We were hiking up a hillside in Tijuana. The rest of the group had gone ahead, but the two of us, I, and another man, arrived a few minutes after. He was a little older than me, middle-aged, with a beard, dignified-looking. He looked like that guy in the Dos Equis TV commercials or like Saddam Hussein when he had a beard.

We were about to see the whole operation. A little fear came over me as we arrived and I finally realized what I had gotten myself into. These people were ruthless killers! And I was about to see their whole money-making apparatus. This place was famous. It belonged to the biggest drug cartel in Mexico. I thought, “What if they think I have a hidden camera somewhere?” They couldn’t be sure about me. They can’t trust anyone. And besides, they shouldn’t trust me. I don’t like what drugs do to people and I wish I had a camera and I could help shut these guys down.

The dignified man with me had gone around the corner before me—there was an entryway of a few staggered fences before you could see out to the fields where the workers and equipment were. This was the moment of truth; maybe I won’t be going in; I was just a tag-along anyway—there’s no way I could prove my loyalty. The man I was with came back from around the corner behind the first fence just as I was approaching it. He was stripped down to his underwear and looked very scared. He wasn’t the tough guy I had imagined. He asked me if I was going to go in; he sounded like he was afraid to go without me.

It was then I realized that trust wasn’t going to be an issue for these drug lords; naked, we couldn’t record anything. I tried to imagine anywhere a camera could be hidden inside the body, perhaps under the skin, with a lens extending out slightly, but remain undetectable in a search. I couldn’t conceive of any possible way. “Ah! But,” I thought, “our eyes are like lenses, and our brains do nothing but record data. Some people even have ‘photographic memories.’” But they weren’t worried about that. No matter how comparable the equipment of the body—the eyes and the brain—were to a camera, the mind is subjective; cameras are objective. Because, whatever else a brain can do that’s like a machine, it is also under the control of a being with a free will. That is what makes it subjective. And that is why the drug lords aren’t worried. If we were to testify to what we saw, they could impugn our motives. Or they could threaten us and we might lie and recant our testimony because our motives may change. Cameras don’t have free wills, hence no motives.

When I awoke, I thought of how this dream applied to a subject I have long been contemplating—the subjective aspect of the gospel.

It is disturbing how many people reject the truth. Sure, it is often presented poorly, or in general ways that couldn't possibly convince the particular hearers. And I know that some are honest inquirers, and just have not been convinced yet; they would be being irresponsible with their minds if they converted on the basis of faulty or incomplete arguments. But that still does not come close to explaining the extremely small number of converts among those who have been presented with the gospel.

The best explanation I can find is that they are turning off their minds by choice because they don’t like to feel guilty. After all, if a person is selfish enough to choose to indulge their appetites rather than loving God and their neighbor, then they are selfish enough to not want to feel guilty about it. It kind of defeats the purpose of sinning, if you let feeling guilty destroy the fun.

I’ve compiled a few passages that speak to this issue of sin's relationship with the truth:

So Jesus answered them and said,
“My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching,
whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”

— John 7:16-17

 

"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

— John 3:19-21

 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

— Romans 1:18-25

 

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?“

— John 5:39-44

 

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us… If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

— 1 John 1:8,10

 

But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

— 1 John 2:11

 

We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

— 1 John 4:6

 

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

— 1 John 5:9-12

 

But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

— John 12:37-43

Above, I addressed the rejecting of the truth as a system and adopting a false worldview. But to be sure, every sin involves self-deception, even if it doesn't result in changing ones direction in life and becoming an atheist or idolater. At the moment that we sin, simply by virtue of the fact that we are committing ourselves to act contrary to God's law, we are, by our actions, if not our thoughts as well, proclaiming that God's law is not worth keeping. Our actions are a vote against God's love for us and against the justice of His instruction. To sin is necessarily to reject truth.