Can People Use the Bible to Justify Wickedness? (Y1.T2.D2)
The short—and painful—answer is: Yes.
Not only can people use the Bible to justify wickedness, they do; it's one of Satan's favorite pastimes. He twisted God's words to the first people on earth in Genesis 3:1 by asking Eve, "Has God really said . . . ?"
The enemy did it to Jesus while he was in the wilderness (see the Year 1, Trimester 1, Day 18 post Is Satan Real?).
And in today's passages, we see how religious men—who kept looking for an accusation against Jesus (Luke 6:7)—quoted from the law of Moses.
In the United States, the Bible is misused by "white supremacists, sovereign citizens, militia extremists and violent anti-abortion adherents [they] use religious concepts and scripture to justify threats, criminal activity and violence" as documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the article "Hate in God's Name."
And this misuse doesn't only happen outside of the church it happens within congregations. In an article on christianity.com, Heather Riggleman shared an acronym—B.I.T.E—created by Ronald Enrother which demonstrated how cults control their members:
Behavior Control: An individual’s associations, living arrangements, food, clothing, sleeping habits, finances, etc., are strictly controlled.
Information Control: Cult leaders deliberately withhold or distort information, lie, propagandize, and limit access to other sources of information.
Thought Control: Cult leaders use loaded words and language, discourage critical thinking, bar any speech critical of cult leaders or policies, and teach an “us vs. everyone else” doctrine.
Emotional Control: Leaders manipulate their followers via fear (including the fear of losing salvation, and the fear of being shunned, etc.).
And this doesn't only happen in cults. This past Saturday, I had lunch with a friend, and she shared how she experienced the list above while attending a mainline Protestant Christian denomination.
Since people will use the Bible to justify wickedness, we must read it all. In my previous post, we were told to not be "carried away by various and strange teaching" (Hebrews 13:9). Once we know Scripture, we can do what the Savior did when he encountered false teaching.
Jesus addressed false accusations with more Scripture. When the Pharisees used the law against him, he pointed to their disrespect for the law. To emphasize his point, he quoted from Isaiah 29: "You turn things upside down" (v16) and called the religious leaders "hypocrites" (Matthew 15:7).
This confrontation shocked his disciples, who said, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" (Matthew 15:12).
Jesus responded, "Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).
Our responsibility is to know what the entire Bible says. And if we don't have enough knowledge of Scripture to combat false teaching, Jesus tells us to walk away from the hypocritical arguments.
There are enough loving congregations within Christianity available for us to abandon the groups who use Scriptures to justify hate or seek to control. Remember, Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me" (John 14:6), and if You know the truth, "the truth will make you free" (John 8:32).
We Choose the Love and Freedom of Christ
2 Now when they saw some of his disciples eating bread with defiled, that is unwashed, hands, they found fault. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews don’t eat unless they wash their hands and forearms, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 They don’t eat when they come from the marketplace unless they bathe themselves, and there are many other things, which they have received to hold to: washings of cups, pitchers, bronze vessels, and couches.) (Mark 7:2–4)
17 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “You shall also make a basin of bronze, and its base of bronze, in which to wash. You shall put it between the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in it. 20 When they go into the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water, that they not die; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Yahweh. 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they not die. This shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his descendants throughout their generations.” (Exodus 30:17–21)
14 therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men will be hidden.”
15 Woe to those who deeply hide their counsel from Yahweh, and whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us?” and “Who knows us?” 16 You turn things upside down! Should the potter be thought to be like clay; that the thing made should say about him who made it, “He didn’t make me;” or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?” (Isaiah 29:14–16)
16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:16)
12 Then the disciples came, and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
13 But he answered, “Every plant which my heavenly Father didn’t plant will be uprooted. 14 Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:12–14)
I know that if I speak with the languages of men and of angels but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). I don't want to be a noisemaker. Instead, purify my heart that I might see You (Matthew 5:8). And when the noise of the world becomes too much for me, help me be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger because my anger will never bring about Your righteousness (James 1:19–20).
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