March 4, 2024

Understanding Spiritual Things

“A natural man does not accept the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14


People outside of Christ are limited to natural thinking. They understand the world and themselves by what they can see, feel, and know through education and experience. Consequently, the things of God seem foolish to those without the Spirit of God. But that’s lost people. Why then do so many Christians have a hard time understanding spiritual things?


There’s so much we don’t understand because we often limit ourselves to natural thinking. In other words, we reason with our old nature rather than with our new nature in Jesus Christ. “But he who is spiritual appraises all things” How? “…we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15–16). So, when believers have trouble understanding spiritual things, it’s not because they lack intellect but because they lack enlightenment from God. They’re turning to the wrong source.


We have two resources for spiritual understanding—the Bible and the Holy Spirit. The problem is biblical illiteracy; and not just a lack of knowing what it says but of understanding what it means. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. He imparts spiritual wisdom by teaching us the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). Too many believers lack spiritual wisdom and empowerment because they refer to the Holy Spirit more than they rely on Him.


But there’s another reason we can have trouble understanding spiritual things—unconfessed sin. Most Christians who want to understand the Bible aren’t engaged in rampant immorality. But we might be holding a grudge, participating in gossip, or nourishing jealous thoughts. James says, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing (James 3:13–16). 


If you have difficulty understanding spiritual things, then ask yourself the following questions. How often am I in the Word of God? Am I relying on the Holy Spirit to teach me the meaning of Scripture and to empower me to live it out? Am I being disobedient to God in any matter? As a Christian, you have the ability to evaluate and understand God’s Word because you have the mind of Christ. But it’s up to you to access the right source.