How to Receive Spiritual Revelation

By Grantley Morris

More Help in Understanding the Spiritual Side of Bible Interpretation

bible study

Part 4

Start at Part One

Often, we must find the heart of God about matters on which the Bible seems to say frustratingly little. These are not opportunities to put the Bible aside. Rather, they are invitations to plunge deeper than ever into Scripture and the heart of God.

One such subject is the morality of solo sex. It is not appropriate to deal with it here. I have addressed sexuality in depth elsewhere on this site. Here, I will select and adapt just those parts that provide insight into how we should use Scripture to enlighten us on issues the Bible seems not to specifically address. In order to move from the known to the unknown I will also briefly mention other behavior that the Bible says more about. If you have already read my several webpages about solo sex and prefer not to read the relevant parts a second time, you can skip this section by clicking here.

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Scripture’s Silences

We all have a tendency to read Scripture’s words in a way that least threatens our comfort or our presumptions. How much more, then, are we likely to twist Scripture’s silences, reading into them wrong conclusions. Once we concede that Onan’s sin was not solitary sex, nor does this common practice even rate a mention in the Bible, nor does it cause obvious psychological or physical injury, it might seem we can give it the green light. But such a conclusion would be dangerously premature. To demonstrate that neither apparent harmlessness nor the Bible’s silence are sufficient to suggest God views a matter as morally neutral, we will briefly consider two acts that clearly have divine disapproval: sex outside marriage and lesbianism.

Especially in the past, some Christians’ teaching against sex outside marriage used to strongly emphasize the possibility of disease and unwanted pregnancy. Many people hearing this wrongly concluded that it must be these dangers that make sex outside marriage immoral. This is not what the Bible says. It is a human attempt to second-guess God’s reasoning. That’s dangerous because the next move down the slippery slide is to start regarding our speculations as fact.

In the era just before AIDS, when medical advances had lowered the physical risks, those who believed they had figured God out assumed that sexual looseness must now be morally acceptable. They thought anyone thinking otherwise must be adhering to a morality that applied only to less technologically advanced eras. Christian morality, however, has never been based on a crude and selfish analysis of the physical dangers to the offender. The Lord Jesus emphasized the sinfulness of lust, even though mere lust carries no possibility of disease or pregnancy, nor even the possibility of the victim being emotionally hurt. Similarly, the relatively modern rediscovery that self stimulation does not cause obvious physical harm, has led people to leap too soon to the assumption that it must therefore be morally acceptable.

To understand that the Bible’s silence about a matter does not automatically make it acceptable, consider lesbianism. In contrast to same-gender sex among men, the entire Old Testament is without specific mention of the female equivalent. The same is true for the Gospels and almost all the New Testament. Romans 1:24-28, however, affirms that God regards lesbianism as a serious perversion. So the Old Testament’s silence – God choosing for thousands of years not to put it in black and white – in no way implied God’s acceptance of this particular abuse of sex. That’s scary. God left it up to his people to read between the lines, and anyone getting it wrong would be guilty of gross perversion.

It is staggering to realize that throughout the Bible even the sin of sexual intercourse between unmarried people is not spoken against as forthrightly as we might expect. Scripture definitely pronounces it to be a serious sin, but to find this clearly spelled out, one must search the Bible carefully and prayerfully. For the most part, Scripture is content merely to condemn “sexual immorality” without specifying exactly which sexual acts fall under this black umbrella. In the original language, the broad term used is porneia. The word is found 25 times in the Greek New Testament. It could be that when speaking so strongly against porneia, the range of sexual sins God had in mind includes masturbation. But if we have to seek long and hard to be sure that in God’s eyes porneia includes premarital sex (and it certainly does), we have to go even further into the heart and mind of God to know whether it includes solitary sex.

As we saw with lesbianism, even under the Law, the only way to truly know right from wrong was through fellowship with God. Devout Jews, however, typically poured enormous effort into knowing the Word of God, but little into knowing the heart of God. They ended up knowing Scripture so well and understanding it so little that they could “prove” emphatically that the Son of God was guilty of blasphemy and that it was their holy duty to murder their Messiah.

