It is troubling to find so many Christians embracing false beliefs and teachings. But it is less surprising when we discover with George Barna’s most recent research that only “Only 37 Percent of U.S. Pastors Hold a Biblical Worldview.” That is astounding. Of course, that means 63 percent of U.S. Pastors do not have a biblical worldview. Presumably, pastors, educated for their task, should score higher than the people in the pews. Pastors have substantial accountability to the Lord for what they preach, given their job one is protecting their flock from falsehood. (Acts 20:28-30) But the flock is also accountable individually to stay true to the faith. Today, it is extremely popular to follow a Christ and a gospel that people have designed for themselves. Bits and pieces of it, large and small, maybe “borrowed” from a popular “Christian” teacher, a popular “Christian” book making the rounds, or simply lifted from the popular culture. There is a desire for a faith that doesn’t challenge oneself to live holy lives. People want to just “follow their heart” wherever it may lead them. The Bible teaches that following one’s heart often leads to spiritual disaster.
In many cases, people who have bought into prevalent falsehoods ward off any correction by saying that no one has a right to “judge them.” Did not Jesus Himself say, ‘Judge not, that you be not judged?’ (Matthew 7:1.) The person who may dare to point out any non-biblical aspects of their “personalized Christianity” are judged to be “judgmental.”
One very popular and pleasant myth of our day that has been around for a while is the “prosperity gospel” preached by Kenneth Copeland and numerous others. These false teachers claim that health and wealth are guaranteed in the atonement, and God doesn’t want you poor or sick. The claim is that if you use positive confession and speak with faith-filled words, God is obligated to give you what you have spoken. We can easily see why this false view is embraced by so many. Who would not want to enjoy health and wealth? On the other hand, if a person is suffering or in poverty, that is his or her own fault. They must have engaged in a so-called “negative confession” which spoke those circumstances into existence. You lacked faith! What a travesty.
The Enneagram is another form of “personalized Christianity” that has gained enormous popularity in recent times. It supposedly grants great spiritual insight concerning the person they love the most – themselves. It goes hand in hand with another Christian myth that we are supposed to love ourselves. After all, how can we love our neighbor if we don’t first love ourselves? It’s in the Bible! No, the Bible does not teach that we must strive to love ourselves. Rather, the Bible assumes we already love ourselves and instructs us to love others to the same degree we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31). The Enneagram alters the natural human condition from the outdated biblical view of being a sinner separated from God to a mere identity crisis. Our supposed flaw is that we have merely embraced a false sense of self that mistakenly believes we are separated from God. How cool is that? The Enneagram helps us find our unique path that persuades us that our “true self” has always been with God. Sin was never the problem. We just need to get our minds “right.” Need we even point out that the Bible taught us the truth about our separation from God and our human need for a savior?
The widespread claim among homosexuals that “God made me this way” imagines a God far more concerned about temporal happiness than personal holiness. Attempts at biblical correction are regarded as being hateful and “homophobic.” But that excuse does not hold water. What if someone were to say that God made him or her with a tendency to commit some other sin common to mankind, such as adultery, thievery, lying, murder, etc.? God did not make any of us this way. The fall of man recorded in Genesis teaches us what “made us this way,” with a great inborn tendency to do all the things God condemns. The Bible teaches us that we cannot remedy the situation ourselves but must turn to God for forgiveness based upon the sacrifice made by His Son Jesus on our behalf. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life. There is no other path that actually leads us back to God.
Casting Crowns tackled the growing embrace of false beliefs, including the Enneagram, in this song “The Book of Second Opinions”:
People have always wanted very much to follow the easiest path and to believe what seems to portray them in the best light. We find it throughout the Scriptures, but one passage from Isaiah 30:10 seems to have risen to the top for us over the past few weeks. God describes those people
who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,
The people desperately wanted to do what they wanted without those troublesome prophets always trying to correct them. Those ornery prophets were very judgmental, and they were tired of hearing the truth from them. A fuller context might be helpful as God directs Isaiah:
And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever. For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 30: 8-11)
At the beginning of the chapter, God described them this way:
“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; (Isaiah 30:1)
It isn’t as though scripture is unclear or hard to understand, and it is the word of God itself that interferes with what we want to believe. In context, Jesus in Matthew seven is teaching to judge but to do so with proper or righteous judgment.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Parroting – out of context – Jesus’ warning to take care of how his followers judge other people has been used as a cudgel to beat anyone who dares to judge false teaching, which is precisely what all Christians are specifically called to do. We need to ask ourselves – was Jesus truly instructing His followers to judge nothing? That would be ludicrous because judgment is necessary for all facets of life but is especially essential in spiritual matters. In fact, a few verses later, Jesus tells them TO JUDGE. “Beware of false prophets…” (Matthew 7:15). How could they possibly beware of false prophets if they could not evaluate – judge – what the prophet was teaching?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:1-3)
Like ancient Israel, we also can fall prey to myths, whether we learned them from others or have deceived ourselves. We are today being deluged by false ideas and false paths. We are to judge all things by the Word of God, but how can we do that if we do not know God’s Word or perhaps have known it but are being surreptitiously lured away from it? The need for godly judgment and biblical discernment may be greater now than ever before. We all need to take time to judge ourselves, in light of God’s unchanging Word, as to whether or not we are workmen who will not be ashamed on that glorious day. (2 Timothy 2:15)Ω
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