I want to read you something that Jesus said. This is from the New Living Translation of Matthew 7:22, 23.
“On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you.’”
Do you think that there is a priest on this earth, or a minister, bishop, Archbishop, Pope, humble pastor or padre, or a congregation elder, who thinks that he will be one of those crying out, “Lord! Lord!”? No one who teaches the word of God thinks that he or she will ever hear Jesus say on judgment day, “I never knew you.” And yet, the vast majority will hear those very words. We know that because in the very same chapter of Matthew Jesus tells us to enter the kingdom of God through the narrow gate because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction and many are those who travel upon it. Whereas the road to life is cramped, and few find it. A third of the world claims to be Christian—well over two billion. I wouldn’t call that a few, would you?
The difficulty people have in grasping this truth is evident in this interchange between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day: They defended themselves by claiming, “we were not born from fornication; we have one Father, God.” [But Jesus told them] “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.… When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” That’s from John 8:41, 44.
There, in stark contrast, you have the two lineages or seeds that were prophesied at Genesis 3:15, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman. The seed of the serpent loves the lie, hates the truth, and dwells in darkness. The seed of the woman is a beacon of light and truth.
Which seed are you? You may call God your Father just as the Pharisees did, but in return, does he call son? How can you know that you’re not fooling yourself? How can I know?
Nowadays – and I hear this all the time – people say that it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you love your fellow man. It’s all about love. Truth is a highly subjective thing. You can believe one thing, I can believe another, but as long as we love one another, that’s all that really matters.
Do you believe that? It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? The trouble is, lies often do.
If Jesus were to suddenly appear before you right now and tell you one thing you don’t agree with, would you say to him, “Well, Lord, you have your opinion, and I have mine, but as long as we love one another, that’s all that matters”?
Do you think Jesus would agree? Would he say, “Well, alrighty then”?
Are truth and love separate issues, or are they bound inextricably together? Can you have one without the other, and still win God’s approval?
The Samaritans had their opinion about how to please God. Their worship differed from that of the Jews. Jesus set them straight when he said to the Samaritan woman, “…the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24 NKJV)
Now we all know what it means to worship in truth, but what does it mean to worship in spirit? And why doesn’t Jesus tell us that the true worshipers whom the Father seeks to worship him will worship in love and in truth? Isn’t love the defining quality of true Christians? Didn’t Jesus tell us that the world would recognize us by the love we have for one another?
So why no mention of it here?
I would submit that the reason Jesus doesn’t use it here is that love is the product of the spirit. First you get the spirit, then you get the love. The spirit produces the love that characterizes true worshippers of the Father. Galatians 5:22, 23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Love is the first fruit of the spirit of God and upon closer scrutiny, we see that the other eight are all aspects of love. Joy is love rejoicing; peace is a state of tranquility of the soul that is the natural product of love; patience is the longsuffering aspect of love—love that waits and hopes for the best; kindness is love in action; goodness is love on display; faithfulness is loyal love; gentleness is how love controls our exercise of power; and self-control is love restraining our instincts.
1 John 4:8 tells us that God is love. It is his defining quality. If we are truly God’s children, then we are remade in the image of God through Jesus Christ. The spirit that reshapes us fills us with the godly quality of love. But that same spirit also guides us to truth. We cannot have one without the other. Consider these texts which link the two.
Reading from the New International Version
1 John 3:18 – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
2 John 1:3 – Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
Ephesians 4:15 – Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 – and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
To say that all that matters is that we love one another, that it doesn’t really matter what we believe, only serves the one who is the father of the lie. Satan doesn’t want us to worry about what is true. The truth is his enemy.
Yet, some will object by asking, “Who is to determine what is the truth?” If Christ were standing before you right now, would you ask that question? Obviously not, but he is not standing before us right now, so it seems like a valid question, until we realize that he is standing before us. We have his words written for all to read. Again, the objection is, “yes, but you interpret his words one way and I interpret his words another way, so who’s to say which is the truth?” Yes, and the Pharisees also had his words, and more, they had his miracles and his physical presence and still they misinterpreted. Why couldn’t they see the truth? Because they resisted the spirit of truth.
“I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” (1 John 2:26, 27 NLT)
What do we learn from this? Let me illustrate it this way: you put two people in a room. One says that bad people burn in hell fire, and the other one says, “No, they don’t”. One says that we have an immortal soul and the other says, “No, they don’t”. One says God is a Trinity and the other says, “No, he’s not”. One of these two people is right and the other one is wrong. They can’t be both right, and they can’t be both wrong. The question is how do you find out which is right and which is wrong? Well, if you have the spirit of God in you, you will know which one is right. And if you don’t have the spirit of God in you, you will think you know which one is right. You see, both sides will come away believing their side is in the right. The Pharisees that orchestrated the death of Jesus, believed they were right.
Perhaps when Jerusalem was destroyed as Jesus said it would be, they realized then that they had been wrong, or perhaps they went to their death still believing they were right. Who knows? God knows. The point is that those promoting falsehood do so believing they are right. That’s why they run to Jesus at the end crying, “Lord! Lord! Why are you punishing us after we did all these wonderful things for you?”
It shouldn’t surprise us that this is the case. We were told about this long ago.
“In that very hour he became overjoyed in the holy spirit and said: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones, and have revealed them to babes. Yes, O Father, because to do thus came to be the way approved by you.” (Luke 10:21 NWT)
If Jehovah God hides something from you, you’re not going to find it. If you are a wise and intellectual person and you know that you are wrong about something, you’d seek the truth, but if you think you are right, you won’t look for the truth, because you believe you have already found it.
So, if you truly want the truth—not my version of the truth, not your own version of the truth, but the real truth from God—I would recommend you pray for the spirit. Don’t be led astray by all these wild ideas circulating out there. Remember that the road that leads off to destruction is wide, because it leaves room for many different ideas and philosophies. You can walk over here or you can walk over there, but either way you’re walking in the same direction—toward destruction.
The way of truth is not like that. It’s a very narrow road because you can’t go wandering all over the place and still be on it, still have the truth. It doesn’t appeal to the ego. Those who want to show how smart they are, how intellectual and perceptive they can be by deciphering all the hidden knowledge of God, will end up on the wide road every time, because God hides the truth from such ones.
You see, we don’t start off with truth, and we don’t start off in love. We start off with the desire for both; a yearning. We make the humble appeal to God for truth and understanding which we do through baptism, and he gives us some of his spirit which produces in us his quality of love, and which leads to the truth. And depending on how you respond, we will get more of that spirit and more of that love and a greater understanding of truth. But if ever there develops in us a self-righteous and proud heart, the flow of the spirit will be restrained, or even cut off. The Bible says,
“Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of YOU a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God;” (Hebrews 3:12)
No one wants that, yet how can we know that our own heart isn’t fooling us into thinking we are humble servants of God when in fact we have become wise and intellectual, self-assuming and presumptuous? How can we check ourselves? We’ll discuss that in the next couple of videos. But here’s a hint. It’s all tied up with love. When people say, all you need is love, they’re not far off from the truth.
Thank you so much for listening.