The frightening thing is that most of us imagine we could never make the same mistake as the clean-living, Bible-revering, Christ-killing First Century theologians. Tragically, those devout murderers were equally certain they would never make the same mistake of their forefathers who murdered the prophets.

Every day, we walk through a spiritual minefield, foolishly unaware that at any moment just one false step could be disastrous. The entire Christian life must be lived in total dependence upon our Lord. We either cling to Christ, trusting him alone – not our intellect, knowledge and experience – or the consequences are unthinkable.

understanding bible hermeneutics

The Limits of Logic

It is hard to resist the powerfully persuasive logic that says God gave us sex for marital union and that, like prostitution or bestiality, solitary sex must therefore be a perversion of God’s gift. But is this God’s logic? I dare not steer my life – much less the lives of others – while intoxicated by my supposed cleverness.

I have a deep distrust of human logic – be it the product of my intellect, or anyone else’s. Human attempts to fit together pieces of biblical revelation caused the greatest theologians and devout Jewish leaders to arrange the murder of their Messiah. Logic inspired Saul to conclude he was serving God by torturing Christians in the hope they would blaspheme the Son of God. Human logic might conclude that lust is morally harmless.

The biggest limitation of human reasoning is that we have at our disposal only a tiny fraction of the facts. Our understanding of human sexuality and of God’s purposes renders human attempts to see things God’s way like trying to see the picture in a million piece jigsaw when we have only a dozen pieces. When railing against masturbation, a respected Bible commentator’s attempt at logic fell to the ground because it was founded on the medical knowledge of yesteryear, which, like most things human, time has revealed to be inaccurate. Many of my own thoughts will fall if solitary sex does not program our sexual response to the extent that I believe it does, or if it turns out that God puts sexual self-stimulation in a totally different category to anything else to do with sex.

To illustrate the limitations of human reasoning, let’s delve deeper into the implications of applying human reasoning to an indisputable perversion: lesbianism. The Old Testament gets no closer to mentioning sexual relations between women than this:

    Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is detestable.

Everyone to whom the Old Covenant applied knew that when the Bible said anything about men, the statement often – but not always – applied with equal force to women. Who would be so stupid as to think that the Tenth Commandment – “you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” – means a woman is free to covet her neighbor’s husband? In many Old Testament contexts, “man” simply means human. This is obvious from the very beginning of the Bible:

    Genesis 1:27 God created man in his own image. In God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.

In short, “ . . . God created man . . . male and female . . .” “Man” here clearly applies with equal force to both genders.

Nevertheless, the context sometimes indicates that the word is applied solely to males. So logic says, look at the context. And logic also says female sexuality and psychology are not entirely identical to that of males, and lesbianism involves different sexual acts to male homosexuality, so different rules might possibly apply. So let’s examine the context:

    Leviticus 18:22-23 You shall not lie with a man, as with a woman. That is detestable. You shall not lie with any animal to defile yourself with it. No woman may give herself to an animal, to lie down with it: it is a perversion.

Oh dear! In the very next verse, when referring to bestiality, it is deemed necessary to specifically mention women. Logic would suggest that the omission of reference to women when forbidding same gender sex must have been very deliberate. The obvious conclusion is that it was omitted because lesbianism is deemed by God to be morally neutral. Even though I could argue against this because of the apparently random way Old Testament laws sometimes specifically mention women and sometimes not, it is hard to resist the force of the logic that says lesbianism must be allowed by God. In other words, human reasoning – even when applied to the very Word of God – could cause someone to wander so far off track that they end up condoning perversion.

Christianity is not the product of human reasoning. It is the revelation of the most powerful Intellect in the universe – the God who made our brain cells. Christianity is not a vain attempt to use tiny human brains to guess the mind of Almighty God. True Christianity is about connecting to the God of the universe, the Designer of our bodies, the Creator of sex, and letting him reveal his ways, which are infinitely superior to our own, and letting him rule in our lives in the perfection of his love and wisdom.

I do not want to be so arrogant as to shatter the divine silence in Scripture by sounding off as if my presumptions were the Word of the Holy One to the entire body of Christ. Instead, I urge all Christians who imagine they have divine approval to indulge in any form of solo sex to get down on their knees and seek the face of God about this.

