Thursday, August 25, 2022
Have you noticed that some of the greatest wisdom on this planet is defining a word by again, using that same word? Here are some examples: Fair is fair. Business is business. The rules are the rules. A deal is a deal. Love is love. While each of these sayings have a context and a more nuanced understanding, it tends to oversimplify complex issues that need some mulling over. We accept these phrases because it makes our logic simpler and dismisses further discussion. Fine-sounding arguments such as these may not be all they are cracked up to be.
Even worse, an apologist, for any belief under the sun, can use the words of God in the wrong context or without a key understanding and can distort it immensely. In Matthew 4, Jesus actively combats the words of God taken out of their context. The world is rapidly filling with empty arguments that lead to the rebranding and normalization of sin. Like Jesus, it is our responsibility to call it out for what it is. And surely, God did say we will die, in a second death if we buy in, sell out, give up ourselves to these false teachings. Truth is truth. Here are three ways for your eyes and ears to discern between the eternal wisdom of God or the shallow echoes of hollow human reason.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. – Colossians 2:2-5
Did God really say it? While I believe that God has inspired wisdom since the Bible was composed, including some of what I hope is wisdom in this blog, you can’t go wrong believing only what is already written from Genesis to Revelation. Well, God didn’t say anything about social media, phones, or college? Truth. But what he did say was how to treat your neighbor, how to spend your time, and how you should work. These truths found in scripture are living and active. If we truly feel we are faced with some ethical dilemma that is completely unique to us in our present state, we should pray for wisdom because God gives wisdom generously to all without finding fault.
Who, exactly, does it benefit? Jesus makes an important distinction between behaviors that are motivated by God and those that are motivated by self. Prayer, tithing, and fasting are all wonderful disciplines for every Christian to take up. However, when we do it in public or take God’s glory by making it about ourselves, we are not feeding our relationship with God; we are feeding our ego. Jesus makes the case that motives and intentions are every bit as important as the action we take. Truth may be on the side. I can eat or drink whatever I wish, but it may cause a stumbling block for another. If I knowingly offer advice that gives me permission to act for my benefit alone, then my words are not heavenly Father’s.
Does it advance the Kingdom of God? When our Savior heals on the Sabbath, he speaks clearly to this measure. Isn’t it right to work for the Lord on the Lord’s day? To act more like Him? To worship him in not only words but action? Choosing to live for God is vastly different than choosing what goes on your plate. There are some clear lines drawn in the sand. The gate is narrow, and only those who intend to deceive you will widen it. There are simply behaviors and relationships that God doesn’t give his permission or his blessing. It doesn’t advance the Kingdom of God to make allowances for habitual, unrepented behavior. A short-term gain of a warm-body in a seat on Sundays is an eternal loss when sin isn’t confronted. We accept the whole of God’s moral will or we are rejecting the lot. This wisdom can burn like a good rubbing alcohol, but it also allows us to heal and be cleansed.
My hope and prayer for the church of today is that we can rid ourselves of these fine-sounding arguments, and make the case for sound, Godly discernment. Wisdom and life stem from Him alone.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:2-7
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- Reading Colossians 2 what are some of the dangers Paul is warning the church to avoid? What does he want the church to stay focused on?
- Where do you see God’s word and wisdom being distorted by fine-sounding arguments. Pray for wisdom and discernment to see clearly.
- What is the end result for those who are led astray and deceived?