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Every Christian Must Fight Hard against Simply Believing What They Want to Believe

By Max Aplin

When the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, He performed the most amazingly selfless act that this world has ever seen. He voluntarily chose to take the sins of humankind upon Himself at the cross. Nor were His sufferings in crucifixion merely physical and mental. In some way that we are not able properly to understand, He also suffered spiritually for sinful and doomed humanity.

As Christians, we are called to follow in Christ’s unselfish footsteps. In Philippians 2:5-11, for example, Paul instructs the Christians at Philippi to imitate Jesus’ self-emptying and crucifixion for others. This is a command that certainly applies to every Christian.

Unlike some sinful tendencies which badly affect only some people, selfishness is something that strongly affects every human being. Even after we are saved and receive the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit rolls up His sleeves and gets to work purifying us morally, it is surely true that before death not one of us will ever be free of a significant tendency to selfishness. The problem is too deep seated for that.

To be unselfish is also to act very differently from the average man or woman on the street. It is to put the interests of God and others before our own interests, and the world simply doesn’t act in that way very much. Even when people do things for others, the motive usually includes a large selfish component. People’s main motivation in helping others is often, for example, to be noticed by others or to feel good about themselves.

For Christians to act genuinely unselfishly, then, is to swim not only against a strong current inside ourselves that is pulling us in the opposite direction, but also against another parallel current that consists of the example of most of the people around us.

Nevertheless, we are commanded to be perfect (Matt 5:48), so, impossible though that goal may be to reach, we are under obligation to pursue it as far as we are able. And that includes pursuing perfect unselfishness.

One way in which we are all tempted to be selfish is in believing what we want to believe. I write articles on various Christian topics, including some controversial ones, and when I am writing about something I quite often have a look on the internet or elsewhere to see what Christians make of different issues. I am often pained, and not infrequently appalled, by the shallow, simplistic arguments that professing Christians can so often be found making to support some case or other. Time and time again I am left with the strong impression that people claiming to be Christians – and undoubtedly some of them will be genuine born-of-the-Spirit believers – are just believing what they want to believe.

We are all under obligation to put everything to the test to the best of our ability (1 Thess 5:21). And whenever we find that we believe something that we want to believe, that is the time to be especially vigilant. That is the time to examine our hearts to see if we might have fallen into the trap of just selfishly believing what we want to. That is the time to make as sure as we can that the reasons we believe what we do about the issue in question are strong and well grounded. Or, if we think that God has spoken to us supernaturally in some way, that is the time to ask ourselves if we are sure that it was the voice of God we heard and not some other voice.

I think believers often show a real lack of fear of God in this area. There is a sense in which everything we do should be done in fear and trembling before almighty God (see, e.g., Phil 2:12; Heb 10:26-31). We should be keenly aware that He sees what is going on in our hearts at the deepest level. And we need to realise too that we will have to give an account to Him for every single thing we do (Matt 12:36).

People of the world often simply believe what they want to believe about things, and provide unconvincing arguments to make their case. Christians need to be very different in this area. If we are really wrestling with issues unselfishly, we can expect to find that the conclusions we reach are often uncomfortable or even painful. They will frequently be ones that we would prefer not to reach.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, in agony, prayed to God that, if it were possible, He might not have to go through the sufferings of the cross (see, e.g., Mark 14:32-36). However, unselfishly He submitted His situation to God and reached the conclusion that He did indeed have to choose to suffer what was coming. Despite the enormous cost, He did not choose simply to believe what He wanted to believe about the will of God for Himself at that time, but said, ‘Not My will but Yours be done.’ Let us all, in some weak imitation of what the Lord did at Gethsemane, resolve never simply to believe what we want to believe about a decision we need to take, a controversial issue, or anything else. Rather, let us do everything we can to believe what is true, regardless of whether that truth is or is not what we want to hear.

I have been a Christian for over 25 years. I have a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Edinburgh. I am a UK national and I currently live in the south of Scotland.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITER

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