by Paul Benson
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. -David, King of Israel
As Christian believers we certainly like to think we are doing a good job walking in the light; and that the words we speak are according to the truth. But we are all human and we ALL make mistakes. Not one of us (especially me) has all areas of theology figured out in a perfect understanding. Nor do we even have the ability to express what truth we have assimilated in a perfect manner!
But, by the Word of God, we know that God demands his people be a people with a high regard for the truth; and that there is a divine line of demarcation somewhere, decided by God himself, that labels one person a speaker of the truth and another as an evil deceiver. On one side of that line a blessed individual destined for reward; and on the other side, one who is condemned and destined for punishment.
This is not a frivolous matter! Considering the title to this article is a quote from the Scriptures it might be a good idea to make sure we are on the right side of that dividing line! But just where has God drawn that line? And more importantly how can we know for sure which side of that line we are on?
A Demand For Truth!
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24
Life is so full of words! And who could deny their importance to us; particularly so when they are used to instruct us in the ways of God. Notice the word ‘must’ in the verse quoted above. Just how serious of a meaning does that one word inject into this verse? Does it present approaching God through the truth as an option? Not that I can see. Jesus claimed to be THE truth; and also that as such he is the only door into the Kingdom of God. Do we truly grasp that?
The modern Christian Church seems to have lost touch with the fact that not only is God tremendously big on truth; but also that error and deception are a horrible affront to him. God is not up in heaven giving a big hearty AMEN! every time someone spouts off the indolent ‘It’s all good!’. Because to him it’s not all good; in fact much of it is bad. Quite bad.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matthew 15:9
In vain. I sometimes wonder how many religious folk ever ponder that possibility. To me, one of the scariest aspects of a life of faith is that, in the end, my religious experience will have been completely in vain if I have received the errant teachings of man instead of the truth of God. A lifetime of religious devotion could result in my damnation due to me ingesting lies instead of truth! This frightening possibility is never far from my thoughts; and fosters a great carefulness in what I receive (and teach) as doctrine.
IMHO: Please let me share with you an opinion I feel quite strongly about. An opinion I feel reflects a wisdom we can garner from the full counsel of God’s Word:
There is a very specific path that leads to a proper understanding of God’s truth and his ways; and also a specific (and all too often chosen) path that leads to gross error and misconceptions. What we receive as a belief system is nothing more than an end product of which path of indoctrination we have chosen. Period!
I spoke earlier of a divine line of demarcation that separates the truthful from the deceivers. A line which today is quite obscured by a thick fog of delusion and confusion the Scriptural illiteracy of the modern Church generates. But we can shine a spotlight upon that elusive line (and thereby identify our own location in relation to it), with the contrast of two words: pride and humility. That divine line of demarcation is in a very real sense the line between pride and humility!
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. Luke 1:53
The humble of heart recognize their need for enlightenment, and have a hunger for truth and righteousness which causes them to approach God for provision of such. A constant regiment of earnest prayer and study in turn produces a constant flow of grace, and also an increasing revelation into the mystery of our faith.
Pride and prayerlessness walk hand in hand. The prideful of heart are confident they have either attained, or possibly were divinely endowed with, a fullness of understanding and wisdom (and thus also a right of position above others). In their own eyes they are the cream that rises to the top! This ‘BIG ME – little you’ delusion blinds them to their desperate need of abiding in a divine flow of progressive revelation and understanding. Pride has a way of causing people (and groups) to mistake a plateau for a mountain top; and therefor they lose the vision to continue climbing. Why keep traveling when you have ‘arrived’?
A Lost Key
Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. Luke 11:52
Jesus was not very complimentary of what ‘professional’ religious training had done for the Learned Ones of his day! Some things never change. The Pride of Scholarship most people come home with returning from seminary, or other ‘professional’ religious training, is absolutely astounding to me. I have known more than a few who went off for training as a tender and humble soul, who were once a joy to fellowship with, but came home a prideful Pharisee looking down their noses at the less ‘enlightened’! If you have been a believer for very long you have seen it too.
