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TRUTH AND DOGMA
18And by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Rom 16:)
Things are not always as they appear to be.
We of the gray-hair generation like to refer back to the “Good old days.” The younger generation who have little to look back on like to say “I’d like to have lived during such ‘n such a period because...”
The fact is, those who lived in such ‘n such a time might well have wished to live in any other time than the time they found themselves. And the Gray-hairs are not really wanting to relive the days of pit toilets and scrubbing the laundry and dirty kids with water brought from a well and boiled on a wood stove. There were a few things about any era that is appealing, but those things were few and far between, just as they are in this day and age.
Let’s look at some examples:
I’ve written at length about the different ways organizations, the governments of the world, the media, our jobs and our schools manipulate our thinking and our behavior. I’ve also written about how the churches use these same tactics to bring in, manipulate, and control their members. I won’t go into these in this study other than to touch on a few where they might lend clarity to what I’m trying to express.
During the war our enemies (and of course we were the enemies to our enemies, so we did the same things) did all they could to disrupt and confuse our communication. They would bomb our towers, cut our lines, and they would kill our messengers. But as effective as these tactics might have been, there was another method they would use that was much more effective than these.
In this day of rapid and wireless communication it is nearly impossible to prevent one person or organization from sending a message of consequence. To compensate for this disadvantage (as it seen to be by those who have chosen to be an enemy) they have had to develop and improve on skills used since Adam and Eve. One of these techniques is to impersonate a person of influence and send a false message. You might have received such a communique over the email, someone posing as a friend or relative telling you that you should do such and such. I’ve received such a letter, and on several occasions. They were fairly benign, but I’ve read of other people who have received such letters that has caused them a great deal of headache and expense.
Another way the enemy might create confusion or disruption is to misinterpret the message that has been received at its destination. In order to effectively use this technique that person must have wormed his or her way into the confidence of the recipients and serve as their trusted translator. Imagine if you will having a (I will use the old standby, a Russian agent) for two kings or presidents of a nation discussing how they might solve an international problem they are experiencing. The Russian agent wants to prevent these two men in power from coming to an agreement. How best might he accomplish his purpose? Suppose he, as translator between these to potentates, misinterprets what one king is saying to the other. Can you see how he could cause a war between two men who were earnestly seeking peace?
Yet another way the enemy might cause disruption is by scrambling the message that has been sent and cause it to be unintelligible. If the message was one of great importance, such as the location of a bomb factory that is to be delivered to a fleet commander whose objective is to destroy that factory, causing the target to be so confused as to have bombs dropped on themselves or other of their allies.
Causing strife and conflict and division amongst the members of an organization is another favorite method the enemy likes to use, and as we can see by observing history, it’s a very effective method indeed.
In order to combat the above problems, especially the last, certain guidelines have been implemented by all organizations. Such rules and regulations are essential if an organization is to exist. Anyone who does not fit within these boundaries is not allowed to participate in the activities, and especially barred from taking part in the operation of said organization. Such a tactic can be, and often is, unfair to those who desire to improve on or add benefits to the organization because the dogmas, and the regulations do not allow for change.
What I’ve described above applies to all organizations from the sand box castle of a preschool nursery to the White house. But I’m not interested in the political aspects of control and dogma, but in how these and other forms of manipulation effect the churches. So for that reason I’ll here take each of the points listed above and apply them to the church.
First, however, I would like to explain why I happened to pick this subject, and this manner in which to broach the subject at hand. I am in the process of doing a study of the Cherubim, seraphim and the Beasts of Revelation. While giving the list of verses provided on these subjects I ran across a few roadblocks to understanding. These were not roadblocks to me, that is, to my understanding what is being said, but rather to my trying to explain or describe what the Bible is attempting to tell us. As I looked deeper into these road blocks, these stumbling stones, I noticed how very similar they were to the ways an enemy would strive to undermine the efforts of our nation or any other organization. The Bible tells us:
8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1Peter 5:)
The word “Adversary” is formed from the prefix “Adverse” which means “In opposition to.” The devil is in opposition to the ways of God. I don’t believe Satan is out of control as is so popularly taught, but is an instrument of God to refine and perfect those who seek to be in the presence of God. But nonetheless, Satan is our opponent, our adversary, our enemy. And since his job is to undermine our efforts to become as God wants us to be, we must be aware of his tactics as he is of ours. Paul said:
11Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2Cor 2:)
Actually, sad to say, we are ignorant of Satan’s devices, and intentionally so. Because of having been taught that we are securely on solid ground and nothing can touch our salvation, we have turned a blind eye to the devices Satan uses to disrupt our Spiritual lives, and the churches. But we don’t have to remain Spiritually blind, so let’s take a look at some of those devices Satan uses to hold us down:
24Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. (Mat 13:)
29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:)
Tares are imitations of the real thing. They are weeds that look like the precious crop that has been planted. Jesus said to let the tares remain in the field along with the good crop until the harvest. We do not know which are the true crop and which are the tares, so it’s not our place to try and remove them. If we do, we might well be tearing out the best of the crop. Many of our finest Christian leaders through history have said they were terrible examples of a Christian in their younger years, and they made many mistakes. And on the other extreme we have some of the finest examples of Christian leadership who turned out to be veritable monsters. Consider Jim Jones, a respected Methodist preacher, and we shouldn’t forget that turncoat Judas who looked all the world like a finest of the Apostles of Christ.
