Tag Archive: Psychology


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Whether in a novel, a crime show, or while at work, we have all heard this phrase borrowed by the world time and time again. However, as they understandably do so often, those who  use it strip the phrase from of its actual and powerful meaning. Sadly, many in the church have heard it said so often, they too have perhaps forgotten what Jesus is really teaching His disciples.

Early on in my Christian walk, John 8:31-32 were two verses that had a tremendous and even life changing impact on me. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32. It occurred to me that Christianity, although filled with an amazing testimony regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a story that changed my life. It wasn’t one religion among many which just happened to be the one that worked for me. No, Christianity was and is and always will be built upon the bedrock of the truth.

So often people get saved and are then brought into a local church body. They are quickly put to work, staying busy with activity after activity. Soon Christianity is solely defined by the activities and friendships and the Word is marginalized in place of the work. Although there is an important place for the work, unless the Word of God is put first, the work we are doing might very well end up being the work of men, not the Lord.

Once a born again believer realizes, truly realizes that Christianity isn’t merely about a changed life or the work one does; once the Christian really begins to see that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father of Life because He is the truth, then that believer has finally begun standing upon the solid ground.

Undeniably, our firm foundation is Jesus, yet as He reveals in John 8:31-32, our faith becomes solid when it is exercised with the understanding that God’s Word is uniquely and unequivocally true. We need not run to the popular preacher nor to the pop-psychologist, but to the Word of God to know the truth. There is no college, no institution, no religion on the planet that can offer what the Bible can.

Jesus didn’t say that facts will set men free. He said the truth found in God’s Word alone would bring real and eternal freedom to the souls of men. Christianity is one hundred percent based on the truth and nothing but the truth, period.

Unfortunately we tend to wander from the Word, leaning instead upon the words of men. The natural man loves the “all natural” flavors produced and peddled by other men. Yet, there are those who long for something more, something better. There are those who, perhaps for years, have done the “church” thing, yet now realize men and their activities can never truly satisfy. Only the truth will do!

In these two amazing verses, Jesus tells us many things. First, He declares that He is God. He does not say, “If you remain in God’s Word.” He says, “If you remain in My Word.” He is saying the Word spoken to the faithful followers of the LORD from the beginning of time has always been His Word. Jesus truly is God.

He also teaches us that His Word is not simply true, but that it is sufficiently so. Jesus does not say, “If you stay in My Word, you will know part of the truth.” We are promised to know ALL of the truth pertaining to everlasting freedom. God’s Word is truly sufficient. One of Satan’s greatest strategies among believers is not to deny the truth of God’s Word, but instead to deny its sole sufficiency. Once people buy into this horrific lie, they will then be willing to drink from all sorts of muddied streams, all in hopes of discovering some drop of pure water.

As strange as this sounds, this one strategy has literally and repeatedly crippled the body of Christ from walking in the true power and victory God has intended for her. May we not be ensnared any longer!

True freedom comes exclusively from God’s Word. Despite their many claims, absolutely nothing this world offers can produce eternal freedom, nothing. Neither psychology nor religion, neither education nor entertainment will do. The ways of man will always fall short of eternity and often lead to temporal destruction as well.

Those reading these two verses should also inquire about the freedom offered by Jesus. Freedom yes, but freedom from what? Jesus is not providing freedom to go live our own lives independent of divine authority. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Simply put, God’s Word promises to sufficiently bring freedom from sin, from self, and from the power of our first father, Satan.

God’s promise also ensures freedom to finally love and serve the One we were made to worship; the Living and True God, the Creator and Savior of the world. This is the freedom found exclusively in the Word of God, the Word not based on the sinking sands of man’s opinions or Satan’s devices, but rather the Word which is the truth and nothing but the truth.

On this Lord’s day, may we praise and thank Him for His wonderful reminder to stop feeding the flesh. May we cease from fearing and following the words and ways of men. Instead let us wholeheartedly love the truth of God revealed to us by His Holy Spirit as we remain in the glorious, eternal, and sufficient Word of Truth!

