Author: Michael Smith
We are living in a world of lies and deception. The prince of this world, the devil, is the father of lies. Jesus spoke these words concerning him in John 8:44: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jer. 17:9-10 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
The human heart was not originally created deceitful and wicked, but Satan so succeeded in marring God’s creation through Adam’s fall that this has become man’s natural state without divine intervention. Thus, all who are born into this world have to overcome two things in order to arrive at the truth – a lying devil and a deceitful heart. God’s great desire for man is that truth might dwell in his “inward parts” (Psa. 51:6).
Jesus was born into this world with a perfectly pure heart and with the purpose to overthrow the father of lies. Jesus met this arch-deceiver on his own territory in head-on conflict, assaulting his kingdom of lies with the truth. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). He announced that the words He spoke were His Father’s words (John 14:24) and that those words are truth (John 17:17). He said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.
As long as Jesus was in this world He bore personal witness to the truth. But when the time came for Him to leave He promised to send another personal witness to the truth whom He called the “Comforter,” or “Spirit of truth.” This One, He said, would abide with us forever (John 14:16), would reprove (convict, convince) the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), and guide us into all truth (John 16:13).
There are those who seem to feel that, because of man’s inherently fallen condition, it is not presently possible for anyone to be totally free from error and fully established in truth. 1 Cor. 13:12, “For now we see through a glass darkly” is often quoted as an excuse for dimness of spiritual vision and understanding. But what about 2 Cor. 3:18? “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Paul speaks here of an experience presently attainable to all of us whereby we may behold as in a glass (not darkly, but brilliantly) the glory of the Lord with an open (or unveiled) face and thus be changed into the same image by His Spirit. Prov. 4:18 says, “But the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
James 1: 16-17 says, “Do not err, by beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” God, the Father of lights, has sent two especially good and perfect gifts down from above to illuminate our darkness and save us from error. They are (1) the Word of truth and (2) the Spirit of truth (the interpreter of the Word). Having received these two gifts it is not needful that any man err.
In the June 1, 1885 issue of the Gospel Trumpet, Bro. D. S. Warner wrote the following words: “When a weak convert of two years old, after rambling through a wilderness maze of human creeds, to find out what church I ought to join, and was more unsettled than before I read any, I threw myself at the feet of Jesus, and asked His leading through the Spirit. My soul was in an agony of intense earnestness. I kept up this pursuit until the refreshings of the Holy Spirit came upon me, shedding much light on my mind. One thing was settled by the voice of the Lord, that was, God willed me to ignore all human sects and creeds, and commit myself to the whole Word of God, and rejecting all it does not teach. But ten years later, after becoming wholly sanctified, and receiving the personal Comforter, I soon found that I had not been able to decide in many things what the will of the Lord was, until this glorious illumination. Then I laid all my previous views down at the feet of Christ, just as if they were all wrong. Then putting myself under the direct teaching of the Comforter, He has led my soul forward in the steps of the truth with absolute and eternal certainty. … Doubtless, much truth lays beyond our present knowledge, but what we know by the revelation of the Spirit, we do not think, but know indeed.” End of quote.
Without the guidance, inspiration, and illumination of the Spirit of God, we are ALL sure to misunderstand or misinterpret the truth at some point or another. The depths of God’s written Word cannot be understood by the natural man or comprehended by the carnal mind. (See 1 Cor. 2:9-16; Rom. 8:5-8.) Since “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,” but “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:20,21), it is imperative that our hearts and minds be moved by the inspiration of the same Holy Ghost who spoke through the holy men of old that we may properly understand the message He intended to convey in the Scriptures. Only “in thy light shall we see light” in proper perspective (Psa. 36:9).
God has made just enough of His Word comprehensible to us in our natural state to enable us to find the way of deliverance from our carnal mind and to receive “the mind of Christ;” to get us out of the flesh and into the Spirit. It is only in this state that we are ready to begin learning and exploring the “mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints” (Col. 1:26).
