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Most of us know the verse, "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (Jn.8:32). But this is a part of the larger saying from Jesus, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (vv.31,32). So, there is a proper way of knowing the truth that will bear fruit by setting us free. The wrong way of knowing truths is seen by the example of many who read the Bible daily, come out of Bible colleges and yet do not know God personally. Their knowledge is merely intellectual, and they can even teach using their natural abilities. But those who truly know God can see through their spiritual ignorance.
Continuing in the words of Jesus as His disciples goes with the desire to become like Him in thoughts, words and action. With this desire driving our life, our quest will be to discover from God's word through the enabling of the Holy Spirit the truths that will set us free from living according to our fleshly (carnal) desires and our natural inclinations (1Co.3:3). The Holy Spirit will enlighten our heart and mind as we read or listen to God's word and we will discover truths about our needy condition, truths about what He wants us to be and truths about how we can get there.
Mere intellectual knowledge puffs us up (1Co.8:1). Because of our mental understanding of truths we may begin to imagine that we are actually great, when, in fact, our behaviour indicates otherwise! That is why we have to gain knowledge of the truth as disciples – who are willing to learn in order to become like the Master. The attitude of a disciple will make a big difference in how we understand things and what we do with our understanding.
If we read the Bible with the intention of finding something to speak or write about, we will get many interesting points, and if we are naturally gifted, other people will get impressed with our knowledge too! But if we have let God's word break our natural strength and we have begun to lean on the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom, we can see people getting affected in such a way that they will want to change their lives too. Do we want to impress, or do we want to bless?
When we speak or write with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, 'natural' people may think that we are speaking mysteries because they cannot understand spiritual things (1Co.2:14). What we say does not make sense to them. But once they surrender themselves to God and give up everything in their natural life in order to follow Jesus as His disciples, their eyes get opened (Ep.1:18) and they begin to see truths in the words they have read before!
Instead of imagining we know everything, if we take the position that we need to learn everything in the way God wants us to, then we can truly begin to learn. Then we can put aside our strong opinions, biases and prejudices, and sit at the feet of Jesus and ask Him to teach us. He will set us free.