It seems to me that most of my interpretative journeys seem to begin with a devotional reading of the Bible. Indeed, it is this approach which most stimulates my curiosity into the Word of God. There is no doubt within my mind that a devotional reading of the Bible compliments an interpretive journey approach (Duvall and Hayes 2012). Certainly, it is this kind of reading that produces the most inquiries out of me. It only when I have let go of my preconceived ideas that I have acquired, either through the reasoning of others or my own, that I am able to ask what is it that God wants me to know. In fact I can unequivocally declare that as a result of my last devotional reading, the Holy Spirit led me on such an interpretive journey that it revolutionized my entire view on salvation.
So when I say I was excited to return to such a study, there is not a drop of exaggeration within the statement. I immediately latched onto Romans 8:1-4. As I said before, I recently had a view shift of salvation; so it seemed to me to be a good idea to revisit the concept of freedom from condemnation. For it is this concept, as I understand it, which is the lynch pin of salvation, itself.
I ran my bathtub of water which is my custom for devotional readings. I spent a few minutes emptying myself of everything I had been taught, or thought I understood about the concept. Once I felt confident in my ability to approach the passage without any preconceived ideas, I read each word slowly out loud. This is a practice I have done since my very first study of scripture as it allows for each word to resonate inside my mind. I pondered. I contemplated. I knew each word might be the ONE WORD, in which the Spirit whispered, “Stop. There it is. There’s the spot which I want you to dig.”
Without fail, it happened. I began to read aloud the words, “So that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4, NRSV). I wondered what God meant by this. Was He speaking of death, which Paul said the law brought? Was He speaking of the righteousness of Christ being applied to us? Was it something else entirely?
I immediately prayed for answers; and answers have not come. However, that is quite alright. It just means I still have more work to do. It means the Spirit is saying it’s time to go on another interpretive journey. Well, I have my spiritual back pack on and my walking stick in my hand. I am ready. “Let’s go, God. Lead the way.”
Duvall, J. Scott, and J. Daniel Hayes. Grasping God’s Word. 3. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2012.