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How do you know what to believe?

Submitted by martinleech on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 09:22

We were out the other day for an afternoon walk in the woods. A couple were sitting on a bench and, as we passed, a snippet of their conversation caught my ear, 'But how do I know what to believe? They are the ones who write the history'. What an interesting conversation! What an important question! I'd like to know what had gone before and what came after. But just that one sentence reminded me afresh of the perils of living in a time where the idea of truth has been so undermined... It is not some new thing, but we ought to be deeply concerned at the widespread devaluing of truth, the ease with which deceit and lies spread and the comfort with which even some leaders and public figures seem to be able to lie (I'm not trying to be political - it's just an observation). The notion of 'plausible deniability' is used to deflect blame from bad actions; discord is sown by spreading invented ideas or posting doctored images and videos; fact gets buried under an avalanche of fiction. It is not clever or funny and it is certainly not sustainable. It undermines trust and confidence. It is destructive. 'Reckless words pierce like a sword' (Proverbs 12:18). And those who spread lies and use deceit to advance their own causes need to remember that sooner or later they will find themselves caught in a web from which they cannot escape. Those who don't take the idea of truth seriously ought not to be surprised should they find themselves in a position where they desperately need to be believed, but are not, or are the victims of painful deception.

God, however, takes truth seriously. 'The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful' (Proverbs 12:22).

Going back to the conversation on the bench and the 'how do you know what to be believe' question, the person was right in seeing that so much depends upon the 'who' question. Who wrote the history? Who is it that says, 'the fact of the matter is...'?  'A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies' (Proverbs 12:17). What comes out of our mouths betrays something of our real nature. So who, in the end, can we believe? Who can we trust to tell 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'? We so need to listen to God, who is truth, in what He says to us in His 'Word of truth', the Bible, and in how He makes Himself known to us in the 'Word made flesh', Jesus Christ.