Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
We are living in a time of change… and change can be good. There are those of us working towards fair treatment in the workplace, treating the Earth with more care, and advocating for basic human rights. My hope is that we are overcoming our biases, opening ourselves up to embrace new experiences, and learning how to respect cultures different from our own. When we grow in Christ, we recognize behaviors that should be cast aside, and seek healthy ways to heal the trauma. Gratitude and humility influence our core principles, helping us to live out the good that God intended.
Yet, for all of the good that change brings, growth does not come without its challenges. The greater the progress, the greater the fight against it. Darkness has a way of seeking the light in order to blow out its flame. And even we, with good intentions, can become part of that darkness. Jesus warned of this when He repeated Isaiah’s prophecy stating:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’Matthew 15:8-9
Recognizing the Commandments of Men
This scripture weighs heavy on my heart. It points to worship based on false doctrine, which was an issue throughout the Bible. From the beginning of time, starting with Adam and Eve, we have altered the meaning of God’s word. We want God’s principles to fit our circumstances, instead of changing our mindsets to be in line with His will.
Even now, we make exceptions to the ten commandments to create newer, more accommodating versions. We adjust the word of God to accommodate any changes in modern-day society. We add details to the Bible that don’t exist; we misinterpret those same words for our own well-being. Then, we teach these ideas as doctrine while misleading others along the way. For those who believe us, they are being led into darkness.
And so, we become like the scripture – honoring God in words, but without the relationship needed to honor Him in our hearts. Our own shortcomings blind us to recognizing truth from error. We struggle to discern light from darkness. What is of God, and what is of self? Are we passing off our own beliefs as though they are from God, or do we acknowledge that maybe some of these ideas are self-created? Without sincere worship, it will be hard to know the difference.
Opinion versus Fact
The “external noise” we face when seeking a relationship with Christ does not make spiritual growth any easier. As I listen to various viewpoints on what is good versus what is bad, or what is doctrine and what is not, one conclusion has become quite clear – opinions are often misrepresented as facts. Even those we trust can lead us astray as they add to the chain of misinformation by spreading their opinions masked as doctrine.
The commandments of men can seem so close to the word of God, but they are not. We must stop placing our faith in the hands of others. Turning back to God for clarity and discernment is the best way to strengthen our relationship with Him. James 1:5 encourages us by saying: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” The Bible can be intimidating, given its length and detail, but it is not beyond comprehension. With time spent in the word of God, and our actions reflecting what we’ve learned, our eyes will be opened and understanding increased.
A quick note on pride
It can be easy to think that we’re not “those people” – the ones who fall for misinformation or are led astray. Yet, it’s important to realize that we are all humans in a world of sin. We all are flawed. None of us should be so proud as to think that we cannot become victim to sin, misinterpretation, or manipulation. Whether it’s from the news or the pulpit, we have to be mindful as to what we accept as fact. There are no shortcuts on this journey, and sometimes we listen to the wrong people. Turn back to God. When we seek Him will all of our hearts, we will feel His presence in unimaginable ways and learn how to create a more meaningful connection.
But Has Right Changed?
Progress will continue, as will questions about the doctrines of God. As we get closer and closer to the return of Christ, the questions will increase. What is right in the eyes of God versus the commandments of men? Society will create its own rules, yet God’s word has not changed. As times become more difficult, it will become even more important to stand in the word of God.
We won’t show our commitment in words, which can be empty promises. Our hearts won’t be changed only by Bible study time, which can be insincere in intent. Instead, our alignment with God will be shown in the way we treat ourselves and others. God’s light in us cannot hide, but we do run the risk of allowing it to be blown out. So seek God with all of your heart, so that your light will continue to shine. Be open to growth but pray for discernment. The darkness will try to come, but who we decide to worship is always our choice – and I pray that we all choose God.Print This Devotional