Everyone has an opinion about Jesus. They did in His day and they do today. If ever there was anything that caused people to have divided opinions it was Jesus. Should you listen to what He says or shouldn’t you? Is what you are being told by someone about him truth or isn’t it?
Even in His day we see in this scripture that the people could not make up their minds. It says in verse 12, “And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” But what is the truth, and more importantly how do you make a decision about the right path to follow?
Jesus Polarises People
When it comes to Jesus, there is no grey areas. People are polarised immediately as soon as Jesus is discussed. And this is to be expected because He is the polar opposite of the way this world thinks, behaves and works.
Jesus life and teachings are at one extreme of the good versus bad spectrum. The devil and the ways of this world and the ways of man are at the other. When we come to Jesus we are taking sides…literally. We are making a deliberate choice to accept what is good and to reject all forms of evil in this world.
Jesus emphasised this polarisation when he said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) Jesus said that when you follow Him you are stepping over that line in the sand and saying that you reject the ways of the world and choose to live a life following the ways of God.
The Battle Is On
Not everyone can or will make this decision. Some will choose to stay in the world. And oddly they believe that they are the strong ones and Christians are weak. What an absolute load of rubbish! It is only the ones who are strong that come and stand with the Lord.
Christians suffer for their choice because they are looking to change and transform their lives. They are embattled within and without. Satan will attack them, evil men will mock and belittle Christians and even the person him or herself will have the internal battle to overcome their own passions, desires and weaknesses of the flesh.
It is no easy thing to be called by the name of the Lord. You will have to stand in the face of opposition from all quarters. That is why in our training as Christians we are instructed to put on the full armour of God, as Paul wrote, “Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13)
But even though we have a battle to fight, the war was already won by Jesus Christ when He died for our sins and was raised for our justification. Sure we fight a battle now, but the Lord teaches, keeps and saves us when we look to him. There is nothing on earth or in heaven that can separate from the love of God. Paul wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)
And knowing we have the victory and the arm of the Lord to support and sustain us, we wait with patience until we see His glory prevail in all things. The reward awaits those who choose His path and follow in the truth of Jesus Christ.
How Will You Know The Truth?
Seeing that there is a division and there are divided opinion, how can you know what is truth and waht is error? One of the greatest deceptions and lies that the devil carried out was shown in Revelation 12:15-16 where it says,
15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood.
16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth.
The water he poured out were false teachings and they were swallowed and accepted by the peples of the earth. Jesus gave us the truth which is the living water, the teachings of eternal life.
So now we have a flood of false teachings trying to drown the woman, who is the church, and there are also the teachings of the truth in there as well. How will you know the difference, especially given the deceitfulness of the devil?
Jesus gave us a method by which we could test the words and assess whether something is truth or someone is speaking the truth of the gospel or not. In John 8:31-32 he said,
31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples,
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
This is one test. If the teachings someone is giving to you is leading you into ANY form of bondage it is not of the truth. If their words will cause you to worship anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ, it is not of the truth. If their teachings will bind you up in physical, financial, psychological or spiritual bondage, and will lead you to condemn yourself if you fail, they are not speaking the truth.
Jesus came to set you free; from sin, from the law, from death and from all forms of bondage. So why would his teachings do the opposite? Look at what Paul said about such things in Colossians 2:20-23.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations,
21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”
22 (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines?
23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.
These things he refers to all lead to bondage. These regulations, often set by the church, lead you to do or not do certain things and they bind you up. But Jesus sets you free. Not to do as you please, but to do what is right. And as Paul shows, those false teachings are of no value in transforming your life to be like Jesus Christ, and that is the aim of the teachings of the Lord.
So what are your thoughts on these things? Have you come across teachings in the church that seem OK but with the value of hindsight are not leading you to freedom in Jesus Christ? How else do you test the words of people to see if they are offering you the truth or not? For that matter, how do you test what I have written here? I’d love to know and please add your comments below.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by C Glass)