When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables, so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving" (Mark 4:10–12, NIV).
When a well-meaning Christian declares, “I believe everything in the Bible, literally,” that person is lying to you. Why is that? Well, look at the teachings of Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). If the person claims to believe that everything in the Bible should be taken literally, but he has eyes, then he is lying to you, because we all stumble with our eyes through lust, greed, or envy.
Jesus was not actually urging us to pluck our eyes out. He was talking about the seriousness of sin, and how we must repent of sin, lest we wind up in hell. But if every word Jesus uttered is taken literally, every one of us must immediately gouge out both eyes.
Remember that Jesus taught in parables, metaphors, and allegories. He used these devices to make the broader spiritual point. Does that water down Scripture? Absolutely not! Jesus was simply using memorable illustrations to communicate perfect truth. And that’s where the guidance of the Holy Spirit comes into play: to help us to distinguish between literal truth and a parable, thereby allowing us to understand the rich truths of our faith.