The Perilous Path of Doctrinal Deviation

Steven Lambert, ThD, DMin -- EFN Overseer

Doctrinal deviation, degeneration, and denigration is a perilous path leading not to genuine unity of the Spirit, as posited by its propagators, but rather disunity with the Spirit, apostasy, perdition, and ultimately hell itself!

Not All Unity is of the Spirit

Not all unity or unanimity is a good thing or a God-thing. The first would-be world dictator, Nimrod, exercising supernatural leadership abilities, was able to cajole the entire population of the world into coalescing under his rulership in complete unanimity and to participate in the building of a tower dedicated to his worship that would reach into heaven. But it wasn’t a God-thing, in fact it was an anti-God thing, and He personally came down and confused the language of the people, with the result that they could no longer be in unity, and thereby brought a halt to the building of the Tower of Babel.

King David also learned the hard way that unity/unanimity among the people is not always a God-thing, nor does it affirm God’s approval of your plans; rather God killed David’s chief armor-bearer, which cast him into a several month long cavernous depression and despondency.

Anyone who ever heard much of the teaching messages of the late Kenneth Hagin undoubtedly heard him tell the story of how his calling to the pastorate of a church regarding which he told the Lord that he would only accept the congregation’s call if the vote was 100% in agreement, and that he was basing his prayer on the story of Gideon and the “fleece” he put before God. The result was a hard lesson learned. The congregation voted 100% in agreement, but it took him two years to finally resign the church because, he would say, both he and his wife and the church got fleeced! Unity of the people did not equal unity with God; it never was God’s will for Hagin to pastor that church. All the human unanimity involved did not modify or affect in any way the will of God.

“The unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is a good, Godly, Scriptural, righteous, and worthy objective, but what trips up many in the church today in their journey to apprehend it is the faulty thinking that “unity of the Spirit” is unanimity among people, or in the case of the church, believers, and in the case of “Full Gospel” or Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal churches, Spirit-baptized believers. In fact, that mindset is the premise of modern “seeker-friendly” concepts that may sometimes result in human unity, but does not infer or indicate unity with God. “Unity of the Spirit” is NOT people in agreement and walking in lockstep with one another. Rather, “unity of the Spirit” is being in agreement with GOD! It is a Holy-Spirit-inspired and orchestrated concord or agreement that is based on the foundation of the Word of God rather than the whims and opinions of men. Thus, the roadway to “unity of the Spirit” cannot possibly be the spiritually perilous path of “doctrinal deviation.”

Disagreement Without Being Disagreeable?

An oft recited slogan in some segments of the church over the last few decades is: “We must agree to disagree without being disagreeable.” In itself, the import of that pun has some merit. Even among the most sincerely congenial collegues and cohorts, perfect and perpetual agreement is an unrealistic and impossible expectation. Honest and sincere men do sometimes have honest and sincere disagreements.

Indeed, disagreement is inevitable, but disagreement need not be fraught with divisiveness or produce disharmony. Humans working and walking together in whatever enterprise or relationship will not always be in perfect accord on every nuance of every issue, but that variance need not begat discord, particulary among those infused and immersed in the Spirit. Though it may seem a contradiction, dissonance among reasoned individuals, especially those walking by the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16-26), need not produce disharmony. (Sometimes dissonance means you are the right instrument in the wrong orchestra!) While concord generally would seem a worthy goal, sometimes controversy is the initial rumblings of needed and coming change, voluntary or involuntary. Albeit agreement is a commonly desired status quo, disagreement sometimes signifies hidden fault-lines in thinking or timing.

While uniform amity or unanimity would be desired in human interrelations, when it is not present, the destructiveness and alienation of animus must not be allowed to ferment. Disagreements are much better addressed and hopefully resolved in an amicable rather than antagonistic atmosphere.

Nevertheless, we must never yield to the temptation to deviate from established essential doctrines or compromise proper principles in order to “keep the peace,” or to “go along to get along.” Yet, that is precisely what some have taken this slogan concerning disagreement to mean. A dangerous trend is developing among many segments of the church, including the Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal segment, toward what they are saying is “unity” but which really amounts to a “truce” by definition, predicated on doctrinal compromise. Though they may attribute to it the term of “unity,” it differs little, if at all, from the syncretism-based ecumenicism that numerous Christian demoninations in alliance with the Roman Catholic Church have been forging for decades, which universal alliance in the end will comprise the end-time one-world Babylonian Church signified in eschatological Scripture.

