The Hostile Influences That Keep You From Following God

The fundamental attack on God’s authority is the belief that we need more than His word to guide us through life. Such an assertion utterly degrades the Scriptures. When we look to and lift up standards that originate outside the Bible, we are saying that the word of God is insufficient to teach us what we need to know. This is why followers of God often fall prey to what may be considered hostile influences—forces that draw our focus away from Scripture. There are three such influences that not only compromise our submission to God’s Word, but also weaken our ability to bear the standard of Scripture.

Tradition: Scripture’s Fallible Interpreter

For many, there is no sacred cow more precious—while for many others, no inheritance more useless—than tradition. But while the handing down of beliefs and customs is morally neutral, what makes tradition “hostile” is their ability to fail us as a life-guide. Man-made tradition, as a companion to or replacement for the unfailing Scriptures, is misleading by nature.

Such conflict is easily seen in the confrontation between Yeshua and the Jewish religious leaders in Matthew 15:2-3. When they challenged the Master with: “Why do your disciples sidestep the tradition of the elders?”, He immediately retorted, “Why also do you sidestep the command of God because of your tradition?” The division couldn’t be sharper. On one side are the traditions of men as upheld by the religious multitudes. On the other side is the Messiah standing alone in defense of the Word of God. Why the divide? There is no debate as to the traditions’ origins (which could be based in Scripture), their intentions, or even their authenticity, usefulness, or widespread acceptance. No, the issue is that the traditions—and, perhaps, their evangelists—have inadvertently usurped or are deliberately posing as God’s authority.

Expediency: Shortcutting Scripture

We are being expedient when we do “good” according to one part of the Scriptures, but take a shortcut through another part of the Scriptures to do it. The problem is that any “good” done at the expense of God’s word amounts to disobedience. Expediency leads us to compromise and ignore the Scriptures that we find most troubling, so that we may accomplish and celebrate the Scriptures that we find most gratifying.

In Mark 7:10-13, the Master exposes such expediency in the hearts of the leaders when He confronts them for “no longer [allowing people] to do anything for [their] father or mother.” The leaders did this under the pretext that people must make offerings to God. And by doing so, they used the Scriptures for doing good for God to justify setting aside the Scripture, “honor your father and mother.”

Rationalism: Supremacy of Man’s Reason

Rationalism doesn’t recognize Scripture as man’s ultimate authority. Rather, when man’s reason and God’s word are in conflict, rationalism brands Scripture as defective.

We see rationalism on full display in an exchange between Yeshua and the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29-33. Hoping to discredit Him, they approached the Master to prove by their reasoning that there would be no Resurrection of the dead. But the reasoning of the Sadducees failed. They did not take into account the reality of the word of God. Silencing the deafening noise of rationalism, the Master countered with His supreme reply. “[C]oncerning the Rising Again from the dead, did you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not a God of dead men, but of living!”

Did this post bless you?

Once we surrender to misleading influences like tradition, expediency and rationalism, we lose sight of the sufficient and supreme standard we are called to follow. We need to test ourselves and evaluate the degree to which we have fallen under hostile influence. Only then may we resist the forces bent on deterring us from the truth… only then can we fix our eyes on God’s perfect word and bear the standard of Scripture.

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