(17) Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
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Truth indeed does mean "factual," something that is right and good. However, we need to understand it in a slightly different way. The Greek word that is translated as "truth" is also equally well translated into "real" or "reality." God's Word is reality. Another English equivalent is the word "genuine"—God's Word is genuine.
Let us consider a few contrasts at this point. God's Word is factual as contrasted to flawed. Man's word is flawed; some of it is true, some is not true. Man's word is corrupted by the fact that, even though he may have good intentions, even though he may be sincere in wanting to tell the truth, his experience just does not support his ability to give us the whole truth. God sees all things, hears all things, knows all things. He is omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, "having neither beginning of days nor end of life (Hebrews 7:3). He is the sum total of everything, and if He tells us something, it has behind it the weight of everything that He is. His Word, then, is not flawed because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Thus, God's Word is factual, as contrasted to the flawed word of man.
In addition, God's Word is pure (Psalm 119:140; Proverbs 30:5; I Peter 2:2), as contrasted to that which is contaminated. God's Word is genuine in contrast with what is hypocritical. The word of man may look good on the outside, but it is not all that good all the way through. God's Word is reality, as contrasted to fantasy or vanity.
It is good to understand this because, if we are going to use the Word of God in the right way, we have to believe it. We not only have to believe it, we must trust it. When Jesus says that God's Word is truth, and that we are sanctified by that Word, we need to understand it from the point of view, the perspective, of God: that His Word is pure, genuine, factual, and reality—and all these are contrasted to man's word. Despite having the best of intentions and sincerity, man cannot even begin to come close to ultimate truth of the Word of God.
Whose word will we use as evidence on which to base our lives if we desire to live by faith, by trust?
— John W. Ritenbaugh