Bridge To Nowhere

Doctrinal deviation, degeneration, and denigration, which is being advocated more and more by some Christian leaders of all stripes and affiliation as a bridge to so-called “unity,” is an extremely perilous path to travel. It is an undeniable and unavoidable law of physics that the most infinitesimal degree of deviation from a straight line results in a wider and wider angle of deviation as it extends forth. While it is so very true that the Church is guilty of “majoring on the minors, and minoring on the majors,” yet established foundational Truth, i.e., sound doctrine, cannot be violated or deviated in order to achieve Biblical unity.

It is always astonishing, bewildering, and even benumbing to me when I witness the reckless disregard and flippant attitude so many believers, including many preachers—of all camps—demonstrate with regard to the matter of sound doctrine. The cavalier and, frankly, ignorant statements of professing believers and preachers in which they demean the importance and necessity of sound doctrine often leave me aghast and incredulous. With my own ears I have heard preachers make such absurd remarks from their pulpits as, “Doctrine ain’t important; people are more important than doctrine”—as if sound doctrine carries a potential for harm to people, or that Biblical ministry and Biblical doctrine are antithetical and therefore cannot coexist together, thus necessitating a choice of one or the other.

Imparting the essence of God into the lives of people in order to bring renewal and restoration is what the ministry is, and that is absolutely impossible without correct teaching, which is the meaning of “sound doctrine.” Literally, the Greek word translated doctrine means “the teaching.” When its verb form is used, it literally means “the teaching of the teaching.” The form of the word that is translated “teacher,” or “one who teaches,” literally means “teacher of the teaching” or “doctor of the doctrine,” and refers to one who is an expert at elucidating, explaining, elaborating, and expounding upon the Truth of God.

The “living and abiding Word [rhema] of God” (1 Pet. 1:23), which is the Eternal Life of God (Jn. 1:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:1-2) as distinguished from the written Scriptures [graphe, logos], which itself is inanimate, dead, lifeless, and unable to impart Life (Jn. 5:39), is the foundation-rock and touchstone of sound doctrine. It is not the opinions of men, but the Word and Wisdom of God. It is not the thoughts of man, but the thoughts of God. Sound doctrine, or correct teaching, is not the reasonings of men, but the Rhema (living Word) of God. It is not the product of human cogitation, but the Person of Christ. Our calling is neither to analyze it or assay its veracity, but only to accept or believe it. We need not even understand it for it to be effectual in our lives, but only to stand under its authority and obey it.

Sound Doctrine Produces Spiritual Health and Wholeness

The Greek word translated “sound” literally means healthy, or health- or wholeness-producing. Thus, “sound doctrine” is spiritual health- and wholeness-producing teaching of the Word of God. Sound doctrine, or correct teaching, imparts the Life of God into those who receive, accept, believe, and obey it, and thereby restores a person to the condition of proper spiritual health and wholeness, i.e., holiness, in which Adam and Eve were originally created and abided prior to their fall into perdition.

More than a thousand years prior to the writing of the New Testament, King David, by inspiration of the Spirit penned the same spiritual principle in essence, which is written in the voice of God the Father speaking to His son(s):

My son, attend to MY WORDS; incline thine ear unto MY SAYINGS. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are LIFE (opposite of death, sickness, disease) unto those that find them, and HEALTH to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:20-22; KJV; emphasis added)

Maintaining, teaching, and living in accordance with sound doctrine is absolutely vital and imperative. We cannot simply make up our own doctrine; rather it must be predicated entirely on the Word of God. The Word of God IS sound doctrine…the only sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is comprised from the Word of God. Any teaching or doctrine that does not agree with the whole Word of God is neither correct nor spiritually healthy, but rather a lie and will eventually destroy the person who accepts it and patterns his life after it. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so IS he” (Pro. 23:7) Deviation from sound doctrine and demeaning its importance and imperativeness is engaging in doctrinal degradation, which will always eventually produce spiritually detrimental and even deadly results.

God Himself testifies in His Word through the writing of His surrogate spokesman, the Apostle John: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the Truth” (1 Jn. 3:4). Truth is a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Personification of the Truth, which is the Word of God.

