Two Reasons for Spiritual Error

Category: Full Sermons
Topic: ,
Bible: 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Matthew 22:29

Making spiritual errors about our thinking of God and His ways can be hurtful and greatly damaging to ourselves and to others. We find in Matthew 22:29 that Jesus gives two reasons for spiritual error that leads people to go astray. The first reason being that a person does not know the Scriptures. The second being that a person may be entirely academic and not know the power of God.

Well, it's been several years since I spoke to the San Antonio church here on a Sunday morning. Things look quite a bit different than they did in Fatty's Restaurant. All we need is the Lord isn't it? If He would just give us a glimpse of Himself we would go away changed. So, let's pray in that direction, as we open up the Scriptures.

Our Father we pray that you would save your people today. We pray that you would effectually mortify, and put down the flesh, and that your Holy Spirit would rule and reign here. That you would give utterance and hearing and understanding. And truth that would help us in the days ahead to glorify you more and to go on with You. We ask these things in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen.

Well, the first Scripture that I'm going to be reading this morning is from 1st Thessalonians chapter one. And Paul is talking about how he has confidence that the Thessalonian believers have actually come to know God. He says, "Knowing brethren beloved by God His choice of you..." and then he tells how. "For our Gospel did not come to you in word only but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. Just as you know what kind of men we've proved to be among you for your sake." What I have to share this morning can be summed up in two words here: word and spirit. And really this is kind of an introductory passage we're not going to be looking at this passage directly. But it gives an introduction. "Our gospel did not come to you and word only." Evidently it is possible for the gospel to come in word only. The gospel has to come in word, first of all, it must come in word. There's content. There's truth. There is propositional revelation. And unless you come to know the truth you are certainly not going to be saved. Men go to hell because they don't receive the love of the truth. You've got to have truth. Jesus says, "Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy Word is truth, if you continue in my word you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free." So you've got to have truth. You've got to have content. It's not enough to have religious feelings, it's not enough to have stained glass windows. It's not enough to feel tingly or what have you, you've got to have truth. You've got to receive the love of the truth. And that comes in words.

So words are absolutely essential to convey the truth. But it's possible for the gospel to come in word only and if it comes in word only it will not do anything. You can go out into a cemetery and preach absolute truth. Orthodoxy all day long, it's not going to do anything to raise the dead. It has to come not only in word, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit. So there's two sides to this spiritual reality. You can evidently have perfect orthodoxy even have an Apostle preach to you, the Apostle Paul, and evidently it's possible for the gospel to come in word only and it won't do anything, it has no power. But by the power of the Spirit, what happened at Thessalonica was the gospel did not come in word only but also in the power of the Spirit. We must have both. And that's the basic theme that we're going to be looking at this morning. But we're going to do that from a different passage. And that's from Matthew 22, so if you could turn to that, Matthew 22.

In these last chapters of Matthew we have various men confronting the Lord Jesus Christ, trying to trap Him, in different ways. And in verse 23 we're told that the Sadducee's who say there is no resurrection, came to him and questioned Him saying, "Teacher Moses said if a man dies having no children his brother, as next of kin, shall marry his wife and raise up an offspring to his brother. Now there were seven brothers with us and the first married and died having no offspring left his wife to his brother so also the second the third down to the seventh and last of all the woman died. In the resurrection therefore whose wife of the seven shall she be for they all had her. Jesus answered and said to them,

"You are mistaken not understanding the scriptures or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead have you not read that which was spoken to you by God..."

Do you realize this? "That which was spoken to you by God." And He quotes something that God said to Moses, "but it was spoken to us by God. Saying, 'I am the God of Abraham the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living. When the multitudes heard this they were astonished at His teaching." I'd like to consider with you this morning two reasons for spiritual error. And what I mean by error is error with regard to spiritual matters. What you might call invisible reality. Error that relates to our thinking about God and His ways. And so the text is verse 29. "You are mistaken not understanding the scriptures or the power of God." The Authorized version says you, "err... not knowing the scriptures for the power of God."

One of the Greek lexicons, Thayer's, says it this way: "This word literally means to go astray to wander, to roam about or to be led away into error and sin." It's the same word that's used of the 99 sheep, when it says, "one goes astray." You err, you go astray. We're talking about two reasons for spiritual error. Going astray.

