Within the church there are those persons who are committed, growing, and participating in the life of the congregation and exhibit spiritual sensitivity. There are others, however, that are marginal in the church, seem stagnant in their faith, and do not readily express a fellowship with God. And there are more who move in and out between vital relationship and indifferent service within the church. There is no one-size-fits-all reason why this reality is so, but anyone who has been around the church very long knows that the congregants within are at differing places as to their spirituality. It is possible, even with the best of intentions, for many believers in Jesus to be mistaken in some important area of belief and are living in error. These erroneous beliefs almost always produce incorrect actions and become barriers to their Christian lives. If we are to be successful in living the Christian life and be a vital part of the church’s life we must search out and destroy these hindrances. God only delivers on the basis of truth. Satan, on the other hand, keeps people in bondage through lies.
Consider twenty-five of these errors concerning the church and the Christian life that I have heard from people over the years as a pastor, preacher, and teacher. I include these because they have been expressed several times from various people in different churches. Buying into any one of the following of these mistaken beliefs inevitably brings spiritual slavery and hinders a believer from realizing the blessings of living for Christ and enjoying his church:
1. God does not really care about me like he does others.
2. There are “second rate” Christians. God has not given himself equally to all believers.
3. Only clergy are really called to ministry; the rest are not as obligated to either God or the church.
4. Knowing the Bible is not necessary for everyone. As long as the pastor knows Scripture, others can rely on his understanding.
5. Prayer is for the spiritual, and not for everyone. Moral action can take the place of prayer.
6. I don’t need to learn because when I get to heaven the “egalitarian zap” by God will make me understand everything.
7. Spiritual growth can happen apart from Scripture and the church.
8. Religious feelings are reliable as confirmation of God’s will.
9. Since I am saved, sanctified, and redeemed by the blood I can live however I want.
10. The commandments of God are good advice, but not obligatory.
11. Since I am a Christian, there is nothing I can do to displease God.
12. I am under no obligation to grow spiritually; spiritual growth is optional.
13. Faith is a feeling.
14. I am saved by faith, but spiritually grow through effort.
15. God will stop me if I am doing something wrong.
16. I have tried the church thing and it doesn’t work for me; not everyone needs the church.
17. Some sins are worse than others – physical sins are worse than spiritual sins.
18. If someone in the church hurts me, I should hurt them back so they will know not to do it again.
19. If I confess my sin to God I do not need to confess it to others.
20. If I confess my sin to God I will be totally free from its consequences.
21. Christianity works for some people, but not for everyone.
22. As long as one is sincere, then everything is okay with God.
23. If I cannot serve in the church giving 100% effort, then I should not serve at all.
24. I put in my time serving the church; there is no need for me to serve anymore.
25. A person can be right with God without believing in Jesus, if they are a good person.
What are some statements you would add to this list?
What hindrances have you identified and overcome in your own Christian life?
How would you respond to someone who believes any one of these errors?
Do you have a plan for discipleship in your church to help people learn Scripture and grow in grace and truth?
Will you pray for your church and its leaders on a regular basis?