#MeToo, addiction recovery, calamity, christianity, church, confession, denial, Diet of Worms, doubts, Edict of Worms, faith, false doctrine, God's promises, God's will, God's Word, grace, Internet trolls, Jesus Christ, molestation, objective truth, objectivity vs. subjectivity, pietism, post-modernism, prayer, rape, redemption, relationships, religion, satan, secular humanism, sexual abuse, sickness, sovereignty of God, speaking truth to power, speaking your truth, spiritual deception, spiritual warfare, theology, tribulation, truth, unbelief
A couple of phrases have arisen of late within modern pop culture and political discourse. Those phrases are “speaking your truth” and “speaking truth to power.” So let’s dig into the concept of “truth” and see what we discover.
The subtitle here is actually repetitively redundant.
Truth IS objective.
There is no “my” truth or “your” truth, only “the” truth, period. Truth is not subject to personal preferences, desires, needs, frame-of-reference, ethnicity, political affiliation, sexual orientation, family history, genetics, skin color, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, or any other of a host of internal or external factors.
Truth simply is.
Why do I say this?
Because once you make the faulty assumption truth is based upon one or more of the previously mentioned factors, you have entered into the realm of personal opinion aka subjectivity. And, of course, once human reason comes into the picture, all limits are off because each and every one of us has an opinion determined by our hopelessly flawed human reasoning, all of them closely held, utterly cherished, and vociferously defended against all comers.
However, truth is the rock against which all opinions crash headlong without mercy or consideration of personal feelings or background. As the late Winston Churchill once stated,
The truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it, ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is!
I’ve already delved into this topic in much greater depth in my previous article in this series, so let’s move on.
The implacability of truth is nowhere better demonstrated than in the Bible. Jesus, God-in-Sandals Himself, stated:
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. — John 17:17
Whenever it comes to topics where the Bible is specific, such as God’s love, mercy, grace, judgment, intolerance towards sin, requirements for salvation, and a host of other subjects, our human opinion matters not one iota. For example, the fraudulent concept that “all roads lead to God” is utterly nuked by Jesus’ claim earlier within His selfsame upper-room discourse to His disciples prior to His crucifixion:
Jesus said to him, “I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. — John 14:6 AMP
No matter how many people may decry this claim, no matter how loudly and passionately they do so, no matter how deeply they feel otherwise, this is. “…incontrovertible. Ignorance may deride it, malice may distort it, but there it is!”
Tragically, this kind of opposition to the Truth is not limited to unbelievers. Thousands of our brethren indeed believe Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life, have submitted to His lordship over their lives, and have experienced the new birth, yet live in denial of much of God’s Word through either biblical illiteracy and/or religious traditions of men.
As a result, they live defeated lives. By this I mean that Satan keeps them in spiritual/emotional bondages as well as afflicting them with calamities, sickness/disease, financial lack/poverty, and family strife/division with no hope of deliverance. All this despite the Bible clearly describing how Jesus suffered a horrific price to free us from such afflictions, imparting it all to us as a free gift inherent to salvation.
Doubt vs. Unbelief
Doubts occur whenever our trust in God’s truth is challenged beyond our current comfort zone and our feeble human minds are struggling to wrap themselves around whatever it is God has promised or commanded of us.
Doubts are no way sinful.
Doubts are to our faith as gravity is to our bodies — in the same way we develop our physical muscles by opposing gravity, we develop our “faith muscles” by opposing our natural doubts as well as the negative circumstances which cause them. Doubts and negative circumstances define the sea in which we humans swim and is as absolutely normal to us as water is to a fish — the godly process of overcoming them by faith and allowing Him to mold us into Christlikeness is what defines the journey of a Christ-follower.
Never allow the devil to put you under condemnation for your doubts!
