One thing that has always been a big issue in the religious world is confusion; specifically, confusion that leads to disagreements and division. People divide into different denominations, teach different things, worship different ways, etc. – all because people are confused somehow about God’s will.
So where does this confusion and ignorance come from? Is this division something that God approves of? Do people fail to study the scripture diligently enough? Is the Bible impossible to understand?
Let’s look at some things that may cause confusion in the religious world. The first and probably biggest thing is lack of knowledge. There are many circumstances that could lead to a lack of knowledge. For example, some people simply may not have had the chance to learn the truth. Such was the case of Cornelius in (read Acts 10:1-11:14 for that account), as well as the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). Outside of never having the chance to learn, some people simply do not study their Bibles enough. To be able to discern good from evil, we must have our senses exercised by reason of use (Hebrews 5:12-14), and we must search the scriptures daily to find out what the truth really is (Bereans in Acts 17:11).
Another source of confusion would be human religious figures – the people who others look towards for guidance. One of these types of people are preachers. Denominations have many different names for them – pastors, reverends, etc. These people are very valuable to us, but many of them – especially in denominations – teach in error. Consider these scriptures:
2 Timothy 4:2-4
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Not only false teachers, but we also have to look at family and friends when we are trying to find possible sources of confusion. We’ve even been told that households will divide against themselves:
53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Even society and the majority can have an effect on us. We need to always remember that we shouldn’t look towards other men for our doctrine, but to the Gospel.
9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
2 John 9
9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
Outside of religious guides, sometimes people will let their pride, personal desires and self-will get in the way of following the truth. People often close their eyes and ears to the truth because people don’t want to be told that they are wrong. They reject the truth because they want to feel justified. This kind of attitude will contribute to division, disagreement, and confusion.
14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
Now that we know things that we can look for what causes religious confusion, it’s important to also understand what DOES NOT cause religious confusion.
It’s not because God’s will hasn’t been revealed or is incomplete. Some people will say that disagreements happen because God hasn’t told us everything we need to know, or that truths have been lost or changed. We know through the scripture that God has revealed all truth, and that the Gospel will live and abide forever.
13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
1 Peter 1:22-25
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Religious confusion also does not exist because of contradictions of the scripture. Some people believe that parts of the Bible contradict others, or that the Bible itself has errors or is inaccurate on some points. God’s word is infallible and unified. If people disagree with the Bible, it’s not the Bible that’s wrong – it’s people!
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
1 Corinthians 1:13-14
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Some religious groups out there will even try to tell you that the Bible is impossible to understand. They say that the common person cannot possibly comprehend the scriptures, and that it then is a source of religious confusion. However, we have the Bible so that we can know God’s will. If we cannot understand what it says, then God has failed. Clearly, God is not a failure; meaning that anyone can read and understand the Bible.
God hasn’t reserved the ability to understand scripture to a select few. He hasn’t invited only a few people to hear His word and follow Him. All people can hear and understand God’s word.
14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand:
11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
The last point today is this: God does not approve of religious division. Some people think that God doesn’t object to sincere people being religiously divided. They will say “We all follow and love Jesus, so just go wherever you want.” That could not be further from God’s will.
God wants all His people to be united. If Christ is the head of the church, then how can He have so many different bodies? He can’t! Christ purchased one church – His church – with His blood, not many!
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Hopefully now that we can understand better what does and does not cause confusion and division, we can also better safeguard ourselves from falling away from the oneness that we find emphasized throughout the Gospel.
I want to thank you all for reading today. As always, feel free to comment or send me a message if you would like to discuss more. And if you enjoyed the content, I encourage you to share the message with others!