Autumn/Winter Edition (October 1995)

Standing With Jesus Against Accusation

This ministry is in agreement with Tony Higton! What he said was timely and needful.

What was your immediate reaction to that statement? Did you suffer a jolt of fear that Banner Ministries had "turned" and was now going to accept the Toronto "blessing"?

If so, (and not surprisingly), then you will perhaps appreciate what is to follow - because a most unlikely attack is coming against the Church of God. It is succeeding because it is catching us by surprise.

It has to do with suspicion, fear and misunderstanding; this leads to divisions, accusations and a breakdown of fellowship in the Body.

I believe that the Devil is bombarding the Remnant Church with rumours and accusations to throw us off balance and to start us fighting against each-other, instead of the real enemy.

I also believe that what the Church of Christ is now enduring is a mirror-image of her Lord's trials on the Day of His Crucifixion. My initial remark, that I agreed with Tony Higton, was not in fact about infant baptism, nor Toronto - both of which subjects Tony Higton has dealt with sympathetically in his regular column in the Christian Herald.

No, my comments were about his column of 16th September which explored the subject of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Noting that people often fail to hear what we are really saying, he says:

    "You may think paedobaptists are wrong, but it is important to acknowledge that we believe there is a sound biblical basis for our view. In other words, we are seeking to interpret and submit to the Word of God - and we must show the same respect in return. If we don't respect one another we're wrong - even if our doctrine is correct.

"Enough about baptism. The important thing is that we listen carefully to one another. I reckon that most disputes caused In life and In the Church are based on misunderstanding. The number of times I have been given a completely convincing story by one person, only to discover it was based on total misunderstanding when I've heard the other side.

"The problem is that we jump to conclusions - often because we react to buzz-words. So, if I said (like the creed) I believe in the 'catholic church', many Protestant hackles would rise. But when the creed uses the term, it simply means 'universal' and has no reference to the Roman Catholic Church. It comes from a Greek word - 'katholikos'....

"We could do worse than follow the Green Cross code: 'Stand on the pavement near the kerb': don't be hasty but patient. 'Look all around... and listen': listen carefully to both sides of the argument. 'Look all round again': double-check you've understood what the other side Is saying. 'Keep looking and listening...': continue to listen patiently and carefully to the other side."

The present situation for believers, many of whom are still staggering in the backdraft of the Toronto tornado, is probably more dangerous than open apostasy. Many who have been wounded by fellow Christians are now over-reacting by rejecting almost everyone. Feelings are running high; emotions are volatile and the wounds caused by Toronto are still smarting. So now people are flinching every time somebody approaches.

Many are confused, having had the foundation of their faith shaken violently. Many are bitter, having trusted in elders, friends and even family members who have now betrayed them. Some have even lost their faith, or don't know what to believe in any more.

At this vulnerable point, Christians are being subjected to accusations from within and without.

It is hard to get rid of the nagging doubt that you have rejected a true move of the Holy Spirit, or have been unloving towards your friends and disobedient to your elders.

It is confusing when rumours circulate about bona fide ministers and ministries, many of whom are the very ones who have withstood the falsehood of Toronto. It never seems to occur to Christians that the Accuser of the Brethren (satan) plants many of these rumours.

Most devastating of all to the personal life and faith of today's Christian is when the accusations come nearer home, and a whispering campaign starts up against you, your family, your church, your friends or somebody you believe in. How do you respond?

How do you deal with the rumours that come your way? How do you react when you hear gossip about other people? How do you deal with differences of opinion? Can you maintain a steady course or are thrown off balance?

Satan is a dirty fighter, and thinks nothing of kicking a man when he's down. Looking it at merely from his own perspective for a moment, he sees that his first body blow felled many; now he is moving in for the kill, trying to divide the Remnant one from another by planting lies and accusations, mistrust and suspicion. Thankfully, his perspective is not the only one. While acknowledging that God has allowed deception to run rampant throughout the worldwide Church, we can also see His hand in it, using it to purify and purge His Body, in preparation for glory. Strength of character comes through endurance - a lesson many are beginning to learn at this point.


