Understanding Spiritual Things
Romans 1:20 Amp: For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification],
Romans 1:20 NKJV: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Here, the scripture tells us that the invisible things of God can be understood by the physical things that are made: in fact the existence of an intelligent creation is the evidence of an intelligent creator.
What then are spiritual things?
Tangible realities that are not manifest to the physical senses.
They are not manifest to the physical senses because they are operating at level of power greater than the speed of light.
To appreciate this consider radio and television waves: electromagnetic waves that are moving at the speed of light. You cannot perceive them with your physical senses: you cannot see or touch or smell a radio or television wave.
Yet they are real tangible things that interact with aerials and electrical and electronic circuits to produce pictures, voices and power that we can see, hear and touch.
In the same way, spiritual things are real yet not manifest to the physical senses.
However, when acted upon in faith, according to God’s written Word, they can and do release power that we can touch, hear and see: like speaking in tongues, healing power, revelation knowledge, righteous thoughts and deeds that could not be performed before.
Why do we need to understand spiritual things?
Ignorance of spiritual things causes deception by Satan causing him to steal, kill and destroy the good things God has given us:
1 Corinthians 12:1 NKJV: Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
Hosea 4:6 NIV: my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
John 10:10 NIV: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
How then do we understand spiritual things?
By revelation knowledge given by the Holy Spirit who will use the natural things God has created that we can see to teach us about the spiritual things we cannot see.
Revelation knowledge is knowledge which the Holy Spirit shines into our minds from our spirits, using the written Word:
Ephesians 1:17-18 NKJV: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know
Psalms 119:130 NKJV: The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
This is why the Lord Jesus taught in parables: he would use natural things to explain spiritual realities. However, without the revelation of the Holy Spirit the parable or illustration will be meaningless or foolish to the natural mind:
Mark 4:11-12 NKJV: And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand;
1 Corinthians 2:13-14 NKJV: These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Now, because God uses natural things to teach us spiritual things there are some things He cannot teach us until there is natural equivalent that has been created with which He can explain or teach them to us.
For instance, you cannot understand God’s omnipresence without the natural understanding of the fact that a satellite TV signal can take a persons picture (or presence) to all places of the earth instantly, simultaneously in real time. You can accept by faith God’s omnipresence but you can only understand it better because of the natural equivalent which is still far more inferior to the spiritual reality. Until radio, television and satellites were invented we could not have the clarity of understanding of God’s omnipresence that we have today.
That is why the understanding of some things in God’s Word has a ‘time lock’: they can only be understood after the natural things with which to explain them have been invented or created:
Proverbs 4:18 NIV: The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Daniel 12:4 NIV: But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.“
So to understand spiritual things you need to pray for revelation with an attitude of love (Eph. 3.19) and humility (Pr. 11.2), pray in the spirit (1Cor 14.2, 2.6,13) and read and study God’s Word (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
As you do this the Holy Spirit will teach you using the natural things that have been made or invented.
For this reason, natural education is important: this is why the gospel of Jesus Christ always brings light: creativity, education and scientific advancement.
Daniel 5:13-14 NKJV: I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.
John 1:3-4 NKJV: In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
John 8:12 NKJV: Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.“
For instance, after the reformation of Martin Luther in 1517 came the printing and circulation of Bibles in the common languages of the people, releasing the light of God’s Word. Shortly afterwards Newton’s Law’s of motion, gravitation and calculus, the mathematical basis of scientific advancement, were discovered by Sir Isaac Newton: who professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
During and after the Wesley and Finney revivals in the 18th and 19th Centuries in the United Kingdom and the United States came the industrial revolution with the invention of the steam engine and mechanical factories.
About the time of the Pentecostal revival of 1900-1910 came the invention of the light bulb, the radio, the airplane, Einstein’s theory of relativity: giving insight later on into television, nuclear power and computers.
So to understand spiritual things we need to understand both natural things and the Word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit, like Moses and Paul whose natural education were used by God to help them pen down divine revelation.