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Experience and doctrine
- Jacob Ninan
It is a very common mistake, when we go through some experience, to make a teaching of it for everyone. In this way many things are taught by many Christians. Much of it is done with good intentions, but nevertheless wrong teachings will damage lives because our lives are guided by the doctrines we believe.
A world famous Bible teacher wrote about how he cast out a 'spirit of suicide' from a woman, and how her dog jumped off from a truck after that and got killed. He taught from this incident that when evil spirits were cast out they might try to enter a loved one. But the Bible teaches us that either God has to give permission the demons to attack us (see Job) or even to enter into pigs for that matter (Lk.8:32), or we have to give them access (Ep.4:26,27). To teach that demons can just enter into us from our loved ones is entirely misleading.
Some say that they have witnessed in some families a curse seeming to come down the generations (e.g., every male dies before the age of 40!), and then they start believing the false doctrine of generational curses. But when God has clearly told us that He would not punish children for their father's sins (Ez.18), don't we need to look for some other explanations for the experience?
Jesus has warned us that there would be false signs and wonders in the last days (Mt.24:24). A false sign can be an experience that misleads. We tend to find some explanation for the experience, many times without checking with the Bible. Isn't Satan interested in misleading and confusing people, and can't that be the reason why he gives us experiences that can mislead us?
Even when we read the Bible we must be careful when we make doctrines out of experiences we see there. We need to check with the Bible's teaching. For example when we see that the early church broke bread every day and then on the first day of the week, which will we follow as a pattern? Actually Paul doesn't give us any rule for the frequency or the day on which we need to break bread, but tells us that whenever we do it we need to do it in remembrance of the Lord (1Co.11:25,26). In some countries Christians do it on Fridays!
When we felt convinced in our heart that God was going to do something for us and started confessing it with our mouth and then it finally happened what teaching do we get from here? That whatever we confess we will receive? No. The fact is that we heard God speaking to us in our heart (Ro.10:17)--even though we didn't realise it--believed Him (had faith), and confessed it; and then it happened. But if we don't hear anything from God but confess what we want to happen, will it happen? Our words won't make it happen. There are plenty of such experiences! David said that one day he was going to be killed by Saul, but it didn't happen.
So we have to be careful how we make our doctrines. A good doctrine has to be solidly based on the teaching of the Bible. Every experience has to be checked with what the Bible teaches--the whole Bible.