The current situation is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it has divided many churches and forced many Christians out into isolation and a spiritual wilderness. On the other hand this has separated the wheat from the chaff and brought out in high relief the true apostate situation we are facing at this time. It is also a preparation for ultimate glory!

Under present circumstances, nobody can deny that we are on the verge of mighty changes, and facing monumental challenges to our faith. The Day of the Lord is approaching, and everything is being shaken in readiness for the Kingdom of God to be established. We can view the present shaking of the Church, and especially the Toronto episode, as a kind of Gethsemane experience.

Although we cannot claim to understand fully nor repeat that experience in a human way, we can see similarities. The choice facing Jesus in Gethsemane was to take the world by force (which would actually have meant joining forces with satan), or to accept His Father's road to glory - rejection, pain and death. This was a genuine choice, for Jesus had the ability (as he testified) to call upon legions of angels to deliver him from death. yet he chose not to do so. He denied his own comfort and security in order to yield fully to the Father's wisdom.

The choice facing Christians is similar. We are undergoing intense pressure to give up our simple, biblical faith in the physical return of the Lord Jesus as the only hope for mankind. We are being wooed by promises of world domination by other means, including spiritual power, revival - call it what you will.

The present idea (like the Gethsemane lie) is that Christians should not need to endure, suffer nor undergo tribulation in order to enter into the Kingdom. They should merely rise up in power and take the land for God.

As Jesus was tempted to call down mighty spiritual forces to deliver him from evil and to establish the kingdom across the planet, so now the Church faces the same temptation. Christians are being told that, in the name of Jesus, spiritual powers can be invoked that will enable the Church to sweep across the world pushing back evil and darkness. Eventually, they say, the glory of God will cover this earth - before the physical return of its Lord!

This is no new idea. It is the lie of Eden. It is the lie presented to Jesus in his temptation in the desert. It is the lie of Gethsemane. Satan only has one strategy and one lie. The lie is that man can transform himself, his race and his world, utilising the spiritual power of God, but not under the direction of the Father.

Some Christians have responded positively, and they now look forward to global revival and victory for the "glorious church". Others refuse to compromise on biblical truth, and would prefer to deny the flesh in order to walk God's narrow way. These are the self-denying Christians who are walking in the way of Jesus as he "set his face to go to Jerusalem" and the Cross. They are like their Master, on bended knee in the Garden, tormented by various temptations and suggestions, but steadfastly resisting the Devil.

However, in Gethsemane, once Jesus had made the decision to follow the Father's will, another severe test awaited him. His battle with the Devil was over; his mind was made up, and he knew peace in his heart from the Father. Yet the darkest hour was yet to come. His trials lay ahead.

The Lord Jesus, having routed satan in a supernatural battle, then faced a battle in the flesh. After Gethsemane, He faced the desertion of his friends, fear of pain, physical abuse, taunting, and the many false accusations of his religious opponents. These tested areas of his emotional life that were vulnerable to attack, just like ours - for Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine. The battle for His spirit was over, but the battle for his soul had just begun. We all know that he stood firm, even in the most severe trial, and we thank God for his steadfastness, because it won redemption for us. But we are now being asked to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and by His mighty power withstand the enemy in just the same way. We need to have the same attitude as Jesus Christ, that we will not flinch from suffering, for if we partake in the sufferings of Christ, we will also partake in his glory.

    "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy". (1 Pet 4:12-13).


There is a pattern here. Deliverance from the world and from the Devil is only stage one - there follows a time of testing before the Promised Land can be entered.

God offered the ancient Israelites a route to glory, to blessing, to abundance and to liberty in the Promised Land. He miraculously opened the Red Sea and led the people through, destroying their enemies in the same water. But Israel came out of Egypt straight into a barren wilderness without natural food or water. There is where the real trial began!

First of all, they found the water bitter and could not drink it (Exod 15:23). Then hunger gnawed at them so badly that they grumbled and murmured against Moses, and longed for the "fleshpots" of Egypt (16:3). Later they grew impatient waiting for God to act, and turned back to the dependable old gods they had left behind in Egypt. (32:1-14).

