The "meat and potatoes" of these posts I'm referring to as, "Baxter's Directory," come from Baxter himself. I'm merely compiling, editing, and doing my best to decipher, or translate, his 17th century language so more folks today can benefit from his wise and godly counsel. I'm also handpicking some of my favorites, from his millions of words, so there's definitely bias related to what I have and have not chosen to include. I hope you find this helpful in your walk with Christ.
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
Scripture for Further Meditation and Prayer
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Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: (Proverbs 23:19)
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.