“…they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding…”
Hearing and seeing is an internal faculty having nothing to do with one’s physical hearing and seeing however, is a constituent of our spirit prior to the fall, where these internal senses of our spirit, after regeneration by the Holy Spirit at our new birth, are enabled, and can now be developed to the point they can facilitate our understanding and perception of those things given from above. The prerequisite of recieving is a posture of attentiveness to the Holy Spirit, in us, in our spirit, positioning us to receive and to know those things that had been previously hidden.
Jesus rebuked Israel’s religious leaders, and at times the disciples, for their inability to hear and understand, yet, they did hear and see Him, but in their hearing and seeing they did not perceive or understand what He had been telling them, i.e. even though they understood and practiced the law, and believed in their patriarchs, Moses and Abraham, they did not have that capacity of spirit, heart, or mind, to grasp, or believe in what the Son of God had been teaching. For example, Jesus in the gospel of John explained that He was the bread of life that has come down from heaven, explaining, He who comes to Me shall never hunger, in addition, Jesus told those around Him, that they have to eat of His flesh and drink His blood, where many complained and murmured against the difficulty of these words saying, how can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Jesus responded, after saying these things, the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life, indicating the source of both His words and the means to understand them, the Spirit. Understanding (hearing) and perception (seeing) Jesus words, which are full of life and are of the Spirit, is known only in our spirit. Some might think that the Holy Spirit whispers in their ear, or speaks to their mind, however God is Spirit, and He has made us body, soul, and spirit, and it is in our spirit that God, who is Spirit, speaks and gives life. The flesh and all of its faculties profit nothing. Consequently, Jesus had been explaining to those who believed Him, and could hear, the source for their knowing the words He taught.
Although the Holy Spirit had not yet been sent, I believe, He was still working, and by working what I mean is illustrated by two different responses to Jesus, where Nathanael, approaching and hearing Jesus speak of His seeing him under the fig tree said, “ …you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel…” contrast Nathanael encounter with Jesus with the response of the religious leaders who continued to test, challenge, and question Him regarding what He said and did, “….. Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven” The Holy Spirit, I believe, had been working with Nathanael to the degree that he was open and earnest in his wanting to know the truth, whereas many of the religious leaders, were harden by their orthodoxy, and blinded by their religious traditions, to the point that they could not respond to the Holy Spirits work.
“…All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you… ”
If the church is to move past all the convoluted false, foolish, or idiotic doctrine inflicted upon it generation after generation, tossed to and fro from one belief to the next, it will have to possess a level of spiritual assurance that has the letter to the Colossians imprint upon it, which says,
“…and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…”
The treasures and riches are hidden according to the Fathers Will, where He gave all things to His Son and takes from Him, and at His discretion, and Will, shows them to us by and through His Holy Spirit; recognizing that these riches are from above, in Christ, and are not something we can know apart from approaching the heavens with a level of emptiness, humility, hunger, and personal need, something like a new born baby needing their parent, “You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes…” It is in our possessing a poor and contrite spirit that positions us to receive from God, knowing that unless God draws us we have no inner impetus to seek and knock, as stated by A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God,
“No man can come to me,” said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming”
In addition to hearing, we are in need of light that we might perceive spiritual things; it is the heavenly light of Christ that shines into our innermost parts that enables us to see, and in seeing, to perceive what is in our spirit, discerning its source. Albeit hearing, is hearing the Holy Spirit speaking in us regarding scriptures that we might understand, i.e. He reminds, teaches, and interprets specific scriptures, building one upon the other, providing context and application in and to our personal and church life, unto our understanding those things once hidden, however, as Jesus told the disciples, even though things are hidden they are not meant to be however, are revealed on His terms and not ours,
“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known…”
“The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand…”
Receiving light and understanding, from above, is always dependent upon Gods grace, good pleasure, and His Will, to grant it in accordance with all His riches in Christ, through His Spirit, who acts on our behalf. Where we begin to hear and see as we learn to depend upon the Holy Spirit recognizing, by faith, that God has placed His riches in Christ, and receiving them is not according to mans will, or the wisdom of men, nor are they dependent upon mans religious or secular learning institutions, nor is it dependent upon ones rational studies of concepts about God.
