A Better Bible Study Method, Book Two
Be Not Deceived
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Prv 1:7).
A Different Kind of Repentance?
"Repentance" usually brings to mind the idea of giving up misdeeds that are linked to particular sins, and this sort of change is necessary. Those who become followers of Jesus have a different standard of behavior than they previously had. However, it is important to note "repentance" is also required when it comes to truth.
A person obviously has to stop resisting the truth in order to receive the truth, yet few think of this in terms of "repentance." Still, scripture talks about "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (2 Tm 2:25). So we need to think in those terms if we want to train ourselves to think and speak biblically.
It turns out "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" is a gift from God. Paul told Timothy how proper instruction might bring about this change in people who "oppose themselves." We learn this from an admonition found in 2 Timothy 2:24-25:
"The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
What does it mean for people to "oppose themselves?" The phrase makes perfect sense, and it identifies the real problem. No one says they want to believe a lie; they tell themselves they want the truth. Thus when people resist the truth, they are opposing what they claim they want. The same thing occurs when a person holds contradictory beliefs, for people who believe mutually exclusive ideas are engaged in thinking which opposes itself. The people whom Elijah rebuked for worshipping both the Lord and Baal had relied on this sort of thinking. The practice of self-contradictory thinking was also rebuked by Jesus when he condemned those religious leaders who claimed to respect God's word even while they refused to submit to its authority (Mt 23:15, Mk 7:6-13, et al.).
Earlier we considered the deception in the church in Laodicea and the New Testament has many other examples of faulty thinking both in the church and outside of it. Those "who changed the truth of God into a lie" are at one end of the spectrum and you can read about them in Romans 1:21-26. In the church, the most striking instance of halting "between two opinions" is probably the one rebuked by Paul and Sosthenes in 1 Corinthians 15:12-13:
"If Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen."
As this points out, belief in a Christ who "rose from the dead" is not compatible with the idea of "no resurrection of the dead." Those ideas contradict each other, so they cannot both be true. The problem was the willingness of the Corinthians to tolerate error. Their method of assessing truth on biblical issues was flawed because it led them to assume it was reasonable to take an 'agree to disagree' approach on matters of truth (i.e., they tolerated mutually exclusive ideas and they claimed to respect the truth at the same time). Those who said they followed Jesus had sacrificed the truth for the sake of inclusiveness. However, respect is not shown for the truth when contradictory ideas are considered to be equally valid.
Jesus said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (Fourth gospel 18:37). The link between Jesus and the truth is unbreakable, so Jesus cannot be honored when truth and falsehood are treated as equals!
Followers of Jesus need to respect the truth. 1 Corinthians 15:12-58 made this point to the Corinthians. Those who "oppose themselves" are being unreasonable, so they need to repent of this way of thinking (just as Naaman the leper had to repent of his unreasonable mindset before he could get the blessing of God [as was shown in the earlier discussion of 2 Kings 5:9-14]). The Corinthians were rebuked for not being reasonable, because one cannot respect Jesus who "rose from the dead" and also respect those who say there is "no resurrection of the dead," for this disrespects the truth and the authority of scripture.
Is there ever a good reason to reject truth? If not, then no one who respects God's word should ever turn a blind eye to facts in scripture that challenge their view on an issue. Still, some who say they believe scripture are able to come up with high-sounding excuses when they want to resist biblical correction. The religious leaders of Jesus' day did this, and people today still do this. Nevertheless, such behavior certainly does not evidence a love of the truth.
In Hebrews this was said three times: "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb 3:7-8 &15, 4:7). Also Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (Fourth gospel 10:27). Since "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tm 3:16) and Jesus spoke the words of God (Fourth gospel 8:28, et al.), those who desire to follow Jesus need to go where the biblical evidence leads.
Can man's response justify God?
"All the people that heard him [John the Baptist], and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him" (Lk 7:29-30).
Thus, a right response to the authority of God results in God being "justified." It does so because, in order to receive correction, we must admit we were wrong and submit to God's standard of what is right and true. Conversely, those who will not submit to God's word always find a way to convince themselves they were justified in doing so.
Luke 7:29-30 contrasts two responses to God's authority. When John spoke the word of God, some submitted to its authority and others "rejected the counsel of God." Notice the education the scholars and religious experts had received did not lead them to receive correction! For them to admit they needed correction would call into question the training which led them to be deceived and the beliefs of those who held the same view. This is why our prior training or group affiliations may lead us to resist correction, as can allegiances we may have to a pastor, group, or set of beliefs.
