A young man became fascinated by casting out demons. Soon, the reason for anything that went wrong, or anything that wasn’t according to what he thought should happen, was a demon, which allowed him not to take personal responsibility for his life – the devil made him do it.
A young lady was an intercessor and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Soon she felt such a burden to pray she stopped eating regularly, wasting away to skin and bones, for her whole life was caught up in fasting and prayer and the conviction that if she didn’t, people would suffer a tragedy and it would be her fault.
A couple learned what the Bible says about the power of our words and became very careful about what they said. Soon they were not able to deal appropriately with the reality of circumstances but tried to speak to them to change circumstances instead of dealing with them, and corrected others who spoke incorrectly.
Why Does This Happen?
These things happen because people have no absolute standard by which to measure the teachings they hear, or how to apply them.
While Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and another they will not follow, in terms of making decisions in life He doesn’t expect us to follow Him based on a singular word. Even the decision that led to our salvation was the culmination of weeks, months or maybe years of Him dealing with our hearts, confirming repeatedly His drawing us to Him.
And so it is that Jesus said in John 6:63 “It is the Spirit that makes alive…the words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life.” The Spirit and the Word agree. One confirms the other, and neither stands by itself.
The Absolute and No Absolute
Hebrews 1:1-3, one of my favorite passages, speaks of this: “God (the Father) in many ways in times past spoke to the fathers through the prophets, but now in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, by whom also He made the worlds. Who (Christ) being the brightness of His (Father’s) glory and the impressed image of His (Father’s) character, upholds all things by the Word of His (Father’s) power…”
It is NOT the power of the Word, as if the Word stands alone, but rather Jesus is the Word of the Father’s power (Spirit). The Word and Spirit are not independent of each other, they are One. Jesus is the Word proceeding from the Father’s power and that is how all things are upheld. The Word and Spirit are the absolute standard by which all teaching and all of our actions are measured.
If They Don’t Live by This…
People become spiritually off-balanced because they do not practice Word and Spirit agreement in their lives. They don’t know how to—when they hear a teaching that seems to be spiritual—compare it with the Word of God. Still others see error, but it also seems so spiritual, the teacher so well known, that they leave the Word and common sense to chase after the spiritual flavor of the month.
They leave common sense in the name of faith.
The young man who thought demons were behind everything should have read the gospels, Acts, or any epistle, for if he had he would have seen demons weren’t the cause of everything bad, and people are expected to take responsibility for their own lives.
The young lady ended up fasting so much she collapsed and had to be committed to a mental facility for a time. If she had read the Word she would have seen fasting examples of 1 day and limited fasting for longer periods (like Daniel’s 3 week fasting of pleasant foods, meat and wine; 10:3), but always just for a season.
The couple who were so careful about what they said soon became caught up in a theology that thought ‘if I do this then God does that’, as if He were a Las Vegas slot machine and they were just waiting until they hit the jackpot – and were so hurt they gave up and stopped going to church in any shape, form, or fashion.
If they had read the Word they would have seen that while we do need to watch what we say, the Lord is a living being we are to live in fellowship with, not a computer, and the Word never advises people to deny the existence of one’s circumstances in life.
Love the Traditions of Men More Than the Word?
Several years ago I was teaching a class about weighing out spiritual experiences and teachings against the Word of God, saying if something isn’t in agreement with both, it should be rejected.
I gave them what I thought was a harmless example of how people get off by not comparing a teaching against the Word. My example was Luke 11:1-13 which starts with the Lord’s prayer, which of course states how the Father provides for us, forgives us, leads us not into temptation.
Jesus follows it with the friend at midnight parable - the man didn’t want to get out of bed for his friend.
I stated Jesus is NOT saying the Father was the one asleep refusing to open the door. Jesus was NOT saying we have to keep pounding until heaven opens up. I explained Jesus was using opposites to compare one with the other to make the point the Father is NOT the guy asleep and we don’t have to keep pounding.
I read the rest of what Jesus said after the friend at midnight parable:
“And I say to you; ask and it will be given you. Knock and it will be opened to you. Seek and you will find. For everyone who asks, receives, he that seeks, finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened to him. If a son asks his dad for bread, will he give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake? If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? If you then being mere men know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the (things of) the Holy Spirit to those that ask?”
Still some objected, saying so and so taught the Father was the guy asleep at midnight and we had to keep pounding and pounding until we rouse Him to give us what we need. Three people said they spent thousands of dollars going to a conference where the main theme was getting God to open heaven with this parable as the main teaching point for the whole weekend.
I asked if they were going to believe Jesus, or that teacher? Could they not see it right before their eyes? As we say in Oklahoma, they stared at me “like a deer caught in the headlights.” It had never occurred to them they were believing an error that had become a ‘fad’ teaching rather than the Word. It had never occurred to them they needed to dig into the Word themselves instead of swallowing every teaching out there.
Besides listening to teachings that are the flavor of the month and not comparing them against the Word, the other group is the pet doctrine folks who are equally guilty of losing sight of the balance of Word & Spirit.
When we scan the Word of God we see a multitude of subjects – the writers weren’t specialists in any one area so that’s all they wrote about, no. So as these letters circulated to the homes throughout the Roman Empire, the people received a balanced diet of the Word on a variety of subjects.
But today under the guise of being informed, or just fascination or fear, and sometimes due to hurt or perceived lack in the body of Christ that they need to share with everyone else, we have those who focus on their pet doctrine. A ‘pet’ doctrine is one that is treated like a pet – it is nourished, sheltered, protected and cared for – and anyone perceived to be a threat to their pet is immediately confronted, or even rejected.
I’ll pick it up there next week,