How can so many be so wrong about the Scriptures? How can so many believe what is blatantly false and stand in danger of the judgment? Why can they not just admit what is plainly there on the pages of inspiration?
The answer is no mystery. Most fail to realize or acknowledge that self is the reason. Most believe what they do because they look at things through the lens of self-will. By the employment of this lens or filter, the truth of the gospel is veiled (2 Cor. 3:16-4:4). Many choose their beliefs and course in life on the basis of what works for them. They are comfortable and happy with it. Most people do what they want to do, period.
The truth of God's Word is lost on them because self-will reigns. Of all the power wielded through time -- by great kings , emperors and nations of this world -- no kingdom has flourished like the kingdom of self. Pervasive and powerful, the kingdom of self is a citadel against the righteousness of God.
When the Scripture is read, the lens of self-will is employed. Self is protected at all costs. Therefore, you see what you wish to see rather than what is actually there on the printed page. You embrace what you want to embrace and reject what you want to reject. If anything in Scripture indicts one's present course and beliefs, some way must be found to circumvent the teaching. Ignore it. Dismiss it. Argue that it is not applicable. Self must be justified at all costs. Family, tradition and feelings must be approved.
The Jews succumbed often to the malady. Though the Scriptures were "read every Sabbath," they recognized "neither Him (Jesus) nor the utterances of the prophets" which they fulfilled by condemning Him (Acts 13:27). Jesus accused them directly of missing the point of Scripture though they read it diligently (Jno. 5:29-44). They sought glory from one another rather than possessing the love of God in their hearts and seeking His glory. Zeal for God should not necessarily be equated with knowledge of God or salvation (Rom. 10:1-3).
The lens of self-will often focuses on agreeable, seemingly non-threatening
passages, a small portion and not the sum of God's Will. "Just love,"
we're told, and "don't judge." But what does it mean to love? The
Bible has something to say about the nature of God's love and the kind of love
He expects. And most everybody judges, too. For instance, few are willing to
admit that Osama bin Laden is saved or that
Hitler will be in heaven. What they are really saying is, "Do not judge me?" I have declared myself okay, so do not challenge me to consider the possibility I could be wrong.
The lens of self-will protects the religion of convenience. Many just dabble in it when it suits them. Much of what is offered as religion to Christ is not a 42nd cousin to Rom. 12:1,2.
The lens of self-will protects rebellion of all kinds. With the wave of the hand, the Word of God is shoved aside on the subject of marriage while treachery against God and one's mate is declared good. (And what about the great evil so often done to children in a divorce?) To call a relationship wrong and adulterous is considered intolerant and mean.
Hollywood is making sure that profanity and the practice of homosexuality are shoved in our faces on a continual basis. I guess they got bored with lust, fornication and adultery. Television programming and movies proceed from bad to worse. For example, the film, Brokeback Mountain, recently gave Hollywood the perfect occasion to openly promote its godless agenda. The only way to discover approval of the practice of homosexuality in Scripture is to wear a very heavy lens of self-will, so out of focus that it completely clouds the ability to read and comprehend.
Paul's warning to Timothy could not be more relevant to 21st century culture beginning with what I call "the pitiful pair." "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money...haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God..." (2 Tim. 3:1-4). The lens of self-will impedes or prevents understanding. The kingdom of Christ cannot be embraced because the kingdom of self holds a greater attraction.
The old familiar hymn, "Trust and Obey," says it poignantly and powerfully: "there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey." The cultivation of a good and honest heart is necessary to embrace the Word -- "hold it fast and bear fruit with perseverance" (Lk. 8:15). Everyone needs to work at possessing such a heart...everyone! Continually assess your honesty in the study and application of Scripture. Then, submit. Trust and do. The welfare of your soul hangs in the balance.
By Tony Mauck in Biblical Insights, Vol. 6, No. 6, June 2006.
Return to the General Articles pageHome / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /