I find that most believers don’t change more than five percent from what they believed when they were only two years in the Lord. When confronted with Bible verses and truth uncomfortable to us, we hide behind, “But this is the way we’ve always done it. This is what we’ve always believed.”
When we pick up the Bible and don’t ask for the Spirit’s help, it is like saying, “God, do a new thing in me, but I’m not going to change anything I believe.” That’s an odd prayer, isn’t it? No wonder we grow so little in our faith and see so few converted to Christ.
Often, we get our definitions for important things not by what the Spirit shows us in Scripture, but by what we saw growing up in church. “Oh, that’s what worship should look like, because that’s the way we’ve always done it in the church I attend.” It is difficult for all of us to come to the Word of God and say, “Holy Spirit, teach me, even if it goes against what I’ve been conditioned to believe.” And yet we must.
It takes time for the Holy Spirit to teach us the meaning of a passage. If we don’t wait on the Holy Spirit, trusting him, we can grow cold and fall out of communion with God even while having devotions every day.
The apostle Paul wrote, “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ — the things God has prepared for those who love him — these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, emphasis added).
Every time we open the Bible, let’s stop and pray, whether for fifteen seconds or fifteen minutes, asking the Spirit to teach us. “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands” (Psalm 119:66). Then our lives will be more like Jesus every day.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.