Some Will Say Anything
By Steven Harper
Pride and the dishonest heart will work together to make excuses for doing what a man wants to do. Whenever differences arise in religious discussions, one or the other — or both — often enter into the picture and truth is set aside for nothing but purely selfish reasons. Whether it is a discussion of the means of forgiveness and salvation, the work of the local church, or marriage, divorce, and remarriage, people will say anything to find or make a loophole in the plain teaching found in God’s word. Pride often motivates some to argue against God’s will and they will not back down, no matter what. The dishonest heart often works in concert with pride and will never allow truth to be admitted, even when there is no other option. But this is nothing new.
In Jesus’ time, He faced many who operated off of pride and dishonesty of heart. On one occasion, He was asked by some “curious” individuals, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” (Matt. 21:23) Now, on the surface, this seems like a good question; I know many preachers who ask this same question to many of our denominational leaders and preachers. Often, the answer given is insufficient because of a lack of understanding the basic principles in establishing authority, but Jesus knew there were only two sources: God or man. And in His response, Jesus challenged His questioners, saying, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John — where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (v. 24, 25)
Well, these questioners were now on the spot. If they answered that it was from men, the people would get upset because they believed him to be a prophet; if they answered that it was from God, then Jesus would ask why they had not obeyed. So, pride and the dishonest heart kicked in and they answered the only way they could: “We do not know.” (v. 27) But they did know! They knew the answer, but they let pride and their dishonest hearts stand in the way of obedience. It did not matter who brought the message — John, Jesus, or the apostles — their pride and their dishonest hearts would not allow them to submit and obey to God’s word. This is most evident when we find them gathering together to discuss what to do about Jesus, saying to one another, “What shall we do? For this man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away our place and nation.” (John 11:47, 48) Their solution? “Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death”" (v. 53) Their solution was not to submit to the will of God, for it had never been their intent to do so. Their solution was not to set aside their pride and admit that they were in error. Their solution was not to be honest with themselves and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God. They just did what many still do today: demean and insult the speaker.
Time after time, in religious discussions today, the issue is set aside and the disputants will turn on one another and begin exaggerating personality differences, impugning motives, and calling into question the educational background and even sanity of their opponents. Pride and dishonest hearts will cause men to do some strange things, indeed! And just like the Pharisees of Christ’s day, their intent is not to determine the truth and obey, but to hold on to their position of power and influence, their visibility among their peers, or to grasp at some measure of wide recognition. Fallen by the wayside is any discussion or discovery of truth and all the time and energy put into the discussion becomes a colossal waste, not to mention a poor example for any who might witness the childish and dishonest behavior of those who proclaim to be seekers of truth.
It is disheartening to be in the middle of discussions and studies with others on some subject, only to have them hear or read some other brother who has launched into some vitriolic attack on one who has offered only the pure truth of the word, but does not agree with him. I have seen, as of late, some brethren who had adamantly opposed the false teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage (namely, the “kingdom law”), but are now doing some remarkable Scriptural gymnastics to defend another erroneous doctrine, sometimes known as the “mental divorce” issue. And from what I have personally read, it seems pride and the dishonest heart has again reared its ugly head. Why is it that some preachers just cannot admit that they have made a mistake? Do they think they are above error? Maybe it is just plain old pride, but it may very well be a dishonest heart. It may be both!
How hard is it to see that, when Jesus said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9), the man of whom Jesus speaks in this particular situation had divorced his wife without the cause of sexual immorality? Yet some brethren are now arguing (again — it is not new) that since there was no sexual sin involved, God didn’t really “recognize” the divorce and will not until one commits fornication and the other one “puts them away” in their mind. Really? Didn’t Jesus say, “Whoever divorces his wife”? That sure sounds like God recognized that they had been divorced! Just because it was an unlawful divorce does not mean it was not a divorce at all, any more we can say that one baptized for the wrong reason was not really baptized. If they went under water and their clothes were still wet, you would have a hard time convincing a sane person that they were not.
And, unfortunately, in many cases involving this issue, it has turned into more of a defense for “prominent” or “respected” preachers than a sincere search for the truth, and pride and dishonesty are sure to be found lurking nearby. But this happens in many cases, with children too proud of their family heritage to admit their parents were wrong about salvation, or preachers too dishonest to admit that their refusal to concede their error is based on a fear of losing financial support. Whatever the cause, it must be eliminated and we must get back to an honest and humble study of God’s word that others might be saved.
Pride and dishonest heart are no attributes of the disciples of Jesus.
From: The Burns Park BEACON, a bulletin of the Burns Park church of
Christ, North Little Rock, AR.