Message 1: The Power and Beauty of the Truth

Sept. 27, 2018 Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Session Transcript

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Oh Lord, we affirm your promise that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet, and in the meantime, in these moments, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Each of our speakers—some for months now—has been asking the Lord to give them words to share that will minister grace.

There are 7,000 women here on site and many more thousands online. We come from many different backgrounds and seasons of life. We’re facing different circumstances and trials and challenges and opportunities.

There is no way we can know, as a speaker team, what all those needs are and what’s going on in individual hearts, much less be able to minister in a meaningful way to all those needs. I wish each of us could just sit down and have a cup of coffee with each other. Well, it wouldn’t be coffee for me, but tea or water. But I wish we could just sit across the table from each other and hear each other’s hearts and hear each other’s stories.

The fact is that God knows every one of us. He knows you; He knows your situation, your needs, your baggage, the things no one else knows about you. And He knows—praise Jesus!—exactly how to meet each of our needs!

I believe that He wants to pour out mercy and grace on each of us in these days that we share together. I'm asking Him to do that for you, for me, to wash our hearts in the water of His Word, to revive our hearts with His truth.

So regardless of your situation, regardless of what you left behind at home, what you brought with you here this weekend, or what you may be facing that you have no clue about when you get home, I want to tell you that there is really good news for your heart this weekend!

But here’s the thing: Good news isn't precious until you've heard the bad news. So I want to start with the bad news tonight. Here’s the bad news: Lies are everywhere. They are more powerful, more evil, and more destructive than we can imagine, and we are all deeply affected by lies—every one of us.

The serpent said to the woman, “What God told you is not true. You can determine your own truth.

In fact, you'll be better off if you do.” And he concocted a narrative that seemed right. It was appealing; it was attractive. After all, would she have gone forward if it hadn't been? The only problem with the story was, it wasn't true!

Eve fell for that lie, that deception. She was deceived, and ever since that day, every human being who has ever lived has been deeply impacted by lies in several ways. We've all been sinned against by others who are deceivers and deceived. We've been wounded by lies that other people have believed, and we've all been deceived ourselves.

Satan lies to us; this fallen world lies to us; our own hearts lie to us. We absorb and believe things about God, about ourselves, about our relationships, about our past, our present and our future—things that seem right to us, but they aren't true.

So we've been wounded by others who believe lies and who lie. We've been deceived ourselves. And not only are we wronged by others who deceive, not only are we deceived ourselves, but here’s the part that may be harder for us to recognize: we're also all deceivers! We lie to ourselves, we lie to others, and we lie to God.

So that's the bad news: Lies are everywhere. They are more powerful, more evil, and more destructive than we can imagine, and we are all deeply affected by them. Now, I just want to invite you to say that with me because I don't want you to just hear it and say, “Yeah . . . whatever.” I want you to affirm what we're talking about in these days together.

So say it with me: “Lies are more powerful, more evil, and more destructive than I can imagine!”

You say that. And then say this: “I have been deeply affected by lies.”

So that's the bad news. But now for the good news. Here it is: The truth is more powerful than lies. It is more pure and more beautiful than you can imagine . . . and it will set you free! So let me give you one phrase at a time and if you believe it, I want to encourage you to say it together.

The truth is more powerful than lies.
It is more pure and more beautiful than I can imagine.
The truth will set me free!

Now let me invite you to turn in your Bible to the little tiny epistle of 2 John. It is almost at the end of the New Testament, and it may be one of those pages in your Bible that kind of stick together because we don't go there very often. I don't know if I've ever heard a message on 2 John.

I want us to just park there for the next few moments: 1, 2, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. If you turn pages from the back to the left, it's just a little further in. This is one of the shortest books in the Bible. In the original language, it is just 245 words. In fact, it is more like a postcard than a letter, but it is packed full!

We're just going to skim the surface of it tonight. We see in this short letter some of the qualities of truth, some of the evidences, challenges, and blessings of walking in the truth.

Now, this little book was written by the apostle John; it was named after him. He wrote the gospel of John, he wrote 1, 2, and 3 John, and he wrote the book of Revelation. He was known as “the beloved disciple of Jesus.”

