The key to spiritual understanding isn’t intellect; it’s obedience. If I want scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is my guide. But if I want insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, I can only get it by obedience. If what Jesus taught is dark to me, I can be sure that there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance. Spiritual darkness comes because there is something I don’t intend to obey.

No one ever receives a message from God without instantly being put to the test. We fail the test by disobeying, and then we wonder why we haven’t progressed spiritually. “If you are offering your gift at the altar,” Jesus said, “and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, . . . first go and be reconciled to them” (Matthew 5:23–24). Our Lord’s teaching hits us where we live. We can’t stand before Jesus for a single second without our hypocrisy being revealed. His Spirit lays bare the spirit of self-justification that resides within us. He educates us down to the scruple, making us sensitive to things we never thought of before.

When Jesus brings something home to you through his teaching, don’t shrug it off. If you do, you’ll become a religious hypocrite. Examine the things you’re shrugging off now, and you’ll know why you aren’t progressing spiritually. Obey what God tells you to do, even if others might call you fanatical, and you will gain the understanding you seek. When God says go, go.

Wisdom from Oswald

Both nations and individuals have tried Christianity and abandoned it, because it has been found too difficult; but no man has ever gone through the crisis of deliberately making Jesus Lord and found Him to be a failure. The Love of God—The Making of a Christian, 680 R