Thursday, 23 April 2009

Pinning Down the Truth

I am still reading Romans and was struck this morning by the downward spiral of the first chapter. It ends with idolatry and immorality but where did it all start? For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Rom 1:18 NKJV or as the old KJV puts is 'who hold down the truth'. It is a figure that John uses in his introduction to the gospel; The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. John 1:5 WEYMTH. I remember my old Greek teacher telling me that the word John uses was used of a cat pinning down a mouse.

There are great dangers in attempting to 'pin down' the truth or of suppressing it. We choose what we do with Truth. It is often said that 'the truth sets us free' but that is a error caused by quoting extracts from Bible verses. What Jesus actually said was more comprehensive; Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32 NKJV The sobering fact is that these 'believers' have stones in their hands by the end of the chapter.

So they 'suppressed' the truth that the Truth was revealing to them and the consequence was disaster. It parallels Paul's words in Romans. Our world is in the state it is because we rejected revelation. We chose the 'truth' that suited us and turned away from the 'truth' that challenged us. It is a very short journey from rejecting the truth to stoning the truth-bringer.

If we follow Paul's reasoning in Romans 1 we see that God's judgment is ultimately to come on those who have rejected the truth; who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; Rom 2:6-9 NKJV

We 'pin down the truth', as the cat did, because we want to be in control. To let this truth go free puts God back in charge of my life and that is seldom comfortable. Jesus, in his conversation with the 'Jews who believed in him', made truth an aspect of relationship. "If you abide in my word..." that is the first condition and its consequence is that you will genuinely be my disciples and the consequence of that is that you'will know the truth...' and is then and only then that we can move on to the next stage. And the truth, the truth that you know because you are living in it, will set you free. That is the climax. The truth only sets us free when we obey it as disciples of Jesus Christ.

If we have been suppressing the truth how do we re-sensitize our conscience? Back to Romans 1, the downward spiral began because 'although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful...' We must glorify God as God; give him his rightful place as the only source of Truth and we must lift our hearts to God in gratitude, even when the Truth disturbs us. It is the only way to reverse the downward spiral.

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