The Inextricable Link of Jesus and Sound Doctrine

Jesus is the Word of God…the word made flesh (Jn. 1:14; 1 Jn. 1:1-2). Jesus IS “the Teaching.” He is the “foundation-rock” upon which the Church is built (Mat. 16:13-18; 1 Cor. 3:11). To denigrate, demean, or devalue the Truth, the Teaching (doctrine), or the Word, is to denigrate, demean, and devalue Jesus Himself, and therefore also the very spiritual foundation upon which every spiritual house (i.e., an individual believer’s life or a church) is founded. To in any way so “corrupt the Word of God” (2 Cor. 2:17, KJV), as the Apostle Paul said many do, is utter blasphemy against Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writing of the written Word, and who reveals Christ to us through the Word.

Jesus proclaimed that whoever annuls, that is to say, negates or sets aside, any of even the “least” of the precepts concerning the Kingdom of God and so teaches others shall himself be called “least” in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever himself keeps (practices) and teaches them to others shall be called “great” in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat. 5:19-20). The Apostle Paul urged believers to grow up (mature) in every aspect of the Life of Christ and that “we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph. 4:14, KJV). This speaks of deliberate deception through the means of doctrinal degradation for selfish gain.

Biblical Warnings Against Doctrinal Deviation

The New Testament is replete with warnings that such corruption of the Word of God would take place especially in the last days in which we now live. One of the foremost such passages is the Apostle Paul’s admonition in his letter to his young protégé, Timothy:

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars, seared in their own consciences as with a branding iron….” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

The irony within this text is that it indicates bona fide believers will fall into apostasy because they are paying attention to deceiving evil spirits and false doctrines concocted and promulgated by demons in this day in which degradation and devaluation of doctrine is rampant. The Apostle Paul even urged his “son” in the Lord, whom he had personally mentored, Timothy, to remain on in Ephesus following his own departure for Macedonia, specifically,

“in order that (he) may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor pay attention to myths [non-Biblical teachings]…, because some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussions, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. (1 Tim. 1:3-7).

The writer of Hebrews trumpets forth a similar admonition against being caught up in and enticed by unbiblical teachings, or “strange doctrines”: “do not be carried away by VARIED AND STRANGE TEACHINGS [doctrines, KJV]” (Heb. 13:9).

Just as Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus for the expressed purpose of instructing “certain men not to teach strange doctrines nor pay attention to” Scripturally unfounded teaching, so also did the apostle charge Titus to remain on the isle of Crete to “set in order” what remained by, in every Cretan city in which a work had begun, appointing as overseeing elders men who were “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with THE TEACHING [doctrine], that he may be able both to exhort in SOUND DOCTRINE and to REFUTE THOSE WHO CONTRADICT (the sound doctrine, that is).” Indeed, the full text of Paul’s charge to Titus is rich with reference to the imperativeness that ministering elders establish believers in sound doctrine both by teaching correct doctrine and by correcting contradictory doctrines as well:

For this reason I left you in Crete,that you might set in order what remains, and appoint ELDERS in every city as I directed you, namely, if any man be…holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with THE TEACHING, that he may be able both to exhort in SOUND DOCTRINE and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, TEACHING things they should not TEACH, for the sake of sordid gain….For this cause REPROVE [correct] THEM severely that they may be SOUND in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from THE TRUTH. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed. But as for you [Titus, and by extension, all ministers], speak the things which are fitting for SOUND DOCTRINE. (Titus 1:5-14)

Indeed, the appearance in Scripture of these instructions to these two younger ministers has much more significance and purpose than to merely provide the historical record. It also conveys the solemn charge by God unto every Fivefold minister and elder in the Church to “STUDY to show thyself APPROVED unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, [a workman who is] rightly dividing THE WORD OF TRUTH” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV; parenthesis added by author), as well as the necessity to counter “strange doctrine,” or “myths,” by teaching sound doctrine:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God, and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction (detailed teaching). For the time will come when they will not endure SOUND DOCTRINE; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn their ears from THE TRUTH, and will turn aside to MYTHS. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:1-5)

