Truth and love go together
We need God’s truth and love. These are things we cannot manufacture ourselves. If God does not reveal himself to us we are doomed; if he ceases to make us the object of his love we are done for.
And truth and love are what we will manifest to authenticate that we truly know God. One does not go without the other, one feeds on the other.
It is not genuine love if it rejects truth and it is not truth if it does not have an outflow of love in our lives. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth (John 14:17) and his fruit is called love (Galatians 5:22-23). You cannot remove one from the other. You cannot have two Holy Spirits. Jesus said that the greatest law is the law of love (Mark 12:29-31). And the law stands for truth (Psalm 19).
Love: the vertical and horizontal
Jesus said the greatest law is loving God and loving others. That means that love should be vertical and horizontal, like the two sides of the same coin.
If I advance more in the love for others than in love for God then I am imbalanced, setting up myself to be frustrated. And if I supposedly advance more in the love for God than in the love for man then I am not genuine (James 2:26). I repeat: the two must go together.
John was clear when he said that we cannot truly say that we love God if we do not accompany that with loving our brother, then our love for God is suspect (1John 3:16-17, 4:8, 20).
Truth: the vertical and horizontal
What about truth? It also has two dimensions of being both about a person Jesus and also about ourselves, the way we live. It is both vertical and horizontal.
Jesus said: I am the truth (John 14:6). Therefore whatever contradicts the person and mission of Jesus as espoused in the scriptures and written down by the apostles and prophets, is wrong.
Jesus told Nicodemus, “I have told you of earthly things but you do not believe me, how will you believe if I tell of heavenly things? Truly you must be born again to come into the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 10-12).”
Therefore the issue of the kingdom of God is about the earth, and a primary way for the expression of that kingdom is truth.
For example: in the book of Isaiah we read that the mountain of the Lord’s house (the epicentre of the kingdom (rule) of God in this age) will be established on top of other mountains and people will come there from all over saying that they want to be taught the ways of the lord, to be informed about his truth (Isaiah 2:1-3).
Isaiah gives the litmus test for everything that claims to be truth. He said: to the law and to the testimony, if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20). And Jesus is the word (John 1:1-5). If you contradict Jesus then that is a manifestation of the spirit of antichrist which John the apostle warned against (1John 2:22, 4:3, 2John 1:7). He said we should test all spirits (1John 4:1-3). The limit test is not how the spirit makes you feel, or the spectacular acts performed by it, it is how it holds up in the light of the person and mission of Jesus.
Love and truth in concept and practice
To be the best we can be, we need to uphold the lofty ideals of truth and love. Truth and love are both conceptual and practical. They have to do with what we understand (concept) and the way we live (practice).
The concept of love starts with the understanding that God loves us. In a prayer we see in the book of Ephesians, the bible says that we need to be filled with the fullness of God and that will happen when we comprehend with all the saints the length, breadth, height and width of the love of God for us (Ephesians 3:14-21).
The fall of man started when the devil was able to convince Eve that God does not really love them, does not really want the best for them (Genesis 3). When our concept of God’s love for us is compromised, we are in trouble. To the extent that happens we are empty of God.
The concept of truth starts with the person of Christ. To the limit that we understand who Christ is that is the limit of our understanding of truth and therefore the freedom that we will walk in because Jesus said to some people: “if you continue in my word, you will know the truth and freedom will be your portion (John 8:31-32).”
Because the devil’s stock in trade is lies and he is the master bondage maker, it is the truth that truly sets us free. Truth is the light through which we see our way out of the lying hold of the devil, with Paul saying that the devil will take advantage of us, if we are ignorant of his devices (). Knowing the truth is the “removal of ignorance.”
David said that God desires truth in the inward part i.e. we have to embrace and internalise his truth (Psalm 51:6). And when it comes to what should occupy our thoughts one of the criteria that Paul gave was truth (Philippians 4:8). He wrote to the Colossian church: let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).
Love should be practised, both towards God and towards others. Towards God in the time we spend with him in prayer and in his word, and towards others as we give to them and minister to them.
When I recognise that what I have is just an expression of the love of God towards me, then I will be able to express the same to others, I will be willing to share. When I realise the amount of attention God puts on me, the efforts he dedicated to changing my life and making me better, then I will be able to give the same help to others.
To practise truth is to live our life according to the dictates of the word of God, which is Truth (Psalm 119:9, 11). That is when our lives show that we uphold God’s standard of truth. Jesus said that hearing and living by God’s word makes us like a man who builds his house on a rock and it withstands the storm and the strong wind which are the undoing of the man who builds his house on sand, being the man who does not live by his word (Matthew 7:24-27).
Truth should be lived and it should mark the words of our mouth. David prayed: let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you Oh God my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
One of the Ten Commandments is not lying. God stands for the truth and nothing but the truth (Exodus 20:16). Being truthful marks us as children of the light who overcome darkness. If we are not truthful, we will not have the capacity for receive God’s truth but will live in darkness. Living in truth is about commitment to obeying the word of God, seeking to know it and living by it.