For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. -3 John 3-4
Why should we care so much about the truth?
How concerned should we be about being deceived?
Is discernment really that important—that indispensable for life?
Doesn’t truth—as well as “doctrine” and discernment—cause division?
Isn’t it more loving to just drop our differences for the sake of unity?
Yes, the truth matters. Especially if we want to love God and others. And here’s why: truth leads us to the true God, to freedom, to love, and to untold blessings (Jn 8:31ff; 14:6; 1 Cor 13:6; 2 Jn 1-6).
On the other hand, deception always leads to destruction. When we are caught up in falsehood and error, it is not a matter of if we will be harmed; rather, it is only a matter of how much and in what ways the harm will come.
Effects of Deception
When you or I are deceived—particularly regarding what we believe about God, love, justice, life, the gospel, and how to overcome problems—this is what happens …
- We are separated from the truth. (cp Jn 1:1, 14, 17; 8:31-32; 14:6; 17:17; 2 Tim 2:14-18; 3:1-8; 4:3-4)
- We are set on one or more errant paths. (cp Is 44:20; Deut 30:15-20; Prov 2:12ff; Matt 7:13-26)
- We are traveling in a direction that leads away from truth, the true God, blessings, light, true love, and life. (Jer 7:24; Rom 1:22-32; 2 Tim 2:15-18; Jn 10:10)
- We are outside of God’s perfect design for life and blessings, and are likely, wittingly or not, going directly against God and His perfect protection, direction, and plans for joy and peace. (cp Deut 30:15-20; 32:4; 2 Sam 22:31-33; Ps 18:30; 19:7-11; Prov 30:5)
- We are set on a course toward counterfeits, sin, darkness, destruction, and even death. (cp Gen 3:1-7; Prov 1:32; 4:14ff; Matt 7:13-14; Lk 1:77-79; Rom 7:11; 2 Thess 2:9-12; Rev 20:10-15)
- We are not only robbed of what is right and good, we are often strongly convinced that the wrong and harmful way is right and good. (cp Gen 3:6; Prov 12:15; Is 5:20; Matt 7:21-23; 2 Tim 2:25-26)
- We will almost assuredly mislead and deceive others, thereby causing them untold harm, along with additional harm to ourselves. (Gal 1:6-9; 2 Tim 3:1-13; Jude 4-19; 2 Pet 2:1ff)
- The more we are passionate about any erroneous cause (e.g., a false gospel; love-not-based-on-truth; compassion-based-on-falsehoods; “justice”-that-is-actually-injustice), the more destruction we will cause—in our own lives, in the lives of others, in the Church, and in society as a whole. (Matt 7:13-26; 1 Tim 6:20-21; Phil 3:17-18; Is 1:4-5; Jer 9:3ff)—and the more this grieves God (Prov 17:15; Eph 4:30)
Is Anything More Important?
With all this in mind, what could be more important than knowing the truth and avoiding deception?
As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. -Daniel 9:13
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. -James 5:19-20
Is there anything more loving than to discern truth from falsehood, expose error, warn of dangerous deceit, and help others know the truth–and, therefore, escape destruction? (cp Phil 1:9-11; Eph 5:8ff; 2 Jn 1-12; Prov 24:11-12; 2 Tim 2:15-4:5; Jude 20-24)