Admitting when we’re wrong

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019

By Ross Reitz

Nobody in the Bible looks good except Jesus. Jesus’ disciples repeatedly have to be corrected by Him. Our Biblical heroes have illegitimate children, steal from their families, and even rashly kill authority figures.

The Bible sets itself up to throw shade on God’s people. If we read an archaeological book about King David’s life, we could read how his military excellence led to the capture of mines, which allowed for better weaponry, which allowed for the defense and unification of Israel. The Bible passes over all this in one verse, and instead focuses on every stupid thing David ever did.

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I think the Bible does this for two reasons. First, it shows how weak and sinful even the best of us is. Second, it shows God’s mercy, which gives us new life and changes us from inside out because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But what about after we have new life — after we become Christians? A lot of times, we feel we can’t make mistakes. If we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, then He will tell us the right thing to do. So, if we have the Holy Spirit whispering in His still, small voice, we think we wouldn’t possibly give money to a false preacher or vote for the wrong politician. We think our punishment of our children can’t have been too lenient or too harsh. We are sure our business plans have to be blessed by God.

It has surprised me how many times, when people claim God has talked with them, that the prophecy is all about a financial situation. If you are starting a business or thinking of changing jobs, you will have more confidence if you believe God planned this move for you. In fact, not doing this financial move becomes disobedience to God, which brings God’s curses. So as we listen to that still, small voice telling us to keep going forward, we have confidence to overcome the difficult situations and not give up.

The Bible, however, has a very different take on God’s leading. James 4:13-17 specifically states we should not declare that God is directing our business plans. We still go ahead and make business plans, but the Bible gives us no guarantee of financial success. God promises to love us and care for us no matter whether we succeed or fail. Our outward success isn’t important to Him; just our relationship with Him.

As evangelicals, we believe that the Bible is fully true and guides us through life. But more and more, our churches are relying on an inner voice, not Scripture, to guide us. The Bible is clear that God’s Spirit will mystically confirm to us that God’s word is true. But churches are now using this “inner voice” without confirmation of Scripture. In the Bible, every time I see God calling a prophet or a king, He tells someone else to anoint that person. He rarely tells the person himself the message for his own life.

I’ve watched women marry a succession of abusive husbands, watched men excuse divorcing their wife for a younger woman, and watched people justify their allegiance to politicians who match every single characteristic of an evil person mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and Romans 1:28-32, all because they were following this inner voice.

One Christian debate is about how much God gives us free will and how much we are predestined to our fate. Multiple times the Bible mentions God hardening people’s hearts. My wife noted that psychology has shown that the harder it is to make a decision, the more likely that decision will last. When we choose to disobey the Bible, and blame that decision on a still, small voice, we have two options. Christianity is a religion of grace and repentance, where even after our salvation, we can come back to a loving God, admit our wrong, and let Him change us. Or we can harden our hearts and slowly turn that wrong decision into our new god.

Ross Reitz has been a Suffolk resident since 2009. Prior to that, he taught the Bible in Africa for two years and spent six years as a teacher at a Christian school in Philadelphia, Pa.