Indeed, virtually every epistle in the New Testament was written at least partly in order to counter and correct false teaching (doctrine) that was being taught and espoused in the churches to whom the letters were sent. The Apostle Peter indicated it was inevitable that false teachers, sent by the enemy and motivated by selfish ambition and personal gain, would come and infiltrate the churches, “secretly” (subtly) introducing damnable occult (hidden) heresies, or false teachings, that are a product of corruption, i.e., perversion or mutilation, of Scripture, by which they would entice many followers, but whose final end would be spiritual destruction and eternal damnation:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there WILL also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive {damnable; KJV} HERESIES, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality {pernicious [i.e., deadly, destructive ways]}, and because of them the way of THE TRUTH will be maligned; and in their greed {covetousness} they will exploit you with FALSE WORDS (teaching); their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction {damnation} is not asleep…. But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed {destroyed}, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery and that never {cannot} cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed {an heart they have exercised with covetous practices}, accursed children; forsaking the right way they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam….These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out ARROGANT WORDS of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved {brought into bondage}. (2 Pet. 2:1-19 {bracketed italicized portions from the KJV}).

The Apostle Paul chided the Galatian church, whom he said had been “bewitched” by false teaching of false teachers who they allowed to teach them, for “deserting” Christ “for a different Gospel,” which he said was “really not another” gospel but rather a distortion or perversion of the Gospel of Christ, and told them that anyone who preached such “a gospel contrary,” or counterfeit gospel, was “anathema,” or “accursed”:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ; for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort {pervert} the GOSPEL OF CHRIST. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-9, {bracketed portion from KJV})

In his letter to the Romans, concerning those who promulgate teachings contrary to “THE teaching,” the Apostle Paul admonished to “avoid them”:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words [skillful oratory] and fair speeches [flattery] DECEIVE the hearts of the simple [untaught]. (Rom. 16:17-18, KJV [brackets added by author])

In his closing remarks in his letter to Timothy, Paul enjoined: “Teach and preach these principles”—the principles he delineated within the letter. He followed that charge with these revealing comments concerning those who “advocate a different doctrine,” that is, teaching contrary to the teaching he taught in this and his other letters, as well as in all the other aspects of his ministry:

If anyone advocates a different DOCTRINE, and does not agree with SOUND WORDS, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the DOCTRINE conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Tim. 6:2-5)

Heretics and Heretical Teaching

The apostle is saying here that people who corrupt the Truth of the Word of God and concoct contrary teachings, or who, in other words, denigrate doctrine, do so because their minds are void of the Truth and have become corrupted, or depraved, by perverse thoughts of self-gratification and selfish gain.

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul was a little more terse and direct concerning the ulterior motivation of “an heretick,” as it reads in the King James Version, and how such a person is to be dealt with: “REJECT a factious man {an heretick} after a first and second warning; knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (Tit. 3:10, {bracketed portion from KJV}). The Greek word translated “an heretick” in the King James Version, and “a factious man” in the New American Standard Version, literally means “a self-opinionated man,” meaning a person who lives by and constantly asserts his own self-willed opinions, rather than living and advocating the will and thoughts of God as revealed by the Word of God. We are straightforwardly told to “reject” such a person, “KNOWING”—not merely speculating, suspecting, or improperly judging, but “KNOWING”—that such a person is “perverted and is sinning,” and knowing also that it is not we who are condemning him, but rather that he is “self-condemned,” that is, condemning himself by his own stubborn, self-willed perversion of the Word of God and outright sinful actions and attitudes against others.

Now a word of caution in this regard. One must be very careful not to condemn or categorize as “a heretic” a person who adamantly and unrepentantly advocates the Truth of the Word of God. Adamancy and intransigence when it comes to standing on and speaking the Truth is not only not wrong, but it should be the unrelenting and dogged pursuit of every believer. Yet, it is quite common for less developed, less mature, less knowledgeable, and less zealous, professing believers to disparage and label “radical” those who are more arduous in their walk, more scripturally-knowledgeable, more Spirit-trained, and, frankly, more mature than they. A person who is attempting to fashion his every thought and deed after the Word of God is certainly anything but a heretic, or self-opinionated, rather he is God-opinionated.

