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

by Rayola Kelley

Last month we talked about the cover-ups that exist in humanity. To understand such cover-ups, we need to come to terms with the reason for them. The main reason is to cover up the harsh reality of our fallen state. It is hard for us in our pride to admit we are wrong, or in our fragile state that we are limited in our abilities to really comprehend what is going on around us. Such limitations simply point to the fact that we really do not understand the issues of life.

In our humanity, we can make terrible judgment calls that can haunt us the rest of our lives. In fact, we can find ourselves living in guilt and shame as the “if onlys” of life torment us about our lack of hindsight or foresight. If only we could have seen what was going on, we could have avoided this sorrow, loss or shame. When it comes down to what is unforgivable about humanity, it is that we are not God. We are not perfect, we cannot always avoid the harsh realities of life, and we do not have the means to change the events of life. If only we could avoid such times in our life.

Last month I talked about the remedy for our plight regardless of the circumstances that plague us. The remedy is Jesus Christ. He is the only One that can heal us and set us free from the loss, shame and sorrow life brings our way. As the great physician, He can heal the wounds of life; as our Redeemer, He has provided the means to be forgiven and to take away our shame. As our Life, He can bring hope that reaches above the despair of this world. However, we must look to Him with a receptive heart, and by faith receive Him and His work of redemption as the remedy or antidote for our miserable state.

This brings us to another important cover-up. Sadly, this form of cover-up has found its way into the Church. Instead of properly discerning this form of cover-up, we have embraced it as a remedy, solution or antidote to man’s despairing lot. The Apostle Paul gives us insight into this form of cover-up in Colossians 2:8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

The big cover-up has to do with philosophies. Philosophies come down to your particular view or approach to a matter. We read of great philosophers that dealt with the mysteries of the universe. They tried to answer the deep questions of life. Their answers often influenced how people regarded life, and how they would approach the concept or belief about God. As you can imagine, such philosophies had a powerful and far reaching affect on people’s perceptions.

The problem with such philosophies is that they represent the world’s wisdom. As you consider Paul’s own description, you will realize that such wisdom is nothing more than vain deceit. In other words, they are empty conclusions that are void of truth and life. We can also see where men take these philosophies and make them into personal traditions that must be observed by all. However, they represent the best of the rudiments of the world. Rudiments in this case point to the fundamental elements, principles or propositions of the world. Clearly, these philosophies make up the fundamental view of the world. By adopting this view, we are coming into agreement with the world. Today the philosophies of the world are marked by their many “isms.” For example, in Paul’s day there were Stoicism, Epicureanism and Gnosticism. Each of these schools of thought embraced the extreme attitudes about life. For example, Stoicism exhorts us to live nobly, and death cannot matter. Epicureanism tells us all is uncertain; therefore, it is vain to deny self of the different attractions and lusts. The Gnostics on the other hand embodied the different schools of thought and embraced Pythagorean fables down to the evolutionary theories of the present time. The Gnostics felt that they had higher insights into the mysteries of life.

Although, we might be well aware of the Gnostic belief, we are not aware that the other two philosophies are also very much alive and well. Only today they are hidden in the concept of legalism found in many religions or the promotion of the selfisms of pride, which have been summarized in the self-esteem doctrine. We all know this self-esteem doctrine comes out of humanism, which in some cases embraces the Gnostic philosophy. The Gnostic philosophy has been fused into the New Age philosophy. It is important to point out that Satan’s lies never change; they are simply repackaged and labeled with different terminology.

Last month Jeannette dealt with some of these philosophies. Keep in mind, they are not scriptural, but they have been presented in a way that the Church has bought the package. They sound wise, but are the essence of the world’s wisdom, which is often demonically inspired. They have been disguised by religious terms, but they contain the very arsenic that will undermine and destroy the Church of its faith and resolve.

