February 12, 2017
Forget Deceit, More Truth
Hey, next week we are going to start a new series of messages called “Going all the Way.” It’s going to be about what it takes to have committed relationships. One of the big features of this series we are going to have a couple who has been married for decades came and share just how they are doing it and still making it happen. Here is a little video from them, “Play video.” They will be here on February 26th! Don’t miss it. Bring a friend. They will share lots of wisdom. We start the series this coming Sunday.
So what about today? Today we are going to wrap up our series “Forget you.” We have been talking a fundamental discipline you have to embrace if you are going to be a disciple of Jesus. John the Baptist put it this way, “He must become greater; I must become less.” In this series, we’ve have been saying that if I desire more of Jesus in my life then there has to be less of me, less of my time, less my thoughts, less of desires, in order to have more of Jesus in my life. It’s the same in any relationship. When I became a Father, I had less time, less energy, less money for me. I gladly did that too because my children are awesome. The same is true with Jesus.
So we talked about having less getting and more giving, less sin and more righteousness. Today, we need to have less deceit and more truth.
Let’s get rolling on this topic more truth and less deceit from this vantage point. Have you ever made a decision on anything- it could be financial, it could something in your career, it might be a parenting decision, perhaps it was a major deal going on at work, or maybe having to make a presentation, maybe your wedding day, something to eat, or maybe you lost a loved one and now everything was on you, perhaps it was trying to keep a family relationship tight, or trying to integrate family with work, or trusting someone… and somewhere in there you had some kind of self-doubt?
You just didn’t know if you made the right decision? If you did the right thing? Ever have to convince yourself that you had made the right decision? What does that say about what you believe about yourself?
You and I have something in common, and it’s not something easy to admit about ourselves. We don’t like to admit it, but we say about everyone else around us.
You and I, we are incredibly good at deceiving ourselves. We can make a bad decision sound like a good one. To cover our self-doubt we’ll make a bad financial decision. We’ll make poor relationship decisions sound like ministry opportunities. I’ve missed workout saying, “I need to rest.” I’ve rationalized eating a snack saying, “I deserve it!” I’ve wasted all kinds of time which at the time seemed important but really added up to no cumulative value. And by the way, I’m a preacher, I can quote you Bible verses to bolster my self-deceit.
We ignore the truth with our self-deception. We say things like, “This won’t hurt anyone. I’ll only do it once. Well, this time maybe. I haven’t had any for a long time. I can handle it. I’ll be careful. I can quit whenever I want to.” And the weird thing is, we know the game we are playing. WE can feel it when we feel the self-doubt.
True decisions you don’t have to rationalize. Eating more vegetables, exercise, save money, or to be honest. It’s the other stuff we deceive ourselves about.
But what about those tough decisions I was talking about earlier? Where you can’t really tell if you are rationalizing or basing your decision on the truth? Decisions about parenting, life, relationships, finances, how can you be confident? How can you know your decision is based on truth and not some form of self-deceit?
What I am about to share has the potential to be a little irritating to you as well as illuminate you. Everyone likes to think they are trying to do the right thing, and what I’m about to share might reveal a part of you that says, you are deceiving yourself. It’s important you pay attention to your emotional response. Today has the potential to tell you a great deal about yourself. It’s one you cannot afford to miss.
Let me take you to some verses of scripture that help you bring more truth in your decision making and less deceit. It is in the letter of Ephesians. Ephesians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a church in ancient Ephesus where he did quite a bit in his career. Ephesus was an urban center of wealth and prosperity. Here Paul had preached to large crowds of people. His ministry was so effective that the businessmen wanted him out because people quit buying their statues of false gods.
To these Christians Paul gives these instructions concerning this dynamic to deceive ourselves. In chapter 4, starting in verse 21 Paul writes, “You have heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” If we want more truth in our life and less deceit then you need to hear Christ more and other voices, including your less. To have more truth and less deceit then I have to hear less of me and hear more Jesus.
To have more truth and less deceit in your life then you need to ask the question, “Am I hearing Jesus on this issue?” What is Jesus saying about this? Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” John 14:6. Jesus is the truth. If you want to know the truth ask Jesus. It’s a simple question to ask. It’s an illuminating question. It has the potential to be an irritating question too. What is Jesus saying about that special someone? What is Jesus saying about your health? That financial decision? That hire? What is Jesus saying about your wedding? What is Jesus saying about your retirement? Paul writes hear, “You have heard…” Are you hearing Jesus?
