Four12 image header for the article 'Is Your Doctrine Getting In The Way Of God?' about the pitfalls of intellectual pride around doctrine

Is Your Doctrine Getting in the Way of God?

I had the privilege of studying theology full time, ending up with a degree with honours. The biggest thing I learned over those four years of study was how little I really knew about the depths of God’s awesomeness. I also learned how knowledge can puff a person up (1 Corinthians 8:1). Don’t get me wrong, we need true, biblical, God-centered doctrine in our lives. Throughout the Bible we see tensions like ‘Faith vs. Works’ that balance out truth. But this balance is hard to find, especially considering how the Bible prophesies that ‘people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.’ (2 Timothy 4:3).

My theology looks very different now compared to twenty years ago. My hope is that, throughout my life, my doctrine will keep growing and changing, getting closer and closer to the fullness of truth. I am confident that on the last day I will be like Jesus, because I will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). Until then, one of the difficult questions that we must keep asking is: ‘Is my personal doctrine getting in the way of God working in my life?’

The Post-Modernist Influence

To answer this question, we need to firstly look at what could be influencing our thinking as Christians. Post-modernism is the most popular ideology of the 21st century, and it is growing in strength day by day and is becoming the lens through which society processes truth. In a nutshell, post-modernism teaches us that there is no absolute truth! It says: truth is what WE decide it is. At the end of the day, by thinking this way, we become our own gods, our own absolute truth! (Gen 3:5)

For example, sadly, if you look closely at the school shootings in America, they are almost always rooted in social Darwinism, a spin-off of evolution that promotes the survival of the fittest. I use this example because it’s the nth degree of where post-modernism lands. According to this ideology, I can take someone’s life if I don’t believe that they deserve to live. In other words, ‘What’s right for me is right, and what’s wrong for me is wrong.’

You’re probably thinking, ‘But this is the way the world thinks, not the church!’

You’re probably thinking, ‘But this is the way the world thinks, not the church!’ It is true that the church should not think this way! However, because of the dominance of this belief system, added to the fact that many who call themselves “the Church” are compromising under pressure, sound doctrine is falling away in the 21st Century church.

Peter’s Lens of Doctrine

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, allowed his doctrine to get in the way of God moving in his life. Peter’s issue was food! In Matthew 15:10-11, we see Jesus teaching about what makes a person unclean. In verse 15, we see Peter asking Jesus to explain the parable. Jesus responds: ‘Are you still without understanding?’

Later in the Bible, Peter is praying on a rooftop, during which time he encounters God through a vision, three times. The vision was about different types of food and the freedom to eat them. Awesome, right? A deep revelation of God, face to face. But Peter replies: ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean’ (Acts 10:14). The Bible goes on to say that the vision was then taken up to heaven (verse 16) and Peter is left perplexed. He tries to process the meaning of this vision.

Later on, we read in Galatians 2:11-14 that Paul ‘opposed Cephas (Peter) to his face’ over this same issue around food. Peter had slid back into his old way of thinking and acting, even though God had clearly revealed to him what was true.

I believe Peter’s intentions were sincere, but sometimes even in being sincere, we can be sincerely wrong.

Peter’s problem was that he was interpreting God’s truth through his previous lens as a Jew. I believe Peter’s intentions were sincere, but sometimes even in being sincere, we can be sincerely wrong. Peter’s doctrine as a Jew forbade him to eat anything unclean. So even when God Himself spoke to Peter, Peter’s past doctrine got in the way.

Sadly, Peter missed out on what God was wanting to do in this area of his life. If this could happen to Peter, who walked with Jesus, it could happen to any one of us. We need to keep in mind that God is God, and His ways and thoughts are different from ours.

 

Signs That You Are Trapped

If you are saying or thinking things like:

  • ‘I never get anything out of the preaching in church.’
  • ‘Who are they to tell me any different?’
  • ‘I’m right, they’re wrong and I’m not going to budge.’

You may have fallen into a trap. I’m noticing more and more, as I lead people in a church context, that those who have been Christians for a longer period often fall into self-righteousness and a proud way of thinking. You can pick it up when they start with:

  • ‘I’ve been a Christian for [X] years’ or
  • ‘I know the Bible and…’

What they are saying is that they have more wisdom and understanding than others. The trouble is that if you have fortified your position with this attitude, you will be unwilling to open yourself to the chance that you may have missed the truth. When pride takes over, the heart becomes fortified. We must stay conscious of the fact that there is a danger of worshipping our personal doctrine over God’s truth.

