How Do Believers Really Know? By Spiritual Insight.

 

INSIGHT: the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing. (Online dictionary)

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (ESV):

And I, when I came to you, brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor
the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

How can we know that God is real, that the Bible is true and that we are loved and saved by grace through faith in Christ? How do we know all this and more? How do we know what we are thinking? We know because we know our own thoughts. I know far better than anyone what I am going to do in the next hour. And God knows what God is thinking and what God is doing. Just like the spirit of humans know what humans are thinking, so the spirit of God knows what God is thinking and God has given to us that spirit, His Spirit. There is a spiritual man and a natural man as we see in verse 14. The natural man (person) can’t see or imagine more than his or her world or devices but the spiritual person has the spirit of God. One of the most brilliant scholars in history, John Calvin, wrote these words:

If it be objected, “How can this be known?” I answer, both to disciples and to teachers, God is made known to be the author of it by the revelation of the same Spirit. Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have received from their hand, but, speaking at the suggestion of God, they boldly and fearlessly testified, what was actually true, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spoke. The same Spirit, therefore, who made Moses and the prophets certain of their calling, now also testifies to our hearts, that he has employed them as his servants to instruct us. Accordingly, we need not wonder if there are many who doubt as to the Author of the Scripture; for, although the majesty of God is displayed in it, yet none but those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit have eyes to perceive what ought, indeed, to have been visible to all, and yet is visible to the elect alone. This is the first clause, that we owe to the Scripture the same reverence, which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it. (Commentary on 2 Timothy 3)

Look how Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus in chapter one:

17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Can we imagine living with that kind of knowledge and insight, inside of us, knowing the love of the Father, the rule of Christ and the hope we have?  This is spiritual insight revealed by God’s Spirit within us. It’s God’s spirit that opens our eyes and gives us wisdom.

Is it not true that little children know what their parents are thinking because within these little minds has been formed the love and desire of their moms and dads? How much more shall we, the children of God, know what God is thinking about us and for his creation.

This awareness, insight and knowledge all begin at the cross of Christ. That’s where Paul starts when he says that the cross was central to his life and teaching. We need to bow, kneel before that cross where Christ gave his life for us. That cross to the world represents weakness, defeat and failure. That’s how the world sees it because the world has its eyes blinded by the powers of darkness but the spiritual person sees, in the weakness, the power of God at work. In love and forgiveness the world was changed.

If you are reading this and have any sense of the reality of God then know that comes from God himself by his Spirit. This is truly insight. Thirst for it and for the Christ who makes it possible to us. Let us place our confidence in this Christ so that when he calls us to follow him we will know what it means for our life and our future.

And all of this is made possible by God’s grace operating in the sphere of prayer, obedience, scripture reading, and other spiritual disciplines that create an inviting avenue for God’s spirit.

 

Think Good Thoughts

The world as it is, evil in the sense of being alienated against God, is against you and me. Let me explain. How do we see ourselves in the world? Usually we see ourselves as the world sees us and judges us; our looks, academic performance, power, wealth, sexual appeal and more. It’s a hard place to live when we feel the need to ‘measure up’.

And then there is the issue of faith. We are reluctant to follow Christ, believe in Christ, put our confidence in Christ because the world puts us down for being not intellectual, or for being too naïve or gullible or they mock us for the evil in the world or for the evil that believers have done over the years. No, it’s not easy living faithfully in this world among people who are living for themselves or for the material gods they have fashioned for themselves. So what to do? How to cope?

Let me suggest that Paul might have been on to something in Romans 12:1-2 where he gives advise to the earliest believers back in the first century where they were under severe pressure to conform to the Roman society, Roman gods and way of life.

This is how he puts it:

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, [a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] Do not be conformed to this world, [c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.(ESV)d

If you would like a modern paraphrase of this passage take a look at the MESSAGE

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

If we choose the CULTURE as our worldview in life we are going to be beat up badly, squeezed into a way of life that may seem satisfying but will sap our energy from trying so hard to fit it. And it’s a deadly dead-end road that leads to nowhere, no purpose, and no life with God. Instead Paul invites, encourages, urges us to let ourselves be transformed by God, to start thinking differently aided of course the God’s Holy Spirit. Thinking in terms of what it means to belong to God, that Jesus is our Lord and friend and Savior. To understand what it means to be truly loved and to live out our lives in that love and not under judgment. And greatest of all when we give ourselves to God we begin to discern with our spirits and our minds what God’s will is. Sometimes we don’t even need to ask. It’s just ‘there’, right in front of us.

Now here’s the thing. The church can sometimes act like the world, all flesh and no heart, trying to squeeze us into this doctrine and that idea. I get real nervous going into a group of people who I think are sometimes judging me by the name of the church I attend or how I pray or even what I look like. I have more than a few quizzical stares at some of my tattoos or that cigar hanging out of my mouth.

Don’t let anyone SQUEEZE you into THEIR mold, the way of doing things. Sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself. But rather keep thinking on God, his goodness towards you and me. Think about what he did through his son Jesus …let your mind be soaked by that goodness and be very attracted to kind Christians who accept you and love you. When you are in such a situation you begin to see the will of God more clearly in your life because you are FREE to commune with God, not by the rules of anyone else.

The Bible talks a lot about freedom. Jesus said that the truth would set us free. The truth is the life of Jesus interacting with our life through the Holy Spirit. The truth on certain days allows us to look in the mirror and say, ‘why you most loved wretch, what is wrong with you?’ And you know the God who loves you forgives and loves you so much. Other days you may look in that same mirror and say, ‘my, aren’t I a good person.’ Then perhaps you need to blink your eyes and consider that the Christ who stands next to you is your measuring rod.

But here’s the thing. Fix your attention on God. Look at God’s through his holy word. Read the Psalms and the Gospels. Get it fixed in your mind whose you are, to whom you really belong. If God be for us who can be against us? That was not written to prepare for a military battle. It was written for us to know that no evil in this world has any real power over us. Oh they may take our lives but they will never take away our relationship with Christ.

When we get that firmly fixed in our minds then we can think about every person, every situation, every injustice in this world and we will have the good God sense to know how to live.

The world has no power to pressure you. And for the most part God won’t pressure. He will invited, he will nudge and once in a while a good kick in the rear from our loving God will get our minds right.

The world just doesn’t ‘get it’, never has but here’s the secret. The kingdom of God has landed in this world and you and I are blessed to see it. That’s what the whole born again thing means. We are given eyes to see what God is up to in us and in this world and then we join God. The world will put you down. Worldly Christians will do that too.

Look and long for Christian brothers and sisters who will build you up, who will stand against the ways of the world even those ways found within our own families. Seek fellowship that is challenging, and pray often with your Bible and heart wide open to what the spirit is saying to all of us. Amen