In a world filled with diverse beliefs and worldviews, the pursuit of truth is of utmost importance for every follower of Christ. The words of Richard Baxter resonate deeply with the longing in our hearts to grasp the truth and walk in the light of God's Word. Baxter warns us to take heed, lest any carnal (fleshly or sinful) interest or lust hinder us from receiving the truth or lead us astray from it. Let’s look at three key principles and three walking points (reflections and action steps) that can guide us in embracing truth with a sanctified heart.
The Danger of Carnal Interests and Lusts
Baxter's admonition is a sober reminder that the desires of our flesh and the interests of this world can become stumbling blocks on our journey to discover and embrace God’s truth. The apostle Paul echoes a similar sentiment in Romans 8:7 when he says, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." Our carnal inclinations and lusts can create a bias in our minds, causing us to turn away from the truth when it challenges our desires.
Sanctification and the Pursuit of Truth
Baxter also emphasizes the significance of a sanctified heart in receiving and embracing the truth. Sanctification is the process of being set apart from sin and set apart for God's purposes, in the pursuit of becoming more like Christ. It involves the purification of our hearts and the transformation of our desires. An unsanctified heart, with its unrestrained lusts, is unlikely to submit to the truth of God's Word.
Embrace the Truth with an Honest Heart
Baxter's wisdom underscores the importance of approaching the truth with an honest and open heart. A heart that is willing to accept the truth, even when it challenges preconceived notions or deeply ingrained beliefs, is a heart that is truly seeking after God's will. Jesus, in John 8:32, said if we will hold to his teachings we will “know the truth, and the truth will set [us] free." Embracing the truth is the path to spiritual growth and freedom.
In the pursuit of truth, we should take Baxter's wisdom on this matter seriously and guard against the influence of carnal interests and lusts that can hinder us from embracing God's truth. To do so, we must engage in self-examination, pursue sanctification, and approach the truth with humility and openness. As we apply these three key principles and action steps, our hearts will become sanctified, ready to receive and embrace the life-transforming truths found in God's Word.
It is my prayer that we not merely strive to be a people who pursue God’s truth, but be a people who love the truth, not because it conforms to our desires, but because it leads us to a deeper knowledge of God and his perfect will for our lives (Romans 12:2). Truth matters to God. Jesus himself declared, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Therefore, let’s walk in the way of truth with sanctified hearts, continually seeking the face of our heavenly Father, the God of grace and truth.
Questions for Reflection
- Have you honestly examined your heart and identified any hidden motives, desires, or interests that might be hindering you from embracing the truth of God's Word?
- How committed are you to the process of sanctification, and what steps can you take to grow in holiness and become more like Christ?
- Do you approach the truth of God's Word with humility and openness, even when it challenges your preconceived beliefs or opinions?
- What practical steps can you take to ensure that your heart is continually sanctified and prepared to embrace the truth?
- In what ways can you seek God's guidance and the leading of his Spirit to help you discern and embrace his truth more fully in your life?
- The first walking point is to engage in sincere self-examination. Take time to reflect on your desires and interests. Are there any hidden motives that might be leading you away from the truth? Prayerfully seek God's guidance in identifying and confronting these carnal interests. Be honest with yourself and with God about your vulnerabilities.
- To pursue sanctification, dedicate or consecrate yourself to a life of holiness and godliness (Romans 12:1). Daily, seek God's presence and guidance through prayer and the study of his Word. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart, convicting you of sin, and helping you grow in righteousness. As you become more sanctified, your heart will become increasingly aligned with God's will, making it more receptive to his truth.
- Cultivate humility and openness in your heart. Recognize that none of us possesses all knowledge, and we’re all on a journey of learning and growing. Surely that is why the Apostle Peter tells us at the end of his second epistle to continue growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Be willing to engage in honest dialogue with others, even when their views differ from your own. Approach the Scriptures with an open mind, even as you pray for the Spirit to illuminate your mind. Continually seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s truth to you. And pray for the wisdom to discern and embrace the truth, no matter where it leads, secure in the conviction that “all truth is God’s truth.”
Scripture for Further Meditation and Prayer
- Proverbs 4:23 - "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."
- Psalm 119:11 - "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."
- 1 Peter 1:22 - "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart."
- John 17:17 – “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."
- James 1:21 - "Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."