God’s Word Is Spiritually Discerned

God’s Spirit in the Epistles

4 min

God’s Word is unlike any other book in all the world. His Book is perfect, drawn from the well of the Divine rather than human wisdom. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. God’s Word has a grander purpose, a loftier theme, and an eternal message that transcends time and circumstance. Scoffed, despised, and hated, the Bible has outlived any other book. In spite of the schemes of men to destroy it, God’s Word still stands.

Because God is a Spiritual Being and true worship is spiritual worship, it should not surprise us at all that the Bible, the Word of God to man, is a spiritual Book. As such, it cannot be comprehended or appreciated by natural man apart from the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit.

In his first epistle to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul discussed the contrast between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God. The Greco-Roman world in which Paul lived was a world that valued wisdom. Philosophers and sages were regarded with esteem. The influence of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle lingered long after their lives had ended.

In the early church, a strong desire existed among certain groups to synthesize the wisdom of men with the wisdom of God. This tendency blossomed and matured into the various false teachings cumulatively known as the “Gnostic heresy” that Paul wrote so strongly against in his epistles to the churches.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul emphasized the fact that his preaching was centered on the cross of Christ and rooted in the wisdom of God. He wrote in I Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Two verses later, he continued, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (verse 4).

In drawing this contrast between man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom, Paul proceeded to describe the way that the Holy Spirit of God must illuminate the heart and mind of man before he can understand the things of the Spirit of God. The apostle discussed this in detail further in the same chapter. “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Corinthians 2:10–11).

Apart from God’s Holy Spirit, the Bible might seem dry, mysterious, distant, and cold. Perhaps this is why so many unbelievers scoff at the Bible. This disdain for God’s Word is not a new phenomenon. Pharaoh had asked Moses, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice . . . ?” (Exodus 5:2). God had warned the prophet Isaiah that the people of Israel would hear his message but would “perceive not” (Isaiah 6:9).

Even our Lord Jesus mentioned the way the common people whose hearts were illuminated by the Spirit of God understood His voice, but the proud scribes and Pharisees missed understanding the message. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matthew 11:25–26).

So God’s Word has been known in every age. Men and women whose hearts are quickened (made alive) by the Spirit of God come to the Scriptures humbly, hungry for the truth. Paul explained, “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” (I Corinthians 2:12).

At the root of this illumination is the fact that, since the Bible is a spiritual Book, it requires a spiritual heart to understand it. “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” (I Corinthians 2:13). Without the Holy Spirit as our Heavenly Teacher, man will never be instructed in spiritual truth.

In very plain language, Paul proceeded to describe the blindness of man which resulted without the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. “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” (I Corinthians 2:14). To the natural man, who is one who has not received Christ as Savior and the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s wisdom seems foolish. Just as unregenerate mankind calls evil “good” and good “evil,” so also he calls wisdom “folly,” and he calls folly “wisdom.”

At salvation, when a man is born again, he receives new eyes, a new mind, a new heart, and a whole new life! The words of Scripture which seemed foolish before now resonate with life. The mysteries that were once shrouded in a veil are now revealed! The bloody cross which was once repulsive suddenly becomes precious.

With the Holy Spirit dwelling within the believer, the accounts of the Old Testament become personally applicable and relevant to daily life. The poetry of the Psalms and Proverbs strikes a chord that resonates in the heart. The Bible, God’s holy Word, is made alive by the quickening of the Holy Spirit of God.

Paul concluded this discussion in I Corinthians 2:16 with the remarkable comment, “but we have the mind of Christ.” As disciples of Jesus, we are given the mind of Christ to understand as we ought to understand, to think as we ought to think, and to know as we ought to know.

Is the Bible a living Book to you? Have you been made alive by the Holy Spirit so that you can appreciate and value its eternal message? The Bible does not merely contain the Word of God. It is the Word of God.

For those of us whose eyes have been opened, we should have compassion upon those around us who are yet in spiritual darkness. Point them to the Son of God Who died so that they might live. Pray that they too might be made alive by God’s Holy Spirit. Encourage them to ask, seek, and knock, trusting that the “door” to truth might be opened. Testify to them of the wonderous reality of a Spiritual God Who has given us a spiritual Book so that we might have spiritual life for all eternity!

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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