Book: Occult Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?

There are spiritual keys to understanding the Scriptures. The primary key is that of being in a steadfast, loving, faithful and obedient attitude and relationship toward God. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep the commandments— namely, My commandments” (John 14:15). Likewise, in the Psalms we find that those who keep the commandments of God will be given understanding: “All His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever; they are done in truth and uprightness…The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever” (Psa. 111:7-8, 10). This is the foundation of understanding the Word of God.

Another vital key is clearly taught in Isaiah 28: “Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Those who are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts, [that is, fully grounded in the Word of God]. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, there a little” (verses 9-10). The Bible tells us that in order to understand doctrine, we must study it “line upon line” and “precept upon precept.” That is exactly how we need to study any scriptural question. The New Testament confirms this approach to understanding the Word of God and establishing sound doctrine. Paul instructed Timothy in how to study and teach doctrine: “Diligently study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman [in the Word of God] who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing [precept upon precept, and line upon line] the Word of the truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

The Word of God is called the Word of truth. It is the Spirit of truth that teaches us all things. Jesus said, “But when the Comforter comes, even the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, that one shall teach you all things, and shall bring to your remembrance everything that I have told you” (John 14:26). This is the promise Jesus gave!

The Bible makes it clear that the Word of truth works together with the Spirit of truth to give understanding to those who love God and seek His will. It is self-evident that it is not possible for the carnal mind, which is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9), to come to the knowledge of the truth of God. In fact, the carnal, unconverted mind is enmity (that is, hostile) toward God and is not willing to be subject to God’s laws (Rom. 8:7). Regardless of how brilliant or how great one’s intellect may be, God’s Word is not understood by human wisdom or reasoning. It is only through the Spirit of God that the Word of God is understood.

The apostle Paul taught that spiritual truths can only be discerned and understood through the Spirit of God: “But according as it is written, ‘The eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’

“But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things—even the deep things of God. For who among men understands the things of man except by the spirit of man which is in him? In the same way also, the things of God no one understands except by the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is of God, so that we might know the things graciously given to us by God; which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit in order to communicate spiritual things by spiritual means. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:9-14).

Spiritual truth is revealed by the Spirit. Unfortunately, many people are caught up in the politics of religion, the organizational power structure of an ecclesiastical hierarchy, or the time-honored doctrines of various churches. These things prevent an unbiased study and obscure the spiritual truths in God’s Word.

A biblically outlined method of study—“rightly dividing” the Word of God—is the proper way to study the Word of God. When one studies the Bible following the “Fourteen Rules for Bible Study,” he or she will find the truth of the Bible as revealed by the Holy Spirit of truth. These rules are not designed to bolster a previous doctrinal position, or justify a particular church doctrine. These things do not really matter; and even if they did, would God overlook such misuse of His Word?

Paul’s words to Timothy show the danger in misusing the Scriptures: “See that they remain mindful of these things, earnestly charging them in the sight of the Lord not to argue over words that are not profitable in any way, but which lead to the subverting of those who hear” (II Tim. 2:14). Many Bible teachers have misused the Scriptures in this way. In order to justify doctrinal beliefs that are not taught in the Bible, they have twisted and distorted the Scriptures to fit their own private interpretations. Whole churches have been subverted by arguments and disputes over words that have undermined the faith of millions!

The apostle Peter warned the believers to be on guard against false teachers: “As he has also in all his [Paul’s] epistles, speaking in them concerning these things; in which are some things that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable are twisting and distorting, as they also twist and distort the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, beloved, since you know this in advance, be on guard against such practices, lest you be led astray with the error of the lawless ones, and you fall from your own steadfastness” (II Pet. 3:16-17).

Peter understood that those who promote their own private interpretations are rejecting the Holy Spirit of God which inspired every word that is written in the Scriptures: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture originated as anyone’s own private interpretation; because prophecy was not brought at any time by human will, but the holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet. 1:20-21). Paul also made it clear that the words of the Scriptures were not humanly devised but were “God-breathed.” Notice: “And that from a child you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:15-17).

False doctrines and misinterpretations are continually being propagated because ministers and teachers use the Word of God deceitfully. How diabolical it is to take the Word of God, which is the truth, and misapply it to create a lie! Such deceptive use of God's Word has existed from the time of the apostles. In writing to the believers at Corinth, the apostle Paul contrasted his ministry with the deceitful approach of false teachers in his day: “Therefore, having this ministry, according as we have received mercy, we are not fainthearted. For we have personally renounced the hidden things of dishonest gain, not walking in cunning craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth we are commending ourselves to every mans conscience before God” (II Cor. 4:1-2).

When studying the Bible, one should apply the “Fourteen Rules for Bible Study” that follow. These rules show the systematic method and the mechanics of proper Bible study.

One should never establish doctrine based on the traditions of men, regardless of how knowledgeable or authoritative they are reputed to be. Nor should one base doctrine solely on the commentaries or other writings of men. Any student of the Bible should strictly follow the Word of God by examining the subject’s history and referring to the original languages, Hebrew and Greek, in order to determine precise definitions and meanings of key, critically important words. Such an approach will lead to a clear and complete understanding of what the Word of God truly teaches.

Fourteen Rules for Bible Study

1) Begin with Scriptures that are easy to understand.

2) Let the Bible interpret and prove the Bible. Don’t look for what you want to prove; look for what the Bible actually proves.

3) Understand the context—the verses before and after, the chapters before and after. Does your understanding of a particular verse harmonize with the rest of the Bible?

4) As much as possible, understand the original language, Hebrew or Greek. Never try to establish dogmatic doctrine or teachings by using Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It can be helpful at times, but it is extremely limited.

5) Ask: What does the Scripture clearly say?

6) Ask: What does the Scripture not say?

7) Ask: Who was the book written to?

8) Ask: Who wrote it?

9) Ask: Who said it?

10) Understand the time frame in history when the book was written.

11) Base your study on scriptural knowledge that you already understand. What do you know up to this point in time?

12) Do not allow your own personal assumptions or preconceived notions to influence your understanding and conclusions.

13) Do not form conclusions based on partial facts, insufficient information, or the opinions and speculations of others.

14) Opinions, regardless of how strongly you feel about them, don’t necessarily count. Scripture must be your standard and guide.