We often hold up our experience as truth more than God’s Word. When challenged to revisit what we thought were God’s word or his ways, we are taken aback, offended and put up defenses. We refuse to open our minds up to see if what we thought we knew about our faith does in fact line up with God’s word – the measuring stick for truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
We often respond to a truth that is new to us with defensive clichés such as, “Well, all I know is that I experienced this, so it has to be true”. Other defensive responses used to rebuff the truth when it is uncomfortable to us are: “If it was good enough for my mother, it’s good enough for me”, and, “My mother was faithful and was always in church, so if anybody makes it to heaven, she will”.
1 Timothy 5:24-25 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
The problem with those responses is that you are not God and you cannot possibly know whether someone will or will not spend eternity with God. Furthermore, God did not give you the blueprint for your mother’s life, so how could you possibly know if she walked in obedience to God for her life? We are followers of Christ – not of man. What if those we see as heaven-bound were doing good works but harboring some hidden sin or were secretly being disobedient to God (unbeknownst to you)?
Be aware that when you present the truth to someone, it challenges their own personal experiences and preferences; their defenses will go up. When you (unintentionally) cause them to rethink their loved ones eternal destination by revealing truths not known to them, you can incite their anger. Now, they no longer see you as trying to help them take the blinders off of their eyes. All they can see right now is that you are trying to undermine their beliefs, disrespect their loved one, and discount their personal experiences and traditions. When you reveal truth that contradicts what others believe, you could possible shake their world and cause the foundation to crumble upon which they have sought to base their life.
That is why we must use all the godly wisdom made available to us from the Father when we venture into these areas. Because we cannot win someone who is angry and we cannot help those we have offended.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
Are we more concerned with numbers than individuals? Let’s check ourselves to see if we are driven by the need to feel a sense of accomplishment by how many souls we win to our church or are we driven by The Holy Spirit to be concerned for the individual that God has assigned to us at this time? Do we get angry or impatient when the souls to whom we are ministering do not get it right away or who will not make a choice when we think they should? If so, we may be doing good works in the flesh. No one can come to God unless The Spirit draws them. Is God drawing them or are we strong-arming them? We must be lead of God when witnessing and we need to use discernment as to who and when we share the deeper things of God.
When we realize that we are sharing biblical truths that contradict what someone has been previously taught, we must focus on planting the the truth instead of abruptly uprooting their existing foundation of beliefs. If they are willing to receive the truth, they will soon realize that they cannot embrace both truth and error. One will have to go. If they are to be a true believer, they will eventually discard the error and walk in the truth.
We need to discern the pace at which a person can receive the truth. Too much meat down the throat of one who is used to milk can choke and destroy them. We must remember to give them time to make sense of it all piece by piece and precept upon precept. They need time to digest the truth and to fight the battle that is now going on in their hearts and minds. They need time to fathom it all and resolve to walk in the truth that they now know.
Furthermore, when revealing Biblical truths that cause one to change their religious affiliations, having patience with them is critical. They need time to grieve over the confidence and the life they once knew and must now give up. They must grieve over the possible loss of the relationship, respect and admiration with and for their spiritual leadership, mentors, or role models (sometimes, even friends and family). We are doing more than just removing error and replacing it with truth. We are giving them the truth which can cause conflict to start not only in their minds, but even within their churches and families.
Matthew 10:34-38 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
We often say, “I wish I had known all this before”. But don’t be so quick to believe that you would have actually accepted all of ‘this’ and walked in ‘this’ the moment ‘this’ was revealed to you. God knew what you could handle. That is probably why He did not reveal all of ‘this’ to us at one time.
We must remember that we did not get it all in one day. Therefore, we should have compassion on others and be patient, even longsuffering with them as we share the truth with them. Give them time to work through their issues. They may even return to their church and erroneous doctrines in an attempt to give their denomination/church/pastor a chance to prove them they know and will teach the truth. They want to believe that if they could just share this new truth with their leaders and brothers and sisters in Christ that they will see it and start teaching it as well.
This is part of God’s plan to let every man be fully persuaded in his belief. If they don’t get fully convinced that their church and leader will not accept the truth, they will waste away there in compromise hoping that the leadership will teach the truth. They will keep quiet about the truth so they are not contradicting their teaching and confusing others. Deep inside they will be unhappy and feel as though they have betrayed the truth in order to save their church. But they believe that if they just give it time, God will make an opportunity to share the truth with their leadership again. And if that time ever comes, they will realize that while they are trying to convince their church of the truth, their church has been all the time tolerating you with the intent of delivering you from what many will call, brainwashing. They believe you are deceived and intend to get you straight. Once a believer sees the real battle going on (spiritual wickedness), they will come to their senses and realize that in order to walk in the truth, they have to leave those who not only refuse to accept the truth, but who work to get you to renounce the truth.
It is then that they will see their leaders and brethren in another light. They we see that their leaders will never teach and follow all of God’s Word. Their leaders and church family may even berate and ostracize them for accepting such truth that contradicts what they teach. Then comes the grieving process as they are forced to come to grips with the fact that their beloved spiritual leaders and loved ones are not only ignorant of the truth, they have rejected both it and those who do embrace it. The true convert will eventually leave that place and return to where they can be fully taught the truth.
A believer can go through several stages from hearing to living it when encountering a previously unknown truth that shakes their traditional beliefs or experiences. I can personally attest to those below.
- Shock – We are surprised that we are just now hearing this and that we have not been taught this before.
- Denial – We try to deny this truth because it contradicts or is absent from our experience or religious upbringing.
- Offence – We choose to be offended by the truth because it causes us to make a choice, take a stand and rethink our view of leadership and our denomination instead of letting us remain all warm and fuzzy.
- Belief – We realize that it is the truth and we acknowledge it as such.
- Compromise – We try to get our existing church to embrace and teach this truth so we can remain there.
- Realization – We realize that our teachers know the truth but have rejected it and are now rejecting us.
- Grief – We grieve over the loss of respect for our church leaders, doctrines, fellowships and possibly even family because of the truth we choose to accept and walk by.
- Separation – We know now that we must come out from our familiar church, begin studying The Bible for ourselves, and find fellowship with a church that is teaching the truth.
- Joy & Peace – We now have joy because we are in the presence of God and now have peace because we are living according to God’s Word.
Unfortunately, there are many that love their friends, family, traditions, and religious ways more than they love God. These may never receive or accept the truth, but choose to believe a lie and continue to disseminate it. It is then that there is no excuse for them because they have rejected knowledge of the truth. Therefore God will reject them and their children. They will continue on with their religious babbling and posturing like the prophets of Baal did in an attempt to get the god of their homemade religion to hear them and respond. 1 Kings 18:18-29
Let us continue to pray in faith for all men to come into the knowledge of the truth; regardless to how they seem to receive it. We are only responsible for the work – the results are God’s.