“And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures”
Therefore, understanding and the assurance that it provides us, is a product of our hearing, not one’s self-efficacy in pursuit of scriptural understanding, and I say a product of our hearing, because I believe, although we are listening to the preachers, reading our bibles, or reading the next popular religious book, if the Holy Spirit is not personally communicating with us, there is no understanding of the mysteries of God. If we think that we are in control of our progress in matters of understanding, we are mistaken, the fruit of this reasoning results in an intellectual understanding of our God, and His Son, and does not necessarily portend our knowing Him personally; where knowing Him, is life changing.
Hearing is an important aspect of a Christians spiritual health, and is decisively tied to the level of understanding, both spiritual and kingdom, that one might possess, or not possess; remembering hearing is simply learning to listen, and to receive, from the Holy Spirit, and knowing how to be attentive to Him, not closing Him out, or grieving Him.
If we are to respond to the Lord in faith it is proportionately a consequence of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our life, and our response to Him. In like manner, as the Israel leaders who did not believe, a Christian can and will remain ignorant of Jesus words if we do not have a proactive and personal life with the Holy Spirit; trusting and dependent upon Him, for He dwells in us; that we might know the things freely given to us by God.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God”
In addition, Jesus explained to His disciples that understanding His kingdom is connected to our capacity to hear, and hearing is inescapably bound and intricately joined to the condition of one’s heart (inner condition); where hearing and also seeing unto perceiving and understanding has specific internal hindrances we all know and experience. Jesus parable of the Sower illustrates those external and internal things that one’s heart might obsess over and be consumed by, things that impede ones hearing and seeing. Jesus describes those hindrances in terms of sundry types of soil, hindrances because they speak to and expose what our primary internal focus is, and are subsequently those things that prevent the seed of the word from either going into the soil, or preventing the seed from growing in the soil. Jesus illustrated in His parable that there are various types of soil, or ground seed is sown into; i.e. seeds that fall by the wayside, seeds that fall amongst thorns, seeds that fall upon stony ground, or seeds that fall upon good ground, where each soil, or ground, illustrates a unique condition of heart, and its preoccupations, that hinder us from making progress in our understanding and perceptions of Gods things in Christ. As a side note, that I’m not addressing, is the characteristics of the good ground that can receive seed, enough is to say that good ground is an outcome of God working in us, through the Holy Spirit.
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
However, once the soil is good, i.e. usable, malleable, hearing is also a measure of how much time and effort we give to it, in other words, as Jesus told us,
“…the measure you use it will be measured back to you…”
Hearing unto understanding is dependent upon the diligence, or measure, we give to it each day. Therefore, during our day, as we turn our attention to the Holy Spirit, with a posture of heart that patiently waits and is attentive to Him (good soil), that we might receive, will determine what comes back to us, and what comes back to us, is accumulative.
“For whoever has [spiritual knowledge], to him will more be given and he will be furnished richly so that he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
How many times have you read a particular scripture and could not understand, possessing only a superficial understanding? Yes, you can study and read all the commentaries, but yet the verses you want to understand only reside in your memory, and not in your heart and spirit; where they can grow and increase unto knowing the kingdom. However, maybe years later, reading the same verses, light is given and you see, and understanding comes, you hear, where these verses come alive in your spirit, providing context and application to the kingdom life.
To him who has, Jesus said, more will be given, but if you are someone who is preoccupied, you will continue to have little, remembering that God is most willing to give understanding unto a full assurance, that your faith might be well established in Christ, and that you not only have assurance of your faith but you also possess understanding of His kingdom, and enter it. However, what little you have received of Gods things, will be taken away; in other words, what we receive is organic and living, requiring more sustenance for increase, however what you have will die if it continues to be starved of spiritual nourishment.
“I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it]”
Understanding of Spirit given things is described in scriptures in terms of milk and meat. Paul could not give the Corinthians meat because they were incapable of spirit, and heart, to receive meat from him. It takes time, and Gods work in us, to mature us unto a diet of meat.
If the church, and individual Christians, continue in the futility of mind, neglecting their spirit, and the Holy Spirit, they will continue to be darkened in their understanding, consequently alienated from Gods life in us; which in its manifestation in our spirit enlightens our heart, and the fruit of this light is more understanding of the riches in Christ, ” For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light” Hearing and seeing, unto spiritual understanding is the remedy to the prevalent ignorance and blindness of heart that exists in the church today, where spiritual knowledge and understanding is the resolution to being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and error propagated by men.
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest ofhe Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him”