“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony . . . .” Revelation 10-11a
How easy it is to forget that we have an unscrupulous enemy! Yet we must always be on guard, no matter how old we may be—or how long we have known the grace and goodness of our Lord!
I have a propensity for false guilt. When there is a misunderstanding of some sort, I often point a finger—at myself. Sometimes I’m on target when I point, but certainly not always. False guilt is nothing more than inverted pride: to think that one finite, human person could carry the world’s guilt! ONE PERSON did carry the world’s guilt, at Calvary—and by His blood and His Word we have the power to overcome Satan, the accuser of the brethren.
Constantly I need to assess the wiles of the devil as he attempts to disrail me and my testimony. When I do this, I’m overwhelmed with the assurance of God’s presence and His victory in my life. When I fail to immerse myself in Scriptures and think objectively, I can be plunged into the abyss of self focus and self accusation—believing that something I have said or done is automatically wrong, without taking time to deliberate the facts.
A personal study of God’s Word is probably the most important feature of the Christian life. But next to personal study comes the priority of sitting under thorough, expository Bible teaching from an objective, literal interpretation. In today’s apostate world, an objective exposition of Scripture is a challenge to find. When we find it, this teaching is pure gold.
Proverbs 25:11a tells us that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold . . . .” For over forty years I’ve been edified by the APPLES OF GOLD Women’s Bible Study, taught by a diligent Bible scholar with a passion for the Lord Jesus Christ, and a gracious heart for people as well. The thorough teaching is enriched by a faithfulness to literal Scriptures, an in-depth knowledge of cultural and political history both ancient and modern, and a working concept of the grammatical nuances in the Hebrew and Greek languages. When I’ve been unable to attend this study in person, I’ve kept current via (formerly) cassettes and (presently) CDs.
This Bible Study Ministry is one of the few women’s study I’ve ever experienced which never fails. The teaching goes straight to the mind, where—according to Scripture—we are “transformed, by the renewing” of our mind. With sadness I have to state that far too many women’s Bible studies are notoriously “touchy-feely”. Even in churches which are doctrinely sound, the enemy of our souls can make inroads through subjective teaching—the kind which begins with an agenda such as “holiness”, or “dying to self”, or most any other topic lifted from Scripture—as opposed to studying Scripture verse by verse to glean more thorough understanding.
Rather than instructing verse by verse through a book of the Bible the agenda driven studies prime Scriptures for passages to support a given agenda, and leaders frequently capture an audience by manipulatively “guilt tripping”. The result is a human focus, as Scriptures are presented to by-pass the mind, and wring the heart with a message which assumes that listeners need to be “more broken”, “more yielded”, or “more whatever”. Meanwhile, Scriptures attest that only God is omniscient and able to discern the thoughts and intents of the mind and heart. And hearts can only be reached through renewed minds.
As God the Holy Spirit applies the Word to our lives, we grow spiritually. This process is called sanctification, and it goes on until we meet our Lord face to face. Yet the subjective, touchy-feely women’s Bible studies assume that they have a right to judge and make application. One Christian writer (a discerning man!) compared this approach to the hypothetical scenario of a doctor who glanced at the patients in his waiting room, judged their condition without examination or evidence, and prescribed the same medication for everyone sitting in that room. Ridiculous!
How many women’s studies assume that everyone present needs to be broken of sinful pride? How many leaders (or study manuals) presume that participants in a class are guilty of a failure to yield, and therefore gear their selected Scriptures to pummel their listeners into “yieldedness”? Yes, Scripture does tell us that God hates pride, and that obedience requires yielding. But only the Holy Spirit has the right to break us, or navigate us into a life of obedience.
We may voluntarily seek counsel from mature believers, but maturity always implies a dependence on God through His Word rather than accomplishing any end through human means. When teaching involves guilt tripping and diatribe, we can be certain that it is off. When individuals with a propensity for false guilt sit under a teaching agenda aimed at manipulating emotional responses to procure certain effects, the outcome can be disastrous. Satan will grab this spiritual ball and run with it, while the hyper-sensitive soul struggles to survive an onslaught of error.
Critics and nay-sayers of objective Bible exposition always claim that such teaching produces “head knowledge”, resulting in spiritual sluggards who just sit in pews or chairs ingesting “food”, while never exercising their faith. The false assumption is that this knowledge stays in the head and never makes it to the heart! But Scripturally speaking, both head and heart need redemption and renewal. Yes, we are to be “doers” of the Word, and not just “hearers”—but we cannot do what we haven’t heard. Again that Agent of our sanctification, the Holy Spirit, informs and enlightens us in the midst of our circumstances. As we hear and assimilate God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will do His job of applying the Word to our lives and seeing that we respond. If we fail in obedience, it is always to our detriment. God does not allow His people a carte blânche to sin. He deals with us as needed, and we will suffer dire consequences if we ignore our Lord’s discipline!
Indeed, Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He skulks about, hurling accusations wherever he can. If a believer has only experienced agenda driven Bible teaching, she is defenseless against accusations such as: “You are not spiritual enough”, or “You are not yielded enough,” or “Shame on you, you prideful idiot!” Thus the enemy, frequently operating through misguided teaching, attempts to destroy rather than edify.
God never treats us that way. He convicts, forgives, leads to repentance, and purifies us through His Word. Through God’s Word, and only through His Word, are we delivered from sin—even the sin of false guilt!
Margaret L. Been, ©2013