Confused by Scripture - confused person looking in maze

Don’t be discouraged when confused by Scripture!

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Every Christian has been confused by Scripture at times. Here’s part of a message I received from someone after a study I taught:

Last week, I took the entire chapter [from the study], copied it to Word, and then made spaces for notes. I thought I was prepared. But I wasn’t as prepared as I was hoping. I will just keep working on it.

I can tell the person was discouraged, and this is something I’ve encountered regularly.

Here are two passages that should discourage us from being discouraged:

  1. “Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand“(2 Peter 3:15-16). The Apostle Peter himself read Paul’s letters and found them difficult to understand at times.
  2. “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating” (1 Peter 1:10-11). The prophets were given the very words of God. Even they had to “inquire” and “search carefully” to understand the revelation in each other’s writings.

Why does God allow certain parts of Scripture to be confusing?

God’s Word offers wisdom that can’t be found anywhere else. This makes it unbelievably valuable and reveals why it is compared with precious jewels:

  • [Wisdom’s] proceeds are far better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies (Proverbs 3:14-15).
  • How much better to get wisdom than gold (Proverbs 16:16a).
  • Wisdom is better than rubies, [its] fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold (Proverbs 8:11a, 19a).

You have to diligently search for precious jewels. Since wisdom is more valuable than them, how much more diligently should we study the truths in Scripture?

Proverbs 2:4 Seek [wisdom] as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures.

There has to be an investment made in obtaining wisdom. This is why we should experience joy after obtaining it:

Proverbs 3:13a Happy is the man who finds wisdom.

A helpful illustration…

Someone shared this with me some years back:

The Bible is like the ocean, offering a number of ways for us to interact with it. We can:

  • Look at it and admire it from a distance
  • Get close to it, even walking out and getting our toes wet
  • Dive in and swim with the waves
  • Swim down and look at all the beauty that’s below the surface

But the greatest blessing is for people who dive to the bottom. They look at all that’s offered and take some of the treasure with them.

This illustration:

  • Impacted the way I read God’s Word. I always look to take some treasures with me.
  • Influenced the way I preach. I hope to give others treasures to take with them.

I am constantly amazed by the truth and application that can be mined from God’s Word. Many weeks in my sermon preparation I approach passages that I’m familiar with. I wonder what I’m going to share with people that they haven’t already heard. As I study, I find treasures I’ve never seen before.

An encouraging example when confused by Scripture

Daniel the prophet was a student of God’s Word:

Daniel 9:2 I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years (Daniel 9:2).

Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel to interpret his dream. Daniel said:

“God gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things” (Daniel 2:21-22).

This was true in Daniel’s day, and it’s still true today. As a result, if we’ll faithfully spend time in God’s Word, and diligently look for the treasures it contains, God will give us wisdom and knowledge. He will reveal “deep and secret things.”

While it can be discouraging at times when we’re confused by Scripture, God wants us to be diligent in learning His Word. Rather than give up, He wants us to seek, search, and dig into the Scriptures. When we find some of the precious treasures God has for us we can rejoice, because we’ve found something more precious than gold.

Discuss in comments section:

12 Responses

  1. Very true! Often we must seek and ask for wisdom to understand what confuses us. I believe God’s uses our confusion to draw us to him or at least that is what he wants…to trust him even when we don’t fully understand.

    1. Hi Kristi,
      Yes, especially if we see spiritual understanding as a gift from God (see Luke 8:10). Then it’s even clearer all we can do is ask God to open the eyes and ears of our hearts.

  2. To answer your questions at the bottom, I usually ask my husband if something is not making sense to me, His answers usually are really good and understandable to me. If he isn’t sure, I will research and pray into my research for God’s answer.

    1. Hi Alyssa,
      Thanks for answering those questions. I think you’re the first person to do so!

      I appreciate you asking your husband. As a pastor I’m always a little saddened when some women come to me before their husbands.

  3. I agree that there is such a wealth of wisdom in the pages of the Bible. Yet, many of us just skim the surface.

    What I try to keep in mind is that the Bible is the LIVING Word of God. As such there is no ‘correct’ way to interpret a passage. The hidden pearl of meaning may be different for each age or person.

    1. Hi Laura,
      That is a very encouraging thought! Keeping that in mind should definitely encourage us to dig deep.

      I hate to disagree with you, but you said:

      As such there is no ‘correct’ way to interpret a passage.

      There is actually only one correct interpretation of a passage, verse, etc and it’s our responsibility to find it. But there are multiple applications. Maybe that’s what you meant?

      If you believe there are multiple interpretations, you can come up with any false teaching you want…and many have done just that!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      In Luke 8:10 Jesus said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God.” I think praying like you said – that God opens our eyes or gives these mysteries to us – is essential.

      Yes, I really like commentaries too, and use them for much of my teaching and preaching.

  4. I’ve always had the best luck when I have a notebook + laptop by me. If I get confused by scripture, a quick google search will lead me to great articles/sermons/commentaries and I take notes based on those things and think it through. Writing things down has always helped me.

    1. Hi Kay,
      I generally look at four commentaries for Sunday School or Wednesday night messages, and 6-7 for Sunday morning sermons. The wonderful thing is it’s rare for them to conflict with each other. It happens, but it’s not the norm. The point is most any good, reputable commentary can provide sound understanding.

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