He identifies himself in verse 1 as “the Elder.” He wrote this letter when he was an old man, probably about ninety years of age. He was near the end of his life, and he had the office of an elder. He wasn’t just old; he was an actual elder in the family of God. He was responsible for the oversight and the care of many local churches. So this was written by John the elder.

And to whom did he write the letter? Well, he says it is to “to the elect lady and her children, whom I love” (v. 1). Now, some commentators think that this elect lady thing is a symbolic way of referring to a particular church. Others believe (and I tend to agree with them; we don’t know) that it was written to an unnamed woman, maybe a widow, and her children, who may have been grown by this time, but they were good friends of John.

Whether it's the church, symbolically, or a literal woman and her son, it doesn't change the message at all. There is both encouragement and warning in these verses. John calls her “the elect lady.” Some of your translations say “the lady chosen by God,” whom I love.

In verse 5 he calls her, “dear lady.” This woman was a beloved friend of the apostle. Let me just say (pause here for a moment), if you are in Christ, that same description applies to you. In eternity past, you were chosen by God to belong to Him. You are dear to God! Do you believe that? That you were chosen by God and dear to God?

These are truths that will set you free as you begin to counsel your heart, not according to what you feel or what you think, but according to what God tells you about yourself in His Word. So, “elect, dear ladies,” what was on John's mind when he wrote to this dear friend?

Well, in the first two verses, we get a big clue, because he uses one word three times. He says to the elect lady and her children “whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever” (vv. 1–2).

This word “truth” is one that John loved. He uses it thirty-seven times in his New Testament writings.

He never got tired of talking about the truth and calling God's children to walk in the truth. So he says to this woman, “I love you in the truth.”

Now, today love and truth are often pitted against each other as if they were opposites, as if they were enemies, as if you're for love or you’re for truth. But John says to this woman, “I love you in truth.” Truly, these two concepts always go hand in hand. Genuine love is always rooted in truth!

The basis for love and friendship and unity in the Body of Christ is not being the same age or from the same geographic locality or the same demographic or having similar personalities or tastes or life experiences.

The basis for relationship and love is truth. That's the foundation for love. That flies in the face of our postmodern world that says, “There is no such thing as absolute truth. Truth is subjective; it's relative; it changes from one generation to the next.” We have “your truth,” and we have “my truth.” Whatever is true for you, whatever you want to believe.”

But John says in these verses, “We can know the truth.” He says that truth will be with us forever.

You see, truth is objective. It is absolute. It is unchanging. And, praise God, it is eternal. We sometimes think of truth as restrictive or hard or limiting, but verse 3 tells us that truth brings some incredible blessings.

What does the apostle say? “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love” (v. 3). Grace, mercy, peace . . . these are the sweet fruits of walking in the truth.

You begin to see here the beauty of the truth. Do you want grace in your life, do you want mercy in your life, do you want peace in your life? Then learn to root and ground your life in truth. That's how you get these things.

John says to this woman, “I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.” Isn't it true that it brings great joy to your heart when you see those you love walking in the truth?

If your children are walking in the truth, your grandchildren, people you've discipled, people you’ve invested in, it brings you great joy! But it’s interesting to me (and I never caught this until recent weeks) that John said, “I rejoiced greatly to find” not all of your children walking in the truth, but “some of them” (v. 4).

You see, each person in each generation has to choose for himself or herself the pathway of truth.

This is not a hereditary thing or an inherited or a genetic thing. “My parents were Christians; therefore, I'm a Christian.” No. “Some of your children” are walking in the truth. We pray that they all would!

Then he talks about “walking in the truth.” This is a way of life, and he’s not so concerned about what you say you believe, but what you actually believe, which is demonstrated in how you live, how you walk.

And verses 5 and 6 (which I'm not going to read tonight; I would encourage you to do that later), he talks about some of the evidences of walking in the truth, the chief of which is obedience to the Word of God. This is how we know that we are in the truth.

And then, verse 7 (that’s where I want to move to), he talks about there is opposition to the truth, so expect it. Be alert! He says, verse 7: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

Now, he talks about the deceiver, the antichrist, but he talks about many deceivers. That word “deceivers” is the word planos, from which we get the word “planet.” The meaning has to do with “wandering.” These are wanderers. They wander away from the truth; they lead others astray. They are deceived, and they deceive others about who Jesus is, about the gospel, about what is good, and what is true.

