It is like what happens on those long, late night trips, where the eyes grow weary of the monotonous yellow lines zipping by on the road, and then a car crests the hill just ahead and blinds you with their lights–the very substance that otherwise would illuminate everything–and, all distinctions of the road ahead simply disappear from recognition.
When it comes to recognizing biblical truth, most people are stuck in a time warp of perpetual blindness–needing light in order to better view their surroundings, but instead fully incapacitated from understanding anything that God identifies as Truth.
As the fourth in this series, this post will consider what God has to say about why most people walk around through life blind to Truth.
As noted previously, biblical truth is foundationally represented in Jesus and points toward all that rightly represents God. Rather than referencing a correctness to factual reality, it is more about rightness with God.
That is why understanding is not the principle key to grasping truth; that key is righteousness! As prophesied, “righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.”
“then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.” (Eccl 8:17)
Those who do not have the righteousness of Jesus within them will never be allowed to understand any distinctions of real truth. They are caught in a repeated pattern of car headlights in the face on a long, dark highway. Without the Spirit of God in a person, they will never be allowed to understand the things of God (1 Cor 2:11).
But you should notice that it is not simply the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that causes recognition of truth; he is the conveyor, revealer, and teacher of all truth, but according to Scripture, righteousness is the key to recognition.
It is a fundamental tenet of Christianity that no amount of human effort can every attain the requisite righteousness to unlock the key to truth (let alone to salvation). That can only ever come through faith in the savior called “the Righteous One”. He alone rightly relates to God in every conceivable manner, and he does so as a result of who he is by nature.
And yet, righteousness is not a sterile, theoretical concept. Who Jesus is by nature, is identical to what he thereafter does. The Righteous One always does what is perfectly righteous. And it is that evidence that confirms truth.
God confirmed his love for man by giving his one and only Son. God acted. Jesus came and died. The Spirit raised him from the dead. God’s actions confirm his nature of righteousness and reveal truth that has always existed in a manner we are capable of recognizing. By analogy, it is what the Bible calls fruitful evidence.
In the same way, this also applies to man. Those who profess faith in Jesus, must turn away from sin and strive to obey the word of God. Those who make the claim, but live in contrast, are identified as liars in whom the truth of God does not exist.
But, “he who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous…no one who is born of God will continue to sin, because the seed remains in him…this is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God” (1 Jn 3).
This identification of divergent lineage was not addressed to non-believers; in context, it was spoken to those who attend church and think they are Christians. Even back in those early days of the fledgling church, many were claiming faith and understanding of truth, but were blinded. They were blinded because they did not implement the key: doing what is right as defined by God.
The Lord demonstrates the eternal consequence against those who think they believe in God, who have been promised entrance into the Kingdom, who think they understand truth, but who don’t consistently strive for righteousness with these words:
“I tell you the truth…John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him…Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” (Mt 21)
Some may retort that Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to a believer and thus whatever that believer does, whether good or bad, is immaterial in the grand scheme, but that concluding assumption is a deception that violates Scripture. By definition, a “believer” obeys, and so whatever may be imputed is confirmed within him, not automatically imposed without condition.
In fact, even such a believer’s claim of faith is brought into question by Jesus’ words: “How can you believe…yet make no effort to obtain…?” (Jn 5:44). Our efforts at obedience in no way contributes to our righteous standing before God, and yet God nevertheless still requires our free will participation. “I called, but you refused” is the Divine lament, not “I called, so you have no choice”.
As the word of God declares: “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good” (Tit 1:16).
To such confused Christians we are encouraged to reflect the light of truth, even though it is likely to sting the eyes at first. With a gentle spirit (though correction is seldom interpreted as “gentle” by the recipient), we are told to instruct those fellow Christians who oppose some part of God’s truth in the hope that God will grant them repentance–something they must choose to thereafter express–which would then “lead them to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:25-26).
Sadly, many will have a “form of godliness” within the Church and will often have a wealth of intellectual knowledge, but because of their refusal to imitate the righteousness of Christ in all they do, think, and say, they are “never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Tim 3). In reality, this applies to individuals, to congregations, and even to entire denominations who give a pretense of faith, but demonstrate a preference for tradition over the word of God.
And so, ultimately, God pronounces the reason many are blinded from the truth and believe the great lie:
“They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thes 2:10-11; In addition to the context, 1 Jn 5:3 will help clarify what God means here by “love”)
“you hate the one who reproves you in court and despise him who tells the truth.” (Amo 5:10)
“You remain guilty because you claim you can see.” (Jn 9:41)
Faith without works is blinded from truth and spiritually dead. Those without fruitful reflection of Christ-likeness in every part of their lives, not just most of it, can’t recognize truth (review what Jesus says to the Christians in the 7 Churches confronted in Revelation about partial righteousness). Truth must be lived in order to be rightly understood, and it doesn’t work the other way around (trying to first understand and then obey).
That is why we have the living word of God preserved in the Bible. We can read what God expects, then strive to implement it for his honor, and trust in his promises…then the light begins to expose what could not otherwise be known. That is why Scripture repeats that it is a wise man who “puts into practice” what God instructs.
Those who read the posts in this series, may understand the English and assume they get what is said, but unless they choose to fully live it, truth will remain out of sight. Only those who humbly acknowledge their natural tendency to rebel against the Spirit of Holiness, who seek first His kingdom and “his righteousness” in every part of their lives, relationships, and desires, loving their fellow man accordingly, will be given access to real truth.
To them, the Truth Be Told!
There is a wonderful 3 min. video of Spurgeon’s words about Immanuel, God With Us. Christmas is over in the minds of many, but we are still in the Twelve Days of Christmas leading to Epiphany. This video shines beautiful light in the darkness!