Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | March 25, 2009

Indwelt By the Spirit But Under the Law of Men

Jeremiah 31:33-34 (NASB) – “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” delares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Matthew 15:7-9 (NASB) – “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men'”

John 16:13a (NASB) – “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth;…..”

Philippians 3:15 (NASB) – “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;”

2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB) – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Why do you react to certain words, phrases, or people the way you do? When you hear someone say that they have received a “revelation”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you immediately feel that “Sola Scriptura” is being attacked?  When you hear the word church or pastor, what image is first in your thoughts? Do you see buildings and quasi-CEO’s? If someone says to you that they just believe that they need to have enough faith that God will answer their prayer for healing or a new job and it will happen, do you react negatively? If someone speaks of the “gifts of the Spirit”, do you start to think of those that you believe have ceased? Do you start to see people “swinging from chandeliers”? (As if that has actually ever happened! But the cessasionist and partial-cessasionist will describe a belief in the continuing of the “sign-gifts”, an unbiblical category by the way, in this manner.)

How would you know that your reaction is being prompted by the Spirit of God in you versus being induced by the teachings of others?

Recently, I challenged a brother-in-Christ, an author, concerning an endorsement that he received for his book from someone who’s very name in conservative circles is synonymous with “false teaching”. At first, he was very defensive. Even downright evasive, so I thought. However, in the final e-mail exchange he offered a very humbling, even downright shame enducing challenge to me. He said, “Feel free to email me your question and I’ll answer as I have time. But before you write out your question, please give me the list of books by brother (name deleted for privacy sake) that you read from cover to cover.”

To tell the truth, I passed this off as just this author making an excuse to avoid dealing with what appeared to me to be a serious issue. I even reasoned that he was just another book seller who would use any marketing tool, including using an endorsement from one of the more popular “heretics” to sell his book. I even told this person that I had read all of his books (to that point) and that I didn’t see that as automatic basis upon which to disagree with him. Content is supposed to drive disagreement.  However, later on I reflected on his point. Why did I disagree with this endorser? In fact, if content was supposed to drive disagreement, then why hadn’t I embibed more of the content of this other person’s works. The answer was, because I was told not to.

That’s right, some other well meaning Christian (probably some so-called apologist who considers themself a “guardian of God’s truth)  had already told me that this person’s books and materials should be avoided and were a complete waste of my time. Since this person was in the “Word of Faith” camp, appeared on TBN and, of course, associated with other popular “false teachers”, buying their books or listening to their teachings, was only giving support to the “devil”.

So when I approached this Christian author about the endorsement, the truth was, I had no more actual evidence about the person that I was questioning him about than what was told to me by someone else. It was worse than a secondhand witness because I don’t know where that Christian got their information to tell me.

So what’s the point of me sharing this experience? The point is that when we are dealing with another believer in an area of concern, we need to remember that this person is indwelt by the Spirit of the Most High! This is someone in whom the very Creator of the universe dwells! Therefore, we must keep an open mind and a loving demeanor, even if we believe their error is grave. Perhaps God is using their exposure to teachings that we are not necessarily comfortable with, in order to lead them on the path that He has set for their life. Perhaps we are wrong and simply haven’t done the proper investigation into the matter and are just going off of secondhand information.

Let us remember the words of the Apostle Peter in reference to the danger of false teaching amongst believers, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation,…” (2 Peter 2:9a, NASB) And if we have any suspicions or questions about a teaching or doctrine , let us take the example of the Bereans who “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

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Responses

  1. BLD,

    If we are to trust the Spirit and the writers of the NT then we have to agree that it is the Spirit who will “guide into all truth”. We are to only teach faithfully as the Lord allows and the responsibility to discern and reject false teaching falls on the individual Christian. We want to play the Holy Spirit in way too many people’s life, I experienced this greatly with my wife.

  2. eeesh, I’m trying really hard not to guess who the author you’re refering to is!…

    I think my reaction to such a question (have you read every book of theirs from cover to cover), would be, “you don’t have to read every word somebody has written in order to discern if they are teaching goofy stuff…

    There is a danger in just shunning certain authors because we’ve been warned by some other person that they’re no good, but that doesn’t mean we should swing all the way to the other end of the spectrum either…

    I think the danger you were zeroing in on is a real one, that once someone starts seeing their books and publications as the real way to “reach people”, then it’s real easy to get sucked into the trap of getting more and more endorsements, because it’s all being done in the name of “reaching people”… IMHO, one is flirting with compromise in such a situation….

  3. Brother Daniel,

    You are very right to note that realizing a need to do personal investigation is not cause to let our guard all the way down. I’m glad you brought that out.

    I do want to be more gracious and not be negative towards “teachers” simply based on their reputation. I think it important to do my own investigation before forming an opinion. It also helps to negate slander before it gets started. Instead of giving someone my opinion, I can tell them to check it out for themselves while fully trusting the Holy Spirit (if they are believers) to guard them from gross and dangerous error.

  4. good point BLD…


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