In fact, Jesus indicated that being self-willed juxtaposed to God-willed is the litmus test of the veracity of the teaching a person advocates. Read carefully the following passage recounting an occasion on which the Jewish religious leaders were questioning Jesus’ qualifications, and by extension the validity of His teaching:

But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to TEACH. The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” Jesus therefore answered them, and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the one who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Jn. 7:14-18)

Now as a quick aside, in a scant few words, Jesus settles, at least for me, unequivocally, the long-debated question regarding the requisite method of a minister’s training, whether or not it must be formal and academic, or if God also employs other means of equipping those whom He appoints. There is little doubt that the persons speaking were “ordained” rabbis who had been trained in the traditional and authorized rabbinical schools, which tradition continues yet today for the training of Jewish rabbis. These rabbis categorically stated that Jesus, though regarded as a “teacher” or “rabbi” by the people, had not been “educated” in their rabbinical schools. Yet, after having listened with a critical ear to His teaching, these very erudite academicians unabashedly admitted, though doubtless reluctantly, that Jesus was indeed “learned.” That they could not deny, but rather it was concerning the “how,” or method, by which He had become so learned which they questioned. Those yet today who adamantly contend that a minister must be “educated” by means of formal education and academic curricula in their seminaries under the tutelage of intellectual professional theologians are similarly bewildered by the undeniable “learnedness” of those who have been trained not by mere human instructors in the abstractness of reality-removed ivory-tower classrooms but by the Preeminent Professor, the Holy Spirit, in reality-related desert dens, the classrooms of the School of the Holy Ghost in the Desert. The truth of the matter is made clear in a passage that teaches us that one does not need to be “educated” by men in order to be certifiably “learned” in “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:12) which are “taught by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:13). Of such things, the ultimate Teacher is the Spirit of God (1 Jn. 2:27). Of these things, “they shall all be taught of God” (Jn. 6:45).

But beyond the matter of the method by which Jesus obtained His knowledge and wisdom, lay the deeper issue which was really the heart of these religious leaders’ question: the veracity or legitimacy of the teaching. Resisting the temptation to defend and verify Himself by responding to the method matter, Jesus cut instead to the ulterior, ultimate issue. He indicated essentially that the litmus test of the veracity or legitimacy of a person’s teaching is inherent in its origination and its objective. As to origination: whether it originated from God, making it God-authored, or from one’s own reasonings, making it self-authored. As to objective: whether it is God-glorifying or self-glorifying, for Jesus said: “He who speaks from himself SEEKS HIS OWN GLORY; but He who is SEEKING THE GLORY OF THE ONE WHO SENT HIM, HE IS TRUE, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Jesus’ response regarding the teaching He taught was that it originated with God: “My teaching is not MINE, but HIS who sent Me,” and that any person who “is willing to do HIS will” will know with certainty that it originated with and was authored by God.

The Imperativeness of Sound Doctrine

Thus, we see in all this that “doctrine” is far from being the optional and odious thing some people make it out to be. Much to the contrary, it is absolutely vital that every believer ensure beyond any doubt that his life is squarely and solidly built upon the foundationstone of sound doctrine, or correct teaching. Every believer and especially ministers are exhorted to “in all things show yourselves to be an example in good deeds, with PURITY IN DOCTRINE” (Tit. 2:7). The marginal reading for the word “purity” in this verse is “soundness”, and the literal meaning, which is used in the KJV, is “uncorruptedness.” The message of the passage is clear: all believers should be an example both in good deeds and sound doctrine, or uncorrupted teaching.

To attain unto this objective we must give heed unto another exhortation from Jesus to us all related through the Apostle Paul’s words to his associate, Timothy:

Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching {doctrine}…. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching {doctrine}, persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Tim. 4:13-16)

Now as we move on, it is important to understand that this section was not merely a time-consuming tangent. Rather, the vital point being established here is that true unity can never be attained by means of doctrinal deviation, denigration, and demeanment. To put it another way, traveling the crooked path of doctrinal denigration will never transport you to the destination of real unity. On the contrary, sound doctrine, which is the Word of God, is the only path to true peace and unity, for Christ Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh, is our peace.

The Equilibrium of Spirit and Truth

We have today in many Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal circles and churches a tendency to not properly regard Truth in favor of “the things of the Spirit” (as if the Truth is not a thing of the Spirit). This attitude is a tremendous mistake which carries the potential for major problems. In our quest to operate in the fullest potential available to us of the “power” of God, and to have unhindered “demonstrations of the power of God,” there are those, both now and in prior moves, who contend that some groups are so excessively concerned about doing things Biblically and according to proper order that they have “ordered” the Spirit of God right out of their churches.