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

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“One of the most important things to realize is that the Christian life, the real Christian life, humanly speaking, is impossible. It was never intended to be lived by human beings. It was to be lived by God within the heart of the Christian, by the power of God, the presence of God, of Jesus Himself living within us in a victorious way. Sadly, most of us live the Christian life with two Christians in one body. We open our heart, we invite Jesus Christ to come in. We now say I’m a Christian, but then we have Jesus who sits there for most of our lifetime wanting to take over while we’re showing Him how to be a Christian.” 
 
“The interesting thing about the Christian life, you really don’t need two Christians in one body. One is quite adequate. When we’ve already invited the finest Christian who ever lived with our life, why do we spend time trying to impress Him with our efforts to do it?  Basically Jesus is saying, I got into your life through My death on the cross and you’ll get into victory through your death to Me, dying to self, dying to your unbelief, dying to all your carnal wickedness and corruption and nature. When you give up on that and stop making promises on how hard you’re going to try and good you’re going to do and simply start saying, Lord I’m going to look to you, then you’ll realize there’s no way humanly to do it.”  ~Don McClure  
“Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

This video, courtesy of  Once Lost Ministries, is based on a previous post entitled “Christ Esteem or Esteeming Christ“.  

 

Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

 

OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES: 

Bible Light Bulb ImageLovers of Self- A Sign of the End: We live in an era that is literally saturated with pop-psychological jargon.  From the news stands to the TV to America’s school curricula, Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, etc. philosophies have inundated the human perspective at every turn. Although men have always been lovers of self, there has never been a time in history where the solution for all men’s ills has been so falsely sold as simply having high self-esteem.

Yes, worldly thinking will continue to get worse and worse, but having it flow so pervasively throughout the body of Christ is truly a sign of the last days!  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:1-2a. 3, 7

The Holy Spirit’s warning here isn’t for the world, but for the church and one of the men who has arguably most  infected the body of Christ with the false doctrine of self-esteem is Dr. James Dobson. Dobson has authored or coauthored 36 books and sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide. The Focus on the Family radio broadcast reportedly reaches 200 millions listeners in 164 countries each day.  His grandfatherly demeanor perhaps gives the impression that his advice can only bring healing, but sadly the seeds of deceit planted by his worldly philosophies will continue producing unrighteous fruit until the Lord returns with His saints.

Dr. Dobson has unashamedly expressed innumerable times that the biggest problem in all humanity is low self-esteem. Therefore it would stand to reason that his number one solution for mankind is not the Gospel, but a good self-esteem.  In his book Hide or Seek he says,

  • “… whenever the keys to self-esteem are seemingly out of reach for a large percentage of the people, as in twentieth-century America, then widespread ‘mental illness,’ neuroticism, hatred, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and social disorder will certainly occur. Personal worth is not something human beings are free to take or leave. We must have it, and when it is unattainable, everybody suffers. … a sizable proportion of all human activity is devoted to the task of shielding us from the inner pain of inferiority. I believe this is to be the most dominant force in life” (Hide or Seek, pp. 20-21, 152). (Emphasis added.)

There are several excellent resources (posted below) on the subject of James Dobson and the problems with self-esteem.  The purpose of this post, however, is to expose a layer beneath this, examining a repackaged version of self-esteem that may be less easily detected.

Two Techniques: In every industry there are those talented enough to sell.  Whether it’s an idea or product, to get ahead in the business world, it is important that one understands the nature of sales. For some this comes quite naturally and for others it takes study and practice.  Two basic techniques of selling might be called “Problem/Solution” and “Repackaging”.  The first is what Dr. Dobson is famous for.  He presents the problem as being low self-esteem.  He does this by telling many stories, the kind that tug on your heart strings and before you know it your feelings end up trumping your intellect. You begin developing an emotional connection with the misinformation.  Given enough time, the listener also develops an atrophied ability to reason.  Then, after you are so emotionally invested, Dr. Dobson triumphantly declares the sole solution being a healthy self-esteem. Although this technique is worth an in depth examination, the second sales technique will be the focus for the remainder of this post.

