Pontius Pilate is famous for asking Jesus, “What is truth?”
I’m not here to talk about what the truth is (well… maybe a little bit), but in how to know when someone is telling it. And, that’s pretty tough. There are a lot of liars out there, and there are a lot of honest people that believe the lies that the lying liars have told them – and passed those lies on with the best of intentions.
So, how can you tell what is true, and what isn’t?
Very good question.
So, I’m going to spend the next few thousand words trying to answer that question – and help you understand how I think as I go through the process of intelligence gathering and analysis.
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It Starts With Levels
I originally wasn’t going to talk about it this way, but I really think that ‘levels’ might be the best way to describe the hierarchy involved in ‘Truth Discovery’.
Level 1 – God
There are very, very few things that you can trust completely. In fact… (and, I’m actually trying to think here) …there’s really only one ‘thing’ that you can trust completely, and He’s not a thing.
Really, God is the only truth that you can trust absolutely and completely. And, if you don’t, you’re doomed.
But wait, I’ve left out the Bible… hmmmm… well yes, you can – and must – trust the Bible completely. The problem is that you cannot trust your interpretation completely. And that’s a very, very interesting problem.
note: if you run into someone who is proud of their ability to understand the Bible, run away. Do NOT listen to them. We ALL have the capacity to get things wrong as we attempt to understand what God is telling us.
The only response that I have to this ‘very, very interesting problem’ is the recognition that we need to learn how to understand the Bible, and the only way to do that is to take off the ‘training wheels’ and ride it for ourselves. Yes, you’ll fall over, but you’ll learn.
So, set the commentaries aside and start reading the Bible itself. You’ll be amazed at how far and how deep you’ll go.
Level 2 – Personal Observation
The problem is that God has left us to struggle with the details that the Bible doesn’t cover. Yes, there are those of us who have received dreams and visions, but the Bible says this:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1
Just because you receive a vision, doesn’t mean that it’s true. So, test your visions and dreams. And yes, I lump dreams and visions under ‘Personal Observation’, and you cannot completely trust them.
But wait… am I saying that we cannot completely trust what we can see/taste/touch/smell/hear?
That’s right. You cannot completely trust your personal experience with ‘reality’. Satan is the father of lies and illusion. And, he’s got a whiz-bang show ready for those of us who have a complete trust in our senses.
Always compare what you sense with what the Bible says. If there’s a disagreement… well, you know the answer to that one.
So, what’s next?
Level 3 – Analysis
I’m not sure that I should call this a level. You could certainly argue that it’s a part of ‘Level Two’, or that it’s also a part of all the other levels. And, there will be moments in time where you will need to trust your ability to analyze even over your ability to observe. But, let’s leave ‘Analysis’ at ‘Level 3′ for now.
The ability to determine truth by thought, feeling or instinct is pretty much a learned skill that needs lots of exercise. It can also be something of a gift from God, but even gifts from God can be tainted. (A lot of Godly men and women started well and ended badly.) So, even analytical abilities that are gifts from God need to be continually refined and exercised. And, if you want to develop your own analytical abilities, you must be humble. Why do I say that?
Because you’re going to be smacked on the nose when you get things wrong, and you need to be willing to learn from those experiences. Those who become proud, stop learning. (Which is where so many Godly people start to go wrong.)
Seriously, the learning process is painful to your self-worth. No one likes to admit that they’ve been an idiot for the past [insert large number] of years, but you must be willing to trade in your ‘self-worth’ for the truth.
Do not walk down this road if you think that your self-respect is too high a price to pay for the truth. This is exactly what God was talking about when He spoke of a ‘love of the truth’ via Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. – 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12
If you are not willing to sacrifice your self-esteem, your self-respect, or your self-worth for the truth… well, you’re in a LOT of trouble. You must love and value The Truth far more than you value ANYTHING – including your ‘self’.
I personally know far too many men and women who are considered ‘godly’, but are not – because they have allowed ‘self’ to get in the way.
Truth discovery is a humiliating process, and you MUST be willing to go through it. And, there’s a high price to pay if you aren’t willing. I speak from personal experience.
The last three years have been deeply embarrassing and humiliating as I went through the process of being forced to come face to face with the truth. I still find it hard to believe how stupid and blind I’ve been. And, this is a process that you will also have to go through, as you seek to recognize and understand the truth.
You must be willing to acknowledge that you are a profoundly stupid person.
You must be willing to be as stupid as I am, and that is very stupid indeed.
Okay, this article is getting a bit long, so I’ll pause here and continue with part two tomorrow.
If you find a flaw in my reasoning, have a question, or wish to add your own viewpoint, leave a comment. Your input is truly welcome.
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