At times, Scripture gives us examples to help us grasp a divine principle and leaves it to us to connect the dots. For an obvious example, consider Exodus 23:4:

    If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again.

Scripture says nothing about an enemy’s horse or sheep or finding his stolen computer. What if his house is on fire? What if he is sick and his crop needs harvesting? God obviously expects us to use our brains and extrapolate general principles from Scripture’s specific examples. Anyone having the attitude of avoiding only those things Scripture specifically names as forbidden, does not have a heart for God. More than once the Bible tells us to meditate upon Scripture and to discuss it with each other. Clearly, God expects us to think things through as we prayerfully pursue the mind of God.

I can by no means trust my finite intellect. Nevertheless, everything God does is perfectly rational and consistent. I would therefore need to be particularly cautious about any “guidance” that seems contrary to rational thought. This is especially so when on one side looms the danger of sexual perversion and on the other is merely the possibility of missing a little pleasure (and even the possibility of pleasure is doubtful, since solo sex seems to aggravate one’s frustration and the carrot of satisfaction it dangles before our eyes is largely an illusion). Add to this the fact that our natural tendency is to try to convince ourselves that self-indulgence is acceptable. Furthermore, if solo sex is sin, the Evil One has a vested interest in deceiving us and he is not beyond giving supernatural “proof” to try to convince us that sin has divine approval. One would therefore need exceptionally clear guidance to go against rational thought and be certain that a decision in favor of Do-It-Yourself sex is not being influenced by our own cravings or by the cunning of the Enemy of our souls.

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Hidden Agendas

I don’t think I’ve heard anyone preach more powerfully against sexual looseness. He kept it up year after year – until it was discovered that he visited prostitutes. I don’t believe his preaching was blatant hypocrisy. I suspect he was preaching at himself, trying to bolster his flagging resolve to fight temptation.

This raises two issues: whether we should have Bible teachers at all (we’ll address that shortly) and the distorting effect that personal experience has on one’s interpretation and exposition of Scripture.

Personal experience cannot change God’s truth, but it can hinder one from discovering the truth or from accurately conveying that truth to other people. Not even a genius can think straight about an activity that enslaves or entices him. Even people who are now free from a previous addiction often have clouded thinking. Ex-smokers, for instance, are legendary for the emotive way they react to people smoking in their presence.

Ideally, no one should be teaching about the morality of an action for whom it is an emotive subject. People yearning for a clear conscience while wanting to continue indulging themselves, or to keep questionable behavior as an emergency backup should their lives suddenly go haywire, will be strongly pressured to interpret the Bible in a way that justifies their secret longings. On the other hand, people wanting to argue the sinfulness of a behavior, to bolster their fight against a habit, or fearing a return to the habit, will be pressured to come out strongly in the other direction, overstating their case and making loud noises like the evangelist just mentioned.

No one peering through the haze of guilt feelings, defeatism and fleshly cravings can hope to see clearly. If you have a vested interest in, for example, “discovering” that God approves of a particular behavior, try to approach the issue as if it means little to you personally. If you find yourself strongly drawn to something, try to approach your search for God’s will about it as if with a simple prayer you would never again feel the slightest inkling to have what you currently crave and that everything positive would remain untouched. In short, seek to be as neutral as you possibly can and fervently pray that our gracious Lord override the frightening possibilities of any lingering bias.

Jesus said things in the hearing of all his disciples that applied only to Judas. They all needed to hear it so that later it would comfort them (and us) with valuable confirmation that Jesus’ death was no accident but a critical part of God’s plan. In the short-term, however, eleven of them misunderstood, and needlessly worried that Jesus was suggesting it was they who would betray him:

    Matthew 26:21-22  . . . one of you shall betray me.
    And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

This is one of many times in biblical history (Daniel 8:26; Matthew 13:17; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Peter 1:10-12), and beyond, when timing was a critical factor in spiritual revelation. Everything would be clarified later.

Another perplexing factor, however, is the enormous variability between people; ranging from some who are alarmingly oversensitive, right through to those whose insensitivity puts them in grave spiritual danger.

