The Meaning of Truth
Under the veil of mortality, all men struggle with the recognition and meaning of truth. “What is truth?” asked Pilate of the One who stood before him as the Truth Incarnate. Interesting it is that one can come face to face with truth and yet not know the truth which he faces.
If Christ is the final definition of Truth as He said of Himself, recognition of truth then is more than a matter of human perception and observation. Otherwise Pilate could not have missed it, nor anyone then or since who has crucified the Lord of Glory.
Two Hindrances to Truth Perception
The human mind is subject to forces both within and beyond itself that affect its ability to recognize and accept truth. Men commonly speak among themselves about the “willingness” to see truth. One has the capacity to choose not to recognize and accept certain truth for reasons of self-interest. Jesus said, “Men loved darkness rather than light.”
Similarly, because all truth is fundamentally spiritual at root (being that God, the author and definition of truth is spirit), men can be deceived by spirits of darkness which are opposed to truth. Jesus said that satan is the “father of lies.” Children learn to believe many lies before they have any self-interest at stake in holding to them. They merely trustingly believe what they are taught by those older.
Thus it is that by a mysterious intertwine of inward unwillingness and external deception, it is quite possible for men to come face to face with truth and not see it.
Three Theaters of Truth
Three theaters present themselves to men over which the challenges of recognizing and believing truth are played out. There is natural truth that comes by way of human observation. Then there is moral truth that comes by way of man’s inbred knowledge of good and evil. And finally there is spiritual truth that comes only by way of divine revelation. Of these three, only divine revelation is infallible for it is sourced directly in the Spirit who is Truth.
- Natural Truth
What is known as natural truth, or “science,” is subject to the limitations of human perception. Man does not have the capacity to know everything there is to know about nature. However accurate his observations, man’s observations are at best partial. That is why science is always evolving. There is always more to observe.
Similarly, man’s observations may be skewed due to his limitations. Some things may only appear to be a certain way, but in reality are another. That is why science is always forced to revise its previous theories. Science is a very weak basis for perceiving truth. It can witness to truth, but it cannot finally establish or prove truth.
- Moral Truth
What is known as moral truth is also subject to the limitations of the human soul. Men recognize broad principles of right and wrong, yet differ in their finer applications in real life. Moral perception forms the basis for all law.
There are some senses men share universally about right and wrong, fairness and justness. These legal mirrors of the heart reflect the divine character of God.
Yet when it comes to applications and enforcements, human laws are ever morphing, adapting to changes in conditions as well as to the innate human inability to perfectly keep any law, know the motivations of others or even accurately observe their actions. That is why court trials are expensive nightmares for all involved.
Moral knowledge then is also an imperfect reflection of Truth which resides in God alone.
- Spiritual Truth
In contrast to natural and moral truth, only divinely revealed truth is able to stand as perfect, for God alone is perfect. Divinely revealed truth is sourced directly by God who is perfect, and bears witness on its own strength to those to whom it comes and can receive it. And while it is witnessed to by the lesser truth forms of science and moral law, it is not ultimately proven by them, but speaks for itself.
Divine truth supersedes both natural truth and moral truth, which are both imperfect reflections of the divine. Divine truth has the power to correct imperfect perceptions of both science and moral truth. Divine truth passes judgment upon the imperfections of both, but neither the observable truth of nature nor innate moral truth has the power to pass judgment upon divine truth from beyond.
The Supremacy of Spiritual Truth
For example, and I speak to Christians, the Bible is generally accepted as the infallible divinely revealed truth of God Himself, breathed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If the Bible speaks scientifically to a natural reality then, its statements supersede whatever fallible human science may claim to be true about nature.
It then becomes the task of science to come under the guidance and correction of scripture regarding its fallible human observations of nature. If scripture says God “sits on the circle of the earth,” then science must sooner or later come to the conclusion that the earth is round, even if in its limited every day observation the earth is flat.
The same applies to moral law. The human heart has a general concept of what is right and wrong, but its image of morality, justness and fairness is just that—an image. It is an image of something that supersedes it, namely the Law of God—not the Law of Moses, but the Law of the Spirit of Life whose Living Word is Law and Righteousness.
