One on side of you, a bowl of nuts. On the other, a bowl of caramelised popcorn. Which gets eaten first?
On one side of you, a copy of the new, heavyweight theology volume from the big name. On the other, your phone, with Instagram open. Which gets looked at first?
Resolution in the abstract is all very well, but when it comes to actual decisions, in the moment, we go with what we’re actively drawn to, what tastes good, and what fits with what we like.
What we know to be good for us is ignored. What tastes good is what we go for.
Good doctrine is good for us. God has made it so. We know this, and hopefully we have experienced it. It is a precious blessing to have had a good enough theological training that Augustine, Athanasius, Calvin or Owen can be read with spiritual profit. They knew their bibles well.
But good doctrine doesn’t always feel good for us. Stretching your mind to follow Augustine on the Trinity can be hard work. Forging your will into costly cross-bearing is a spiritual discipline
Bad doctrine, on the other hand, is not good for us. The Enemy has made it so. We know this too, and sadly, we have all experienced it, too.
Because – fatally – bad doctrine can taste soooo good. The Enemy has made it so.
Remember Edmund’s Turkish Delight?
Bad doctrine affirms us in our lies – about God, ourselves, and one another.
Bad doctrine affirms us in our sin, and so it robs us of forgiveness, by telling us we don’t need to be forgiven.
So here’s the kicker: because sin has invaded and shaped our hearts, along with our hearts’ desires, we actually prefer bad doctrine to good.
Christian: when you preach to yourself against a false doctrine which you are drawn to, don’t expect to win that battle easily. Sin loves to sin, and it has deep roots which are not dug out quickly. There’s a reason each of us is drawn to love a particular false doctrine.
Preachers: when you preach against a false doctrine which is present among the people in the church, don’t expect them to nod along with you, and change just because you’ve pointed it out. We Christians frequently prefer lies to truth, because they are more pleasant.
Fighting false doctrine is never just a matter of a spiritual chess-game, matching argument against argument. Nor is it waged in a neutral space, where issues are weighed in the abstract. It is a spiritual battle waged for, and in, the heart of every believer.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Tim 4:3
Do you know which false doctrines you’d love to be true, and why? It’s quite a revealing question.