Why do you think some people “get it” and some don’t?! (Meaning take hold of God’s Word, understand how to use it, how to communicate with Him, etc…).
There are two main reasons for this, and both can be equally difficult to overcome. They are one’s heart and one’s mind. These are things that God has dealt with since man was put in the garden.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NASB) tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Since the beginning of time, God has fought for the heart of man. Man’s heart, his affections, the things they long for drive them and often it is against God. Why is this you might wonder? It’s because man doesn’t think right.
We have been given a mind to think freely, to make decisions based on our desire. Our minds drive our desires and our desires lead our minds. These things work in tandem and if one is out of balance the other will be too. When I have looked at misinterpretations of the Word, often times it is based on the mind or heart of that person. Now, I am speaking in a generality. There is a truth that there are some scriptures that are very difficult to translate perfectly, however it seems that these things don’t generally affect important doctrine. That is unless someone translates wrong and then makes it a major doctrine, but those types of errors can be easy to point out.
Look at what 2 Peter 1:20 (NASB) says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” We don’t have the right to take a scripture and take out of it just what we see. To be a Christian, for example, the tenets are basically agreed upon, there is consensus. While different people may vary on some points, generally those aren’t enough to change the whole. Major doctrines include, Jesus, the Son of God, was also God. He is the only way of salvation. God manifests Himself in three parts, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is eternal. These things, all true Christian’s agree on. Then you can get minor doctrines where we vary, this is where denominations are born and these are less important.
I am convinced that we as humans tend to filter things through a lot of things that we shouldn’t but do anyway. We use our background, our culture, our experience, our tastes, our desires and the like to come up with ideas of how we look at God’s Word. Even when we are aware of this and try not to, it can sneak in. How then, can anyone be right?
Well, to begin with, God takes this all into account. He knows this and I have to believe gets a chuckle out of it. But how should we process this? I believe the only way we can be fully right is to be open about being wrong. Now, I mean this for lesser doctrines, not foundational truths. Once God is established in our hearts, let Him remain there, occupying that place forever. However, we need to understand that there is time and growth at work in us too. This means that as we are open to understanding Him more fully, we may change in how we see Him.
Don’t take me wrong. I am not suggesting a wishy washy faith and a changing God. He is God, He doesn’t change. Our understanding of Him however can, and where scripture isn’t spelled out and clear, we must be willing to adapt some. Now this explains denominations, but what about us as individuals? Well many individuals, even in denominations, don’t agree either. This is probably the reason for the larger problem.
Individuals have desires. They have ideas. One thing I have rarely found is a person with an idea or desire who thought it was bad! This is because, as people, we are extremely biased. For example, if you believe all churches are corrupt, then whenever an offering is taken you will think it’s self-serving. If you think everyone else is wrong, then everyone else will be when it pushes back against your thought of truth. If you believe the color blue is best, then green or red will never satisfy. You see, opinion and desire can control a whole lot!
The way we approach this with the right heart is with humility and openness. For this, James 1:19-20 (NASB) gives us great advice, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Let that instruction sink in. Somebody rightly said about listening, “If you listen in order to respond you’re wrong. We need to listen to understand.”
How you understand God’s word, is how you will filter what He says to you. This is because God’s word is the way we discern what the Lord says (Hebrews 4:12). If we have skewed His word then we will skew His words! One of my common prayers is, “Lord, keep me from being deceived, especially from me!” I believe there is wisdom in that, not because I came up with it because I didn’t, but because to not be deceived we must first realize we are apt to be deceived!
After all of this, we must learn to rely on each other. No one person has the corner market on truth. Let me repeat that with emphasis, NO ONE PERSON HAS THE CORNER MARKET ON TRUTH. However, with that let me say, beware of teaching that exalts man. Even a little! I have heard people quote a man more than scripture. That is a VERY DANGEROUS PLACE to be and you can GUARANTEE deception is not far off! The best of the best as far as humans go (the apostle Paul), always pointed to God never man, even a little. Notice I keep saying even a little. A little error becomes a lot if it is not cleaned up!
If you are reliant upon yourself, or someone else relies upon themselves, they will be found in error. Human pride is at the front door of deception! This can be in little bits or a lot but the fact that it is so evidently a thing means we should watch out for it. Be open to God and open to perspective, in this place you will find something very beautiful. It’s called His truth.
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.