“Repackaging” has been around since almost the beginning of time.  Satan repackaged the fruit of knowledge of good and evil as a product that would bring wisdom, not death.  After all, wisdom is a good, godly thing, right?  Yes, if it’s from the Creator.  Creation, however,can never bring men true, everlasting, and godly wisdom!  “Repackaging” can also be thought of as the Trojan Horse approach.  The whole purpose to this technique, of course, is to make whatever you’re selling seem more appealing to the person you’re selling it to.

When it comes to the idea of self-esteem, there’s most assuredly been a “repackaging” over the last several decades in hopes of making it more palatable, even to  many fundamental Christians.  The history of this modern day “repackaging” really goes back to Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. (For more, see The Berean Call’s newsletter articles “Toward the Prize” and “Psychology in Prophecy”)

Too many of today’s professing Bible teachers have continued offering millions of followers this destructive fruit as the ultimate form of wisdom, carefully keeping their teachings hidden in biblical jargon.  They talk of Jesus and godliness, yet carefully woven into their messages is the idea that Christ has come to heal us of all our negative self-concepts, that Christ has come to bring about a “healthy” self-esteem within us.  They say, “Let’s focus on Jesus”, but too often Jesus is not their ultimate goal. What many of them really mean to say is, “Let’s focus on Jesus so we can finally feel good about ourselves.”  To illustrate this better, consider this brief illustration.

  • A boy goes to school sad because he’s picked on every day and never first in line.  He’s never chosen first to be on anyone’s team at recess and at lunch he has trouble finding a place to sit.  He comes home every day feeling bad because he just isn’t popular at school.  Then one day the boy discovers a beautiful rock as he explores his backyard, a rock like no other.  It’s full of colors. Parts are shiny while other sections are clear.  When held up to the light the rock shimmers and glistens, sending the sun’s rays bouncing in every direction.  He decides to bring it to school for show and tell and immediately everyone wants to see the rock.  Suddenly the boy is the most popular kid in school.  Everyone wants to be his friend.  Then one day he loses the rock.  He looks everywhere, but can’t find it.  He reluctantly goes to school, but once the other kids find out he no longer has the rock, the boy goes back to being ordinary and quickly loses his popularity.  His sadness comes knocking and he’s quick to let it in.  A few weeks later, the boy begins digging, but this time not in the dirt, but in his Bible.  He finds another Rock, but this time it is Christ.  He finds the Savior and calls out to Jesus, asking Him to forgive his selfishness, to forgive his sinfulness against the Creator.  The boy gladly receives God’s full and free pardon and adoption into God’s family.  As the boy begins searching and studying the Word, he quickly realizes that his selfish pursuits were simply that, selfish.  He finds Galatians 2:20, Luke 9:23, and Luke 14:26 and soon begins to understand that life is not about feeling good about himself, but simply turning from self to God, serving Jesus, not the flesh.

In this little story, the boy first used a rock to make him feel good about himself. Then he found the true Rock, Jesus Christ, who taught him that Jesus isn’t here to make him feel good about himself, rather to free him from self so that he could finally begin learning about the God who is eternally good.  This story sums up what much of Christianity has become.

You see, too often the popular teachings of self-esteem have been carefully repacked to appear biblical so they will more readily be acceptable to those in the church.  For example, people will say that Jesus came to make us feel good about ourselves.  Another goes something like this, “Once Jesus is in your life, you can now have a healthy self-image, realizing how worth it you are. After all Jesus died for you.  He paid the ultimate price proving how valuable you are.”

On her website, in a section entitled Everyday Answers, Joyce Meyer says, “We all need to accept ourselves, embrace our personalities and even our imperfections, knowing that although we are not where we need to be, we are making progress. Jesus died for us because we have weaknesses and imperfections, and we don’t have to reject ourselves because of them. God wants us to love ourselves and enjoy how He’s made us!” (Emphasis added.)

