Friday, February 10, 2012

The Power of Ideas, #1

Ideas are powerful. Therefore, the Apostle Paul warned that a little leaven (yeast) will leaven the whole loaf (Gal 5:9). This is because some ideas are so powerful that they can undermine all the other players on the field. Darwinist and atheist Daniel Dennett termed Darwinism an “acid” because this naturalistic idea is so powerful that it can corrode all of the other competitors in its path. In fact, I’ve read many testimonies of atheists who had surrendered the faith of their youth as they learned about Darwinism.

Consequently, our battle is of ideas and beliefs, fought on the battleground of the mind. (God must deal with the hearts!):

·        The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:4-5)

“The knowledge of God” is so important, that Paul argues that it must be defended. We do this by examining and rejecting every thought that contradicts this knowledge. It’s almost as if Paul instructs us to have an anti-virus program in place to examine every piece of information that enters our head. A little piece of information can be so corrosive – so viral - that it can undermine our entire computer. This is also the case with what we believe and understand. Jesus warned that if we are going to bear fruit, we must understand His Word properly:

·        “But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:23)

He therefore also warned that we have to be on-guard against false teaching:

·        How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:11-12)

When a computer is infected with a deadly virus, it might take quite a while for this to become apparent, depending upon the nature of the virus. This can also be the case with false teachings. We become compromised, and we are not even aware of it.

Some ideas are as natural or endemic to our culture as the air we breathe, and so we fail to notice them. For instance, we learn that we have to trust in ourselves. We hear this so often that we don’t even ask ourselves if this is what our Lord expects of us. Actually, He is looking for the very opposite thing:

·        This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man [or himself], who depends on flesh [himself] for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” (Jeremiah 17:5-7)

According to our Lord, the one who trusts in himself “turns away from the Lord.” Self-trust is the antithesis of “the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” According to Scripture, the result of self-trust is this: “he will not see prosperity.”

This same message is echoed throughout Scripture. Jesus told a parable about two men who entered the Temple to pray. The first trusted in his moral superiority (Luke 18:9). The other, seeing himself a sinner, had absolutely no trust in himself, but Jesus tells us that it was only the sinner who had been forgiven. He concludes:

·        "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14)

While our culture and secular therapy preaches self-trust, Scripture preaches the exact opposite. We have to humble ourselves to confess our sinfulness and brokenness. But the way up is the way down.

This was a difficult lesson for me to learn. I entered into a relationship with Christ carrying a lot of pop-psych baggage. I was still convinced that the way up was the way up. Even as a believer in Christ, I tried to convince myself that I was worthy of self-trust and deserving of Christ’s love. As long as I was “exalting” myself, I was denying the truth about myself – that I was selfish, self-centered, and didn’t deserve a thing from God. I was also alienating God and alienating myself from His blessings.

In retrospect, I now see that Jesus had to burn away some false ideas so He could fill me with humility’s truth, preparing me to receive His blessings. As long as I was full of myself, I had no room for Him. Besides, if He did bless me with the things I wanted before He had made me ready, I would have thought, “I am blessed because I earned it, because I am a good and worthy Christian!” How odious, and how freeing to just trust in my Savior - looking toward Him and away from me!

We inhale so many other culture-based ideas, which contend with the truth. No wonder that the “blessed” man,

·        Delight[s] in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:2-3)

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