Book: Lord, What Should I Do?

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What is the identifying sign and Scriptural test of a true Christian? We find the answer in Jesus’ own words in the Gospel of John. Jesus declared that His true disciples are those who continue in His teachings. When speaking to the Jews at the temple, Jesus made it absolutely clear that His followers must remain faithful to His teachings. He said, “If you continue [remain and live] in My word, you are truly My disciples. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Jesus explained to the Jews that knowing the truth and living by it would set them free from the bondage of their sins. Because some did not believe, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a servant [Greek, slave] of sin” (verse 34). Anyone who serves sin is a slave to sin. Who and what holds people in bondage to their sins? Satan and his lies hold them in bondage (verses 43-45). The only escape from that bondage is through Jesus Christ.

If we live in the truth of God, we will be free from bondage to the ways of Satan and his world. We will come to recognize Satan’s lies and reject his false doctrines. Moreover, we will know with confidence that we are abiding in Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding, so that we may know Him Who is true; and we are in Him Who is true, and in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God, and the eternal life” (I John 5:19-20).

John makes it absolutely clear that those who truly know Jesus Christ will be keeping His commandments and walking as He walked. “And by this standard we know that we know Him: if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. On the other hand, if anyone is keeping His Word, truly in this one the love of God is being perfected. By this means we know that we are in Him. Anyone who claims to dwell in Him is obligating himself also to walk even as He Himself walked” (I John 2:3-6).

The apostle John is here affirming Jesus’ own words to the Jews at the temple. The unmistakable sign and standard that identifies true Christians is their faithful keeping of the commandments and teachings of Christ. When we keep Jesus’ commandments and teachings, we are showing that we are led by the Holy Spirit, and we know that we are in Christ and He is in us. “And the one who keeps His commandments is dwelling in Him, and He in him; and by this we know that He is dwelling in us; by the Spirit which He has given to us” (I John 3:24).

We Are Sanctified Through the Truth

Jesus asked God the Father to sanctify every believer through His truth. He prayed, “Sanctify them in Your truth; Your Word is the truth…. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they also may be sanctified in Your truth” (John 17:17, 19).

These words of Jesus are profound! Remember, Jesus also said that He is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Since Jesus is the truth, we are sanctified in Him (I Cor. 1:2) and through His name (I Cor. 6:11) by God the Father (Jude 1).

Only through Jesus Christ can we be sanctified by the truth of God. It is through Jesus that we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, called “the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26). The Holy Spirit is the power by which God the Father and Jesus Christ are able to teach us “all things” through the Word of Truth (John 14:26). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 1:22) and sanctified through the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:16).

God’s Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of Truth,” not “the Spirit of half-truths.” We cannot be sanctified to the God of absolute truth, nor to Jesus Christ, Who is the truth, by false doctrines and half-truths. Blending falsehoods with the truth is never acceptable to God!

Those who persistently teach falsehoods will have no part with God. Liars will be excluded from God’s presence—expelled from His coming kingdom! “But the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders of Judaism (the scribes and Pharisees) had the truth available to them in the Scriptures. In fact, the Jewish priests and Levites were entrusted with preserving the Old Testament. More importantly, they had direct access to the truth of God in the person of Jesus Christ. He was the living Word of God, their Savior and Redeemer, dwelling among them—but they rejected Him (John 1:11).

How many times did Jesus say to the Jewish leaders, “Have you never read [in God’s Word]…?” or “It is written [in Scripture]…”? But rather than believing God’s Word, which is the truth, they preferred to believe and practice their traditions—which they held in higher esteem than the Word of God. They chose to keep their traditions and their positions of power rather than to humble themselves and accept the Son of God. They refused to repent, even when Jesus warned that they were actually following Satan the devil. Jesus boldly declared, “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you desire to practice. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he is speaking from his own self: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me” (John 8:44-45).

Like these Jewish leaders of old, most modern churchgoers are following traditions rather than the truth. Aren’t the religious holidays of the world—Christmas, Easter, Halloween—all founded on pagan traditions? Along with “Sunday-keeping,” these religious traditions are among the myths and fables Satan has used to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). True Christians neither teach nor follow such myths. The apostle Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cleverly concocted myths [fables] as our authority when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His magnificent glory” (II Pet. 1:16).

Herein lies the real problem with Christianity. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, mainstream Christians may exhibit a zeal for God, but such zeal is “not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). Their zeal for Christ is based on traditions of men, not on the knowledge of the truth. As a feel-good religion, modern Christianity is centered largely on emotion, and all but denies the need for godly works, obedience and overcoming one’s sinful nature. It professes to “love the Lord”—but Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:15).

Indeed, “Churchanity” clings to its myths and traditions rather than loving the truth of God. This preference for tradition and “smooth things” is a key reason the church is in such poor spiritual condition today—and ready to implode.

God Will Test You

God Himself will test you to see if you will abide in His truth. He must come to know without a doubt where each and every one of us stands. This fact is well illustrated in the book of II Chronicles, where King Hezekiah of Judah was tested so that God could know what was “in his heart” (II Chron. 32:31). As a righteous king, Hezekiah had done well in obeying God; and the nation of Judah was abundantly blessed as a result. But Hezekiah had a problem with pride and vanity (verses 25-26). When Babylonian ambassadors visited Judah, God used the occasion as a test—He “left [Hezekiah] in order to try him, to know all that was in his heart” (verse 31). But Hezekiah’s pride caused him to foolishly show the inquisitive ambassadors all of his many treasures. Later, the prophet Isaiah sternly corrected Hezekiah for his grievous mistake (Isa. 39).

Likewise, God will put each of us through various circumstances to test us, to know all that is in our hearts. Just as He did with Abraham, God must come to say of every follower of Christ, “now I know.” He must know that we fear and love Him (Gen. 22:12). God must test each of us in order to know that we will abide in His Word—live by the truth. But such tests need not be feared; they not only show God what is in our hearts, they also give us confidence, helping us to know that we are truly faithful. Indeed, your obedience to God’s way of life will prove to Him that you are living by the truth.

Remain Faithful in the Truth and Love of God

The vast majority of people have been deceived into believing that their physical presence in worship services and their allegiance to a corporate church organization are all that is necessary for salvation. With such an approach it is easy to fall prey to false teachings, watered-down doctrines and a costless, carnal-friendly “Christianity.” But God cannot be found in corporate churches and organizations. Rather, He is found by seeking His way of life in faithfulness to the truth of the Scriptures. Obedience to God’s commandments is the one, sure way to know with confidence that you are in the truth. We must abide and live in Christ and in His words always:

“If you dwell in Me, and My words dwell in you, you shall ask whatever you desire, and it shall come to pass for you. In this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; live in My love. If you keep My commandments, you shall live in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and live in His love” (John 15:7-10).

Each Christian who is truly part of the greater spiritual church of God is commanded by the Word of God to make sure that he or she is in the true faith. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves. Don’t you of your own selves know that Jesus Christ is in you? Otherwise, you are reprobates” (II Cor. 13:5).