Of course it is regrettably true that many of our churches which have a heritage rich in operating in the Spirit and power of God have now regressed into dead formalism and religious ritualism. Nevertheless, it is pure folly to attribute that to some sort of “excess” with regard to Biblical doctrine. In fact, precisely the opposite is true. Biblical teaching promotes demonstration of the Spirit and power of God in our midst. When the Truth is being taught, the Holy Spirit desires to corroborate that Truth with signs and wonders following (Mk. 16:20).

Sound doctrine never impedes or in any way inhibits demonstration of the Spirit. It is not the Truth that kills, but “the letter,” or religion (2 Cor. 3:6). The Truth liberates and gives Life rather than restricting and killing it. Dead churches became dead as a result of having digressed from abiding in the Truth and having regressed into dead religious works.

Jesus said God was seeking a Church of true worshipers and that true worship was worship “in Spirit and Truth” (Jn. 4:23-24). In other words, true worship is worship in which the Spirit and Truth are at perfect equilibrium. The English word “worship” is a contraction of “worth” and “ship,” and deals with quantity and quality of honor, devotion, deference, reverence, veneration. “Worship” of God is at bottom the act of expressing to God the quality and quantity of the “worth” we attribute to Him in our heart. True worshipers worship God “in the Spirit” and “in the Truth,” simultaneously, with proper and equal quality and quantity attributed to each. When there is an imbalance, or “false balance,” of these two components, it is, as we discussed earlier, an abomination to God, and the result is error and errancy.

The Spirit and the Truth are the two primary equilibrant and counterbalancing forces of the Kingdom of God. Manifested in their proper weight, they perfectly counterbalance one another, achieving perfect equilibrium. The “equi-union” (union in equal measure) of these two Spiritual forces produces the ultimate super-atomic Spiritual power. Thus, in this case, instead of incurring the curse of God, as with the abomination of a false balance, you incur the exact opposite—His approval and resultant free-flow of His unrestrained blessings.

Unfortunately, however, there has yet to be a movement in which the Church has successfully achieved such an equiunion of these two forces in which the Spirit and the Truth were at equilibrium, but rather the Church itself invariably brought about the eventual cessation of each former move by imposing an imbalance of either one element or the other—either majoring on manifesting spiritual power while neglecting some portion and measure of the Truth, or vice-versa. However, the final climactic move of God on the planet, which will incorporate the most awesome and unprecedented display of supernatural power in the history of the world and culminate in the “catching up” of the Bride by the Bridegroom, will be precipitated by the first-ever achievement of this equiunion.

In this master-movement, the Spirit and the Truth shall converge together in precisely equal weight and balance, perfect counterbalance, achieving exact equilibrium. Then—when Jesus is truly the central figure and focus of the Church, and is flanked by Moses (the prophet of the unchangeable Law and Word of God; i.e., the Truth) and Elijah (the prophet of power; i.e., the Spirit), each in their proper place, one on the right and the other on the left hand of Jesus, the center-piece of the Kingdom of God—the transfiguration of the Church into the Kingdom and Spirit realm finally can and will transpire (Lk. 9:27- 36; Zech. 4; Rev. 11:4,6).

Strong Delusion

Trifling with the Truth is a grave and even dangerous thing. Personally, I am always wary of individuals who in any way devalue the importance of pursuing the Truth and being established in sound doctrine. And, again, I re-emphasize that when I speak of “sound doctrine,” I am not referring to academic, abstract, intellectual theological superfluities, but rather foundational, pragmatic teaching from the Word of God by which one patterns his thinking and conduct in practical God-centered living. Believers not only should not be demeaning or denigrating the Truth, but to the contrary, we should have a genuine love for the Truth, a love that compels us to have a reverent respect for and desire to pursue and preserve the Truth.

There is a very true axiom that those things that we properly respect and cherish have a way of gravitating toward us, and those things which we do not, seem invariably to gravitate away from us. The matter of Truth is no exception. It has been my studied observation over the years that those who are the most established in the Word of Truth are those who have an intense love, respect, and desire for the Truth. As I have mentioned elsewhere, Truth is a Person—His name is Jesus! The more we draw near to Him by earnestly loving, honoring, and desiring Him, the more He draws near to us (see Jas. 4:8).

