It never needs any embellishment. It needs nothing added, subtracted or a modification of any kind. It is impossible to strengthen its position. Truth stands on its own; it stands always. It is that which is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is the author of all that is pure and good. To modify it in any way no matter the motivation effectively turns it… into a lie. *
It is Truth. It doesn’t change; it changes us. The presentation of that Truth can take on many forms. Jesus was a master educator, and he used parables about things and ideas the people of his day could easily relate to in order to present Truth. Most importantly, he demonstrated it with his behavior, his life and works. He walked consistently with his talk and demonstrated the mercy, grace and forgiveness that the Father readily wanted to shower upon his creation (John 3:16-17). Therefore, God’s Spirit worked mightily through Him to effect change on all who received His words.
Jesus, praying to the Father in John 17:17, asked Him to “sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth….” When we try to modify the truth in any way, we are attempting to modify the Word of God. A quick study of John 1:1-14 and John 14:6 tells us that Jesus, Himself, is the personification of that Truth (the Word made flesh). When we try to embellish the truth, we are seeking to “add to” Jesus who definitely requires no embellishment. We don’t seem to understand that when we do these things, we turn actual truth into a lie. We do it by taking scripture out of context, away from its original intent, stripping it of the Spirit in which it was originally spoken or otherwise perverting it in some way. That is what satan, the father of all lies, did in the temptation of Jesus. He quoted scriptures (truth in itself), but in such a way (out of context) as to bring confusion and make his own point. We should be careful not to do the same just because we want to make our own point- even if we are correct in the point we want to make.
Salvation only requires that we believe in truth and confess it, namely Jesus as the Christ. It is an acceptance of Jesus as Savior and Lord, that He is who He claims to be and that His Word is true. If we wish to teach others that truth, we need to at least come to a functional understanding of it (Him) first. Thus, our only true need is to day by day know Him more. Now part of that also is studying the Word and applying it to our lives: learning and growing in our relationship with Him. And, it is our lives that speak far louder than any words to those around us. As St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, ‘Preach the gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words.’ In other words, first focus on just living it. That is our loudest message.
To this point, 1 Peter 3:15 states within the context of guarding our behavior and not fearing evil to, “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that ask you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear….” This means we need to revere and hold God (Whom, of course, includes His Word) as holy (not a common thing) in our heart and thus, be ready to answer those who ask why we have such a hope (the Life to come). Peter is careful to qualify this statement with words that speak to the spirit in which we should relate this truth to others: “with meekness and fear.” Meekness can only come from a position of strength as where someone holds a just charge against another but withholds that judgment and chooses instead to show mercy and grace- in our case, acknowledging our respect (fear) of Him who has shown that same meekness to us. In other words, we need to wield that sword of truth under proper conditions, skillfully and with great care.
When we seek to defend our faith (a just cause in itself), but string together random scriptures that we think helps our “argument” as well as utilize crafty schemes whose only purpose is to embarrass, manipulate or otherwise force others into agreement- we have effectively turned the truth on its ear and made it into a lie. (We see this all the time on social media.) We are not behaving as Jesus behaved. Rather, we have become the bully on our block. We are the bull in a china shop. We are like an untrained horde running around swinging double-edged swords and cutting ourselves and those around us into a bloody mess. And it is we who are embarrassing ourselves before the world. So, by all means, we need to sheathe the sWord until we have, through careful objective study and humble experience, been trained by it to wield it properly. We will then find it is sufficient in itself to effectively meet every task.
God. Is. Truth.
So, if we feel our “case” needs any embellishment, perhaps we need to revisit our case. Only a lie needs additions and modifications, many words and elaboration- all played in such a way as an illusionist distracts one’s eye from the actual truth just long enough to amaze (persuade) elsewhere. Clever words misplaced are both foolish and dangerous. And in this case, it is a mistreatment of God, Himself.
“Truth is,” none of us can stand before the Truth on our own merits. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9. In the context of every race and creed, there is no difference: “For all have sinned [past tense] and fall [present tense] short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. Also, that Truth cuts both ways. It has to have ‘cut us’ (circumcised our hearts and minds, Romans 2:28-39) before we are even qualified to wield it at all. And we are to wield it against evil, not against people. In light of this Truth, we should not be quick to qualify ourselves as anything more than former sinners saved by the grace of One who is returning soon to take us back to His Father’s house. Otherwise, we take on far more accountability before God than we are truly qualified to handle.
*Note: This statement (in the opening paragraph) relates to modifications to God’s Word like when we “add our own stuff” in such a way that we end up violating either the message, its spirit, and/or application to our lives.