Let’s now summarize some of the philosophies of the world that are very humanistic in their origins. They have actually deluded people about their own state and muddied their perception towards God. It is also important to point out that the core of these philosophies exalt man in some way. When man is being exalted, God is being redefined to fit man’s perception of his personal best. This exaltation not only does away with our humanness, but also justifies or explains away the imperfection of it such as sin. In the place of our depraved state, man is often exalted in a place of innocence, wisdom or perfection. These worldly philosophies will ultimately make people atheists, amoral, humanistic, or dualistic in belief. However, such beliefs will never make individuals born-again believers.

Self-Esteem: We have already made reference to one of these worldly philosophies: that of self-esteem. It is amazing that the Church would even give this worldly philosophy consideration. After all, Jesus clearly stated that if we are going to be His disciples we must deny ourselves. The biggest breakdown of any society is that of selfishness. Selfishness has no regard for others. It simply wants to be exalted in its arrogance. Self-esteem is nothing more than esteeming our wretched selfishness into a place of honor and worship.

Loving Self: If people are not encouraging us to esteem ourselves, they are telling us that all we need to do is love ourselves. After all, we must see our value and worth. If we do, we will love ourselves and we will cease from despairing over life and trying to destroy ourselves in some deviant way. The Bible already tells us we love ourselves. “Love your neighbor as you love or regard yourself.” We are not despairing over our lives because we do not have a high enough opinion of ourselves. Rather, we are despairing about our lives because the rest of the world has failed to have the same high opinion of us. Others in our environment do not adore us for our abilities, worship us in our attitudes, or bow down to our self-serving, manipulative ways. How many, people even Christians, are entrapped in the bondage of getting other people to see just how valuable they are without any real success? The end results are anger, despair and feelings of rejection.

There is some good in all of us: How many times have you heard how there is some good in all of us, and how it is up to each of us to find such goodness? My question is where do we find such a philosophy in the Bible? The Word of God clearly states differently. There is none that are righteous. There is no good or that which is beneficial in the flesh. Our best is considered filthy rags. And, as the rich young ruler stipulated, only God is good or possesses the qualities that are beneficial.

The question is where do we as Christians think we can accept a philosophy that contradicts God’s Word, and not pay a high price for such unbelief? To accept a philosophy of the world is the same as telling God He did not mean what He said about the matter. In other words, God is a nice liar who is just being a little too negative for our wise, intellectual ways. Here a challenging thought: Since when did God’s ways and thoughts cease to be higher than our fleshly, worldly, foolish, and perverted ways and thoughts?

The Word of God is clear; there is no good in any of us. Granted, there may be some decency in us that maintains a semblance of morals and manners, but the reality is there is no good in us that is acceptable to God. If there was good in us, then there would be a basis in which righteousness could be established. However, the truth is sin has marred and defiled any means by which any of us could be righteous. Therefore, God had to provide the way in order for us to be made in His righteousness. That way was through the redemption of Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ redemption, we can positionally stand in Him as being righteous before God, and it is by the exercise of faith towards His Word that He reckons our actions or deeds as being righteous. In other words, our actions do not make us righteous, but our active faith allows God to count our obedience to His Word as being righteous.

The question remains. How can Christians claim that there is some good in people, when the Bible states differently? When we combine the worldly philosophies with the Word of God, we nullify all of the Word. In essence we strip it of its authority and power to instruct and impact us in the ways of righteousness. The more we adopt these philosophies and adjust the Word of God to them, the more we become dull to the truth. It is called an unholy alliance. Isaiah described the affect that unholy agreements had on the people of Israel. Heed His words because Jesus also quoted them: “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; least they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Isaiah 6:10).

The world can only make us dull of hearing, unable to see, and incapable of understanding. As we become dull, our heart becomes indifferent to truth, and our flesh becomes the source by which we wrongly test matters that can only be discerned by spirit and truth.

Next month we will consider how the world’s philosophy of love has changed some of the Church’s perception of God. Meanwhile, have you bought the rudiments of the world as your philosophy? If so, you need to know you are operating in vain deceit that will eventually destroy your soul.