A SAD SIDE-NOTE: What makes this a double tragedy is most of them end up assuming a position as a preacher or teacher in a church or organization. And having lost the key of knowledge (i.e. hungering and seeking after the truth in an attitude of humility) they have little to offer outside of whatever theories they were indoctrinated with (good or bad). With their ears plugged and hearts stuffed to the full by the pride of scholarship, they are stuck on that plateau, along with all those who look to them for revelation into the truths of the Kingdom of God.
Not everyone who has spent years in seminary training fits that bill, but sadly the majority certainly do! And few seem to ever break away from whatever rigid doctrinal framework that particular institution imposed upon them. That is why we have so many different people espousing so many different and conflicting schools of theory; and all of them claiming to be preaching God’s truth! Dispensationalists, Covenant Theorists, Calvinists, Separatists, Preterists, Amillennialists, Historicists, and on and on it goes! And very very few of them willing to consider the fact they might be seriously in error. Prisoners of the Pride of Scholarship! Chained to the doctrines of man.
If you are convinced your beliefs are without error because you have been professionally trained in theology and ministry (or taught by someone else who was); and you feel no compulsion to seek God to purify your beliefs and to bring you a progressive increase of understanding, you are most likely camped out on some plateau thinking you have reached the summit. But I assure you we ALL still have a lot of mountain to ascend. Rise up o’ sleeper! Let’s break camp, and get back to climbing. It’s time to seek the LORD!
The Difference Between Lies and Misconceptions
Although I believe all forms of deception will be dealt with by our Creator in a very serious manner, much of it even resulting in the damnation of many souls; I also believe there is in God’s eyes a huge difference between passing on misconceptions and outright lying. A lie is the deliberate speaking forth of that which you know in your heart is not true. And, unbelievably, there are some people who, for one misguided reason or another, do preach things they know are contrary to the Scriptures. Scary business! According to the Scriptures that act carries the sentence of perdition. There will be NO liars who partake of God’s salvation (although former liars are certainly eligible, thank you Jesus)!
Speaking forth in sincerity something you were taught by someone you trusted, but is not according to the truth, does not sink to the depths of deliberate deception. It is still deception and still damaging; and speaking it does still make you a deceiver, but it does not make you a liar. God knows full well the difference between lies and misconceptions; and his judgment in these matters will be righteous and just.
But that does not excuse any accidental promoting of error. All false teaching is not only worthy of judgment but is also damaging to the Body of Christ. There WILL be consequences; greater for some than others. But WOE to the one who for years has brushed aside the voice of the Holy Spirit and refused his correction. The falsehoods proclaimed by the seasoned ‘I’m right; and that’s that!’ crowd may very well be judged in a similar fashion as those preaching outright lies. Willful ignorance is by no means innocence; it is prideful rebellion! Again, God is the judge; but the Scriptures are quite clear as to the future of the proud. We would do well to keep this truth in sight.
The Gospel spoken forth from the Christian community used to carry such a strong exhortation that a person’s beliefs must be in accord with the truth or they are in vain. And also a strong warning that a wayward belief system presents great peril to a person’s soul! But today you are more likely to hear people pleasing preachers declaring ‘it’s all good’, than hear them exhorting us we had better ‘get it right’. Thus most are left stewing in a slumber inducing mixture of truth and error that produces neither proper doctrine nor righteous living (both of which are demanded by God of those who would inherit eternal life).
The truth of God’s Word has the power to cleanse and sanctify a heart; and, inversely so, error and deception received into a person’s heart have the power to defile you and make you unclean in the sight of God! Heretical teachings can make you unfit for his Kingdom! Again, this is NO trivial matter.
The Call To Take A Stand
An epidemic of false teachings have sickened the Body of Christ in this generation, and the only antidote is the truths of the Bible which have been set aside, and neglected because of their unpopularity. But these truths need to be taken off the shelf, dusted off, and proclaimed boldly to the world. The pacifying preaching of the backslid modern pulpit is not setting people free; only the pure and unadulterated truth of the Scriptures can do that!
