Does it MATTER what one Believes?

Does it MATTER what we Believe? part one.

Toward the end of nearly every discussion about the divisive state of the religious world, one will usually say something like this…

“You can’t tell me my sweet grandma (could be neighbor, friend or relative), who never went to church (or did go to a denomination ‘religiously’), who was kind to people and animals, who never said a bad word or did a bad thing, who helped anyone that asked, is lost. She was so very sincere in what she believed.”

Instead of approaching the idea of whether sincerity saves, let’s ask the question:

Does it MATTER what one believes?

Usually in these discussions we can agree that certain very wicked people are lost (the Hitlers and the pedophiles of the world). Are the kind and the sincere who didn’t follow the bible totally saved because of their sincerity and goodness?

We’ll set aside the fact that those who say this are suggesting a ‘works based’ salvation, which they would normally condemn. We will just look at the Bible and ask, does it MATTER?

Does it MATTER what we believe?

Most would agree that we ought to obey GOD rather than MAN. (Acts 5:29). Jesus was critical of those that created doctrines contrary to the doctrine of God.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:7-8a)

Usually, they will agree with this point that you have to believe in God, in Christ and in the Bible. But when it comes to saying that the non-Christian religious people are lost, they stop short saying; “I’m not the judge.” This is the fallacy of equivocation. We’re not judging their hearts, we’re making righteous judgment with the Word of God. (cf. Mat 7:1-2)

Paul had ‘judged’ that the Jews of his day were not saved; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom 10:1-2). He had discerned from the Truth of God’s word that they had not obeyed the gospel and therefore were not saved.

Which brings us to our next point about “does it MATTER,” does your belief AGREE with the Doctrine of Christ?

In both Old and the New Testaments, one had to have a ‘thus saith the Lord’ for their beliefs and actions. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17) When King David desired to build a Permanent Temple for God, he was prohibited because he didn’t have a command from God, there was no scriptural command to do this good thing. Therefore, it was a wrong thing. (2Sam 7:1-7)

Here’s the point, God’s word is Objective Truth. It is transparent, researchable, universal to all, for the thinking person, and it is heavenly (cf. James 3:17). Compare the objective Word of God to the subjective, shifting sand of a person’s heart. (Mat 7:24-29) “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Eph 4:14)

David appealed to the subjective standard of his feelings. He was pointed toward the OBJECTIVE, fixed standard of God’s Word. We’re told not to go beyond what is written (2Cor 4:13), speak as the oracles of God (1Pet 4:11), the commandments of the Lord (1Cor 14:37), the inspired Scriptures (2Tim 3:16-17), using the words chosen by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:9-13), and not to add to nor take away from the Word (Rev 22:18-19).

Then, in this 3rd point, when we have an objective standard, called the TRUTH (John 17:17), we have an ability to search the scripture to find out if what we feel is true (Acts 17:11).

Did you know it’s possible to feel secure and not know the Lord has departed from you? (Judges 16:20) Did you know it’s possible to believe a lie? (1Kings 13:18; cf. 2Thess 2:9-12)

By reading & studying God’s word, we can Know the truth and be set free from the bondage of lies, sin, and the corruption of this life. (John 8:32; 12:48; cf. James 1:25; 2:12)

WALK as other gentiles

Paul wrote in Ephesians four:

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

This is one of the 7 WALKS found in Ephesians. Let’s break down this WALK of the other Gentiles to find what we may learn.

THE FUTILE WALK. Eph 4:17-19

The first thing that jumps out is verse 17, WALKING in the VANITY of their minds. This word vanity refers to our modern word ‘FUTILITY.’ Futile means; incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful; trifling; frivolous; unimportant. Once you see that, you can immediately recognize this problem with so many of us. We focus on the minors, ignoring the majors. We know more about the celebrities of pop culture than we do of the heroes of faith (cf. Heb 11). Keeping up with the Kardashians will not help any go to heaven.

In one sense, everything is trivial when compared to an eternity in Heaven or Hell. If we elevate any activity above serving the Lord, it is WALKING IN FUTILITY. Politics, Pop Culture or even your Papa can become vanity when we view them as our savior.  Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:37). Paul wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col 1:18)

The next glaring condition is, “being ALIENATED from the life of God.” Paul’s theme in the opening chapters of Ephesians are about ALIENS being reconciled to God. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” He finishes by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:11-13) being ALIENATED from God is a hopeless existence and to be greatly avoided.

Next, Paul describes the walk of the other gentiles as giving themselves over to “LASCIVIOUSNESS, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (4:19). This describes LEWD behavior coupled with greediness. Greed is exemplifying self.

Paul will write to the Galatians about the lust of the flesh, one of which is ‘selfish ambitions’ (emulations kjv). Look at the other lists in Romans 1:20-32; 1Corinthians 6:9-10; 2Timothy 3:1-9 et al. LEWD & GREED together opens the door to all kinds of debauchery in hedonism.

Lastly, intermixed with all of the above is that their understanding is darkened. Their KNOWLEDGE of God, His Love, His Promises, His Sacrifice is as blindness of the heart. He also calls it ‘ignorance.’ It’s one thing to be ignorant, this text suggests ignorance because they don’t want to know. Someone who will not see has no advantage over the one that cannot see.

The most common problem I notice when talking to folks is the complete lack of interest in the reading of God’s word. This among those who claim to love the Lord. They often refer to what they think the bible says, what their pastor said, what they think they know, but seldom do they actually know. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

The bible says this about the Word, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

6 Point Spiritual Check-Up

Point Spiritual Check Up.

The New Testament has more than a few passages about performing a Spiritual CHECK-UP to avoid becoming spiritually sick, or even dying spiritually.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;” 2Cor 13:5

But let a man examine himself.” 1Cor 11:28

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” 1Co 11:30

Here are 6 areas from scripture that the Growing Christian CHECKS in their Spiritual life.

“Say AHH.” One of the first thing a doctor checks is your throat & mouth. Spiritually speaking, we are to check our own mouth and our CONVERSATIONS. We need check the words that we use with others.

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

[Jas 3:12; cf. Col 4:6]

Another thing he checks is you HEIGHT. Jesus refers to one’s height when discussing worry & anxiety. “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? [Matt 6:27]

None of us can change our height by worry, neither can we change our situation with it. We are to be active in our seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. [cf. Eph 3:18]

The EYES will also be examined. How are the EYES of your understanding?

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” [Eph 1:18; cf. 2Peter 1:9; 1John 2:9,11]

Our WEIGHT will also be measured. God WEIGHS us spiritually in His balance. [cf. Prov 16:2; cr. Dan 5:27; 1Sam 2:3; Job 31:6]

In another sense, weight is a metaphor for the COMPLICATIONS & Distractions of life.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every WEIGHT, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” [Heb 12:1]

Every check up includes a checking of the Heart. The Proverbs writer said,

KEEP thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” [Prov 4:23; emph mine seb. cf. Mt 12:34; Mr 7:21]

 We need to KEEP our hearts. We cannot KEEP it from God. “Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men,” [Acts 1:24]

Lastly, an examination will include taking our Temperature. Spiritually speaking, this is like checking our SPIRIT or our zeal.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” [Rev 3:15-16; cf. Titus 2:14; 3:8]

This article was written to help us take a tangible look at our spiritual lives. Our Eternal Lives are on the line. We must avoid becoming spiritually sick, or worse, spiritually dead!!

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1Cor 11:30]