Many Christians faithfully go to church meetings, pray and read the Word of God but are not growing in their knowledge of God and their relationship with Him. Why is that?
I believe one of the greatest hindrances to spiritual growth can be one's attitude toward the Word of God. God wants His children to know Him and to receive spiritual revelation of Him but the believer cannot receive that revelation unless he has the right attitude toward God and His Word.
The Word of God
John's gospel opens with the profound statement that,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." John 1:1,2
Jesus is described as the Word of God. He is the revelation of the truth and therefore states,
"I am the truth..." John 14:6
What we will see is that it is man's response to the Truth that determines his growth in the Lord. There are three attitudes we can have toward the Word of God. The first is "I know better." The second is "I know already." The third is "I want to know."
These three attitudes are demonstrated by the way people responded to Jesus.
The attitude of "I know better" is rooted in pride and manifests itself in a judgmental attitude toward the Truth. We see this attitude primarily with the teachers of the law who judged Jesus based on their "superior" knowledge. Jesus rebuked the teachers of the law and said,
"You judge by human standards." John 8:15
The "I know better" attitude places itself above the Word and judges it according to human wisdom. This attitude only accepts what it can understand rationally and questions everything that doesn't seem logical. This attitude rejects the Truth!
The fruit of this attitude is often a critical and argumentative behaviour that scrutinizes the Truth until it is finally rejected because it doesn't fit in the judge's theological box. James says,
"When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it." James 4:11
Similarly, when we judge God's Word we don't receive it.
The "I already know" attitude can be seen by the way many responded to Jesus with a familiar spirit. When Jesus came to His hometown "He did not do many miracles there" (Matthew 13:53-58) because the people who knew Jesus placed him on their level and were familiar with him. They did not honour Jesus as the Son of God and so they did not receive from Him. They placed themselves on the same level as the Word.
The "I already know" attitude is manifested when people don't bother reading or listening to the Word because they have read it already and they think they "know" what it says. This familiar spirit veils spiritual revelation and prevents the Holy Spirit from enlightening the heart and mind.
It is very common for believers to hear or read the Word of God and immediately compare it to what they already know, thereby missing the new and fresh insight God wants to give that person. In small groups, this results in everyone sharing their perspective on a shared Word with the result that what was shared is actually not received.
The "I want to know" level comes under the Word and submits to Him. This attitude allows the Word of God to do His work in the believer because he receives the Word as the Truth, unreservedly! Only then can the Word conceive something in our lives.
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12,13
The believer must learn to simply receive. The seed that goes straight to the heart will bear lasting fruit.
"Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown." Mark 4:20
Those who receive the Word and submit their minds and hearts to it give room for the Holy Spirit to bring spiritual revelation, wisdom and understanding to the believer (see 1 Cor. 2:10-14) that brings change and growth in the believer's life.
I want to encourage you to check your attitude toward God and His Word. Ask the Lord for spiritual revelation as you read His Word. Learn to be like a child and simply believe what God says to you and reveals to you. It will change your life!
"We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe." 1 Thess. 2:13