They had just seen mighty miracles and experienced a supernatural deliverance. God's power was evident to them all. But instead of accepting privation and hardship gladly, as the price of their liberty, they turned on God and his Leader and criticised them. They grumbled, muttered and murmured, against God and against eachother. They failed to trust God to finish the job He'd begun. And these disobedient, critical and mistrustful attitudes eventually accomplished what the Egyptian army had failed to do! The entire generation that escaped Egypt died in the wilderness and never made it to the Promised Land.

As somebody once remarked: God got the Israelites out of Egypt, but he couldn't get Egypt out of the Israelites!

Now that God in this country is delivering his own from authoritarian structures and apostate religious systems, there are hardships and difficulties to face. The Remnant Body finds itself in a wilderness without easy access to spiritual food and water; longing for God to act, but impatient at the silence and inactivity. Where has God gone?

This is a time of testing, just as it was for the Israelites. Some problems are:

  • QUESTIONING - "why has God allowed us to suffer? Why are we so oppressed? Why didn't he change my Church? Have we failed?" Anger - "we trusted God and our Church, but we have been let down, accused, rejected, abused and now abandoned".
  • FEAR - "we are alone, we can't find fellowship - are we disobeying God? Will we be judged for not going to church? How will we survive? What can we believe - how can we know the truth anymore? What if we fall away? Have we blasphemed the Holy Spirit?"
  • DESPAIR - feelings of rejection, loss, grief, loneliness, and uncertainty lead to depression and the sense that we will never make it through.
  • UNCERTAINTY - "I must have something I can hold onto, or else I will fall."


People find many ways to deal with fear and uncertainty. Here are a few commonly found in Christian circles today:


"I might get contaminated if I go near error, so I will have nothing to do with anyone or anything except plain Bible teaching."

This is surprisingly common, and is a sign of immaturity as much as anything. People sometimes turn down the offer of books or tapes exposing deception, simply through fear of the subject matter. They feel it may in some way rub off on them, despite their best intentions. Wrong doctrines do not creep up on us without our having to believe and accept them, but some people act as if they might catch them like germs.

I was once asked to explain my Christian point of view to a group who were practising yoga. It was a unique opportunity and I wanted to be prepared. I got a couple of books about yoga out of the Library to read up on the subject beforehand, and left them in my shared lodgings. When I returned home I found to my dismay that a full-blown exorcism was in progress, as the other Christians thought I had "gone wrong" and had introduced "satanic influences" into the house!

Simply hearing rock music by accident or going into a new-age bookshop will not make you demonised! Fear will cripple your senses, but God has not given us a spirit of fear to return to the bondage of superstition (touch not, handle not, taste not) but has given us a sound mind by which to examine error and to make a mature judgement. (2 Tim 1:7/ Rom 8:15/ Col 2:20-21.)


"I am OK, but hardly anybody else is trustworthy these days; everybody is in error, so I'll just keep to my little group and my family."

This develops out of a desire to test the spirits and discern wrong teaching - but beware of discernment turning into mere suspicion and mistrust. At school, we had a playmate who was so terrified of spiders that she would go hardly anywhere with us. Everywhere had to be checked out exhaustively first for any lurking little monsters, and even then she would not trust the results of the search. When we visited a friend who mended televisions in his shed, she missed out - but we were prepared to take the risk! Maybe she avoided the spiders, but she avoided all the interest and fun as well.

Reacting in fear and suspicion leads to a blanket rejection of almost everything, and to a bunker mentality that deprives us of many good and worthwhile things. The mature Christian is not afraid of pitfalls on his path. If he comes up against an obstruction or large hole, he simply walks round it and carries on. He can overlook differences in teaching and a few non-vital errors in order to gain from the whole. Don't cut yourself off from good in order to avoid the evil!

I know of dear brothers and sisters, genuinely born again and serving the Lord to the best of their ability, who have been battered and bruised by other Christians for fellowshipping with Roman Catholics (for instance) or for being a-millennial. I think the Lord Jesus summed up the human heart wisely when he said to the men who were about to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her". John 8:7

Speaking for myself, I know that I have erred many times, and have had to correct my course - couldn't we all say the same? If you'd met me when I was avidly following Kenneth Copeland, or reading psychology books would you have denounced me and rejected me? Some did. But God looks on the heart - and He saw my willingness to obey the truth, so He led me out of error.

