Good doctrine leads to right living, and right living is obedience to Christ – Jesus couldn’t be more clear  than when He said in John 14:15 (NLT), “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Good doctrine is therefore True (bridging this world and the next), as it aligns itself with TRUTH (God’s Word). Jesus pointed out in Matthew 11:19 (ESV), “Wisdom shows itself to be right by its results,” where He was building on Proverbs 15:33, among other passages.

When looking at that which is true, I’m going to start with that which is false, and that’s bad doctrine. No matter how sincere the person who believes it may be, because it does not lead to obedience, bad doctrine leads away from Jesus’ teachings and therefore away from the life He offers. That would be the inverse of what Christ identified in the passages above.

It should be noted that there is a difference between faulty doctrine and incomplete doctrine.  We are created finite, and so we only see in part – that is not a problem; rather, it is the design.   Resting in Scripture and in prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us – abiding in Christ, we will grow in wisdom and truth. Jesus did that Himself, when He took on flesh and became like us in every way (Luke 2:52 and Hebrews 4:15). Being limited is not something to reject – being false is.

“Yet there are many false teachers who answer to the Deceiver, and they identify as angels of light to bring confusion to the world,” (2 Corinthians 11:12-14). How do we know the truth from the deception? Obedience.

What is belief except trust? And what is trust except obedience? What is obedience except actions? Anything else is just philosophy.

Paul set that same thought up and drove the logic onward to its conclusion in Romans 6:16 (NLT) – “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”

Knowing the difference between what is true and false is as important as life and death. Not only can we tell the difference, we must. The warnings are clear: Romans 2:8 – “But He will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.”

Opinion Calling Itself Truth:

I’m sure it was Oprah or Dr. Phil or somebody like that, who used the phrase, ‘my truth’. Apparently people use this phrase, and I try to be polite when they do, (and sometimes I succeed). But think it through – if something is true to you but not to me, that is simply not truth, but rather perception. It is likely an experience, or it may be a feeling, but it whatever it is, it cannot be true by the very definition of words. For something to be true it cannot, at the same time, not be true. I think smart people call that logical fallacy the law of non-contradiction.

Can ‘my truth’ be a true feeling or a true experience? It can feel true to our very core, but that doesn’t make it so. Christianity is a great example of this in that people can call themselves ‘Christian’, while Christ Himself says they are not.

Jesus Christ, the creator of heaven and earth and all that is truly true (Francis Schaeffer coined that phrase, I do believe) states without equivocation in Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT) – “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws’.”   God, as the uncreated Creator, gets to define what He made. And…

Immutable, Eternal TRUTH:

God’s laws are God’s ways. God gets to identify what something is and, as a result, what something is not. God uses words to create, to call, to judge, to define. He alone determines what it means to be human as well as Christian – we are made in His image, male and female, and we are either His sons and daughters or we are not. Just because you or I say something, that doesn’t make it true – but when God says something, it is so.

Jesus is described in Hebrews 1:3a (ESV) – “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Crazy, right? Crazy awesome! This is the bedrock TRUTH that cannot be shaken, come what may. And don’t forget: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.” (John 14:6 ESV). [I put that ‘TRUTH’ in all caps here, just to be consistent with my own distinctions.]

And Jesus further declared in Matthew 5:18 (ESV) – “For TRULY, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” That is TRUTH; the very word of God.

Truth That Transcends Language and Culture and Time:

Then there is Truth (capital-T Truth). Capital-T Truth bridges the gap between this world and the next. Think morality and logic and math. Scientific discoveries couldn’t be made without numbers; buildings couldn’t be built without the very concept of a straight line; and judges couldn’t decide guilt or innocence without an understanding of what is right and wrong.

Capital-T Truth is all about ideas, but ideas that are solid. We’re not looking at nonsensical philosophy here, but rather we’re looking at foundational principles. Before something can be built in the real world, there is a concept from where such things come. It’s those ideas, from which the things that can later be seen, are developed.

We create, but not out of thin air, like God does (He made the air, too).  What we create uses principles as well as materials.  Materials are truth, but principles are Truth.  Perhaps the way to describe Capital-T Truth is a conceptual yardstick.

Observable, Scientific truth:

The last of the three truths is simply truth, (lowercase ‘t’ truth). This truth is connected specifically to the creation in which we live. So, think: scientific discovery and cold, hard facts. Gravity will always pull us down.  The speed of light is constant. Hearts pump blood. When something is observable, it is true: what would a video camera show, or some other measuring device?


History from one camera angle would be different than how the textbook might be written.   Which might be different from the next camera angle. Perspective, and what it shows, as well as what it leaves out, is true – albeit limited. Limited truth is not wishy-washy opinion, nor is it ‘my truth’; it is just what it is without being more – and it is good to recognize that. A half-truth, however, is a falsehood when it is deliberately designed to mislead. Magicians, (“Illusionists, Michael”) and politicians, put this on display as a career.


What about those things that are not true, but seem to be? Psychology. Feelings. Experiences. Psychology is all about the inner workings of the mind. It can play with language, it can guess as to motives, it can highlight what might otherwise missed, but psychology is not true in the same way that the hard sciences are true.

Soft sciences are merely truisms – things that may generally be constant, but are not always. Truisms have equivocations and generalities, but they are not totally predictable, the way gravity is. Speaking generally is not the same as speaking factually. Generally speaking we know that theft is wrong, but what about taxes? Generally speaking we know that people who work harder than others get paid more, but what about unearned income?

Challenges to what is TRUE/True/true:

Then there are those people who try to lead us into unbelief (not the same things as doubt, by the way), by questioning what is TRUE/True/true.   Take the human heart being evil in every respect – from the terrible two’s to being lazy at work, to justifying theft, to ethnic cleansing – we are evil at our very core, and those are just the out-workings of it. In trying to assert that people are generally good, those observable facts are challenged -- nobody wants it to be True that we are evil, even though Scripture and all of history says so:  "Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalms 53:3 NIV). This is the nature of our unbelieving hearts, it would seem: to replace God’s TRUTH with our own, “my truth”.


Because of unbelief, people will inevitably construct their houses upside down and backward – starting with the truth we all see, there are those who will mistake it; then developing an idea of Truth that is faulty, they will deny God; ending far from the TRUTH and its author, they will be far from the life and peace He offers.

Conversely, obedience will start with the foundation, then the walls, then the covering – TRUTH, then Truth, then truth. Together, that is a structure in which we can weather the storms of falsehood and unbelief, raise our families in security, and find rest as we work to live well. In a properly constructed shelter of these three truths, we can withstand the passage of time with those we love, and others can move in with us and live confidently. The storms will continue to rage around us, and we will have peace, as we will be in Christ.

"I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  (John 14:27 NLT).