The words of this title were spoken by Jesus in a prayer to His heavenly Father (John 17:17). Jesus teaches us with these words that truth is determined by the word of God. There is no such thing as my truth and your truth. There is only God’s truth as it is revealed by God’s word.
God has given us His word in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16). The revelation of God’s word is complete (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; James 1:25; Jude 3) and furnishes us completely (2 Timothy 3:17; 2 Peter 1:2-4). Without it we cannot know the truth. Therefore, we must make every effort to learn what the Bible teaches (2 Timothy 2:15). We must love the truth, seek the truth and abide in the truth (John 8:31-32). If we do not, we will be deceived by falsehood, never find the truth nor experience life in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).
God wants us to pray to Him. He promises to hear and to answer our prayers. He is always ready, willing and able to answer our prayers. He will always give us good things (Matthew 7:7-11; James 1:17). Yet, sometimes it may seem that God does not hear us. When that happens remember that the problem is not with God but with us.
It could be that you are not right with God. The psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalms 66:18). You must have regard for God, not sin. If your heart is set on sin you have forfeited God’s blessings. If you stubbornly refuse to listen to Him, He will not listen to you. Isaiah warned Israel, “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). It was not that God was unable to deliver Israel, nor that He had a hearing problem, but rather that Israel in their sinfulness had rebelled and gone after other gods. God will not answer your prayers if you harden your heart and reject Him.
It is a difficult passage, but the meaning is clear when we realize that he is talking about his struggle with sin before becoming a Christian. As a child, Paul did not know right from wrong and was not accountable to the law of God. He “was alive once without the law” (v. 9). After coming of age, he realized he was a law breaker and now under the condemnation of the law. The problem was not with the law; it was “holy and just and good” (v. 12). The problem was with Paul; he was a sinner (vv. 13-14).
Paul described his struggle as a sinner (vv. 15-23). He knew what the law said and knew that the law was good, but he stilled sinned. Sin dwelled in him. He was controlled by the flesh. Evil was present with him. So, he did what he did not want to do, what he knew he should not do, and he did not do what he wanted to do, what he knew he should do. His mind was taken captive by his flesh.
Young people are going to school. Parents are raising their kids. Many are working hard every day to make a living. The elderly are just trying to stay well and leave a legacy. We are all hoping to survive another day in an evil world.
But why do you do what you do? What is it all about? Who or what are you living for? If you were to sum up your life in one word, what would it be?
The apostle Paul wrote, “For to me, to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Every Christian ought to agree with Paul when he wrote, “Christ, our life” (Colossians 3:4).
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
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