Rick Warren, arguably today’s most popular teacher of self wrapped in Christian garb, has for years focused on having a good self image.  An interesting side note: Rick Warren was trained for years at Robert Schuller’s Institute at The Crystal Cathedral.  A quote from Pastor Warren’s Daily Hope devotional posted May 12, 2013, says,  “For years psychologists have told us that our self-esteem comes from what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. Make Jesus the most important person in your life, and it’ll change everything. God’s Word says you’re lovable (John 3:16), capable (2 Peter 1:3), valuable (Luke 12:6), forgivable (Psalm 103:12), and usable (Ephesians 4:12). Let that tape become the soundtrack of your life, and you will never be the same.”

Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t prove my worth, rather the price of my sin.  Yes, He paid it all, but it’s not like Jesus went to Jostens Jewelry to buy a diamond ring.  It’s more suitable and biblical to say He went to the judge to pay off in full mankind’s penalty, a fine that was infinite in cost.  Such a high-priced penalty doesn’t denote value, but the extent and severity of my crime.  His death reveals the extent of my sinfulness and the depth of His love.  Jesus didn’t die for creatures that were worth something, but for creatures that were so not worth it!  I don’t deserve His forgiveness, nor does God somehow see a diamond in the rough, some glimmer of hope.  I am hopeless and rebellious to the core.  God’s love  is not based on me, rather solely upon His own infinite character!  After all God is love.  In other words, it is the love God is that motivates His actions, not my loveliness!

Christ-Esteem: In recent years, the phrase “Christ-esteem” has begun circulating the pulpit as a way of replacing self-esteem.  And while I agree that our focus must be on Christ, it seems to this believer that the phrase “Christ-Esteem” still lends a bit of credibility to today’s psychologized Christianity, saying we must focus on Christ in hopes of realizing how lovely we really are.  Loved, yes!  Lovely, no!   Paul said it this way, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing…” Romans 7:18.  The only good in me is Christ!  He is my hope of glory.  Being that we’re in such a psychologically defined society, it’s every believer’s responsibility to be extra cautious in the language chosen when teaching the truth of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Esteeming Christ:  Instead of saying I have Christ-esteem, I’d rather declare that I esteem Christ.  Webster’s online dictionary defines Esteem as “to set a high value on : regard highly and prize accordingly.”  Jesus is not simply in my life. He is my Life!  Jesus does not simply enter my heart and mind to make me a better man.  He comes to transform and renew me into His image, living His Life in me and through me.  John the baptist said it best, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.John 3:30.  He should be my all in all! Clearly, my highest aim is not to esteem self, but to esteem Christ and Christ alone.  My pursuit to do so should be pure and careful.  It should be thoughtful and bold.

Our love for Christ should go beyond all men’s opinions and teaching, no matter how popular and kind the man may be.  God is not a respecter of persons, nor should His children.  Using the phrase “Christ-esteem” might be a little thing, but again, due to the psychologically redefined language flooding our world today, I choose to speak clearly and carefully, not desiring to confuse the Gospel to its hearers.  Reflecting the heart of every sinner, Isaiah wrote, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”  Isaiah 53:3.  As an enemy of God, I esteemed Him not.  As a blood-bought sinner, I can truly and whole heartily declare my sole desire is to esteem Jesus Christ above all!

“[May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:17-23

For the You Tube video discussing this article, go to: “Christ Esteem or Esteeming Christ”.

HELPFUL RESOURCES: 

Self Love“Another book, coauthored by Myers and Malcolm Jeeves, states that “the most common error in people’s self images is not unrealistically low self-esteem, but rather self-serving pride; not an inferiority complex, but a superiority complex.”A recent study conducted by Scott Allison et al indicates that people give themselves reasons to think positively about themselves. For instance, they regard themselves more highly than others by remembering unfair actions against themselves instead of their own unfairness to others. There is a definite self-serving bias in all of us. Self-esteem and self-love do not need to be encouraged; they are part of the fallen, sinful nature. In Jeremiah 17:9 we are told, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Man is self-serving, self-affirming, self-loving, and self esteeming because he is self-deceiving. Many of the ways that man serves, affirms, loves, esteems, and deceives himself are found in the research as well as the Bible.”

