See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
There’s a reason the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to give us this warning (cf. 2 Peter 1:19-21). It’s the same reason Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). False doctrines and philosophies are some of the most effective devices Satan has ever used to deceive mankind.
This is especially true concerning the false concept that truth is determined by its results. Many believe that truth is defined by whatever works, whatever is good or expedient. They say a statement is true or false depending on its results. This has led to the popularity of political correctness, a philosophy which seems to promote “tolerance” for everything except Christian commandments and principles. Therefore, “tolerance” demands support for sins such as sexual immorality. “Tolerance” demands that one not disagree with any religious faiths (even the ones which go against biblical teaching). This is different from what I had been taught about tolerance as a child, that tolerance permits each of us the right to believe or disbelieve according to our own conscience. No, modern “tolerance” demands acceptance of all beliefs and values – regardless of their spiritual or moral bankruptcy – as being equally valid.
What it all boils down to is this: What works for you? That is the key. If you “need” to have your unborn child burned alive by a saline solution while still in your womb, if euthanasia would make your life easier, or if stealing money out of the cash register works for you…then those are the right things to do. “What works” is the governing principle.
This philosophy is nothing new. Thousands of years ago, Cain and Abel both brought an offering to God…but Abel’s sacrifice was offered “by faith” (Genesis 4:3-5; Hebrews 11:4). Since faith comes from God’s Word (Romans 10:17), God must have specifically told them what kind of sacrifice to offer. Abel honored what God said, while Cain didn’t. The “if it works for me” mindset would have demanded acceptance for Cain’s sacrifice because what worked for Cain would have been all that matters…but God didn’t see it that way.
Nadab and Abihu made a similar error (Leviticus 10:1-3). These two priests decided to offer “unauthorized” fire in their sacrifices, fire which God had not commanded. They were killed as a result…but they were only doing what worked for them, right? Apparently that wasn’t enough for God.
Here’s the thing. “What works” does not determine biblical or moral truth. God’s Word is and always has been what determines truth in these areas, because God’s Word IS truth (John 17:17). Scripture says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11). What is the Lord’s law? Perfect. What are His judgments? True and right. What happens when we keep them? Great reward.
Scripture also says that God’s Word “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Bible lights our way, not the philosophy of “the ends justifying the means.” The time has come to embrace the philosophy of “Thus says the Lord!” Now is the time to get back to the mindset of not going beyond what is written in God’s Word!