A Short Study of John 14:17
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
The world — that is, the world dead in sin, and the world dead in profession — men destitute of the life and power of God — must have something that it can see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which are invisible.
Now this explains why a religion that presents itself with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural eye will always be received by the world — while a spiritual, internal, heartfelt and experimental religion will always be rejected.
The world can receive a religion that consists of forms, rites, and ceremonies. These are things seen. Beautiful buildings, painted windows, pealing organs, melodious choirs, the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood, and a whole apparatus of ‘religious ceremony,’ carry with them something that the natural eye can see and admire. The world receives all this ‘external religion’ because it is suitable to the natural mind and intelligible to the reasoning faculties.
But the quiet — inward — experimental — divine religion — which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but is wrought in the heart by a divine operation — the world cannot receive this — because it presents nothing that the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion is or should be.
Do not marvel, then, that worldly professors despise a religion wrought in the soul by the power of God.
Do not be surprised if even your own relatives think you are almost insane, when you speak of the consolations of the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul.
They cannot receive these things, for they have no experience of them — and being such as are altogether opposed to the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn.
By J.C. Philpot