I recently watched a skit of a young woman asking her father about becoming an actress. The dialog went like this:
“Dad, do you think I should move to L.A. and get into acting?”
“No, it’s a bad idea.”
“I hear you say, ‘Yes.’”
“No, absolutely not!”
“Oh, Dad, I’m so glad you approve!”
The joke is we often hear what we want to hear. Isn’t that true? But why does that selective hearing happen? Isn’t it because you filter what you hear through your preconceived ideas, assumptions, beliefs, and desires?
It’s not just with your friends and family. You can have selective hearing when it comes to the Bible, too. Instead of hearing the message of God’s Word, you end up hearing whatever it is you want to hear. It’s a common problem. The fact is all of us have mental blocks that prevent us from understanding God’s revelation. What’s the solution? Here is what Watchman Nee says:
How often man in his conceit hangs onto his unrenewed and confused mind by which he reads the Bible. The consequence of this is nothing but his own thought. He does not touch the Spirit of the Holy Scriptures. If we expect to meet the Lord in His Word, our contentious thoughts must first be broken by God (Nee, The Release of the Spirit, pp. 57-58).
Sometimes you learn quickly. But other times your contentious thoughts need to be broken by God.
In fact, I often meet or hear from people who came to the Free Grace position after being broken.
Sometimes the mental block is removed after someone gets emotionally burned out trying and failing to live up to the demands of works salvation. After crashing and burning, he finally concludes, “I can’t save myself!” and becomes open to hearing the message of grace.
But for others, the turn to Free Grace came after finally understanding a key verse such as James 2:14.
Initially, they thought James was correcting Paul, teaching that you cannot be justified before God apart from works. But once they saw that James and Paul were talking about two different subjects (see here), the dominoes began to fall. Then other verses that were stumbling blocks to understanding the freeness of eternal life began to make sense, too, until the eureka! moment came, and they finally understood and believed the promise of life in John 3:16. And what a relief that was!
It should go without saying that we all need to know the Scriptures better. But did you realize you probably have as much to unlearn as you do to learn?