Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted some concerns about truth and how easily we can be deceived. I want to end this series by focusing on truth and how to help ourselves and our kids embrace it. In a culture that wants us to believe there is no absolute truth, we need to hold on to what we know truly is Truth. Even if others are “trading truth for a lie” (Romans 1:25), we must not.
- Truth is a Person. This is a hard one to grasp and teach. Just like Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, Jesus is the Truth of God. We will never find the truth looking inside ourselves. We know the Bible teaches us what we should already realize: our hearts are deceitful! Our hearts lie to us, and we are so tempted to believe those lies. So, embracing the truth, means embracing Jesus. If we can help ourselves and our children embrace a relationship with Christ, reject the temptation to believe what we think is right, and dig into God’s word, we are on the right track. I find myself battling this when I rationalize a bad choice or want so much to be right in a situation until I hear the Holy Spirit reminding me of a verse that shoots down my arguments or reminds me to love my neighbor. I cringe when I hear others or myself say, “Well, I think…” followed by our take on something, especially when that thought contradicts what God’s word clearly says. Sometimes we are genuinely wrestling with God’s word and trying to understand it, but sometimes we are simply trying to rationalize rejecting God’s hard truth in a situation. I want my children to accept God’s word and not try to wiggle out of the uncomfortable. I want God to renew our minds so that we can recognize when someone is skewing God’s truth. We’ve all done it, haven’t we? “I’m not gossiping. I’m sharing.” “I can’t be around someone who believes what they believe. They are toxic.” “I know God won’t heal me because I’ve done too many wrong things in my life.” Or “I know God will heal me because He is a Healer. I just need to stand firm in my faith.” “If God were pleased with me, I wouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet—or my cat wouldn’t have died—or….” If our relationship with God is growing, we can trust that He will help us stand in truth and the knowledge of His word.
- God’s Word Can Be Trusted. We hear a lot of criticism today about God’s word. It just doesn’t fit well into our current culture, and when the two disagree, people really want to go with the culture. It’s easier. It’s more comfortable. And we don’t have to worry about cancel culture or ruffled feathers. However, God’s word can be trusted. It is relevant today as much as it has always been. It is God speaking to us. It is His voice in those pages, and He is guiding us through His word. That being said, we must understand God’s word correctly. We cannot translate every word according to the 21st Century understanding as I mentioned before. We cannot interpret it by our own culture. We must understand it as it originally was intended. Therefore, that does not mean we are to stone a child who is rebellious or sacrifice pigeons or any other animal to seek forgiveness. That also doesn’t mean that we should literally cut off our hand if we do something wrong. Some scripture was written specifically for a certain culture and time. Some is figurative. However, we don’t get to decide which is which. We must recognize what each book and verse is teaching us, and we must interpret it correctly or get the help of trustworthy Bible teachers to help us. The word of God can be trusted; however, people can’t always be trusted to interpret it correctly. This is why we are admonished to “test the spirits” of those teaching (1 John 4:1-6). We are to make sure what is being taught fits with all the Bible. The Bible is very clear that we are not to take away from or add to the scriptures, but we do need to understand them accurately.
- God Still Speaks to Our Hearts and Minds. Some believe God doesn’t speak to or guide us today outside of reading the Bible. He’s said all He’s going to say in and through Scripture. Anything beyond that is sinful. The Bible says, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27, NLT) So, God no longer speaks? The Bible just doesn’t say that. And my experience just doesn’t show that. Some think that if we “hear” from the Holy Spirit and act on what we sense He is leading us to do that we are trying to add to scripture. If someone is trying to add to scripture or change scripture, I definitely have a problem with that. However, obeying a prompting from the Holy Spirit is not changing what the Bible says or adding to it. If what we think God is telling us to do goes against what the Bible teaches, it is not God, but if God leads us to do something that is in line with the Word of God, we must obey. Teaching our children to be sensitive to that and to discern what we are sensing is important in their spiritual development. We may not even notice a person in our class until the Holy Spirit puts on our hearts to talk to her. We may not realize we’ve offended someone until the Holy Spirit reveals our mistake or how something we said was misunderstood, and now we can fix that or at least try to make amends. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God speak to us all the time if we will listen.
The Bible tells us the truth will set us free, and I believe that means free from the lies of our hearts and of the enemy. It also sets us free as followers of Christ. The freedom of His forgiveness, mercy, and grace is beyond any earthly understanding of freedom. We are free indeed (John 8:32, 36).
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NLT)
So, how do we help our children find and walk in truth?
- Read truth – read God’s word to them, but also read books that tell the truth and stay away from those that promote teachings contrary to God’s word. That why we are so careful about which picture books and board books we share with our children. The pictures have a great affect on how children understand the words we’re sharing. I remember when I was very young in church, the teacher was telling us the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent tempting them. In the picture, Adam was off taking a nap while Eve spoke with Satan. I could not understand why Adam was in trouble with God when Eve was the one who took the fruit and woke up poor groggy Adam and gave it to him to eat. I thought he probably didn’t even know what he was eating. That picture colored my understanding of the story until I read the scriptures putting that picture out of my mind. Adam was with Eve but never said a word. He was there and took of the fruit just as Eve did, willingly and silently. Then, the story made sense. So, be careful and read the truth.
- Speak truth – This is so hard sometimes! If we can try to think before we speak and make sure that the cliché we’re using is actually true, it would be great. We can fall into saying and repeating adages or other ideas that really aren’t true. Or we can speak in anger and say things that are untrue about our children. And we can speak in a well-meaning motivation to encourage our kids but mislead them into believing a lie. Ask God to help you speak the truth to your kids. I did. I still do. And I pray for the right words. I tend to be blunt, as you may imagine, and that can be hurtful in delicate situations. I pray for grace and for wisdom all the time. We all need to.
- Correct falsehoods – When our children are believing something that is untrue, we need to correct their thinking. Sometimes the best way to do this it to ask questions and help them recognize the lie for themselves. When I’m teaching children, I ask lots of questions, especially when teaching the Bible. When we get those Sunday School answers or worse, the typical heresies, we have a teachable moment to help them work through their thinking. If you ask how a person gets to heaven, most children will answer “by being good.” Walk them through that. What does “being good” mean and can we be good all the time? What do we do when we haven’t been good? Is all hope lost? Why did Jesus die if all we have to do is be good? Help them see the truth and embrace it, rejecting the lies.
- Encourage reality – Good parents encourage their children. We want them to understand that they can make plans and work toward a goal, but we don’t want to build false hope or unrealistic ideas. We need to be honest about hard work and about how difficult it can be to live the Christian life. Give them real hope and real encouragement. Spur them on to good works without flattery or falsehoods.
- Develop critical thinkers – This is why I LOVE the Foundations Worldview website I recommended in last week’s blog post. I’ve interviewed their founder on my podcast as well. She is brilliant at helping children develop critical thinking. If we help our kids develop critical thinking skills, they will, in a sense, be immunized against a lot of lies. They will be able to logically analyze what they are being taught and told. It’s an amazing skill and gift we give them when we teach these skills.
And then the basics for helping ourselves and our children stand strong in truth are what I refer to as spiritual immunity boosters.
- Daily pray for God to renew my mind.
- Daily read God’s word and apply scripture to my life.
- Pray, constantly and consistently.
- Memorize scripture.
- Repent immediately when a sin or lie is revealed.
I pray that we can live our lives with Truth, in truth, and holding on to a life of integrity in the midst of a culture of lies.