Dualities are everywhere around us. In fact, they are so common we usually give them little if any attention. A duality is the quality of two things being opposite yet related. For example, the surface of a piece of wood can be either rough or smooth. Both of these qualities relate to the texture of the wood. Since both terms are indications of the same property, the texture of the wood, they are related but opposite.
You are not alone if you haven’t thought about duality very much. And you are definitely with the majority if you haven’t considered how duality relates to understanding the Bible. However, it is quite easy to show that the Bible contains dualities by pointing out that the Bible is a study of good and evil, a duality.
The universe we live in is packed with dualities. For every up there’s a down. There’s hot, and of course cold; and heavy wouldn’t be heavy without light. If you can go over, you can also go under; not to mention that going wouldn’t be going unless you could also be stopped. There’s light and dark, near and far, fast and slow, fat and thin, left and right, tall and short, and so on. The list is endless. And science also recognizes dualities. One of the laws of physics states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In fact, it seems as though everything has a flip side that is opposite but related, what I am calling a counterpart. This includes the Bible. For example, the Christian Bible consists of an Old Testament and a New Testament. Old and New are counterparts. Recognizing the duality of the Bible is a powerful concept that is invaluable for understanding the Bible in all of its fullness.
The duality concept is introduced in the first chapter of Genesis. There was only darkness when heaven and earth were created. We’re told that God said, “Let there be light,” (Genesis 1:3) and in addition to darkness there was light … darkness and light, the first counterparts. Then God separated the waters, and He called the waters above the expanse heaven. Next He separated the waters below the expanse so dry land would appear, and “God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas.” (Genesis 1:10) And, of course, the earth was dry and water wet … more counterparts.
Another picture of the duality concept and its importance is found in the second chapter of Genesis. God placed Adam in the Garden and he was alone. Of course, he wasn’t alone, he was with God. One cannot get any more not alone than being with God. The point is, he was without a counterpart. The Scripture says that God took notice.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
The word alone, in the above verse, could also be translated with the word solitary. It is also interesting to note that one of the meanings of the Hebrew word translated as suitable in the above text is opposite to. God saw Adam’s need for a counterpart. Of course, you know the story, that God took a rib from Adam and made a woman. And so from that time there has been man and woman, woman and man … opposites but related … counterparts.
Duality is not only found in the Bible, it is also characteristic of the Bible itself. The Bible consists of two parts, content and meaning. These correspond to physical and spiritual respectively. Paul confirms this when he says in Romans, “For we know that the Law is spiritual.” (Romans 7:14a) The Law (the Ten Commandments) is written in the Bible, we can see and read it. But the Law is not just a physical entity, it is also spiritual as we have just seen. You can read the commandments, statutes and ordinances and know them with your mind. That is a physical activity. You can also understand them with your heart, and that is spiritual. Another way to say it is that you can see and hear the Law with either your physical or spiritual eyes and ears.
The physical and spiritual counterparts are of central importance in regard to Biblical understanding. The Bible is a fixed, one-dimensional book. But, of course, it must have a counterpart. The counterpart of the Bible is not a book. It is an unlimited ocean of revelations spoken directly from God to His disciples, through the Holy Spirit Who abides in every believer.
The Bible is the truth, therefore truth is also bi-dimensional … physical and spiritual. If the only Biblical truth you are receiving comes by way of your physical eyes and ears, you are only receiving a tiny part of a fraction of the whole. Truth is never-ending … eternal. How then can the eternal, never-ending truth be fully expressed in a book containing a limited number of words? It is obvious that it cannot. The Bible is truth, but it is not all of the truth.
“But when He, the Spirit of truth [the Holy Spirit], comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13)
If the Bible were all of the truth, there would be no reason for Jesus to instruct us of the role of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. It would only be necessary to read the entire Bible to have all truth. Also notice that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth beyond the written word by speaking to you.
If you are born again, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and you are trying to walk out your life as a disciple of Jesus, but you are relying only on the truth of the printed word as your guide, you are headed for serious problems. It is likely you have already been experiencing many difficulties maintaining your walk with the Lord. But if you have repented and given your entire life to Christ, you have received the Holy Spirit as Peter declared on the day of Pentecost, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
If the Holy Spirit resides in you, He is talking to you with words you can understand. You may not be hearing Him because you haven’t been taught that the Holy Spirit guides Jesus’ disciples by speaking to them. If that is the case, you probably haven’t been listening. Another possibility is that you haven’t been asking Him. Ask Him what you should do in all situations, no matter how big or small. Ask Him what the truth is in a particular situation. For instance, is the person trying to sell you something lying or telling the truth. If you ask, He will answer. He wants to hear from you. He wants to communicate with you every day, throughout the day.
Is talking to and listening for the Holy Spirit to speak to you important because it is a doctrine of one or another denomination? Of course, not. It is important because it is the way to be led into all truth which is necessary for living successfully as a disciple of Christ.
The truth spoken by the Holy Spirit is in fact understanding.
