Why we do not see the Bible alike #4

Previously, we have identified ignorance as a basic cause for differences and misunderstandings that exists today relative to the Bible. Deception is a contributor to ignorance. We pointed out previously that deception is Satan’s primary tool in leading men astray. We have discussed how so many have come to be deceived; therefore, in this lesson, will look at the question, why are people willing to continue to be deceived?

Ignorance relative to the Bible and its teachings is primarily due to a lack of study plus the ease with which people are deceived. People are deceived because religious teachings are accepted due to a lack of necessary information. These teachings are accepted because of confidence in teacher and a lack of study to evaluate these teachings relative to scripture.

Another reason why people are easily deceived and willing to continue in the deception is that they are the product of little learning and self-deceit – it is conceit. The New Testament recognizes this weakness and addresses it (Galatians 6:3; Romans 12:3; 12:16; 11:25; 1:21-22). Paul says a conceited man must become a fool before he can become wise (1 Corinthians 3:18). The Greek word moros, which is translated fool carries a number of meanings. In 1 Corinthians 1:25, Paul talks about the foolishness of God. He is “not describing a personal quality…, but adjectivally, that which is considered by the ignorant as a ‘foolish’ policy” (Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). Therefore, in 1 Corinthians 3:18, Paul is saying we must become fools in the eyes of our opponents. We are warned against becoming engrossed in our own wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19-20). Paul had been wise in his own conceit, living with a clear conscience while blaspheming and persecuting the church, only to learn later the exceeding sinfulness of his practices. It is shocking to realize how completely one is able to deceive himself relative to his own condition. It happened to the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:17). The people thought themselves rich and in need of nothing, but in reality, they were miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Jesus shows how completely blinded men may become and satisfied with their manner of life because of their own conceit (Matthew 7:22-23). It should be a warning to wake man from his lethargy and to study God’s word diligently (Matthew 7:21).

The tendency toward implicit self-confidence is a trait of children. The child who learns he can make a hissing sound by blowing air through his teeth and says, “Watch me whistle”. Or being shown how to do something in which he is interested, and before the instructions are completed says, “I know, let me do it”. Our daughter was always very independent. Even when very young, she would say, “I can do it my own self”. It is the same element of human nature in older people. The feeling of self-confidence is a part of all of us, and that is not bad within itself. It is necessary to man’s accomplishments. But like all other good things, it must be guarded and controlled, because it becomes dangerous when it goes beyond what is justified by information or skill. The New Testament addresses this human weakness.

Jesus told the disciples that all would be offended because of Him, but Peter objected (Matthew 26:33-35). This illustrates conceit at its most dangerous level. It caused Peter to put his own ignorance above the knowledge of his Master. When the mother of James and John made a request for her sons to sit on the right and left in His kingdom, Jesus reminds her that their aspirations went beyond their knowledge (Matthew 20:22). But James and John, blinded by human desire, failed to get Jesus’ lesson - We are able: It demonstrated their misunderstanding of the kingdom, and led them to accept responsibility for which they had no definite information. Their request had grown out of ignorance. Do we have the same misunderstanding today of His kingdom? Are we preparing ourselves for places of honor in the kingdom not in harmony with its operation?

Other expressions are used to describe this same human weakness.  Paul uses a Greek word in 1 Corinthians 8 that is translated puffs up. Vine says it is used metaphorically in the New Testament in the sense of being “puffed up with pride”.

1 Corinthians 8:1-2

Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know

Other passages communicate the same idea with different descriptions of being “puffed up with pride”.

1 Timothy 6:3-5

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

Paul identifies this trait with other selfish traits that are descriptive of evil men in the last days.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Paul also shows that a man may have excellent qualities and still be puffed up. Consider what he writes to Timothy about the qualifications of elders.

1 Tim 3:2, 6

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach…not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

Therefore, we should not consider ourselves the exception, but guard against this weakness (Romans 12:10).

Consider the teachings of Jesus that show the contrast between conceit and the basic traits of Christians, the contrast between “exalted” and “humble” (Luke 14:11; 18:9-14). Jesus describes some of the religious practices and teachings of the scribes and Pharisees that were a result of their puffed up and conceited attitude about themselves (Matthew 23:4-12).

The disciples were not free from this same weakness. Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was a question that arose time and time again within their ranks. Jesus addressed this with the use of a little child (Matthew 18:1-4) telling his disciples that man must recognize he is not capable of directing own steps. He must feel his dependence as he did in early days of childhood. He must look to the heavenly Father with same implicit trust the child placed in his mother.

The next article will continue to address the human traits of conceit and actions.