“The Bible does not present self-esteem, self-worth, self love, self-confidence, or self-fulfillment as needs that must be met to create capable, loving, well-adjusted people. Instead, the direction of Scripture is away from self and toward God and others. Self is not to be enhanced or catered to. Self esteem is not even mentioned. On the other hand, Paul warned that a Christian is “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Romans 12:3). And when it comes to esteem, Paul says, “. . . let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). From the context of Scripture, the fallen nature is already biased in the direction of self. Self-love is already there or Jesus would not have commanded us to love others as we (already) love ourselves(Matthew 22:39).”

“There are those who try to use the Great Commandment to justify self-love. However, the Great Commandment teaches just the opposite: to love God and others. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).”

“Is the commandment to love self a commandment of God or is it a commandment of men? We found no Bible commentary that said that Matthew 22:39 (or parallel verses in Mark and Luke) commands us to love ourselves. However, many people have distorted the meaning of Matthew 22:39 to give credence to their self-love teachings. For instance, humanistic psychologist Erich Fromm says:

“If it is a virtue to love my neighbor as a human being, it must be a virtue—and not a vice—to love myself, since I am a human being too. There is no concept of man in which I myself am not included. A doctrine which proclaims such an exclusion proves itself to be intrinsically contradictory. The idea expressed in the Biblical “Love thy neighbor as thyself!” implies that respect for one’s own integrity and uniqueness, love for and understanding of one’s own self, can not be separated from respect for and love and understanding of another individual. The love for my own self is inseparably connected with the love for any other self.  If an individual is able to love productively, he loves himself too; if he can love only others, he cannot love at all.(Emphasis his.)”

“Fromm was an atheist who argued against the fundamentals of the Christian faith. It is even more disturbing when Christians parrot such misunderstandings of Jesus’ words about loving neighbor as one loves himself. Rather than properly exegeting the passage, they use Scripture to support a pet theory.”

Excerpts from “12 Steps to Destruction” by Martin and Deidre Bobgan (pp. 57-67) http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/12steps-ebk.pdf

Self-Esteem pill bottleDo People Actually Suffer from Low Self-Esteem and Self-Hatred?

What about people who claim to hate themselves? Do they actually hate themselves or are they trying to gain sympathy and support? If they tell someone they hate themselves, the common response is to rescue them from that idea. In the process they receive sympathy and support not normally given. It is a predictable transaction that once begun can become a habitual way of relating to others and receiving support. There are also those who are unhappy about themselves and their circumstances and generalize them into some kind of self-revulsion, all the while loving themselves.

On the other hand, there are some who do experience personal revulsion because of their sin. In fact, unconfessed known sin, such as resentment, bitterness, hatred, and self pity, may make the person feel guilty and therefore uncomfortable. The actual guilt may then be transformed into feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness. In that case, the person does not need more self-love, self-acceptance, or self-esteem.

The person needs to repent and confess and be cleansed. We are not saying that there are no individuals who genuinely think they hate themselves. But, what they generally hate is something about themselves or their circumstances. They exhibit actual love for themselves in that they continue to spend most of their time concerned about themselves, even if it is with unhappy thoughts. They generally get to the point where they are unhappy about themselves because a discrepancy exists between their aspirations or desires and their performance or condition. This intensive hatred is evidence of high self-interest.

Thus a woman who aspires to be thin and beautiful rather than fat and ugly by cultural standards could end up hating her condition and thereby think that she hates herself, because her desire for a perfect figure is discrepant from the reality of being fat and “ugly.” She is reacting to the discrepancy, but the root of the problem is self-love and even pride. She does not actually hate herself. She hates the discrepancy. If she truly hated herself she would be happy, or at least satisfied, to be fat and ugly. But, her self-love in tandem with the discrepancy makes her miserable.

Dr. David Myers, in his book The Inflated Self, discusses research having to do with how people view themselves and others. The research demonstrates that there is definitely a self-serving bias at work in individuals. Myers says: Time and again, experiments have revealed that people tend to attribute positive behaviors to themselves and negative behaviors to external factors, enabling them to take credit for their good acts and to deny responsibility for their bad acts.

