Pilate responded to Jesus’ confession with his famous rhetorical question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Notice Pilate’s omission of the definite article “the” before “truth.” Some might say this is insignificant, but it’s not at all when you recognize that Pilate had just put truth back into a relative framework. Pilate epitomized the worldly skeptic where truth no longer exists in absolute categories but is merely a relative concept left to one’s private interpretation and circumstances. In contrast, the words of our Lord affirm that absolute truth––God’s truth––exists and is the powerful reality to which His life bore witness.
A Worldly Response
With every passing day, and in seemingly greater frequency, the world is not only ambivalent to the truth, but it hates the truth. The very concept of truth elicits severe mockery in favor of lies and half-truths that claim, “I will decide what my truth is!” This type of subtle deception stems directly from a shrewd serpent who began twisting the truth in the very beginning when he asked Eve, “Did God actually say . . . ?” (Gen. 3:1). Twisting God’s truth, Satan is cunning and crafty in chiseling away at the dike of truth that holds his lies at bay. His deceitfulness plays out in three stages. First, the devil casts doubt on God’s words. We see this evidenced in the question he asked Eve in Genesis 3:1. Second, Satan casts doubt on God’s goodness. Eve soon falls prey to his trickery and begins to question the kindness and benevolence of God toward her and her husband by believing that God has kept a vital happiness from them (vv. 2–3). Third, this fork-tongued dragon convinces Eve to doubt God’s authority by contradicting God’s words. He tells Eve that God may have said she would die, but “you will not surely die . . . [but] your eyes will be opened” (vv. 4–5). Satan’s objective is always the same––to convince you to doubt God’s words, doubt God’s goodness, and doubt God’s authority. It’s as if he wants us to ask Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”
Throughout the millennia, Satan has not changed his strategy of deceit since his first encounter with Eve in the garden. He has inundated every area of society—from government, educational systems, and mass media to the family and even the church—with lies and half-truths. He has convinced the world, for instance, that life only begins at birth and not at conception, that living beings spring forth from nonliving coincidence, that true happiness is found internally, that one’s gender can be chosen, that eternal life is the result of many paths, and so on. Satan wants us to eat the deadly fruit of doubting truth.
The Apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Satan delights in leading believers away from faithful obedience to God and His Word by inviting them to swim in the waters of worldly lies. Unless held captive by God’s Word, the minds and hearts of believers are susceptible to Satan’s cunning deception. This is why, surrounded by a world of lies, believers must be ready to plug the dike with the truth.
Proclaimers of Truth
Followers of Christ have been called to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them” (2 Cor. 6:17). How do we actually achieve living in the world while being separate from it? First, believers separate themselves by refusing to be conformed to this present world and its evil systems of lies and unbelief by being continually transformed into imitators of Christ (Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 11:1). Second, believers separate themselves by proclaiming the countercultural truth of God’s Word in love before a hostile and unbelieving world (Col. 4:2–6). Third, believers separate themselves by developing wisdom through discerning every word and bringing it captive to be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). When believers do this, we will be hated (Matt. 10:22), slandered (1 Cor. 4:13), and persecuted, possibly unto death (Matt. 24:9). But rest assured, those who persevere to the end––loving the truth, proclaiming the truth, living the truth––will be saved (v. 13).