Speak the Truth, Shame the Devil
I love the saying, "Speak the truth, shame the devil." It speaks volumes about the direct contest we're in against forces of deception, manipulation and lies. In a short sentence it shows us how to win every time. Speak the truth. Shame the devil.
In today's society, there is a battle for truth. There are those who would claim to be the authority for absolute truth, others who insist that truth is relative, and each person experiences their "own truth." As Christians, the plumb-line of truth is found in Jesus, and in His written word, the Bible.
Over millennia, the written word of God has been categorized, translated, exegeted, studied, and dissected. There are Jesus-believers who include certain ancient writings into their cannon that others don't. There are some who read the Word with an ancient Eastern lens, whereas most of us born and raised in the Western church, read it with a perspective that is altogether different from the context it was written in. So, if the very basis for our truth is disputable and can be interpreted in a variety of ways, what are we to do?
Ephesians 4 talks about the plan that Christ made for us to sort-out truth, as we mature. "11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up..."
If we are to mature, we need to be equipped by those God has charged with the task. Why, then, do we think we can do it alone? Why do we think that hearing a sermon once a week is enough? Or that reading our Bibles, without teachers to bring clarity and context, is enough? If the five-fold ministry is God's gift to the church, why do we try to mature ourselves in isolation?
The problem with the "just me and Jesus" mentality is that it lacks what we need to mature. We are easily influenced and deceived by the "Father of lies." Without mature believers around us, checking our doctrine, observing our actions, offending and forgiving us, we remain weak and ineffective.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
The Bible joins the idea of spiritual maturity with the ability to speak the truth in love. When we've been through the trials and tests of maturing in community with others, and in submission to those in authority, we have a greater discernment of truth and a greater capacity for speaking that truth in love.
God's people are tasked with being a light in the darkness, of speaking truth in a crowd of competing voices. We are ineffective if what we speak is a twisted perspective or just as importantly, if we are spewing truth with a vitriol that turns people away.
Dig into the Word with others. Submit yourself to the five-fold ministry. Grow up and mature in your faith. Speak the truth (in love). Shame the devil.