Let’s Think This Through

By Chuck Bartlett

I do not know how many times over the past month I have heard people say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I like this statement, and it is thought provoking. From a Christian standpoint though, the opposite is also true. We could say “It is insane to do things differently and expect the same result.” Allow me to explain.

God’s people have been given a teaching that is unchanging (Rom. 6:17). This means we cannot add to it or take away from it (Gal. 1:6-9). Those who abide in the gospel are walking by faith (Rom. 10:17). Now here is the clincher – without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Therefore, it is insane to do things differently than what God has authorized and still expect the same results as those who follow His word.

Everyone needs to understand that a person “doing things for God” is not automatically approved by God. If God does not approve of these things, then who are they truly being done for? If you insist that God approves of something (or if you think He should approve of it) and are unwilling to confirm this in His word, then you are really doing it for yourself. The Bible is filled with examples of this behavior Consider Cain (Gen. 4), Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) and those Jesus called out (Matt. 15:7-9).

Read on to understand why some vainly do things differently than God’s word describe and yet expect the same outcomes as those who faithfully follow His word.

Is it the thought that counts?

If God does not care how we serve Him, then why give the gospel? Why warn of punishment for those who do not obey His word or abide in it (II Thess. 1:8; II John 9)? If all that counted was the thought, John 4:24 would have been written to say, “God is Spirit, they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit.” But we all know it continues on to say, “and in truth.”

Do the differences matter?

Our Lord commands that we sing (Eph. 5:19). Someone says, “We sing and play instruments in worship – it’s the same!” This is not the same – God’s word did not mention instruments. Our Lord commands that we belong to the church Christ built (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; 20:28; Rom. 16:16). Someone says, “We belong to a denomination – it’s the same!” This is not the same – Jesus founded His church, not the denomination. Our Lord commands we have authority for everything we do (Col. 3:17; II Tim. 3:16-17). Someone says, “We don’t have Biblical support for everything we do, but it is still the same!” No it’s not – without God’s word, you are establishing your own religion.

Should we focus on God’s love and not His wrath?

Most people are annoyed when someone tells us what should or should not bother us. Imagine how God feels when people insist that certain behaviors should not upset Him even though His word teaches on these subjects! God’s love and wrath co-exist. We know this because God loves everyone and does want anyone to perish (John 3:16; II Pet. 3:9). Does that mean love overlooks sin? Of course not, which is why many will be lost (Matt. 7:13-14). For some reason, those who are in religious error always think the lost are somehow different from them. In reality, they themselves are lost.

Let us be rational thinks and not insane – if we do things differently than are described in God’s word, we should not expect the same outcomes as those who abide in His word.

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