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Pointers along the way #619

Unrealistic doctrines

- Jacob Ninan

There are some factors that must be looked at before we can accept a doctrine. Apart from the obvious things such as being true to the Bible, something we need to examine is whether it agrees with practical experience. Some go wrong on this, forming unrealistic, imaginary doctrines that no one relates to. For example, if someone claims that after he was born again or filled with the Holy Spirit there is no more sin in him, he is deceiving himself (1Jn.1:8). This kind of wrong doctrine comes up when people do not differentiate between figures of speech and plain words, or between God's ultimate goal for His people and how they need to go through a process before getting there. When we read, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2Co.5:17), don't we need to realise that this is what God has prepared for us and that we are being made new progressively (Ro.12:2)?

Let's look at a typical situation. In Ro.7, Paul talks about a struggle between two laws working in him (vv.21-23). He follows it up by exclaiming that the solution is the Lord Jesus Christ (vv.24,25). Then he says the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set him free from the law of sin and death (8:2). Some people come to a doctrine that Ro.7 is talking about life under the Law and in Ro.8 we have the life in the Spirit. Accordingly, if anyone experiences this struggle mentioned in Ro.7, he is still under the Law. Also, if a man has come under grace, the Spirit will enable him to walk through life and never face any struggle! But actually, Ro.8:2 is talking about the provision that God has made, which will be increasingly experienced by those who walk according to the Spirit (v.4).

In real life, have you come across any godly Christian who does not acknowledge in truth about the struggles he faces? Those who hold on to the above wrong doctrine will insist on their doctrine and deny the truth of practical life, just to stand with their doctrine. Many of them play with words, e.g., talking of 'mistakes' when they try to cover up their 'sins', using 'concern' when what they should actually say is 'worry', etc. Some of them include only gross sins like murder, adultery, robbery, etc., as sins, while they classify anxiety, unforgiving attitudes, jealousy, bitterness, shame, unbelief, etc., as human weaknesses! But don't we need to be honest?

The fact of the matter is that as long as we are on this earth, we are on a spiritual journey with many dangers, and if we are not watchful we may fall (1Co.10:12). Our enemy, the Devil, is eagerly waiting to catch us in a weak moment to trip us up (1Pe.5:8). Even the great apostle Paul fell (Ac.23:3), and if we are honest, we will admit that we too fall here and there (Jas.3:2). Of course, our Lord knows this might happen, and has already made provision for our restoration (1Jn.2:1,2).

Let's not live in a make-believe world of doctrines.


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