And here’s the thing: What they believe that's not true is not always immediately obvious. That's what makes them effective, because so many times what they are saying looks true. It looks good; it looks right, but it’s not true. Which is why we have to be on our toes; we have to be alert; we have to be discerning!

In verse 8 he gives a warning: “Watch yourselves so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.” Can I just mention first that this is a woman who is dear to him, “Whom I love.” He loves her; he loves her children. But he’s not afraid to say, “Watch yourself!”

Sometimes we think if we go to someone that we see headed down a pathway that may not be right, and if we say something to them that's honest, if we try and point them to the truth, we think, Well, they might not think we love them, or That wouldn't be very loving, because everybody’s got their truth and their way.

No. John knows the most loving thing you can do for someone who is in danger of walking away from the truth is to tell them to watch out! If I'm walking down the street and there’s a pothole there and I don't see it . . . My husband, Robert, grabs my arm and says, “Watch out!” He’s not being mean. He loves me. He wants to protect me. It's a sign of love.

So John says, “Don't let deceivers lead you astray!” There’s intentionality here; there’s perseverance. You never ever get to the place where you can stop being vigilant in holding onto the truth. Never. Watch out. Watch out!

“So you may not lose what we've worked for.” I'm so glad with that warning there’s a promise, a word of encouragement. He says, “. . . but [you] may win a full reward.” Your commitment to the truth—even when it's hard, even when you have to swim upstream, even when you have to buck deceivers—your commitment to the truth, your commitment to walk in the truth will be fully rewarded.

In verse 9 he says, “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ [everyone who leaves the truth], does not have God. [But] whoever abides in the teaching [whoever holds fast to the truth] has both the Father and the Son.”

Here is what I take away from that verse: The evidence of true faith is that you hold faithfully to the truth. If you have true faith, then you will hold faithfully, by God's grace, to the truth. He says, verse 10 and 11, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

Now, it's a good thing to be hospitable; it’s a good thing to welcome people into our homes, but it’s not a good thing to receive deceptive false teaching. That may be actual people we bring into our homes. He was saying, “Don't fellowship with these people. They're going to lead you astray!” But we can bring this teaching in by a lot of different means: through television, through music, through the Internet, through social media.

He’s saying, “Don't welcome any form of deception into your heart, into your mind, into your home, into your relationships. So much is at stake!” You see, it's easier than we think for deception to get a toe-hold in our hearts, in our minds, in our lives and in the lives of those we love. To say “yes” to truth is to say “no” to everything that is not true.

Here’s the thing: We're being lied to constantly. You can be sitting here tonight having believed lies that have been planted in your heart for years. You have voices, “tapes,” playing in your head:

  • “I can't get victory over this habit, this addiction, this temptation.”
  • “There’s no way I could ever forgive that person who has hurt me so deeply.”
  • “I'll never be able to be whole again after what has been done to me. Christ is not enough for my situation.”

Oh, we’d never say it out loud, but is that what we sometimes feel? My life is hopeless, or My life is meaningless, or . . . You fill in the blank. I’ll never be any different! Lies, lies, lies!

These are lies that imprison so many in this room in hopelessness, in addictions, in despair, in feelings of inadequacy, fears. These are lies that keep us from experiencing grace and mercy and peace and joy and freedom.

I've been meditating in the last day or so on that little verse in Jonah chapter 2. Jonah’s in the belly of this fish. He’s gone down, down, down. He now prays this desperate prayer to God. In verse 8 of Jonah 2 he says, “They that observe lying vanities . . .” (KJV)

Some of your translations say, “Those who cling to worthless idols . . .” (NIV) Things that aren't true. They claim to be gods, they claim to be real, they claim to be truth, but they're not. And those who observe these lying vanities or who cling to these worthless idols, what happens to them? They “forsake their own mercy.” (KJV)

God wants to give you mercy. He wants to give you grace. He wants to give you freedom. He wants to give you joy. But as long as we’re clinging to things that we think will make us secure, things we think will make us happy, things we think are true—even if they're not—then we are going to forsake the mercy God wants to give us.

Do you know how to recognize the lies? Do you know how to discern deception? Do you know how, when you read it in a best-selling book or you read it in a popular blog or you hear it in a hit song or in a classroom or from a trusted friend? Do you know how to recognize it?