Have you ever heard someone say, “I was just trying to do the right thing?” When you have a relationship with the truth I believe we ask the wrong question. Truth isn’t limited to an abstract number like 2 + 2 = 4 or a scientific finding light gravity. As a disciple, you get a new form of truth in the person of Jesus Christ. You get truth in the form of a relationship.
Now, here is the part, that can be unsettling for some of us. We can have a hard time really believing this. Jesus is the truth so you can trust that whatever he says is truth. You mean, you’re saying, Kirk, that Jesus never says something that will mess things up? Yes. You mean, Jesus will never have me make a decision where I’ll say, “Boy that was stupid of me?” Or, “I didn’t know what I was thinking?”
Yes, Jesus is the truth and he will always give you the truth. So, as a disciple of Jesus you don’t ask, “Am I doing the right thing?” You don’t just hope that you are doing the right thing. When you engage in a relationship with truth you can trust Jesus will lead down the straight path. You ask, “Am I hearing Jesus on this issue?”
Now how do I hear the truth of Jesus? Paul tells us here in the second part of the verse. Look at it again, “You have heard about Jesus, and you were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.” Eph 4:21. There are two phrases there that teach us how to bring more truth of Jesus into our relationship with him: “Taught in him,” and “truth that is in Jesus.” Let’s look at these two phrases.
“Taught in him” means as disciples Jesus has a direct and demonstrable effect on how you live your life. You have changed. You place yourself under the influence of Jesus when you come into his presence in worship and prayer and learning the Bible. You are taught “in him” when you are sharing meals with other disciples and praying together. You are being taught in him when you are being generous with your time, finances, and the words of Jesus. This is a relationship, and the teaching is hooked more than tooked.
“Truth that is in Jesus.” Here is the stunning part of this relationship. You will learn- by the way disciple means learner- to depend on the truth. One of Jesus favorite phrases while he was here on earth was, “I tell you the truth.” I tell you the truth. The more you walk with Jesus the more you realize this is true. Over time you start to get it. I can trust Jesus to tell me the truth because he is the truth.
But here is what you need to realize in terms of a relationship with the truth and I think this is what Paul might be trying to get across. When you have a relationship with truth you have to face up to the fact that you are not the truth. You might know the truth but you are not truth. You know Jesus but you are not Jesus.
As I talked about earlier we are good at self-deception. Hey, get this. Jesus is the truth. He is the complete context of truth. So when you have a relationship with the truth you can’t play games, rationalize, pretend, put up a wall, or any of that stuff. You must admit what you really know in your heart to be true- admit that we don’t have complete handle on truth. Face up to what we know in our heart isn’t true.
One reason why we don’t relate to Jesus as the truth is the guilt that comes from us playing God and believing we have a handle on the truth. We like to make our own choices. We like to call the shots. We don’t like anyone telling what to do. In essence, we want to be the truth!
So we try to play God by trying to control everything. We try to control our image. We try to control other people. We try to control our problems by saying, “I can handle it.” We try to control our pain by avoiding it, running from it, denying it, reducing it, or even postponing it.
Too often, it’s not until we are out of control we realize we need the truth. Too often we wait until it’s hurting enough before we admit that we refuse to face up what is true, I am not the truth, and maybe look up and see the truth.
To get more truth in your life and less deceit you just need to ask, “Am I hearing Jesus?” Am I hearing Jesus? Am I hearing Jesus?
If you are not hearing Jesus perhaps that is a sign for you to go ask a Christian a little further on the journey than you and listen.
If you are not hearing Jesus perhaps there is a scripture you need to understand. If you are not hearing Jesus maybe there is truth you are not applying? If you are not hearing Jesus maybe there is a behavior that needs to stop and you need to repent. If you are not hearing Jesus maybe you need to listen- just listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you.
If you want more truth in your life all you need to do is ask, “Am I hearing Jesus?” You may not want to do this. You might say I love him and I’m scared what I might hear. You might say but it has 300 horsepower and that’s the truth! But you might not want to know what THE truth is saying. I’ll get a 4-% return. I know these numbers will win. But they said no money down and no interest for 5 years! You may not want to hear what the truth has to say. Don’t let the temptation of knowing it all keep you from talking to the one who does know it all and will lead you straight.
Ask, ask, ask, “Am I hearing Jesus? Am I hearing Jesus?” Hear the truth and let the truth set you free. If you want more truth in your life and less deceit then you need more Jesus and less you.