There are people who are so hardened by the deceitfulness of sin that Scripture’s sternest, most terrifying warnings are an act of divine mercy, desperately needed to shake them out of their spiritually suicidal apathy. On the other extreme, are people so delicate and tormented by groundless worries, that not only do such Scriptures not apply to them, but the gentlest hint of a warning directed at someone else, sends them reeling in needless fear and condemnation. People can even suffer from a medical condition that floods them with chronic feelings of guilt that bear no resemblance to how God views them, and causes them to misread Scripture and feel the object of God’s wrath, when nothing could be further from the truth. Over the years, literally hundreds of people suffering from this debilitating affliction have written to me. I have many webpages devoted to helping them (e.g, Scrupulosity).

In a webpage for people seeking to help people who are hurting I wrote about another source of sensitivity:

    If you were treating the open wounds of accident victims, you would realize that the most gentle, well-meaning touch could send patients reeling. You would not be offended if someone you were seeking to help lashed out in pain with almost involuntary action. You would half expect it. But imagine the confusion if the wounds were invisible and the person looked uninjured. Consider the further complication if in that person’s experience everyone who had tried to help (and how does he know you will be any different?) had in their ignorance done little but inflict pain.

    That’s the norm for someone who is hurting inside.

    Emotionally wounded people cannot help but be highly sensitive. Words hit them like whips. It is vital that they be treated verbally with the careful tenderness you would use if you were dressing gaping physical wounds.

A totally different example of how much people differ is that for some people, Scriptures referring to God as a father are immensely comforting, whereas for some who suffered horrific child abuse, these same Scriptures are literally terrifying. Some even recoil at the Bible’s use of the male pronoun for God. It swamps their minds with thoughts, images and emotions that are utterly contrary to the intentions of the inspired writers.

There are many other factors causing people to react in wildly different ways to the same words. Consider, for example, fears, insecurities, a strong need to feel superior to certain people, an infatuation with a particular sin, a battered self-image, or the fact that everyone close to you insists that something is true. These are just a few more examples of life experiences, any one of which can blind us to biblical truth. It might be through no fault of our own, but if, for whatever reason, we end up convinced of the truth of any matter or strongly want something to be true, we are alarmingly vulnerable to having our minds play tricks on us, such that, without even realizing what is happening, our minds twist our reading of Scripture to confirm our own prejudices, convictions and view of the world, rather than allowing our reading of God’s Word to shape our thinking.

Ably supported by the status quo and by anti-God spiritual forces, our capacity for self-deception is terrifying:

    Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the motives.

    Proverbs 16:25 There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

    John 3:19  . . . men loved the darkness rather than the light . . .

    John 5:44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (NIV)

    John 7:17 If anyone desires to do his [God’s] will, he will know about the teaching, whether it is from God, or if I am speaking from myself.

    2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts

    Hebrews 3:13  . . . hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Rather than being exclusively taught by God, all of us – no matter how sincerely we study the Bible – are far too much the product of our times, our education, and our fleshly weaknesses. In the words of Paul:

    1 Corinthians 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (NIV)

    1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall.

The astonishing variability between people’s reaction to the same words, plus the timing issue, plus our vulnerability to self-deception, means we dare not merely read Scripture, but we need to personalize it, by joining with the disciples in asking, “Lord, is it I?” Does this apply to me or to someone else? Do I need to take this to heart now, or should I leave it until later?

When seeking God on such issues, it is good to pray along these lines:

    I come to you, the all-knowing Lord of the universe, seeking truth. I ask that in your mercy you lift from me legalism, worldliness, selfishness, undesirable cravings, a know-it-all attitude, a fear of pleasure, or anything else that could fog my mind from detecting and delighting in your truth. Give me your heart so that I might be worthy to be given your mind on this important subject.

    You are no killjoy, precious Lord. In the extravagance of your love and creative genius you have crafted for your children a stunning array of exquisite delights. Before sin’s pollution, when everything sparkled with your perfection and purity, pleasure was an integral part of the creation that you pronounced to be very good. But I know it is not good to be a slave to pleasure, nor to be defiled.

    May I delight you and thank you by enjoying all the thrilling things you have lovingly planned for me. And may I avoid every treacherous imitation of eternal fulfillment; every enemy of lasting joy.

