As A Man Thinketh

Do our doctrines motivate our behavior

or

does our behavior motivate our doctrines?

This question has come up on two discussion groups I deal with.  Interestingly, and perhaps in answer to the question, the doctrines presented in these discussion groups are dramatically different.  The two groups are as close to opposites as we will find within the Christian community.

In one group, we are told that all are saved and there is no hell and nothing will keep anyone from Heaven.  So, the folks who teach that are free to do whatever they want without spiritual consequence.  In the other group, we are told that God is angry with evil and that only a few will get through the gates and that that anyone who disagrees is already condemned.  So the folks who teach there believe they are superior to everyone else and do pretty much whatever they want without worrying about spiritual consequence.  Since the folks in both groups seek to minimize and manipulate earthly consequences, they are almost completely unaccountable.  Yes, it is just that bizarre.

The only difference between the groups, other than their basic beliefs, is their willingness to expose their behavior.  The first group, the one that rejects any negative consequence, is loud and in your face.  The second, the one that teaches others to behave under law and condemnation, has to hide the excesses.  The first doesn’t care about exposure; while the second avoids it.  Otherwise, their behavior is much the same.

Behavior proceeds out of our thinking, according to the Scripture.  So does our doctrine.  What we do comes from what we think.  But what we believe also comes from what we think.  If I think I ought to be able to do something I will find ways to do it and justify it.

So big name preachers mishandle money and women.  And grace teachers get drunk and cuss.  And church leaders abuse their wives and gossip about others.  They do it because they think they should be able to do it.  And they create doctrine that allows it.

Both behavior and doctrine come out of our thinking.  When our thinking is perverse, both our behavior and our doctrine will be perverse.  We are called to “renew” our minds, our thinking, according to the thinking of Christ.  We are to have His mind and His heart.

The Christian life is not a certain standard of behavior.  It is also not a certain set of doctrines.  The Christian life is a relationship with a Person.  It is an exchange, if you will, of His life for ours, of His quality for ours.  He loves us and we love Him.  We walk with Him and He talks with us and we begin to think like Him.

Is there right behavior?  Is there right doctrine?  Of course, but neither matter unless they come out of our relationship with Jesus.

9 Comments

Filed under Relationship

9 responses to “As A Man Thinketh

  1. Frances

    Bottom line…..
    Jesus is the only way..

    But, accepting Him and being born again is just the beggining.

  2. Carol

    Hmmm, did you contradict yourself? You say at the end it’s not a set of doctrines, but it’s a man thinketh? The problem you presented has both groups with wrong doctrines and wrong behavior, two opposite extremes of legalism and licentiousness or universalism. It would be hard to be in the faith or a relationship while holding a false doctrine. I agree that a relationship with Jesus is the narrow way and you need the Holy Spirit inside to understand His Word (the Bible/doctrine) and His truth in order to have His grace to walk in it (behavior), and growing toward Christlikeness without being/feeling condemned that we’re not there yet (Abiding in HIm). Behavior flows or is the fruit of your beliefs. As to motivation, it’s that He first loved us and our belief/gratefulness and obeying response back through faith that creates a relationship in the first place.
    Maranatha!

    • Frances

      I think that was inacurrate.

      Because there is o ly one right doctrine.
      Wrong doctrines lead to wrong thinking, wrong thinkingeads to wrong behavior and attitudes.

      The truth is in the scriptures, but unless one is filled with the Holy Spirit and Sanctified through Him, then no good fruit can grow from just “belief”

      One can believe in Danta Clause and the Easter Bunny but no matter how much you believe it – it will never be anything more than imagination.

  3. While it is always possible that I might contradict myself, the more likely answer is that I just didn’t make myself clear. My point is that doctrine is not necessarily what we think. There are people all over who can spout off their doctrines, but they really don’t believe them and the doctrines do not dictate either their thinking or their behavior. A man can preach against adultery, proclaim his doctrines, and still be cheating on his wife.

