“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” (John 8:31-32)
How many of us can really say we have excellent "stick-to-it" determination at the beginning of a project or task? Most of us, right? We don't usually start out with "I don't think this is worth finishing, but I'll start it". We usually will say something like, "This is a big task, it may take me more than one day to accomplish, but nothing ventured, nothing gained." Freedom is often the result of determination. If you have spoken with a former of prisoner of war, they will share the things they held onto in their minds, hearts, and spirits which helped them make it through till their release. You will hear of the tremendous determination and doggedness required to hold on when things really don't show any signs of changing. I think true freedom is based on how determined we are to get and keep the truth inside us.
Truth sets free all who hold to the teachings of truth. Get truth inside you and focus on it long enough - you will begin to see freedom breaking upon you like the new dawn! What are the conditions of freedom? No one finds truth with the heart and mind determination to pursue deception. When we want truth, we seek truth, but finding it down Deception's Alley will not be likely. We turn from deception to find the pathway to truth. Once we find the pathway to truth, we have to continue on the path. In the most literal sense, this is obedience. The conditions of freedom are seeking and obedience. Truth has a purpose - to impact our lives. The way we are living, the things we are doing, the words we are speaking.
Truth comes the idea of "propositional" truth - the formal statement of a truth to be demonstrated or an operation to be performed. In this regard, we have things like doctrine, theology, and instruction. The problem with living by "propositional" truth is the lack of impact it makes on our lives. We can believe there is a God, that he is pleased with good actions, and displeased with wrong actions. What is missing? The power and ability to live this way! Propositional truth needs to be combined with personal truth in order for it to impact our lives - it has to become part of who and what we are, impacting what we are doing.
Truth is a living thing - not a studied topic. Truth is not just a list of facts - it is a playbook of well-orchestrated plans which will drive the enemy back and ensure we continuously hit the goal line. Is it possible to be "smart", but dumb at the same time? We can have all kinds of "topical" knowledge but lack the wherewithal to actually use any of the truth! We can have the "knowledge", but still come up lacking. Unused knowledge follows the "use it or lose it" theory. Don't use it, and you will lose it! Truth is only as good as when it is used. Time in the Word of God is great. We should get into it regularly. Yet, time in the Word is really not fruitful if we don't bring it before Jesus and ask him how to use it in our lives. What we can learn from the passage we take in is often determined in those moments of contact we make with Jesus - where he begins to show us how the principle taught can become a way of life for us. To the observer, this is what makes the difference between being genuine or phony. Phony people profess (they have propositional truth) - genuine people practice (they have truth which sets them free).
The group in scripture who probably came as close to "illustrating" propositional truth were the Pharisees. They gave all kinds of "show" of truth, but did truth really change their lives? Not really. They had knowledge but lacked wisdom. Wisdom is the outcome of applying what you have been taught. Knowledge does not ensure right living - only the application of knowledge combined with the presence of the "Teacher" in our lives will ensure right living. Truth only finds anchor in our hearts when we act upon it. Truth moves us to the degree we embrace it and put it into practice in our lives. We can believe right and still act very wrong! The missing ingredient is obedience! Obedience is only possible when we are willing to be challenged by the truth. We can make truth a way of life, or we can add truth to our life. These are quite different concepts. Only one will impact the course of our actions - when we make truth our way of life. Truth really is a person - Christ. We pursue a person - embrace him - then we live out truth. Just sayin!
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