Have you ever wondered how people can go so awry in their doctrine? How they can be familiar with the Gospel yet reject it and still use the Bible to support their departure from the truth? How these men and women can be so “sincere”, “loving”, “nice” and “gentle” and teach doctrines of demons as, Paul warned: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons…”(1 Ti 4:1). I, too, have wondered this and have come to some conclusions but Lloyd Jones elaborates and gives us a very sobering explanation:
“Very well; it is obviously important that we should approach this Book in the right manner. We must start by agreeing that merely to read the Bible is not enough in and of itself. It is possible for us to read the Bible in such a mechanical manner that we derive no benefit from doing so. That is why I think we have to be careful with every kind of rule and regulation in the matter of discipline in the spiritual life. It is a good thing to read the Bible daily, but it can be quite profitless if we merely do so for the sake of being able to say we read the Bible daily. I am a great advocate of schemes of Bible reading, but we have to be careful that in our use of such schemes we are not content just to read the portion for the day and then to rush off without thought and meditation. That can be quite profitless. Our approach to the Bible is something which is of vital importance.
Now the Bible itself tells us this. You remember the apostle Peter’s famous remark with regard to the writings of the apostle Paul. He says that there are things in them which are `hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest . . . unto their own destruction’. What he means is this. They read these Epistles of Paul, yes; but they are twisting them, they are wresting them to their own destruction. You can easily read these Epistles and be no wiser at the end than you were at the beginning because of what you have been reading into what Paul says, wresting them to your own destruction. Now that is something which we must always bear in mind with regard to the whole of the Bible. I can be seated with the Bible in front of me; I can be reading its words and going through its chapters; and yet I may be drawing a conclusion which is quite false to the pages in front of me.
There can be no doubt at all that the commonest cause of all this is our tendency so often to approach the Bible with a theory. We go to our Bibles with this theory, and everything we read is controlled by it. Now we are all quite familiar with that. There is a sense in which it is true to say that you can prove anything you like from the Bible. That is how heresies have arisen. The heretics were never dishonest men; they were mistaken men. They should not be thought of as men who were deliberately setting out to go wrong and to teach something that is wrong; they have been some of the most sincere men that the Church has ever known. What was the matter with them? Their trouble was this: they evolved a theory and they were rather pleased with it; then they went back with this theory to the Bible, and they seemed to find it everywhere. If you read half a verse and emphasize over-much some other half verse elsewhere, your theory is soon proved. Now obviously this is something of which we have to be very wary. There is nothing so dangerous as to come to the Bible with a theory, with preconceived ideas, with some pet idea of our own, because the moment we do so, we shall be tempted to overemphasize one aspect and under-emphasize another.”
Theology matters. Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,
Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Locations 87-89). Kindle Edition.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Locations 78-87). Kindle Edition.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Kindle Locations 70-78). Kindle Edition.