Unbelief, on the other hand, is a sin, period. We commit this sin whenever we hear the revealed will of God for our lives and respond — using whatever excuse(s) we can muster — by deliberately refusing to trust and obey. Unbelief is the essence of self-lordship, an implicit declaration that we know better than God does on any given matter. That didn’t fly in Eden and has never flown since. Unbelief is at the core of the proclamation, “I’ll believe it when I see it!”
An excellent example of unbelief found in the Bible is the children of Israel during their exodus from Egypt. From the banks of the Red Sea onward for another 9 or so challenges they faced — culminating in the spies’ report on the Promised Land — rather than believing God’s promises concerning His destiny for them, their consistent mantra was, “You just brought us out here to die — we would have been better off back in Egypt!” or words to that effect. Finally, God got fed with them and gave them what they confessed: death in the desert — that generation was kept in the Sinai wilderness for 40 years until they died off and their children could take up where their parents had failed so miserably. The Book of Hebrews declares it was their unbelief which precluded them from entering into God’s rest.
All that being said, we are not allowed to sit in judgment or mock them over their failures because we’re no better. We, too, have a lamentable and inevitable tendency to do and say precisely the same kinds of things with pretty much the same attitude! Taking a person out of slavery is much more easily accomplished than taking slavery out of a person — our corrupt flesh keeps wanting to return to its comfort zone of slavery to sin, rather than embracing our freedom in Christ Jesus. This is why, barring intervention, the vast majority of abuse victims return to relationships with their original or other abusers — that’s what they know and are used to and they don’t know how to be in a healthy relationship.
It is far, far easier to retreat to the corrupt traditions of men — our religious comfort zone, if you will — than it is to step out in faith upon the truth of God’s Word.
Speaking Truth to Power
The pop culture definition of this phrase evokes the image of a solitary hero bravely standing up to a corrupt and/or abusive earthly authority figure or organization. However, like many such terms, the entire matter is not quite so narrowly defined.
One of the salient moments in human history where this classic stereotype actually took place was in the life of Martin Luther, one of the founders of the Protestant Reformation. In 1521, he appeared before an Imperial Diet (a court presided over by the Holy Roman Emperor himself) in Worms, Germany, standing accused of the capital offense of heresy. After making his defense, he concluded with:
Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand, I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.
The verdict and punishment for his humble refusal to submit to the corrupt doctrines of Roman Catholicism was defined in the Edict of Worms, which officially declared him a heretic and outlaw:
For this reason we forbid anyone from this time forward to dare, either by words or by deeds, to receive, defend, sustain, or favour the said Martin Luther. On the contrary, we want him to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic, as he deserves, to be brought personally before us, or to be securely guarded until those who have captured him inform us, whereupon we will order the appropriate manner of proceeding against the said Luther. Those who will help in his capture will be rewarded generously for their good work.
This was the Renaissance equivalent of a wanted-dead-or-alive poster. Had he been captured, Luther would have been tortured and burned alive at the stake.
Speaking Truth to God
When we — as born-from-above believers submitted to His gracious and benevolent rule — speak Truth to power where that Power is Almighty God, we are speaking His language because He is the Truth. Because we are speaking His language from a position as adopted sons and daughters of the Most High, we can approach Him with great confidence:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:16 (emphasis mine)
Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. — Hebrews 4:16 AMP
- boldly (parrhesia)
- freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech; openly, frankly, i.e without concealment; without ambiguity or circumlocution; without the use of figures and comparisons; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance; the deportment by which one becomes conspicuous or secures publicity
- the quality of being open to more than one interpretation; inexactness
- the use of many words where fewer would do, especially in a deliberate attempt to be vague or evasive
When we speak God’s Truth to God, we are agreeing with God. This is the essence of the word “confess:”
- confess (homologeo)
- Literally: same (homo) words (logeo)
to say the same thing as another, i.e. to agree with, assent; to confess or profess; to declare openly, speak out freely
So when we confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9) or one another (James 5:16), we are agreeing in faith with God or others that we have behaved selfishly and need/desire forgiveness. When we confess any other of God’s promises (e.g., Romans 10:9-10), we are also agreeing in faith with God, in this specific example for salvation.
