Why are Christians troubled by an objective standard which distinguishes between sound doctrines and fables of men? In recent weeks I’ve been speaking and writing about objective scriptural tests of false doctrines. Some Christians have recently told me they don’t want to talk any more about these things. Others have asked for their emails to be removed from my list. They have been comfortable all their lives to just test (by their own subjective standards) the doctrines of others! But to learn there’s an objective, God-given standard which must test my own doctrines, grips folks with fear, pride and anger! How do I know? I had the same emotions when I learned I had embraced many fables of men!
I was afraid of what people would think of me if I rejected doctrines which were unquestioned by my peers! I was afraid for my very livelihood as a pastor and missionary, and later my position as an elder would be lost if I refused to teach certain doctrines and maintain certain practices which, I’d discovered, the Bible didn’t teach! But most of all, I was proud! I didn’t want to admit I’d been dead wrong and had taught false doctrines!
I was strongly tempted to “stop rocking the boat”, to “maintain the status quo” in order to “save face” and “maintain security”! But that decision would have meant teaching doctrines and maintaining practices (which I now knew in my heart) were contrary to God’s Word. I finally concluded that living for the praise of men was foolish and futile, so purposed to obey God and His Word and leave the consequences to Him! As I’ve recounted instances in my own life when such decisions were made, some folks have said, “That must have been very costly to you!” But the Lord has reminded me how much more costly it would have been to have stayed where I was, teaching fables and seeking to please men rather than obeying the Lord!
So, as you test your own beliefs by God’s standards, and these fears arise in your heart – know that you are not alone! “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it.” I Cor.10:13 The way of escape is always obedience to God!
In the past, I’ve often become inwardly angry (trying my best not to show it!) whenever others challenged my thinking. But such feelings of anger were the result of insecurity in my own mind! I wasn’t really sure that I was right and could not biblically defend my belief to my own satisfaction! But then I realized that I never needed to be angry or fearful in such situations again, if I genuinely wanted to know and obey the truth of God! If that was truly my desire… challenges to my current thinking could only help me! If what I currently believed was truly scriptural, then searching it out carefully and evaluating it by scripture could only establish me more firmly in the truth. On the other hand, what would happen if what I currently believed was actually erroneous? Facing the challenge and testing that belief by scripture could only bring me the benefit of exposing wrong thinking in my own mind and lead me to a more scriptural and obedient position before the Lord!
So if you purpose that you want to know and obey God’s truth (whatever the cost) you need never be fearful or angry again when your beliefs are tested by scripture! I have learned to welcome such challenges and you can too! No one who has simply agreed with me has ever helped me on to a better understanding of God’s Word! Only those who have challenged my thinking and given me better scriptural reason to change my thinking have actually helped me to grow in the things of the Lord and in obedience to His Word!
So never be afraid to test your beliefs by God’s objective “litmus test”, the marks of false doctrine.