Numerous research studies contradict the common notion having to do with self-image. In his book, Myers presents research to support his statement that: Preachers who deliver ego-boosting pep talks to audiences who are supposedly plagued with miserable self images are preaching to a problem that seldom exists.

Excerpts from “12 Steps to Destruction” by Martin and Deidre Bobgan (pp. 57-67) http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/e-books/12steps-ebk.pdf

Who is the Real Enemy?

Self LoveSo often people speak of Satan as being the enemy, which he clearly is. (1 Peter 5:8) However, there is almost no mention today of the enemy that follows us around everywhere we go. It wasn’t Satan that caused Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden and it surely isn’t Satan that forces men to sin today. Yes, he is the tempter, but we are personally responsible for our decisions. “…But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:13-14

We sin because our flesh has chosen to place self, instead of God, upon the throne. Self is as much the enemy as Satan. The old man, cast in the image of his father the devil, doesn’t just vanish upon being born again. The old man, the self life, along with all its affections and desires, MUST be crucified daily by the power of Christ who lives in every born again believer. (Luke 9:23)

All the talk today from popular psychologists, authors, and preachers of self acceptance, self love, self worth, etc. is foolishness to the cross and the cross foolishness to their false teachings. Although unbiblical and destructive to the soul, sadly many professing believers have rallied around the idea of self love as if it is the saving Gospel of mankind. After all how can someone actually feel worthy to accept God’s forgiveness until they learn to love themselves?

How far we have come from the truth of Paul… “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing… O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:18a, Romans 7:24  Even popular, professing Christian singers have begun injecting self love into their lyrics. May the day never come when we sing, “I lift me up! Oh yeah and Jesus too.”

“I lay me down and lift Jesus up!” ought always be my love song to the One who died for a sinner such as I.

“MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL…”


Most would readily recognize a queen talking to herself in a mirror about her own beauty as prideful and foolish. So why is it that so many have been duped by the popular psychological doctrine of self-esteem which in essence teaches the same prideful notions of self-adoration?

Possibly part of the reason is because of the psychotherapeutic community’s stellar job of making their field appear more scientific than it really is. Another could be the lack of discernment in many who trust almost any teaching as long as it’s called “scientific”. Interestingly, in the minds of many, once a belief receives the stamp of approval from “science”,  it somehow moves out from the realm of fiction (or hypothesis) and into the world of facts and, it seems, is no longer open to scrutiny.  As the adage goes, “Perception is reality.”

But what if the real research and observational science contradict the popular belief of something? To go a step further, what if the Bible contradicts the idea? Arguably, two of the most popular and influential ideas in today’s world; two that use “science” as their shield  and cleverly rule over our self-centered, post-modern society are evolution and clinical psychotherapy. When dealing with either, the Christian is unconditionally obligated without pause to examine them under the scrutiny of God’s sufficient Scriptures. As we stand on His Word, we need not fear.  The truth of God’s creation will always confirm, never contradict the Bible.  The problem occurs when someone gives himself permission to use God’s Word in conjunction with man’s ideas.  Here is where the road splits.  Also, here is where a clever debater will raise up a straw man hoping to cause as many as possible to make a sharp left turn when we should stay straight on the narrow way.

“You see,” an orator might argue, “we don’t use the Bible for fixing a car or building a skyscraper, so clearly there are writings and teachings by men that require us to go outside the Bible. ”  This is foolish at best, and detrimental at worst.  No one would say that we don’t find some of man’s discoveries and teaching useful as they pertain to our day-to-day lives on planet earth.  The problem comes when we make the unnecessary leap of holding to those that lay claim to answers exclusive to the Word of God.  The Bible clearly states that it is sufficient for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), so if any doctrine in these areas contradicts the 66 books of the Bible, a born-again believer must throw them out.  We do not first and foremost need men, rather the Holy Spirit and His Word in these matters.  However, this attack to turn a person from trusting God’s Word is not always easy to detect. Most often they are subtle and unannounced, claiming all the while to be benevolent in intent.

