Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Sin of Prejudice

by Jesse M. Kelly
www.cvillechurch.com


It was John Bright who said, "Ignorance is the mother of prejudice." We have observed this to be a true saying. The more uninformed one is the greater his prejudice is apt to be. Webster's New International Dictionary defines it thusly: "An opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge." The mind that is uninformed in Bible teaching is usually the most prejudiced against its truths. The prejudiced mind is a perverse mind. It is unyielding and headstrong. It has a disposition which leads to the rejection of truth for the sake of preference in any matter. It is a disposition which says, "I am right," regardless of argument, logic, or truth.

Prejudice has ever been the great enemy of the souls of men. We should make a tremendous effort to liberate ourselves from anything that would hinder the acceptance and progress of truth, for it is the truth that shall make us free. Paul said: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey the lusts thereof; neither present your members unto sin as instruments of righteousness unto God." (Rom. 6:12) He then informs us that with freedom did Christ set us free; and then admonishes to "stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." Prejudice is that which binds us to our own ways and to sin. It has ever been a yoke that has bound the minds of men to the ignorance which mothered it.

Look at the Jews of Jesus' day. Jesus said to them: "I know you are Abraham's seed; yet ye seek to kill me, because my word hath not free course in you." (John 8:37) Why did not the words of Jesus have free course among the Jews? Because of their prejudice. They would not give up their ideas and opinions, and seek the truth, though it was demonstrated to them by the most wonderful and astounding miracles ever performed. Well did Jesus say: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets they will not be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." They were bound down, not from any incapacity, nor because they were dead, or blind or deaf, but by the strong tyrant of prejudice, whose history is one of ignorance and crime and disobedience to God. It was prejudice that shed the blood of the Son of God and stoned the innocent Stephen. It has persecuted God's people in every age of the world; and has been the great barrier to the progress of truth since Cain murdered Abel. it has caused man to set aside God's law, and instituted works of his own devising instead, and has ruined his soul. It says, "hold to your preference and opinions, even to the rejection of the will of God."

"Behold this only have I found that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." (Eccl. 7:29) "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely shall be delivered. Ignorance and prejudice have caused man to "establish his own righteousness, not submitting himself to the righteousness of God." "But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the precepts of men." (Matt. 15:9) This is the ultimate end of ignorance and prejudice. Again in Psalms 18:26, 27 we have, "With the pure thou will show thyself pure, and with the perverse thou will show thyself forward. For thou will save the afflicted people; but the haughty ever thou will bring down." There is but one course for men to follow in this life that can be acceptable to God; one way that he be absolutely sure about, and that is God's way. Moses said: "For I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Ascribe ye greatness unto our God: The Rock, His way, is perfect; for all his ways are judgment..." (Deut. 32:3, 4)

The battle between truth and error, right and wrong, is fought along the line of prejudice. Take away prejudice and all religious controversy would end. Truth alone cannot overcome prejudice, though presented with all its power. Only honesty will do this; only the innate sense of right and wrong can remove from man his own perverse disposition. It is left to the will and free choice of man to regulate his character to the truth. He has the power of choice in the matter of his own conduct. His conscience together with his power to choose between right and wrong, with the resulting rewards and punishments, leads him to accept the truth, and lay down his own self-will. When man's heart becomes so corrupt as to lose the sensibilities of, and regard for right and truth, to the extent that he loses his regard for himself and respect for God, he becomes impenetrable to the truth. Man may know and understand the truth, yet reject it and refuse to obey.

The trouble with the Jews was that because of their own will and opinions and prejudice, they shut their eyes and stopped their ears and the truth could not reach their hearts. Consequently the Savior was rejected by them. This is the trouble with a great portion of mankind today. Man's disposition is to have his own way, follow his own wisdom, and to worship God after his own inventions. He devises ways and means to carry out God's divine ends in a different way from that God has ordained. He will hold to them as dearly as he will to life itself, and his prejudice will condemn his soul. This was the failing of the Jews in Jesus' day, and after his rejection we hear him saying, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (Matt. 23:37, 38) Their prejudice, mothered by their ignorance and traditions and creeds, kept them from accepting the Savior of the world, and as a result God turned away from them, and their house was left desolate.

Then we can see the danger and degrading influence of prejudice. Let us then, whatever our religion, make a tremendous effort to free ourselves from it, for until we do we will be bound down and in ignorance reject the truth which is able to save the soul.


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