One of the biggest problems with devaluing doctrine and trifling with the Truth, as some people feel is necessary in order to avoid becoming what they regard to be “too intellectual” or “unspiritual” is—Where do you draw the line? I mean, is there really such a thing as too much Truth? Or, too much teaching of the Truth? Personally, I cannot conceive of how that could be possible, but if it was, how do we know what is “too much?” One thing I do know: I’d rather have too much than too little.

As I said at the outset of this section, trifling with the Truth is a grave and even dangerous thing, and I am always wary of individuals who devalue and demean the importance of pursuing and living by sound teaching or doctrine. This is far from being merely a personal opinion or judgmental attitude, rather it is predicated on the opinion and attitude of God as expressed in His Word, wherein He testifies that He Himself sends “strong delusion” upon those who demonstrate a persistent lack of “love of the Truth” which will cause them to “believe what is false”:

And then that lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed…; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason GOD will send upon them A DELUDING INFLUENCE {STRONG DELUSION (KJV)} so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe THE TRUTH, but took pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thes. 2:8-12)

This passage reveals a number of things. One, it indicates in no uncertain terms that without proper respect and regard for the truth, what is termed here as “the love of the Truth,” a person simply cannot be “saved” (remember, the root Greek word for “saved” is “sozo,” which means saved, sanctified, i.e., made holy, made whole, restored, etc.). A person who denigrates and demeans doctrine just cannot be wholly “saved” or “sanctified,” spirit, soul, and body (see 1 Thes. 5:23) — something has to be unrenewed in one of those parts of his being. If he is genuinely “saved” in his spirit, then the sanctification of his soul (mind, will, and emotions) definitely has to be incomplete.

The second thing we see in unmistakable terms in this passage is that denigrating or degrading the Truth will eventually end in delusion, for God Himself will send “a deluding influence” or “strong delusion” upon those who trifle with the Truth. This will not be the work of the devil, but rather, this passage clearly says that it will be God Himself who will send the deceiving or deluding influence.

It almost sounds evil and cruel that God would do such a thing, but we know that God has no part in evil (Jas. 1:13). It is the same in this case as it is with all judgment that comes to people — it is not God who has brought it on them, but rather they bring it on themselves by violating His order and ordinances. If a person jumps off the top of a building, it is not God’s fault if he hurts or kills himself; he brought the result on himself.

God will not strive with people forever. There will come a time when God will send upon people a superabundance of the very thing they have been ceaselessly dealing in — in this case it is deception. If you do not eventually “receive the love of the Truth” so as to be sanctified by it, spirit, soul, and body, God will send upon you a deluding influence that will cause you to be hopelessly and helplessly seared over in deception “in (your) own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). You will wholeheartedly believe you are pursuing and believing the Truth, but it is in actuality the lies of the devil, “doctrines of devils” propagated by “deceitful spirits” (ibid, v. 1) that you are so earnestly and adamantly believing.

Sadly, though this passage speaks of the final great apostasy that will occur during the Great Tribulation when the antichrist has been revealed, I am convinced this is not something that will happen only then, but that God has already given some people over to “reveling in their deceptions” (1 Pet. 2:13). I have personally seen many people, both in the church and out, to whom this has happened. Certainly, the veracity of this should not be a question to us since, Paul, Peter, and Jude all spoke in their writings of such people to whom this had already occurred back in their day in the Early Church history.

As I’ve often said, the problem with deception, or delusion, is that the person who is deceived is deceived about being deceived. His deception prevents him from knowing he is deceived. Such will be the case with this deluding influence that God will send—once it has come upon people, they will be forever deceived. Their relentless lack of affinity for the Truth of God will be regarded and rewarded as an affinity for the lies of the devil. They will finally receive their just desserts.

Indeed, the very hypothesis that the power of God can somehow be stifled by sound doctrine is itself ludicrous delusion of the highest order. Scripture declares the Word of God IS the power of God: “For the WORD (rhema) of the Cross…is the POWER (dunamis) of God” (1 Cor. 1:18; cf., Rom. 1:16).

