Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Confirming or Subverting: Which?

“Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment.” (Acts 15:24)

            Comparing this verse with one in Acts 14:22, where we read of Paul and Barnabas “confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith,” it becomes clear that not everyone who cries, “Thus saith the Lord” is  always looking out for our best interest. While Paul and Barnabas were confirming believers with their words, there were others from the church at Jerusalem following after them, subverting souls with theirs. While Paul was exhorting them, the Judaisers were troubling them. While he was encouraging them to “continue in the faith,” they were saying, “Keep the Law.” Obviously, it was not the Decalogue that was in contention here, since Paul reiterated in his own writings all but one of the ten, but the ordinances and practices given to Moses for the nation of Israel exclusively.

         There are preachers and Christians who spend their lives strengthening and reinforcing (confirming) other believers in the Faith by exhortation to, and exaltation of, righteous living. On the other hand, there are others who seem to constantly undermine or weaken (subvert) any inclination toward personal responsibility and individual study by spoon-feeding others with their own set of rules; which may or may not be valid for them or anyone else. Law keeping will not sanctify you any more than it will save you. Righteousness is the (super) natural outworking of the nature of God in a true believer, as a direct result of yielding to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:4).

         My goal as a fellow believer is to be a confirmer of souls, not a “subverter” of them. I want to encourage those with whom I come in contact to be the best they can be for God, with enough humility and grace to allow them to decide what that may be. I’d much rather be a cheerleader than a drill sergeant. I want to allow the Word of God and the Spirit of God to tell them what they should do. I just want to encourage them to believe that with God’s help, they can do it.

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