    That’s because what we think is separate from the list of doctrines we hold. I would put doctrines in the same general category as behavior. Our thinking, however, is something different. That’s what Jesus was pointing out when He reminded the Jews of their doctrinal position on adultery and then told them that looking on a woman to lust for her was breaking that command/doctrine. Their doctrine was right, but their thinking was wrong.

    And it was their thinking, not their doctrine, that led to their behavior.

    So does doctrine lead to behavior, or does behavior lead to doctrine? Do people form their doctrines so they can sin, or does their wrong doctrine open them to sin? I think that misses the truth of what Jesus taught. It’s our wrong thinking that leads to both. Wrong doctrine comes out of wrong thinking. Wrong behavior comes out of wrong thinking.

    Too many people hide behind right doctrine as they do wrong things. The truth is that even right doctrine does not motivate them to do right. Their thinking must be transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and their continual walk with Jesus.

    Does that help?

    • Frances

      ahhh yes! I see now where you are coming from.
      I agree, people do not really believe their doctrine weather it be true or not.

      The reason, I think that is .. is because there are so many lies, so many doctrines, so many churches and belief systems that are just plain wrong. SO therefore they are insecure of their own belief.

      TEST THE SPIRITS!

      Have a real working relationship with Jesus, and go before the throne boldly for our answers. God will never lie to us.

      But, yea,.. lol

      What did Jesus say?? “ye of little faith” I think that is true for all of us. I do not see anyone walking on water, do you?

    • Carol

      Yes, much clearer, I’m sorry if it sounded like I was criticizing you. I thought it would be logical for people to believe the doctrines they say they hold, but then, you’re right, people are not always logical are they, whether on purpose or deceiving ourselves. I would say the answer to your questions would be both. I know I have had to change my beliefs to conform to what the bible says (doctrines), not just what I think or want. It’s not easy! Its ongoing — renewing my mind with His word, relying on the Holy Spirit and trying to stay humble. Many times I’ve also had to correct my doctrines too. I listened to opposing views and had to really think them over and go back to read the Bible verses again and again. Like the Berean route — search to see if it is so. Also, I guess its a matter of inner attitude, are we going to do and believe things our way or follow Jesus’ way and die to ourselves or the flesh — we may not always be correct, but if we have an attitude of humbleness, we can be corrected.

      • Frances

        I couldnt agree more!
        The more we walk the walk and the more we grow the more our doctrines change.
        That is not saying that God changes, but we change as we know God more.

        No one can ever say “I arrived” no one has yet aheived Jezus status.

        I woould like to challenge those who choose to follow Biblical Truth over church traditions.
        If Hod yells us plainly to fall into the traditions of pagans , why are so many Cheistians doing it?

        Most Christians tbink they are suppose to do these traditions, yet you can not find scrpture to back it ip.

        Christmes is my number one pet prive that every Christian does, and believes it is ok.

        Yet the Holy Spirit greives in my spirit – tjete isnt anytbing accurate about the twisted story they tell our children and continues right up to yourh and aduthood.
        Whete suddenly the church is decirating with a pagan christmas tree and building a nativity scene that never resembles the truth.

        I want to scream!!! I want yo hear the truth taught! But only more lies and stories.

        Because everyone THINKS it is the Christian tbing to do.

        But if you ask Jesus, and tead the scriptures, the andwer is tjat is a pagan tradition started by Constatine. To datisfy the fighting when he created the beginning of the universal church (aka Catholic Church)

        The Bible clearly indicates Jesus was born in the Fall, yet as Christians we varried on a lie. Secondly Jewish people did not celebrate birthdays, only pagans did.
        Thirdly the cutting down if a tree and adorning it with jewels is found in tbe old testament of pagan rituals.

        So I challenge any one who desires to be a real Christian, try twlling you half geown kids tjat tjete will be no more Christmas traditions.

        I still do food and famy gathering, but I gave all my Christmas decirations away.

        I no longer go in debt ever year and no longer have high credit cards to pay off. It sets you free!

        The truth always sets us free!

      • Frances

        Once again! I am on my phone and I make terrible typos on my phone, partislly because I need to put my glases on and partiaally because my phone has issues!

        I apologize if my comments are hard to read.

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