Could you be a prisoner of your own faith?

If you are a person of faith, it might seem strange or even insulting that someone would ask such a question. You are likely aware Jesus spoke of having faith in him as a good thing? Jesus talked about the importance of our having knowledge of Bible truth. (John 17:3 ; Titus 1:1-2) He also taught our faith in that truth would mean our very lives. (Hebrews 10:37-39) The faith which develops from the teachings of Jesus then, is a wonderful gift from our Creator. The danger of being trapped by our own faith does not come from what Jesus taught, it is from what some men assert Jesus taught. Our realization that the gift of truth comes from our Creator provides safety by making us aware of the danger: That our own faith could become a trap. To avoid that trap, (Matthew 7:21-23) we must simply ask ourselves: "Am I certain my faith is based on the truth of the Bible?", and then, "Is my faith built on what Jesus really taught, or on what I have allowed people to tell me he taught?". (Matthew 7:21-23) Unless you have been very careful to distinguish what people have told you the Bible says, from what it actually teaches, you have likely been deceived. Satan himself quoted and misapplied scripture when he tried to mislead Christ Jesus. (Matthew 4:5-7) If you are taking spiritual advice from someone who quotes one, or two, or three scriptures; and then talks on for an hour about those few scriptures, you should carefully scrutinize whether you are being misled.

The truth as recorded in the Bible is the revelation of the arrangement by God for repairing the damage done his creation by satan. (1 John 3:8) Everything God does is perfect, so the Bible explanation of that arrangement for salvation is in harmony with itself from beginning to end. It is all truth! (John 17:17) Anything which you learn to be Bible truth now, will always be truth in the future. (Luke 1:30-33) Consider an example of what might at first glance seem like a change in truth, but really isn't: Mankind is no longer required to keep the Mosaic Law. Jesus came born as a Jew and thus required to keep that Jewish Law Code. He fulfilled and replaced the Law of Moses with the Christian law of love. (Matthew 5:17-18 ; Matthew 22:38-40 ; Acts 13:38-39 ; Romans 2:25-29 ; Romans 4:13-17 ; Galatians 6:15 ; Romans 10:4 ; Romans 13:8-10 ; Hebrews 7:18-25) That is not, however, a change in the theme of the Bible. The Law Code was just one step in the outworking of the Bible's theme. God promised in Gen_3:15 to raise up a seed who would destroy satan. The Law Code was used by God to protect the Jewish nation so they could be used to produce that seed (the Christ). Even though we are no longer under Law, the Law and the purpose it served remain a part of truth forever. (Gal_3:23-25) Understanding what the law was and how it was used, increases our understanding of [and our faith in] the all encompassing purpose of God to destroy the works of the devil. (Matthew 7:12) All such Bible knowledge thus remains eternally a part of truth. It is so with everything contained in the Bible! It will always be truth, and it will always be important. Every bit of truth we can learn, then, adds clarity to the mental picture [to our understanding] of that perfect arrangement by God to remove the reproach satan heaped upon his name. (John 12:27-28 ; Genesis 3:1 & 4 ; Philippians 2:11 ; Isaiah 45:22-24) It also helps us understand his arrangement to buy and give back our chance to eternal life [which Adam, Eve, and satan threw away for themselves; and for all of us]. (1 Corinthians 7:23 ; Matthew 20:28 ; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22) It is the truth from the Bible, and only the Bible's truth, which can grant us a mental picture of God's provision for life. In this way, Bible understanding allows us to put on the mind of Christ, as it were. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

To our point then: How could our own faith become a snare or prison for us? (Exodus 23:33 ; Proverbs 18:7 ; Proverbs 20:25 ; Proverbs 29:6 ; Proverbs 29:25) The Bible teaches satan is a liar, and he is the father of the lie? He has made dishonesty his very disposition, and the truth is not in him. (John 8:44) He abused his freedom of choice to become [to make himself into] a wicked opposer of God. (Ezekiel 28:14-15) It has become his sole purpose of life to overcome others with untruth. (Luke_22:31 ; Eph_6:12 ; 2_Tim_2:26) Satan said God does not love us, and even asserted God is the liar rather than him! (Genesis 3:1-4) Satan is our Father's enemy. Because of that, he hates the beautiful hope our Father has given us in the Bible. The mental image of truth produced by Bible study gives peace to all who possess it. All who have the truth know [through their faith] nothing can take away their hope, or stop them from realizing the promises of God [in God's due time]. (Romans 8:35-39) The truth of the Bible is the solution to all problems... All truth interlocks harmoniously in our mind to create a soothing image of the future peace being established by our Creator. (Isaiah 11:1-9) The problem and potential danger for us, then, is this: Any lie we allow ourselves to build into our faith undermines, or even wrecks, the peace and harmony of mind which is granted by our knowledge of truth. It can also stop our future spiritual growth; as additional truth will not connect to, or fit in with, any lies we have allowed ourselves to believe. If we imagine using a child's building block set: We start building a house, and each plastic brick connects to the last, and provides a place to connect the next. If we get a defective plastic brick, and insert it in our project, we can not move forward as the next brick will not connect or fit. We must get rid of the defect to continue, or our building project will be flawed; or even stopped. It is similar when we incorporate a lie into the building project of our faith. You must always seek what the Bible teaches, and be willing to adjust your faith according to what you learn. If not, you may prove to be like the hypocritical religious leaders of Jesus's day. (Luke 20:1-8)

Not to worry! God explains we can protect ourselves against being deceived by becoming noble minded!!! (Acts 17:11) Everywhere we look, we find people who want to tell us what is truth. (Ecclesiastes 12:12) This religion, and then that other religion: They all want to assert they alone have the sayings of life! Others want to tell us religion is the opium of the people, and there is no God; Or that we can't really know him. Where can a person turn? It really is so very simple: Learn what your Bible teaches, and that Bible truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32) After just a short time spent examining the Bible, you will realize it could never have been dreamt up by men. If you are a person who can look upon creation and realize a Creator must exist; (Psalms 8:3-9 ; Romans 1:18-22 ; Psalms 19:1) the same will hold true for recognizing the Bible's truth must come from that Creator. Truth will set you free from slavery to, or fear of, any and all self proclaimed teachers of enlightenment. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5) All such individuals boast they know what the answers are... You personally must learn and understand that only the Bible gives insight for life. If anyone does not quote the Bible as the authority to prove what they say, they likely are confused or even wicked!!! (Matthew 4:4) The simple fact is, if you have become a card carrying member of some religious group which imagines they render judgment over who is righteous, you likely have been misled; Possibly misled by some very well intentioned people, but misled none the less. Religious organizations who unite with the intent to study God's word, almost always get turned aside to trying to protect the unity of their organization. Their original purpose to be students of the Bible is supplanted. Studying the Bible is not the same thing as policing an organization! Their intentions may not be bad, but the result is they become workers of lawlessness when they allow their motive to be divided! (Matthew 7:21-23 ; Luke 16:13) The moment they elevate themselves as judges, they return to darkness... (Mat_7:1-2 ; 1_Cor_4:5 ; Mat_23:2 ; 2_Thes_2:3-5)

Is there anything in the Bible which might be used as a tool by those who strive to mislead? Yes: Bible Prophecy can pose a danger when misused! The Bible is very easy to understand; except in matters of prophecy. With Bible prophecy, we almost never understand [the details of] what the Bible is foretelling until after it is fulfilled. It then builds up our faith, as we can look back and see how prophecies have been perfectly fulfilled from the promises openly made by our Creator; Which promises no one could previously understand. Such prophecy can, however, pose a danger. The Bible instructs we should be cautious not go beyond the things written. (1 Corinthians 4:6) In other words, we should be cautious not to believe or teach anything not directly supported by the Bible. Assigning meanings to prophecy can be a way of going beyond the things written. It is not safe to build your faith on what "might" prove to be truth, based on someone's prophetic speculation. If you affiliate with individuals who want to rise up and explain [currently unfulfilled] Bible prophecy to you, you are in danger. If they are wrong in their speculation, and you have built their erroneous teachings into your faith, it can be disastrous. A faith which is not built on truth is useless. Faith in lies will not help us do the will of our Father; But will instead make us workers of lawlessness and enemies of Christ (Matthew 7:21-23) because we have chosen to believe what was not clearly stated in the Bible. (2_Thes_2:9-10)

