You Must Speak Your Truth
You Must Live Your Truth(4)
How many of you ever played the game, two truths and a lie? If not, the game goes pretty much as it sounds – I’ll say three things about myself. Two of them are true, one is false. You have to guess which one is false. So here we go:
- I once pitched a no-hitter when I was playing little league
- I have been in all 50 states except Hawaii and Alaska.
- On Jodi’s and my wedding day, it was very hot, and the church did not have AC
Which one do you think is false?
Let me give you another one.
- Baseball is coming back for a shortened season this summer
- Country radio doesn’t play country music anymore.
- Kale is delicious
Which one is false? Now there starts to be some discrepancies, right? It depends a little bit. Aside from baseball coming back, the other two are based on opinion, and can’t be backed up by facts. So it starts to get a little muddy.
Now here’s one more:
- “Follow your heart” is good advice
- Your authentic self is what is most true about you
- You need to speak your truth, even if it hurts someone
Which one of those is a deception? They all are. They are all some version of You Need To Live Your Truth.
And maybe you’ve heard that line before, from Oprah to Rachel Hollis and a bunch of bloggers and influencers, life coaches and motivational speakers in between. You need to live your truth. Or maybe you’ve heard the less modern version: You do you. Whatever floats your boat. You need to live your truth.
So first of all, what does it even mean to live your truth? Well, after doing some research, here’s how most people define it:
Living your truth is: To fully embrace yourself as a person and living your most truthful self.
To live your truth is to wear what you want, say what you want, do what you want, so that people get the most authentic version of you as possible.
You’re to get me. This is who I am. And remember, there is always a bit of truth in these deceptions.
In Genesis 1:27, says God created humans in his image; male and female, in the image of God. We are all designed by God to represent some part of his character to the world. Some of you are incredibly organized and administrative. You represent the part of God that made the sky before he made the birds; the part that made the ocean before he made whales; the part that makes every day the same length, every year the same length, etc. Others of you are artistic and creative. You represent the part of God that makes a different sunset/sunrise every day; you represent that part that makes birds with long beaks, short beaks, hooked beaks, goofy beaks. And all of that is true of you whether or not you are actually following Jesus, or looking to honor God with your life.
But for those who are looking to honor God, one of the lessons my dad taught me as a young boy learning to shoot a shotgun was that the tiniest adjustments can make a huge difference. He had me aim at something in the yard, then he pushed the barrel just ¼ inch to the left, and when I re-sighted, the original target wasn’t even close.
As we’ve been talking about ever since day one of River City’s existence, the target of the Christian life, the target of the Story of God, is the whole earth filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as water covers the sea. That’s the target our lives should be aimed at. But what Satan wants to do with you and me is just push that barrel just a smidge so the target of self comes into focus and the target of God’s glory is nowhere to be found.
And we must recognize this lie, even if a so-called Christian blogger, author, speaker is the one who says it, “You need to live your truth” is a slight but deadly push on the barrel to put your sights on the target of you.
Genesis 2:16,17 – You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but not the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. What God said to the first man and woman is the truth: You are free, in a place of abundance that I have provided for you. But so you continue to recognize me as King, and not yourself, don’t eat from that tree. Everything else – go for it! So the garden was full of the gifts of God… beauty, wisdom, food, romance, work, peace, comfort, joy, God’s presence, etc., and as far as we can tell, the first man and woman seem to be quite happy about that.
The serpent comes along in chapter 3, and presents the argument that what matters more than the abundance they have access to is the thing they don’t have access to. Here’s the Rodney paraphrase of Genesis 3: “You are worthy of more than what God has given you, Eve. You deserve better than this. What do you want to be 5-10 years from now, Eve? You want to be wise, right? You want to be successful in this garden, don't you? You don’t want to look back on your life with regret and think what could have been if you’d have eaten the fruit that’ll make you wise, do you? Yet, here God is saying you can’t have the very thing that will help you reach your goals! It’s hard for me to believe he cares about you at all. Eve, think about who you are and who you want to be, and then go for it. You might have to let God sit this one out, Eve, but if you don’t live your life, no one’s going to live it for you.”
Notice what Satan is doing…. Gently pushing the barrel slightly to the side so she’s aimed at the target of herself instead of bringing God glory.
When Adam and Eve bought the lie of the enemy, they developed a deep flaw in them that made them unable to aim at the target of God’s glory anymore. Nothing they could do would bring God glory in their fallen state. When they lived their own version of truth, it brought death! Yet here we are, thousands of years later, still drinking that same poison and thinking it’s going to heal our cancer.
What is truth?
Truth in the New Testament is defined as: that which is in accord with what really happens, facts that correspond to reality, whether a historical reality backed up by facts or an eternal reality
So, when I give you those three things in two truths and a lie, you’re racking your brain to see if you remember any news posts, or anything I may have said in a sermon, to see if there are facts or realities to support my statements. Truth is anchored in reality.
There are so many verses we could go to here, but we’ll pick one, John 18:37 - The words of Jesus as he stands trial before his crucifixion: “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” What does it mean to be OF the truth?
What does it mean if I tell you “I am a man of faith”? Or someone says she is “of Chinese descent”? To say you’re of something, means you belong to it, right? If I’m “of faith”, I belong to a certain faith, or set of beliefs. If I’m “of Chinese descent”, it means no matter what country I live in, no matter where I go, or what happens to me, I belong to a family originating in China.
So what does it mean to be “of the truth”? It means the truth of Jesus marks our identity. We belong to him. It’s our anchor, our foundation. And Jesus’ second statement is, the marker of whether or not you are “of the truth”, the marker of your identification with Christ and whether you belong to him or not, is not that you say you’re a Christian. It’s not that you attend church, or vote politically conservative, or that you have a cross necklace you always wear or tattoo.
