The Bible is to be taken in it’s entirety as the inspired Word of God. There is nothing in Sacred Scripture that is not necessary for the believer to know and do. However, these days it seems that many believers are selective in their approach to the Bible, choosing to follow only those areas of particular interest and seeming benefit to one’s temporal life. With this thought in mind, we should remember the wisdom of Proverbs 11:1 KJV,
“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.”
To be in balance as a believer we must accept all the teaching of Scripture, not just the part that teaches us privilege but also responsibility. We must also understand that God’s Word brings us comfort and assurance but also warnings and judgement. How have we become so one sided in our beliefs and lifestyle? I believe it is fruit of the teaching we hear that is a result of the church leaders being shaped by the congregation instead of the church leaders shaping the congregation according to the complete teaching of Scripture. Paul warns us not to be “conformed to this world” or “shaped by it’s culture.” Yet many believers are shaped by the culture around them and then expect the teaching of the church to support their beliefs or they will leave and find a place that does. Sadly, there are those church leaders that preach and teach only what people want to hear, thus they allow the congregation to shape them as leaders. Paul warned us again to beware of this scenario when people would want their “ears tickled” with popular teaching that is way out of balance with the whole Word of God. With these thoughts in mind, I want to share a bit of warning to believers from Scripture that reveal three positions Christians must avoid in their journey with Christ. As a Pastor, these things may not make us popular, but as one man said, “I would rather have people hate me for telling the truth, than to have them love me for telling them lies.”
Hebrews 2:1-4 “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4 God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?”
We are told to “pay attention” to the Word of God so that we would not “drift away” from the truth. The term implies that those who are not fully anchored to the Word of God will, like a ship at sea, drift and get lost in the darkness. Believers are admonished to be intentional in their moorings to Scripture, checking up on themselves to make sure we are holding fast to our confession of faith in Christ and living the life of a true follower who is always seeking to please God through obedience and service to His Kingdom. Those who “drift” from commitment to the Local Church and it’s balanced teachings are in danger of losing direction in life and ending up in shipwreck. Mature sons and daughters of Father God are always seeking to do those things that please Him. John 8:29 “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” This verse suggests to us that Christ himself was aware of the temptation to “drift” and was “always” keeping himself anchored to the will and Word of God.
Luke 22:31-32 “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Here Jesus reveals to Peter what is happening in his life and what the outcome will be. He tells Peter that there is a spiritual warfare over his destiny and that Satan is trying to separate him from Jesus, who is his spiritual father and mentor. This sifting is taken from the analogy of the Threshing Floor where the wheat was separated from the chaff prior to grinding for making bread. Every spiritual son and daughter will be sifted by the enemy. Satan is always trying to disconnect us from the sources that God has connected us to for our preparation and possession of blessing. It happens in many ways as Satan uses his subtle schemes to derail us and destroy our destiny. Peter was listening to the voice of the adversary who was attempting to bring about his betrayal of Jesus, the spirit of Absalom is at work today as then. Some will betray their leaders through offense, others who are not willing to sacrifice themselves for God’s will, find an excuse to fault their leaders and move on. However the enemy does it, his aim is to “divide and conquer.” Peter’s apostolic destiny would have ended right then and there if Jesus had not been aware of the warfare and done the necessary intercession to free his disciple and bring restoration to his calling. You can read the whole story of Peter and see how the prophetic Word came to pass as Jesus spoke it, “When you are converted (return to your calling) go and strengthen your brethren.” For sure, those who have almost lost it all due to spiritual warfare are able to help those who are under attack to recognize and resist the devil.
1 Peter 5:8-10 “Be sober, be vigilant; because[a] your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may[b] the God of all grace, who called us[c] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
1 Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for
‘God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.’
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
Pride is part of our inheritance from Adam in the sinful nature we are born with. The tendency to exalt ourselves must be dealt with by learning to wait upon the Lord under the guiding hand of eldership within the Local Church. There is such safety in spiritual covering, that is why the Lord set up the Local Church with apostolic government. As we grow in Christ, we may not yet see ourselves accurately, or discern the timing of the Lord. Pride is a “false estimation of ourselves” while humility is a “correct estimation of ourselves.” Pride causes one to overestimate themselves in terms of their spiritual maturity and readiness for leadership responsibility in the plan of God. Pride creates blind spots that usually derive from our spiritual gifts and anointing (just like Lucifer), we then see ourselves as “more than we really are.” Lucifer so overestimated himself that he actually thought he could rule the Universe better than Almighty God. This self exultation brought about his loss of position in God’s eternal plan. Satan desires to lead every believer down the path he choose for himself, that is why we must follow the instructions Peter left for us in this Epistle. When we have been poisoned with pride we may feel that we know better than the seasoned leadership God placed in our lives, and may no longer follow their advice in a spirit of humility. We can only be lifted up by God when we have refused to lift ourselves. Jesus was tempted to exalt himself when Satan suggested that he jump from the pinnacle of the temple and be rescued by angels. Pride causes one to think they don’t have to live by the same rules and standards as others, that they are somehow above it. When pride is operating in a person they will think they don’t have to walk the same path of qualification as others do in order to be promoted in God’s plan. Jesus knew that the laws of gravity applied to him as well, even if he was the Son of God. He refused to bite the bait of self exultation.
These three areas of particular danger for believers need to be understood and implemented to guarantee our fruitfulness in God’s Kingdom plan. We can overcome these attacks of Satan that come from within and without only with a “broken and contrite spirit.” Apostolic teaching is not complete without making these truths known to God’s sons and daughters.
Dr. John Polis