All of God’s promises work in this fashion.
Speaking Truth to the Powers of Darkness
As I have covered in depth in a previous article on the whole armor of God, the Sword of the Spirit is the spoken Word of God. When paired with the Shield of Faith, the two comprise our active weaponry “…against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places” (Ephesians 6:12b AMP). Because our weapons are truly effective only through training and practice coupled with a stubborn, no-holds-barred determination to win, it behooves us to not only know about this armor and what its components are, but also to develop the skill and confidence required to wield them effectively.
The number of people — even professing Christians — held in thrall to our accuser, terrified of his power, reticent to oppose him because it might arouse his anger or attract demonic attention to themselves is beyond counting. Between superstition, ignorance of God’s Word, the teachings of false religions, and/or the feckless traditions of men, such folks cower in fear of the demonic. The idea of standing against the satanic realm is an alien concept — which is precisely where the powers of darkness want to keep them — so most folks try to placate them, ignore them outright, or attempt to disprove their existence. Even more tragic are those believers who erroneously accept demonic attacks as God’s will for them.
The Truth of the matter is this:
- Jesus won victory over death, hell, and the grave through the cross and the empty tomb.
- When He did so, He also won absolute authority over the entire universe.
- He delegated His authority in this earth to His Church.
- Only when we are in submission to Him is that authority effective. The corollary to that is whenever we operate in self-lordship, we have rendered ourselves powerless over the enemy.
- Because of Jesus’ completed work, and by His shed blood, we are therefore fighting a defensive battle, defending what Christ has already won for/promised to us, rather than an offensive one where we trying to obtain something.
- The only conquest aspect in this equation is where we believers are required to renew our minds to these facts, overcoming our natural doubts and the unbelief inherent to our corrupt flesh nature, all as part of the sanctification process.
- So when we are speaking Truth to demonic powers, we are in fact already in total victory over them — we are enforcing God’s will in this earth and defending what He has already given us.
All this gives us absolutely zero room to be arrogant. It is all by grace and we did precisely zip, nada, bupkis to earn or deserve it. A bunch of Jesus’ disciples got a little cocky after one of their missions trips and got spanked for it:
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” — Luke 10:17-19
The bottom line on this is: whenever we are humbly submitted to the Most High, whenever we speak to the powers of darkness to enforce God’s Word/will in the earth, they must obey.
Speaking Truth to Earthly Authority
We see numerous examples of this in the Book of Acts where the apostles and other members of the early church stood before rulers and fearlessly answered for their faith in Christ much as Martin Luther did. From what I can see from the New Testament, bold humility is our proper response to earthly authority, whether that authority be inside or outside the Church.
- a modest or low view of one’s own importance
Humility does not imply or require obedience to an authority when to obey would be sinful. For example, we can humbly refuse a command to practice racial discrimination — anti-Semitism comes immediately to mind — ranging from simply reporting their existence to active bullying to murdering them in gas chambers.
Such civil disobedience expresses itself as, “I recognize your authority to tell me to do thus-and-so, but I must obey my God Who commands me to do otherwise.” It then accepts the legal consequences of that disobedience as persecution for righteousness sake, receiving by faith the heavenly blessings bestowed through it.
Speaking Your Truth
As we have already discussed in my previous article in this series, our current post-modern, secular-humanistic moral environment is all about eliminating moral absolutes, hence the origination of this phrase. However, there is a godly, morally correct interpretation to this phrase which often gets lost in the shuffle, especially when being addressed by Christendom (the organized institutional expression of Christianity in the earth).
That godly version takes place whenever we proclaim our own story, our history, our experience of God’s grace, mercy, and goodness towards us — our testimony, if you will. This can take as many forms as there are people.
