Our Understanding is Enlightened (Ephesians 1:18)

John 14 and 1 Corinthians 2 are among the most important passages in all of Scripture concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They tells us clearly that knowledge of the things of God does not come to us through our eyes, through our ears, or through our hearts. Knowledge of the things of God comes through the Holy Spirit’s communications with us.

But some people today try to dissuade us from looking directly to God for wisdom, instruction, and guidance. Some even deny that God communicates directly with people at all. They prefer a more indirect approach to learning. They say that God uses the Bible as His intermediary, and that He teaches us only through the Bible. Therefore, they do not teach that we must go to God for wisdom; they teach that we must go to the Bible for wisdom.

And because of the great blessings we experience when we read the Bible, it is easy to think that they are right. It is easy to think that the Bible is an exception to the rule that all spiritual understanding comes directly from the Lord. But it is not an exception to the rule. It is a special case of the rule.

The Bible is a special case because God (in essence) wrote the Bible. But the rule still stands. Knowledge of the things of God does not come into our understanding through physical means alone (1 Cor. 2:9–16). Therefore, reading the Bible is not, in and of itself, enough to impart spiritual wisdom to its readers. If it were enough, then God’s Spirit would not be necessary for our learning. Then, the Bible’s statements that God’s Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16:13), that God’s Spirit teaches us things about God that we could not know otherwise (1 Cor. 2:10–13), and that the lost cannot know God’s wisdom because they don’t have His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14) would be wrong.

God’s presence is necessary for us to know the Bible. As a result, while the Bible is a great blessing to us, in the hands of those who do not have God’s Spirit, the Bible is a good book with secrets that they cannot know—at least until they put their trust in Christ. They may read about the Holy Spirit living in a person’s heart, but they won’t know what that really means. They may agree that the Holy Spirit teaches us all things, but they will not have learned anything from Him. They may know intellectually that Jesus gives us eternal life, but they won’t know the joy it is to have all their sins forgiven.

Consider what Scripture says about these things. Our Holy Bible is useful in correction, edification, and to make us wise (2 Tim. 3:15–17). But it can also be twisted, handled deceitfully, and misused (2 Peter 3:15–16). Those who say God does not speak to us anymore point to Scripture to back up their claims. Others point to Scripture to back up their claims to the contrary. Whose view of the Scriptures should you believe? The Bible says you are to trust God’s testimony as He delivers it to you real-time. And it says why—because He will never lead you astray:

These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 John 2:26–27)

If God living in our hearts, teaching us all things (John 14:26), and guiding us into all truth (John 16:13), was not necessary for our proper learning, then it would make sense that spiritual understanding would come primarily through Bible study. It would make sense that through the application of reason and logic, we would learn to discriminate between twisted and wise interpretations of Scripture. If God living in our hearts was not necessary for us to learn the things that God put into the Scriptures, then any person, regardless of whether he is born again, would have an equal chance of understanding the truths presented there. But God has not given us that paradigm.

Our paradigm is that God lives in our hearts. He teaches us everything, and He guides us into all truth. When we read the Bible, listen to a sermon, have a conversation with a friend, or do anything else, the Holy Spirit is right there telling us what to accept as true and what to reject as error. If our perception of a particular Scripture is wrong, the Holy Spirit gives us grief about it. If our perception is correct, then He gives us great joy over it. If the sermon we hear is right, the Holy Spirit convinces us that it is good, and we shout, “Amen,” even if only silently. But if it is wrong, He leads us to shake our heads, “No!”

This is how it works in all things. The Holy Spirit walks with us and talks with us as we live out our lives. And He is the most trustworthy person in the universe. When we trust Him, it is then that we properly discriminate between truth and error. If we walk in the light He shines upon our paths, we will not stumble.

So read your Bible, and study it. It is a great blessing. But know and understand this: God is the one who unlocks the Bible’s secrets, and He is the one who makes it a blessing. To learn the good things that are written in the Bible, you must look to God and learn the truth from Him. As you read the Bible, you should pray:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. (Eph. 1:17–19)

And when the Father of glory answers your prayers, you should give Him the credit for opening the eyes of your understanding and for allowing you to see glimpses of His glory.

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