Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Discerning Demons

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
(Philippians 1:9 – ESV)

Generally speaking, no one wants to do things the wrong way. As Christians we want to do what is right and do it in the right way. The problem can be pragmatism, however, when we want to do what works thinking that this automatically makes it the right way, and so therefore the right thing to do. Conversely, we can have all our doctrinal ducks lined up in a row and still not apply them to our lives properly, and nothing works at all.

The key is to be found where the flaw is. Is the teaching based upon a flaw in application or a flaw in the foundation?

In learning to discern these things, we can fall off the righteous road and into one of either two ditches to the side. The first is where we are too careless in our acceptance of things that claim the name of God, but are fundamentally flawed. We look at the beautiful building and all the people it has helped, but we don’t realize it is just a house of cards.

Now the other side of the ditch is where we are too critical about things that claim the name of God, and look for cracks by picking with our axe. Many seem to think grinding their axe is the same thing as wielding the sword of the Spirit. We use it to cut down others but we are really just committing spiritual suicide.

I don’t want to demonize people or programs but I do want to discern what is truly biblical and what is not, and to develop a truly biblical model and method to all that I do. I don’t want to just swallow everything that looks good and think I can eat the meat and spit out the bones, but I also don’t want to fall into the other side of the ditch, inflating and exaggerating every little problem and making it to be part of some conspiracy theory.

I believe that there are many people who are wrapped up in heretical teachings that are nonetheless truly saved. This would also be true of other movements that have some troubling theology, though not all errors can be reconciled. What we want is to be discerning, but we never want to turn ourselves into the “only discerning remnant” that has all truth by isolating the mind from rational thought and logical, biblical analysis of facts and texts.

We want to truly understand other positions and not simply make characterizations and mischaracterizations about them because this is intellectually lazy and biblically dishonest. We don’t need paranoia and feelings as if we are some persecuted remnant to turn us into some “us four and no more” type of cult. It is not about “us” and “them” but about what the text truly teaches, and we should be ever learning and discerning to that end.

No, we will never find any comprehensive teaching with absolutely no error, but yes, when we find teachings and discipleship models that are fundamentally flawed, we should go to other resources instead. There can be differing opinions on secondary issues, and different ideas about the implementation of biblical knowledge into our lives. I don’t want to discredit someone or something just because it isn’t done my way. However, it does discredit someone if they will not endeavor to do it the biblical way.

The biblical way is having an overflowing love, guided by knowledge and discernment.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

14 comments:

Even So... said...

It is only 600 words including the title, come on now, read it, because it might help you to articulate your responses to others in a better way...

Even So... said...

BTW, I am certainly still learning how to do that, but one thing I have been saying lately...I will keep working on my delivery and I hope you will keep working on your development...

MrsEvenSo... said...

We put way too much trust in ourselves and our own abilities when we think we will just "know" or we can just "tell" if something is right or wrong just because it may sound or look good or even mention the name of Jesus.
The truth is we are complacent and spiritually lazy and don't want to do the work for ourselves to find out if the application or foundation lines up with the Bible or not. Thank you for your study. It is way past time for Christians to get busy and work on 2 Tim 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."

Even So... said...

Excellent points dear...and when someone who has done the work brings another to the text and shows them that their pet proof text doesn't teach what they use it for, then they still get mad and say you are just being mean for carving up their sacred cow...

Even So... said...

More about pet proof texts, idol ideas, and carving up sacred cows with tomorrow's post...you won't want to miss it...

Even So... said...

Voice of Vision: Carving Up the Sacred Cows of Charismania...


:-)

MrsEvenSo... said...

Catchy title. I look forward to reading it.

Unknown said...

Hmmm... If I could feel it I would say, "it feels as though my toes are being stepped on". Thank you!

Look forward to tomorrow's as well.

On a diferent subject, it looks as though I will be out at Forest Ridge School at least for a while yet.

Even So... said...

I had to laugh Paul, because I was thinking that as I read your comment, and had to go back and read it again...built in defense...Thanks for the other info...and just to let you know, if you are going to the training with your wife this weekend, and will miss Sunday, this post tomorrow just might wind up being the basis for the sermon Sunday...we'll be praying for you both...hope to see you soon, brother...

Christopher Cohen said...

I think we spend most of our lives trying to please our flesh, even if that means we are helping others, if we are helping others so we may feel good about ourselves instead of out of obedience to Gods word.

In the same way, when we are trying to decide on differing models of doctrine, it would make sense to just find the one that sounds like it does everything the others do, but also pleases my flesh to a degree.

Instead, if we find our flesh happy about our doctrinal choices, we should run as fast as we can seeking the word of God to show us what Paul had to say about the choice I just made.

Even So... said...

Most excellent words Chris...and we have to "know" when it is our flesh speaking to us, or if we are walking after the Spirit, and so we have to "know" the Word of God, and so....

Unknown said...

I'm sorry I did't get back to this sooner, JD. I love the "built in defense" comment. And I'm here, in town. I'm thinking of comming to the movie tonight, (Friday).


Oh, JD? Dan filled me in some concerning the Church stuff...

BLAHHHHH... (that was me puking)!
sorry :-/

Even So... said...

I covet your prayers Paul...even if we cannot make the bad stuff go away automatically because of our "prayer of agreement", that doesn't mean we shouldn't be praying...

Even So... said...

Hope to see you tonight...