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The Life and the Light
By David A. DePra
Jesus Christ said, "I am the Truth." Of course, He was saying that He, as God Incarnate, was the personification of all Truth and reality. This also tells us that the Truth is not a THING that God gives us. The Truth is not a list of doctrines. It is not information. The Truth is a Person. The doctrines simply tell us about HIM.
Christianity is CHRIST IN US, and much of the Christian life is Christ being revealed IN us, and TO us. This is TRUTH. But if you give that some thought, you will recognize the fact that before you receive Christ, that there can be NO TRUTH IN YOU – because Christ is not in you. You can only have Truth in you if Christ is in you. Yet notice: If you have no Truth in you, and then the Truth begins to dawn on you; begins to be revealed to you -- will this not cause quite a bit of upheaval in your life?
How could it not? How could light introduced into darkness not cause disturbance – GOOD disturbance – but disturbance that might initially seem strange? How could Truth introduced into an atmosphere of ignorance or error, not make waves? How could moral accountability and conviction for sin, introduced into a heart and mind which is intent on it’s own way, not turn our world on it’s ear?
Now here’s the problem – how can God reveal the Truth to a person who has no frame of reference for it? How would we be able to take that? We could not. The Light would be too blinding.
But if you think what I mean by, "Truth," is doctrines, then you won’t see the big deal. After all, what is so dramatic about learning doctrines? Nothing. But I’m not talking about learning doctrines. I’m talking about seeing reality; seeing Jesus. I’m talking about being faced with the Truth that, yes, will eventually set me free, but will initially SLAY everything about me that is NOT TRUTH.
The only way in which Truth can be introduced to a person is if that person is morally prepared. I did NOT say intellectually prepared, or emotionally prepared, but MORALLY prepared. To use Biblical language, God must first ploy the field and make it ready for the SEED. Only the will it take root.
Herein we see the need for the Cross – which makes a place in us FOR Truth! The Cross is used to clear out the rocks, thorns, and hardness, which keeps us unprepared for the Truth. Of course, I’m talking about the Cross YIELDED TO. If we don’t pick up the Cross, we will simply harden the soil of our hearts even more.
If you haven’t experienced this as of yet – you will – just keep walking with Christ. It is as a principle in the work of the Holy Spirit. God will bring us into circumstances wherein we are called upon to believe and obey Him. To do so will require a relinquishment of our self to Him – a relinquishment of our self-ownership and control into the hands of God. Often, this may take the shape of a great trial of faith – a risk, if you will, because we won’t know what is going to happen when we do surrender to God. But if we do, what happens is DEATH in us. And then, there will come a release of LIFE. But not only LIFE. There will also come, with that LIFE, a new release of LIGHT.
The Light of Truth is the result of the Life of Truth. I don’t mean to sound strange. But it is only if Christ is given greater control over us, and His life emerges from the work of the Cross in us, that Light is possible. Why? Because Christ is both Light and Life. You cannot have one without the other -- you always get nothing or both.
Light and Life are not THINGS God gives us. They are Christ. When we experience resurrection power or life, it is Christ in us. When we see Truth, we are seeing Christ in some dimension. This is about a Person, not THINGS.
The way to light and life in Christ is through death. The Cross. But this will seem to be a negative message if our goal is our will, or if we want to save our natural lives. Can we see the upheaval here? Sure. But it is through this death, and through the upheaval that Truth causes, that we become prepared for revelation, and established in Christ Himself.
According to the Bible, "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. "(1 Cor. 2:14) If there is one thing this ought to tell us, it is this: The things of the Spirit of God are utterly contrary to the thinking, operation, and perspective of natural thinking. THAT is how big of a deal it is to receive revelation, and it is why we cannot receive it unless God morally prepares us.
But don’t think that if you have the Holy Spirit, that you are no longer capable of natural thinking. You are probably, at first, capable of little else. Thus, to begin with, our thinking remains along the NATURAL line. It takes time for God to renew our minds and develop in us a spiritual capacity and aptitude. This is the continual, and on-going work of the Holy Spirit. This work is never finished in this lifetime.
But again – if you think that Truth is theology or doctrines, this won’t make any sense to you. Theology and doctrines are essential, but only if we see what they MEAN – for what they MEAN, and what they point to, and what they teach, is the TRUTH. For that, it takes the Spirit of God, and an on-going experience with Christ.
The work of the Holy Spirit is not primarily to teach us Bible verses. The Holy Spirit wants to reveal to us Jesus Christ – and if that happens, we will see the meaning and reality of the Bible verses. Again – Truth is not theology. Truth is Jesus Christ.
The natural man is not compatible with the Truth, and visa versa. Thus, the natural man must be completely set aside – indeed, crucified as to power and control over the person. Sure. Again – this is the work of the Cross. The Cross crucifies the flesh, so that a place can be made in a person for the Truth, for new life. There is no other way God works.