    I can escape disaster and find truth only by you breaking my infatuation with sin. So cause me to be so in love with you that my highest joy is to see you honored. I want to be so swept off my feet by the dazzling beauty of your holiness that I recoil in horror from the smog of the world; so captivated by the perfection of your ways that I would rather suffer a martyr’s death than experience the exquisite pleasures of sin.

    I am surrounded by deadly traps – both satanically inspired license and equally satanic legalism. Only you can show me where the dangers lie. I cannot trust my own intellect nor even my conscience. As your Word says, “The heart is deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9) . Open my eyes to the way you view my self-worth, my sexuality, and every other aspect of my being, so that I may be one with you on this vital issue. May your light burst through the fog of my upbringing, cravings, prejudices, fears, past experiences, faulty logic, lack of faith and whatever else could keep me from knowing and living your glorious truth.

    When used as you intended, all of your gifts are perfect. May I not dishonor you by spurning your gifts, nor by misusing your priceless gifts. In your mercy, show me the difference between holy pleasure and Satan’s bait.

bible teacher

Should We Even Have Bible Teachers and Bible Commentaries?

We have hinted at the dangers of Bible teachers influencing others while themselves driven by prejudices and inner turmoil. Another serious issue is teachers or preachers wanting to be seen as authorities on various issues. Ideally, we all should trash trying to sound authoritative and infallible, and instead seek the higher honor of pointing people to the Authority.

    Matthew 23:10-12 Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Rather than seek to impose my personal views on anyone, I much prefer the undeserved privilege of being used of God to assist others in reaching their own, divinely-inspired convictions. A leader’s greatest joy should not be self-exaltation but, as it were, carrying people’s bags, while they pursue their own personal adventure in discovering the beautiful and perfect will of God.

But should we even have Bible teachers?

The role of Bible teachers is emphasized in the Old Testament. A powerful example is:

    Nehemiah 8:7-8  . . . and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stayed in their place. They read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading..

Other Old Testament examples abound. I’ll limit myself to two more:

    Leviticus 10:8-9, 11 Then the Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons . . . are to teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.”

    2 Chronicles 17:7-9  . . . [Jehoshaphat] sent his princes . . . the Levites . . . the priests. They taught in Judah, having the book of the Lord’s law with them . . .

The role of teachers has not diminished under the New Covenant:

    Matthew 28: 19-20 Go, and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. . . .

    Acts 2:42 They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching . . .

    Acts 5:42 Every day, in the temple and at home, they never stopped teaching and preaching Jesus, the Christ.

    1 Corinthians 12:28 God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers . . .

    Ephesians 4:11 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers

    Colossians 1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus

    1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, pay attention to reading, to exhortation, and to teaching.

    Hebrews 5:12 For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles . . .

There are very many more New Testament references to the importance of Bible teaching.

Since our Lord has ordained that there be teachers in the body of Christ, it would be an insult to the wisdom of God to imply that we do not need them. This does not mean, however, that the Lord has given us teachers to indulge our laziness. We each have a responsibility to prayerfully seek truth and personally study God’s Word. Neither does the importance God places on teaching mean that everyone who assumes that role does so under God’s direction. Nor does it mean that sitting under teachers protects us from all error.

When someone we highly esteem knows the Bible thoroughly and deeply loves the Lord, it is hard to keep in mind that he/she can sometimes be mistaken. The reality, of course, is that nothing – not even the noblest assortment of gifts, graces and devotion – makes a person infallible. Just because a much loved Bible teacher is persuasively passionate about a subject does not, of itself, mean he/she is right, no matter how authoritative, how used of God or how much genuine revelation the person has received on other subjects.

On the other hand, we should not reject a certain understanding of Scripture just because people who are often wrong in their beliefs and/or behavior happen to believe it.

We must neither blindly accept nor blindly reject a teaching because of what others believe.

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A Spiritual Law for Bible Interpretation

You reap what you sow. The measure with which you dish out is the measure used to pay back to you. Scripture uses many different expressions to describe this fundamental spiritual law that applies not just to money but to judging others and virtually every area of life. In fact, it seems to apply to the way we treat the Word of God. In reference to the attention given to Jesus’ teaching, we read:

    Mark 4:24 “Take heed what you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear. . . .”