Loyalty can be a good quality. Yet, loyalty to a teacher or group could create a prejudice against the truth if the teacher or group promotes an idea which is not taught by God's word. It is natural for people to associate with those who think like them. However, if we get our cues on what to believe from the people we follow or associate with, then we are not taking our cues from the word of God.
Important? Who Says So?
Some people think resisting the authority of God's word on matters they consider to be little issues is no big deal. Actually it is a big deal because those who do so are, in effect, saying the word of God only has authority when they say it does. If people can give themselves permission to ignore any point in God's word, then they are not under its authority; rather they have usurped authority over it.
People can always come up with an excuse for ignoring something in God's word: 'it is a minor issue,' 'this issue is not worth dividing over,' etc. Nevertheless, those who say an issue is minor or unimportant in order to justify their resistance to truth are doing the same thing the religious leaders did when they justified their resistance to Jesus and John the Baptist (cf. Lk 7:28-35).
Scripture does teach some matters are more important than others. For example, Jesus discussed "the first and great commandment" (Mt 22:38) and he went on to say, "And the second is like unto it" (Mt 22:39). So, we know one came ahead of the other. The difference is this; scripture gets to make this call, not us.
Jesus once said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone" (Mt 23:23). Jesus and the scholars did not weigh things the same way. Those leaders claimed to value the law, yet in their opinion, "judgment, mercy, and faith" were not as important as the "tithe." If they had said, 'those are minor issues, the tithe is the main thing' would this have made it so? No, because the opinions of men are not the measure of what issues are "weightier."
"Judgment, mercy, and faith" did not suddenly become the "weightier matters of the law" when Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees on this issue. Scripture already established this fact. However, Jesus did confront them about their practice of letting their own opinion be the measure of truth. Even if a person correctly identifies the more important issues, it is wrong to ignore lesser issues – for in regard to the less weighty matters Jesus said, "these ought ye to have done."
People are fooling themselves if they claim to respect God's word on issues they deem to be 'essential' or 'major' while they ignore what it says on matters they deem to be 'secondary' or 'minor.' The experts in Jesus' day misjudged him because their judgment was based on their own opinion and not God's word (Mt 12:2 & 10, et al.). Men today who decide what is important or not important based on their own opinion are making the same mistake.
A Substitute Authority
Teaching the word of God faithfully is not done by urging people to put confidence in men. Citing the beliefs of some scholar or group as a way to convince others to adopt a particular belief or viewpoint is not a method that is in line with counsel of God's word.
When we are taught to rely on the beliefs of a man or group, we are wrongly taught how to judge what is true. If a man argues, 'you should believe 'x' is true because it is what so-and-so believes,' is he leading people to trust in the authority of God's word? No. However if he says, 'so-and-so has presented biblical evidence that can prove 'x' is true,' then he properly acknowledges the work being referenced while he also upholds the authority of God's word.
The issue is what authority is cited and how is the data to be viewed. Should people assume the Bible says what the experts say it says, or should every belief be subject to biblical scrutiny (no matter who said it or how many people believe it)? Anyone can make mistakes, so focusing on scripture keeps us under the authority of God's word.
Choosing Your Measure of Truth
"When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Th 2:13). This was written to the brethren in Thessalonica, and earlier we noted the distinction between the word of men and the word of God that is highlighted in this verse. Focusing on this distinction, and being diligent not to let the teachings of men substitute for the authority of God's word, is the key to a better Bible study method.
The practice of regarding God's word as the sole measure of truth on biblical issues was modeled in the case studies. You saw the results. If those results are superior, then relying on the teachings of men is shown to be an inferior method (just as scripture always said), and every teaching must be put to the test of scripture. An effort to subject everything to biblical scrutiny cannot guarantee we will always do so accurately. Still, it upholds scripture as the test of truth and it will keep our pursuit of knowledge grounded in "the fear of the Lord" (Prv 1:7). A scale measures weight, not length. Likewise, the method we use to assess truth on biblical issues must be appropriate to the task. If we rely on the teachings of men to tell us what is true, then we are using a method of assessing truth which is not up to the task.
Study "as to the Lord"
· "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus"(Col 3:17);
· "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Col 3:23).
