An Obedient Spirit the Key of Truth
John 7:17
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

In judging the Bible, there is a great diversity of opinion. One regards it as a mass of contradiction and fable, which interest has imposed on credulity; while another receives it as the oracles of God. Some find in it the atonement and the necessity of a vital change, others see nothing of the sort. Yet these men may be of equally sound judgment in other matters. Nay, the same man views the Bible in all these varied lights at different periods. Does this diversity arise from the Bible or from its readers? If a number of men were placed at different heights, and one should declare that the sun had risen, another that he was rising, and a third that he had not risen, we should ascribe this diversity not to anything in the sun, but to the different altitudes of the observers. The varied judgments on the Bible are to be accounted for in the same way; for —

1. Our text shows us that there is nothing in the Bible which necessarily leads men to err respecting its etc. trines. If our Maker gave a revelation to man, we should expect that it should be attended with such evidences that every man might know that it really came from Him, and that every man might know precisely what it taught. And this has been done. "If any man will do His will, he shall" not be inclined to believe that the Bible is true, but "shall know," etc. The apostles echo this; they say, "We know." God does not make this revelation certain and clear, irrespective of character. We might as well expect the sun to be visible alike to the dwellers in caves or the open air. Both the sun and the Scriptures are so placed that all who place themselves in a proper position may know the truth of the one and see the light of the other.

2. What is this position? "If any man will do." An obedient spirit is the key of Divine truth. The holiest man will best understand the Bible. This is reasonable. Who would think of going to a wicked man to learn religious truth? We feel that he is best qualified to teach who has learnt to practice. The same qualification is necessary in the learner. A rebellious child is more likely to mistake his father's meaning than one who is obedient.

8. We need the aid of the Holy Spirit in discerning spiritual things. The Bible is clear, but we are dark. A man suddenly emerging from long imprisonment is bewildered by the light; so Bible perplexities are due mostly to our sinful blindness. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to cleanse and strengthen the spiritual vision. To whom, then, will God give His Spirit? Not to him who will not follow the light he has. The universal maxim is that to one who improves, more shall be given. And yet wicked men complain that they cannot understand the Bible. As well might a spendthrift complain because he did not receive his father's whole estate. Bishop Wilson says, "When religion is made a science, nothing is more intricate; but when made a duty, nothing is more easy." A French infidel once said to Pascal, "If I had your principles, I should be a better man." "Begin with being a better man, and you will soon have my principles, was the reply.

4. Our subject shows us what they must do who are troubled with doubts. Shall he read volumes of "Evidences"? The first step is to give up sin. Having done this, let him read the Bible with a mind open to conviction. Such a person begins to do the will of God, and he will become a believer in the Word. He hears that prayer is necessary ere he can understand the Bible, and consequently prays, and obedience is again rewarded. Admitting the truth of the Scriptures, he yet finds doctrines he cannot understand. Let him do the will of God, and all that is necessary for him to know about the atonement, regeneration, assurance, etc., will be made clear.

5. We need not stop here. In heaven we shall know, because we shall follow on to know the Lord.

(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

WEB: If anyone desires to do his will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God, or if I am speaking from myself.

A Good Will the Condition of Spiritual Discernment
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