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You Are Mistaken

No one wants to be wrong.  Wrongdoing and wrong thinking can create problems and consequences that no one wants to experience.  Sometimes these consequences are mild, such as embarrassment or inconvenience, but other times there are serious repercussions, such as danger and punishment.  Whether mild or severe, these unpleasant consequences exist to deter us from making wrong choices and to encourage us to seek what is right.  Our natural dislike for being wrong is a safeguard to protect us from harmful errors.

The most serious consequences come to those who are wrong about God, such as the Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-33.  The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection, so they questioned Jesus with a hypothetical situation which they thought justified their disbelief.  They first cited the Law of Moses, which required a man to marry his brotherís widow if the brother died without children, and then they described a woman who was widowed repeatedly until seven brothers had married her.  The Sadducees believed that this situation created a conflict that God could not allow, for if all seven brothers and this woman were raised from the dead, then the Sadducees thought the resulting polygamous, incestuous marriages would be in violation of Godís law.  However, the Sadducees were wrong about the resurrection, the endurance of marriage, and the afterlife.  The characters in the Sadduceesí story would indeed be raised from the dead, but none of them would be married, for marriage ends at death (Rom. 7:2).  The Sadducees may have been slightly embarrassed because Jesus proved them to be wrong, but the consequences of their wrong beliefs were very serious, for they were unprepared for the resurrection, the Judgment, and the afterlife.

In this example involving the Sadducees, the Lord identified the source of most errors in religion.  He said to the Sadducees, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of GodĒ (Matt. 22:29).  When men do not understand the Scriptures, they make mistakes because they lack the light of Godís word (Ps. 119:105; 2Tim. 3:16-17; 2Pet. 1:19).  Their misunderstanding of Godís word allows them to be misled by the wisdom, speculations, and traditions of fallible men.  Likewise, when men do not understand the power of God, they make mistakes because they do not trust God.  They do not believe God can do what He claims, so they reject His claims, attempt to assist Him, or give false interpretations to His claims.  In the case of the Sadducees, they did not understand the Scriptures concerning life after death (such as the passage Jesus quoted Ė Exodus 3:6), and they did not believe God had the power to raise men from the dead.

Consider a few examples of common errors that are due to the misunderstanding of the Scriptures and the power of God.

  • Many are wrong about the Bibleís account of the creation of the world (Gen. 1-2).  This error arises primarily because men do not understand the power of God.  They do not believe that God could have the power to speak all things into existence in only six days.  Their lack of faith in Godís power leads them to misunderstand the Scriptures by reinterpreting the creation account.  Some attempt to blend Darwinís theory of evolution into the creation account, while others explain the creation story as an allegory.  Of course, some simply deny creation altogether.
  • Many are mistaken about the miracles recorded in the Bible.  They will not believe that supernatural, miraculous events actually occurred, so they explain them away by natural means.  They do not understand the Bibleís unequivocal records of such events, and they underestimate the power of God to do anything.
  • Like the Sadducees, many are mistaken concerning the resurrection.  When some men make false predictions of the Lordís return and teach false doctrines about the Judgment (such as the "raptureĒ and a millennial reign of Christ on earth), they misunderstand the Scriptures.  When other men deny and mock the coming of the Lord, they misunderstand the power of God (2Pet. 3:1-13).

Mistakes such as these are avoidable, for God has made it possible for us to understand the Scriptures and His power.  The apostle Paul wrote, "By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of ChristĒ (Eph. 3:4), and, "So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord isĒ (Eph. 5:17).  Clearly, we can understand the Scriptures and learn to handle them accurately (2Tim. 2:15).  Likewise, we can understand the power of God, for the Bible praises God, saying, "Ah Lord GOD!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too difficult for YouĒ (Jer. 32:17; see also Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:27).  The Bible and nature are filled with countless proofs that show Godís unlimited power so that we can understand.

Therefore, let us not be mistaken.  Understand the Scriptures and the power of God, and proceed with the confidence of knowing Godís word and trusting Godís ability to accomplish His will.  In this way, we will avoid the consequences of being wrong while reaping the benefits of being right.  How great is our God who gives us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2Pet. 1:3) and saves us by the power of Christís gospel (Rom. 1:16)!

Stacey E. Durham




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