You can’t learn without chewing on something and you really don’t learn until that something has chewed on you. “Chewing” on something means reflecting and meditating on the matter. But being chewed up by something is a matter of letting that truth work on you. In the end, a truth that has chewed on you requires that you accept that truth into your world without changing that truth or else that you reject that truth. Accepting that truth means letting that truth change you. It means adjusting your view and your life to it. Rejecting it means staying with what you are already confortable with and what you have already shaped your life around.
For a believer in the scriptures, this is truer than anybody else. If I want to change God’s truth because it does not fit into my world or my comfortable perception of how life works, I know that is to compromise God’s truth. I can’t do that. So, I must accept that truth and change my life accordingly. Unless, I find that to uncomfortable. Then I am tempted to find fault with that truth and prove it is not true (a mistaken view, misinterpretation, a heresy perhaps) or I must just ignore it as though I never heard it and chewed on it (never mind that it chewed on me). A believer who chooses to be true to the Word of God will be faced with times when the very truth he has learned demands change. In order to bring that truth into his life, he must now change the structure of how things have been done. He will have to change how he has mentally filed and how he has “managed” that area of his thinking. The familiar will have to accept the unfamiliar and the known will have to make room for some unknown. Discomfort is created. At some point, the believer will have to either agree or choose to disagree with that truth. And they will have to obey it or not. But many believers no longer approach truth this way anymore. While we are glad to chew on something, it seems that these days we aren’t really open to letting it chew on us.
That discomfort was better known in past days as conviction but today it is rarely identified as such. At least, not in today’s post-modern world. It’s now defined as a matter of relevance or irrelevance, enlightenment or ignorance, and culturally acceptable or not. Agreeing with God’s truth and accepting it as truth used to be known as confession. Remember admitting to God that He was right and your were wrong. That’s how you became His child. You were told the truth that you were not His child, but rather a sinner estranged from Him. After chewing on that for a while it started to chew on you. It did not feel comfortable. But you accepted it because it was true. You chewed on the gospel and it chewed on you. You were uncomfortable (convicted). Finally, you accepted His view that Jesus was sufficient and able to make you His child through His work on Calvary. So you agreed with God that you were a sinner and that your only hope was Jesus (confession). You became God’s child! But nowadays, we don’t really confess anymore. We “learn” a new truth but rarely admit our old truth was wrong. If the acceptance of the new truth means being chewed on and experiencing any measurable discomfort, then it is only necessary to give it intellectual and academic assent but not really admit it is “right enough” and my old view is “wrong enough” for me to adjust to. Biblical confession rarely happens anymore it seems.
And that kind of confession was what use to bring about that other old fashioned idea, repentance. That meant an actual change. In other words, that meant letting the truth you had chewed on chew on you until you had been chewed up and remade. Conviction and confession used to lead to change. It meant that you would follow through with a change that impacted more than just your thinking and your doing. It meant letting that truth impact your being. It changed who and what you were. Again, remember when you first believed? By God’s grace, though you were a sinner, you became a saint. After that? Repentance continues in a believer’s life for they who were once set in their sinful ways continue to repent of those ways. Slackers and slouchers become workers with a new ethic. Liars, deceivers, and manipulators become trusting and trustworthy truth-tellers. Thieves and takers become givers and contributors. From grace to grace we are changed into the image of the Firstborn. Conviction, confession, and repentance continue.
Repentance is the visible marker of genuine conviction and confession wrought by God’s truth and accomplished by His Spirit. At least, it used to be that way. What has happened? We still believe that God’s truth and revelation is still THE TRUTH don’t we? It is still, to us, absolute and final isn’t it?
If it is or not is revealed by how you respond when the Word you have been chewing on chews on you. Do you conform to it? Do you change? Do you confess when convicted and let repentance take its course regardless of the level of discomfort it may cause you? Sure it hurts. The whole planet hurts. It’s under a curse and only the truth of God can set it and any of us free from that curse. And if you change it is because you have believed. No change? No belief.
You can’t learn without chewing on something and you really don’t learn until that something has chewed on you. And a believer in Jesus has not really believed until that truth has changed him at the core of his being.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)