How to discern truth from lies
Why do we believe what we believe?
The hard answer is that because we were trained to. Some of us were brought up in families that hold onto religious dogma. Others are led to a certain church and adopt the church’s doctrines. This is not because it is necessarily true, but because the leader behind the pulpit says it is so. And we, as children in the various faiths, are ignorant of the truths of the Bible for we were babes. But leadership influence told us what the “truths” were and so we swallowed them hook, line and sinker without question.
Then you get the rebels – usually young up-starts. These hear different doctrines that appeal to the flesh and they disrupt the church with their new ideas. They are adamant that they are right, and just like many leaders, will not test what they believe with scripture and reason, but will dogmatically hold fast to their belief despite being refuted by truth.
The Purpose of This Post
This post is designed to help those of you who struggle to accept some of the doctrines that are taught you. It will enable you to discern truth from lies (unscriptural doctrine) more easily. However, it is difficult to give up something that you once had such faith in. But at the end of the day, those who discover truth, no matter what contrary dogma they have been taught, will be able to walk in the freedom of the Spirit of Christ and will be able to join in with the early church that Peter described:
and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
If the above verse does not describe your current experience then know for sure that you do not have the truth.
The Three Principles of Discerning Truth
There are three fundamental principles used to discern biblical truth from lies. We ought to apply these principles to everything that we hear, think or do. But the first question we need to ask ourselves is:
Do I want to know the truth?
The foundation of all that we believe is based on what we have chosen to accept as truth – i.e. our perception of it. This means that we can choose to believe something based upon choice, and not on reasonable evidence, therefore, willfully deceiving ourselves. Many have chosen to believe that which is contrary to truth, and few test what they believe. This is because discovering the truth obligates them to live by it. For knowing the truth, requires us to forsake the pursuit of many temporal pleasures that the deceptions of sin have promised. And this is our problem; our cultured selfishness naturally chooses against truth, even though we know sin to be harmful, and truth to precede blessings.
However, for those who wish to be freed from sin and to come to the knowledge of the truth to live by it, and consequently receive the blessings it brings, the three principles to discern any “truth” from lies is that it must be true to scripture, reason and life.
The three principles of discerning truth are:
1. True to scripture.
This means that the proposed “truth” must be synonymous with not only scripture, but the spirit of scripture also. One can find many scriptures that by themselves seem to support their belief; but unless what these singular scriptures say is in harmony with the spirit of scripture as a whole of God’s revealed Word, it cannot be true. God inspires all scripture through holy, faithful saints, and therefore it is infallible. It can never contradict itself. This is what makes God’s Word trustworthy as the foundation of truth, and the yardstick for all moral beings. For if any part of scripture was to be found contradictory in nature, then on what basis could we find the whole of it trustworthy? It would then undermine the trustworthiness of God and everything that we have come to learn of Him as truth.
Note: I am not talking about seeming discrepancies in recorded details where the author records from his perspective, or in Mark and Luke’s cases, where they have learned of details from others (for neither were witnesses with the twelve); or errors through translations. But I am talking about the recorded principle of truth. This cannot contradict! This is why a truth must be supported by a number of scriptures to bear testimony of its meaning as well as being supported by the spirit of scripture.
2. True to reason.
Truth is not dogmatic. It is reasonable; and God invites us to reason with Him (Isa 1:18). If what one says is not reasonable then it cannot be truth. God never expects us to believe or do anything that is unreasonable. His Word says that His commandments are not burdensome (1Jn 5:3), this is because the reasoning mind finds them reasonable.
Whatever opposes truth is unreasonable because it’s based on selfishness. Conversely, whatever God says is always reasonable (Jas 3:17); for it is founded on His character, and revealed in the benevolence of His heavenly kingdom.
3. True to life.
If the testimony of life does not support what one teaches then we ought not to believe it. If, for example, the Bible commands us to be holy (as it does), and yet there was no testimony of anyone having lived a holy life, then there would be no grounds for it to be true. Consequently, there would be no obligation on our parts to live holy lives.
But all three principles must apply
One needs to use all three principles to discern truth from lies, and all three must co-exist. One cannot have one principle without the others. Therefore, if the “truth” presented does not bear all three principles, then we should not regard it as truth.
Example of discerning if something is true or not:
If one says that God is holy but we do not need to be holy to have fellowship with Him, (despite His eternal sacrifice through Christ to bring us to repentance of our sins), we can apply the three principles of discerning truth to see:-
says that God commands us to be holy (1Pet. 1:16); it says that it is our sins that separate us from Him (Isa. 59:2); and that two cannot walk together unless they be in agreement (Amos 3:3). These scriptures and hundreds more like them prove that God requires us to be holy.
shows that a holy God could only remain so if He did not accept unrepentant sinners into fellowship with Him; and further, if He did, He would have nullified the value of Christ’s purpose in His earthly life and sacrifice, which was to save us from our sins (Mat 1:21). A holy God requires a holy people. For God to accept unrepentant sinners into His heavenly kingdom (as Universalism would suggest) would contaminate the purity and benevolence of heaven and make Him unjust, and therefore not trustworthy.
demonstrates that it is contrary to truth – the history of man reflects the wrath of God executed because of man’s sin from the beginning of time. God expelled Adam and Eve from His presence in the Garden. The entire world, save eight persons, were drowned in the flood. Israel was taken into captivity. Jerusalem was destroyed. The Roman empire fell to ruin after a thousand-year reign of the world.
All of these historical examples and countless more, demonstrate God’s wrath and His abhorrence of sin and His judgement on the sinner. But He reveals His delight to those who live holy lives before Him. Peace, joy and true happiness (regardless of their stature in life) emanates from them.
The principles are easy to understand and learn, but we need to be willing to apply them to our lives so that we can walk in agreement with our God and Father, obtaining as a result, His good pleasure and the blessings that follow.
You can learn how to recognize the signs of true salvation here: How do we know if we are saved?
Let me know your thoughts on the above at firstname.lastname@example.org