Truth and our perception of truth are critically important to us. Success - which may be continued life - requires that we align our lives with truth. If we are to walk in truth consistently we must consistently perceive the truth correctly. To the degree that our lives are not aligned with truth we risk loss and failure - which may be the loss of life itself. If we fail to correctly perceive the truth it will be very difficult to avoid the loss of misaligned life.
What is truth?
Reality is all that was, is, or will be. All includes all beings, places, and things. It includes events, processes, relationships, powers, and authorities. It also includes the state of all beings, places, things, events, etc.. Unfortunately, we only perceive fragments of reality.
Truth is the accurate and complete representation of reality. Truth is what it is. It is completely objective: it is not relative nor is it subjective.
The above is consistent with the Greek view of truth. The Hebrew view of truth places more emphasis on reliability. (Stern, David H. Jewish New Testament Commentary. Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992. 839. Print) The Greek and Hebrew views are not mutually exclusive. The Hebrew view focuses on a particularly critical element of truth.
Truth and Error
Error occurs when we misperceive the truth. We think something is and it is not. We think something is not and it is. We think something will be and it is not. We think something is strong and it is weak. We think we are righteous and pleasing to God and we are not. We think we are not righteous and pleasing to God and we are.
We suffer loss when we align our lives on perceptions that include error. We prosper when we align our lives on perceptions that do not include error. Consistent prosperity requires our lives be consistently aligned with the truth and this requires that we consistently perceive the truth sufficiently and correctly.
Perceiving the Truth
Knowing truth and walking according to truth requires that we trust, or put our faith in, the means we use to perceive the truth.
There are two means of perceiving the truth available to us. We may perceive the truth using our own ability to perceive truth or we may perceive truth according to the ability of a guide to perceive truth.
Our ability to perceive truth is limited to our senses, our understanding, and our memory. We perceive evidence of truth, understand what we perceive, and recall prior perceptions. Over time we work to perceive more evidence: to be more observant.
Take heed what you hear: (Mark 4:24)
We refine our perception of truth to eliminate the dross: to focus our attention on what is relevant or valuable. We winnow the chaff from the grain.
Take heed how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them. (Luke 8:18)
Finally we weigh or measure what we have perceived. We compare it to other perceptions: to other things we believe to be truth.
By the standard of measure that you use it will be measured to you, and more besides. (Mark 4:24)
When people measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to other people, they are without understanding (they fail to perceive the truth). (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Generally, our preference is to trust our own ability to perceive the truth rather than trust the ability of someone else. We know the level of diligence we use in perceiving, refining, and measuring. We are less certain about whether someone else does these things well enough for us to rely on. If, however, we believe that someone else has a better perception of truth than we do, then we are likely to rely on their perception rather than spend the time and effort to develop our own. This is especially true when we believe that we would have to spend more time and effort than we want to spend to develop a sufficient and correct perception of truth. Since our supply of time and energy is limited, this happens with considerable frequency.
Unfortunately, our perception, as well as that of every other person on whom we may rely, is limited. We cannot see something that emits or reflects light outside of the limited range of light our eyes see. We cannot hear something that makes a sound that is outside of the range of our hearing. We fail to detect a light that is too dim or a sound that is too quiet. How do we detect and measure the thoughts and intents, the faithfulness, the love, the faith, and the righteousness of another? Of even our own selves?
These are limits to our perception of what is. Our perception of what was and what will be is even more limited. We use our limited perception of the present and our limited perception of the truth to create a perception of past and future truth.
Given the limits on our perception of the truth we stumble through life in relative blindness: enjoying prosperity and life and suffering loss and death according to how well we manage to align our lives with truth that we perceive so poorly.
Thanks be to God forever that he has not left us blind and stumbling. He has sent us a guide: the Spirit of truth sent to guide us and lead us into all the truth and show us things to come.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak of his own, but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about things that will be in the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. (John 16:13-14)
Nothing that ever was, is, or ever will be, is beyond his perception. He is absolutely, utterly, reliable. Both Jesus and God have relied and continue to rely on him to guide us into all the truth. Surely we can rely on him too.
Relying on the Spirit of Truth
The beginning of relying on the Spirit of truth is to ask God to send him to guide us and lead us into all the truth.