Remember, not everyone who follows, or even preaches, a false doctrine is necessarily beyond redemption. Some (I agree) are stiff-necked and will not listen to reason. But others are simply deluded and need prayer and counselling. I know of at least two leaders who have come out of gross error - maybe you know others. Let us be discerning and see with the eyes of God. Let us look on the heart, and not make a hasty judgement.


"I have a list here of all the things I believe in and if you deviate from that I'm going to cut you off/cancel my subscription/tell everyone you are deceived."

This is a variation of "suspicion" but has developed into something more sinister. To assume that our own particular brand of belief is the ultimate truth is arrogance, and to denounce others on the basis of their disagreement with us is sheer folly.

Some people act like sniffer dogs, disregarding all that is good and acceptable in others in order to sniff out some little thing to confirm their own prejudices. They have a distaste for one little doctrine and they will keep on sniffing until they find it in others. Then they start barking, howling and making all kinds of distressing noises until the whole neighbourhood knows about it. The end result is to destroy a person who is trying his or her level best to follow the Lord, or who has made an honest mistake.

We should not let ourselves be divided on minor points of doctrine or church customs, or we are falling into the party spirit of the Corinthians, condemned by Paul as worldly and childish. (1 Cor 3:1-3)

Legitimate areas of concern are immorality, dishonesty, hatred and malicious attitudes, occultism, greed and pride, the abuse of authority, and heresy.

Areas in which we should exercise love and tolerance include differing Bible versions, views about the endtimes, clothes, musical tastes, dietary requirements, denominational differences, styles of worship, and spiritual gifts.

As a reaction to insecurity and uncertainty, we look for people who believe exactly as we do - but this is actually an impossible search! Issues are rarely black-or-white. There are many shades of grey in the Christian Church, and searching for perfect agreement is an impossible task. Learn to love and appreciate people no matter what their level of faith or development in doctrine; and save your quibbles for genuine heresy.


We all know it's wrong, but we all do it, to some degree. But now the dangers are greater. We can end up slandering a perfectly innocent person and giving satan the victory. The enemy wants to divide us by sowing suspicion, mistrust, fears and uncertainties. He plants thoughts about other people, and distorts incidents to make us afraid of others. "He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates the closest friends". (Prov 17:9)

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find out the real truth about someone, or about a situation. Don't act hastily! Don't accept the word of just one or two people - they may have an axe to grind. Check it out and check it out again until you have seen all sides of the story. You may find that you didn't have all the facts, or that those facts had been distorted to suit somebody's personal opinion.

Also, gossip is often changed and enlarged, like Chinese whispers, as it passes from one to another. Try to track it down to the source, if possible, and don't shy away from confronting the person in question. Sometimes, just phoning to ask "did you say..." or "what happened about..." will settle the whole matter.

I, for one, would hate to think suspicions had been circulating about my personal life or ministry, and that they were being believed without anybody checking with me. We harm other people when we believe gossip about them without being sure of our facts. "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise". (Prov 10:19)

In the last issue of MAINSTREAM, I uncovered the abuse of Matthew Chapter 18, the verses that deal with personal disputes. There, I outlined the way that certain leaders use Matthew 18 as a way of avoiding criticism and deflecting an honest appraisal of their teachings. However, let's not forget that the command of Matthew 18 still stands for dealing with personal disputes.

If somebody in your particular part of the Body has offended you, or even if you THINK they have offended you, Jesus has commanded that you visit that person in private and share your feelings with them, to give them a chance to clear their name, or to repent. You owe it to them!

You are simply not permitted to gossip about the matter until you have obeyed the commands of Matthew 18.

Matthew 18 is not the procedure for correcting heresy or false teaching in the Church at large, but it is the safest and most loving way to deal with personal disputes.


"I'm not going to let Christians get anywhere near me again. I'm never going to a church again. I'm finished with being friendly and open. It's just look out for number one from now on."

