From the title you were probably hoping I was going to talk about the bad sins of my past. While that would be spicey, today is about my Christian journey, from rookie years until now, 20 years later.
Part of being a Christian requires examination of one’s heart, analyzing one’s walk, and pursuing growth in our maturity just like we do in all other aspects of our lives!
Just like when training in the gym, it’s always good to:
✔️ Celebrate progress & victories so you never forget where you came from.
✔️ Investigate why you’re doing certain things— just cause you can doesn’t mean you should, and if you’re not getting anywhere then it’s time to change things up.
✔️ Humble yourself to know you never “arrive.” There’s always more to learn, understand, & practice and the journey never stops until the day our physical heart does.
On my 3 mile run this morning at 5:30am, these 13 things came to me regarding my Spiritual Maturity (unedited). Perhaps someone else needs to hear them today!
13 THINGS I DON’T DO ANYMORE:
#1. Take out proof texts.
Proof texts are taking out a passage of scripture, often out of context, and using it to support your position, belief, or topic. Webster defines proof-texting as taking isolated quotes (ie: a text) and establishing a position that may not be the author’s original intent.
In all fairness, I used to do this unintentionally. And many people do. One thing I do now is stop myself and ask, “what’s the context of that passage though?” A common one for example is Philippians 4:13. You’ll hear this used by many athletes or high achievers that “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” But as you read the full context of what the apostle Paul was saying, he was stating that you can endure all things, whether you have plenty or little, you can be “content.” While we often use that scripture to point to success, his definition was whether you succeed or not, you’re successful in contentment.
Another common one today regarding hot political topics like homosexuality, abortion, & racism is “Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.” Or, “Jesus goes after that one lost sheep.” Pause. Do you really know what Jesus’ true love is? He came to save sinners. From what? God’s wrath. Through what? Repentance and forgiveness from your sins. Do you know what he’s talking about regarding that lost sheep? A repentant sinner he’d rather have, than 99 Pharisees who refuse to turn to Christ.
#2. Fully trust any human’s word.
People get mad when I say this but I don’t trust anybody! I used to listen to a lot of pastors & teachers and just accept their teaching as truth, run with it, and then dangerously regurgitate it to others.
Today, I listen regularly to about 10 very trusted, experience-loaded biblical scholars, and I never assume that everything they’re teaching is 💯truth!
For example, I’m personally studying the end times again. Of these 10 scholars I listen to, 50% of them believe in pre-millennialism (simply put, the Rapture); and the other 50% believe in post-millennialism (simply put, no rapture). And they all agree that they can healthily agree to disagree and that all followers should enjoy healthy, anxiety-free conversations about God’s Word.
A danger I see today, however, is many Christians fully jumping on a leader’s band wagon and going all-in without discernment. It’s dangerous to constantly quote what humans say without ensuring it aligns with scripture. Many so-called modern day prophets are popping up all over the place. Pause. Always test with the Word and Spirit. “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thess 5:20-22. Nothing should ever be added or taken away from the Bible. There are dangerous consequences to this. Revelation 22:18-19
This leads me to why I never…
#3. Act convinced in my mind about scriptural unclarity.
In Romans 14 Paul leaves ambiguity on certain topics like eating certain foods and celebrating certain days and He says let each one be convinced in their own mind. This is where we rely on seeking the truth through the Word and letting the ultimate anointing within us (the HS, 1 John 2:27), guide us into all truth.
*Now, make sure I’m not just pulling a proof text here! Paul is squashing little, meaningless church squabbles. He’s not saying church matters don’t matter, but he’s pushing believers to focus on the first things first and keeping the main things the main (like your salvation in Christ and your name written in the book of life).
Look, there are some complexities in the Bible that are, for lack of a better word, mysterious. God is not a God of confusion but our limited, human minds get confused.
I do think almost 💯 clear answers can be found on most things, but I’m also not insecure to say, “I don’t know for sure.” This doesn’t shake my foundation.
I don’t dismiss speaking in Tongues. But I’m not sure it happens as often and in the way some claim.
I don’t dismiss the reality of demons. But I’m not sure Christians should be giving them so much power, claiming that everything bad is a demon, and thinking that casting them out of everyone should be our new pursuit. Sometimes things are just sin and darkness of the world.
