Yesterday, we began considering this principle of Bible interpretation: The Bible is understood by spiritual receptivity as much as by intellectual effort and scholarship.
We noted that spiritual knowledge begins with a proper attitude toward the Lord (and His word). We briefly presented seven suggestions regarding how to develop a proper attitude. Let us now continue where we left off with these points.
- We must have absolute faith in God's word so that He may be found "true but every man a liar" (Rom. 3:4). Sometimes we will be wrong. We may need to have the way of God explained to us more accurately (e.g., Acts 18:26). If we have a proper spiritual attitude, we will gladly receive correction.
- We must remember that those who "pervert [i.e., change] the gospel of Christ" are "accursed" (Gal. 1:6-10). Therefore, our foremost aim must always be to please the Lord.
- We must beware of "peddling the word of God" (i.e., adulterating it for gain) or handling it "deceitfully" (II Cor. 2:17; 4:2). It is important to evaluate our motives continually to ensure we are not deceiving ourselves and clinging to certain interpretations for the wrong reasons.
- We must not approach God's word with "idols" in our hearts or any stumbling block of "iniquity" before our face, lest we be deceived and ultimately destroyed by error (Eze. 14:1-11).
- We must avoid "itching ears" spiritually and desire a diet of sound doctrine. Otherwise we will "be turned aside to fables" (II Tim. 4:2-4).
- We must remember that the word of God is a sharp, spiritual instrument that pierces to the depths of our souls--even discerning "the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12,13). All of our thoughts, intentions, words, and actions are known by the Lord.
If a disciple can remember these truths--and implement them--he should not struggle with being spiritually receptive to God's truth. When such a person opens God's word, he will do so to genuinely study in order to understand and obey. He will not go to the Scriptures merely attempting to prove what he already believes! Being spiritually receptive and having a proper attitude means pursuing the truth of God's word no matter where it may lead. Don't mold the Bible to fit yourself; mold yourself to fit the Bible!
Remember, God will hold us accountable for being able to understand His word. He will hold us accountable for believing it and obeying it. Let us be spiritually receptive and hungry for God's truth, and let us put forth the necessary intellectual effort as we study.