I have a friend who is always asking questions following a sermon, a teaching, or a podcast cast and he goes something like this: “OK, now that we know this about God, what’s next? How do we take that truth and make it more personal?”
Truth, of course, never changes. It doesn’t change with trends or with each new generation. Truth is a constant dimension in our world. God is truth, and we know He never changes. So, with truth never changing, how does truth get incorporated into our lives?
The Psalmist said some powerful things in Psalm 15 and states there are ten things that God says is the kind of behavior that merits a person coming to stand on His holy hill:
1. Walks in integrity and works righteousness
2. Speaks truth in their heart
3. Does not slander
4. Does not do evil to their neighbors
5. Does not take up a reproach to their neighbors
6. Despises a reprobate
7. Fears and honors the Lord
8. Swears to their own hurt and does not change
9. They do not charge interest to money loaned
10. Does not take a bribe
There it is … truth lived out.
These are solid practices not fed by emotion, but are principles that are founded upon a solid base of commitment. No compromise to these ten. My friend would be happy to hear me put skin on truth.
Let me take it to the next step.
If this is the truth I am to live out, how can I ensure that this truth is what will go into me to stay. What I find about truth is that I know the principle, but I still have a tendency to compromise when the time comes for me to be tested by God. He will allow things to happen in my life where I may want to slander someone for a wrong committed toward me, or I will make a commitment and then when it comes time to fulfill that promise, I want to renege. I think once we learn about truth, then it is time to ask God to help that truth be marinated into our minds and hearts.
Here is a prayer pattern that I have gotten into the last few years:
1. Lord, forgive my sin and change me. I know what truth is; now help me to be a conduit of that truth no matter what. Lord change me.
2. Lord, help me to make my life an altar to You. I will make my life a place where I will sacrifice who I am and what I am to make Your name known and honored.
3. Lord, make me know your ways and teach me. As the Psalmist said, “make me know your ways.” This is my defined request that goes beyond just teach me, but make me. I give You permission to mold me like the potter and clay of Jeremiah Chapter 18.
4. Lord, teach me continually about the art of submission. To deny self, to pick up my cross, and to perpetually be in a state of following You.
5. Lord, help me know the difference between religion and relationship. Religion is wrong, but You are right. Help me know that religion has a way to teach what is right, but it can be self-serving, and even be a front for evil behavior.
Recently, I watched a movie called ‘Spotlight’ where a newspaper in Boston unraveled the corruption in the church where children were molested by priests. It was a troubling movie, but all the victims said, “He was a priest, why wouldn’t I trust him?”
God does not make us religious by practicing a set of rules and regulations that give us the perception that we are right with Him. Being right with God is not the practice of good morals, or doing good works for the poor, or just going to church. All are good, but the definition of relationship is not the religion you practice, but is the God you know who you say you serve. There are a lot of good religious organizations, but there is only one true God, and He is the God of the Bible. Do you know Him? That is the greatest question you will ever be asked on earth. Do you know the God of the Bible? His name in Hebrew is Yeshua, but he is commonly known as Jesus. Jesus prayed for His followers by making a specific statement:
John 17:17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
Early in its development, the church took this statement and made ways to keep people holy. They taught them to obey rules and how to follow the Ten Commandments, but they never taught them how to be in relationship with Him. They taught them knowledge, but they didn’t teach them wisdom. Knowledge is about the facts and wisdom is about the application. We know about God, (knowledge) but do we really know Him in surrendering our hearts and minds to Him (wisdom)?
As you can see, I am not a big fan of religion. I spent the first 20 years of my life in a religious system that only taught me knowledge about God. That experience changed once I found that God wanted more from my religious experience than just knowledge … He wanted a relationship with me. That is what changed my life, not my religious training.
God is all about a heart change, and without that nothing really changes. Without a heart change, religion is just a placebo and a false narrative that will not allow you to stand on His holy hill. Jesus is our truth, and nothing will satisfy a Holy God without Him.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler