The New Testament provides us with an opportunity to see the religiosity of people of different intellectual levels.
The highest level is represented by Jesus Christ. Not even His personal disciples could comprehend with the mind all the profundity of His Teachings.
The second level is represented by the closest disciples of Jesus, who tried to understand the Teacher and partly succeeded in this.
The next level is people of a high social rank who knew and followed the earthly religious traditions concerning rituals and rules of conduct. But they were not capable of apprehending the living words of God.
And the lowest level is people capable of thinking only according to the following scheme: “They give me — it’s good! They stop giving me — it’s bad!”.
The developed intellect of a person does not imply that the level of ethical development of this person is also high. But ethical self-development is not possible without a developed intellect. Therefore, if we seek spiritual self-realization, we have to work on the intellectual self-development as well.
What contributes to this development? First of all, getting education, various kinds of labor (especially, creative ones), work with books, taking part in theoretical search. The modern society, highly developed in the scientific and technical aspects, is a very good possibility for applying the mind and developing it.
… The translation of the New Testament (into Russian, for example) is far from being perfect. The profound meaning of some statements of Jesus was “cut off” by translators, who were incapable of understanding His ideas.
But one error in the translation had a disastrous effect. It is the phrase “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt 5:3). Many readers concluded from it that Jesus preaches the intellectual primitivism and parasitism.
But Jesus meant a completely different thing! He said about the future blessedness not of panhandling parasites, but of people who renounced striving for material wealth and who did it not due to laziness, drunkenness, or other reasons like this, but due to spiritual creed — “due to spirit” and not “in spirit”.
Those will be blessed in the Kingdom of Heaven who renounced possessing earthly things, renounced seeking earthly wealth because the Heavenly Father will be their Wealth if they dedicated themselves to aspiring for Him. “Do not lay up treasures on the Earth…, but lay up treasures in Heaven… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt 6:19-21), — this is one of the most important postulates of His Teachings.
Regarding wisdom, Jesus taught the following: “Ignorance is the mother of all evil for us. Ignorance will result in (spiritual) death. Those abiding in the Truth will be perfect when all the Truth is revealed (to them). … How much it is stronger than ignorance and error! It gives Freedom.
“Logos (Jesus) said, ‘If you know the Truth, the Truth will make you free. Ignorance is slavery. Knowledge is Freedom!’
“If we know the Truth, we will find the fruits of the Truth within us.” (The Gospel of Philip, 123)
“… Be wise… and simple!…” (The Gospel of Thomas, 39)