Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

No one enjoys being in a state of confusion, and yet there appears to be a steady rise in the number of people suffering from confusion. Thanks to mass media and modern technology, we can view the faces of people the world over in the privacy of our own homes. These faces often reveal confusion along with such emotions as fear, anger, suffering, loneliness, and hopelessness.

Considering the perilous times in which we live such strong emotions can be expected even among Christians because, after all, Christians are human too. The difference is believers have the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and, hopefully, brothers and sisters in Christ to help see them through difficult times. But what can the Christian do about confusion in his or her personal life? What is the cause of prolonged confusion in a believer?

As most of you know Gentle Shepherd Ministries is regularly involved in ministering to hurting, wounded, hungry, lost, and confused people. We would love to report that 100% of them are “winners” who go onward and upward with the Lord Jesus, but the truth is, not everyone wins. We often grieve over these souls who, after much investment of time and energy, appear for a time to gain ground, only to return to their destructive mindsets, habits, and ways. They are reminiscent of a lost traveler who after having been given light and compass, map and experienced instruction, tosses it all aside to continue stumbling in the dark.

Why should a Christian, who professes to know Christ and His Word, live continually in a state of confusion? What are the major causes of confusion? We know that God is not the author of confusion according to 1 Corinthians 14:33.

First, we need to remember that Satan is often a key factor in causing confusion. Jesus warned in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Satan’s three main activities, as outlined here, take place in three spheres—the spiritual, the physical, and the mental (mind, will, and emotions). We know from scripture, as well as from experience, that this enemy means business concerning the total destruction of mankind in any way he can achieve it, whether spiritually, physically, or mentally.

When Satan comes against a committed Christian mentally, that is, to cause confusion, he does it in such a way as to be undetected. Once he is identified as the culprit he can be resisted and commanded to leave in the authority of Christ. James 4:6-7 instructs, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” But how can a person determine if Satan is behind their confusion? One key to the answer is found in verse six, “God resisteth the proud”. Pride can be a major open door for confusion to enter in because pride is a form of idolatry. Pride subtly shifts our dependency and focus upon God to ourselves—to what we think we know or understand; our capabilities and accomplishments; or our so-called righteousness. Any form of idolatry results in confusion because it puts us out of touch with spirit and truth. At this point, Satan is able to pervert our perspective which in turn fails to measure up with what we already know as fact. Once the simplicity of Christ is compromised in our minds a fog of confusion can blind our eyes to the fact that we are no longer walking in the light on the narrow path. This is why we must humble ourselves before God and ask Him to search our hearts before we can effectively resist the devil. King David prayed thus, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23, 24.

Pride is not the only cause of confusion for the believer, however. Satan takes advantage of us when we are overworked, overwhelmed, and overtired. At such times confusion may be coupled with discouragement and depression. This usually occurs if our focus has been subconsciously shifted from the Person of Jesus to something else. Many Christians are focused on their family, or focused on their calling or ministry, or focused on their challenges. This is the time when, even though we may feel a Universe away from God, we need to close ourselves in with Him and pour out our heart to Him, telling Him exactly how we feel. If this describes you, let the words of this old hymn minister to you. “Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea. Day by day His sweet voice soundeth, saying, ‘Christian, follow Me.’ Jesus calls us from the worship of the vain world’s golden store, from each idol that would keep us, saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’ In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil, and hours of ease, still He calls, in cares and pleasures, ‘Christian, love Me more than these.’ Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies, Saviour, may we hear Thy call, give our hearts to Thine obedience, serve and love thee best of all. Amen.”