The same word in James 5:19, "If any among you strays from the truth." And then the same word in Revelation regarding Satan who deceives or leads astray the whole world. So this straying or erring that the Lord speaking of here is a serious thing. It's not just a little misunderstanding or doctrinal technicality, it's a matter of life and death. Beloved, spiritual error dams people. It causes people to go to hell. If you are a Christian, spiritual error hurts you. And I like to think of doctrine as a description of invisible reality. I mean we have different ideas in our mind about God and about His ways, that we get from the Bible, and we call that doctrine. But really doctrine is telling us about things that we can't see with our physical eyes. Their descriptions of invisible reality. You know invisible reality is just as real as physical reality in fact it's more real, it is eternal, the things that we see are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.

If somebody blindfolded me and I came into this room and one of the brothers says, "Now there's pulpit right in front of you, just step two steps to the left, now walk forward. Now you're going to hit a chair if you don't... just go to the right about ten steps." As long as he gives me an accurate description of invisible reality I won't bump into anything. But if I have wrong ideas about invisible reality I'll bump into things and in the spiritual realm it hurts a lot when you bump into spiritual reality. When you have mistaken ideas about God and His ways.

Even the godliest men. A.B. Simpson was a godly man who lived about a hundred years ago. God miraculously healed A.B. Simpson. And he got into this teaching, he thought he saw it from Scripture, that it's the never God's will for His children to be sick. And when you come to the point of dying he said, "Death is just like a ripe apple falling into the hands of the gardener." So you get this picture, that when you get old, you just fall asleep and fall into the hands of the gardener. Well the problem is, that when he started getting older, he got sick and he suffered a lot. If you believe wrongly about invisible reality. You bump into reality. And it cost him a lot of distress in his heart. You're already sick, that's bad enough, and you're suffering, but you got wrong ideas about God. "There must be something wrong." "I must have sinned or something." You see what I'm talking about? Wrong views. Error hurts. Even Christians.

A lot of you know about Johnny Eareckson, she's actually almost about exactly my age. And I believe wasn't she's 16 when she dove into that shallow water broke her neck and never could move after that. And painted cards with her teeth holding a paintbrush and all those things. She came under the teaching that it's always God's will to heal. And so you come and you try to get healed and you don't get healed. Well what is that? If it's always God's will and you're not healed it must be because you don't have enough faith. Must be because there's some sin in your life and on and on and on. And see you're already suffering enough because you're paralyzed from the neck down but now you've got to believe that somehow God is against you and that you're failing God. And I'm saying these things hurt and eventually she came to understand that that was a false teaching. That it's not always God's will to heal and so she got her idea straighten out about where the furniture was in the room, you see? That's what we're talking about.

So, two causes for error. Again spiritual error hurts even in the area of our counseling other people. Not only hurts us but it can hurt other people. Somebody comes to you with a physical problem and you tell them that it's a spiritual problem, you're going to hurt them. On the other side if they come to you with a spiritual problem and you diagnose it as a physical problem, and give them a bunch of pills when they don't need that. You're going to hurt them then too. If something is physical and you think that it's demonic... See the devil does this kind of stuff he gets his tripped up and things. A lot of women go through a period of time whenever in their in their monthly cycle where they feel like God has forsaken them, everything goes black, it's horrible. If you think that spiritual and the devil can get you to believe that you've done something wrong then he's got an inroad, you see? I just give that as one example. But all of these things relate to wrong understandings of spiritual reality. And so we need to take a lowly position and ask the Lord to teach us. Paul says, "If anybody suppose he knows anything, he doesn't know anything yet is he ought to know." And so we come to the Lord and we say, "Lord I'm a little child teach me about yourself, help me to rightly understand your ways."

I want to begin here by pointing out that there are two reasons for going astray. We're talking about error. Going astray in our understanding. There are two reasons you do err, you do go astray, not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God.

Most Christians have a very strong natural bias against believing that there are two reasons there are some Christians that are more cerebral, more analytical, more doctrinal, more systematic, and they go for theology more, and they try to figure out everything. And so they would not have worded it like this. They would have said, "You do err not knowing the Bible well enough, not knowing the Scriptures." And that's where they would have stopped. You know, "Study the Bible enough, get everything lined up, systematize everything. Be careful in your reasoning from the text and that's all that's needed." Well, beloved that's wrong. Think of this prayer. "Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from your law." What's that mean? That means that you can read the Bible and not see wonderful, glorious things, that are there. And miss them totally because you need the Holy Spirit to open your eyes the eyes of... Paul says it doesn't he? He prays for them that the eyes of their understanding might be enlightened! That the Holy Spirit would give illumination. It's more than just analyzing and putting together things. This is supernatural...

(Rest of the transcript may come at a later date.)