What would happen if we applied the admonition of those verses to the study of God's word? It would remind us our approach to scripture should please the Lord.
The traditions of men promise a shortcut to the truth and some say we should give tradition 'the benefit of the doubt,' but Jesus never encouraged this, nor did his apostles. Instead, they pointed people to the scriptures, and in doing so they showed us the proper method of contending for biblical truth. They never said tradition should be given the benefit of the doubt, neither did they pretend the traditions of men were a good starting point.
If all the truths in God's word have already been discovered by men who are smarter than we are, then why read the Bible? If the scholars can tell us what is true, why not just read them? After all, if we read scripture we might misunderstand it, but if we follow the experts then it will insure we know the truth, right? No! This sort of thinking was promoted by the scholars in Jesus' day and Jesus rebuked them for doing so, most notably in Matthew 15:14 where he described them "blind leaders of the blind." In the verse he went on to say, "if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Mt 15:14), so the followers of blind leaders will end up in the same place as the ones they have chosen to follow. Note they put themselves in that situation by their choice of who they follow. Is there any hope for them? Yes. It occurs when truth reveals something is amiss. It is the moment when they "fall into the ditch" and the experience, while not pleasant, does call attention to a problem.
God's Wake-up Call
If we have a "fall into the ditch" moment, we should thank God for the wake-up call. For example, if a preacher says, 'Jesus will return on April 1st,' what of those who assume this is true because they put confidence in that man? If April 2nd arrives and Jesus has not come, then it is their "fall into the ditch" moment. The facts prove they were deceived. The question is, how will they respond to the evidence?
When truth confronts those who have been deceived, some will find a reason to ignore the truth ('it does not matter,' 'it's a minor issue,' etc.) and continue on down the road of error. Others will acknowledge they were deceived, but if they think it is all about one issue (such as date setting in the foregoing example), then they failed to realize their method of assessing truth on biblical issues is what has to change. They will go on practicing the blind following the blind method even if they start following a different man or group. What they need to do is repent of the practice of putting confidence in man. Being confronted with evidence that shows we have been deceived is never going to boost our ego. It does, however, give us an opportunity to grow.
When corrected, we should ponder what caused us to be deceived on that issue. This takes more effort, but if we change our method and lessen the likelihood of deception, then the effort is worthwhile. Furthermore, "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Col 3:23) urges us to go the extra mile, and this surely applies to the work we do as we seek to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This book is not saying it is wrong to ever quote the words of a man, for scripture tells us to give "honor to whom honor" is due (cf. Rom 13:7). It would be wrong not to give proper attribution to a person when their research has opened our eyes to something in God's word. Moreover, if we then share those insights with others, we need to be honest and credit person 'x' or book 'y' for teaching us those things. Crediting a resource that provides
biblical insights is good because:
(A) scripture indicates it is the right thing to do (Lu 6:31, et al.),
(B) it lets others know where they can get more details on the subject, and
(C) those with whom we share the material can give it further scrutiny, since it is always possible for us to miss something.
If identifying the person or book which teaches us an insight is the right thing to do, then what is the problem with quoting the teachings of men? Scripture is the measure that distinguishes a good method from a bad one. Consider a time when Jesus was confronted by some of the scholars of his day; "The Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders?" (Mk 7:5). What standard did they use to judge the disciples of Jesus? What authority did those scholars cite? It was not God's word, it was "the tradition of the elders!" The teachings of men had replaced the word of God as their measure of right and wrong.
Mark 7:6-7 tells us how Jesus responded to their use of that standard:
"He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
He identified the bait and switch of those religious leaders. They said they stood for the truth of God, when they were actually "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mk 7:7).
"The commandments of men" were taught as "doctrines" by those religious leaders. They were promoting a substitute authority over (or in addition to) God's word, and their desire to cling to their traditions is what led them to do so. We know this because Jesus identified their self-interested motive when he told them:
(A) "Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men" (Mk 7:8); and,
(B) "ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition" (Mk 7:9).
Their regard for the authority of men is what led them to trample on the word of God! They had to choose one or the other, since "No man can serve two masters" (Mt 6:24). They judged right and wrong by their substitute measure, and this led Jesus to say they were "making the word of God of none effect" – "through" their "tradition" (Mk 7:13).
