Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rebutting a Skeptic / Killing the Seed

a seed is ever so small
but planted grows so tall
firm in solid soil
it roots and springs with little toil
the most dangerous seed ever uncaught
is yon seed planted to corrupt our thought 

You know how it works, right? It's a small thing; tiny, even. Doubt. 

Hang with me on this one, and I promise, it'll bless you or hurt you, but either way, it'll help you. 

It's helping me just to think through it!

It's at it's worse when it's about the most important things. Our enemy, using divers methods, would love nothing more than to cast doubt into our thinking of God. That's what the serpent did in the Garden of Eden. Here's the testimony from Scripture about this character: "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made." (Genesis 3:1a) See that? Crafty. Yep. What is the first act of this craft trickster? "He said to the woman, 'Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1, ESV) Catch that? He planted a seed of doubt!

That's how the enemy works.
"Did God really say ____________?"
"Do you think that's what He really meant?"
"Isn't that
just and old book?"
On and on...a doubt creating machine is our enemy. 

I think there are hoards of websites and college classrooms designed by Satan himself for the sole purpose of casting doubt. Sure, they claim you are "getting informed" or "gaining an accredited degree," and you just might be getting those things, but we'd do well to make sure we don't get some other mess along the way.

The Apostle Peter was given a word about this: "This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.' For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished." (2 Peter 3:1-6, ESV, emphasis mine)

Sounds quite Eden-ish, doesn't it? 

This stuff is the most dangerous. It is. It subverts our relationship with God, and no other relationship is more important. No other relationship matters more. No other relationship comes with larger blessings or more dire consequences. 

But, that's not what I really want to write about. Do not mistake what I mean, NOTHING is more important than our relationship with God, and we must wage all out war against doubt and unbelief. 

There's this other thing, though...
Relationships are tricky enough, right?
Love relationships.
Work / school acquaintances.
The authorities over and around us. 

That's the second biggest thing the enemy wants broken, or jacked up in our lives: relationships with others. 

I'm becoming firmly convinced that the enemy's number one tool in those relationships is doubt, too. People do it all the time! It's usually disguised as ordinary conversation or gossip, but it does its dirty work, no matter how unassuming it seems. 

"You know how they are..."
"Someone said they ..."
"Bless her heart..."
"I heard..."
"They've always been like that."

Sometimes it's just a look when someone mentions someone.

That's a scoffers work!
And, that mess ruins relationships. It casts doubt.
We must refuse it.
Maybe even rebuke it.
Definitely not receive it...

I've been thinking about this since the other day, when I was sitting in a hospital, talking to someone. They asked me a question about someone else, and it was like the Lord revealed to me that my answer would possibly cast doubt upon another person's character, so I just refused to answer. There was no flattering answer to give, and really only my unneeded opinion. I was pressed for an answer, but I refused. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I knew, in that moment, I was growing. (I wanted to go find a door frame and scratch something in it.) 

I've refused gossip before, but this was so subtle. God gave me discernment in the moment. It was a tiny seed, and I could see how we (I) plant them, and we jack up relationships.

I don't want to be a scoffer. Here's God's wisdom advised for scoffers: "Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease." (Proverbs 22:10, ESV) 

I think God is right! Hushing-up the scoffer would be the quarrel-killer.

Absolutely, I know what you're thinking, and you're right... sometimes we have to caution people and report things we don't really want to report. I know. But, keep it real with me, what's the ratio of times it's needed and times we just say stuff? I'd wager the need-to-say times are far, far fewer than the not-need-to-say times. 

We need to edify. There's the goal we make and the line we draw. Does it build up? Was that our goal when we spoke it? Do we desire to be built up? Are we desiring to build up the one we are talking about? Are we desiring to build up the one we are talking to? 

We must be careful of what seeds we plant. We may be seeding doubts and ruining relationships. That ain't good. 

Rebut the skeptic.
Rebuff the scoffer. 
Rebuke the flaming tongue

Let me close with James 3:1-12, 'cause he says it better than me... 

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we putbits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (ESV)

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