We’ve asked Russell Young to become a regular contributor here; in addition to being active in our comments section. This article got me thinking about how we have a clergy class who we expect to be the arbiters of all things spiritual, instead of learning how to go to the source…
See that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8, NIV)
A god of this age is philosophical thought. Its expression has been seen in teaching about the issues of life (abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, tolerance, etc.) and even in spiritual teachings. Our institutions of “higher learning” have derailed the gospel message; philosopher-theologians often leave the confines of God’s Word in search of understanding so that Believers might be ‘better informed.’ Their proclamations are often accepted as “truth” and they are honored as being the source of all knowledge and the founts of wisdom. The problem is that their “truths” often come from “principles of this world” as Paul has warned. Their philosophies are deceptive.
The reason why our pastor/teachers are accepting the deceptions of these philosopher-theologians must be discerned by themselves. Is it that the Holy Spirit only speaks to a few? Is it that they do not hear the whisperings of the Spirit? Is it due to the ease that comes from relying on another’s mind? Is it that they have been convinced of authenticity of a world system that honors institutional learning?
Why is it that our theological institutions have replaced the ministry of the Holy Spirit in His teaching role with that of esteemed men? Through John’s gospel our Lord stated,
“When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you in all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.” (John 16:13-14, NIV)
The neglect of cherishing the Spirit and of seeking Him as the source of truth, and the practice of relenting to human understanding has led many astray and is resulting in the destruction of the modern church. The LORD said that He would not give His glory to another, and in the end He will not give it to those who have honored themselves or who honor others for their human thought. This is a serious matter!
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV)
This passage is straight-forward. How do believers know the leading of the Spirit if they are led by men? What teaching is being provided to help them avoid destruction? Teachings about righteousness that allow the believer to mature and to “train himself to distinguish good from evil” are the “solid food” of God’s Word. (Hebrews 5:14) The nature of one’s “sowing” will lead to his eternal life or to his destruction. This teaching and the many that require the practice of righteousness, the transformation of the heart to one that pleases God, and the awaiting judgment have all be cast aside in favor of man’s persuasions of provision provided through God’s grace. This is a very serious matter!
Paul taught that “the righteous requirements of the law are fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4, NIV) It is the teaching of our Lord that He did “not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17) He fulfills them through His life lived in the believer which is one’s hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) In the end the LORD is going to destroy the earth and its inhabitants because “it has been defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken his everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)
What disappointment awaits those who have relied upon man rather than upon God! Woe to those who teach man’s philosophies rather than God’s truths. Those who do so will face God’s wrath. Concerning the “distortion” of truth and the destruction that follows, Peter wrote:
“He [Paul] writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16)
Teachers will be judged for their deceptions!
The world has a great pull on the interests of man. The Israelites wanted a king so that they might be like the rest of the world and the Lord gave them one. Philosophical-theologians want to honor the institutions of man just as do teachers of other disciplines and the body is reaping its reward.
It is “hollow and deceptive philosophy,” as Paul has presented, that is deceiving many. The church needs to rest its understanding on the teachings of God’s Word through the Spirit’s revelations and not on the musings of man. Destruction is going to fall on many for their neglect of the precious “gift” of the Spirit and of His ordained ministry. In the end the wisest philosopher will receive no exaltation over the humblest servant of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10)