From the May/June 2021 issue of Discern Magazine

The Love of the Truth

Paul warned about the Antichrist, lying wonders and unrighteous deception. But there is a powerful antidote: “the love of the truth.” How do we receive it?

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The Bible presents truly frightening end-time prophecies. Evil humans, empowered by the devil himself, will deceitfully rise to lead a supranational government and a religious organization of unimaginable power. Most people will stand in awe and willingly submit to this church-state union.

It will appear to be the last best chance for humanity. Its wealth and miraculous accomplishments will solidify its status and its ability to exert control over all who accept its benefits.

It will seem too good to be true.

And those with eyes to see will realize it isn’t true.

Antidote to the Antichrist

The apostle Paul warned, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

Those who receive the love of the truth will not be deceived, but will, though tested and tried, ultimately receive eternal salvation.

But, sadly, even many who read Paul’s words will be fooled. The Antichrist—the man of sin, the lawless one—will appear good to most people. Because of the powerful signs and wonders he does, most will be convinced that he represents God Himself.

Many people will be believers—but they will be buying a lie.

Paul continued: “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (verses 11-12).

Strong delusion

What is this strong delusion, and why does God send it?

Delusion is translated from the Greek word plane, which means “mental straying, i.e. error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).

Paul is saying that by rejecting the truth, people bring on themselves delusion and error, falling for Satan’s misleading influence.

By adding the word strong (Greek energeia), Paul was recognizing the “superhuman power” behind this extraordinary end-time delusion.

But this delusion will be short-lived. God only allows the Great Tribulation to continue 42 months (3½ years) before the return of Jesus Christ will launch a new era of truth and peace (Revelation 11:2, 15). Learn more about these end-time events in our booklet The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm.

What is the lie?

Paul didn’t specifically define what he meant by “the lie,” but a good candidate is the first lie recorded in the Bible. In essence, it is the mother of all lies, told by the one who, according to Jesus, is “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).

The apostle John further identified him as “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).

In Genesis 3:4 Satan, in the form of a serpent, told Eve that God had lied to her and Adam about the result of eating the forbidden fruit—of sin. “You will not surely die.”

God says that sin leads to death and that man is mortal. Satan says that forbidden fruit has exciting benefits and that we are immortal anyway.

Verse 5 adds, in essence, the lie that we can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong through trial and error. Learning by trial and error only works when you don’t keep repeating the errors! However, history shows a trail of repeated errors and widespread acceptance of the lie.

Paul connected believing the lie with having “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Satan sells the lie that the morality of the Bible is outdated, that acts that were forbidden in the past are actually harmless pleasures, that what was wrong is actually a human right.

Those who receive the love of the truth grow to understand that the “passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) are truly the cause of the cycle of evil and suffering in our world. Sin automatically brings curses and leads to death (Deuteronomy 28:15; Romans 6:23).

Other aspects of the lie can be found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (the man of sin impersonating God) and Romans 1:25 (rejecting the Creator).

By their fruits

So we must avoid the lie and accept the truth. One way the Bible tells us to discern truth from error is to look at the fruits produced.

Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16).

Then Jesus summed it up in verse 20: “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (see our article “By Their Fruits”).

What are the fruits of truth? Some of the obvious ones would be the fruit of the Spirit Paul listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

These are essential. However, there’s more to consider. Some of these can seem to be displayed by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and of course, even true Christians do not display them 100 percent of the time.

Jesus added that even some who claim to preach in His name and do miracles in His name can be missing vital fruits. “I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:23).

Lawlessness is the opposite of obeying God’s law. Good fruits of truth include loving and obeying God’s law (Psalm 119:97, 163; Isaiah 8:20). They also include teaching biblical doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Bad fruits, however, include rejection of God’s law and biblical doctrine. Even if a person is doing miracles and even if he or she predicts a future event accurately, the Bible says that person can still be a false prophet.Bad fruits, however, include rejection of God’s law and biblical doctrine. Even if a person is doing miracles and even if he or she predicts a future event accurately, the Bible says that person can still be a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). (See more about the tests of a true prophet in our article “False Prophets.”)

“Your word is truth”

Jesus defined truth and its source: “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Logically, the Creator of all things is the best one—the only one—to define truth. He is “a God of truth and without injustice” (Deuteronomy 32:4). “The truth of the LORD endures forever” (Psalm 117:2).

God inspired the Bible to teach us His truth. “Rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) takes work and God’s guidance, but the benefits of understanding God’s truth are priceless and eternal.

Discerning the difference between truth and lies is a vital first step. But to have the antidote Paul talked about, we need more. We need a deep love of the truth.