It is natural to want to stay away from those who have hurt us in the past. But to over-react by withdrawing from everyone is actually a form of self-love, a selfish desire to protect ourselves. Do we love self, or God? If we truly want to walk with God and please Him, we will forgive those who hurt us, put the past behind us and move on in faith that God will heal all wounds.


"You are OK so long as you stick to the subject that most interests me/that feeds my prejudices /that I feel is the worst deception today; otherwise I want nothing to do with you." Some Christians are all ears while you speak on their favourite topic, but when the subject changes to another, equally dangerous heresy, they lose interest. This is prejudice, not discernment. We cannot pick and choose between subjects as if we were in a heresy shop. God wants us to have an overall understanding of the situation. We can only see the wood if we stop looking at the trees.


"I'll never make it on my own - I need somebody to help me, to teach me, to check out my beliefs and to pray for me." This last problem, possibly the most universal, is also the most insidious. A sense of insecurity is very troubling. We all need to sense solid walls around us and something we can stand on. Having been shaken, many are desperately searching to replace their former security with a substitute. This is just what led the Israelites to pagan idolatry.


We all know that, shortly after their journey into the wilderness, Moses disappeared up the Mount in order to converse with God. Impatience, fear, frustration - who knows exactly what the people felt? But they looked around for somebody to lead them, and Aaron proved to be the man who filled the gap.

Aaron was no apostate! He had been hand-picked by God to assist Moses in delivering the people from Egypt:

"And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God". Exod 4:16

"And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people". Exod 4:30

"And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet". Exod 7:1

When Moses was first called up the Mount to God, Aaron accompanied him (Exod 19:24) but on the notorious Golden Calf visit which lasted forty days and nights, Aaron was left behind to look after the people:

"And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them". Exod 24:13-14

We can only speculate how Aaron felt about this. He wasn't to know that God was at that very moment mapping out a vitally important role for him, as High Priest in His Tabernacle: (Exod 28:1). While awaiting the return of Moses, maybe he asked himself why Joshua, a young lad, just a servant of Moses, should be chosen to accompany Moses on this important occasion, and not himself? And perhaps when Moses tarried longer and longer, Aaron was tempted to give in to the demands of the people and thus to establish himself as their new leader:

"When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

"And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

"And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." Exod 32:1-14


Notice that Aaron proclaimed a feast unto the true God, yet utilising as a focal point the idol he has fashioned. God is Spirit, and will not be worshipped as an idol. He desires heart-worship, not formality and ritual before a visible idol. Man, however, has a hard struggle with trusting to the invisible. He looks for the certainty and security that rituals offer. At the point of greatest emotional need, we are tempted to look for a man or an organisation, or an object of faith to give us security. Unfortunately for us, no matter how beautiful, sacred or familiar our idols are, they divert our eyes from simple faith and trust in God.

Not only that, but we offend God in the most profound way. We are actually saying to God - "You are not enough for our needs! Despite your great power, which we acknowledge, your loving-kindness and your forbearance, we still have human needs that you have not addressed. We understand that you have commanded us to walk in this narrow way towards the Promised Land, but you cannot expect us to suffer this deprivation, isolation and want. We need to satisfy our emotional and physical needs along the way."

But do you see how the pattern repeats itself? The people had had a miraculous deliverance from satanic forces, and the supernatural battle was over, but now the battle for their hearts and bodies had begun.

Despite knowing the Lord's graciousness and power, when faced with emotional and physical needs they gave in to another form of worship that was more pleasing! How this offends God! It is not easy to make God angry, but this was very nearly the end of the Israelites: "And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation".

God's intention in sending his people through the wilderness was to test their hearts and to see if they were truly loyal to Him. "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." Deut 8:2

It was a divine trial - and they failed the test!