The Place in Us
There are reasons people believe what they believe – Christians included. And those reasons may have absolutely nothing to do with Christ. In order for me to embrace a teaching, movement, or way of life – as a Christian – there must be something about it that appeals to me. Otherwise I would not embrace it. I probably wouldn’t give it a second thought.
This appeal to me might be positive or negative. Many Christians embrace teachings and call them, "the Truth," because of what that teaching does for them, or promises them. This is the positive appeal. Others embrace teachings because they are afraid NOT TO. This is the negative appeal. But God never said that we are supposed to embrace a teaching because it appeals to us. We are supposed to embrace it because it is the Truth.
Now, THAT’S a problem! Do you see why? Well, if natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit, then God Himself tells us that there is nothing in natural man that Truth can appeal to. Nothing. So how can we get by that reality, to where we even recognize the Truth, let alone hunger after it, or embrace it because it IS the Truth?
Obviously, there has to be a PLACE made in us for the Truth. And just as obviously, this must be done by the Holy Spirit.
Now, before we continue, notice what I just said, and did NOT say. I am not yet talking about the point at which we hear, see, or embrace the Truth. I am simply talking about a PLACE for Truth being made in us by the Holy Spirit. And the fact is, the work of the Holy Spirit in us to make a PLACE for Truth is the very point at which so many Christians either move forward or remain blind.
As we alluded to before, this is the parable of the sower. What becomes of the seed God plants – the Word of Truth – is determined by the condition of the ground or soil, which Jesus said is the heart. But the ground doesn’t just come to be in a condition by accident. Rather, it is plowed. Thus, it is more how we respond to God during the plowing season that determines whether we embrace Truth, then what we do with the seed itself once it is planted in us.
Here we see an important Biblical principle. There must come a dealing of the Holy Spirit to crucify what hinders our heart from embracing the Truth – the rocks, thorns, etc., must be removed, or plowed away by the Cross – before the heart can receive the Truth. In other words, receiving the Truth isn’t an intellectual or emotional matter. It is a MORAL matter. To receive the Truth I must surrender myself to God for plowing.
If Truth were merely facts, info, doctrines, or theology, this would not be so. But because Truth is the revelation of the Person of Jesus Christ, it IS so. In order to see Jesus, I must die to my life as God brings my personal Cross. As I die, so does the error and bondage that goes with my old life. These lose grip on me. What is raised is newness of life – and with that LIFE comes LIGHT. The LIFE of Jesus is the LIGHT for men. "In him was life; and the life was the light of men….that was the true Light, which lights every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:4-9) Being raised with Him, we see Him, and therefore, come into a greater knowledge of the Truth. This whole thing really is like a seasonal cycle, which will occur over and over again throughout our life, just like harvest seasons.
The Problem Identified
Right here we see the fundamental problem in Christianity as it pertains to knowing the Truth. Do you want to know why there is so much disagreement as to the Truth among Christians? Why so many seem to know so little Truth? It is because we try to have LIGHT without the LIFE. And we try to do that because we neglect the Cross – which brings the death that results in LIFE.
The Biblical revelation is that DEATH in Christ results in LIFE in Christ, and this bring the LIGHT. But it is so easy to sidestep the DEATH via our Cross, and cut right to LIGHT. Except instead of true LIGHT, we can have, at best, only true facts. And once that is all we have, then we are at the mercy of our understanding, our brains, and worse, our bias.
THAT is why Christians have no agreement, and much deception. We have not seen Jesus Christ. Rather, we substitute for Truth with theology. And despite the fact that brains CAN and DO sometimes get the facts right, brains cannot bring us LIFE. Only the Cross can lead to real life in Christ.
This is also why it is possible to know the Bible, memorize doctrine, and even be able to preach and teach it, and yet have no real Truth or Life operating through you – even as a saved person. You simply know FACTS and INFORMATION. But you didn’t come into that through death and resurrection. You know facts about Christ, but you don’t know Christ. You have learned theology, but you haven’t learned Christ.
Failure to see this possibility has affected the Body of Christ greatly. Rather than value the Truth coming from a person, because of their relationship with Christ, we instead value formal education. We send people to seminary to learn how to minister. And yet ministry is never the product of study. It is the product of death and resurrection, resulting in Jesus Christ being able to work in and through us.
This cannot be overstated: I will know the Truth only if I know the Person who is the Truth. And I will never know the Person, unless I enter into the fellowship of His sufferings. I must pick up my Cross and die, and then I will be raised with both LIGHT and LIFE.
Paul said, "That I may KNOW HIM, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Phil 3:10-11) The true knowledge of Jesus Christ is based on moral relationship, faith, and unconditional surrender. It is NOT based on brain power or education. Indeed, even this very discussion might be turned into mere doctrine – a THING to know as a fact. It isn’t the same as knowing Him. You have to go on to do what the Truth states – continually and seasonally die and be raised with Him.
Then, you see, there will be a PLACE in you for Truth. Once the moral, "table is set," and those things which hinder the seed coming to fruition are removed by God’s plowshare, then when God plants the seed, it will grow.
