How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
When the apostles taught the church, they held out the fact that the scriptures teach us the truths of God (doctrine), reveal to us what is wrong in our lives (reprove), correct what is wrong, and instruct us in the right way so that we are complete in our faith and fully equipped for good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Without living in the word, we miss the treasure of knowing God and seeing His ways. But herein is also a word of caution. There was a time when I would have said that the secret of spiritual maturity was to know the Bible. While it’s not possible to mature without the Bible, that alone doesn’t guarantee godliness. A man we’ll call ‘John’ caused me to realize this. He quoted scriptures for every situation and used them as rods to beat people into submission. He was the meanest person I’ve ever met. The Bible was merely a weapon. No one was an ally, but everyone was a threat to his superiority.
The Apostle Paul warned that knowledge puffs up. It has a tendency of making us proud. But love overcomes our vanity and causes the word to edify us and those around us. Paul also warned that anyone who thinks they know anything is still ignorant, for they know nothing they ought to know. In other words, no matter how much you know, you’ve only scratched the surface of what God has yet to reveal. When we begin to get puffed up, the Lord warns that He resists the proud. Grace is only to the humble – those who recognize their need and God’s greatness. These are the ones in whom God reveals truth and it’s were we want to be.
The person who thinks they know it all loses the desire to seek, and only the one who seeks, finds. Knowledge is given to us with small doses of understanding. We learn so we are inspired to seek spiritual understanding, then God opens our eyes to see, and we apply life-changing truth to our hearts. That’s when we begin to see cleansing. It’s also how we build upon our foundation so we are prepared to receive the next revelation from the word. Deeper truths can’t be understood until the foundations are laid.
Take a moment to read Proverbs 2:1-9. This passage explains two major points. First, only God can give wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Second, He only gives these things to those who seek them through His word. The description is not just a passing glance around, but to the one who cries out for wisdom, lifts up their voice for understanding, and seeks these things as if they are hidden treasures. And indeed they are.
Studying the word is not just the acquisition of knowledge, but a thirst for understanding. Look at the words of Jesus in John 15:3-4
3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
Notice the word abide. I encourage you to read the entire chapter of John 15. Jesus goes on to say that we must abide in Him by His word abiding in us. How many people heard Jesus’ teaching? Thousands heard His word, but only a few received this promise. This was the teaching Jesus gave to those who were present at the last supper. These men were already clean because of the word, for they received the word and came to the Lord seeking understanding.
After one of Jesus’ sermons, the masses went their way, but a number of people came to Jesus afterward and said, “Help us to understand the parables.” This wasn’t only the twelve disciples. Though they were the closest to Jesus and hand-picked for a greater mission, we know there were at least seventy, for that’s how many were sent out in pairs to preach and heal. We also know there were one-hundred and twenty in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension, waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. But that pales in comparison to how many came to listen to the messages He taught. On at least two occasions, he taught ten thousand or more. The Bible describes them as five thousand men, not including women and children. If most men brought their wives and kids, it would have been well over twenty thousand.
Out of all the masses, only seventy or more came to Him and asked to understand the word. Then Jesus made an interesting statement when He said, “To you on the inside, it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom, but to those on the outside, it is not given.”
What is the difference between those on the inside and those outside? Those on the outside heard the word, maybe were inspired and amazed, but they walked away and returned to their lives without understanding. Those on the inside didn’t understand either, but they didn’t walk away. They sought the Lord for understanding. They lifted up their voice and cried out for the treasures of His truth.
These are the ones who were clean because of the word. These are the people in Psalms who are cleansed by taking heed to His word. They seek, ask, and find. And then they abide with the Lord as they seek more. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those are the ones who abide, and they are the ones who are filled.
Consider this when you spend time in a devotional, read the Bible, or listen to a message. Don’t hear the word and walk away. Don’t be satisfied with acquiring knowledge. When you learn, don’t allow your ego to be puffed up, but realize that knowledge isn’t the goal. Knowledge is the door to understanding. Without knowledge, there can be no understanding, but without the Lord opening the door so we can see and understand, knowledge profits nothing. Knowledge is the tool that enables us to seek. Take the knowledge of the word, lift it up to the Lord and cry out for understanding.
The Bible says that it’s the glory of God to conceal, but our glory to search it out. God has concealed treasures in His word for the purpose of being discovered. And He wants you to find it. But the treasures are only found by those who seek, and the deeper you seek, the greater the treasures. Seek until you find. And then seek more. You will never stop finding unless you stop seeking.