, and the spirit of error. Now here’s the thing. We need a touchdown outside of ourselves to test these spirits, because we are not good on our own. Under our own power at telling the truth from telling lies, we are so prone to getting taken in by lies now a touchstone. It was also called an assayer Stone, back in the day and here’s what it was for. It was this. It was this special rock and what they would it was like a black rock usually, and they would take gold, and they would rub it on this rock and they would take other metals and rub it on this rock. And here’s the idea. When people were bringing to use gold to buy or sell it to melt it down or whatever. These Sayers, they would test and see if it was really gold or not. And this touchstone would tell them it would show. Hey this is real gold. Okay, we can do the transaction, or it would show it’s counterfeit or think about today it’s like money right when you drop a 20 or $100 bill if you’ve ever worked in retail, I worked in retail for a long time. We got told, if it was over a certain amount of money or if it was around the holidays. We had to test the money with that little pen right and then it would turn one color. If it was real and then it would turn another color if it was fake and in fact, one time I actually found, like $100 bill that was fake, but I don’t think it was the guy’s fault, I think, well, who knows I might have been, I might have been wrong I’m not a good judge of character according to science. So, I actually found a counterfeit bill I never would have known it had I not had something outside of myself that unequivocally showed this is true. And this is false and what john is showing us is that we are involved in a great struggle, and the stakes are eternal. And what is the the arena that we’re fighting in it is truth, and the lies. So what we need to understand is that truth in information is actually spiritual in nature and I think one of the great lies actually of our modern culture especially here in the West. Is that the natural world is all there is. right. What we see around us the river that I was walking by this morning the geese that were flying overhead the sunrise and the grass and the dirt beneath my feet, all of that stuff. That is all there is, right, we just live in a natural world, and there’s nothing spiritual about it. And so, there’s nothing, necessarily, moral or nothing spiritual behind information but what the Word of God shows us is that is false. There is actually spiritual power and a spiritual agenda behind information and what I don’t want this to encourage us to wear our tinfoil hats, all the time and be a mega skeptic of everything everybody says like. Did you really have a cheeseburger for lunch yesterday, are you in line with the devil, and I am to me right I’m not encouraging us to just be the skeptics.
However, what I am saying is just repeating what john said that we it is vital that we test the spirits because there is a spirit of truth. That is the Holy Spirit. That is from Father God, that is from Jesus the Creator, the Spirit of truth that he sent us. And then there is a spirit of lies and that is of our father the devil because if we wind the clock, all the way back to the beginning. Did you know that there was actually a sin committed before the garden before Adam and Eve ever fell. There was a sin, and it was from area it was committed by Lucifer. Remember, the Devil Satan he was the very first sinner. And he had aspirations to become like God he leads a rebellion against God, then he gets his behind warped and kicked out of heaven. And then, as the serpent enters the garden and deceives Eve. You see the reason why we are in the predicament we are in in the world today. The reason why there is sin. The reason why there is everything evil that we see this fallen world. It’s all because we believed a lie. And so what you’ve got to understand is that truth is eternally important. It is eternally important. The reason why the world is falling today is because we believe and then acted upon a lie. And what john is showing us is that there’s not just sort of lies floating around that we might believe, but that there are active agents of the liar whose native tongue is only to lie. There are active agents, looking to deceive, and this world is filled and powered by lies and the family of God is filled and powered with truth, but we are not capable on our own power to discern these spirits and so what john gives us, is he gives us a test. All right. He gives us a test. And here’s the test that he shares with us. All right, he says, By this, you know, the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God, this is the spirit of the Antichrist, that’s that’s the spirit of the devil the original liar which you heard was coming and is now in the world, already. So, what we see as the basic test is to see is this motivated by a worldview that says, Jesus came and incarnated into human history. God became a man lived a perfect life that we could not live died the death that we should have died and was raised from new life. If that is the foundational world view, then we are headed toward the truth that does not mean that there aren’t going to be some disagreements there aren’t going to be some things that were wrong about occasionally, but what john is saying is the truth will always emanate from a worldview that holds that at the center of all things that Jesus is who He said He was and is who the Word of God said he was this is the touchstone. Right. This is the stone that shows us is this information gold, or is it fool’s gold is it fake, is it false, is it counterfeit. This is the foundation of all truth. And what’s fascinating is that in john chapter, 18 verses 35 through 37 Jesus has been. Jesus is being questioned by Pontius Pilate, you remember this right before he was right before he was crucified in punches pilot is talking to him asking him who he is and you know, are you a king then And Jesus says, Well, you know, you say, I’m a king. But he said what I came to do was to bear witness to the truth and all who are of the truth, listen to my voice, and then pilot says what is truth and he scoffs at it. Right. What we see is that Jesus came his mission on this earth was to bear witness to the eternal truth, and that truth was represented in and through him and the gospel is the foundation of that truth that is our touchstone that is the way by which we test the spirits, not our gut. Right, not just our intuition or inclination, but that it is holy spirit powered, and the gospel lies at the center.
