Doctrine and Pride

Posted on 09/09/2018 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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Today, I'd like for us to talk a little about doctrine... and pride.

By doctrine, I don't mean the Gospel. Rather, by doctrine, I mean those things that are not vital to Salvation.

And by pride, I mean that ugly, fleshly product of the human mind that thinks the doctrines it embraces are most definitely true, and any other point of view is obviously false, perhaps even to the damnation of those who believe it.

A few days ago, I ran across a video on YouTube addressing Christian television channels that are supposedly false, and the so-called false prophets who appear on such heretical networks. The video's description stated that those false prophets teach heresies such as breaking the Sabbath by resting and worshiping on Sundays instead of Saturdays, and believing in the Trinity.

When I suggested in the comments that those two things don't make someone a false prophet, and that even Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath, someone said that I was doing something very dangerous by suggesting Jesus sinned, and that those who break the commandments are not friends of Christ, and are like the Pharisees.

The sad thing is, it was the Pharisees who were claiming Jesus was sinning because He did not obey the commandment to keep the Sabbath according to THEIR understanding of what that commandment means.

How about the Trinity? I assume they believe in the Oneness doctrine, while we believe and teach God as a Trinity -- three persons who are the One true God, versus Oneness which presents God as one person who manifests Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And here's where pride comes in. Both Trinity and Oneness are ways for our minds to explain the unexplainable, to understand that which the mind cannot possibly understand.

As 1st Corinthians 13:12 tells us, we see through a glass dimly. ALL of us see through a glass dimly, even when we are convinced we're seeing something face to face.

But the truth of the matter is that no one alive on earth today has fully experienced all of God, and our earthly minds most certainly have only a very imperfect, dim idea of God. His mind is not our mind, His ways are not our ways, and we cannot grasp Him or intellectualize Him any better than the next group of dim-witted earthlings.

And I don't say that as an insult. We really are dim-witted. Or, in more pleasant words, we all see through a glass dimly. We all know in part, but when Jesus returns, we will know fully, just as we are fully known. We will see the Truth face to face.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known." (1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB)

That's a verse we should all memorize. But even more than that, we should memorize the context. And the context is Love.

"But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." Why do you suppose that verse about our dim understanding is in that chapter that's all about love? What does that have to do with love? What does love have to do with that?

Well, let's take a look.

1 Corinthians 13 (NASB)

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Verse two says that if I have all knowledge and understanding, but don't have love, I am nothing. Do you have all your doctrinal ducks in a row? Who knows. Verse 12 says we're all dim-wits. But even if you somehow stumbled onto the mystery-solving jackpot, even then, love would be your only redeeming quality. The other stuff doesn't really matter.

Now, you might be thinking, "But I've worked really long and hard to make sure my doctrinal beliefs are in line with the Scriptures!" Good. The Bible says we should study to show ourselves approved, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But didn't Jesus say in Luke 17:10, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'" He was saying that we should take on the attitude of a lowly servant who is doing only what is required of us.

We SHOULD study the Scriptures diligently and prayerfully; but even with our best efforts, we STILL see through a glass dimly, and we STILL know only in part.

1 Corinthians 13 verse 4 says that love is kind, it doesn't brag or parade itself, and it is not puffed up or arrogant. So even if you nail some doctrine and get it just right, if you take on the attitude that everyone else is definitely wrong, and maybe even less spiritual because of it, then any good your insight might have brought you has just blown out the window.

And I've fallen to this prideful trap on many, many occasions. Not the trap of seeking sound doctrine, that's my job both as a believer and as a pastor; but I would rather be wrong and humble and full of love, than to be right and "know it." Our purpose for studying Biblical truth should NOT be to put another notch in our belt or feather in our hat and somehow gain spiritual favor; rather, our pursuit of solid truth should be so we can better live in a way that pleases God and keeps us on the life path God has for us to walk.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you? but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8 KMV)

THAT is the only "spiritual position" that matters: do what's right, be full of mercy, and walk humbly with God. And whether you know whether Jesus is returning before, during, or after the tribulation doesn't really matter. If you're inspired to study the topic, do so diligently, but realize that you're no more clever than the other believers who come to different conclusions, and you could be completely wrong.

Now before you go saying I said doctrine doesn't matter, let me clarify that it's very important that you diligently pursue truth and that you search out the Scriptures and the Spirit of God for sound doctrine. But remember that you are only human, and your human mind is unreliable at best, and is prone to get the little you dimly see wrong.

Do not take pride in your understanding, or your denomination's understanding, of Scripture. We're all on the path of the Cross together, seeing truth through dim eyes from different points of view, and ALL of us have things wrong. No exceptions.

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord. You're just a servant of God, and as you continue to walk humbly with God, obeying His word as you understand it from your own ongoing diligent study, He will some day greet you and all who do the same with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in to the joy of your Lord!"