Another way of describing this law is whoever is faithful in little will be given much.

The more faithful we are with God’s Word, the more divine revelation we will receive. There are two key areas in which Bible readers should display faithfulness:

    1. Intense Effort to Understand

      Deuteronomy 6:5-9 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates.

    Note how loving the Lord – the greatest command, taught Jesus – is linked not just to revering the Word, but to actively and habitually mentally processing it by discussing it, teaching it to your children and continually reminding yourself of it.

    Consider the vast amount of time the Lord expects us to devote to studying and applying one’s mental powers to Scripture:

      Psalm 1:2 but his delight is in the Lord’s law. On his law he meditates day and night.

      Psalm 119:97 How I love your law! It is my meditation all day.

      Psalm 119:148 My eyes stay open through the night watches, that I might meditate on your word.

    Why would the Lord put such emphasis upon devoting so much prayer, time, meditation and discussion to the Word if it is his intention to reveal truth to Christians no matter how lax they are?

    Why did Jesus plead with us to ask, seek and knock? Because he felt like spouting some empty words or because of the grim truth that unless we do it we’ll miss out?

    For three full weeks Daniel prayed and semi-fasted for divine revelation about the meaning of what, like the book of Revelation, is now part of Scripture. Who knows how long this determined man of God would have kept this up had the answer been further delayed? We might read, puzzle, and consult Bible commentaries but do we with steely resolve set ourselves to pray and fast for understanding of a passage of Scripture?

    When we consider spiritual heroes who pressed on to great achievements in God despite immense opposition, do we think to include in our personal hall of fame those who, rather than leave a matter on the too hard shelf or settle for anything less than God’s best, wrestled in prayer until they received divine understanding of a portion of God’s Word?

2. Putting It Into Practice

    In addition to being faithful in intensive, prayerful study, we must be faithful with what we do with the knowledge gained. In any course of study, there is no point in undertaking more advanced studies if you have not mastered the basic lessons. Why should God reveal new truths to someone who is not even applying what God has already revealed to him? Master what you have so far received by living the truths you know and you will be given new truths.

    Under the Old Covenant, each king was to have not just his own personal copy of Scripture, but:

      Deuteronomy 17:19 It shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them (Emphasis mine).

    He was to read the Bible “all the days of his life,” not for mental stimulation or religious ritual but for the highly practical purpose of applying it to his life and living it daily.

    Again, we read:

      Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.

      Matthew 7:26-27 Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. (Emphasis mine)

    If a doctor prescribes medication, you can study the directions on the label, religiously read them three times a day and memorize them word perfect, but all your effort will achieve nothing unless you actually follow those directions and consume the medication as instructed.

    If we are faithful in devoting time and prayerful effort into Bible study and faithful in prayerfully seeking to live what God is revealing to us, then we can expect our revelation to be continually expanding.

bible study

Soaring to a New Level

One cannot find love, joy or goodness by scientific analysis. Neither can one find spiritual truth by intellectual analysis.

Limit yourself to studying a painting with an electron microscope or X-ray machine and you might pride yourself in going far deeper into the painting than the average person but you will completely miss what the artist intended to convey. Similarly, if you limit yourself to the tools of Bible academics you might pride yourself in your great knowledge, but you will completely miss the message God wants to convey.

To explode to new heights in biblical revelation we need an invasion of the supernatural that hinges on us praying along the following lines. It is worded to help us glimpse the breath-taking beauty and wonder and joy of our calling.

    Like a finger on a hand, I was created to be in exquisite union with you. As a body needs its head, only with you am I complete. You are my love, my life, my joy, my hope. Only with you can I soar to my glorious potential. Without you I am pathetic. With you I am everything. So keep me ever mindful of my glorious dependence upon you.

    May I not frustrate myself, harming my Christ-bought potential for eternal greatness, by trying to see, be or do things without you. In you I am free.

    Only you can open my eyes to the spirit realm as you did to Elisha’s servant who suddenly saw the so-close but invisible armies of God (2 Kings 6:17). Likewise, only you can open my eyes to the exciting mysteries in your Word.