Why not announce your full intentions?  Why such subtly? Simply stated, it’s not always advantageous to attack your opponent head on.  A good strategist will come at his enemy in a variety of covert ways, but the goal is always the same- overtake and destroy.  If I were to stand in front of a Bible-believing congregation and plainly teach that we don’t need God’s Word for all areas of life, many would hopefully correct me on the spot, asking me to step down.  However, if I begin to teach a contrary view to the Bible concerning the history of this universe (evolution) or the nature of man (pop-psychology, self-esteem), all the while invoking “science” to make my claims, many might feel ill-equipped to disagree. Why? Because they feel “scientifically” under equipped to do so.  This reason alone reveals that, at some level, they have been convinced that the “science” in these historical and sociological areas is superior to God’s Word. Once a person has been convinced of the insufficiency of God’s Word, he will undoubtedly be susceptible to even more science fiction, much of which is only covered in a thin veneer of so-called facts. Once a person has bowed the knee to the superiority of man’s ideas to life and godliness in any area,  the battle and even perhaps much of the war has been won.  Once the door is unlocked, allowing in man’s vain philosophies, a person has, in essence, given permission for any and all foolish ideas to enter his heart and mind.

Anytime anyone says that we can add false doctrines to God’s Word, whether claiming to be spiritual or scientific, we are in actuality moving ourselves off the bedrock of the Bible onto the sinking sands of sinful men. The question is simple.  Do we really want the Rock or are we satisfied with the sand?

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker…” 2 Timothy 2:15-17a

Below is a current article providing one of the many examples where the facts diverge from one of today’s most popular teachings.

Dark Side of Self-Esteem

“The media recently reported “new” research findings to the effect that rewards often backfire and self-esteem is not the wonderful, uplifting personal attribute once thought. As a result, schools are rethinking their teaching and classroom management philosophies…

“For almost two decades, research done by people like Roy Baumeister of Florida State University has shown, as conclusively as social science research is capable of showing, that high self-esteem is associated with anti-social behavior. Think, for example, bullying. It appears that the higher one’s self-regard, the lower his regard for others.  People with high self-regard believe themselves to be entitled. What they want, they believe they deserve to have. Because they deserve what they want, they believe they deserve to have.  Because they deserve what they want, the ends justify the means. Think, for example, Bernie Madoff.  They are never wrong; therefore, they are right to act on whatever idea they have. Think, for example, Adolph Hitler.”  (excerpted from http://www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=1545284).

ImageToo often worldly ideas get circulated by popular preachers from the pulpits of many of today’s churches.  Sadly, once these ideas are shared enough times, they soon become accepted teachings and few people stop to check them out from God’s Word. One such teaching today is a popular psychological philosophy many call “Idols of the Heart”.

Over the last several years “Idols of the Heart” has grown to become a mainstream psychological idea within many Christian communities and is claimed by its adherents to be biblical in approach and doctrine.  Unfortunately it is at best humanistic, centering itself on the flesh, not the Spirit. In general, the philosophy teaches that the sinful human heart desires to worship self, constructing idols from early on in life. Once becoming a Christian, the teaching goes, we must explore our hearts to examine, expose, and eradicate any and all idols.

Four general problems with this psychology:

  • First, in order to locate them, we are told that we must sit down with “professionals” to talk about all the things that have gone on in our lives in hopes of exposing these idols. This “talking” often times falls under gossip and tends to be self-focused and problem-centered, not Christ-centered.
  • Secondly, even if idols are discovered, the question will always remain, when do we know if all our idols have been exposed?  We could spend a lifetime examining our old hearts and still not be sure we’ve gotten rid of them all.
  • Next, if there are idols in our hearts, they would have been constructed by the old, unregenerate man.  So in order to find them, we are forced to peruse the old man, not the new man, born again by the Spirit of God.  Instead of digging through the old flesh, Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ…[putting] on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” Colossians 2:11; 3:10. (Emphasis mine.)
  • Finally, perhaps the most deceptive part is while attempting to grow in the Spirit, one is actually only able to prop up the fleshly, old man and all if its self-focused desires.  In this process we very well may believe we are overcoming sin by the power of the Spirit, when in actuality we are simply bringing attention and satisfaction to the old man.  In doing so, this often leads to confusion and even deception for the one practicing such methods.

