How strongly does culture influence our lives? Are we more influenced by culture or by Scripture? Before answering this for your own life, consider the results of a survey sponsored by PROBE ministry and conducted by the Barna Group, In this survey they examined the spiritual lives of 18-29 year olds.
They discovered that 25% of this group claimed to be Born Again. However, most people who claim to be Born Again do not possess a biblical world view. 90% of people who are NOT born again believe in religious pluralism (many ways to heaven). Surprisingly, 75% of 18-29 year olds who claim to be Born again believe in religious pluralism.
Digging deeper, only 14% of young adults who claim to be Born Again do NOT combine a Biblical WV with Biblical practices such as prayer, Bible reading, Church attendance or attending a small group.
And most stunningly, only 2% of young adults who claim to be Born Again do NOT apply a Biblical WV to life choices, including their beliefs about abortion, not practicing sex outside of marriage, believing the Bible as True in all areas (Science and Truth), not engaged in pornography in the past year, not living primarily for material things, and believing a biblical view on homosexuality.
In the book Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, Christian Smith writes that Liberal Protestant theology has become the defacto belief system for the majority of emerging adults whether their backgrounds are Catholic, Jewish, black Protestant or evangelical Protestant. He states, “Many emerging adults would be quite comfortable with the kind of liberal faith described by Niebuhr as being about ‘a God without wrath [who] brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.’”
Why do so many people who claim to be born again believe in ideas that are contradictory to the Bible?
Four False Worldviews
Naturalism “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.” Colossians 2:8
The phrase “elemental spirits” refers to the basic ideas of nature. For all of human history, people have worshiped nature. Today, a predominant idea about our world is that the natural world is all that there is. This is referred to as naturalism, the belief that only natural laws and forces operate in the world. The scientific basis for naturalism is Darwinism, although naturalism as a philosophy existed before Darwin. In naturalism: Religious ideas and moral absolutes cannot be true because they are supernatural in nature. But the Bible begins with the foundation that “IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1. When Paul proclaims the Gospel to the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, he begins by pointing them to the self-evident truth of God’s creation. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Acts 17:24, NIV84). We can learn much from Paul’s example. In our pagan world today, evangelism to a pagan begins in Genesis 1:1, before John 3:16!
Legalism “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17
Legalism is any system of morality, religion, or philosophy that imposes God’s righteousness in the form of rules and regulations (Anderson). It is an attempt to produce righteousness apart from God. Legalism consists of spiritual “To Do “ lists.
Legalism in the Church: to do list, cherished traditions that are not biblically established, the way you dress, dos and don’ts.
Legalism in the World: “go green,” political correctness, cultural traditions, be a good citizen, good works.
A good passage rebuking the idea of legalism in regard to salvation is Titus 3:5. “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5, NIV84)
A good passage rebuking the idea of legalism in regard to sanctification is Colossians 2:20-23. “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:20–23, NIV84)
Legalism drives people away from the gospel. Implies you must be a particular type of person in order to be a Christian.
Mysticism “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” Colossians 2:18-19
Mysticism is on the rise in our post-modern world. There is great appeal for books and movies like “The Shack” which offer a new view of God which is revealed through the visions of the author. Mysticism rejects rational thought as a means of understanding. There were mystery religions that existed at the time Paul was writing to them. Today, people are very SPIRITUAL, but it is a spirituality without TRUTH.
The Probe-Barna survey found that over 70 percent of born-again young adults (18-40) rejected the idea that only one religion is true. Less than half believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.
Asceticism “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Colossians 2:20-23
Asceticism is the belief that we need to live a life of extreme self-denial or self-abasement in order to release our soul from bondage in our body. The false teachers of that day promoted the idea that since humans are material, they cannot approach God because He is spiritual. So they taught that you go through spiritual entities that move you from the human plane to the Divine plane of existence. They saw angels as intermediaries. That also explains why many of them worshipped angels. It also explains why they denied the Incarnation (that Jesus was also a man). (Anderson)
Having examined the four world philosophies described in Colossians 2 and 3, let’s look at four historical views of Truth
Most of the ancient world had this view of truth and believed that truth is absolute. This includes PAGAN RELIGIONS with the WRONG source of Revelation This includes PAGAN RELIGIONS with a mystical, superstitious view of God
This is a God-centered view of the universe that believes in divine revelation By the time of the Enlightenment, Western culture was moving to modernism. It was influenced by the scientific revolution and began to reject a belief in God. People are less likely to see truth as absolute but believe it is relative.
A prominent view of truth today is what many call postmodernism. There is a complete loss of hope for truth. Truth is not discovered; truth is created. Truth doesn’t exist except as the individuals wants it to exist. Truth is a social construct: there is no absolute truth. Postmodernist reject claims from anyone who believes there is something that is true for everyone. They are skeptical about being able to even arrive at an absolute truth.
Truth is Revealed by God
The Christian view of Truth is that Truth exists in this world, God wants us to know the Truth and has revealed Truth to us. The ultimate revelation of Truth was when Jesus Christ came to our world to reveal God to us. No one has every understood or spoken truth as perfectly as Jesus! And because of Jesus and the Christian understanding of God’s truth, Christianity CHANGED the world by recognizing that the world made sense and being ordered and created by God. Christians understood that morality came from GOD . This is the brilliance of America’s founding\
The Declaration of Independence boldly asserts: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that amongst these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” Declaration of Independence.
Our founders believed in Truth with a Capital T! This is a God-centered view of the universe that believes in divine revelation. The interesting thing about the Declaration of Independence is that it is completely contrary to the thinking of post-modern people! But understand this, it is not the part “endowed by their Creator” that is unacceptable to post-modern people. Thoughts about a creator or worship are fine to most post-moderns. Don’t forget, they are spiritually minded, but in a mystical way, not in a foundational way. The part of the Declaration that is completely offensive to post-moderns is the phrase “we hold these TRUTHS to be self-evident!” Yes, our founding fathers believed in TRUTH. They believed that there were certain things about our life and our world that were True. These truths do not spring forth from our thoughts and words, they are SELF-EVIDENT truths. They are true because God designed them.
This view of Truth completely agrees with Jesus who said, John 14:6 – “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” He also said, “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. ‘Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?’” Matthew 7:28 –
Our confidence does not rest in modernism or postmodernism.
Our confidence is in the person of Jesus Christ who was and is truth.
Are you searching for Truth?
Are you willing to admit the forces that most influence your way of thinking?
How would you rate your vulnerability to being influenced by false views?
THIS SERMON is an ADAPTATION of the sermon “Exposing False Views” by Kerby Anderson and is part 3 of the Once Captive sermon series.