    I thrill in the knowledge that because of Jesus’ priceless sacrifice I have the mind of Christ and am indwelt by your very Spirit. Nevertheless, I shudder to consider how little this is so far manifested in my life and thinking. I beg you to deal with everything within me – most of which I am probably not even aware of – that is refusing to let you rule in me in the powerful, non-human way that you long to operate.

    I can understand your truth only to the degree that I have your heart. Only when your beauty becomes part of my lifestyle can I hope to appreciate the beauty of your ways. That necessitates letting you rip everything ungodly from my life. I know I must abandon the soft life and embrace the way of the cross. I am scared about what that might entail but it is the only way to the abundant life that you freely offer. You alone are the God of all comfort. Any other apparent source of comfort is a vapor that will turn to poison.

    Not only are you passionately and selflessly devoted to my eternal welfare (as demonstrated by Christ crucified), you alone have infinite knowledge of the past, present and future and can match that with infinite wisdom. Like a fish out of water, so am I when I’m out of your will. Help get this critical truth into my head. Etch it into my brain.

    Like the ugly duckling discovering he is a beautiful swan, so I am discovering my true identity whenever I find in your Word more of how you want me to live. I am only fully alive, achieving my highest when, empowered by your Spirit, I am living your glorious Word.

    To shrink from your liberating truth is like a shivering child fearing warmth, and yet too often this is how I live. Not to obey your commands is like money never spent, food never eaten, warm baths of pleasure never luxuriated in. Change my whole way of thinking that I might continually relish discovering and doing your will.

    To see as you do, I must, as it were, see through tear-filled eyes at a God-hating world. Fill me with compassion for those who despise me. Make my heart tender.

    I must take on your nature or I will always find bewilderingly incompatible your love and wrath, your mercy and judgments, and so many other aspects of your perfection. Either I yield to your longing to make me pure, selfless and righteous, or else biblical concepts like turning the other cheek, it being more blessed to give than to receive, and so much else will seem nonsensical to me. Without your holy, eternal perspective, I’ll never understand even fellow humans like the apostle Paul who, despite horrific torture and deprivations, kept talking of joy and “light, momentary” afflictions so inconsequential as to be beneath attempting a comparison with future glories.

    As I’ll never see what lies ahead unless I keep moving forward, so I’ll languish in ignorance unless I’m daily living more and more of your Word.

    As a vine bursts into seasons of fruitfulness only if it endures times when it seems nothing but a dry, twisted stick, so I must persevere, seeking your face and reading your precious Word no matter how dry it sometimes seems. May I cherish your word more than a starving man with his last crumbs.

    Keep prodding me to courageously press against the tide of popular thinking – even popular Christian thinking – whenever it clashes with your full and glorious truth. Break me out of the straight jacket of human thinking so that I might soar with you. Stop me from swallowing half-truths. Take me way beyond my natural intellect and morality. Give me no peace while I’m content to settle for second best. One by one, expose my blind spots and deal with everything within me that saddens you. Don’t let me get away living a shallow life. May my every moment bring you joy. May I give you my best and receive your best.

    I can do none of this alone – and I thank you that I don’t have to – but in your love for me you wait for me to cooperate. And in my love for you I want to dedicate to you my every effort.

    I yield to you, like a brush to the artist, like a drowning person to his rescuer, like a lover to caresses.

The Next Page

The next page delves further into how heart issues affect our ability to interpret Scripture correctly. You might have already read this page if you explored a link on an earlier page in this series. Or perhaps you would prefer a change of pace by exploring the related issues listed below. Otherwise, you’ll enjoy:

The Heart of Bible Interpretation

An important webpage that helps us locate and navigate around some of the other dangers is How to Avoid Deception.

Beginning of this series

Related Webpages

Soul-winning Tips Understanding that the real obstacles to people becoming Christians are not intellectual but spiritual and heart issues

Spiritual Secrets Encouraging insights into what dying to self is really about

How to Avoid Deception

Truth: An Awesome Responsibility

Not to be sold. © Copyright, Grantley Morris, 2005, 2017. For much more by the same author, see These writings may be freely copied provided they are not placed in a webpage, nor in anything that is sold and provided this entire paragraph is included. For use outside these limits, written permission is required. Freely you have received, freely give.

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Bible Versions Used
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King James Version

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World English Bible
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