Obedience To The Truth
A knowledge and belief of the truth imposes the obligation to obey its demands. There would be no advantage in knowing and believing the truth, if we did not recognize the obligation to do whatever it demands of us. This is true in all phases of life, legally, socially, and religiously. Truth is not just abstract knowledge of certain principles but the rule and standard of human conduct to guide our action and must therefore be respected. No man can in good conscience reject and dismiss the demands that truth makes of him for action. If he does, he does not live up to the best that he knows and thus denies himself the privilege of self-respect. Moreover, the obligations that truth lays upon us toward the well being of our fellows about us cannot be denied and our lives and characters be what they should be. The demands of truth must be met.
The liar and the thief, the murderer and adulterer, the drunkard and the gambler all refuse to be guided by what they know to be the truth. What they do they must know, if they have been taught anything at all, is neither for their own good or the god of those about them. They refuse to fulfill their obligations to the truth. The anarchist and rebel against law and order knows, if he is a person of any responsibility, that his action is not in harmony with the truth or the good of society. Sin and crime both violate every principle of truth and disregard its obligations.
Religiously, truth obligates us to do our duty to both God and man as well as to live up to our own best interest. In Titus 2:11-12, Paul by the Holy Spirit said, "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world." Only thus can we fulfill our duty to self, our fellow man, and to God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter seven, Jesus taught, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven." (V.21) He continued, "Everyone therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descend, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof." (Vs 24-27) A failure to act upon the truth means failure.
When men tell us that our only obligation to the truth is to believe it, they deny everything the Bible teaches about the duty of man toward truth. Faith in truth must motivate obedience to it or else our faith is in vain and truth will condemn rather than make us free. In Galatians, chapter 5, beginning with verse 6, we read, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love." Truth sets forth duty and duty must be done or truth is rejected and there is no reason for knowing or believing it.
James teaches us the importance of acting upon the truth. James 1:22-25, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." Again in the same epistle, James 2:14, the writer said, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can (that) faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
A man may be highly educated in medicine, but if he does not practice it, his knowledge of it will bless no one, not even him. Likewise in the field of economics and banking, or law, all that one may know is of no benefit until it is applied. Scientists can bless humanity with their vast training and knowledge only as they apply and put to work the information they have. This should be so obvious to us all that none could contend that a mere knowledge of the truth and belief of it is enough in any phase of life, much less in religion. Food, even though the diet may be complete and adequate, can be good for our bodies only when it is properly digested and assimilated by the part of the body needing it. Even so our lives and those about us can be blessed by our knowledge of the truth when we put it to work through faith.
God has been specific and plain in pointing out the fact that men who know and believe the truth must obey it in order to be saved by it. Paul points this out in language clear and positive in Romans 2:5-8, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, to the Jew first, and also of the Gentile." Passages of this kind could be multiplied from the scriptures. Turn in your Bibles and read the following passages: II Thess. 1:7-8; Heb. 5:8-9; I John 3:7; Romans 6:17-18.
It is through a proper application of the truth that our souls are purified. (I Peter 1:22-23) By obedience to the truth we reach the blood of Christ and are made free from sin. (Rom. 6:3-4, 17-18) Our relationship to Christ is established and maintained by doing the will of the Father. (Matt. 12:47-50) The true test of love for the Lord and for the truth is whether or not we do it. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (I John 5:2-3) We do not know God and are not even on speaking terms with Him when we do not obey the truth revealed concerning His will. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." (I John 2:3-5).
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