Now here the stakes. And I’m going to share a couple stories here, that sort of show the stakes that we’re at because I think, I think it’s easy to see, you know, the Battle of truth and error when we’re talking about the gospel specifically right when we’re looking at false religions when we’re looking at cults. They start, I call it the heresy test, there’s there’s this heresy test there’s this filter, we can sort of run things through if anybody’s talking about spiritual matters. There, there are really four things that you can filter it through to see are we on track or are we off track, and it’s going to distort Orthodox Christian views on one of these four things number one who is God who is God who is the eternal Almighty Father, the creator of heaven and earth. Number two, who is Jesus, who was his son is he, part of the Trinity is he, one with the Father. Did he incarnate right this is what john is showing us at that heresy test is are they distorting the person quality characteristics and importance of Jesus. So who is God who is Jesus. And then the next one. How can we be saved. All right, this is a vital vital component because if anybody starts messing with salvation, in a way that the word of God doesn’t show us and tell us. We know we’re getting off base we know we should have red alert Red Alert danger, run away. Okay. Run away. And often these heresies will be works based right you have to earn your way into God’s favor. Or they’ll, they’ll they’ll be Universalist that it doesn’t matter, everybody gets a free pass there’s no heaven, there’s really no how or other is is heaven that there’s, there’s no way to really be in any kind of eternal danger. It’s just as universalism you do you bro, you do you says, and you’ll be good, right, how can we be saved. Are they messing with that. And then the fourth thing is, what is the nature of Scripture. Right. Is it the Word of God is it the infallible inerrant Word of God that means the truth that it expresses, is it perfect. And without error. And we would say yes, we would say yes. And that’s a whole each one of these is like worthy of the million books that have been written about them. Okay. But these are the four filters you can you can sort of run any religious or spiritual claim through who is God who is Jesus. How can I be saved. And what is the nature of Scripture, and if it doesn’t align with God’s Word on any of those points you know it’s a lie. You know it is a lie and it’s a heresy. And remember it is spiritually motivated, there is a demonic force behind it. That is trying to lead you. And any of the hearers astray. You know, and a lot of times today. what you’ll hear is I’m spiritual. You know, I’m a spiritual person but I’m not defined by one belief. Few years ago I was talking to a friend who had fallen away and fallen away from from the church, and we were, we were talking at coffee one morning and he was talking about he was talking like this he was like you know what, I just know there’s a spiritual realm, but I just, I sense it and experience it as this energy in this light and and that’s that’s great but what he was really doing is sort of describing like this new age view this this essentially this Star Wars view that there’s just this energy that God is this energy that permeates all of the universe of the world, you’ll see this a lot in like self help literature and New Age literature on the universe with the capital you Oprah talks like this right, there’s a lot of people who believe that there’s this just this impersonal sort of energy that we can tap into and that connects us all. And what does that do that messes with all of these, who is God. Right. God is not a person. God is an energy who is Jesus Well Jesus was just a really nice smart prophet guy. How can we be saved. You just want to be one with all of the world and of humanity generally be a nice person and often here’s the thing. These are often very nice kind people. Okay, I’m not saying that they’re they’re, you know inherently bad people in in just like a social kind of way like they’re really nice to spend time around a lot of times they volunteer they do nice things, but they are wrong about something critical and that is how can we be saved. And then what is the Bible, it’s a religious textbook that sometimes has helpful stories and myths, but is not fundamentally born of unwavering truth. Now do you see how this works. Do you see how this heresy test this filter works if you run worldviews through these, you’re going to quickly discern truth from error because you have a touchstone that is based on God’s word that is outside of yourself and your own judgment. Okay, so there are the eternal stakes, right there.
