I’m simply jotting some thoughts down today about this subject, primarily to share with others what they need to understand about less then honorable motivations often used, (yet not often realized) by allot of people which would rather have you follow them, than the Holy Spirit of the Lord.
Today I am 61 years of age; and one thing I have learned over the years through experience is that even well-meaning people will often use the Lord and the Bible to win people over to a particular type of thinking and actions. Years ago, the late Pastor Gross, D.D. Th.D. PhD (in psychology) would always tell us that never to believe anything he said, without having the Lord confirm it to you first!
He also said to NEVER put God in a “Box” (a belief system about the Lord) as, he would never be able to show you anything! Outside of foundational Bible truths of our faith, we must learn not be swayed by other’s viewpoints which may stray outside of the Biblical texts.
It is fine to learn how to walk in the Holy Spirit by faith alone, and it is even a good thing to understand the cunningness of our enemy Satan, his demons, and his tricks. One important thing to know about the enemy, is that he normally attacks the mind and emotions first, and then the rest of the body only after he is unsuccessful (for the believer). Put on the full armor of God Ephesians 6 10 24 and also remember, the Lord will not give you more than you are able to “stand”, so this normally never becomes a problem for one who is attempting to live by faith in Jesus Christ! Praise God!
Matthew 24: 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Our understanding of the Bible in balance, both in teachings and contexts is very important so as not to become deceived by the enemy; even an ignorant but well meaning soul when espousing bad Bible doctrines may unwittingly fall into this trap. The Lord is well able to protect his people from heresies taught in the scriptures within the providence of our lives; yet it may take some time for our Lord to weed out false doctrines in our lives, even for the most committed believer.
Rather, it is mush better to be instructed in the faith, just who Christ is to us, and how he functions with his Disciples indwelt by his Holy Spirit.
A proper understanding of the Lord in accordance with the scriptures, is the first step in living a healthy spiritual life devoid of what I will call “superstitions”. Remember, Satan simply attacks the emotions and intellect first, so we must learn to “cast down imagination” to a more rational understanding of the God of the Bible. We must never allow our fears to cripple our balanced understanding of the scriptures and our Lord. In my opinion, this is critical to our understanding so that we don’t go off thinking everything we don’t understand or feel within our lives is demonic: as in most cases it simply is not, rather it is a result of poor understanding, and our emotionally charged thought life.
Often times people who are unbalanced in their understanding of the Bible have distorted to various degrees it’s contexts. It almost goes without saying that, this is how most “Cult” leaders (perhaps unwittingly) deceive others!
I for one have learned this the hard ways to various degrees, and is why the late Dr. Gross always told us to check out what he taught us with the Lord, and not to believe it on face value alone. The reason he said, was that anyone who was more convincing then himself, could lead you down a path that was deceptive. I think that is very sound advice, and it has served me well throughout my Christian life.
It is only natural for most people to have a love for themselves first, and then others. This is why we must not get prone to following men. I have met very well-meaning people who love to share with others their faith in Jesus Christ; and that is a wonderful attribute! Yet one of the principles for an Elder in the Bible is to run their own household well! This is very important for several reasons, but foremost is how they are in dealing with other people, besides themselves. The wisdom is in these texts: Titus 1:6-9 & 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
I have put Titus 1:6-9 first, as it focuses on not being self-willed, loving his wife, and faithful children. Verse 9 speaks about; knowing sound doctrine, as it is (properly) taught, encourage others and being able to refute (Bible) error by those who would oppose it.
1 Timothy 3:1-7 says much the same thing, but Titus 1:6-9 has fewer words; and I will emphasize verse 6, as it talks about not being filled with pride, and a good testimony with others so he won’t be disgraced or snared by Satan.
Those are some very tough standards for an Elder, yet all of them are present for very good reasons, not the least of which is our testimonial to Christ. We have all seen charlatans preach on T.V. a distorted and self-aggrandizing Gospel, which takes on a kind of carnival (Carnal) atmosphere. Most mature believers find this repulsive, and yet oftentimes these selfish preachers love taking pot shots at other ministers, even some who are sound in the faith because of their own pre-conceived beliefs; yet if they are unfounded by scripture it may be just a matter of different opinions.
We see this throughout the scriptures as well, and is why we must be careful that we build up the body of Christ (in love for God) – rather than simply propping up our own beliefs in the flesh. The best answer for not overstepping ourselves, is in accountability not only to the Lord, but to others brethren in humility, rather than a self-righteous pride which many may struggle with, even unknowingly.
How can I write these, things you may ask? That’s very simple to answer, I have done it myself!
If we truly love others more than ourselves, we must understand that we all struggle with similar “conditions of the soul” and be willing to make allowances for others shortfalls, with this we can grow and be of even more help to the Lord as well as edifying our own walks.
I am not speaking about allowing sinfulness in a fellowship at all; rather I am simply addressing that we do not become dogmatic in our Bible doctrines to the point that it destroys others!