There is another danger from those who profess to be teachers of truth. There is an old worldly saying that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish you feed him for a lifetime. Make no mistake: It is you who are responsible for your own faith; (Deuteronomy 24:16 ; Romans 14:4) as you must be ready to make a defense before all of the hope generated in you. (1 Peter 3:15) Be cautious of those who just want to keep on trying to teach you how to fish forever, assuring you of your need for them to interpret the Bible for you. You need to fish for yourself, by examining and knowing for yourself what the Bible teaches. Those who want to be your eternal teachers, however, only seek to elevate themselves over you; asserting you can not study the Bible for yourself. Not so!!! You must become noble minded by proving every single thing you learn comes from the Bible, and is therefore worthy of becoming part of your faith. (Acts 17:11) If you don't clearly understand something to be a Bible teaching, do not place faith in it. It is just that simple. We don't have to understand everything, and we probably never will. Everything we do understand, however, should be solidly grounded in Bible truth, and not in the assertions of imperfect men; No matter how well meaning those individuals might be. The Bible, and only the Bible, is the source of God's revelation of the truth of salvation in Christ. It is not that you hear Christ is your savior (Acts_4:12) and fall down on your knees [actually, you might choose to do that as well] and you are done; It is rather that you strive every day of your life to more clearly understand how God has used Christ to break up the works of the devil. (1 John 3:7-8) Knowledge of truth builds love and faith which provide us deliverance from any snare or trap. (Luke 21:34-36 ; John_12:49-50) You can only receive that protection by studying your own Bible.

The harm being done by religious organizations might best be illustrated in words written by one of them. Please consider this statement by Jehovah's Witnesses. Remember, words similar to these could come from any one of Christendom's mainstream religious sects. In what is typical for all these groups, this one ended a recent study article with this admonition: "May each one of us keep pace with [God's] Jehovah's organization." (Watchtower, March 15, 2012, P29, p20) They do not encourage persons to keep pace with God through personal Bible knowledge, mind you; But to keep pace with their organization of imperfect men. By this "command" to their sheep, they misdirect those individuals from their conscious need to become friends with God based on their personal faith in the teachings of Christ Jesus. All such groups strive to turn those in their care away from being concerned with pleasing God, and toward trying to please the men who lead their group. If their sheep have the approval of their group, they are led to believe, they are in good standing with God. In the study article from their April 15, 2012 Watchtower, page 11, paragraph 11, they stated that anyone questioning anything they put in print would be the same as questioning Christ Jesus himself - that it would be the same as questioning the Bible! All such groups have made themselves Doegs. They all imagine they are Christian, not realizing what they really are is divisive separatist, supremacist, hate mongers. (John_16:1-4 ; Mat_7:22-23) If they can actually make you believe they have granted you membership among God's chosen people, how could it be otherwise? They change people from feeling the need to work every day to be more Christ like, to being people who imagine they are the chosen ones and all the earth must come to them for salvation. No membership granted by men can provide you God's approval! All these varied religious sects manifest a mentality similar to the Jim Jones disciples: Their members must accept what ever their organization does to be a good work! Such foolishness can not be condoned, or even overlooked, by any who love Bible truth!

This is not to assert we can't look to other people to help us! It can be a help, and some claim it is a necessity, for us to have someone to help us grasp what the Bible teaches; as we personally endeavor to understand it's theme. In the Bible example of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch we are taught that is so. (Acts 8:27-35) We all should note: In that account Phillip started with the scripture the Ethiopian man was reading, and more clearly expounded Bible truth to him. Phillip used the Bible as the source for what he taught. We should expect the same from any who claim to teach the Bible. Those who teach the Bible should support every single thing they say with the Bible; No exceptions! If you prove to be like the Ethiopian of that account, by verifying every single thing you learn finds support in the Bible, you will be considered noble minded by our Creator. (Acts 17:11) Your mental picture of truth will remain in harmony with God's word; and can then grant you the peace Jesus promised. (John 16:33)

The Bible: It is the greatest story ever told, and it is the source of truth.

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