When you read the Bible, you receive knowledge. When you hear what the Holy Spirit says about that knowledge, you have gained understanding.
The nature of knowledge is physical while the nature of understanding is spiritual. Knowledge and understanding are two elements of the truth, opposite but related, therefore they are counterparts. This brings us to an important principle for understanding the Bible.
PRINCIPLE: Biblical Understanding is Revealed, Not Taught or Learned.
11 For I [the apostle, Paul] would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. [No person taught it to Him.]
12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
Paul was a learned scholar of the Scriptures before He became a disciple of Jesus. He was a Pharisee. So he had an excellent knowledge of the Bible of His day, that which we now call the Old Testament. But with all of that knowledge, he did not have understanding. Then he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and he dedicated his life to live as a follower of Jesus. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and he began to receive revelations of understanding of the Scriptures he knew so well. And that was the gospel he preached.
Understanding of the Bible (the truth) comes by way of revelation. It is not learned like a school subject such as arithmetic, spelling or history. First comes knowledge, then understanding. Bible knowledge is learned, Biblical understanding is revealed. When you read the Old testament story of the Passover, you learn the details of the story and you have acquired knowledge. Anyone who reads it will have the same knowledge. If, on the other hand, you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit can reveal many layers of understanding to you from that story. For instance, He might reveal that the Passover of the Israelites is a picture of the salvation of believers in Jesus Christ.
You learn with your mind, and you understand with your heart. Knowledge is a steppingstone to understanding. However, moving from knowledge to understanding is not a matter of simply learning and learning and learning until understanding finally arrives. Many have immense Biblical knowledge and little or no understanding. On the other hand, a person with far less knowledge may have received a wealth of revelations of understanding. There is no set amount of knowledge that causes understanding to begin to be revealed.
Another important principle for Biblical understanding has to do with a particular set of counterparts. Everything that happens in the Bible takes place in one of two realms. Like the truth, they also correspond to the physical and the spiritual. These realms are called the Flesh and the Spirit.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:17)
The realm of the flesh and that of the Spirit are counterparts.
Principle: There AreTwo Realms, Flesh and Spirit
The duality concept helps unravel something that may be a source of confusion in your Bible study. There are two and only two realms in the Bible. Everything takes place in either the realm of the physical or of the spiritual.
For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)
Jesus created all things, and those things were in one of two domains, heaven and earth. Likewise, all of Jesus’ authority is in heaven and earth because there are no other realms. If there were, Jesus, since He has all authority, would have authority over them as well. Colossians 1:16 also explains that these two realms are different, one is visible while the other is invisible. In other words, one is physical and the other spiritual. Therefore, they are counterparts.
These are the only two realms in existence. As the above Colossians verse shows, they are identified as being either heaven or earth, or visible or invisible. These same places are also referred to in the Bible in a variety of ways. For example, they might be referred to as good and evil or light and darkness. Another set of terms often used in the New Testament is flesh and Spirit. The word Spirit with a capital “S” is a reference to the Holy Spirit.
Whatever the terminology, the two realms are always the physical and the spiritual. In other words, they are either known your five senses, and as such are physical; or you are aware of them by the eyes and ears of your heart, and are therefore spiritual. Let me note that in Biblical terminology the word heart can be a reference to the organ that pumps blood through your body, or it can mean your spiritual nature … the part of you that is spiritual. Another way to describe your spiritual heart is that it is your center or core, the essence of who you are … it is the home of your character and personality. In short, it is not what you look like, it is who and what you are.
Flesh and Spirit, therefore, represent two kingdoms. Flesh is the kingdom of the physical, and Spirit of the spiritual. Satan rules the physical kingdom, God is ruler over the spiritual. The natures of these realms are total opposites … counterparts. The realm of the flesh, as Satan’s realm, is characterized by all that is said to be evil. Included are things such as lying, hating, stealing, murder, greed, deceitfulness, etc. The realm of the Spirit, as God’s realm, is distinguished by all that is good. These include love, joy, peace, forgiveness, unselfishness and the like. Each kingdom can be thought of as being the personification of the head of the realm, i.e., of Satan for the flesh, or God for the Spirit.
You should be clear that as you read, study and meditate on passages of the Bible, these two realms are the only realms being discussed. When they are not mentioned explicitly, they are indicated by comparison, metaphor, simile or parable.
Recall that Jesus was taken to appear before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea at the time, and he asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) We don’t know what Jesus’ answer would have been. My answer to Pilate’s question is this: Truth is knowledge of God’s word, the Bible, combined with understanding obtained by Holy Spirit revelations. Truth is physical and spiritual together, not one or the other. Truth is content and meaning. It is the one-dimensional, fixed, words printed on the pages of the Bible, and it is the multi-dimensional, never-ending, eternal truth spoken to you by the Holy Spirit. Truth is both ancient and new every morning at one and the same time.
Have you been satisfied with Bible knowledge only? Then seek understanding. To understand the Bible in all of its fullness is better than anything you can desire or imagine. Why would you want just a part of something so wonderful when you can have it all?