A Good Will the Condition of Spiritual Discernment
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.

Intellectual men are apt to set too high a value upon the exercise of the intellect. And in this error they are often confirmed by the notions of the ignorant and uninstructed, who look up with wonder to the learned and the mentally acute, and are willing to think such prodigies of knowledge must be assured possessors of all good things. But the fact is, that the highest of all possessions is to be attained, not by the scholarship or the ability which men often overestimate, but by the trusting heart and the obedient and submissive will. Nowhere is this great spiritual lesson more plainly and effectively inculcated than in this passage.

I. THE SOURCE OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE. This was a mystery to many of the Jews, who knew that Jesus was born in a lowly station, and that he had not been trained in the schools of rabbinical learning, and who could not understand how he could teach with such justice, profundity, and beauty. With this difficulty Jesus here deals.

1. The doctrine of Jesus is asserted by himself to be derived. He repudiated the notion that he spake from himself, i.e. from the experience or originality of a merely human mind.

2. The doctrine of Jesus is asserted by himself to be Divine. It was neither his own, nor that of a school of learning, nor was it a mere amplification of the sayings of the ancient legislator and the ancient prophets. Jesus ever claimed to have come from God, and to have acted and spoken with the authority of God. This, however, was his assertion; how were his hearers to verify it?

II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST'S DOCTRINE. There were many who listened to the discourses and conversations of the great Teacher, who were familiar with his language, but who were unacquainted with, and indifferent to, the spiritual meaning and power of which that language was, to sympathetic souls, the vehicle. How can this meaning and power be known?

1. There must be a will in harmony with God's will. Man is not merely an intellectual being; he is emotional and practical. And the will is the man. It is the habitual purposes which determine the man's character. Many persona have insight into truth, and even admiration of truth, whose moral life is nevertheless evil, because they abandon themselves to be the sport of every fleeting passion. The habitual indulgence of passion, pride, and worldliness blinds the spiritual vision, so that the highest good becomes indiscernible. And thus three who are not without natural gifts of intelligence become incapable of judging the highest type of character or of doctrine. On the other hand, the cultivation of a will in harmony with the Divine will is the means of purifying the spiritual vision. When the good is habitually chosen, the true comes to be habitually sought and prized.

2. The will thus in harmony with God's will recognizes the Divine origin of Christ's teaching. Both by reason of his acquaintance with the mind of God, and by his sympathy with the Law and the truth of God, the devout and obedient man is fitted to pronounce upon the origin of the Lord's teaching. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things;" he has "the mind of Christ." Thus it is, as our Lord acknowledged with gratitude, that things hidden from the wise and prudent are often revealed unto babes. His own apostles were a living illustration of this law. And every age furnishes examples of clever men, and even learned men, who have misunderstood and misrepresented Christ's teaching, because they have not been in sympathy with the righteous and holy will of the Eternal; whilst every age furnishes also examples of simple and unlettered men who, because lovers of goodness, have displayed a special discernment of mind in apprehending, and even in teaching, Christian doctrine. In this, as in other respects, it is the childlike nature that enters the kingdom of heaven. - T.

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.

Though Criticised and Ridiculed We Must Go on with Our Work
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