It is for this reason that there is a distinction in scripture between “law” and “grace.” Grace is the expression of the perfect spiritual righteousness of God that is otherwise imperfectly mirrored in the “law” as perceived by men or divinely given to Moses, or imitated in other religions.
The Progressive Revelation of Spiritual Grace Truth Beyond Moral Knowledge
Scripture reveals a progression of the development of God’s manifest grace out of moral perceptual confinements under the knowledge of good and evil throughout history, especially between the Old and New Covenant dispensations. We see this, wherein some things, denied by God in what Moses instituted under the dispensation of the Law, are allowed under the superseding revelation of grace through Jesus Christ, such as the eating of certain meats.
Conversely, some things allowed by God in what Moses instituted became disallowed under the superseding grace revelation of Christ, such as “divorce for any pretext.” Similarly, under the increasing light of Christian grace, institutions acceptable under the “Mosaic morality” such as slavery and polygamy are now condemned as immoral.
So then, some of what was morally “wrong” under the “Mosaic morality” became “right” under the “morality of grace,” and some of what was morally “right” under Moses has become morally “wrong” under grace. This shift as outlined in the infallible Divine Revelation demonstrates intrinsic distinction between Divine Truth from heaven and moral truth under the knowledge of good and evil (on which all moral law is founded). In so doing, it goes beyond to demonstrate that Divinely revealed Truth supersedes all limited human concepts of fairness and righteousness, period.
Though human morality serves as a general imperfect mirror of divine righteousness, such moral perception is unable to pass judgment on Divinely Revealed Truth where the two conflict. The righteousness, justice and fairness of God supersede all limited human perceptions of the same.
Thus where human fairness has a problem with scripturally revealed divine will and action, such as the ancient commands that Israel kill off entire civilizations including women and children, or the decrees of salvation by election, or of judgment to eternal damnation for the overwhelming majority of men in the present world order, human moral perception must bow to the inscrutable righteousness of God as given in the scriptural revelation.
Mutiplying the Theaters by the Hindrances
When the schematic of the three theaters of truth is overlaid with that of the internal self-interest and external satanic factors preventing men from acknowledging the Truth when it stands in front of them, we begin to understand the magnitude of the struggle men face in coming to deal with divinely revealed truth.
In a nutshell, the difficulty is that the combination of internal self-interest and satanically deceiving factors energizes men to misappropriate the natural and moral truth theaters, either unto judging divinely revealed truth (that is, twisting it into conformity with their liking), or unto denying its authority toward escaping its claims and influence altogether
That this is the problem with men outside the new birth, who remain, as the scriptures say, “dead” in trespasses and sins—estranged from the saving knowledge of Christ, having “darkened” and even “reprobate” minds—is not a surprise to the Christian believing community. What is of real concern is that most Christian “believers” have succumbed in one way or other to the same mishandlings and perversions of natural and moral truth to the ignoring or denying of divinely revealed truth.
Outgrowing the Hindrances to Progress Toward the Spirit
True, we are all on a journey. Our development into spiritual truth out of human blindness is progressive, as we have already noted. We must allow for this. But the burden of the Spirit of Truth is that as believers, we demonstrate a constant life of growing into increasingly greater subjection to spiritual truth as our plumb line and reference point for reality.
This means if we are to know and grow in spiritual truth, we must continually cast off our own latent self-preserving pride and prejudices by which we finally believe what we want to believe, as well as outgrow the untested misbeliefs of others inherited in our youth. It also means we must keep moving from natural perception to spiritual grace perception whereby we increasingly exchange the reference points of natural and moral truth for those of spiritual truth.
This relatively brief discussion on the threefold nature of truth and the hindrances we face relative to growing through its lesser dimensions toward its supreme spiritual dimension can serve as a grid for helping us evaluate our actual relationship to what we call truth. May it help us avoid facing truth before our very eyes, like Pilate, without the ability to recognize it.
With all faith,
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created February 14, 2017