But there are also these personal stakes of discerning truth from lies because it happens on this macro cultural stage, and I think a lot of times it’s easy for us to sort of see the greater war being fought without seeing the internal and very personal battle, that’s being waged for our own hearts, minds and souls, there’s one of my favorite verses is from Job chapter, 34 verse three, and it’s one of one of Job’s buddies who he’s talking to is giving one of his soliloquy is. But he said something very interesting he says the ear tests words as the tongue. Tastes food. Right. Did you know that you have a palate for truth that your ears crave something. And fundamentally your ears will crave truth, or they will crave lies. Has anybody ever heard of something called a Somali a, it looks like Somalia, there’s there’s an amazing documentary that was on Netflix about it a while ago now. I’m not wholesale endorsing the use of alcohol okay that’s you know your conscience between you and the Lord drunkenness is a sand all that stuff, but Somalis are incredible what they are is they are the four most wine experts in the world. And, and here’s what they do for years and years and years. They study wine and they refine their palates they get so good at this, that they can be basically blindfolded right they don’t have any idea where the ones from what kind of wine, it is they can have their eyes closed, they can taste some wine. And it’s not just that they can tell you is this a red wine or a white wine. They can be like, this is, this brand of wine from this vineyard, and it is this kind of grape, it was grown in this kind of soil in this specific Valley in France, in this specific year, and it has this kind of Ph. in this kind of acidity, and they are so good, because of their training, they can test it and tell you exactly where in the world these grapes were grown and where this wine came from and what we need to do is be small yeas of truth. We need to have that refined palate for truth because we are constantly devouring and consuming God’s word. We are constantly pursuing truth we are constantly pursuing Jesus, who is the one who is called Faithful and True right he’s got that written on his legs when he comes back at the end it’s tattooed there. He is faithful and he is true. He is the one who came to bear witness to the truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth God’s Word is truth that will lead us into all truth that saves. And what Job’s friends says is the ear tastes words as the palate tests, food, right or the ear tests words is the palate. Tastes food, and we need to be these small years of truth, having this touchstone outside of ourselves, but also understanding that the more we press in and listen for the voice of God that we know through a largest stories the still small voice, the still small voice. That wasn’t in the thunderstorm that wasn’t in the Maelstrom that wasn’t in the fire in the flame. That wasn’t in the wind, it was in the whisper. It was in the whisper if we quiet, our hearts. Before scripture. If we listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice. We will hear the voice of truth. And we will also be given greater discernment to test truth from lies to discern what is the spirit of truth and what is the spirit of lies. And now let’s make this more personal. Because we see this cosmic battle playing out. But I want to show you that it all started with a very personal battle in the garden, it was the serpent deceiving. Eve, this one on one. Whisper and dialogue the liar the accuser talking to her deceiving with an intent to take her down and harm her. And what I want you to understand is that lies have at their their fundamental core lies have the intention to harm and sometimes when we lie we think we’re protecting, but we are actually harming ourselves and we’re harming the people that we lie to. And when we’re susceptible to lies. We are susceptible to harm. Because when we start believing lies, we actually start seeing the world in a way that it actually isn’t there was a girl. A number of years ago in a city we used to live in. And she was in high school, she was a captain of a hockey team she was straight A student valedictorian. Absolutely. This beautiful precious girl I mean just very pretty had everything going for her. But she didn’t see it fundamentally she believed that she was ugly, that nobody loved her, that nobody accepted her that nobody wanted her. And she believed this for years and years and years and she started self harming. She was cutting. She was struggling deeply with depression. She was struggling deeply with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Until tragically, she finally did. She