God Himself is far more interested in the level of Truth residing inside of us than He is in our lip-service to the Truth outside of us. David once said:
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts… — Psalm 51:6a
One of the hallmark characteristics of folks who have suffered various forms of abuse, persecution, violent crime — especially rape and molestation — depression and other brain-chemistry challenges, and any form of addiction is a tendency to hide the truth of these events from others — God included, though truly nothing is ever actually hidden from Him. Such hiding generally takes the form of, “If they only knew what I had done/experienced, they would think less of me” or words to that effect.
The most extreme case of “truth hiding” is when we hide the truth from ourselves aka denial. I’ve gone into the topic of denial elsewhere here at Miscellaneous Ramblings in my series on addictions as well as contrasting faith from denial in my series on prayer, so I will let you explore them at your leisure.
This hiding of truth is one of the key weapons wielded by our psychopathic arch-enemy, Satan, to hold us in bondage through isolation. Here is a universal truism for you:
Anything in the light is subject to God’s rule because “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)
The corollary is that anything in the darkness is subject to Satan’s rule. God respects our free will and lets it remain there untouched until we choose otherwise.
The key to beginning and sustaining our journey into freedom is to bring everything we are, have experienced, and are afraid of into the light. Which leads us to another universal truism:
The important things are always simple.
The simple things are always hard.
In other words, the simplicity of this concept in no way negates the humility and courage required to confront our issues, allowing God to deal with them, thus bringing us into repentance, deliverance, healing, and freedom.
This process of bringing our hidden truth into the light is the foundational principle of all abuse and addictions recovery as well as sanctification for all believers. It is the cornerstone of every recovery program/practice/organization/business/whatever as well as any other believer’s journey towards Christlikeness.
The goal of all recovery support groups, such as AA, is for its members to “speak their truth” in a safe-from-public-scrutiny (the Anonymous part), non-judgmental setting where that person is unconditionally accepted as who they are as they are. Through the verbal sharing and encouragement which takes place, the addict/abuse victim/whatever develops self-worth — possibly for the first time in their lives — and gains confidence in the fact they are loved. And love is what delivers us, because “God is love” (1 John 4:8b) as well as being Light.
The rest of the Church would do well to emulate them!
Step 1 of every 12-step program in existence deals with the denial everyone — in the world, not merely those in recovery — has to abandon:
- We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
Steps 2 and 3 deal with submitting to the Light:
- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Steps 4 through 7 deal with speaking our truth, owning our “crap,” and engaging with the Most High to deliver us from all that:
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
At every meeting, when a person feels safe enough to summon up the courage to share, denial is dealt with first: “Hi, my name is __________ and I’m a recovering alcoholic/drug addict/codependent/etc.” Then comes the truth-speaking, followed by an affirmation from the group: “Thank you for sharing.” If the person sharing is not being forthright or is playing mind-games — in other words, their truth is obviously not being spoken — the older hands will usually call them on it.
This is something small groups in churches would do well to incorporate into their meetings.
Gradually, over time as a person works the steps and surrenders more and more of their life over to the Lord and they progressively align their thinking/behavior with God’s Word, they experience greater and greater freedom.
But this process is by no means only for support groups. Such forthright sharing of personal truth can take place in the office of a psychiatrist, counselor, pastor, or even the living room of a trusted friend.
God designed the human race to live in a sinless world without fear of damage from other species or human beings. After The Rebellion in Eden, human beings have had both the capability and willingness to inflict damage on one another. For reasons known only to the Most High, He has set things up where the only way we can recover/heal from such damage is through safe, healthy relationship with other human beings. In other words, He heals us using the selfsame mechanism Satan uses to damage us!
Speaking our truth to such folks is the path to deliverance. And but the way, Jesus is the ultimate Person to do this with!
Speaking Your Truth on a Broader Stage
In a more public sphere, once sufficient confidence is gained through the healing process, speaking our truth can create — for lack of a better term — “virtual safety bubbles.” An excellent example of this was the #MeToo movement where one woman who had been sexually assaulted within the entertainment industry courageously spoke out her truth to the national media. This created a temporary “safe space” where others who had had similar experiences with industry moguls, fellow actors, politicians, and others felt safe enough to speak out their own truth concerning such experiences.
