How balanced are we – including in our approach to God’s truth? The Bible warns against extremes. Solomon cautions us in Ecclesiastes 7:16-17, “Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked, Nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time?”
During the many years in the Church, I have seen people jump from one extreme to the other. Some of those who seemed to be extremely conservative turned out to be extremely liberal. They did not really change – all they did was to replace one extreme with another.
The Bible encourages us to hold fast to the truth that we have (cp. Revelation 3:11; Jude 3), and, at the same time, to increase in God’s knowledge of the truth (cp. 2 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 4:13). To be complacent with what we got (cp. Revelation 3:17) – thereby resisting the acceptance of newly revealed understanding – is as wrong as rejecting the truth that has been delivered to us (cp. 2 Peter 2:15, 21; 3:17). And, if we have rejected aspects of God’s truth, we must return to it. We are told in Jeremiah 6:16, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”
We will be celebrating Pentecost in a very few weeks, reminding us that we have received God’s Holy Spirit. It is God’s Spirit that leads us into all truth (John 16:13) – showing that we do not have all of it yet. Even the apostle Paul said, prior to his death, that “now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Jesus came to teach us new understanding – He came to exalt the law and make it more honorable (cp. Isaiah 42:21), showing us how we need to keep it, not just in the letter, but also in the spirit. He knew that some would resist that new understanding. It takes time to let God’s truth sink in – and some are unwilling to do that. Notice Luke 5:37-39, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved. AND NO ONE, HAVING DRUNK OLD WINE, IMMEDIATELY DESIRES NEW; FOR HE SAYS, ‘THE OLD IS BETTER.'”
Some went so far as not to even follow Christ any more when they could not understand aspects of the teaching that He brought (cp. John 6:53-60, 66). We must never make the same mistake of ceasing to follow Christ when He, through the Holy Spirit, reveals new aspects of the truth to us.
A balanced person will be able to combine “the old” with “the new,” seeing how it all fits together. Christ said in Matthew 13:52, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
Let’s continue to do so.