When the teachings of men have become our measure of what is true and right, then we are doing the same thing they did and we make God's word ineffective in the same way.
Quoting Men While Honoring God
Clearly, there is no problem with saying, Isaiah said 'x' or Job said 'y;' it was done in scripture. This tells others where a particular teaching can be found. In the same way, crediting a person or book that has helped us to see the truth is not a problem. The problem comes when non-Bible sources are cited as if they are authoritative, because this encourages people to put confidence in those sources.
Citing non-Bible sources and naming proponents of an idea is a tactic some people use to sell an idea to others. This is not the same thing as merely identifying a resource that provides insight on some issue. Most teachers promote ideas they believe are true, and they do so by quoting men who agree with them. (If they quote an opposing view, they will emphasize what is wrong with it.) People make a mistake when they think an idea is true because it is what their preacher and his sources believe. The opinions of men are not the measure of truth on biblical issues. "Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" (Ps 119:89) and "O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word" (Ps 119:169) are just two of many passages that let us know God's word is the measure of truth.
If we say our beliefs are biblical, then this claim makes scripture the judge of our beliefs. When a person's beliefs are contrary to scripture on any issue, then scripture is not their authority on that issue.
The Antidote for Error
Paul gave Timothy this warning regarding deception, "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tm 3:13). Then he added this:
"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tm 3:14-15).
Would Timothy have thought the words "knowing of whom thou hast learned them" referred to some human teacher? Should we assume this referred to Timothy's mother or grandmother because earlier in the letter Paul wrote, "I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice" (2 Tm 1:5)? Lois, Eunice and Paul all taught Timothy. However, if Timothy had received that teaching "not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God" (as the Thessalonians had done (cf. 1 Th 2:13)), then he learned those things from God. Jesus cited this prophecy, "they shall be all taught of God" (Fourth gospel 6:45) and if those words refer to people who rightly receive "the word of God," then this would surely include Timothy.
Paul told Timothy, "the holy scriptures" had the ability to make him "wise unto salvation" (2 Tm 3:15) and this fits with the results described in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ("effectually worketh also in you that believe"). Those who faithfully delivered God's word to Timothy played a role, but what made him "wise unto salvation" was "the holy scriptures." Moreover, that result is linked to the source of scripture by this verse: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tm 3:16).
Timothy was told:
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (2 Tm 4:2-4).
Truth is the antidote for error. Paul told Timothy to "preach the word" consistently, because if people "will not endure sound doctrine," then at some point they will turn away from the soundness of scripture until they repent.
The phrase "the time will come" let Timothy know his audience would not always be open to the truth. At an individual level this is the point when people turn a blind eye to evidence and begin resisting truth because it makes them feel uncomfortable. They no longer welcome the reproof and rebuke that comes with "sound doctrine." Instead, they listen to men who make them feel justified while they "turn away their ears from the truth." This way they can do what they desire while they salve their conscience by pretending their teachers give them a reason to ignore the truth.
"A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent" (Prv 15:5). We need to invite God's instruction, not resist it. Yet, "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb 3:7-8 & 15, 4:7) was a warning to the "holy brethren" (Heb 3:1). This lets us know the "holy brethren" may be tempted to resist the "doctrine," "reproof," "correction," and "instruction in righteousness" (2 Tm 3:16) that comes from God's word – and there is no reason to believe the followers of Jesus in our day are immune from this temptation. On the contrary, this temptation may be even greater in the Internet age.
Today, people can easily find teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Now people can "turn away their ears from the truth" and "be turned unto fables" in only a few clicks. The joke says, 'it must be true because it was on the Internet.' However, when people think something must be true if a famous preacher said it or because they read it in a book (or in the notes of men that are added to the words of scripture in many Bibles), then they are making the same mistake; i.e., they are putting confidence in a source that is not always reliable.
Taught by God?
Jesus once said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Mt 11:25, Lk 10:21). Unless God did this only back then, we cannot assume being "wise and prudent" makes a man or group of men more likely to have the truth. So, it would be a mistake to assume "wise and prudent" men understand God's word, or to think it is a good idea to trust "wise and prudent" men to tell us how we should go about learning what is taught by God in scripture.
