Good news! The debate is over: it’s “laurel,” not “yanny.” Okay maybe not. Unfortunately, that debate will rage on because some people’s ears are better attuned to high frequencies than low ones. Those who hear higher frequencies hear “yanny.” Lower frequency listeners hear “laurel.” I’m concerned this might be misused religiously.
Some could say, “See? Everyone has their own interpretation. It’s ‘laurel’ for you and ‘yanny’ for me, but we’re both right. That’s how it is with the Bible too.” Wrong…sort of.
It’s wrong because the Bible distinguishes between true and false teaching. The Bible doesn’t say, “Whatever you hear is true.” It says, “Whatever is written is true.” Paul instructed Timothy to “accurately handle the word of truth,” (2 Tim. 2:15) which implies it can be handled inaccurately. He also told Timothy to “retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me.” (1:13).
There is a standard, there are sound words and unsound words. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29). God’s word doesn’t relegate truth to one’s own interpretation.
However, it’s only “sort of” wrong because the Bible does say we hear in different frequencies. Instead of high vs. low frequency people, the Bible divides us up into “spiritual” vs. “natural” people.
Spiritual people are in tune with spiritual frequencies; they’re aware they have a spirit and a conscience and have a subconscious awareness that they’re answerable to a higher spiritual being. Natural people are focused on this physical (natural) world alone. “Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5).
The language gets stronger. “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (8:7-8). It’s like saying, “Those whose ears are programmed to high frequencies cannot hear ‘laurel.’” Those who live for themselves and the pleasures of this life cannot hear God’s Word.
Before Jesus told parables, He often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Who wouldn’t have ears? Natural people who couldn’t hear the spiritual frequency of God’s Word. Paul elaborates: “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor. 2:14).
The good news is, natural ears aren’t inborn and unchangeable. God didn’t design some people incapable of understanding His word; that’s Calvinism and that’s a cruel God. No, we make ourselves that way by choosing to live for ourselves. That means we can also choose to sharpen our spiritual frequency receptors. We can change from natural to spiritual.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians to get them to stop being so fleshly, or natural. “I could not speak to you as spiritual men, but as to men of flesh…indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.” (1 Cor. 3:1,3). Then he spends his entire letter (and another letter, 2 Corinthians) trying to get them to see things from a spiritual perspective. How do we do that? How can we open our ears and hearts to hear God’s spiritual frequencies through His Word? Here are some practical tips:
1) Give up your own “wisdom.” “Let no man deceive himself. If any man thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that you may become wise (1 Cor. 3:18b).” If we think we don’t need God because this physical world has all the answers, that’s the height of ignorance. Naturalists boast that they’re the intellectuals and Christians are dumb and naive, yet they have no basis for reason, science, knowledge, morality, or purpose (we can explore this in another article).
2) Change your want. Sometimes we don’t want to listen to God because we don’t realize what He’s done for us. “You have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:20). Jesus spilled His blood on a cross for our salvation. That’s not just a God you have to listen to you, that’s a God you should want to listen to. Jesus said the reason the Pharisees could not hear Him was because they wanted to do the desires of Satan (John 8:44). The cross can change our want.
3) Admit where physical frequencies lead. When we ignore God, it’s always a disaster. Every problem in the Bible came from people listening to physical frequencies instead of the spiritual frequency of God’s word. Living with a “this-world” mindset leads to sin, death, and utter futility. The Corinthians, living by physical frequencies, were sleeping around, suing each other in court, approving of adultery in the church, divisiveness, discrimination, and much more. The natural frequency in our country has us murdering thousands of babies a day, redefines “till death do us part,” has us confused about which bathroom to use and even which sexual organs go together.
I still hear “laurel” and that’ll likely never change. If you hear “yanny” that’ll likely never change. But if you only hear physical frequencies, you can change that today. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!