How do we put on the belt of truth? In other words, how do we establish our minds in the knowledge of God that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us? We must aim at sincerity of heart in embracing Christ by faith. The Lord must be sought, believed in, and loved, and not merely the gifts and benefits that we may receive from him. Do you want to know the Lord (Philippians 3:7ff)? To know God through faith in Jesus Christ is the most important matter. (If you’re not sure what I mean, please contact me.) Though some might agree that knowing the Lord is most important, they develop instability in the inner person of the heart by fickleness. One moment they seem to want to be totally for Christ, but then they flirt with the attractions of the world, the flesh and the devil (1 Timothy 1:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:5).
We must pay attention to the ministry of the Word (Ephesians 4:11-16). Though listening to the ministry of the Scriptures is not a sacrament (a means of conveying grace to the heart by participating in some ritual), the Holy Spirit does use the Bible to develop and perfect correct ideas about Christ our Mediator in our hearts. This means that we cannot “channel surf” in our minds when the Spirit by the Scriptures is presenting doctrine to us. Some think that practical preaching is hearing some “how to” program, like “Seven Steps to Successful Family Living”. However, what can be more practical than knowing more about my God and all that he is?
Do not enslave your mind to any person or party (1 Corinthians 3:4-7). Evidence from God’s Word, not a polished or dynamic preaching style should convince your mind. There is a great difference between profiting from a pastor or teacher and idolizing one. Yet paradoxically, only a thin line separates the two. Far too many blindly accept what their favorite television and radio preachers or teachers say. Follow me only as far as I follow the Lord Christ.
Beware of curiosity (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Many are lured into Satan’s trap out of a plausible desire to understand error. “I want to know what it is, so that I can refute it.” To borrow from the style of John Bunyan in the Pilgrim’s Progress, Ms. Seducing Spirit can pretend to be Mrs. Honest Inquiry. Before you begin the study of error, make sure that your mind is humble before the Holy Scriptures and that you don’t have any loose threads of thought that the evil ones can grab hold of. Some matters are best left to very mature teachers, who “by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish truth from error” (Hebrews 5:14). If you do have to study error, make sure that you cleanse your heart with the truth of the Scriptures after examining falsehood. Don’t give the devil a foothold in a tired mind.
Humbly seek a settled, established mind from God (Ephesians 1:17f; Psalm 25:4; 119:18, 34). To paraphrase William Gurnall: Keep this deep in your heart. God who opens our eyes to know the truth must also give strength to hold on to truth (2 Tm 1:14).
Don’t stumble over differences in opinion that you see among people who profess to know the Lord (cf. Romans 14). Many things can cause a difference of opinion: pride, personality conflicts, ignorance, sin not put to death, twisting of the Scriptures, etc. All the clocks in town will strike twelve together before all the Christians in the world, or any local church, will agree together. Please be more concerned about seeing the power of the clear truth that you do know work in your heart than about how Christians disagree about the millennium or other minor matters.
Every day we must put on this basic grace of knowing the truth that is in Jesus. This is where we start our preparation for the day’s conflict. Approach life from the position that the living God has made himself known to you. Don’t play around with other ideas. Make a fresh commitment in your heart to pursuing the knowledge of the Lord. Only as you know the Lord are you ready for battle.
Grace and peace, David