By Ronald Graham
“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” 1 John 2:27. The Apostle John tells us that the Holy Spirit abideth (dwells, remains) in us and that He is our teacher (instructor) of all things (doctrines, precepts of God). The Holy Spirit is avidly and actively seeking to open the eyes of the children of God to His truth. But many times something gets in the way. Call it presupposition, preconceived ideas, or pride – these are all punctuated by false teaching. Let it be known that there is a force in this world that seeks to stumble Christians, and thus instills divisiveness as many stand steadfast on falsehoods in lieu of the truth. God’s word is our only reliable counsel; allowing ourselves to be taught by Him is the ultimate in devotion.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:12-13. Paul also makes it clear that it is the Holy Spirit of God that teaches us all the things of God, which of course are spiritual. God had His word written down and recorded by some 40 men of His choosing. This was purposely done so all who would believe in Him, would read and study His word, and as a result be drawn closer to Him. Why then is there so much confusion in regards to God’s inerrant word? Confusion is never of God. Therefore the logical conclusion is that God’s enemy (Satan) has distorted the truth of God’s word in his attempt to lead God’s children astray.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” 1 Corinthians 2:14-15. The lost of this world (natural man) will never correctly discern the things of God. As a matter of fact, Paul plainly states that to the lost of this world the things of God are nothing more than foolishness. The Holy Spirit leads the justified to the truth, if they will allow Him this leadership role in their lives. But many Christians won’t accept the truth from the Holy Spirit because of what man has taught them to the contrary.
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:12. Obviously Paul sees great benefit in what he has taught Timothy being passed on to faithful men who are also able to teach. Men teaching God’s children is certainly necessary. But we, as the children of God, must rely on godly discernment to know if a man is teaching God’s precepts, or doctrines of men, or even doctrines of demons. It is our responsibility to be sure that what we are taught is of God.
Spiritual discernment comes only from the Holy Spirit who resides within each born again child of God. This discernment is the only trustworthy application for our lives. Over and over again I’ve been right up front with my readership in stating that everyone who reads my commentaries should without hesitation go directly to the source (the scriptures) to be sure I’m not leading anyone astray. This act of seeking the truth from the scriptures is promoted in the book of Acts chapter 17. “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts 17:10-11.
Do we read where Paul was incensed at those he taught because they went to the scriptures to be sure that what he and Silas were teaching them was truly God’s word? No. Paul commended them for doing so. We should all be as diligent and forthcoming as the Bereans, even though they received the word with all readiness they still searched the scriptures just to make sure they were not being led astray. No man is perfect, we all have flaws. But God’s word is flawless and fully trustworthy. In these last days as we watch the blatant apostasy in and among much of the Ekklesia of Christ we must seek the truth from His scriptures, instead of taking any man’s teaching as the Gospel truth.
I’ve been tutored by some fine faithful men in my past, and I’m grateful for their teaching on the Bible as well as their instructions in how to study the Bible. But as I matured in my faith and continue in my walk with the Lord I’ve come to rely solely on His teaching. This is what is referred to as spiritual discernment. The Holy Spirit is more than willing, even eager, to place God’s truth into every believer. But when that believer puts up a stone wall because of presuppositions and prejudices the Holy Spirit becomes greatly hampered.
As believers continually seek the truth from extra-biblical sources (men or women) they will find spiritual discernment fleeting. It’s only when the believer diligently seeks the truth from God’s own words that he/she finds the purity of accuracy, satisfaction, and fulfillment. There are many Bible teachers around the world who have little or no spiritual discernment. They teach and promote their own doctrines as truth rather than teaching the truth of God’s word. This is where all “in Christ” believers need to use due diligence as they dig into the Word of God to be sure that what they are being taught is not contrary to His precepts.
Here’s a little example. Joseph Smith who started the Mormon religion told his followers that the Bible was corrupted and that a new gospel had been given to him by the angel Maroni. If Smith’s followers would have been Bereans they would have gone to the inerrant word of God and read the following verse, which would have told them that this man should be avoided at all cost. “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9. In these two verses we can plainly see that Paul is upset. He is so upset with the Galatians that he pronounces a curse on whoever brings another gospel to the brethren. Joseph Smith did just that and he was cursed and will be so for all eternity. We can attribute this verse as speaking of the Muslims as well whose so-called prophet also received a false gospel from a supposed angel.
Can we know with certainty what God is telling us in His word? The answer is yes, of course. The fact is God wants us to know His truth without being hampered by numerous interpretations. But when God teaches us a thing we must take His teaching in faith. All who live and seek God’s truth and are filled with His Holy Spirit are given the ability to understand and even apply that truth to their lives. God gives us understanding on an individual basis. Never does He give one of His children an interpretation and then set another child at variance by placing a different interpretation in the mind and on the heart of that child. Here’s the rub. When we simply allow our brains to be filled with “feel good” theology or what our human understanding allows instead of turning to God’s word for clarification and truth, we will most certainly be put at odds with our brethren.
There are many parts of the Bible that cannot be properly discerned when we neglect the full counsel of God. What do I mean? A good example is the book of Genesis chapter 6. If this chapter of the Bible is interpreted erroneously the rest of the Bible will be extremely hard to clarify. The flood of Noah was a result of a horrible intrusion into mankind’s history. The ensuing effect of that intrusion left lasting consequences. There are occasions throughout the Bible in which some of the horrible effects of Genesis 6 were still being felt and God had to deal with those effects on numerous occasions. But this cannot be understood unless Genesis chapter 6 is interpreted correctly. In the book of Matthew chapter 24 we’re told that the last days of planet earth will be the same as it was during those antediluvian days. Horrible hardly describes what’s about to come on this earth again. But if we don’t understand or if we simply contrive to rewrite the Bible to say what we want it to say then we are most assuredly missing the whole counsel of God. By the way, the hybrid offspring spoken of in Genesis 6 are now being reproduced in laboratories all over the world. Looks like our Lord knew exactly what He was talking about.
When we read various commentaries on the Bible and we see that there are varying interpretations of the same verses, an alarm should go off in our head that says seek the truth from Me (God) and My Word. That alarm would be the Holy Spirit admonishing us to stop the foolishness – seek the truth from Him. The Holy Spirit does not teach confusion. There is only one Holy Spirit and it is His job to lead us to the truth. Men, on the other hand, have agendas. Men have preconceived notions embedded with their presuppositions which in many cases stand opposed to God given discernment.
As God’s children we are given the perfect teacher – God Himself. Spiritual discernment is a God ordained gift to all His children, not merely to some. This gift is not to the lost but is given to all who believe in His only begotten Son. God desires to bring us into His light of truth, but when we study three or four varying interpretations of the same verse all indications are we will walk away confused. Let God lead you.
Even though we all read various commentaries and Christian books, the only place we should place our confidence is in Christ and in His inerrant Word. Arguments, division, and strife among the brethren are not of God, but of the deceiver of souls. We are one body “in Christ” and we need to start acting like it. If you are one of those people who engage in endless debate and argue until you become so irritated that a sense of animosity arises, believe it or not you’re animosity is directed at the very same people you will be spending eternity with. Food for thought.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed