by Jesse L. Smith
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“But strong meat belongs to them who are of full age, even those who by reason of use have exercised their senses to discern good and evil.” –Hebrews 5:14
The Apostle Paul, trained in the highest forms logic and rabbinical reasoning by Gamaliel, did not think much of our ability to comprehend truth through the intellect. On the contrary Paul preached that spiritual truth could not be understood by human wisdom saying, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” -1 Corinthians 1:21 If God chose to make salvation available to us through the exercise of our intellect, only the elite of this world would be heirs to salvation. Instead of choosing the mind as the vehicle through which we believe, He chose the heart saying, “…For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” –Romans 10:10
For those whose faith is based in the intellect, spiritual truth will always be a stumbling block that prevents them from drawing closer to God. Jesus told His disciples, “It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” –John 6:63 Jesus chose to speak words that could not be understood by the mind alone, and those who tried to comprehend His words through their intellect left offended. When Jesus spoke to the people saying, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you…”, only those whose hearts were sensitive to truth remained. Although the minds of the twelve disciples didn’t understand the words Jesus was speaking, their hearts resonated as Jesus spoke the words – and knew He was speaking the truth. When Jesus asked them if they would also leave, Peter responded saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” –John 6:68
The moment we surrender our lives to Christ, scripture tells us that God sends the Spirit of His son into our hearts crying Abba, Father. –Galatians 4:6 When God sends His Spirit into our hearts, His Spirit within us becomes the vehicle through which we can understand spiritual things. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to understand spiritual things, as Paul wrote “…But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”-1 Cor. 2:14 Instead God has given us the Holy Spirit so “that we might freely know the things that are given to us of God.”-1 Cor. 2:12 As followers of Christ the tool that God has given us to discern truth is the Holy Spirit, and not our minds.
God has commanded us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and therefore He cares about our ability to understand Truth with our minds! However, Truth is always first understood by our spirit through the Holy Spirit, and then God will bring understanding to our minds. If we try to understand with our minds first we are cutting out the work of the Holy Spirit, and like those disciples who left Jesus we will be offended and fall into error. As you read through God’s Word you will encounter many Truth’s that seem paradoxical or irreconcilable by the mind, and yet your spirit will know that they are all true. Jesus told us through John’s Revelation, “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” –Revelation 3:22 Most everyone has physical ears to hear, but Jesus was talking about ears that were spiritually receptive to the Truth.
Oftentimes God gives different members of the church revelations that on the surface appear to be in conflict. Those who have received those revelations will consequently preach what they have heard and know to be true by the Spirit. Like the Apostle Paul’s revelation of grace by faith and the Apostle St. James revelation on faith and works, it is easy to wrestle with different revelations and even break into factions based on whose revelation our minds can understand the most. But those who rely on the Holy Spirit will know that both are true before they can articulate why. As the Apostle Paul counseled Timothy, “…Consider what I say; and the Lord give you understanding in all things.” – 2 Timothy 2:7 The very most important thing is that as members of Christ we all “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” –Philippians 1:27
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