Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 2, 1955

Hindering The Truth

W. S. Boyett, Pecos, Texas

The truth is the most wonderful thing in the world. It does for man what nothing else can do. It seems impossible that anyone should want to do anything that would retard the progress of truth, but this is exactly what the beloved Apostle Paul said some were doing. Hear him: "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who HINDER THE TRUTH in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18.) This quotation is from the Revised Version of our Bible. The King James Version renders the passage as follows: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who HOLD THE TRUTH in unrighteousness."

"The following quotation from a very capable commentator shows the correctness of the Revised Version: "The last clause in verse 18 as follows in the King James Version: 'Who hold the truth in unrighteousness'. In the American Standard: 'Who hinder the truth in unrighteousness.' " The Greek word means both "To possess" and "to hinder"; but of course it cannot have both meanings in the same place. The connection in which it is used must determine its meaning. Some people argue that the person who knows the truth, but will not obey it, holds it in unrighteousness. But this could hardly be said of the persons of whom Paul was here speaking; for, though they had once known God, they had 'refused to have God in their knowledge' (verse 28) and had 'exchanged the truth of God for a lie.' (verse 26.) Paul was speaking of these people as they were, when he wrote. It could not be said of them that they at that time knew the truth, but would not obey it. They had known the truth, but had drifted so far away from it that they were worshipping gods of their own making. At that time they were not holding the truth at all; but their awful sinfulness, as depicted by Paul in the rest of the chapter, was a mighty barrier to the advancement of truth. By their unrighteousness they were hindering the truth. It is a fearful thing to hinder the truth of God, and God's wrath is revealed against all who hinder his truth. Even church members often hinder the truth by their unrighteousness. We profess to be friends of God, and then hinder him in what he is seeking to do for man. By such conduct we become enemies of God." (Commentary on Rom. R. L. Whiteside, Pages 25 & 26). This quotation very well sets forth the idea of the apostle and indeed we must agree that to hinder the truth of God is a fearful thing. A more fearful we do not know.

It is our desire to discuss some of the ways in which men hinder the truth of God. It might be of importance also to say something concerning the motives men have for hindering the truth. It seems to me that any man who would hinder the truth must be desperately wicked, because of the fact that truth has done so much for the world and could do so much for the very man that hinders it. It is indeed hard to see how any man could oppose something that makes free from sin, saves the souls of men, and by which our lives are directed into living pleasingly in the sight of God. We are certain that many who hinder the truth are very wicked, but then we see those whom we know to be interested in good things, concerned for the moral good of the community doing things that hinder the truth. We believe this type character really has no motive of hindering the truth. In fact it seems to me that type person must be doing what hindering he does through ignorance. I mean through ignorance of the fact that he is hindering the truth. Paul once said of his persecuting the church, that he did it ignorantly and in the same way many people of our time are hindering the truth.

All opposition to the truth regardless of where we find it, or in whom, begins with the Devil. He is the opponent of all good, the resister of all truth, the slanderer of all good people and the adversary of all good soldiers. Jesus gave a rather complete description of him in the following passage: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it." (Jno. 8:44). Certainly we could expect him, who has no truth in him, to hinder the truth in every way possible. However the devil is not the only one of whom it is said "there is no truth in him." Paul said of some men of his time: "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, AND DESTITUTE OF THE TRUTH, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." (1 Tim. 6:3-6). It would be difficult to think of men being in a worse condition than that described in this passage. Think of man being completely destitute of the truth! The Revised Version makes this stand out more by using the word "bereft" instead of "destitute." These men who would not consent to the doctrine which is according to godliness, the "wholesome doctrine even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ", are bereft or devoid of the truth. These are the kind of men that are used by the devil to hinder the truth. They are not the only kind, but they are some of the kinds of men that he uses. The devil carries on his work of opposition to the truth through his agents. We read in Matthew 25:41 of the "devil and his ANGELS." Thus according to these words, which are the words of Jesus himself, the devil has angels that do his biddings.