It’s that you listen to the voice of Jesus! Why? Because he said in that same verse, the reason I was born, the reason I came to earth, was to testify, to speak about, the truth! The truth about what? The truth about who God is, and who we are, and what God is doing in human history, and how we ought to live in response to what he’s doing. So if you want to know the truth, listen to Jesus! Read his words! John 8:31, 32, Jesus says, “if you continue in my word (again, if you listen to my voice); if you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!”
So if Jesus is right, what is most true, what most corresponds to reality, regardless of what I feel is true or what I want to be true, is whatever the gospel says:
That God created a kingdom where he is king, but made human beings to represent him in that kingdom. Adam and Eve rejected this call, which led to sin and death. But God promised to defeat the serpent who deceived them through a descendent of the woman, who is also from the family of Abraham. Through his family, the covenant blessings would come to the world. Because all people were guilty and deserved death, the sacrifices of the Mosaic law revealed more clearly their need for a substitute – the suffering servant. Through the servant and the work of the Spirit, God would establish a new covenant and give lasting life to his people in the new heavens and new earth. Jesus is the One through whom all of these promises find fulfillment, first in his sacrificial death as a necessary and just payment for sin and then in his victorious resurrection and reign as King. This great story will find its culmination when the redeemed, those who put their faith in Christ alone, not their own words, or their own “good”-ness, from every race, every tribe, every language and nation gather in the new creation to live with God forever.
That’s what is true. That’s what most corresponds to reality.
The problem with living your truth, trying to live the authentic you, is the issue of sin! Those self-help books and life coaches telling you to find your true self, to live and speak your truth, completely ignore and overlook the presence and power of sin in our lives, and their advice is pushing the barrel of your life so the center of the target is you.
Leslie Newbigin, an author and missionary to Africa many years ago, defined sin as: “The heart of man, turned in upon itself, mistaking it’s center for the center of the universe.” Not only does “You need to live your truth” put you at the center of your own life, it makes you believe that everyone else’s life revolves around you too!
And I know what we’d all love to do is point out the people protesting in the streets, spray-painting buildings, screaming at the police, and say, “ah, yes, that definition of sin fits them to a T. They think the world should revolve around them and their ideas.” But the problem is, as we sit and point fingers at them, we are completely blind to the fact that we are doing the exact same thing, just a different way! We want them to see the world the way we see it! How is that any different?!
You want to know what the Bible has to say about the authentic you?
For our last stop, turn to Colossians 3
Colossians 3:1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature:
You understand what he’s saying here? There’s a giant two letter word in verse 1. IF. If you’ve been raised with Christ, that means if you believe Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection had something to do with you, and there’s no hope for you apart from him, the rest of this pertains to you. If you haven’t been raised with Christ, if his life, death, and resurrection has no bearing on your life today, then just skip to the Amen at the end of the book. Not talking to you right now.
But if you’ve been raised with Christ, you are a new creation as 2 Corinthians 5 puts it. The old is gone. The new has come. If you’ve been raised with Christ, look at verse 5, you have got to put to death your earthly nature. Kill it! If you’re not sure what he means by earthly nature, he gives you not one list but two:
sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, God’s wrath is coming upon the disobedient, 7 and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. 8 But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old self with its practices,
All of those things are aiming at the target of self, and when these things mark your life, you are not of the truth. You are under God’s wrath. The day is coming when you will not be able to stand up under the judgment for your disobedience. And if that’s you, I don’t want that for you. I don’t want you under God’s wrath. I don’t want you to stay in disobedience. I want you to walk in the truth! Call out to Jesus and be saved! And once you’ve been saved, or for those who are, then, verse 10:
10 put on the new self. You are being renewed in knowledge according to the image of your Creator. 11 In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. (No more labels. No more earthly categories. No more identifying as a conservative or liberal, Mennonite or Lutheran, American or Canadian or Chinese, introvert/extrovert. Those are all terms we might use to describe our authentic self, and Paul says to the Colossians, “NO! IT’S CHRIST AND ONLY CHRIST!” He’s everything or he’s nothing!
The authentic me needed a Savior, so much so that God did the only thing that could be done to fix the sin problem in me: Come himself to the world he created, put himself in my shoes, and died for my sin of aiming at the target of self and not the glory of God. And on the third day, Jesus rose from death to prove that the payment for my sin was accepted; and when he rose, I rose a new person with Christ in me, and now the barrel of my life is once again able to be pointed at the glory of God!
Now, my assignment is not to go for a long walk or climb a mountain to figure out who I really am. My assignment is to let the Holy Spirit transform me, in putting off the earthly nature and walking in Christ.
The authentic me is a jerk – the Christ in me is compassionate
The authentic me doesn’t care if I hurt people’s feelings – the Christ in me is kind and gentle
The authentic me was full of selfish pride – the Christ in me is patient, and humble, and eager to serve
The authentic me was stingy – the Christ in me is courageously generous
The authentic me holds on to my hurt feelings, keeps records of when I’ve been hurt and by whom – the Christ in me forgives like I’ve been forgiven, and loves even the people who hurt me the most.
“My” truth is that when the old me dies, I’m not “losing” my original true self. I’m actually coming home to the personal God who loves me as a Father,2 which enables me to see my story and myself the way he does3.
That’s the truth.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.
- Ken Matthews, Genesis 1-11:26, Vol. 1A of The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996) as quoted in Cook & Lawless, Spiritual Warfare in the Storyline of Scripture (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2019), 321
- Richard Plass & Jim Cofield, The Relational Soul (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 144
- Ibid, 101
- Jared C Wilson, The Gospel According To Satan (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2020)