finally did die by suicide. And it’s so heartbreaking I met her mom is just so devastating and heartbreaking because what this girl did, and I have little girls. So, this is very close to home for me. She would take Sharpie and she would write on her body. She would write these lies on her body about herself, but you’re ugly. Nobody loves you. Right, like all these all these terrible, terrible words that you know I won’t even say, because you can imagine. Every derogatory phrase you could possibly think of. she wrote it in Sharpie on her skin. She had so believed these lies about herself that she had actually carved them out on her own body and she had replaced an identity of truth that she was beautiful that she was loved that she was a child of God that she was made in the image of God that her family, loved her that her friends, loved her that she mattered that she had a purpose. She had exchanged that identity for these lies. And it led her to her tragic death. Now there are so many things going on with mental health, chemical imbalances and things I don’t want to be totally reductionist with this but you have to understand what is at stake for us personally and so I want to level this question to you.
As we bring this in for a landing here. What is your palate for truth. What is your level of discernment for truth, not just about the cosmic battle. Right, the heresy filter the religious and philosophical questions the cultural questions. But what is your palate for truth when it comes to that still small whisper. Can you discern God’s voice from the world’s voice from the demonic that would whisper lies about your own identity into your ears. What are the lies that have been told to you that you’ve internalized and believe that you have to earn your way to love God’s favor that grace is for everybody but you that you’re unloved that you don’t matter that you don’t have a purpose that you’re stupid that you’re incapable of making an impact in the world that you’re incapable of change that you’re just the way you are. That you don’t need to forgive someone right whatever denial, it is whatever lie, it is that might have invaded your mind and heart. I want to give you the opportunity this morning to open that up to the light of the Holy Spirit who will gleam and shine and can melt those away. But fundamentally, here’s the path to it. It is to running your truth, test on everything. And it is to asking yourself what is my diet of information and of truth. Do I spend the most time consuming news and consuming media and consuming everything with an opinion that’s just trying to monetize my attention that’s trying to get me addicted that’s trying to get me to binge on it, do I spend more time with Netflix than I do. With the God of all eternity. Do I spend more time on fox news or CNN or MSNBC than I do. In the word. And I want to challenge you. For these last days of this year before we get to the year 2020 dig into God’s word. In fact, you can join me I’m doing a complete media fast besides some social media stuff and besides some things for work. I’m not going to be watching any movies any TV. I’m not going to be watching the news. I am going to spend more time letting my palate, be developed by God’s word and by his voice in my ear than I am. The world’s, you know why because there is an eternal battle raging on for truth, and for lies, but there’s also a very personal one. Where it’s so easy to begin to believe the lies about yourself and your identity that will keep you in very dark places and I’m telling you, you have the opportunity to be released from that today. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth. And God’s children will listen to him. Develop your palate for truth and weigh, everything against the Word of God. And here’s how I’ll close. Remember that john also tells us something profound greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world, you guys if you read the end of the book, we win those who are of the truth when there’s a reason why Satan got kicked out of hell, or Satan got kicked out of heaven. And Father God didn’t Satan’s rebellion failed and it will always fail, his campaign of lies will fail. In the end, and so be encouraged that even though there is a powerful demonic force in being that is constantly, constantly working to deceive us greater is He that is in you that he that is in the world and you can take that to the bank, my friends, you can take that to the bank because it comes directly from the Word of God. So listen to Jesus. Don’t listen to the world. Listen to the Word of God. Don’t listen to the word of the newscaster press in to listen and hear the still small voice, even in all the noise of this world.