You would swear that you’ve never been there. You would protest to me that you would not be that deceived. And yet you have all the marks of one who has been played for the devil’s fool.
Do you stick to one version of the Bible? The King James Version, 1611, is the very words of God. Many use it, but when you see a contradiction to your ‘faith’ or ‘belief system’, are you quick to seek out a different definition or alternative reading?
Can you explain what you believe using an entire verse in the Bible? A grave, satanic error is made when major points of doctrine or practice are made from incomplete quotations of Scripture. A funny example is the preacher, quoting Psalm 23, says, “He maketh me to LIE…” But not so funny is the result of giving only half the truth.
Is your belief seen at face-value in other places in the Bible? Restatement is the acknowledgment of importance. There may be outside illustrations, or similarities in science, or logical reasoning, but if that’s all you have, you do not have the sure word of God. If HE proposes an illustration, or if HE references the science, or if HE calls for reason, then use it! But to go outside of the Author’s focus to find ‘meaning’ will only hide it from you.
How can the truth-seeking Christian keep himself from from these errors? Don’t be bluffed into thinking the devil is not sly enough to slip into your outline. It is foolish pride that claims to be immune from fault; conversely it is a humble heart toward God that protects the holiness of the message.
1. Approach each verse as a student, not as a teacher.
“I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119:26
Many ‘scholarly’ books and sermons are built on the pretense of explaining away what God said. A scholer by definition is a student– but O how pride puffs us. If you want to know what God meant: read what he wrote. Dictionaries and definitions are fine in their place; but they CAN NOT give you any deeper meaning than the Book, ad verbum.
“Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.” Psalm 119:161
There is never a message you must deliver, for which the Bible must lose credibility or respect. The devil has seeded the minds of many an infidel and heretic with verses, parts of verses, or conglomerations of verses that will confuse sound doctrine. The Book is not a lamb to be shepherded; he is a lion- let him loose, he can take care of himself. “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:6)
3. If you cannot state it simply, simply do not state it.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:13)
The serpent’s lie was framed in truth. He only wanted to explain to Eve what God was REALLY saying. Bob Jones, Sr. said, “Simplicity is truth’s most becoming garb.” Was God so ignorant of human understanding that no “Thus saith the Lord’s” can stand on their own account? I acknowledge our pale comprehension of the mysteries of God, His will, and His power; notwithstanding, must I constantly rely on this commentator, or that teacher, or this Bible study or that one to know the truth?
The lying snake ‘cleared things up’ alright. He made Eve to feel betrayed by God, and brought Adam to feel justified in his sin. This error is one which we simply cannot afford to commit.
4. Let your ideas bring attention to the Scriptures, not let Scripture bring attention to your ideas.
“The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” (Proverbs 18:4)
I love to look at artwork. I enjoy listening to music of various kinds. They appeal to me, they challenge me in my own pursuit of those things. Often, I copy those works to endear them to my memory and then to be an inspiration to others. A good teacher is always on the lookout for illustrations.
Where did the music of George F. Handel come from? What prompted the carvings of Gustave Doré? Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14) The Scriptures are the SPRING.
The right attitude to have about the examples around us is, “What did God say about this?” rather than, “I wonder if there’s a verse to fit my illustration?” And let Him illumine the lesson. If “Verily, I say unto you,” is the SUBJECT, it will lead to the best objects with which to declare the glory of God.
5. Ask the Author for guidance and protection from ‘just trying to prove a point’.
Few attitudes are more difficult to combat than the apathetic and careless. You may be tempted to say something… ANYTHING to wake up the dull hearer to the word of God. I’ve personally heard many Christians indignantly declare, “If God doesn’t judge America; he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah“
“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:4)
Meditate on these sayings. Look up the Scriptures for yourself, and you, too, will find yourself magnifying God’s word. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy WORD above all thy NAME.” (Psalm 138:2) God help us to have the attitudes to stay honest before God.