“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:13-14
What do you think is the most important ingredient in Bible study? It’s not a concordance. It’s not a Bible dictionary. It’s not a systematic approach to study. The most important ingredient in Bible study is a prayerful reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Take a look at the what 1 Corinthians 2:14 says again, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them…”. It doesn’t matter how careful we are if we don’t have the Holy Spirit we cannot understand and accept what God’s word says.
The truth of this statement is demonstrated in the historical record. Back when everyone believed that God was real you had three choices about how you lived your life. You could either be righteous or a sinner or a sinner pretending to be righteous. Another name for the third group is hypocrites. Unfortunately, there were a large number of church leaders that were part of this third category and they had the responsibility of explaining scripture and defining doctrine. The result was that the beliefs ended up reflecting the character and values of the unrighteous leaders rather than the character and values of God.
The thing is it doesn’t require dishonest intentions for the eroding of truth to happen. “The natural heart cannot receive the things of the Spirit.” So an explanation has to be created to make scripture acceptable to the natural heart. And the sinful heart is creative and intelligent enough for this task. And since he can’t even know the things of the Spirit the sinner also believes that the corrupt explanation he creates is true.
The lesson? We must be very careful. Bible study must only be approached in an attitude of prayerful submission. Because, when it comes to the scriptures, it’s not for us to explain, rather, it’s for us to read and study and listen as the Holy Spirit teaches and leads us into all the truth recorded in the word of God.