How to grow in love of the truth

Don’t think of love as just a feeling or of truth as just academic. Biblical love is a choice and an action, and biblical truth is practical. If you want to embrace the love of God’s truth, these steps can help.

Pray for understanding and love of the truth. Ask God to help you love the truth as He loves it. See “How to Pray” and related articles.

Praise and thank God for His precious truth. Gratitude deepens our appreciation of the value of God’s truth. Praise is an expression of our love for Him and the truth He has blessed us with. See “Prayers of Praise.”

Don’t let knowledge of the truth lead to pride. Paul warned against letting knowledge puff us up and make us arrogant (1 Corinthians 8:1). We must recognize that we can take no credit for God’s gracious gift of truth and that He desires to give it to all people at the right time (1 Timothy 2:4).

Learn how to study the Bible effectively and enthusiastically. Many of our resources can help you uncover the exciting truths of the Bible and gain the most from your study. One starting place is our study guide 7 Keys to Better Bible Study.

Here are some Bible study topics related to the love of the truth:

  • Study the law of God. “Your word is very pure; therefore Your servant loves it . . . Your law is truth . . . And all Your commandments are truth” (Psalm 119:140, 142, 151).
  • Study the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
  • Study the truth of the gospel and the truth of salvation (Colossians 1:5; Psalm 69:13; Ephesians 1:13; see “What Is the Gospel of the Kingdom?” and “What Is Salvation?”).
  • Study the belt of truth, part of the armor of God (see “Using the Belt of Truth”).
  • Study the Church, called the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15; see “Why Church Is Important”).

Meditate—deeply think about—the truths you are learning, their benefits and their beauty. Especially think about how to apply them in your life. See “Christian Meditation” for more about this powerful tool.

Act on the truth. Truth was never intended to solely be head knowledge. It is not abstract. It is practical, and God intends it to change our lives.

  • Truth should lead to passionate love for God—doing the things that please Him. This is defined in the first four of the 10 Commandments and in “The Great Commandment.”
  • Truth also leads to zealous love for others. This means applying the Golden Rule, as magnified by the last six of the 10 Commandments and other principles and examples throughout the Bible.

If this article has helped you understand the awesome power and blessing of having the love of the truth, don’t just let it fade. Decide now what you will study and do next to help your passion and excitement for God’s truth grow.

If you have read this far, likely you have an interest in the truth and a desire to grow in the love of the truth. But you may still have questions about whether we can help you find and love the truth.

Our commitment to the truth

You have a right to know who we are to claim to love the truth.

This section will be organized using an acronym Google uses to define a quality website: E-A-T. That’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness. These are commonsense measuring sticks you probably use in judging the validity and value of what you read.

Expertise:

Most of our writers are longtime pastors of the Church of God with bachelor’s degrees in theology. Some have master’s or doctorates; some are employed in other fields. But all have dedicated themselves to intensive study of the Bible for many years.

Still, such credentials are no guarantee of truth.

Don’t believe us just because we claim to teach the truth. Prove it to yourself.

Authority:

We always strive to point people to the Bible itself, the source of truth (John 17:17).

So, as a first step, we strive to show readers how they can prove that the Bible is true. (See our booklet Is the Bible True? and our articles on the subject.)

For those who do believe in the inspiration of the Bible, we seek in every article to explore what the Bible teaches on the subject. We encourage readers to read the passages and their context and to continue to explore related passages and subjects for a fuller picture of the truth of the Bible.

Trustworthiness:

In our efforts to provide accurate and trustworthy material, we have doctrinal review and editorial review teams that look at all of our articles, blogs, booklets, Journeys, study guides, videos, etc.

For example, each article goes through a review team of ministers. Then the article is edited, fact-checked and proofread by the editorial team. Finally, five longtime ministers serving on our Doctrine Committee review each new article.

This process is not quick or easy, but we believe it minimizes errors and misstatements.

Still, if an error somehow creeps in, we are committed to correcting it.

Though we strive to always be trustworthy, the ultimate source of truth is the Creator God. His revelation through the Bible and His unchanging faithfulness provide the bedrock for our faith. Study more in our article “What Is Faith?” and related articles.

If you have questions or if we can help in any way, please feel free to contact us.

About the Author

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett is editorial content manager for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, in the Dallas, Texas, area. He coordinates the Life, Hope & Truth website, Discern magazine, the Daily Bible Verse Blog and the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter (including World Watch Weekly). He is also part of the Personal Correspondence team of ministers who have the privilege of answering questions sent to Life, Hope & Truth.

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