"The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
You can sit right through a 2-hr. sermon delivery and hear absolutely nothing. You can study the bible from cover to cover without any of it affecting you in any way. Obviously, it is not enough to listen to, or read God’s word. It has to penetrate your heart before it can make any impact in your life.
And there’s only one way to know if the word of God is entering or not: transformation. If you are not recording significant positive changes in your life – say, in your health, finances, relationships, career, and so on – and you have been constantly exposed to the word of God, you can be certain that it’s not entering.
Let me ask you this question: When was the last time you abandoned some point of view as a result of something you read or heard from God’s word? Because, your answer is a measure of the receptiveness of your heart to God’s word; also, constantly altering your points of view in response to what you are receiving from God’s word, is a sign that it is entering into your mind. You can always see it’s effect in the altered realities around you.
We will now study the life of a leader who was so stuck in his traditions that not even Jesus Christ, nor the Holy Spirit could shift him: Peter.
Study the entire story in Mark 7:1-19. I will only present an excerpt here – verses 17 – 19.
"After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?"
"For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body". (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean".)"
Peter sat through a detailed lecture during which Jesus Christ unambiguously declared all foods clean. This teaching flew right in the face of what he’d been taught all his life in the synagogue; what has been a core aspect of the Jewish religion and culture for thousands of years. Peter, thanks to his religious upbringing, had always known that certain foods were clean and certain were not.
Then Jesus enters an assertion to the contrary, "…nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’…" The commentary in the 19th verse above is clear: In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean". I doubt it could have been stated more clearly.
It never entered Peter.
I know it didn’t in the light of his response to the Holy Spirit several years later.
"Surely not, Lord!"
""Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean". The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean". This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven."
Please, reflect on this for a while: During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught that all foods were clean. As one of the key disciples, Peter must have heard that teaching more often than not. He sat through sermon after sermon, listening as the Word Himself declared all foods clean. Yet — and I think this is shocking — he remained unaffected. Peter held dogmatically to his religious thinking on the subject of foods regardless of anything Jesus had said on the matter.
Several years later, probably a couple of decades after Pentecost, nothing had changed in his mind regarding that issue; so entrenched was his view on the subject that neither a vision nor the direct command of the Holy Spirit could move Him.
In the end, it impeded His destiny. I explained this in detail in the following sermons:
And I ask again: when was the last time you abandoned some point of view as a result of something you read or heard from God’s word?
It is important to regularly review your points of view in the light of the teachings of Jesus. Continuously compare what you think with what Jesus Christ taught, in order to see how they line up. Of particular interest should be those perspectives that exist as a result of long-held traditions, as well as those from your various life experiences.
Let me quickly point out two important attitudes that will help you stay open and receptive to God’s word.
#1. Consciously enthrone Jesus Christ as Lord over your heart, and your mind.
Daily submit to His lordship in your emotional and intellectual realms by constantly reminding yourself that He is your Lord. Ponder the following verses in your quiet time:
"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."
#2. Never let yourself get emotionally attached to any point of view.
Of course, you must be firm in your convictions. Nevertheless, strive to always remind yourself that you are still growing in knowledge. Keep the following in mind:
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part.."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:9
When the challenge to change comes to you from God’s word, and you refuse to change, you are left in chains. Let God’s word enter your heart today and cause you to let go of certain points of view.