Not all of the helpers of the devil are his angelic imps that do his bidding. He has some that take the appearance of righteous men also. Paul said: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his minister also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Cor. 11:13-15.) The devil is the most arrogant being I know anything about. Think of him taking on the appearance of light. Think of his ministers trying to appear as the apostles of Christ, and his workers trying to make people think they are the ministers of righteousness. This should warn us and make us realize how much we need to be on guard and not accept everyone that appears as a "minister of righteousness" as such. For Paul says that some of those are ministers of Satan, the great hinderer of the truth. Of course the ministers of Satan are false teachers. Those who stand in the pulpits of the land pose as ministers of the gospel while they are preaching false doctrine. Hence the devil makes use of these false teachers in hindering the truth.

The most common way in which ministers hinder the truth is by promoting division in the religious world. There is nothing that causes the truth more opposition than the divided condition that exists in the religious world. Many honest men of our time who want to do right are baffled as to what to do, due to the fact that among the great number of theories that they hear preached they cannot determine which is right. I have had more people to tell me that the reason that they have made no religious profession is because there are so many churches that they do not know which is right. They all know that all cannot be right. A few years ago a preacher friend of mine, having just moved to a new place, was going down the street knocking on doors and meeting the people. He knocked at a door and a man came in response. He told the man his name and that he was the minister of the gospel in that town. The man replied, "Well, preacher, I have no use for you and won't be attending your church any." The preacher was somewhat stunned at this answer and so proceeded to ask the man why his strong resentment to preachers and the church. The man answered: "I shall be glad to tell you. I used to go to church, but I would go to one church on Sunday and I would hear one preacher preach that a certain doctrine was true. Then I would go to another the next Sunday and the preacher would preach that that doctrine was false. Then the next Sunday I would go to another and he would preach that both of the other fellows were wrong. Now you cannot make me believe that there is anything to a God, that is the author of a system like that." My friend of course was embarrassed. He told the man that he knew just how he felt and that he too knew that God was not the author of all the religious theories, for he knew that the Bible teaches that God is not the author of confusion. This illustrates exactly how religious division in our time is hindering the truth.

Indeed, the world is full of infidels, and atheists, but these are not hindering the truth nearly so much as the religious division we see about us. We hear much about infidels teaching in our schools and many will not send their children to State Schools lest they become infidels. Indeed that is a sad condition, but let me assure you friends, that if every teacher in every State School were an infidel, they would not be doing more to hinder the truth of God and make unbelievers out of our children than are the religious divisions that are about us on every hand. It would be impossible for me to have any faith in my God, if I thought he taught one preacher that he could fall from grace and taught another that he could not fall. If he taught one that salvation was by faith only and taught another that "Christ was the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him." We know that these conflicting doctrines cannot be true and our efforts to smooth over the difficulty by saying we do not understand the Bible alike is just a further hindering the truth on our part. Why cannot we take our Bibles as the standard and settle our differences and stop all this division that the devil is using to hinder the truth? Why cannot we discuss our differences with a burning desire to know and possess the truth, rather than with an unholy ambition to beat someone else? Religious people should be the best people on earth. They should exercise more self control than anyone else. If then, the best people, who use the most self control of all, cannot discuss their differences profitably and in a spirit of good will, there is something wrong. And that something is that those who lose their tempers and become mean and unkind have never gotten acquainted with Him whom they claim to be following. I am speaking from the very bottom of my heart. The truth is too precious to hinder. Its influence is too much needed in our world for any man that loves the good and better things of life to hinder. We all ought to be very careful, for I am sure none want to hinder the truth, lest we unconsciously hinder it.

All unrighteousness hinders the truth and the wrath of God is to be revealed against those that do such, according to the text we used in the beginning of this lesson. Hence we not only do something that is harmful to society, destructive to faith in God, but we are doing something that will bring down upon us the wrath of God, when we do things that hinder the truth. Men who profess to be Christians and are not living true to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are hindering the truth. Too often we talk to the sinner about his souls salvation, he will excuse himself by pointing out that he is already just as good as someone in the church. Therefore that man in the church that is serving as a bad example to him is hindering the truth. May our motto be: "All things to promote the truth and nothing to hinder it."