“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19
The Word of God is true, unchangeable, and written for all people yesterday, today, and forever. But the Bible, the pages themselves, is merely a guideline to what God wants us to understand as we read it. We get wisdom and understanding from the Words that we read by allowing the Holy Spirit inside of us to interpret each word.
My husband and I watched a TV show the other night that centered around a cult leader who had taught his congregation that homosexuality was the ultimate sin and that it was mandatory for a proclaimed lesbian to be cleansed from this sin by having a man from the congregation to rape her. Needless to say, this inspired quite a conversation between my hubby and me as to how someone could go so far in misinterpreting God’s Word. First of all, no sin is greater than another except in people’s eyes. Second, sin can only be cleansed through confession to Jesus Christ, one – to – One, and repentance (turning away from the sin through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us).
Now, maybe you are thinking that I’m being simplistic, but as far as I, myself, am concerned, if how I live doesn’t align with listening to the Holy Spirit inside me as I read God’s Word, then something in my life is wrong. I try to live by my birth verse Galatians 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, then we must walk by the Spirit.” I can’t separate my Christianity from the way I live; they are one and the same.
The above is a pretty strong example of misinterpretation of the Scriptures, but it is no less wrong than some of the denominational examples we see on a daily basis. Man cannot make rules that either adds to or takes away from, God’s complete Word. As a Christian community we are called to pray for the Holy Spirit to interpret as we read and prepare to apply God’s Word.
After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to the disciples, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22
I was raised in what I call a “Bapti-costal” family. There were several preachers both representing the Baptist and the Pentecostal beliefs. I can remember the family gatherings after church on Sundays and hearing the banter of beliefs. “You know you’re going to hell showing up in church with that red lipstick on!” “You know nothing I do can keep me from Heaven’s gate when I die!” “A guitar in church??? God forbid!” “Women can’t pray out loud, only men.” And on and on. Differences in beliefs. Differences in interpretations of God’s Word. Differences in allowing us to serve God in a way that we want to serve God and making everyone else feel guilty if they don’t serve as we do. That is not God’s plan. God’s plan is that we receive the Holy Spirit at our conversion, our believing in God’s plan for salvation through Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.
Okay, I’m going to stop for a second and address “receive the Holy Spirit.” We are given access to the Holy Spirit the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. Nothing needs to be done to prove that we have the Holy Spirit. BUT!
I get excited when I receive those boxes from Amazon that are delivered to my front porch. But the real gift is still in the box. I have that gift in my possession, but it’s not doing what it was intended to do until I open the box and take the product out. Are you following me? We have a gift inside of us that opens the door to understanding God’s written Word. We will never misinterpret the meaning of the passage we read today if we first pray and invite the Holy Spirit to show us what it means. And that meaning will be different not just from person to person, but for one person from day to day. And that is why we know that our Bibles are living, breathing, Words from God for us throughout eternity. They will never grow old or unnecessary to read if we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us each time we open our Bibles.
The example I opened with is a television script. But think about all of the cults that have led people down the path to destruction. All because one person was using God’s Word as a book rather than the inspired, Holy Spirit interpreted, living, breathing, guideline for our lives.
Today, sit down, open your Bible and breathe in the Holy Spirit. Open that gift and use it for God’s glory.