Christians who allow sin to separate them from God find themselves in confusion. Such sins can be disobedience concerning loving God foremost at all times, worldliness, unforgiveness, jealousy, covetousness, selfishness, fornication, bearing false witness, dishonesty, self-exaltation, hard heartedness, respect of persons (prejudice), judgementalism, gossip, slander, self-righteousness, haughtiness, lack of kindness, etc. Isaiah 59:2, which was written to God’s people, declares, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you that he will not hear.” If the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, then repent and ask the Lord to forgive you for we have this promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We often encounter Christians who become confused when reality collides with their unscriptural concepts of what the Christian life is all about. There appears to be no end to believers today who live in a very small world that mainly consists of “me, myself, and I”. As long as these self-deluded people are wrapped in their bubble of delusion they can remain blissfully ignorant of the world around them. This type of person often strives hard to only think “positively” and to never let anything “negative” invade their unrealistic existence. However, the day will surely come when reality pops their little bubble, resulting in confusion. Suddenly God becomes a stranger to them because, after all, He isn’t performing the way He is supposed to according to their standards.

Another reason countless numbers of believers find themselves in confusion today is because of the failure of the church realm to be the salt and the light of the world by making disciples of Christ. Discipleship is not only fundamental, but essential if Christians are to be established in the faith “once delivered unto the saints” Jude 3. One doesn’t have to go far to find Christians who have no foundation in the real Jesus or understanding of the character, attributes, and ways of God, and the scriptural conditions of salvation and Christian living. The sober fact is, we find that it is not unusual to meet professing Christians whose conversation immediately gives evidence of the subtle, yet deadly, poison with which they have been indoctrinated. For example, people who continually lift up their church, that is, their pastor, the building, fun programs, entertainment, numbers, etc., doctrines, and religious experiences (many of which are pure occult in nature) are people who are unwittingly confused about real Christianity. Included in this group are those whose focus and emphasis is not on the Gospel and discipleship, but on good causes such as changing the entire American culture through politics, marches, demonstrations, ecumenism, and the like. Then there are those who appear godly on the surface, but a closer examination reveals the false fruit of personal “goodness”, works, and hidden, self-serving agendas along with a self-centered, judgmental, stony heart.

The spiritual devastation and destruction the world over caused by the infiltration of the church by the world, humanism, ecumenism, psychology, and other false gospels is incalculable. Consider this: if you have a false gospel, you also have a false Jesus and another spirit. This results in a perverted and warped perspective through which everything is viewed, including the Word of God. Because of this perverted perception even the scriptures are twisted to mean something different from what was originally intended and is plainly revealed in context. No wonder people are confused as to who the real Jesus is!

Confusion is the natural result when people are continually bombarded with false teachings from the pulpit, to TV and radio programs, and books that consistently water down, twist, complicate, or outright contradict the plain teachings of scripture. Undiscipled people who have not been established in the faith “once delivered to the saints,” Jude 3, fall into the slime pits of error and spiritual ruin when they take into their minds and spirits such blasphemous teachings as “gain is godliness”, “we must give to get”, “name it and claim it”, “God is always positive”, “there must be a New Reformation”, “Christ cannot return until the church sets up the kingdom on earth” and “we all must come into unity”. True unity can only come through the Cross which insures that the right spirit and truth is upheld. Otherwise, immature and unstable Christians are “…children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” Ephesians 4:14. The only hope for those under such confusion is to be willing to receive “the love of the truth, that they might be saved” 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and to return to the simplicity of Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:3. Has modern man somehow evolved to the point that it is no longer important to heed the Apostle Paul’s own passionate confession in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified?”

Sadly, we find that most people immersed in spiritual error are militant and unteachable. These are those who are so thoroughly indoctrinated into error that they are completely blind to their own state of confusion where the truth is concerned. This type of person doesn’t want to be challenged with the fact that he or she has been deluded because their religious conclusions and beliefs serve their own purposes and/or agendas. Often such persons conclude that what they believe is truth because of the way it makes them feel!

Often professors of Christianity are confused because of the fact that they actually do not desire or love the truth, they prefer darkness. John 3:19 puts it this way, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Judas Iscariot is a good example of such a person. Even though he lived with Jesus for over three years, he had his own agenda of personal gain. We know from the scriptural record that Judas had neither the right spirit nor a love for the truth. People who cannot receive a love for the truth, or who have their own personal agendas, will always betray you down the line. Such is described in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, ‘Eat and drink!’ But his heart is not with you” (NAS).

