But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
These are uplifting, glorious words. We are so grateful, as Christians, to be in that position. We look with pity on those people in the cults who are deluded. No matter how sincere their desire to serve God, they have been deceived by false doctrines. Christians believe, quite rightly, that we are in the light and those people in the cults are in the dark.
Unfortunately, the security we feel in being in the light can make us complacent and blind to the fact that Christians are prey to many of the same errors which are found in the cults. If we do not study the scriptures and nurture our relationship with God, we too can find ourselves confused, misled, and wandering away from the truth. Let me give you another, more sobering scripture:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things. (Romans 2:1)
The message of salvation is clear, there can be no mistake. The only way to God is through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. We cannot merit anything by our own efforts, but must lean on the grace of God, which gives us what we do not deserve, and saves us from what we do deserve. This does not make sense to the logical human mind.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death. (Prov.14:12)
We need to change our perspective, and look at things from God's point of view, before we can understand. But even after we have accepted it, the "old man" keeps intruding and we can easily loose sight of it again.
James tells us that the word of God is like a mirror that shows us who we really are and where we stand. We were saved because we looked into that mirror, saw the truth, and acted on that truth. Yet as soon as we go away from the mirror, we forget what we look like. We forget that we were reconciled to God through the efforts of Jesus, not our own. We look for things to do to put us right with God, or make our Christian lives more effective.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25)
We have grasped the perfect law that gives freedom, and we need to hold on to it and enjoy its blessings. But for every truth there is a trap, a subtle distortion of truth into which we can fall. Unless we are aware of these and are on our guard, we can find that we are losing that joy and peace which we knew when we were first saved. Satan is cunning. We are watching for wickedness and evil traps, so he works in subtle ways. Little by little, when we do not realise, he will lead us away and rob us.
The Psalmist pleaded with God: "Restore to me the joy of your salvation" (Ps.51:12), and the Lord condemned the church in Ephesus: "You have forsaken your first love" (Rev.2:4). I am sure that they did not callously and deliberately turn their backs on God. Indeed, they are praised in the preceding verses. But somewhere along the way, they forgot.
In the following sections we will look at some of the traps into which we can fall. Each of these is a distortion of the truth, so we will look at the truth, the trap, and the solution to the problem. It is my prayer that you will be able to recognise where you may have been deceived, and may be helped back to the truth of the "perfect law that gives freedom."
Further posts to come in this series:
Legalism: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
Magic Formulas: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
Answers to Everything: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
Scripture Twisting: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
Superstition: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
Elitism: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
The Need to See: The Truth, The Trap, The Solution
Inventing the Individual: Book Review
2 weeks ago