Vol. 6, No. 8
~ Page 13 ~
To the superficial mind, the question might be raised, "How could a person buy something if no one sold?" But the thing of which Solomon spoke in Proverbs 23:23 is not a commercial venture. Our liberty was bought with the blood of our forefathers, and our Christian heritage was bought with the blood of the martyrs, but no person sold it to us. The importance of that precept seems increasingly important as we see a number of men who at one time seemed to exalt truth, but who have sold out for some reason or another.
When Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32), he expressed a principle of the widest application. Knowledge of historic truth can make us free from having to repeat the same mistakes over and over. Knowledge of scientific truth can make us free from superstition in those areas, and free to explore in all sorts of areas heretofore inaccessible. Economic truths can make us free from poverty. Medical truth can make us free from various kinds of diseases. Moral and ethical truths can make us free from many of the social ills that plague our nation. Religious truth can make us free from the love, practice, guilt, burden, stain and the punishment of sin. But when Jesus used the word "shall," he did not mean that it was an automatic or predetermined reality. That is, "You shall know the truth" in no way means you are forced to know it. And "The truth shall make you free" only if it is applied or acted upon.
There is no authority that can cause man to respond with the proper attitude but that which comes to him in the guise of truth. To seek the truth wherever it may be found, to follow it wherever it may lead, and to practice it whatever the consequences is one of the highest duties and most thrilling tasks of man.
If we think of truth in man's normal relationships with man, we can immediately see the value of Paul's admonition, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor" (Eph. 4:25). An orderly society, even in the Communist world, cannot exist in the absence of truth. The disorder in all societies is largely the result of the failure to recognize the value of truth. Whether one goes to the gas tank and expects to see the true number of gallons delivered, or takes a bank draft from another, or goes to the grocery store and gets a bag labeled "sugar," or does any other thing in his social relationships, the truth must be respected or chaos results.
In the philosophical or scientific area, the same kind of thing is true. For example, the acceptance of the false doctrine of evolution and its related corollaries has brought untold damage to humanity. It includes such things as the murder of millions of unborn babies, Hitler's atrocities (many of which were based on the idea of "the survival of the fittest," which is an evolutionary concept), including selective breeding, and the murder of the "unfit," and many other examples of man's inhumanity to man. There is nothing at all philosophically or scientifically sound about the theory of evolution, for it cannot be proven to be logical or scientific.
One of the most remarkable things in the history of scientific thought is that thousands of persons who know that absolute scientific, demonstrable truth is necessary for us to even begin to explore, much less conquer, outer space, try to explore and conquer inner space with no apparent regard for either scientific or philosophical truth. The wisest philosopher and the greatest scientist cannot even answer the simplest questions concerning this "inner space" because they have no regard for truth in this area. For example, you may ask, "From whence did man come?" "What is his purpose in life?" "How can he fulfill that purpose?" "What is his destiny?" The only answers you get from those who have no regard for truth in those areas, that is, facts that can be philosophically demonstrated as reasonable, or scientifically proven as facts, are simply wild guesses.
Beyond those kinds of truth, there is moral, religious or spiritual truth. Probably Solomon primarily had this kind in mind. It would be humorous, if not so pathetic, to hear congressmen, news commentators and others speaking of the ethics of certain things, such as getting drunk or committing adultery. They seem to equate it with the ethics of killing seals, whales or crocodiles. But I have never heard any of them give the slightest hint as to what they think makes a thing unethical or immoral. If God is not a sovereign God, the source of all moral and spiritual truth, and man is not a mortal, moral, accountable being, made in his image, bound by nature and law to live in accord with that truth or suffer the consequences, then any talk of ethics and morality is so much foolishness.
To buy the truth, then, is to assiduously assert its reality, painstakingly persevere in its acquisition and deliberately devote himself to its practice. Prejudice and pride must be put aside. Sin and self-will must be sacrificed.
To sell it not means never to lose the disposition of mind that causes you to value it above all else. It means never to betray it through any selfish, sordid motive. A preacher who preaches some false doctrine through the desire for money, prestige or power has sold the truth. But the preacher who does not preach false doctrine but fails to preach the truth for the same reasons, or any other, has also sold it.
I still remember reading half a century ago from Hamlet, "This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." Inasmuch as no society can function with disregard for truth, no noble or worthwhile activity that is not based on truth can be carried to successful fruition, our freedom in any area is based on truth, and our sanctification and eternal salvation are as a result of truth, let us buy the truth and sell it not. Let us sacrifice all, even life if need be, on the altar of truth.