We meet many miserable people who come to us for relief from their situations, but who do not want to gain a relationship with God. They are seeking to somehow find a solution without the Savior. They want to be set free, but they refuse to let the truth set them free (because they have to get real). Amazingly, most of these people think that they are “saved” but their fear of losing control to God (surrendering to His Lordship) or of coming totally clean (giving up their rights) so that they can truly be set free keeps them from going all the way with God. And while they may walk away with some temporary relief, eventually the shroud of confusion envelops them again as they cling to their sin and idolatry, (idolatry meaning their right to be god of their life and call the shots.) Somehow they want to believe that they are A-Okay with God while putting their trust in themselves and doing their own thing. James 1:8 says of such, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” James also wrote, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up,” James 4:8, 10.

Confusion also reigns in the lives of Christians who refuse to be accountable for their own actions and attitudes. It’s amazing how many Christians we meet that have the same excuses as the unsaved for their lack of accountability. It’s as if they believe that somehow, because they are a Christian, they no longer have to be accountable for the messes they make of their lives. These are the types that blame God for their confusion, anger, failed relationships, and misery in general. The focus of these people is totally on themselves and their little worlds. Not only does confusion reign, but also self-pity. They reason that since they are Christians God should overlook their spiritual slothfulness and self-centeredness, and somehow come down and make their little world comfortable.

Much of the confusion that these self-centered people experience is the result of the sins of ingratitude and dissatisfaction which causes envy and strife. In James 3:16 we read the results, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Confusion eventually becomes the cop-out for their pathetic lives.

Unless such people stir themselves up to get past themselves and repent, get real with God, grow up and lay hold on Christ, they remain clueless in their confusion. It will always be everybody else’s fault. The cure for this type of confusion is to pray from the heart with King David, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion,” Psalm 51:1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 11, 12, 17; Psalm 71:1.

Then there are those who must have things on their terms. These people can be highly motivated, ambitious, and energetic but the truth is Christianity is a life that is contrary to our terms. Basically, people (including many who call themselves Christian) want to be God. When a situation arises where they cannot be God, confusion reigns. After all, they just know that they are right!

It’s sad to watch this type of Christian in action because sooner or later they will run into wall; that is, a situation that they cannot control. When this happens you will see an extremely confused (and often angry) individual who, unless they humble themselves, repent, and seek God’s face, will undoubtedly make the wrong decision. A good example of such a person is King Saul who was convinced he was right when pursuing David, yet we read in 1 Samuel 24:16-22 that Saul confessed that David was righteous. Afterwards, Saul continued to hunt David to take his life, but in 1 Samuel 26:21 we read where Saul again admitted that he had sinned. Saul’s life is a study in contradictions.

The Apostle Paul is another example of a person who just “knows” that they are right. Yet Paul met his moment of confusion on the road to Damascus. Fortunately for him, he quickly realized that he had been one-hundred percent wrong and quickly submitted to the Lord. We all know the rest of the story, of how the greatly humbled Apostle Paul laid the foundation of the church for the Gentiles.

To sum it up, confusion is the offspring of babble—the confusion of voices—that bombard the believer. These voices may vary, but they can all result in confusion. Therefore, to the beguiling voice of Satan we must stand our ground and with Jesus declare, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shat thou serve” Matthew 4:10. When the voice of pride tempts us to self-exaltation we must heed our Savior’s words, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3. When the beguiling voice of heretical teachings tempts us, we need to remember Jesus’ warnings in Matthew 7:15-16a; 24:4 and 11, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Take heed that no man deceive you…many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” When the voice of personal agendas threatens to engulf us, we must adhere to Jesus’ words, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:25, 26. When the voice of compromise tempts us, we run to Jesus and heed His strong words in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. When the voice of reason tempts us (the voice that tells us we don’t have to be accountable) we must stir ourselves up and come into line with Jesus warning in Matthew 7:13, 14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Lastly, when the voice of self-righteousness compels, we must bow before the King of kings who said in Matthew 10:38 “… he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

May you live in the joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased you with His own blood. Amen.