In a recent article, I mentioned that one of the ways that error gets into the church is when a genuine truth from the Bible gets isolated from out of its context or from the whole counsel of God’s Word.
There are concepts, teachings, and truths that are true and good. But if they become isolated from other concepts, teachings, and truths they can easily become error. This is a deceptive way that the enemy draws people and churches into unhealthy extremes and false teaching. For some, it becomes a slippery slope that leads into full-blown heresy. Much error can be traced back to a truth being considered THE truth, without consideration to the rest of what Scripture says.
When the devil was tempting Jesus in the wilderness, his first attempt was to try to get Him to turn a stone into bread. Among other things, this was an appeal to Jesus’ natural appetite and need for nourishment. Jesus resisted the temptation by quoting Scripture.
Immediately after this, the devil took him to the temple for his next temptation:
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
What I find interesting about this, is that the devil took Jesus to a religious place–the very house of God–and used Scripture for his appeal to tempting Jesus. It is as if he was saying, “Oh, so you value the Scriptures? I can quote the Bible too! How about this verse?”
The devil took a truth from Scripture–the promise of God’s protection–and isolated it from the rest of God’s Word to try to get Jesus to do something presumptuously outside of God’s will. Jesus again quoted Scripture saying, “It is written again…” I love the way that the NASB translation says it: “On the other hand, it is written…” (Matthew 4:7 NASB). Jesus was not tripped up by a truth pulled away from the totality of Scripture.
We need to have an “on the other hand” perspective by being grounded in the whole counsel of God. Consider the following:
-Holiness without the whole counsel of Scripture becomes legalism. On the other hand…grace without the whole counsel of Scripture becomes license to sin.
-Prosperity without the whole counsel of Scripture turns into a gospel of greed. On the other hand…some have embraced an unbiblical poverty mentality that denies the blessings of God.
-God is sovereign, the ultimate authority over all of creation. On the other hand…God has delegated responsibility over the earth to mankind and given mankind the freedom of choice.
-God is a supernatural God and gives supernatural gifts to the church. On the other hand…not everything supernatural is of God and we are told to test the spirits.
Many other examples could be given. There are biblical truths and concepts that are meant to hold each other in healthy tension. We are simultaneously sons of God, friends of God, and servants of God. These are not contradictions, but complementary truths that are all true at the same time.
When we insist on isolating one truth at the expense of another, we become easily susceptible to error. Something may appear to be good, true, and biblical. But on the other hand…