I thought I knew where I stood on the End times. Now I’m back in my search to hear all angles again.
I think I know what the Sabbath is truly about. But I’m always asking God to reveal to me what we should really be doing on Saturdays and Sundays.
Here’s my fallback response: “it seems like.”
It’s ok to say I don’t know for sure, and here’s where I’m at right now, and let’s dive in some more about said topics together. “According to my studies and experience so far, it seems like the Bible is saying this.”
Also, for people who act so convinced that they are right, put the burden of proof on them. Ask them to convince you otherwise through scripture.
Be encouraged. You will often find that the answer will be revealed to them and you or in the least bit, your understanding will grow, or a new direction for growth will come.
A common one is baptism of the HS. Read where I’m at here—-> https://christianmenshealth.com/2022/10/25/does-baptized-in-the-spirit-mean-speaking-in-tongues/
**Guys, sometimes people sound really good. Often it may make you feel inadequate. Pause. You’re smarter than you think. God will equip you with what you need. Even if not in the moment because we’re often caught off guard, listen and say, “I’m going to discern that, do some digging myself, and I’ll get back to you!” This is another friendly reminder of why it’s good to OPEN YOUR BIBLE and study, not just read.
Which leads me to…
#4. I don’t read scripture anymore. I study it.
Can I tell you how much this has changed my life? Can I tell you how much I’ve grown to love Jesus because of this? Reading scripture is great and making it a regular habit is honorable and necessary. But studying the Bible takes it to a whole new level.
Understanding the history of the text, line, paragraph or book; knowing the people being spoken to and the person speaking; learning the original Greek or Hebrew meaning; using scripture to cross reference scripture and gain a 30,000 foot perspective of the bigger picture; putting yourself in their shoes (or sandals) and then reflecting on how it applies to us today; all these things provide us a greater depth and understanding of the lessons and teachings God’s authoritative word is trying to give us. This is where the abiding fellowship in Him truly changes our desires inside and out.
A few ways to study: use something called commentary to dissect what scholars can teach us about the Word. A super easy resource is BibleHub.com. Just type in the scripture and click on “commentary” for a list of teachings.
Read the scripture in multiple translations to sometimes see different versions of the words that may help things stick better. A super easy resource is BibleGateway.com. Just type in the scripture and click on “read all English translations.”
Listen to an expository bible study teaching line by line about what a certain passage means.
There are many other ways. What you’ll find happening in your life is supernatural. You’ll start memorizing scripture like you never could before. You’ll understand sermons in church a lot easier. You’ll be able to share the Gospel with others in a much simpler and understandable way.
Which leads me to…
#5. I don’t just focus on Jesus alone anymore, while dismissing doctrine.
Maybe you’ve heard this before, “I just need Jesus, I don’t need all of this doctrine.”
Eek! I know people mean well because I used to say this. But then I discovered it was because big church words scared me!
Jesus always used scripture (doctrine) to teach. One of my favorite stories is after His resurrection (Luke 24) when he points the disciples on the road to Emmaus back to scripture (beginning with Moses and all the Prophets) which then opens their eyes to see Jesus standing right in front of them.
Doctrine is essentially instruction. Biblical doctrine helps us understand the will of God for our lives.
The Bible says of itself that it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We are to be careful about what we believe and present as truth. First Timothy 4:16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
“Doctrine is the worldview by which we govern our lives. If our doctrine is based soundly upon Scripture, we can know we are walking in the path God designed for us.” (GotQuestions.org)
I’m the first one to tell you that knowing the full story of who Jesus is and what He says is a MAIN. But I bet He’ll be the first one to tell you never to neglect doctrine. He gave stern warnings that we should always incorporate the whole counsel of God.
False doctrine runs rampant in churches today and people are picking and choosing what they want to believe, and ripping out the pages that they don’t. Wouldn’t you know that the Bible also tells us this will happen:
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3
Ok, hang with me now. The above five things were the only ones I thought I was going to elaborate on today. Then 8 more came to me. 🤦🏻♂️ For the sake of your attention span and mine, let’s break this up.
If you want to read the next 8 now, click here to READ PART TWO OF THE 13 THINGS I DON’T DO ANYMORE AS A CHRISTIAN.