But as I said earlier, it is at this point of plowing that we usually stand or fall. If I will not allow God to PLOW ME, (the Cross is the plowshare), I will never even reach the place where I can recognize the Truth, let alone embrace it. Nevertheless, this is MY fault. I did not know because I refused to know. I refused to know, not by seeing facts and refusing them, but by refusing to surrender to the hand of God when He was trying to plow me. Thus, my spiritual condition – which is causing my blindness – is my full responsibility.
The Single Eye
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if your eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat 6:22-23)
This passage aptly illustrates my point. My eye is my heart attitude towards God. It denotes where my focus is, and what I am looking to in life. If I open my eye to the light, or Truth, then my whole body, my whole life, is going to benefit with light. But if I refuse the light, then my life will have only darkness.
Practically speaking, this means that if I turn away from God and choose my own way in any matter, it is going to affect my whole life with God. It is going to impact me such that I cannot see the Truth. Why? Because I have turned away from the Truth – not the facts, and not a doctrine – but I have turned away from the Truth Himself. Simply put, the reward for embracing God in a matter is that I GET GOD – and see Him. The penalty for refusing God in any matter is that I don’t GET GOD – I get the darkness I choose. The choice for or against God – which defines the kind of EYE I have – is what results in either light or darkness.
Can we see how this all goes back to our relationship with God? Truth is the result of moral relationship with Jesus Christ. You simply cannot live life on your own terms and expect to know the Truth. You WILL NOT KNOW IT. You CANNOT know it. But you may deceive yourself into thinking that your doctrines and facts are the Truth. You can live out your entire life on that level, and even congratulate yourself because you are so intelligent. You may even impress others. But because your eye was not right with God, you are in darkness – and by definition – this mean you don’t even realize it. You have to go back to accountability before God Himself to turn things around – you have to get you EYE right with Him.
The bottom line is this: Shutting out God in one area, shuts out God, period. God is a Person, not a category. Thus, if we are not open to Him over something, it affects our entire relationship with Him. In short, if we choose the course of unbelief, our ability to see the Truth is going to be greatly affected.
This may explain much about why so many nationally known ministries are off the track today. The problem is not education. It probably isn’t even that there is great moral sin going on. And I do not think, in most cases, that these people are deliberately teaching error. Rather, they are IN error. Their EYE isn’t single – that is – free of a double agenda. Their EYE isn’t single unto the LORD – it is perhaps focused on what they are supposedly doing FOR the Lord. So what they perceive as the Truth isn’t the Truth – it is what their blurred vision sees.
Obviously, we cannot know the cause of individual cases. But the Word of God tells us that if someone is teaching error, that once we assume their error is not deliberate, the real cause is that they are not seeing the Lord. And they are not seeing the Lord because their eye is not single, and their heart is not purely given to Him.
Again – we are responsible for this condition if it applies to us. We are responsible, not for being able to grasp the Truth, but for keeping our eye single. Failure to do this opens us to a spirit of deception that will flood our entire life with Christ. This doesn’t mean we will go to hell. It doesn’t mean that we will begin teaching outright heresy – although in extreme cases it MAY mean that. But what it will mean is that we will never see HIM – and that is going to greatly limit us in our Christian walk.
It almost seems too simple: If you want to see the Truth, keep your eye single to the One who IS the Truth. How else would you SEE Him? If you want to know Him, surrender to Him. If you want God to plow a PLACE in you for Truth, then keep your eye single to Him – devote yourself fully to His purpose in your life. Belong to Him.
The Life and the Light
If you turn away from THE LIGHT, who is a Person, you will not have light – you will not see the Truth. You cannot separate the two. But if you open yourself to the Light, and your eye is single, you will GET LIGHT.
But again – and this needs to be continually repeated – this is NOT about doctrines and theology. You don’t need to be open to God to develop a systematic theology or doctrinal system. This is about a PERSON. To see the Truth about God, you must see God. And to see God, as Jesus said, you must be pure in heart. This is the exact equivalent to having a, "single eye."
We have already mentioned that this is progressive. If our heart is single to God, then we will see God, but it will take time for His Light to penetrate us to the point where we understand what we are seeing. Our minds must be renewed according to the Truth. Or to put it another way, if we are open to God, He will plant in us all manner of seeds of Truth. But it will take some time – faith and obedience – for those seeds to grow to maturity.
Truth is so foreign to our natural thinking, that at times when we initially see it, we won’t know we are seeing it. Thus, we might assume God has ignored our prayers, or that He is not there. We erect certainly expectations and when they don’t happen, we think God has let us down. Or we expect some big miracle. No. To see God will happen almost in a natural way. There will be some dramatic realizations from time to time, but the LIFE is already in you. The LIGHT will happen.
If Christ is in us, then LIFE is in us. And LIGHT is in us. He is both. Therefore, the key to both is to pick up our Cross and follow Him. Then Christ will be formed in us, and through us. And with the, "package," so will LIFE and LIGHT. We will know the Truth.
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