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

by Rayola Kelley

In the last article we considered our status as saints. The way we walk in this world will identify us as sinners or saints. This brings us to the next issue: That of our agendas and priorities. Our agendas and priorities will determine who or what we end up serving in this present age of darkness. Let us be honest, most of us maintain personal agendas that suit our preferences and self-serving priorities.

Jesus made it quite clear that man prefers his own darkness or reality because his deeds are evil (John 3:19-21). Such darkness serves as a cloak to cover such deeds. There are different words that are associated with darkness in Scripture. However, such darkness will consume the soul. This darkness entails the influence of sin and death upon the person. Individuals that are walking according to this inner darkness may perceive that such darkness is light, but in reality it is not light at all.

This type of light can be related to our personal understanding that will ultimately determine our reality. Jesus said of such light that if our understanding were nothing but darkness, how great would that darkness prove to be (Matthew 6:22-23). It would be great because individuals who are walking according to such inner darkness will perceive all matters of life from this premise, believing that the light they are walking according to is correct.

This type of personal understanding is made up of fleshly influences that harbor such dark elements as vain imaginations, judgmental opinions, prejudices, and superstition. These elements that constitute personal reality often erect and exalt idolatrous images and concepts of God. Such understanding has been conditioned by worldly philosophies that oppose the real truths of God. It has often been indoctrinated by man-made religions. As a result, such darkness becomes not only a darkness that invades a person’s perception, but serves as the board in his or her eye that is quick to judge others, but fails to see the quality of personal fruits (Matthew 7:1-4, 16-20).

This brings us to the basis of this darkness. It is nothing more than delusion. Not only does such darkness blind people to their spiritual condition, but it also blinds them to the path that they are walking. Due to this deceptive state, we find that personal delusion can work from three different angles. We all can be deceived by other sources that will simply appeal to our preferences; or we can deceive ourselves by demanding our own reality; or we will deceive others by telling them what they want to hear. We know that deception is part of the fruit of sin(Hebrews 3:13). We also know that personal delusion operates from three platforms.

Intelligence: Many people are deluded by what they think they know. The Bible warns about the false wisdom of conceit (Romans 12:16). However, people who are blinded by their conceits cannot begin to imagine that there is any foolishness or fallacy in their way of thinking. The false delusion of conceits will blind them to the fact that they will often prove to be a fool in their indifferent and unrealistic conclusions.

Worldview: Worldview comes down to the philosophies about life we adopt or develop along the way. These philosophies are greatly influenced by the world. Our family, culture, type of education, and religious influences will greatly affect our personal take on life. Our worldview will also affect what we value and pursue, thereby, establishing our personal agendas and influencing our priorities. The Apostle Paul puts this matter in perspective:“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Notice how the philosophies of the world and the traditions of man will spoil a person. “Spoil” in this text means to lead away as in the case of seduction (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #4812). The traditions of man are powerless. There is no real spirit or life in them. Rudiments point to the foundation of the world. The world has no truth; therefore, it must seduce people into its fantasies, philosophies and false images. Clearly, as Christians, our philosophies concerning the matters of life must be founded in Christ Jesus.

Abilities: People put a lot of credence in their personal abilities or in the abilities of others. However, to lean on the arm of the flesh will bring individuals into a cursed life that can only destroy (Jeremiah 17:5). There is no real self-sufficiency of man that can be trusted or relied upon when it comes to facing and solving the challenges of life, whether it be in the arenas of religion, education or government. Yet, how many people, including those purporting to be believers, are putting their trust and confidence in man’s “so-called” ability to save them? The Apostle Paul clearly tells us our sufficiency can only be found in God (2 Corinthians 3:5).The prophet Zechariah tells us that what is accomplished is not through strength or might, but through the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6).

            This brings us to the main challenge that believers are being constantly confronted with. There is no real place of accountability that people can agree to submit to. The reason there is no real place of accountability is that there is no agreement as to what can be considered a correct standard of truth.

For Christians, we all verbally agree that there is one standard of truth, the Word of God. However, when it comes to a place of real accountability in which all matters concerning God and life are considered, there is a debate as to how to interpret the Word of God. As a result, various non-inspired versions of the Bible, man-made doctrines, mixtures of religious and New Age philosophies, and ideas and movements that are worldly inspired enter the scene. Needless to say, it all seems so logical and wise, yet there is no real truth. As the saying goes, any truth taken into an extreme is no truth at all. Truth that is compromised, adjusted or twisted becomes a form of deception, for the Spirit and life will be missing, creating a false reality or light. However, in the midst of this insanity the harsh warning of God remains standing in its certainty to bring judgment upon all such nonsense: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truthin unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). (Emphasis added.)

Romans 10:17 instructs us to approach the Bible to believe that it is the truth of God. However, most people approach the Bible to justify their own personal perception or reality. As a result, they pick and choose what they will believe. Needless to say, such people do not end up with any real continuity in their belief or understanding of God and His ways. They have a conglomeration of philosophies and ideas about God that has no real foundation. Such vague gods are nothing more than a matter of vain imaginations.

I remember dealing with a Jehovah Witness that had in a prideful way, confessed that she used to be a Lutheran, but she could not reconcile that a loving God could send anyone to hell. As a result, she looked elsewhere and found that Jehovah Witnesses advocated the type of beliefs that best suited what I consider to be her “fanciful notions” about God.