We learn best when God is teaching us! While this may sound strange to us, the brethren in Ephesus may have reacted the same way when they first read the words: "If so be that ye have heard him [God], and have been taught by him" (Eph 4:21). [References to "God" in verses 18 and 24 confirm the word "him" in verse 21 refers to God.] The verse goes on to say, "as the truth is in Jesus," so this is what they learned. Nevertheless, the one who did the teaching was also identified – they had "heard him [God]" and "been taught by him." Moreover, since those words were written "to the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Eph 1:1), they are surely still relevant for the followers of Jesus today.
If God's word teaches you something, then who taught you? Since God is the source of scripture, if you have been taught by God's word, then you have been taught by God. This ties into a prophecy that was quoted by Jesus: "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God" (Fourth gospel 6:45). In that passage he went on to explain those words and he made this clear – "taught of God" did not refer to being taught about God, rather, they meant being taught by God.
Right after Ephesians 4:21 is a description of the response that ought to result from being taught by God:
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph 4:22-24).
How can one "be renewed" in accord with the foregoing admonition? In the letter to the Ephesians it also says, Christ "loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word" (Eph 5:26).
Unless the teachings of men can substitute for "the word" and have the same "washing" effect, then there is the problem. The cleansing effect of the word of God will be undermined or made void every time the teachings of men are promoted as a substitute authority. Another work of "the word" was noted when the brethren were told the Father had begotten them "with the word of truth" (Jas 1:18), or as 1 Peter 1:23 put it, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." If we want the results "the word of truth" is said to produce, then we dare not assume the teachings of men can serve as a stand-in for "the word of God."
"Thy Word is Truth"
Not everyone has a Bible or the ability to read, let alone access to the Internet which lets people utilize a wide array of free Bible study tools. Those of us who have those things need to thank God for them, and one way we can show our gratitude is to make a diligent effort to let scripture be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Today the words "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Lk 12:48) must be weighed in light of the unique resources available to us in this age.
Once when Jesus prayed for his followers, he asked the Father to "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (Fourth gospel 17:17). In the prayer he also said: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word" (Fourth gospel 17:20). "Thy word is truth" identifies a sure measure on biblical issues and we need to respect this standard because the "truth" that comes via God's word is what changes (i.e., sanctifies) the followers of Jesus.
Men will raise other measures of truth, such as when "the chief priests and Pharisees" raised this question about Jesus: "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?" (Fourth gospel 7:48) Implicit in their question is the idea that the beliefs of the religious leaders are the measure of what is true. It also implies only a fool would disagree with all of those highly intelligent men. No one wants to be the target of ridicule, so such questions are used to bully people into falling in line and lead them to conform their views to the beliefs of other men.
"Foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes" (2 Tm 2:23). In order to obey this counsel we must be able to tell what questions qualify as "foolish and unlearned." Does this describe, for example, the question, "Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?" If so, then such questions should not intimidate us or be answered, for they promote a false view that must be rejected.
Titus 3:9 says "avoid foolish questions" for "they are unprofitable and vain." As has been shown, the opinions of men about the importance of the tithe led men to disrespect scripture's own standard as to how one could determine what the "weightier" issues were. In addition, we saw how the religious leaders cited their beliefs as the measure of truth and how they pulled a bait and switch by "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mt 15:9, Mk 7:7). This can also be done through questions that seed false implications. (A crafty question, like a false statement, can lead one to be deceived and we see this in the question which was posed by "the serpent" to "the woman"(Gen 3:1).)
Wise? By What Standard?
Jesus said, "whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock" (Mt 7:24). Thus, we must define godly wisdom in terms of hearing and doing the words of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 3:20 says, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." Obviously, this is not referring to people like the "wise man, which built his house upon a rock." By what standard do we define the word "wise?" "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Cor 3:19), so what some people consider to be "wisdom" is the exact opposite in God's eyes. If we want to employ godly wisdom, we need to use the right measure when making judgments.
After Jesus said the "wise man" built "upon a rock," he talked about those who are "foolish" – "every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand" (Mt 7:26). The "foolish man" thinks what he is doing is fine, but this is because he is using a wrong measure. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise" (Prv 12:15). Thus, foolish thinking is self-justifying.
Isaiah 5:21 says, "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!" This kind of self-affirming, peer-reviewed thinking was practiced by all of the various groups of religious experts in Jesus' day. The intellectual standard of this world is based on men "measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves," but scripture tells us those who use this method "are not wise" (2 Cor 10:12). We are "not wise" to be judging our beliefs