Below are several exerpts from a recent article written by Martin and Deidre Bobgan which serve as a further biblical response.

THE IDOLATROUS HEART

“The self focus of introspection that comes with counseling that stresses insight into one’s idolatrous heart can actually strengthen the flesh as it becomes self-centered rather than Christ-centered.  An emphasis on the idolatrous heart also poses a danger of too much self-centered introspection, which can lead to despair on the one hand and prideful self-righteousness on the other.

One may become stuck in trying to fix the flesh, which must be put off.  Therefore the idolatrous heart should not be the primary emphasis in the spiritual ministry of soul care.  Any attention given to the idolatrous heart is only useful as a means of teaching the doctrine of human depravity and identifying when one is living according to the old nature. But one can come to the same conclusion by reading the Word and then paying attention to one’s thoughts and behavior in relation to what God has said.  When the Bible calls for self-examination, the purpose is to discover whether one is in the faith and walking according to the new life in Christ (1 Cor. 11:28; 2 Cor. 13:5).  Spiritual growth comes by focusing on Christ, His very Person, His life, and all He has accomplished for the believer and continues to accomplish at the right hand of the Father.

While many in the Biblical Counseling Movement may indeed intend to “present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1:28), because of their problem-centeredness, they grievously fall into another form of idolatry: sinful conversations as a means to a better marriage, a better life, and a more satisfied self.

Why Christians who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, given new life in Christ, and have the very Word of God at their finger tips subject themselves to such sin-centered activities escapes reason.  However, one possible reason is that they are walking according to the flesh and attempting to have their lives fixed by someone else instead of through following the Lord Jesus Himself.

One does not need to seek the specific motivation for every sin, but recognize that whenever one sins one is walking according to the flesh with its deceitful heart.  This involves recognition of sin (not analysis), repentance (1 John 1:9) , and walking again according to the indwelling Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16), which involves trusting and obeying Christ.  Throughout the ages the Holy Spirit used the Word of God directly and through sound preaching and teaching to convict the sinner and the sinning saint, to show the way of life, and to enable the believer to live by that new life. The Christian life is one of grace and hope because all is given by God, including the [power] to trust and obey.”

See: http://psychoheresy-aware.org/powlison_cure_3.html for the full article.

The Sharpest Sword!

God’s Word – Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword!

 A sword is a tool that has throughout time been known as a very effective, trustworthy weapon.  There are a variety of  blades – long, short, single-edged, double-edged, etc. To make a good sword takes excellent craftsmanship and a quality metal that is able to be heated, folded, and pounded time and time again.

Isn’t it interesting that the more people attempt to discredit the Word, pounding it with lie after lie, the more God’s Word is revealed as the Truth. The more people attempt to destroy the Bible with the fire of man’s pride and anger, the more God’s Word shines on, just as a newly polished sword.

God’s Word is not described as sharper than a single-edged, but rather a double-edged sword. Just as a two-edged blade, God’s Word cuts two ways.  Not only does it slice into the darkness of  this fallen world, but it also cuts deep, convicting the heart and mind of the one holding it.  The Word of God reaches as deep within as it does without.

Even though there are many comparisons between a double-edged sword and the Word of God, there are two big differences.  First, God’s Word is much sharper than any sword.  A physical sword can only cut that which is physical, but God’s Word can reach deep into the thoughts and intents of the heart, even dividing the soul and the spirit. Hebrews 4:12.There is no sword, not even a light saber that can reach this area of man. (I thank God His Word is so sharp.  If I had a surgeon operating on me, I would hope his instruments were as sharp as possible.)

Secondly, a physical sword is temporal, but God’s Word is eternal.  There is no sword that will outlast the Word of God.  We can trust God’s Sword both now and for eternity!

May we always be willing to allow the Sword to do its work, both within our own hearts and in those around us.

 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”   2 Timothy 3:16

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