In Galatians 5:7, Paul challenged the Christians in Galatia, when asking this pointed question: “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Paul’s words are perhaps even more puzzling today for the overwhelming majority of Christians and non-Christians alike. Obeying the truth? Christ maintained before Pilate that He came into the world “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). Pilate’s answer, as recorded in the next verse, was symptomatic of how many felt then–and how many feel today. He said to Jesus: “What is truth?”
When it comes to the truth, people are confused. Paul explains that the ancient Greek philosophers “exchanged the truth of God for the lie” (Romans 1:25). Since our present-day culture, at least in the Western world, as well as many orthodox Christian concepts, are to a large extent influenced by Greek philosophy, it is no wonder that even many Christians today believe in ideas which are not in accordance with godly truth.
We must come to know what the truth is. Pilate did not know; and he did not want to know. But we can know, if we are willing to open our minds.
David declared in Psalm 119:160: “The entirety of Your word is truth.” He also said: “And all Your commandments are truth” (verse 151). He added: “Your law is truth” (verse 142). Finally, he exclaimed: “For all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172).
Jesus did not come to abolish God’s truth–His righteousness, His commandments, His law and His Word. Rather, He said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets… Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17, 19).
At one time, Jesus remarked that many of those who were listening to Him did not believe the truth, because they were willing to pursue the desires of Satan the devil, and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). But Jesus was not just talking to His audience then. Satan is still the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and he is still deceiving the whole world into believing lies (Revelation 12:9).
Paul is also referring to the same correlation between sinful conduct and the inability or unwillingness to believe the truth. He speaks of the condemnation of those who do not believe the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:12). He also speaks of sinful people who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7). Without doubt, there is a connection between living in sin and unrighteousness, and failing to recognize and believe the truth.
Christ warned those who thought that they were Christ’s followers: “… depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23). When we continue to practice the way of sin, which is defined as lawlessness (1 John 3:4), we are not really Christ’s disciples. We are not really believing and obeying the truth. Unless we change our way of thinking and acting, Christ will tell us to depart from Him. He will spew us out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).
We find a startling prophecy for our times in the ancient book of Hosea: “For they shall eat, but not have enough; they shall commit harlotry, but not increase; Because they have ceased obeying the LORD” (Hosea 4:10).
In times of physical need and dependency, we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and God promises us that He will take care of us (Matthew 6:33). We seek the Kingdom, when we seek and stand up for the truth–when we obey God rather than man in times of conflict (Acts 5:29). In living by “every word which proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), we live by and obey the truth, since the entirety of God’s Word is truth.
When we continue to run well, without allowing anyone or anything to hinder us from obeying the truth, then an awesome promise awaits us. We will become kings and priests in the Kingdom of God, ruling on this earth with and under Christ, “being ready to punish all disobedience when [our] obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:6).