False Perceptions


Here are a couple of statements that I would like to evaluate:

Quote Number 19 – “God never uses shame to motivate us toward excellence or right living. He never motivates us by withholding His love from us.

This is 1 of 33 quotes from the Breaking Free Quotes at http://prayer-coach.com/ who minister to people breaking free from addiction. Most of their quotes are Biblically sound but this one in particular really does need to be further defined. I think what they were trying to convey is that if you are addicted to drugs etc, you don’t need to feel ashamed about coming to the Lord and accepting Him as your Saviour. In that connotation they are absolutely correct.

Shame is defined as the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

If by “us” this quote means the body of Christ, the body of true believers, then this is true about God not withholding His love for us. Romans 8:38-39  NKJV comes to mind, which reads “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

One should also be mindful however that as per Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives“. If we as professing Christians have done something against His commandments in which the Lord wants to correct us, He might use shame in the sense that “we should know better” to motivate us to change our ways. This correction could come via our Pastor or another Christian or even our Christian parents in bringing an oversight we may have intentionally of unintentionally committed to our attention. Using the word “never” is pretty inclusive, so in this particular situation, I would have a tendency to avoid using that specific word.

If however, by “us” we mean everyone in the world, non-believers per sec, God’s love is available to all but in order to be received it must first be accepted. If you do not accept God’s expression of His love, which is His Son Jesus, non-believers will NOT be the recipients of His love.

John 3:36 NIV reads “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

So when putting these generalized statements out there on our various social media apps, as a “locked in” tweet as an example, one needs to be careful that the definitions of the words being used, are understood by everyone. Otherwise there is a clear possibility that a false perception might be perceived by those who are not well informed. And yes, as Christians, we are accountable for the words that we put out there on the Internet, myself included.

and this quote which was previously displayed on the list but is currently not displayed:

It is an amazing gift to receive love and to stop allowing the perception and desire of others to influence one’s capability, purpose and prosperity.”

I have also encountered people who claim to be Christian, that have an extremely difficult time in acknowledging that they have made errors in judgement or have acted incorrectly or inappropriately and should be held accountable for their decisions or actions.  Standard opposition voiced is  “I had no choice” or “It was necessary” or “I was upset” or to reflect the criticism away from them and back to you.

Some have inferred that if we really loved them we should accept them as they are, never point out their shortfalls, never hold them accountable and because we have pointed out their shortfalls and have held them accountable it is an indication that we are trying to control them, shame them and are continually trying to put them down.

The part that bothers me about the above statement is “to stop allowing the perception and desire of others to influence one’s capability, purpose and prosperity.” If I read this correctly, this would infer that anyone (others) who expresses to the individual who is making this statement, a perception or desire that calls into question the capability, purpose or prosperity of this individual is NOT doing so in love. Is this a Biblical truth?  I think not. There is an excellent overview on this particular subject about correcting or not correcting other Christians at http://frankviola.org/2012/05/21/howtocorrectanother/

Correcting other Christians is NOT something to be taken lightly. I chose the above link because it has an excellent balance or awareness of what to do and more specifically what not to do. Short story – strongly consider and pray honestly before you do. If you are not sure, consult your Pastor or an Elder before proceeding, obviously in confidence. But to infer that correction of any kind cannot be motivated by love or concern for the individual is not sound Biblical thinking. And if the individual who has committed the perceived error in judgement, either unintentionally or intentionally, cannot receive the correction or recommendation, without getting extremely upset, then there is a problem with that particular person. Sometimes perceived problems are merely a matter of mis-communication or intent and all it takes it a little dialogue between the two parties to iron it out to both parties satisfaction.

Matthew 18:15-17 “”If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

Of course there are literally hundreds and hundreds of Scripture verses that attest to the reality that we are all sinners, that we all fall short and that repentance for our sins is a prerequisite to being forgiven. If I started quoting them here I would literally fill many many pages. And the beauty of the Gospel of Christ is that we are loved by God, we are accepted as we are after we repent and accept the grace that is given through faith in the accomplished work that Jesus did for us on the cross. I have no qualms about forgiving people (correction – sometimes I do – working on it), overlooking the shortfalls of Christians young in faith etc. But there are two sides to every coin. God does NOT put the grace that is offered by the finished work of our Lord Jesus on the cross into operation if we do not acknowledge our sinfulness and what He has accomplished on our behalf.

John 3:16 ASV says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” But what does that really mean?

  • It means believing that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
  • It means believing in the Trinity, God our heavenly Father, Jesus the only begotten Son of God and the Holy Spirit.
  • It means believing that Jesus came to pay the price that our sins deserved punishment for and He did so by giving His life for us on the Cross.
  • It means that we believe that we shall have everlasting life when we physically die and our spirit goes to be with God, proven by the resurrection of Jesus himself and attested to by all of the Apostles and early disciples of Christ.
  • It means believing that we needed to be born again so that our life could begin anew through the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit within us, normally accomplished by baptism.
  • It means that we believe Jesus will return and we are waiting for His earthly return so that God’s kingdom on earth can begin and after that, we can be with Him in the new Jerusalem on a new earth and new heavens He will provide.
  • It means believing the requirement to follow the commandments of Jesus here today, while we are still physically living.
  • It means believing we need to confess our daily sins so that we can be forgiven and it also means forgiving the sins of those who sin against us. To be forgiven we must also forgive.
  • It means believing that our daily walk with our Lord is of utmost importance, by studying His Holy Word and striving to be Holy as God our heavenly father is Holy.

And I have just scratched the surface, there is so much more. So that one word “believeth” has depth to it, it is not superficial. And it does need to be defined.