The same import is expressed in Hebrews 1:3, which invokes the phrase “the Word (rhema) of His power (dunamis).” Now it is important to note two things about this phrase. First, the term translated “Word” is “rhema,” which is God’s vivified/spoken Word, as opposed to the “graphe,” the written/non-verbalized Word, which in itself, in that form, is inanimate and has no efficacy, or power. The Word must be spoken, i.e., verbalized, in order for its power to be operating, which is the reason, for example, people can have a huge Family Bible displayed prominently on their living room table, yet have none of its power effectual in their lives.

The second important thing about this passage is that it does not say “the power of His Word,” though that would be a truism as well, for God’s Word certainly does have power. Rather, the actual phrasing is evoking an even stronger import—that all of God’s power is inherent in His Rhema-Word, that is, His active/living/verbalized Word. How true and consistent that is with the rest of Scripture. In the Creation, we see that God literally SPOKE the world into existence. God’s creative dunamis-power was unleashed and activated when He vocalized His Word; it did not return unto Him void, but accomplished His desire, the purpose for which it was sent (Is. 55:11). After the creation of Man, over and over again throughout Scripture we see God putting His Word/Will into the mouths of human surrogate spokesmen and compelling them to vocalize it in order to effect His purposes. God always speaks whatever He desires (wills) to transpire.

The Word of God and the power of God certainly are not counterposing or contradictory forces. Anything that is a true operation of the Spirit and power of God will always be in complete agreement and harmony with the Word of God. Thus, the unequivocal fact that all of God’s dunamis-power is contained in and effectuated through His spoken-Word, and that these two forces concur and work together in tandem, renders absurd and impossible the notion that the Word of Truth, or “rightly dividing” it to formulate and prove sound doctrine, could somehow hinder or negate the effectuality or operation of the power or Spirit of God. If anything, the obverse of this notion is true: the more congruously with the Word of God we are living and operating, the more of the power of God will be available for us to operate (cf., Rev. 3:8).

Dunamis-power is effectuated and activated by means of the Rhema, alive/spoken, Word of God. The true Gospel does not come “in word (logos) only, but also in power (dunamis) and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thes. 1:5). The true Gospel is a “full Gospel” — a Gospel full of the Spirit and power of God, because “the kingdom of God does not consist in words (logos) only, but in power (dunamis).”

Doctrinal deviation, degeneration, and denigration is a perilous path leading not to genuine unity of the Spirit, but rather disunity with the Spirit, apostasy, perdition, and ultimately hell itself! Doctrinal compromise for the purposes of syncretistic unity is a road leading only to false ecumenicism indigenous to the kingdom of Satan and the false church he is building, rather than the Kingdom of Christ and the church He is building.

Jesus said, “IF YOU ABIDE IN MY WORD, then you are truly DISCIPLES (learners) of Mine, and you shall KNOW the TRUTH, and the TRUTH shall MAKE YOU FREE” (Jn. 8:31,32)! He was saying that it is what we KNOW of the Truth that sets us free from deception, bondage, and all the other destructive effects of Scriptural ignorance and illiteracy (cf., Hosea 4:6). Jesus indicated in this statement that true liberation or emancipation is the product of knowing “the Truth,” which is synonymous with “sound doctrine (teaching)”, both of which are comprised of the Word of God.

Thus, it is imperative that every believer be immersed in the Word of God in order to assimilate themselves in “sound doctrine,” which is dependent upon “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” which can only be accomplished as a result of constant and diligent study of the Word of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, RIGHTLY DIVIDING the word of Truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15; KJV) [Note: the Greek word rendered “dividing” in the KJV means to correctly dissect and assess.]

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will GUIDE you into all the Truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:7-15; NASB)

“My people are DESTROYED for LACK OF KNOWLEDGE” (Hosea 4:6). God is unambiguously declaring through Hosea that what you do not know will DESTROY you! That sounds to be a far cry from the sentiment held and promulgated by many purporting believers today that doctrinal deviation, denigration, and demeanment is a benign or innocuous thing!###


Dr. Steven Lambert has been ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ as an ordained minister since 1976, serving as a pastor, prophet, teacher, conference speaker, and certified Christian counselor. He is a Doctoral Diplomate Board Certified Christian Therapist, holds several earned theological degrees, and is the author of a number of books, booklets, Bible college courses, and other teaching materials, as well as the editor/publisher of Spirit Life Magazine.. He also serves as the Founding Overseer of Ephesians Four Network, an international fellowship of Fivefold Ministers relating and colaboring for common purposes. His main website is:

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