Lesson 12

The Fruit of the Spirit is Truth

(John 14 & 16, 1 Corinthians 9, Romans 14)
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Introduction: Toby Keith sings a song containing this line, "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Is that your view of life? Something unpleasant has happened and you wish you had never heard about it? Or, is knowing the truth always better? The Bible presents an amazingly truthful account of its Old Testament heroes. This suggests that it is always better to know. On the other hand, Paul seems to suggest that being completely open is not always the best approach. In my life, truth comes in two packages. One is truth about God, salvation and the operation of the universe. The other is truth about my life and the truth about the lives of others. I'm sure I want to know the truth about God. As to the truth about me .... Let's jump right in and explore what the Bible has to teach us about truth!

  1. Truth About God


    1. Read John 14:1-4. How important to you is the truth of Jesus' statement? (Nothing is more important. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:19: "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.")


      1. What relationship does truth have to trust? Jesus calls on us to trust Him before He makes this important statement. (We don't know whether to believe people if we cannot trust them.)


    2. Read John 14:5-7. How does Jesus answer Thomas's question? (Jesus says that He is the way.)


      1. Let's explore Jesus' statement a bit more. What does Jesus mean when He says He is "the way, the truth and the life?"


        1. What "way" is under discussion? (The way to heaven. The route to eternal life.)


        2. What "truth" is Jesus speaking about? (The whole thread of the conversation is truth about eternal life.)


        3. How is Jesus the "life?" (Eternal life comes from knowing and accepting God. We come to the Father through Jesus.)


      2. I've read the teachings of the Dali Lama, I've read large sections of the Koran. It seems to me that Buddhist teachings about how to live your life are very close to what Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount. Islam, amazingly, accepts large sections of the Old Testament as truth. Judaism accepts the truth of the entire Old Testament and Jesus was Jewish! Because of these similarities, I've contemplated before whether all of these major world religions are just another approach to the truth of God. What does Jesus say about this? (No. "No one comes to the Father except through Me.")


        1. Do you understand the logic behind Jesus' claim? Or, is this something that is beyond reason, and must be accepted by faith, if accepted at all?(I'm not a expert in world religions, but what I know about them is that they are all based on human works. Obedience gets you to heaven or the next level. Romans 3 tells us what I observe to be the truth - we are all evil. Only Christianity teaches that God obeyed on our behalf, God died on our behalf for sin, and God overcame sin and death on our behalf. We cannot work our way to heaven. It is only God. Surely, "no one comes to the Father except through [Jesus]!")


    3. In John 16, Jesus again gets into a discussion with His disciples about the fact that He is going to heaven. Read John 16:12. What does this suggest about God telling us the truth? (He does not always tell us the entire story.)


      1. Are you hearing strains of Tobey Keith? Is it honest not to tell the entire story?


        1. Does it make a difference that God is making this judgment instead of you?


        2. We now have two thousand years of hindsight. Do you agree with Jesus that the entire story would have been too much for the disciples to bear?


  2. The Holy Spirit and Truth


    1. Read John 16:13-15. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in helping us to understand truth? (He guides us.)


      1. What does the illustration of a guide suggest about our role? (Read Jeremiah 29:13. Explorers seek out guides. The reference to a guide suggests that we need to seek out the truth. God tells us to seek Him "with all [our] heart.")


    2. Read John 16:7-11. Part of the Holy Spirit's work with the truth is to "convict the world of guilt ... righteousness and judgment." When you think about learning the truth, is it just about hearing the correct information? (Part of truth is knowing the facts. A more important part of truth is understanding the facts and taking them seriously. People know that smoking is not good for you. People know that being overweight is not good for you. The real issue is whether you take the information seriously.)


      1. What role does the Holy Spirit have in helping us to take truth seriously?(Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction.)


      2. What role does the Holy Spirit play in our efforts to bring the gospel truth to others? (Again, it is the Spirit's role to bring conviction of truth.)


    3. We just got through discussing the "partial truth" issue. What does John 16:13 tell us about God and the entire truth? (The Holy Spirit will lead us into "all truth.")


      1. If you knew that the entire truth would be revealed to you, but that for your benefit God timed the entire revelation, would that be satisfactory?


      2. Should we take that approach with others? Tell them the entire truth - but not at once?


  3. Our Truth


    1. Read 1 Corinthians 9:19. What is Paul's attitude about converting others? (That he gives up his own rights to bring others to Jesus.)


    2. Read 1 Corinthians 9:20-22. What do you think about Paul's methods and the truth?


      1. Is this a "give them part of the truth at a time" approach?


        1. Does this text give us enough information to make an informed judgment on Paul's methods?


    3. Read Romans 14:13-18. Is there absolute truth when it comes to diet? (Apparently not. Paul says that he has one view, but if someone else has a different view, they are bound by that view.)


      1. When Paul instructs us in Romans 14:15 "Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died," what is he suggesting?


        1. Is he suggesting that it is okay to eat whatever is in dispute, but just not in front of the "brother?"


          1. Does that mean you are misleading your brother about what you think is all right to eat?


    4. Read Romans 14:22-23. What does this suggest about truth? (We are accountable to God. We do not need to be completely transparent with fellow believers if we think it would harm them.)


      1. Is this an authorization to be a hypocrite?


      2. Is this an authorization to hide sin from fellow believers? (Read Romans 14:1. The topic is "disputable matters." Lying to hide true sin is simply adding sin to sin. But there is a category of disputable matters, in which an action can be sin for one person and not sin for the other. In that narrow area, truth turns on consideration for the welfare of others.)


        1. When you lie, who are you looking out for? (Lies are generally to protect ourselves. Paul is not suggesting lies, he is just suggesting keeping our mouth shut on certain disputable issues.)


    5. Friend, how are you and truth? Will you commit today to seek the truth of God with all of your heart? Will you commit to partner with the Holy Spirit to both learn more truth and share it with others? Will you commit to being sensitive about how your view of the truth impacts fellow believers?


  4. Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit: The Essence of Christian Character.

Discussion

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