Nothing except the “unction” that comes from the Holy One (1 John 2:20,27) can teach us all things and help us to correctly interpret and “rightly divide the Word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). “For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1 Cor. 2:10. Without the “unction,” or “anointing” that comes from the Spirit of truth all men will certainly miss the mark. On the other hand, it is not possible to err by the leadings of the Spirit of God. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Rom. 8:14. Every time the sons (or children) of God err, it is because they have gotten out of step with their Guide, the divine Spirit – the One who bore witness to their adoption (Rom. 8:15), and regenerated and spoke peace to their souls (Tit. 3:5). We always err when we trust in our own understanding and follow our own minds, or the influence of some other spirit beside the Holy Spirit upon our minds. We are instructed to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and to lean not to our own understanding (Pro. 3:5). How can we who “know not what we should pray for as we ought” arrive at a proper understanding of God’s truth and will for our lives unless “the Spirit helpeth our infirmities?” Therefore God, in His great mercy, has sent His Spirit to make “intercession” for us (see Rom. 8:26-27) and to personally reveal His Son to us, Who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). It is the Spirit of truth who quickens the Word of truth, making it alive in our inner man, and more than just a dead letter. The Holy Spirit is the One who administers all the blessings Christ purchased for us at Calvary. The Holy Spirit is the Administrator of all things pertaining to salvation, the New Testament, and the New Testament Church. He is our Teacher, our Guide, and our Director. All who “live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit,” and are “led by the Spirit” will go right and be right, because God’s Spirit is right. He can’t err. He KNOWS the will of God. He KNOWS the truth. If we would know the truth, then we must have our hearts tuned to the Spirit. It is the Spirit who writes God’s law of truth on our inward parts (see Jer. 31: 33, Ezek. 36: 27, & 2 Cor. 3: 3).
Even with all the advanced education available to us, we humans, in our natural state, cannot comprehend many important aspects of divine truth. We cannot discern, in many instances, the true meaning of the scriptures. Why? Because the Word was given by the inspiration of the Spirit, and “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2: 14. I heard a man say one time that his IQ was of the top two percent of the nation, therefore if anybody could rightly understand the Bible, he could. But it is just such persons as he who miss the mark! Obadiah 3 says, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.” There is no greater deterrent to arriving at knowledge of the truth than “pride” in the heart. “If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” 1 Cor. 8:2. Pride is an inherent part of man’s carnal nature. It is natural for all men to think they know and are capable of discerning truth from error. It takes the refining fire of the Holy Spirit to melt and consume this spirit of pride in man’s heart – to reduce our estimation of who we are and what we know to “nothing” and exalt the knowledge of God and who He is to “everything.” This is why it is vitally important that all Christians be emptied of “self,” and “filled with the Spirit.” One writer says, “Do we enjoy His fullness? Are we filled with the Spirit? Or is He quenched, grieved, resisted, crowded into a corner by carnal purposes, passions and pleasures? The full measure of the Spirit comes in when self goes out. Self must die, and then God the Spirit will fill us.” How true! It is only then that He can lead us into all truth. “When He, the Spirit of truth is come (having been given full control of your body, soul, and mind, by your complete consecration), He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13.) “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.” Psa. 25:9. The secret of understanding truth is found in being filled with the Spirit of truth. Thereby we assimilate the meekness of Christ as well as all the other attributes of the divine nature. (Consider Acts 1:8 and 2 Pet. 1: 3-4; also Phil. 2: 5-8.) It is neither safe to lean on our own understanding of truth nor yet that of others. But by the illuminating presence of the Holy Spirit, who wills to indwell us in His fullness, we can all receive personal revelation of truth from God’s perspective. The Spirit leads all men into the same truth.
The reason many are “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7), is because they do not possess the spiritual illumination that comes from being “filled with all the fullness of God.” They are neither “filled with the Spirit” nor “walking in the Spirit,” but are still “carnal, and walking as men” (1 Cor. 3:1-4). They are still filled with much of themselves. Through the sanctifying and all-pervading presence of the Holy Spirit, Who comes to possess us in His fullness when we “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom. 12:1), we can become intimately acquainted with the Author of truth, lose our biased opinions of truth, and be led into all truth. It is then that we become “transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). We then take on the “mind of Christ” and begin to comprehend “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19). “And it is the Spirit that beareth witness (to this revelation of fullness), because the Spirit is truth.” 1 John 5:6. Becoming “wholly sanctified,” as Bro. D. S. Warner terms it, means giving the Holy Spirit complete control of one’s whole being. It means being wholly consecrated to God in every respect, with every aspect of our lives subjected to the personal council, direction, and leadership of the Holy Spirit. It is then that the refining fire of the eternal Spirit consumes the dross of our carnal nature and we begin to grow and abound in the knowledge and revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As one old song says, “Let me lose myself and find it, Lord, in thee.” “Our God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:29. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all,” and “if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5,7. Jesus said, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12), and “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). We can never be too dead to self and filled with too much of God. This is the abundant life! It is found in the fullness of Christ, who “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30) “by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Cor. 3:18). “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thes. 2:13,14. Thus man is restored to the image of God, being sanctified by the Spirit and by the truth (John 17:17). This is the only way we can know the truth. Amen.