This is part four of a ten part series counting down. The series begins Here.
#7 Constantly be skeptical of any scripture which gives you hope and place extra emphasis on those which cause you fear. After all, you don’t want to be deceived!
There are plenty of scriptures with the words “do not be deceived” in them. Plenty of times that we are cautioned against relying on our own intellect. These can be very useful for making you feel futile about all scripture if you are sure to only recognize potential deception about things you wish were true. Be convinced that it’s much more dangerous to think too highly of God, to expect Him to be too good, to dare to dream He might be as good as you hope. Instead, be sure that all His otherworldliness only applies to being more scary and harsh than you’ve been told, never more loving and Gracious than we’ve seen. His power can never be believed to extend through HIs goodness to actually make you better than you hope either, or all is lost here.
Of course to do this you have to ignore all the very clear verses which speak of God’s love and graciousness and instead you must place undue emphasis on any obscure but fear-laden passages. The trick here is to keep almost all your focus on the confusing passages and very little on the clear ones. If you actually spend too much time on the clear, the obscure will lose power. Too much time with “He will remain faithful even when you are faithless,” and “When we see Jesus we shall see Him as He is and we shall see that we are like Him, “ and “God demonstrated His great love for us in that when we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” will cause you not only to want to read scripture but to want to believe it and be changed by it. Dangerous territory indeed.
Instead keep asking yourself why Annanias and Saphira were struck dead for a little lie, or why the poor guy in David’s time who accidentally touched the ark was struck dead. Focussing on difficult questions like these without recognizing the clear statements of God’s character regularly made in scripture, can make you doubt that God is truly as smart, good and powerful as you hope. And as long as you doubt that, then scripture will never mean as much as it could. Of course it helps if you feed yourself with the abundant offers of guilt and fear that certain teachers are more than happy to give. Of course doing this may put you in bondage to pleasing them, but at least it won’t be scripture you are in bondage to.
The beauty of this tip is that you can still read scripture, can even have an appearance of holiness by trying your best to obey the verses less spiritual people ignore. Plenty of false humility and self denial will make you appear very wise. Of course, as Paul says in Colossians, this has no value for actually making you feel or live or be more Holy, and puts you in bondage to human rules and regulations, and runs the strong risk of destroying your joy in self righteousness, but then again, there is no better way to avoid being changed by scripture than such self righteousness.