If you have a passion to honour God with your life.. then go ahead and ask the hard questions! Have the attitude of David, who said, ‘Search me, O God..’

If you are reading this and the Holy Spirit is opening your heart and you’re realising that you have fallen into this trap, please be encouraged! Remember that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Remember that there is a huge difference between condemnation and conviction. Conviction is good. If you have a passion to honour God with your life, to hold on loosely to the ways of this world by dying to self (John 12:24-26) so that you can live a life that reflects God’s glory in abundance (John 10:10), then go ahead and ask the hard questions! Have the attitude of David, who said, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’ God promises to answer this prayer by blessing us with wisdom and discernment.

Bret leads a congregation in Joshua Generation Church in South Africa and is married to Abby. He is a dedicated father of two energetic children and an avid outdoorsman. Bret loves sharing the Word of God and has a passion for preaching and teaching. Follow him on Facebook for more.

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False Teachers
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Tongues
Goats
Fear God
Godly Love
Body of Christ
Authority
Faithfulness
Holy Spirit Baptism
Patience
Teaching
Character of a Deacon
Grief
Compromise
Blueprint
Character
Addiction
Pornography
Signs
Christening
Starting A Church
Parents
Poverty
Study the Word
Stewarding
Punishment
Being Hospitable
Sharing The Gospel
Restoration
Training Kids
Malawi
Leading Youth
Surrender
Testimonies
Christ
Delegating
Servant
Social Gospel
Character of God
Worth
Gift of Tongues
Godly Elders
Big Churches
Salvations
Sacrificial Love
Baptism
Fear of God
Hospitality
Peace
The Bible
Church Leaders
Hardship
Fellowship
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Character of an Elder
Adultery
Rebelling
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Infant Baptism
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Study the Bible
Steward
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Spreading The Gospel
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Counting the Cost
Healing Equip
books
Raising Leaders
Shepherds
Contentment
God's Character
Affirmation
Judaism
Enlightenment
Building Deep
Prostitution
Godly Team
Breaking Bread
Festivals
Idolatry
Prayer and Fasting
Theology
Foundations
Heaven
Fellowship of Believers
Leading Church
Diversity
Church Accountability
Rebellion
Witchcraft
Baby Christian
Kassie du Plessis
Protector
Tithing
Envy
Quiet Times
Retaliation
Lessons
Spreading The Word
Cheating
Training Teenagers
Cancer
Youth Ministry
Following the Call
Four12 Equip
Eldership Training
Community Leading
Pastors
Rest
Sacrificial Serving
Sonship
Jewish
Reason
Selling Out
Prostitutes
honour
favour
Children
Forgiveness
Income
Prophetic
Tithes
Helper
Illness
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Living for Christ
Government
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Sancti
Words of Knowledge
Babies
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Sexual Purity
Christmas
Jealousy
Meditation
Promises
Loss
The Cross
Persecution
Unfaithfulness
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Brazil
Prophetic Training
Healing Conference
Identity
Small Group
Biblical Pattern
Systematic Theology
False Gospel
Testimony Apostolic
Jews
Reasoning
Watering Down
Reaching Out
Christian Character
Generosity
Jesus
Purity
Trust
Helps
Mortality
Christian Family Values
Lukewarm
Home Group Leaders
Exhort
Sanctification
Dominionism
Beliefs
Praying
Celibacy
Fathers
Comparison
Training
Bible Study
Tests
Cross
Fear of Man
Find Forgiveness
Sacrificial Service
Brazil Churches
Prophetic Equip
Voice of God
Team
Home Group
Change
Servant Leadership
Apostolic Leaders
Authentic
Religions
Intellectual Pride
Ambition
Fruitfulness
God's Favour
Christian Living
Gentleness
Joy
Repentance
Unity
Loving People
Infirmity
Family Values
Righteousness
Leading
Exhortation
Self-Righteousness
Kingdom of God
Commands
Provision
Sex Before Marriage
Mothering
