Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
…God (very kindly and softly) tells you that you’re wrong.
This blog has been really good for my walk with God. Not only does it give me motivation to write down everything the Holy Spirit teaches me, but it also allows me to revisit these concepts and lessons as I finalize and post each article (usually months after writing down the notes). Sometimes, in my narcissism, I’ll look through a few random articles on here, and often it is like reading them for the first time; and I find myself learning from myself. This is encouraging, as it cements in my mind that I’m not the one writing, but the Holy Spirit through me. Through writing and posting these articles, I grow in faith and grow in my understanding of the Lord and his mercy. The blog also helps the Lord to call me out when I’m wrong, which is what we’ll be talking about today.
While writing up the final post version of God’s Insane Plan I was struggling a lot. Most posts are typed up months after I originally (and frantically) write down their notes. This is because I had prayed that God would give me a heady backlog to keep me properly prepared and motivated. It had been six months since I had originally made the notes for the article and I had trouble piecing together what the Spirit had taught me (usually not a problem). At the end of the notes was a short section on sanctification. It had very little directly in common with the rest of the article and had nothing to do with Isaiah; so I decided to try to turn it into something on its own the next blog day.
Holy crap did it ever turn into something! I sat down with a paragraph of notes and a few key verses and the Holy Spirit turned it into God’s Insane Plan for Sanctification. The thing is though; I didn’t actually believe what was written in the article. That’s not to say I was lying, but the Scripture the Holy Spirit kept throwing out didn’t actually match my doctrine at the time. Quite honestly, my journey of sanctification had become less of a response to God’s love (as the article suggests) but had become something of duty with a promised reward for obedience. I had lost my bright-eyed, new-believer thrill in obedience and had instead began hiding behind Scriptures like,
If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
I started living like a spiritual miser, fearing sin because I didn’t want to lose what I was trying to build up. After all, Jesus said,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).
So I figured if I focused on my treasures in heaven, then my heat would at least be in the right place.
Scripturally, I was in the right, but something was off. Those verses used to really frustrate me when I was a newer Christian because I felt like Jesus was encouraging people to become spiritually greedy. And that’s exactly what had happened to me; rather than finding new ways of rocking out with God, I had found a new way to focus on myself. Maybe that’s why, for the first time, quoting Isaiah 29:13 wasn’t fun anymore; it reads,
The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
And honor me with their lips,
But their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
Is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Thank God that the Holy Spirit often runs on autopilot on blog days- (and that he keeps pushing me to take notes when he teaches me stuff) because as my fingers typed up the article, I watched what the Holy Spirit wanted to talk to me about appear on the screen- I had gotten off track. As Jesus Christ told the church in Ephesus, so he spoke to my heart,
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place (Revelation 2:4-5).
Somewhere along the path, serving the Lord had become less of a labor of love and more just labor. The war being fought in my heart against sin was being done so with poor motivations and largely out of a sense of duty rather than love for my Savior and my God. Apparently Paul was right when he wrote, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14). So as my fingers danced around the keyboard the Lord was (in the nicest possible way) rebuking me- with my own words no less.
Because of all of this, I now understand an extremely confusing passage in Jeremiah. Like much of his book, Jeremiah was complaining:
When your words came, I ate them;
They were my joy and my heart’s delight,
For I bear your name,
O Lord God Almighty.
I never sat in the company of revelers,
Never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me
And you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unending
And my wound grievous and incurable?
Will you be to me like a deceptive brook,
Like a spring that fails? (Jeremiah 15:16-18).
Jeremiah accepted his role as a prophet, embraced the Word of God, and invested his life in the Lord…so why was he so miserable? Jeremiah lacked that peace that is promised to believers and he was getting close to saying that God had been lying to him the whole time. God’s response though is really surprising. He replies,
Therefore this is what the Lord says:
“If you repent, I will restore you
That you may serve me;
If you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
You will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
But you must not turn to them” (Jeremiah 15:19).
What? Are you kidding me God? Sure, this kind of thing makes sense for some heathen meeting Christ Jesus for the first time- but Jeremiah? The Lord says, “You will be my spokesman.” Excuse me Lord? This is chapter 15, who has Jeremiah been speaking for up until now? But what’s going on is that God was teaching Jeremiah the same lesson he was teaching me as I wrote about sanctification: “Get your head back in the game, focus on what I tell you, and I’ll take care of the rest.” The Lord called Jeremiah to repent, even though scripturally he hadn’t done anything wrong. Jeremiah was on auto-pilot when preaching, but his heart had drifted off-course and God, in his love, called him back. And after his restoration, Jeremiah had a long career serving the Lord through some of Israel’s darkest days.
So, through one article the Lord brought me rebuke, restoration, and hope. May the Lord help you in such ways as well. Always keep your heart open to the voice of the Lord, stay in your Bible, and if the Holy Spirit tells you anything- write it down! It may have a very powerful impact on your life in the future.
Rock on God!