Spiritual Things Are Spiritually Discerned

Oct 20, 2014 12210

Bible openThese are the things we are talking about—not with words taught by human wisdom but with words taught by the Spirit—we are interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 But people who are unspiritual don’t accept the things from God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to them and can’t be understood, because they can only be comprehended in a spiritual way. – 1 Cor 2:13–14, CEB

We are told in Scripture over and over again, in a multitude of different ways, that Scripture cannot be understood without the spiritual discernment that is given by the Spirit of God.

There is a very simple reason for this. It is because the “heart is deceitful above all things.” (Jer 17:9). By the “heart” here is meant the “mind.” Unspiritual, carnal people simply cannot comprehend or accept the things from God’s Spirit. These are people who do not have Spirit of God in their lives, because they have not experienced the new birth.

This is why there are atheistic theologians. This is why the Bible is the book that has been most distorted in history. And this is why the Bible has been used to justify some of the worst crimes of humanity. That is what happens when you try to understand the Bible without the Spirit of God.

You see, the Bible is not an ordinary book. It is a supernatural book. That’s why we pray before we open it to read and to study it. The power of the Bible does not reside in the words themselves (the ink on the page), but rather in one simple astonishing fact. And that is that that Author of the Bible is God Himself (John 1:1).

Now if Christ were still in the tomb, then the words I have just written would mean nothing. But Christ is risen, and has promised to be with his children until the end of the world and forever (Matt 28:20). Christ is with us by means of the Holy Spirit, which the New Testament refers to as the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom 8:9) – the very presence of Christ. It is important to see that the apostle Peter says that it was specifically the “Spirit of Christ” who inspired all of the Old Testament Scriptures (1 Pet 1:11).

And Christ himself told us that it would be this same Spirit who would reveal truth from error (John 16:8–11) and who would:

guide you in all truth. He won’t speak on his own, but will say whatever he hears and will proclaim to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. That’s why I said that the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you. (John 16:13–15, CEB).

If we return back to 1 Cor 2:9, we have one of the quite a few verses of the Bible that is commonly taken entirely out of context. I have done it myself. Here it is:

God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being.

We commonly apply this to the glories of heaven that await the redeemed, and the words themselves do apply. But the very next verse says,

God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit. (v.10)

Paul is referring specifically to the truths of salvation that are revealed through the Spirit about salvation through Christ.

So let’s go back now to the topic of the Bible and how we must understand it’s teachings.

We must affirm that the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, the only rule of faith and doctrine. We must affirm that if the Scriptures are the Word of God, so that ultimately the Spirit of God is its Author, then the Spirit of God will never lead a believer away from the Scriptures, but always in agreement with the Scriptures. The gifts and revelations of the Spirit of God are never private, since they are always in line with the Scriptures, and neither are they are never independent of the body of Christ, as is the clear teaching of 1 Cor 12.

We are to test all things, and so we are commanded to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) according to the Word of God. However, we are equally commanded to never quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19), and so we must ensure that we never use the Scriptures to quench the Spirit, or to deny the work – the guidance, convicting power, and leadership –  of the risen Lord in our lives.

Is there a correct way to analyse and understand the Bible? Most definitely.

Does God appeal to our rational being and our intellect so that we may know Him through Scripture? Again, most definitely yes! He says to us, “Come, let us reason together…” (Isa 1:18). God is rational and he appeals to our rational being in order that we may come to him and understand him. And as we do this, even unknowingly, we are being led by His gentle Spirit.

However, here is the bottom line. A true understanding of Scripture is a supernatural undertaking. It only comes through a right relationship, not just with the words of Scripture themselves, but even more importantly the Author himself. It was in failing to understand this, that the blindness of the Jewish people consisted (John 9:35–41).

Because ultimately, it is the Author of Scripture himself who is the Truth (John 14:6). He is the one to whom all of Scripture points, and whom all of Scripture reflects.

Eliezer Gonzalez

Eliezer Gonzalez

Oct 27, 2019

Thanks Ann. I went through it and made a correction of a word.


Oct 27, 2019

Thank you for this very good exposition of how spiritual things are spiritually discerned. You turned many thoughts into clear language. Please forgive me if I appear unkind; I certainly don't mean to be. I suggest that the author or editor re-examine this text for some grammatical errors, particularly in the second half of the writing. I had to backtrack sometimes to clarify what was trying to be said.

Eliezer Gonzalez

Nov 8, 2016

Dear Kyle - You must trust God more than you trust your feelings. God’s Spirit is love (1 John 4:8) and Love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs(1 Cor.13:5 ). Please rest in the assurance that we will pray with you for the peace that passes all understanding.


Nov 4, 2016

I've greived the spirit and I have a hard time understanding know maybe? I don't know ejat to do i aytept to repent but I need prayer.

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