Unfortunately, like all good things, Satan perverted it and what quickly followed was “an accusation is a good as a conviction” hanging-mob mentality allowing those with an axe to grind against whoever for whatever reason to wreak revenge for every slight and perceived wrong through false accusations. Tragically, that safety bubble soon burst as the false accusations flew, with the real stories lost in the noise of all the false ones.
Speaking the Truth About Other People
One of the tragedies of the Internet and social media is the lack of civility, even brutality exhibited by commenters towards others, especially those with whom they disagree politically or doctrinally. They self-righteously proclaim to any and all who will listen that they are standing up for the truth of Christ’s Gospel all the while negating the effectiveness of that truth to bring about life-change in their audience through their attitudes.
Paul puts it this way:
And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity]. So that we are no longer children [spiritually immature], tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit].
But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up [a]in [unselfish] love. — Ephesians 4:11-16 AMP (emphasis mine)
So let’s unpack this passage:
- God has given us ministry gifts, specifically apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors, and teachers.
- Such folks are called and appointed by God to equip rank-and-file pew sitters for the work of the ministry as well as build up and strengthen the Church in general.
- The intended end result of all this is the unity in the Body, the perfect and experiential knowledge of God by all believers, producing complete and mature Christ-followers.
- Such mature believers are neither doctrinally volatile not are they easily deceived by false teachers.
- Such mature believers speak the truth in love.
- The result is that all believers mature in all areas in Christ, every part doing its share and working together effectively with everyone else, thus causing the Church to be built up in love.
So while the “Truth” may get proclaimed loudly and longly, the “love” component gets minimized at best or, at worst, thrown down the toilet outright. Another preacher once taught:
Truth – Love = brutality.
Love – Truth = sentimentality.
Love + Truth = true spirituality.
We see this echoed in John’s Gospel, chapter 1:
And the Word became 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.… For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. — John 1:14,17 (emphasis mine)
Jesus was and is the perfect union of grace and truth to which we all aspire.
Whenever we run across false doctrine — whether perceived or real — we must first remember the first phrase of Ephesians 6:12 I quoted above: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” Since all false doctrine is founded in one or more lies and Satan is the father of lies, it is safe to conclude that all false doctrine is demonically inspired and propagated.
The implication of all that is this: rather than casually bandying about scathing criticisms using perjorative labels like heresy, heretic, false prophet, and other forms of name-calling, we need to:
- “Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP)
- Emulate the fair-minded Berean believers in Acts, who “…received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)
- Use proper rules for exegesis. Maintain an open mind and a teachable attitude. This means us doing our best to disregard our own personal prejudices, preferences, feelings, reactions to certain personalities, the religious traditions of men, and even our own personal upbringings as we do so.
- Listen carefully to both sides of the debate and what is actually being taught, seeing through and disregarding out-of-context quote snippets and sound-bites as well as any other propaganda techniques used by either side.
- Ask for revelation from — and listen to — the Holy Spirit.
- Through all that, determine for yourself what the Word of God actually says, then, draw your line in the sand, making your stand on the topic.
- Always be aware the line you just drew is in the sand, not granite. Remain teachable. No matter how hard we try, because of our corrupt flesh, we don’t always get it right the first time. Or the second time. Or the third, etc.
Then, speak the truth in love.
That implies no name calling, ministry bashing, or public ridicule towards those who you believe with all your heart to be wrong. It does mean praying for them and sharing your hard-won, diligently-earned perception of God’s truth in a humble, non-contentious, loving manner.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. — Galatians 6:1 AMP
If spiritual deception was not a very real danger to us as believers, God would not have warned us against it in His Word.
Stay humble. Stay loving. Stay teachable. Stay faithful to the call.
Thanks for reading!