Hard, serious thought and the illumination of the Holy Spirit. 6. Then we must think. Human thought has its limitations, but where there is no thinking there is not likely to be any large deposit of truth in the mind. Evangelicals at the moment appear to be divided into two camps--those who trust the human intellect to the point of sheer rationalism, and those who are shy of everything intellectual and are convinced that thinking is a waste of the Christian's time. Surely both are wrong. Self-conscious intellectualism is offensive to man and, I am convinced, to God also, but it is significant that every major revelation in the Scriptures was made to a man of superior intellect. It would be easy to marshal an imposing list of Biblical quotations exhorting us to think, but a more convincing argument is the whole drift of the Bible itself. The Scriptures simply take for granted that the saints of the Most High will be serious-minded, thoughtful persons. They never leave the impression that it is sinful to think. 7. But thinking apart from the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit is not only futile, it is likely to be dangerous as well. The human intellect is fallen and can no more find its way through the broad expanse of truth, half-truth and downright error than a ship can find its way over the ocean alone. God has given us the Holy Spirit to illuminate our minds. He is eyes and understanding to us. We dare not try to get on without Him.
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Our Lord Jesus looked after the rich young ruler as he walked away, but He did not follow him or attempt to coerce him. The dignity of the young man's humanity forbade that his choices should be made for him by another. To remain a man he must make his own moral choices; and Christ knew this and permitted him to go his own chosen way. If his human choice took him at last to hell, at least he went there a man; and it is better for the moral universe that he should do so than that he should be jockeyed to a heaven he did not choose, a soulless, will-less automaton. God will take nine steps toward us, but He will not take the tenth. He will incline us to repent, but He cannot do our repenting for us. It is of the essence of repentance that it can only be done by the one who committed the act to be repented of. God can wait on the sinning man; He can withhold judgment; He can exercise long-suffering to the point where He appears "lax" in His judicial administration; but He cannot force a man to repent. To do this would be to violate the man's freedom and void the gift God originally bestowed upon him. Where there is no freedom of choice there can be neither sin nor righteousness, because it is of the nature of both that they be voluntary. However good an act may be, it is not good if it is imposed from without. The act of imposition destroys the moral content of the act and renders it null and void.
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