The Use and Misuse of Truth

1913 317 Truth may be used in an untruthful way; it may also be used truthfully, but in such a manner as to negative the real object of its revelation.

Against the truth, our arch-enemy, who is a liar from the beginning, is unceasingly active in his efforts to hinder the development of its legitimate fruit; either by altogether preventing its entrance in the heart of man, or perverting it should an entrance have been made. These are the tactics uniformly pursued, and, unhappily, often with a signal measure of success.

St. Paul affirms the former in 2 Cor. 4:4, where, describing the policy of the god of this age, he writes regarding those who are lost that he "hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." This is the initial effort of Satan — a policy of prevention. His secondary effort is that of perversion; and, in proportion as this is successful, the real end for which revealed truth was permitted to us, is frustrated, usually from one of two causes.

It is a human instinct to make truth either a means of satisfying curiosity, or of extending the boundary of one's knowledge, as an end in itself. But neither of these is the object for which truth has been revealed. Yet one age-long evil has been this tendency to use divine truth for the satisfaction of spiritual curiosity — a mere mental exercise. Hence have arisen multitudes of ingenious theories based upon certain passages of holy scripture. Men led away by imaginary discoveries, inflated by self-importance and governed by an insubject spirit, have drawn away unstable souls, striving about words to no profit, but tending, as the apostle says, to the subverting of the hearers (2 Tim. 2:14); and effectually playing into the hands of the enemy by wasting invaluable time and starving souls through making speculation and not Christ the object of the heart. As surely as He is the Way, so emphatically is He the Truth, and such speculations as make unfulfilled prophecy, ecclesiastical order, or even distinctive dogmas such as predestination and election, or baptism, an end in themselves to which the mind constantly reverts, lamentably miss the mark, because the objective is, as we have said, not Christ, but the satisfaction of curiosity, even though it be of a spiritual kind.

Yet even cursory observation reveals the undeniable fact of the possibility of such a state through a failure to apprehend the reason of revelation. Any use of the written word which fails to bring the soul into the immediate presence of Him who is the Word incarnate, either to worship or for encouragement, instruction or reproof, is a perversion of the divine intention, and a misuse of truth, however gratifying to a pseudo-spiritual curiosity. A second, and apparently far more innocent method of the misuse or perversion of truth needs to be specially guarded against, namely, the modern craze in some circles for Bible study, and Bible analysis, or — as one divine has unhappily phrased it — a "mastering of the Bible"!

The exponents of this method are professedly accepters of the divine inspiration of scripture, but the apparent outcome of all these analyses and so-called masterings of the Bible, is but the extension of the borders of individual knowledge of the sacred writings. This would he both desirable and delightful, were the end in view a more perfect acquaintance with the revealed mind of God for the purpose of translating it into practice. But so subtly does the enemy of souls labour for the perversion of that which was given for the purpose of forming the conduct and shaping the course of the believer, that it has now become possible to quite satisfactorily master, say the church epistles and yet to remain sectarian; to hold and teach the truth of the one body of Christ because it is so obviously revealed in the written word, and yet to recognise no practical obligation to carry it out; to hold and teach the absolute lordship of the Lord Jesus in the assembly, and yet to cheerfully submit to man-made regulations in the conduct of worship and service; in short, to so misuse the truth that, while intellectually assenting thereto and admiring the beauty of its proportion, to remain quite at liberty to ignore its practical implications and applications. This is certainly an anomalous state of things, and a total misuse and even perversion of God's intention.

To study to know the will of the Lord more accurately, that one may do it more perfectly is far removed from using truth merely as a means of enlarging the range of one's Biblical knowledge. The former is consonant with the mind of the Lord; the latter is risky and deceitful, akin to handling the word of God deceitfully, for knowledge is privilege, and privilege entails responsibility. We read of those servants who knew their Lord's will and did it not. "And to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

Satan's end is gained, if by any means souls are deterred from carrying out in every day life and duty the word of the Lord, and the clearly defined trend of much of the present day orthodoxy, popular, pleasing, and palatable, is that one may be a loyal student of revealed truth, accepting the scriptures as the inspired, infallible word of God from cover to cover, evading no difficulty, welcoming all the truth which normally has a separating effect from evil, and yet remain equally loyal, amidst all the conflicting creeds and theories of church government with which Christendom's Babel city of religious confusion is cursed, to one's own denomination and theological opinions. But truth, because it is truth, is incorrigibly intolerant of, and refuses to accommodate itself to, human theory.

"If ye know these things happy are ye if ye practise them." Another point needing emphasis is that even believers unfettered by any ecclesiastical system need the reminder, that as was indicated to Joshua, and by the Psalmist in Psalm 1, and by James in the New Testament, and the Holy Spirit the pathway of true spiritual prosperity, so today if the written word of. God is pondered with a view to actually and practically carrying it out, in conduct, character, and conversation, then will the vitality, virtue and adaptability of the truth be increasingly evident to the soul. The best Christian evidence is the Christian in evidence. "Sanctify them by thy truth. Thy word is truth."

May we then see to it that we give such attendance to reading and meditation upon these things that our real profiting may appear to all.

For the word of God reverently read, with an ever-growing sense of need of dependence upon the Holy Spirit for true insight into its meaning, will lead to such self-searching and comparison of the actual practice with the holy precept therein contained, as will effectually guard the believer against the misuse of revealed truth; and, at the same time will assuredly lead to a right us of that which is divinely declared to be to the obedient soul "a lamp unto the feet, and a light unto the path." We need increasingly to be girded to serve our Lord; girt about the loins with truth, while in the day of conflict we seek to cleave to His name and word. W.G.T.