Why we do not see the Bible alike #6
We have previously discussed that there are three interrelated factors involved in the question why we do not understand the Bible alike – ignorance, deceit, and conceit. The most persistent form of ignorance is the result of deception or conceit, and deception is the natural outcome of ignorance and conceit. Conceit is the fruit of ignorance and deception. So long as one remains a victim of this triumvirate of weaknesses, they will continue to be a slave to an erroneous interpretation of divine wisdom revealed in the Bible, and thus will continue in a multitude of diverse ideas on Bible teachings. We must free ourselves of these weaknesses if we hope to understand Bible teachings.
But our study would be incomplete without investigating the major human practice through which these factors are developed. Man’s most dangerous practice is the practice of comparing himself with others. Paul found this problem in Corinth.
2 Corinthians 10:12
For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (without understanding ESV).
Consider their problem in reverse order. They are not wise (without understanding), which describes a condition that permits indulgence in many evil practices and excuses guilt. They are a people lacking values, not knowing where they are going or in what direction. They call evil good and good evil, or darkness light and light darkness (Isaiah 5:20). They are blinded by their own wisdom (Matthew 6:23). Consider some of the problems Paul identifies in the church at Corinth; their divisions, fornication among members, lawsuits against one another, their misunderstanding of the marriage relationship, confusion about meats sacrificed to idols, their perversion of the Lord’s Supper, contentions over spiritual gifts, and repudiation of the resurrection. Similar conditions exists today in denominations; therefore, we can reasonably conclude the root of the problems today is the same as then.
Paul defines their problem. They measured themselves by themselves, but why did this leave them without understanding? Because it took away the standard of measurement. It replaced the unchangeable teachings of God with the changing practices of individuals. Human ideas distorted their understanding of teachings they had received; therefore, being devoid of understanding, they accepted them as truth. They arrived at them through comparison. For example, one object is larger or smaller than another, or we pay more for one suit because in some way it is better than the other. When we were a child, we were shorter or taller, faster, or stronger than someone else, and we generally selected one with whom comparison would give us the advantage. When we want to excuse ourselves, the tendency is to compare with someone who is more capable. Some have followed this practice all their lives to excuse themselves or gain a personal advantage so it is not surprising Paul found Corinthians measuring themselves by themselves. As long as this practice continues, we will continue in our present differences and confusion and fail to meet the first requisite of true followers of Christ (Matthew 10:24).
Will we ever come to recognize that man is his only real enemy? (Philippians 2:3; Romans 12:3). Paul says by measuring themselves by themselves, they had deceived themselves and they became conceited. They commended themselves. We cannot commend ourselves in matters of righteousness without having been deceived (Luke 17:10; 1 Corinthians 4:3-4). As long as we measure ourselves by the Lord, we will never be puffed up. Most would deny being ignorant, deceived, or conceited, but they accuse others of such who do not agree with their ideas. They are more ready to condemn the other person’s ideas than examine their own.
In order to properly understand the practices that interfere with understanding Bible standards today, it is useful to review an Old Testament example.
1 Samuel 8:1-5
Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
Samuel was displeased with their request and took the matter to God (1 Samuel 8:6-7). We must understand that their reason for wanting a king was not because of the wickedness of Samuel’s sons; they just wanted to be like the nations around them. (1 Samuel 8:19-20). They had become ignorant, deceived, and conceited to the point they would not listen to Samuel; therefore, they would not listen to God. Is this true with us today? Would we dare replace God’s way with ours, or do we fail to distinguish between divine wisdom and human wisdom? Every religious group claims to follow Bible teachings regardless of the number of differences that exists. Thus their faith is in their faith, not in God. So we justify our failures to study, attend, worship, and give by comparison with others.
There are two types of comparisons. One is an unreasonable comparison. For example, I am not a Christian because of hypocrites in the church. The second is a dishonest comparison. An example is seen with Jesus in the home of Simon (Luke 7:44-48). He made a comparison that gave Simon a different picture of himself. Another example is seen with a woman taken in adultery and brought to Jesus (John 8:5-11). Those who brought her thought well of themselves compared to the woman. Jesus presented a standard of measure that gave them a different picture of themselves. Jesus gives his disciples a very graphic picture.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
This raises a question we should all ask ourselves. Have we become speck hunters?
The bottom line is that we can all understand the Bible alike. Are there some things in scripture on which we have differences? Obviously yes, but when it comes to God’s conditions for salvation and His conditions for righteous living, these are all things that can, and must, be viewed in a unified way. In order to do that we must be like those in Berea and have Ezra’s attitude toward God’s word.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.