You do not have because you do not ask. (James 4:2)
If people who are evil know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. (Luke 11:13)
The next part of relying on the Spirit of truth is hearing and recognizing him.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, 3:6,13,22)
My sheep hear my voice ... and they follow me. (John 10:27)
Today, when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled. (Hebrews 3:15)
Hear what the Spirit says. We perceive the Spirit of truth with our hearing. Not what we hear with our ears, but the thoughts we hear.
Trust in God comes by hearing God and hearing God comes by the word of God. We must sow the word of God into our hearts as truth. We must consider his word and the hearing it gives us to be of high value. We must consider it to be of high enough value that we rely on it and do it.
Faith results from hearing and hearing results through the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more (including more hearing) will be added to you. (Mark 4:24)
Take heed how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching (hear and do God’s word), more understanding (perception of truth) will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they think they understand (truth they think they perceive) will be taken away from them. (Luke 8:18)
Do what God says to do (in his word and by his Spirit), and not hear only - deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22)
Read and weigh/measure a portion of Proverbs each day - just as you would eat a portion of food for your body each day. Proverbs is very much like truth concentrate - it is condensed truth. Do what it teaches. Order your steps on the paths of righteousness it reveals.
A wise man will hear (truth God teaches in Proverbs) and will increase his learning (perception of truth). (Proverbs 1:5)
Our relying on the Spirit of truth must include our perception of truth and our weighing and measuring of truth.
Recognizing the Spirit of Truth
The ministry of the Spirit of truth comes with God’s warning that we must not believe every spirit, but must test the spirit to confirm that it comes from God. See Confirming the Spirit of Truth.
The Great Value of the Spirit of Truth
It is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t the Spirit of truth won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
The ministry of the Spirit of truth is so valuable to us that Jesus said it was better for him to go to the Father and send the Spirit of truth to guide us than for Jesus to stay on the earth with us. There’s a truth to align our lives with!
The truth is that we must place our trust in whatever means we use to perceive the truth and that we have but means available to us: our perception or the perception of a guide. We know that our perception is limited and faulty. Our faulty perception causes us to misalign our lives with truth and suffer loss as a result. In his great love for us, Jesus asked God to send us a guide - the Spirit of truth - to guide us and lead us into all the truth. He did this so that we had better means of perceiving the truth. We can rely on the Spirit of truth to reveal all the truth: all beings, places, and things. All events, processes, relationships, powers, and authorities. The state of all beings, places, events, etc.. We can especially rely on the Spirit of truth to reveal to us the state of our own being: with respect to righteousness, love, faith, humility, fruitfulness, and unity; with respect to our relationship with God and other believers - are we pleasing to God and in true unity with others.
Only by relying on the Spirit of truth for perceiving and weighing/measuring the truth may we consistently align our lives with the truth and walk in the prosperity of truth that God gives to all who walk in truth.
The Spirit of Truth and Prayer
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know what prayer is.
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know what the process of prayer is.
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know the power and authority necessary to produce results in prayer.
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know if we are in a state of being such that the word of God can work in us to produce results in prayer.
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know the path of moving from our current state of being to a state that will be more fruitful in prayer.
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know how to pray each prayer so that it produces the result God desires.
We rely on the Spirit of truth to know if our prayer is on track to produce results.
There is far more information regarding the guidance of the Spirit of Truth than will fit on a web page. Please see the Guiding Into Truth Work of the Holy Spirit book in the Free Books page.
Seed to Produce Measuring According to Truth
The first letter of John is filled with teaching showing us how to measure according to truth. It tells us the specific measure to use to measure some of the most important truth. As we sow the word of 1 John into our hearts it works to help us measure according to truth.
As we sow 1 John into our hearts we need to keep in mind that John is talking about measuring according to the witness and testimony of the Spirit of truth (1 John 2:27, 4:13, 5:20) and not according to what we think by measuring ourselves by ourselves and comparing ourselves with others - or the witness and testimony of other people who measure us by comparing us with others. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
Here are some of the critical truths John teaches us how to measure.
Do we know God? (2:3-4)
Are we in union with God? (2:5-6, 9-11; 3:6-10)
How do we remain in union with God? (2:24, 4:13)
What is eternal life? (2:25)
How do we know we have eternal life? ((2:5-6, 9-11, 25; 3:6-10)
How do we know we are born of God? (3:14)
How do we recognize the Spirit of God (4:1-3) (See also Confirming the Spirit of Truth)
Sowing a portion of 1 John into our hearts each day helps us measure all things according to truth, not just these things that John addressed specifically.