- 1 TIMOTHY 4:1 (NKJV): “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
- JAMES 5:29 (NASB20): “Let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
MISUSING THE BIBLE
LET’S START WITH the assumption that the Bible is the Holy Word of God, that He inspired the writing and superintended its content. The Bible makes that claim for itself, so the next step is for the Bible — as written — to back up that claim.
It does so with fulfilled prophecies, verifiable geographic, historic, and archeological truths, and — most of all — testimonies of changed lives.
That assumption gives those of us who believe in the Bible’s authenticity a solid foundation on which to place our lives and our salvation. Without that assumption, those who doubt the Word of God are free to concoct their own version of reality, grounded on nothing more solid than whimsy.
We’ll examine two falsehoods on social media in this post, then pick up a third in a future post.
I. THE BIBLE OPPRESSES PEOPLE
ONE RECENT MEME proclaims “History is filled with people who used the Bible to oppress other people. Being “biblical” is not the same as being Christ-like.” (Quote from Carlos A. Rodriguez, (thehappygivers.com).
TRANSLATION: Don’t trust the Bible as God’s Truth because it has been used by some (unnamed) people to “oppress” (no definition) other people.
EXAMINATION: Just because some people claim the Bible as their guide does not mean they actually are. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:16 that we would know His followers by their “fruit,” meaning by how they act and how they live. If individuals, groups, races, or nations claim the Bible but do not act accordingly, Jesus said they are not true believers. So, where does the fault lie? In the Bible or in the hearts and minds of false witnesses?
Additionally, the Bible was written by Jesus. The Bible says all Scripture is inspired by God, which means the Son of God was the Author. So, by definition, being “Christ-like” is exactly the same as being “biblical.” There is no daylight between the two terms.
Finally, history also is filled with people who have used secular ideology to oppress other people, yet that doesn’t stop the anti-Bible crowd from touting their manmade (and, therefore, false) ideology.
CONCLUSION: The Bible remains the authoritative Word of God, so you can trust its message. Just as standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car, so “attending” church and claiming Christ’s mantel doesn’t make you a disciple. The fault lies with the person, not with the Bible.
II. JESUS DESPISES LEGALISTS
ANOTHER COMMON FALSEHOOD making the rounds on social media describes Jesus’ ministry but misapplies it to today’s church.
Here is the meme: “Jesus is far more critical of legalists, elitists, and anyone believing they are morally superior to another than he is of humble humans owning their various states of desperation. The Gospel is Good News bc (because) it achieves what legalism cannot.”
TRANSLATION: This meme is extremely dangerous because it takes one truth, that Jesus was critical of the moralists of His day, and distorts it to claim He would be critical of what the meme writer and poster would call the “moralists” of today.
EXAMINATION: The irony in this meme is so rich as to be stupefying. It literally says, “We are morally superior to those in our midst who we think think they are morally superior to those they think are immoral.”
This smacks of the Pharisee’s hypocritical prayer when he thanked God he was not like the humble tax collector (Luke 18:9ff).
Who are the “moralists” then and now, and what differentiates them?
In Jesus’ day, they were the religious teachers. Jesus criticized them because they imposed manmade regulations on top of God’s commands and so distorted God’s will. Today’s “moralists,” by contrast, are teaching God’s commands, and it’s the naysayers who are imposing man’s interpretation and so distort the truth.
In other words, the situation is completely flipped.
CONCLUSION: Satan is alive and well in the church. The Bible is clear that many who claim to be His followers do not know the Lord as their personal Savior and, more alarmingly, He says He doesn’t know them. Despite the Bible’s warning about adding or subtracting from its message, these are the very people who twist the Bible’s message to fit their own outlook, instead of twisting their outlook to fit the Bible.
THE BIBLE TELLS US that in the “latter days,” many members of Christian churches will veer from the Truth of God’s Word, substituting for it their own theology. (1 Tim. 4:1-10) This is what we are seeing on social media, where so-called Christians plaster false narratives.
Those narratives focus on two central themes:
- one, that following Jesus is somehow different from, and preferable to, following the Bible; and
- two, that those church members who hold onto the Bible as their main source of truth are “missing” the true purpose of church.
Both narratives, when blended together, falsely advance the narrative that the Bible is not God’s Holy Word; that it is not to be obeyed literally; that it is, at best, a moral guide that should be interpreted holistically; and that those church members who actually do read the Bible, quote it, and try to live by it, are missing the point of church.
When self-proclaimed Christians discard the Bible’s instruction and replace it with their own theology, and then urge non-believers to join them in casting aspersions against those who do follow the Bible’s teaching, we have reached the Bible’s prophesy in Paul’s first letter to Timothy:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”1
O FATHER GOD, our hearts are burdened for our fellow church members who have veered off track, who are following demonic spirits and leading non-believers into the lost spaces with them. Lord, we can see this on social media, where pastors and worship leaders lend their authority to embracing the apostasy that the Bible is not Holy Spirit-driven but just a faulty collection of ancient Jewish writing that needs serious updating to be considered valuable and relevant. Lord, lead us who claim the mantel of Christ to remain faithful. Keep us from going astray, and help us to reach our fallen brethren and bring them back to Your Word. In Jesus’ magnificent and holy name we pray. AMEN
11 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV)