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Keeping our heads high
- Jacob Ninan
One of the aspects of the image of God that He has created us with is that we can make our own decisions. That is why God expects each one of us to give an account of ourselves to Him (Ro.14:12). Philosophers can argue about this and say that we are not always able to make our own choice because many times it is forced upon us by other people or our circumstances. But we still have a choice to decide how to respond to them in our heart, if not in our action. Theologians may further say that this power of free choice has been distorted by the Fall and now we all have in us (in our flesh) a tendency towards sin (Ro.7:20,21). Yes, but as the Holy Spirit is seeking to restore us to the image we were originally created to have, we have to also learn to exercise this power to choose for ourselves.
We must remember that this is an age where there is so much of manipulation all around us, from people seeking to make us do what they want. Advertisements seek to pressurise us to buy things we really don't need, and to adopt lifestyles we can't afford or which are not good for us. The media, which is being controlled more and more by Satan tries to convince us that evil is good and in style (Is.5:20).
Even in churches and Christian preaching and writing, people try to manipulate us to do things for their gain. We tend to assume that the interpretation some preachers give us regarding doctrine must be right because we are impressed by their strong human personalities or persuasive speech. (But the sensible folks at Berea went and checked their Bibles to see if what Paul preached was right (Ac.17:11)). We dare not question what some 'prophets' speak, even when something inside us rings a warning bell, because we are afraid of going against God. (Please see 1Co.14:29;1Th.5:20,21)).
We don't have to say "Amen", repeat what the preacher says, raise or clap our hands, stand up, go forward, dial the number on the screen or make a pledge, just because the preacher tells us! Let us make our own decisions, and that too consciously and deliberately. Let us not allow anyone else to push us around or manipulate us. If we have any doubt about some 'miraculous' thing that is happening in front of us or the preacher is telling us about, let us 'wait and see' rather than allow ourselves to be forced to make quick decisions against our better judgment. (It is usually Satan who threatens us with dire consequences if we don't act quickly, because the Holy Spirit will only encourage and exhort us rather than pressurise us.) Let us not assume that every miracle or supernatural thing is from God, because Satan and his demons can do false wonders and signs (Mt.24:24). Just because a teacher talks convincingly, let us not be quick to accept his interpretation without examining it ourselves. Let us keep a safe distance from preachers when we recognise that they are after our money or our support, and not our welfare or the glory of God.