What is Truth?

This is a question that mankind has been struggling with all through history. How is "truth" defined? The Bible records how a certain man asked the question almost 2000 years ago. That man was Pontius Pilate.

John 18:38a
38Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth?...

Jesus had claimed to "bear witness of the truth".

John 18:37b
37...To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Today in the 21st century, many people believe that truth is relative. The notion of absolute truth is often discarded for this relativism. The modern conventional wisdom is that what is true for you may not be true for me. It is therefore up to each individual to decide what is true from their own relative position.

Imagine that you are about to take a drink of your favorite refreshment. I suddenly stop you from drinking and warn you that the liquid you are about to consume contains a lethal dose of arsenic and will kill you instantly. How will you react mentally? Will you interpret my statement as being my own personal perception of the truth and that what is true for me may not be true for you? Will you disagree with "my" truth and dismiss it as inapplicable to you? Or will you seek to ascertain whether I am telling the truth in an absolute sense or not? Will your mind attempt to judge whether my statement is correct or not?

Jesus explained that the truth had certain attributes. For example, truth can be "known."

John 8:32
32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

So truth is not a vague, mysterious concept subject to interpretation but rather it is discernable and well-defined.

Notice also from the above verse that truth has properties. In this case it is said to have the property of being able to make one free. Later in the passage, Jesus went on to explain that this freedom is from sin.

God's truth is also said to be able to "sanctify" believers, that is, to set them apart from worldliness for God's purpose. Jesus prayed for the Father to protect those who had received His word from the evil of the world.

John 17:17
17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

John 17:19
19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

The New Testament uses the word "truth" 109 times. The word "true" is used another 50 times. The word "lie" is used 9 times in the sense of falsehood and "liar" another 12 times. So truth is a major theme of the New Testament with no less than 180 references to truth or lies.

Just as there is truth and untruth in the physical realm there is also truth and untruth in the spiritual realm. Jesus explained to his disciples that they must worship the Father in spiritual truth. There is a right way to worship ordained by God which is founded upon spiritual truth.

John 4:23-24
23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul declares that God's anger is upon those who consider truth to be unrighteous, that is, those who call the truth a lie and a lie the truth.

Romans 1:18
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 1:25
25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 2:8
8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

In 2nd Thessalonians he goes on to say that those who reject the truth are deceived and perishing.

2nd Thessalonians 2:10
10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Where did all these lies whereby men are deceived come from? Jesus told some religious hypocrites that they come from Satan. Satan has an agenda of using spiritual deceit to destroy mankind.

John 8:44
44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Paul warned that in the endtimes men would turn away from the truth. They would look for teachers who would tell them what they want to hear. That is, this multitude of teachers would soothe their itching ears with easy-to-hear, unsound teaching. Those endtimes are here now.

2nd Timothy 4:3-4
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

The word "fables" in 2nd Timothy 4:4 comes from the Greek word "MUTHOS" which in this sense primarily means fiction. We get the English word "myth" from it. "Fables" are palatable and do not make people uncomfortable like truth does. They do not convict or require a change of heart.

2nd Timothy 3:7
7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Truth is associated with light, whereas deceit is associated with darkness. Those who do not have the truth are in darkness. They cannot see where they are walking. They are spiritually lost.

1st John 1:5-10
5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

So in order to be saved we must first acknowledge our sin and confess it to God. Then we must have a change of heart. The Bible calls this "repentance". It includes turning away from our sin. But notice that it is not our own righteousness that saves us, but rather "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." In other words, Jesus' death on the cross paid for our sins. But we must have this payment credited to us by receiving Jesus, the truth as our Lord and Saviour. Then we can begin to "walk in the light" of the truth.

John 3:21
21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Salvation then comes through believing in Jesus Christ and relying on His atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.

John 1:14-17
14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.
16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

The good news is that God has made the truth available to everyone so that they might be saved.

1st Timothy 2:3-4
3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

God has not hidden the truth in deep mysteries. It is not reserved for some elite few who can attain it through intense spiritual quests. God has plainly revealed the truth to everyone through His Word, the Bible.

James 1:18
18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Ephesians 1:13
13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

What is truth? Jesus declared that HE is the truth.

John 14:6
6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

So Jesus is the very embodiment of truth and the only way to God. Jesus Christ is truth.


All scripture taken from the King James Bible