The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

The Three Keys to “Owning” Truth

Posted on: May 24, 2016

Three Keys to Owning Truth.001

WE DON’T “OWN” TRUTH THAT GOES IN ONE EAR AND OUT THE OTHER

Truth is vital to everyone. It does no one any good not to operate on the basis of truth. This is especially true regarding the Christian life. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jon 8:32) There are certain rules, however, that we must follow if we want to “own” truth.

Because truth has been given to Christians, not merely to satisfy their curiosity or to make them smarter sinners, but to change their lives, then truth for Christians carries greater obligations than merely “knowing” it. The great measure of learning for Christians goes beyond “knowing” something to “living” it.

If we don’t “own” truth, then we end up with wrong beliefs… and:

  • wrong beliefs lead to
  • wrong behaviors, which lead to
  • painful consequences.

Christians want to turn that around. When we “own” truth:

  • right beliefs lead to
  • right behaviors, which lead to
  • pleasant consequences.

So what is the three-step process to owning truth?

  1. We must know the truth

We cannot do something if we don’t know it. So, of course, the obvious first step in owning the truth is knowing the truth. For Christians, this includes facts such as the existence of God, the deity of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, and so forth. But it also includes subtler and more complex truth, such as how to pray, how to discern the will of God, how to live the Christian life.

When we don’t know the truth, we are vulnerable to ignorance and deception. And contrary to the American proverb, ignorance is not bliss. It often yields abject misery.

One of the highest motivations for the pursuit of truth is a desire to please God. However, even a lower motivation, such as the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, should make us serious students of Scripture and tireless stalkers of truth.

And this truth includes wisdom. Solomon said, “Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:2-5) That’s how hard we need to work to discover truth.

  1. We must embrace the truth

In addition to knowing the truth, we must also embrace it – accept that I need to live the truth. Unfortunately, the Scripture is filled with truth that we may not always fully embrace:

  • Present your bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 1:2)
  • Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39)
  • Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth (Ephesians 4:29)
  • Be holy yourselves in all your behavior (1 Peter 1:15)
  • Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. (Matthew 5:25)

Yet our goal must be to embrace all the truth we know… to commit to, and to endeavor to, live it out. Everything God asks of us, He does so to give something good to us and keep some harm from us. Therefore, the shortest distance between us and the life we long for is total obedience to Christ. We will not live it out perfectly, especially in the beginning of our “knowing” the truth, but we must commit to it or we will never change. However, there is a third key in the process of “owning” truth so that it changes us.

  1. We must reinforce the truth often enough that it changes us

This is the missing link in much of modern education, and is almost absent in church education. Earlier education models often included rote memorization of large bodies of information: catechisms, tables, vocabulary, etc.

Modern educational models, however, often shun memorization as an actual impedance to learning, since it does not directly foster thinking, creativity, abstract reasoning, etc. Balance, as usual, is the key. While thinking, creativity and abstract reasoning are extremely important, all else being equal, a head full of memorized information is better than a head empty of memorized information.

Sunday after Sunday in churches all across America, life-changing truth is heard, but often does not change lives. Why? Because it goes in one ear and out the other. The life-changing truth does not get reinforced sufficiently that we own it mentally, or that it sinks into the subconscious where it begins to change our attitudes, values and behavior.

If important truth is captured, reduced to its irreducible minimum, and then repeated often enough that we easily recall it, and often enough that it sinks into our subconscious, then deep and rapid life change can occur compared to the “in one ear and out the other” method.

So, if we are discipling others, we must include the reinforcement of vital information.  To fail to do so will sink us to the “eustachian” phenomenon: in one ear and out the other.

If we are educating ourselves, we must be alert to any information that blips high on our “importance” meter, capture it, and reinforce it.  Watch yourself begin to change as you adopt this habit.

So, do you want to own truth? Do you want to live what you know, not merely be able to recite what you know? I want to! And, I want that for you! Here are the

Three Steps to Owning the Truth

  1. Learn it
  2. Embrace it
  3. Reinforce it

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