There were two main sources of news in the old Soviet Union. One was Pravda (which means truth) and the other Izvestia (which means news). A popular saying went around that “there is no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.” The Russian people were properly cynical regarding these government and communist newspapers. We have come to a sad place in America where people are now suspicious of the validity of our popular news outlets. Some wag said you should not believe anything you hear and only half of what you see. If we are uncertain of the news reports we receive, what are we to believe?
We are to believe the truth. However, finding the truth is often difficult. There are many purveyors of fake truth. Jesus warned, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:23, 24).
A wicked king of Israel named Jeroboam was standing beside an altar ready to offer incense when he was confronted by an unnamed prophet. He said that a king would be born who would destroy the pagan worship and the false priests would be offered on that very altar. As a sign, said the prophet, the altar would be rent and the ashes poured out. Jeroboam was so angry that he pointed at the prophet and commanded that he be arrested. But as he stretched out his arm, it became paralyzed. Also, at that moment the altar burst open and ashes poured out on the floor. In panic, the king asked the prophet to pray for his arm to be restored. When the prayer was answered, the king asked the prophet to have dinner with him. But the prophet declined.
“For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest” he explained. (see 1 Kings 13:9).
So the prophet left and began his journey home. But there were some sons of an old prophet who told the old man what happened. He had them saddle a mount and they overtook the prophet who was resting under a tree. The old man invited the prophet for dinner, but he declined because the Lord had told him not to stay.
But the old man persisted. “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him” (1 Kings 13:18).
The unnamed prophet listened to the lie. He went with the old prophet. In the midst of the meal, the old prophet got a word from the Lord.
“Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers” (1 Kings 13:21b, 22).
This time what the old man said was no lie. When the prophet left for home, he was killed by a lion. He had been bold enough to give a strong prophecy to the king. He had power with God enough to pray for the king’s paralyzed arm and see it restored. He had courage enough to refuse to eat and drink with the king. But when it came to the lie of the old prophet, he did not discern the truth.
That strange account from the Bible underscores the importance of staying with the truth under all circumstances. “Buy the truth, and sell it not,” instructed the wise man (Pr. 23:23a). When you know what the truth is, don’t take any price for it. It is not worth a meal, even with a prophet, to give up on truth.
It is one thing to be deceived by a fake news story. It is another to be deceived by the lies of the world that affect the eternal destiny of your soul. Jesus said that He is the truth. It is His truth that we must never abandon. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1, 2).
Christian thinker and writer Francis Schaeffer made the point that we must understand there is true truth which is distinct from what people claim as their own truth. Each person needs to find the truth. We are not talking about inventing your own reality. Some people think they can formulate truth for themselves. Not so. Truth is not invented. It is discovered. Or more accurately, it is revealed. It is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the
Word made flesh.
There is great danger in leaving the truth. The enemy of our souls knows that if he can deceive people by having them invent their own truth, they will fall into unrighteousness and will perish “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thes. 2:10).
Jesus was arrested and tried, not for anything that He did, but for claiming to be the Son of God. When He stood before Pilate, Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37). Pilate then asked this most important question: “What is truth?” Instead of waiting for an answer, Pilate turned and walked away. He walked away from truth.
Pilate had other things to do rather than find the answer to his question. We can make the same mistake by hurrying to conclusions, by having an arrogant attitude, by thinking we already know what we need to know. Like Pilate, we can turn from seeking the truth to do what we think is more important.
Or we can listen to Christ, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). The results in the life of such a seeker are winsome and holy. The truth is in Jesus. He makes all the difference.