The reality of God’s truths in His Word is that they do not cease to be because mere, pathetic, delusional man has a problem with them. Clearly, the warnings and truths regarding hell will not go away because this woman is uncomfortable with the idea of it. Sadly, when she passes through the door of physical death, she will have to face the harsh reality of hell. What is even sadder is that she could avoid such judgment if she would simply believe God that He sent His Son into the world so she could be spared from such a place of separation and torment.

There is another delusional person that many people are blindly following. Her name is Oprah Winfrey. Sadly, Oprah has become a guru to many people, including innocent Christians. Admired for her rags-to-riches story, as well as overcoming the various barriers of race and gender, she serves as a source of hope to many who see nothing but hopelessness in their present situation.

I have occasionally watched Oprah, but often I have been left confused by her mixture. She occasionally purports Christian principles, yet she never really exalts the name and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Granted, she mentions God, but so does every other belief system. In a discussion concerning the latest book Oprah has been promoting, “A New Earth”, she was asked how she could reconcile these spiritual teachings (of the book) with her Christian beliefs.

Oprah admitted her Christian background was that of a Baptist. However, in one incident at church, the pastor brought out the point that God was a jealous God. Up to this point of the sermon she confessed that she had been caught up with the vastness and greatness of God, but that particular statement did not sit well with her concept about God being a God of love. Since she could not reconcile it according to her perception, she discarded her foundation, and let God out of the “box”.

Obviously, since there were no real boundaries to guide Oprah’s conclusions or understanding about God, she basically created her own concept of God. Today, Oprah believes that Jesus is not the only way to salvation; rather He came to show us a Christ consciousness. In other words, Oprah has bought into the New Age god, and has come totally under the antichrist spirit that is operating in this world (1 John 4:1-3). One of her inspirations is the New Age Bible called the “The Course In Miracles” which she is promoting through her radio program.

Imagine, Oprah was tripped up by one simple fact, yet how many others are being tripped up by some aspect of God that they do not understand, or refuse to, because it does not sit well with the preferred reality they have adopted about Him? Oprah had a problem with the fact that our holy God, who deserves our complete devotion, service and worship will not jealously share preeminence in our lives with any other god or idol. I am sure if you asked Oprah if she would want to share the affections of her male companion with another woman, she would adamantly say “no”. Yet, according to Oprah for the sake of love, God is supposed to accept any unfaithfulness on our part just to make sure we do not become offended with His holy character. Sadly, many people are following Oprah into her delusion. On judgment day, these individuals may stand up and point an accusing finger at her, but it will be too late for them (Hebrews 9:27).

What happened to Oprah? It is clear that she had never been properly discipled. As a result, she bought the wrong gospel. The gospel Oprah advocates is very popular. It is the gospel of worldly love. In other words, the world’s concept of love is translated as being God’s form of love. Since God’s love is perceived from a worldly basis, there is no way He would reject anyone. However, God’s love is not like the world’s love. Granted He loves us, but it is because of His love that He provided the means in which we could be saved. Out of His sacrificial and committed love He sent His Son to take our place on the cross of judgment. It is Jesus that saves us, not the concept of God’s love. In other words, you can try to hide behind God’s love all you want, but it will not save you. Clearly, not only is God’s love misrepresented, but it also has had a wrong emphasis placed on it, causing people to miss the real message of the Gospel. It is only by receiving the true message of the Gospel concerning Jesus’ redemption that one can be saved from judgment through God’s love.

Another mistake Oprah made is that she tested a truth according to how it made her feel, not according to the Word of God. Truth will not always set right with our perception. It will not cater to our fickle feelings. It will not adjust to our fleshly inspired agendas and priorities. It will not agree with our carnally inspired conclusions. And, the godly love that stands behind God’s truth will never rejoice in any type of iniquity no matter what form it may come in (1 Corinthians 13:6). It will always expose the selfishness of our agendas and the self-serving ways of our priorities that are often covered up by the different false cloaks of personal charity and religion.

The final mistake Oprah made is that she made the matters of God about herself, rather than acknowledge that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than hers (Isaiah 55:8-9). She brought God down to her level of understanding, while deluding herself that she had let Him out of some religious “box” to truly discover Him. In the end, she opened up a door in which any type of conceivable presentation or lie about God could take root. Since Oprah preferred her own reality about God, she went into the darkness of delusion and unbelief, while giving way to the seducing, false light of the doctrines of devils (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 12-15; 1 Timothy 4:1-2).

When we consider the light as being our personal understanding, which is often nothing more than our preferred reality, we begin to realize why the Bible instructs us to walk by faith and not by sight. In other words, we must not walk according to our own understanding, but according to the truth firmly established in the Word of God. Jesus stated that He is the essence of all truth. If we do not Scripturally get Jesus right as our foundation to what is real, as well as line up to Him as our cornerstone in relationship to what is right, He will become a stumbling stone of judgment to us as we come under the strong influence of a different reality (John 14:6; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 2:6-8). This is why we must be careful about who we choose to follow in our spiritual journey. The Apostle Paul put forth the real test to following anyone when it comes to the matters of our spiritual welfare:“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”(1 Corinthians 11:1). Obviously, if Oprah is not leading anyone to the real Christ, then she falls in the category of being a blind leader that is leading those who are also blinded to the true Gospel. Both will fall into the ditch of judgment (Matthew 15:14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The harsh reality is that in our fleshly state, we will never prefer God’s truth to our self-serving reality. This is why we are instructed to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). It is only by truly loving the Jesus of the Bible and His Word, that we will cause our personal preferences, thoughts, feelings, and conclusions to give way to what is right, pure and acceptable to God.

How about you? What are you presently giving way to? Is it your personal preferred reality about God or the unchanging truths of God?