Where oh where are the men and women of God with the fortitude to take a stand for the truth? Those who will lift up a cry against the falsehood and deception spewing out of the mouths of the myriad of beguilers claiming to be a spokesperson for God. Will that precious antidote of truth be administered through you and I? That is our calling, and our responsibility you know.
Let’s get real here shall we? Hell is a real place; and it is filled with real people! And their suffering and torment are quite real also. We would be wise to bear in mind that the reason many of them ended up there is they allowed themselves to be seduced into receiving deceptive teachings rather than holding to a love for, and embracing of, the truth of God’s Word.
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. Proverbs 19:5
Hell is full of preachers and teachers who condemned themselves by the words of their mouth! I don’t know about you, but that fact causes me to worry a great deal about what is true and what is not. It is the reason I harp on and on (and on) all the time about basing our beliefs and doctrine upon only what is clearly and plainly stated in the Scriptures, and not upon man’s fanciful theories promoted as ‘Bible Truth’.
I am so very thankful the Lord kept me from going to seminary and getting indoctrinated with a bunch of theories which were the spawn of man’s wisdom, and not from the truth of God’s Word. And I am VERY thankful for the gift of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised would guide us into all truth!
Teachers and preachers are a necessary and beneficial part of the Body of Christ. But they should never be allowed to trump the plain and simple truths expressed in the Bible; nor the voice of the Spirit of God in us as he reveals those truths to our hearts. Sadly this is exactly what happens to many (if not most) ‘church goers’.
As they encounter over and over a discrepancy between what the preacher is saying and what the Spirit is saying; and are programmed to tune out that bothersome ‘check’ in their spirit, they learn to disregard the voice of God! This is what Jesus was speaking of when he said they take away the key of knowledge. A listening ear is replaced with a confidence in Scholarship; and the end of it all is evidenced in the condition of the modern American Church! A self-willed and defiled Harlot passing herself off as the Bride of Christ. But do you know what? I do not expect him to be fooled in the least. There is a separation (of believers from make-believers ) and a purification of ministry coming to the Church of God! Jesus is not returning for a spastic Harlot!
Hanging On To The Key Of Knowledge
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18
Please don’t mistake my words here as me thinking that I am immune to error or anything of the sort! I am just as capable of blowing it as the next guy. But I know a fear of being led astray by deception, and a habit of constantly questioning and critically examining doctrine (including mine) in light of the Scriptures, has been a safeguard to me. And when coupled together with an ongoing petition for the Father to keep me from deception, and reveal misconceptions in me (or as they are presented to me), I know my beliefs are being filtered and purified in a progressive manner. I place great confidence in this!
If we cannot trust a belief system based upon the clear and unambiguous teachings of the Word, the counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the correction a humble seeker with open ears receives from the Father, what hope is there of walking in the light of God’s Word? Error enters in and takes root only when we lay aside this pattern and place our confidence instead in the theories and teachings of man!
After such an article as this (boldly staking claim to a path which fosters a proper understanding of God’s ways), and after such a strong rebuke of those who follow error, I would not be surprised if the Father opened my eyes to a big fat glitch in my own understanding. Just to keep an atmosphere of humility about me! But do you know what? I will welcome it. It’s what I pray for.
And that is the whole point of this article!
Are we genuinely open to correction? Praying for it? Expecting it? We should be!
And are we heeding the call to stand against the voice of the deceiver? To lift our voice to counter his lies; to be dispensers of truth and grace? Are we clearly showing God which side of that divine line of demarcation we are on?
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10
Please allow me to repeat: There is a path (humility, hunger for truth, a willingness to change) that leads to a proper understanding of God’s truth and his ways, and there is a path (a proud, unyielding confidence in the theories of man’s Scholarship) that leads to much error and misconception. What we receive as a belief system is nothing more than an end product of which path of indoctrination we have chosen. Period!
We have a choice to make. We can either keep a prideful death-grip on the teachings of our ‘camp’, and hope we have chosen the right camp to camp out with. Or we can humble ourselves before the throne of God with an ongoing petition for a purification and advancement of our understanding of God’s Truth. This choice may very well determine the fate of our eternal souls.
Let’s choose the proper path. Let’s get it right!
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