Jesus rebuked Peter, “Out of My way, Satan! You stand right in My path, Peter, when you think the thoughts of man and not those of God.”
Jesus’ ministry is nothing if not a sequence of His encounters with men who thought they already knew what He was supposed to be. Judas thought Jesus should be king of Israel and later hung himself when his expectations were confronted with the very real death of his King on the cross – dead Kings just don’t need their “number two guys” anymore and the entrenched authority who executed the “King” is quite likely to do gruesome things to those “number two guys” for attempting to replace the status quo. The Pharisees demanded signs from Jesus because what He was doing was taking away their followers – no chance this could be the Messiah, He doesn’t support us! And Peter, perhaps in a similar vein to Judas’ thinking, upon hearing that his Messiah was going to suffer and die at the hands of the Jewish leaders, tells Jesus that this does not need to be so – You’re the Son of God who alone has the words of eternal life, You don’t have to die like that! The things of men that stand in stark contrast to the things of God.
There is perhaps no greater competition to the things of God than our knowledge. What we think we already know simply slams the door shut on any possibility of the Lord sharing with us any new (at least to us) revelation and insight that might change what we think we already know. This is the essential essence of a paradigm, a preconceived, partially submerged “subconscious” belief, idea or attitude (spirit?) that colors the way we understand other topics and ideas. The “church” paradigm is an excellent example because it has so many roots and tentacles that even those who think themselves free of it don’t realize that even when they’ve gotten out of the “church” they have not always been as careful to be sure that the “church” has gotten out of them!
There is perhaps no single greater source of this underlying knowledge that competes with the revelation, insight and wisdom of God than that which we glean from some Bible teacher - some man who, often because he is expert in eloquence, sophistry and rhetoric (all elements of Greek philosophy), is supposedly the possessor of superior spiritual information that he shares (sometimes freely but often at a price) with his passive listeners. Teachers are heaped up in unimaginable numbers today as nearly everyone competes for his or her share of the marketable listeners who long to have their ears scratched in just the right way. These teachers will spin any Bible story to make it more palatable to their hearers – chief among which is that merely attending their “church” and supporting the “work of God” there is the primary duty of man. But every person who is deceived will one day be able to trace that deception back to the man they first heard it from. No deception has ever come about by humbly and contritely and rightly dividing the word of truth according to the leading of the Holy Spirit of truth.
There is perhaps no greater need upon the people of Christ today than to simply set aside all that one thinks one knows – not shutting one’s brain off and leaving it as a passive blank spot for the devil and the demonic to invade – but giving all of one’s knowledge to God and putting it on His “shelf” until such time as He personally reveals how much of what we already know is really truth, how much is deception and how much is some strange mixture of the two. Until we have received all our knowledge from the mind of Christ, we are spiritually infantile (at best) and we are completely incapable of making mature decisions about what the will of God is. This is the renewing of the mind that is sorely missing from “Christian” circles now. Instead, nearly everyone does what is right in his own eyes – the lawlessness which can gain its practitioner an eternal dismissal from the presence of Christ and God.
There is no more important question to ask about each piece of our knowledge (and not just our “religious” knowledge but also our knowledge about ourselves or about one another or even the nature of our human existence) than:
Was it a man? Was it the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of truth? Could what I think I know be a demonic deception? If I am deceived about a certain thing, how would I know? Can we even stand to have the question asked? If we cannot remain at peace whenever and however our favorite doctrines, teachings, practices, preachers, teachers, whatever are brought into question, we can know with certainty that we are deceived and the demonic is stirring us up to keep us from coming into Christ’s light and truth.
Then there are those who will think they already know what this writing is about or who think they already know how Christ wants to build His ekklesia or how He wants to have His people assemble or how He wants to have His people baptized (or whatever other “Christian” doctrine there is to know) or they think they already know all they need to know in order to follow the risen Lord of glory. And these will miss Him because they think following the Lord is a simple assembly kit that all one needs to do is look at the instructions and then begin gluing parts together. And even when this truth is spoken, as is likely to happen when this is stated so baldly, these will say, “I don’t think I’m like that!” and what they think they already know will stand yet again as a barrier to the truth that Christ Jesus wants to instill in their lives.
Knowledge is not the end of the matter – and this is all the more true for those who already know this! What matters is the life and nature of Christ being implanted and then lived forth from the very depths of our being. All else is mere “church,” a deadly strain of deception designed to render the true believer impotent, worthless or even dead. Such a depth of deception is only possible where there is a corresponding depth of hardness (insensitivity to God’s Spirit) that enables us to know (independently from God) what is right and what is wrong. This is the tree from which Adam ate and which is the source of all of man’s troubles in this life.
Let he who has ears hear.
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