Well, I'll tell you there is only one way to become discerning about lies, and that is to become discerning about truth . . . to get grounded in the truth. You'll never know the truth any better than you know God’s Word. You'll never know the truth any better than you know Jesus, who is the Truth.

That’s why we need to learn to renew our minds, to counsel our hearts according to truth.

“Whatever is true . . . think about [those] things” (Phil. 4:8). Armed with the truth, we can do battle against the lies, and we can win! We can be victorious over them!

Now, it’s not enough to know the truth. We need to learn to love the truth. You see, truth is not only good and right and true. Let me say it this way: Truth is not only true and right, it is also good and beautiful . . . and the enemy doesn't want you to believe that!

This is something that’s been opening my eyes and my heart in the years of this True Woman Movement. Because we think of truth, we know it's true, we know it's right, but to believe and grasp that it is good and it is beautiful--it will set you free.

I have a friend who has been grappling with the ugly aftermath of years of emotional manipulation and sexual assault at the hands of a trusted Christian leader. Last week we were talking about the importance of truth, and here is what she said to me.

I listened to the wrong voice for so many years. I just wanted a happy ending. I thought I could turn something that was intrinsically evil and could make it something different. The beauty of truth is that it brings freedom from confusion and wrong voices.

You want to get free from the confusion, free from the wrong voices? Learn to know and love the truth!

A few days ago I saw an Instagram post of a dear, precious friend of mine. She is a twenty-two-year-old young wife. She posted a picture of herself, and then here’s what she wrote:

I used to have that body. You know, the one you we see every day on Pinterest or our Instagram feeds—the flat abs, the major thigh gap, and the perfectly toned arms.

I used to get comments like, ‘Wow, I never knew how small you were!’ or ‘You’re so fit and skinny! I wish I was like that!’ I had the body I thought I wanted, but I also had no energy and no fun.

I shut people out in order to stay on a healthy diet and get an extra hour in at the gym. I used to put all my value into one thing: being perfect, being good enough.

Now I've been healed by the Perfect Savior—the One who has shown me that people are more important than my body; that true health is not obsession or insanity; that loving myself means being in community with others, being vulnerable about my brokenness, and being obsessed with Jesus.

Today my legs have dimples, my stomach is softer, and my arms look just average. But it's the body I want—the body that reminds me of truth and grace and freedom.

I write this to remind everyone of the true value we have. We are more than our performance, our clothes, and our kale salads. We are loved by Christ, and we live to love others.”

That is the power and beauty of the truth! It has set my friend free. And that same truth will set you free.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, chapter 19. That's where the apostle John is given a vision. Heaven is opened, and John sees a Man (capital “M”) on a white horse.

That rider on the horse has many crowns on His head, and His piercing eyes shine brilliantly like fire. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood. The armies of Heaven are following Him on white horses, and together they go forth to battle to assert the reign and rule of God throughout the world—to save and defend the people of God, those who love and hold fast to the truth.

They also go forth to judge and to overcome all of the enemies of God—that is, those who traffic in lies and do not love the truth. They go forth for salvation and for judgment, those armies of Heaven.

And what is the name of the Captain of that army? Revelation 19:11 tells us He “is called Faithful and True.” Verse 13 says, “The name by which he is called is The Word of God.” And verse 16, “On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”

You see, the truth that will set you free, the truth that sets me free, the truth that set my twenty-two-year-old young friend free, the truth that is setting my other friend free who has walked through this horrific history of manipulation and abuse . . . the truth that sets us free is a person. His name is Jesus!

He comes to set the prisoners free. He comes to dry every tear. And one day He will come to redeem this whole broken, fallen world—everything broken will be made whole. Every lie will be exposed, truth will reign, and Jesus will reign forever and ever.

Let's bow our hearts in prayer. As we close these moments, I’m going to read just four phrases from the book of Psalms that are prayers. I’d like to say each of these phrases and then invite you to pray it out loud with me, if this is the prayer of your heart, as we start into this conference. Would you pray it with me?

“I have chosen the way of truth.”
“Lead me in your truth and teach me.”
“Send out your light and your truth.”
“Let them lead me.”
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.”

And may it be so for each of us! Lord Jesus, we worship you, the Way, the Truth, and our Life, Amen.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.