“And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord” (Jer. 9:3).
In the chapter where our text is found, the prophet, Jeremiah, very bitterly laments the many terrible judgments that are about to be inflicted upon his nation and discusses some of the sins that have provoked God. He expresses his desire to be able to open a fountain of tears that he might mourn for the slain of his people. And he expresses his desire to hide himself, even in the most uncomfortable circumstances, in order that he might not have to observe the abominations of the people nor the terrible judgment that was about to come upon them. (See Jeremiah 9:1-2.)
One of the charges made against them is: “they are not valiant for the truth.” The word “valiant” in this passage is defined as “to be mighty” (Young’s). Thus, Israel and Judah were not “mighty” for the truth. Instead, Jeremiah said, “They bend their tongues like bows for lies.” And the result was, “they proceed from evil to evil” and “know not me” (Jehovah).
In our day, people have not changed very much; it can be said of many today that “they are not valiant for the truth.” Truth and lies are opposites. While one “frees” (John 8:32), the other will cause one to lose his soul in “the lake that burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8).
Pilate asked of Jesus, “What is truth” (John 18:38)? Jesus’ definition is found in other passages of Scripture. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). “I am the truth” (John 14:6). John described Jesus becoming flesh and dwelling among us as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14); and in verse 17, John tells us that “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Knowledge of the truth is necessary in order to be made free from our sins (John 8:32). Synonyms for the truth are “the gospel” (Rom. 1:16; I Cor. 15:4), “doctrine of Christ” (II John 8), “the word” (II Tim. 4:2), and “the faith” (Eph. 4:5; Jude 3).
Isaiah described the people of his day in these words, “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things (or truth! [PMW]), speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:9-10). And Paul, in Romans 1:25, describing the Gentiles’ sins, says that they “changed the truth of God into a lie.” As we said earlier, people have not changed very much; they were the same in the Old Testament and in the New Testament; they are the same to this very day! The majority of folks today do not want to hear the truth. They become angry when the truth is preached. Like the people of Isaiah’s days, they want to be deceived instead of being plainly told the truth.
Any and all tampering with the truth of God is forbidden. It was forbidden in the Old Testament. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it” (Deut. 4:2). “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5-6). It is forbidden in the New Testament: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). “There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:7-8).
When one disregards these warnings and alters the truth in any way, it becomes a lie. And while “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), anything and everything else will only result in the loss of our souls for eternity.
Are you “valiant for the truth?” Or would you rather “bend your tongue like a bow for lies”?
—Paul M. Wilmoth January 18, 1944 – April 5, 2021