Paul warns us that, even in his day, there would be wolves among us. And the most cunning of wolves can do a great deal of harm to the flock of the Lord. Paul’s warning came 2,000 years ago when there were many mighty Apostles struggling to keep the bride pure. How much more is his warning needed all these years later when even those who are placed in position to watch over the flock reject the notion that they might be in error?
24And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. 27No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. (Mark 3:)
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1Cor 1:10-13)
Divide and conquer is a method used by an enemy to weaken the resolve and confidence of someone they wish to subdue. We see where the Catholic church was powerful when it was in harmony with itself. Of course the method used to keep everyone in line with the common view of the day was threats and torture, but the principle that unity brings about strength is viable nonetheless.
If Satan's objective is to weaken the Church Jesus shed His blood to create, he is wildly successful in his quest. Of course all he has to do in order to accomplish such a goal is allow us fleshly people to act out on our own selfish nature.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:17)
And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)
But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? ….. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Mat 15:3-6)
One of the greatest differences between the denominations is the manner in which they conduct their governmental control over the congregation. Paul made a strong effort toward creating harmony in the churches, which were inclined to fall into confusion and oblivion. Order and rules have to be established, even though these very rules often stifle the Spirit and cause the services to be ineffectual.
Paul's statement indicating that everyone should obey their leaders have led many churches, especially those referred to as cults, to take complete control over every aspect of a person's life. For a strong example of such a condition we have Jim Jones and the Heaven's Gate suicides
One problem with dogmatic rules and statements of beliefs is that they hinder a church member's search for truth. Of course most people are not searching for truth, but are only interested in answers to whatever question they might find of interest.
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. (2Cor 13:10-11)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1Cor 2:12-16)
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: ….. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.( Mat 13:3-19)
Things of the spirit are Spiritually discerned. If a church rejects the concept of such a Spiritual understanding of the Word, and they incorporate such a rejection into their statutes, then the Spiritual understandings of the Bible become lost to that congregation. Thus has Satan successfully accomplished his purpose of stealing the Word of God from those in the congregation.
But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2Cor 11:12-15)
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. (1Tim 4:6-8)
For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2Tim 3:6-7)
We are aware that the devil might tell us lies in order to lead us astray, but we are not so inclined to watch out for minor errors that will nudge us on to a wrong path. The serpent didn't tell Eve a blatant lie in order to cause her to stray from the straight and narrow, all he did is plant a small doubt in her thinking, slightly twisting the truth. Some of what the serpent told Eve turned out to be the truth, just as he used truth in his attempt to cause Jesus to falter in His mission.
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2Thes 2:1-3)
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (1John 2:18-19)
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. (Gal 6:11-12)
In order to lead the new Christians astray some people tried to impersonate Paul and the other Apostles. They would write letters that provided false information, and sign it with the Apostle's signature. We have this even today, people of influence who would desire to cause us to stumble on the road to truth. If we are inclined to follow a certain person too closely, accepting everything they say as truth, then we will miss the turnoff that person has bypassed on his or her way to oblivion.
In order to insure that we are continuing on the straight and narrow road, we must be ready to question any and all information handed to us. We see this in the way that Paul praised the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to determine if what he told them was correct (Acts 17:11)
Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. (Titus 1:9-12)
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. (2John 1:7)
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (2Tim 3:12-14)
Not all deceivers are out to lead others astray. They may be very sincere in their efforts to teach us what they believe to be true. We think of the enemy as being devils set out to destroy those of us we perceive as good. But while those who are doing what we consider as evil, are in their own mind being loyal to what they were themselves taught as correct and proper. We have to be on guard that we not allow ourselves to fall into the category of those who have been deceived, while fully believing ourselves to be saints.
One tactic the enemy might utilize is that of scrambling a message in order to cause it to be either unintelligible, or read wrongly. We are taught to accept whatever our leader tells us is truth, but our leader may be an enemy agent, or he might be sincere, but deceived himself.
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:21)
If we don't walk in the truth that has been given to us, then we will be open to being led astray. If we are inclined to believe whatever is placed in front of us by those in a trusted position, then we will very likely accept what the devil has to offer and fully believe that we have nothing but the truth itself.
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