Women in Leadership
Halloween
Honesty
Testing
Crucifixion
Conversion
Guilt
Sacrificial Giving
Church Merger
Equipping
Saints
Leadership Team
Priesthood
Jehovah's Witnesses
Women In Ministry
Fruit of the Spirit
Womens Ministry
Messiah
Mind Idolatry
Megachurch
Biblical Paradox
Honouring God
Church Leadership
Church Life
Giving
Kindness
Revival
Water Baptism
Servant Heart
Living for Jesus
Covenantal Relationships
Division
Accusation
Flesh
Sexual Sin
Scripture
Customs
Provider
Living for God
Mothers
Female Leaders
Calling
Christian Fellowship
Backsliding
Easter
Witnessing
Infidelity
Biblical Culture
Merging Churches
Prophetic Equipping
Gift of Prophecy
Apostle
Priesthood of All Believers
Finance
Servanthood
Biblical Church
Praise
Atheism
Church History
Living the Gospel
Paradoxes in the Bible
Honouring People
Church Planting
Community Leaders
God the Father
Leaders
Salvation
Women
Afterlife
Protection
Dating
Decisions
Eldership
Fleshly Desires
Shame
Truth
Traditions
Works
Morality
Wisdom
Women Leaders
Ordaining Elders
Christian Community
Backslidden
Resurrection
Testimony
Masturbation
Communal Culture
Partnering Churches
Prophesy
New Churches
Five Fold Gift
Trinity
Tithe
Relationship
Employment
Thanksgiving
Atheists
Old Testament Prophet
Ambassadors
Truth in Tension
contradictions
Treasure Hunting
treasure
Deacons
Culture
Good News
Maturity
Self-Control
Word of Knowledge
Bitterness
Self-Pity
Courting
Forgiving
Anger
Freedom
Submission
Gifts of the Spirit
Get Baptised
Works and Faith
Morals
Gift of Wisdom
Females in Leadership
Ordaining
Defence
Commitment
Hearing God
Consequences
Receive Forgiveness
Leadership Training
Living Hope
Zimbabwe
Start a Church
Prophet
New Believers
Being Generous
Study Scripture
Jobs
Entitlement
Misotheists
New Testament Prophet
Work Values
Family
Devotion
Goodness
Men
Serving
Word of Wisdom
Brokenness
Sickness
Courtship
Friendship
Church Plant
Hope
Trusting
Gifts
Baptized
Fasting
Overcomer
Words of Wisdom
Leadership
Encounter
Repenting
Challenges
Listening
Caring for Children
Four12 Partners
Training Leaders
St Johns
Relief Fund
Building Church
Evangelist
Dreams
Communion
Being Accountable
Occupation
Rejection
Misotheism
The Case for Christ
Kingdom Priorities
Biblical Contradictions
Movement
Love
Discernment
Gospel
Mercy
Shepherding
Work
Caring
Suicide
Desires
Lies
Fathering
Vulnerability
Accountable
The Apostolic
Kids
Intercession
Singleness
Fear
lead
Life
Repent
Anxiety
Obey
Child Care
Four12 Partner
Volunteer
Taiwan Church
Israel
Healthy Church
Teacher
Multi-site Church
Perseverance
Loving Others
Profession
Social Media
Hopelessness
Lee Strobel
Kingdom Living
Refining Fire
God's Glory
Marriage
Discipleship
Grace
Ministry
Sin
Worship
Confusion
Trials
Husbands
Offence
Humility
Idols
Pride
Evangelising
Obedient
Christian Leadership
Singles
Healing
Direction
Revelation
Conviction
Complacency
Recalibration
Guidance
Transformation
Volunteering
Taiwan Churches
Providence
New Testament Church
Pastor
Church Structure
Feminism
Apostolic Partnership
Vocations
Distractions
Christian Books
Christian Movies
Covenantal Love
Storms of Life
resilience
steadfastness
uncompromising
Four12 Conference
Accountability
Doctrine
Healing and Miracles
Money
Social Justice
Youth
Death
Tribulations
Partner
Overcoming
Humbleness
Immorality
Prophets
Fornication
Planting A Church
Christian Leaders
Debt
The Word
Discipline
Condemnation
Bear Fruit
Complacent
Recalibrating
Teaching Kids
Partners Relief Fund
Apostolic Partnering
Netherlands
Marriage Training
Church
Apostolic Field
Administration
Racism
Church Partnering
Christian Values
Cosmological Argument
Christian Authors
Review
Husband
Isle of Man Conference
Apologetics
Elders
Heaven and Hell
Obedience
Spiritual Gifts
Caring for Others
Depression
Online Church
Spouse
Conflict
Meekness
Lust
Prophecy
The Gospel
Purgatory
Control
Finances
The Word of God
Modesty
Judgement
Bearing Fruit
Comfort
Divorce
Teaching Children
Four12 Partners Relief Fund
Pastors Training
The Poor
Letting Go
Values
Partnering
Heart of God
Justice
Church Partnership
Great Commission
Existence of God
Christian Literature
Old Testament
Romance

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