Jesus likewise faced a trial in the wilderness, but he overcame the devil:

"And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve". Luke 4:5-8

The Israelites faced trial, Jesus faced trial, and now we face trial. We can therefore learn from past mistakes, and from the attitude of the Lord Jesus. With His divine help, we need not fail. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Heb 2:18.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:15-16

Some might take issue with the concept of trial, for a Christian. They think Jesus did it all, therefore we need not learn how to suffer and to endure. The Apostle Paul was quite clear on these points. He saw the Wilderness journey as prophetic of the Church under trial:

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Cor 10:11,12)

Paul drew a parallel between the "fathers" who were "baptised" in the water and the cloud of glory, and who partook of Christ spiritually in the supernatural water and manna, and Christians today who are baptised in water and the Spirit, and who are in communion with the Living Christ. He then reminded the Corinthians that, nevertheless: "with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness". (1 Cor 10:5)

The book of Hebrews also speaks of a Promised Land, a "Rest" for the people of God, and urges us to be more diligent and faithful than the Israelites.

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God..... Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Heb 4:8-11)

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end. (Heb 3:12-14)

One of the most striking statements Jesus made about the coming perilous times was "remember Lot's wife!" No Jew could misunderstand the message of his words. They knew that Lot was delivered out of Sodom with his family, but that his wife, just like Israel in the wilderness, turned and looked back. She never moved on from that point. Caught between desire for deliverance and longing for her old way of life, she was doomed to gaze continually upon the site of God's terrible judgement, without ever experiencing the joy and liberty of the new life that God intended for her.

Remember Lot's wife. Don't look back. Don't start to long for the comfort and security of the old regime, and to look for a way to recreate it. Have FAITH in God alone to deliver you, and walk away from the old life without a backward glance.


Much of Christian living is common sense and keeping a balance between extremes. It is like walking on a high narrow bank between two ditches. While you gingerly step along the bank, enemies are throwing rocks at you to try to make you stumble. The ditches are the extremes, such as "accept all leadership" or "reject all leadership". The path between is a mature judgement on each individual case.

Paul expected Christians to be able to judge righteously and to make assessments in such issues:

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? (1 Cor 6:2-5)

Pendulum swings are dangerous to the Christian life, especially in an atmosphere of rumour, suspicion and acusation. The enemy will not succeed in planting thoughts about others if you do not immediately accept everything you are told! Keep away from extreme reactions in which there is only a black or white answer and people are either all bad or all good.

At the same time, when you yourself are under attack and lies and rumours are circulating about you, avoid the pendulum swings of extreme reaction to the situation. It will be counter-productive to react in rage and rejection, offending even those who ignorantly passed the rumour on. It would be equally bad to stick your head in the sand and try to ignore the situation, hoping it will resolve itself. (It won't!)

Try to keep your balance between extremes. The narrow way is often the middle path between fear on one side or naive over-confidence on the other; between bigotry or bland acceptance of all things; between withdrawal into complete isolation or the inability to stand without others. God requires that we grow up:

"that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ". (Eph 4:14-15)


We would prefer to stay as babies so that we can be comforted, petted, cared for, fed and cleaned regularly, and have somebody else make all the decisions and face all the hardships for us. But God commands us to grow up:

  • Maturity means growing out of black and white reactions, where things are either right or wrong.
  • Maturity demands a rational, educated, intellectual appraisal of things, not a blind emotional gut-reaction that resembles a child's tantrum.
  • Maturity means that we hold back on instant judgement until we know all the facts.
  • Maturity means we don't peddle gossip just to feel special or accepted in certain circles.
  • Maturity means that we no longer shy away from dealing with false doctrines, but have the courage to speak out boldly if something is proven to be damaging and unscriptural, or if people act in a sinful, harmful way.
  • Maturity also means that we can make distinctions. We don't necessarily reject everyone who holds to a wrong doctrine. The mature Christian perceives a heart that is seeking truth, and steps back in order to allow God to lead someone out of error. The mature Christian allows others room to grow.
  • Maturity means we exercise love and restraint in our dealings with others. Only the mature, self-denying saint can put his or her own feelings to one side, and refuse to react in fear or anger.

"But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will". (2 Tim 2:23-26)

Here, maturity is epitomised in our attitude to others. Getting into endless nit-picking disputes simply in a desire to win theological battles is a selfish and childish pursuit. The mature Christian will step back from unnecessary disputing, answer calmly and gently to criticism, and seek to correct others in a spirit of humility.

In the wilderness journey that faces us now, in the trials to come, may God give us such a depth of maturity that the Accuser of the Brethren can gain no victory over us.

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us". (Rom 5:3-5)

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