Truth As the Deer 1466
"As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God." Psa. 42:1
A. It's a beautiful tho't. We sing it in corporate comfort & the music pleases our ears & soothes our souls. But the picture is hardly one of comfort. Psa. 42 is about a man in deep despair. Picture, not the deer grazing peacefully in the meadow, but one who has been running from the hounds. He's tired; mouth is dry; tongue is hanging out, and he desperately needs to find a stream of water. He's not just thirsty. It's a life or death matter.
1. Job 23:12 -- "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
2. Do you search for God's truth as a hungry man seeks food? or the deer, parched with thirst, seeks for streams of water?
B. In this manner God would have us seek for truth. For to seek for God is to seek for truth.
I. What is Truth?
A. God is truth.
1. He is constantly called the "God of Truth" - He cannot lie.
2. John 14:6 -- "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life;"
3. The H.S. is called the "Spirit of Truth" in John 14:7 et.al.
B. Bruce established last week that the Bible is the truth of God.
1. John 17:17 -- "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. " (Bible)
2. David stressed it: Psa. 119:142 -- "Your law is truth."
a. 119:151 -- "And all Your commandments are truth."
b. 119:160 -- "The sum of Your word is truth,"
3. Solomon impressed on us the need to make the pursuit of truth a constant quest:
a. Prov. 3:3 -- "Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart."
b. Prov. 23:23 -- "Buy truth, and do not sell it,"
4. The O.T. prophets lamented Israel's slide away from truth.
a. Jer. 7:28 -- "truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth."
b. Amos 7:7-8 -- "the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. 8The LORD said to me, "What do you see, Amos?" And I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer."
c. The word is the plumb line that determines if we are "true" or not.
C. Truth can save us.
1. John 8:32 -- "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
D. And Truth can condemn us.
1. 2 Thessa. 2:10 -- "they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved."
II. Do You Love the Truth?
A. Many have not.
1. I K. 22 -- king Ahab of Israel wanted Jehoshaphat of Judah to help him take Ramoth-gilead back from Syria. Jehos. wanted him to inquire of the Lord. He gathered his 400 prophets, all yes-men…
a. They said, "Sure, go up, for the Lord will give it to you."
b. But Jehoshaphat asked, "Is there not a prophet of the Lord here?"
c. 22:4-- "The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah."
d. Micaiah was told to prophesy as the other 400 had. He did as he was told, & the king knew it.
e. 22:16 -- the king said to him, "How many times must I adjure you to speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?"
f. So, Micaiah said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains…" ...and 22:23 -- "The Lord has proclaimed disaster against you."
g. Zedekiah hit him… Ahab had him thrown into prison.
h. Micaiah could have quoted Jesus: John 8:45-- "But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me."
i. Ahab went to war anyway, & died from a stray arrow. & dogs licked his blood from the chariot.
j. Ahab said he wanted the truth. Did he?
2. Do you love the truth?
a. If you are overweight because you can't control eating habits, do you love the truth? … want to hear it?
b. … addicted to nicotine & are a slave to the habit…
c. … can't control your anger….
d. … give the Lord 3 or 4 % each week, & are robbing God ...
e. If I preach a bad sermon… do I want to hear about it in the foyer? Yes, I do.
3. Jesus stood before Pilate: John 18:37-38 -- " For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." 38 Pilate said* to Him, "What is truth?"
a. The truth was staring Pilate in the face. He had seen it & heard it.
b. But it made no difference to him. As to many in the world.
I know of no greater application of the principle of truth than when we confront the question of …
III. Who Is A Christian?
A. A lack of discernment has plagued denominationalism forever. & it is invading the church. Lack of knowledge of truth leaves us unable to fight error. And unable to distinguish true Christians from false.
1. I see the Eastern Orthodox Church a lot. By its own definition a Christian church. Claim to be the only true Christians in Eastern Europe. But it is a cross between Christianity & witchcraft.
2. The Roman Catholic church claims to be the only true church on the face of the planet. It is one thing for them to believe it, & another for Billy Graham to call the Pope a fine, outstanding Christian.
a. Catholicism becomes what people want.
b. In Jamaica it's part Christianity & part Voodoo.
c. In South America it's… & spiritism.
d. In Buddhist countries, it's part Buddhist. It is all things to all men & it is saving none!
3. It is one thing for these institutions to exist, & another for Christians to embrace them as if they are true Christians. It obliterates the line of clarity and invites the enemy into the camp...
B. We are not immune.
1. I am hearing the same things today from church members that I used to hear from denominational people.
2. "We all believe in the same God, have faith in Jesus, and are sincerely serving Him. We need to stop being so judgmental and just love each other."
a. Of course we need to love each other! But what happens to truth? Does love leave a man in a ditch, or help him out? Does love warn a man of the cliff ahead, or just love him & let him go?
b. Don't love and truth work together?
c. Maybe we should do as Jesus did. Mt. 7:21-23 -- "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' 23"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." (not practice truth)
 Should Jesus have said, "You believe in me, pray to me and serve me. I'm just going to love you and everything will be OK"?
 No. Truth matters.
3. Then I hear: "Lots of very smart people have studied the Bible deeply and still come up with different opinions & interpretations. How can I know which is right? Let's just accept each other …."
a. You can know the truth. But it takes study. John 8:32 -- "you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
 Paul said there were those who were… -- "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Tim. 3:7
 2 Tim. 2:15 -- "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."
4. There are those, Paul said, who "exchanged the truth of God for a lie," Rom. 1:25 -- How does that happen?
a. Prejudice. e.g. some don't believe in miracles so they have to find a way to explain biblical miracles away.
b. Preconditioning. Have been taught something so long that they can't entertain anything else.
 E.g.-- Prov. 3:5 says: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding."
 I ask people to read Acts 2:38 -- "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
[a] Repentance & baptism are necessary to have sins removed!
[b] But some say, "No, salvation is by faith alone. Baptism has nothing to do with forgiveness of sins. It's a work of man."
[c] What have they done? Trusted in their own understanding instead of believing God's word. Exchanged the truth for a lie.
5. Remember Paul's question? Gal. 4:16 -- "So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?"
a. The truth got Michaiah a fat lip and a prison cell.
b. It may get you some sneers and jeers and disapproving glances, & people may avoid you -- but you cannot abandon truth.
c. Prov. 23:23 -- "Buy truth, and do not sell it,"
d. Eph. 4:15 -- "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ"
e. The church has a great responsibility… I Tim. 3:15 -- "the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."
Close Truth is important. Personally. In society. Corporately.
Eternally. -- I Tim. 2:3-4 -- "God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
I hope this prayer is on your lips:
Psa. 86:11 -- "Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth;"
Gal. 5:7 -- "You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the TRUTH?"
Eph. 6:14 -- "gird... your loins with TRUTH"
James 1:18 -- "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of TRUTH,"
James 5:19 -- "My brethren, if any among you strays from the TRUTH and one turns him back, 20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."
I Pet. 1:22 -- "Since you have in obedience to the TRUTH purified your souls ... you have been born again"
John 4:5-6 -- "They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of TRUTH and the spirit of error."
3 John 1:4 -- "I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the TRUTH."
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