Thoughts to Ponder

The Bliss of Ignorance.

The Bible tells us that if we lack wisdom we should ask for it: (James 1:5 NIV) If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

I took this verse very seriously about two years ago and started praying for wisdom and discernment. I was worried that I just didn't know enough to be sure I was not being mislead by bad doctrine. I studied the Bible but I kept seeing different people who were well known and well respected in the Christian community who were preaching different things. I knew that they could not all disagree and yet all be correct. Some of the things seemed minor, but others seemed pretty serious.

I kept praying and I kept studying. I began to see more and more things that bothered me. I would try to talk to people about it but it seemed that most people either did not see the problem or just did not care. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Why could my wife and I see some of these things and it seemed no one else could?

It actually took me a while to realize that it must be that God had given us what we asked for, wisdom and discernment. I then realized something else. I had a responsibility to speak out about what I was seeing. Some people mostly close friends seemed eager to learn and understand. We watched as they would start questioning things that before they would have just accepted. They were gaining wisdom and discernment too.

I really began to be bothered by some of the things that I was hearing from well known Christians. I could not figure out how they could teach things that went against the Bible and no one would speak out about it. Either people didn't know the truth or had no spine and therefore would not speak out.

I have covered some of these issues in other devotionals, but I want to hit a few of the high points again. There are people teaching that to get a closer relationship with God you should forgive Him for the things you have believed He has done to wrong you. They say that you should realize that He has not really done these things, but instead of repenting of the thoughts you should just forgive God and forget it. This is blasphemy, pure and simple. I don't care whose mouth it comes out of. Where is the outcry?

Where is the outcry about the new doctrine of self love? We are told that we can't truly understand God's love for us until we love ourselves. We are told that Jesus commanded us to love ourselves: (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV) Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' {38} This is the first and greatest commandment. {39} And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' {40} All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Is that what Jesus was saying? Was He saying that He wanted us to love ourselves? Or was He telling us that we should first love God with all our hearts and then love our neighbors? Since He wanted us to understand how to love our neighbors He equated it with the way we feel about ourselves.

How hard is it to see that God wanted us to be careful about self love? Look at this verse and see if you still think we are commanded to love ourselves: (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. {2} People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, {3} without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, {4} treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- {5} having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. Notice verse 2; "People will be lovers of themselves.." Now if we are commanded to love ourselves, why would Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit put that statement in his letter to Timothy? Why would Paul tell Timothy (and us) to have nothing to do with people who are lovers of themselves if we are all commanded and therefore expected to be lovers of ourselves? Can you smell the coffee brewing or are you still asleep?

Why won't people take a stand against this stuff? Why is it taught in our churches and preached from our pulpits? We preach self love and at the same time we see the suicide rate going sky high. We are careful not to bruise our children's egos, or their behinds for that matter, but what we end up with is a generation of whom nearly 50% is taking doctor prescribed drugs. Many of our kids are cutting themselves so that in their words they can let out the emotional pain they feel. Our children are given more freedom, more self-esteem and more emotional problems then any other generation up to this time.

Below is a quote from a secular Psychologist who also sees the danger in self-esteem teaching, although she does not use the Bible to buttress her ideas. This alone should be enough to show people that this is wrong:

Through the psychologizing efforts of the Psychology Industry, self-esteem has become over-inflated to the point where it is generally accepted as one of the major causes of personal social problems, which must be directly addressed and enhanced before people will change or social problems can be solved. As one psychologist wrote: "every theory of mental health considers a positive self-concept to be the cornerstone of a healthy ego."

Such was the belief that led the California State Assembly to set up a task force in 1986 charged with the task of promoting self-esteem. The legislature believed that raising self-esteem would reduce welfare dependency, drug abuse, teen-age pregnancy, and other social ills. Consistent with these commonly held beliefs, the task force intuitively assumed that self-esteem was at the root of both good and bad behavior and set about to "determine that it is scientifically true." In doing so, it demonstrated the generalized view of self-esteem as it attempted to show the causal connection to child maltreatment, academic achievement, sexual activity of teenagers, unwanted teenage pregnancy, crime and violence, welfare, alcoholism and drug use. The problem they encountered was that what they "knew" to be true turned out not to be. The editor of the report admitted that "one of the disappointing aspects of every chapter... is how low the association between self-esteem and its consequences are in research. But contradictory findings or conflicting conclusions have never daunted the Psychology Industry or led it to modify its marketing. So, despite the admission that "there is no basis on which to argue that increasing self-esteem is an effective or efficient means of decreasing child abuse...," the report of the task force went on to state that "policy interventions to reduce child abuse that involve increasing self-esteem should be encouraged and should include interventions at the individual, family, community and societal levels." Thus, psychologically concocted "self-esteem" works well to expand the Psychology Industry's market, creating impressions of the urgent need for psychological services. (Quoted from Manufacturing Victims by psychologist Dr. Tana Dineen)

The facts are out there, plus the Bible makes it clear that in the last days self-esteem, or if you choose, self-love will be a danger. Yet sadly our Christian leaders refuse to take a stand. Are they just looking out for themselves? Do they care more about pleasing people then taking an unpopular stand? Or are they ignorant of God's word? God does not play when it comes to those He has placed in positions of authority over His people: (Ezekiel 34:2-6 NIV) "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? {3} You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. {4} You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. {5} So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. {6} My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them."

I have also heard this saying: "all truth is God's truth." What does that mean? It is popular today in our churches, but what does it mean? In a way it is true. Gravity is a truth therefore it is God's truth even though God does not talk about it in the Bible. The danger, however, is that gravity and other science truths are not what these people are talking about. They are talking about any and all truth. Yet how do we know what is truth and what is not? How do we judge truth? If all truth is God's truth then all truth should be followed. But again what is truth?

The danger here is that we may perceive something as truth that is not. Let's say that Buddha taught that if we clear our minds from all thought we can hear God's voice. Since all truth is God's truth, maybe we should try that. The problem is that if you clear your mind of all thought and listen you will most likely hear a voice, but will it be God's voice? Or will it be a demon's voice who tries to convince you he is God? What about the truth that you hear during such an encounter?

My point is not to disagree that all truth is God's truth, my point is that there is a lot out there which is not truth but which looks like truth. How do we judge truth from error? Our first yardstick should be God's word, which is without question the truth. But when we decide that there is much more truth than is contained in the Bible and we set out to find it ourselves we are on a dangerous journey. We are blind men stomping around in a mine field.

For instance going back to one of my earlier items, you might very well feel closer to God after you forgive Him of the wrongs you have held against Him. That does not mean that it is right to forgive Him, it does not mean you are truly closer to Him, it just means you think you are closer to Him.

We are corrupt beings, we cannot judge truth by our own emotions or our feelings, or our experiences. God did not leave us alone and blind, He gave us His Word so that we could judge the things around us. He told us to ask for wisdom if we lack it and He would give it to us. Why do we try to trust in ourselves? (Jeremiah 17:5-9 NIV) This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. {6} He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. {7} "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. {8} He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." {9} The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Ignorance may seem like bliss but only for a short time. We will one day all stand before our Lord and Savior and I don't think ignorance will be an excuse for our actions. As we gain wisdom along with it comes the responsibility to speak out. The responsibility to take a stand no matter how unpopular it might be.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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