Proverbs 18:17 The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
Psalms 43:3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!
Grace vs. law, love vs. correction, works vs. faith, free will vs. predestination, eternal life vs. losing salvation, pre-trib, post-trib, or pan-trib, etc. etc. - there is a constant argument on these subjects and others in the Christian faith. The "discussion" of them is good, since discussion - true discussion - causes us to go to the Word to discover what it is saying. But many times we can become lopsided Christians, because we are not taking the whole of Scripture, but instead looking at just the Scriptures that fit our argument, for whatever reason, and trying to fit the rest into it. I'm just seeing a lot of lopsidedness on the internet and on social media these days, so it has been taking up a lot of my thoughts. I've seen myself as lopsided sometimes, and I've been in lopsided churches. One thing I've noticed is that when the Lord opened up His Word to me and showed me the truth in a particular area, all the pieces fit together without being forced very nicely and understanding came along with joy and peace and delight in His Word. It brought life to me. When I was lopsided there was not that, but always a striving to fit things together, and a sort of bondage, even though I was unaware of it until I was freed from it. God's truth always sets free when accepted and understood. It brought me closer to Him, and I enjoyed His unbroken fellowship.
When I was a young Christian I was under a strong bondage of legalism. What I mean by that was that I felt that my works mattered greatly to my salvation, and that if I didn't measure up to the standard given to me by a certain denomination or even my own scruples, that I would lose my salvation. I felt God was always mad at me. It was a very works based way of trying to live the Christian life. I knew I was saved by grace, and that it was through the blood of Jesus, but somehow I felt it my obligation to "keep" it. I was being taught a lopsided view and none of the pieces fit together right. They were always being squeezed in here or there. Many places in the Word seemed to contradict one another.
After years I discovered the other side - grace. I discovered that I was saved through grace alone, by faith, and that it was not a performance based life at all! It was such a blessing and deliverance to me that I became somewhat lopsided. I was stressing grace so much in my discussions that I made it look as though sin was nothing - and people could have taken it to be antominianism. I didn't think that way, but I came across that way to some. I focused on this grace to the point that I was missing the importance of obedience and its rightful place. As I grew in my Bible study I began seeing that the more I experienced of this grace and love of Christ, the more my heart desired to be obedient to Him in everything, and I grew in my disgust and hatred of sin in myself, all the while knowing I was not under condemnation - I hated anything that would displease Him, Whom my soul loved. Once free from the principle of law, I was free to live truly by the law of love. My focus was now off from myself and performance and was on Christ. I began to understand grace and obedience rightly. I began to see the danger of being lopsided in either direction.
So many times as believers, we become lopsided in our theology, because we focus on one aspect that has in some way ministered to us, or awakened us. Or we focus on one aspect, that we are misled by men in, to the point where we cannot see the whole. Many times we try so hard to hold to a particular teacher that no matter what that teacher says, we have to defend it, right or wrong. We fail to check the Scriptures and study it ourselves asking the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. There are Scripture verses that seem to contradict one another.
(27) Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
(28) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
(2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
(3) For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness."
(21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
(Thayer on justified: to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered). (His works made manifest and showed evidence of his faith).
(22) You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
(23) and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"—and he was called a friend of God.
(24) You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
So some, thinking there is a contradiction, choose either works or grace... but fail to see what is being said is not a contradiction at all, if taken in the whole of Scripture. If you see it as a contradiction, you have to take one and discard the other, rather than to take them both and see what they are really saying and what the whole context says in both books. If you do this you will see that they are saying the same thing.
Scofield: These are two aspects of one truth. Paul speaks of that which justifies man before God, namely: faith alone, wholly apart from works; James of the proof before men, that he who professes to have justifying faith really has it. Paul speaks of what God sees -- faith; James of what men see -- works, as the visible evidence of faith. Paul draws his illustration from (Genesis 15:6) James from (Genesis 22:1-19). James' key phrase is "ye see" (James 2:24) for men cannot see faith except as manifested through works.
We have to be careful to lay the right foundation, which is always Jesus Christ and His finished work. Many take their one sided view of Scripture, or obscure hard to understand verses as their foundation for their views rather than starting from the true foundation of His finished work. Many also don't understand correct definitions of words and even as they are arguing their different sides to each other, they have different definitions so neither understands the other and nothing is settled. "Never take a difficult passage of Scripture to explain away a clear cut passage of Scripture" - J. Vernon McGee. I've seen this done many times over. There is also correct hermeneutics in studying and "rightly dividing" the Word of truth. You cannot just make a Scripture say what you want it to say out of context, or without understanding who it is for, or the time period it was given.
I can tell when I'm with certain people, that there is no discussion because they only want to argue. There is a difference. When one wants to argue, there is no discussion, but only their lopsided view they want you to hear, all while they are not at all listening to you so that there can be a discussion. A discussion involves give and take, looking honestly at the issues on both sides, pointing out the reasoning according to Scripture clearly, being willing to be taught, having a heart to learn truth, and realizing that Scripture is spiritually discerned and sometimes is a matter of maturity in the faith, realizing we have to allow the Holy Spirit time to work in a persons heart, even as He has in our own. Love, with humility and grace, keeps from pride and anger and aggressiveness or "snarkiness."
2 Timothy 2:23-25
(23) Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
(24) And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
(25) correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
We can be lopsided if we are so adamant at convincing someone of their error, that we forget grace and love. We become dependent on our fleshly ability to convince by argument rather than seeing the real need or the real issue of the heart, as Jesus always did, and trusting the Holy Spirit to work through us, and to know when to speak and when not to. I am always impressed with the way Jesus, in Scripture never seemed to answer the direct question of some, but instead spoke directly to the real heart need, with true wisdom, in each case. It seemed as though He were ignoring their questions, but He really saw their heart and knew what they really were dealing with and needed to hear (ex. Nicodemus when he came to Jesus by night, the woman at the well, many times with the Pharisees). Only the Holy Spirit knows what is in a person's heart and what their heart is really seeking. This is why our flesh cannot save anyone or convince anyone. Only His Spirit can, and we are only of use as we are led by Him. If we are given to frustration and rage, or snarkiness, we are not being led by Him. Do you want to reach your brother or sister, or do you want to be proven right and win an argument, which you don't really "win."
Some become lopsided because the word "love" has been so redefined by the world to mean acceptance of every ungodly lifestyle and sin no matter how gross, and a disregarding of the well-being and salvation of the sinner. So they jump all over it in their flesh and come across, just as they are accused of by the world, as mean-spirited, self-righteous haters. It will do no good for them to try to convince the sinner that they love them and are trying to save them when they are lopsided and aren't showing them that. Here again, the definition of words needs to be clarified as well as seen in the life.
If someone is not yet prepared to "discuss" it does no good to argue. To argue then, is only a matter of our pride trying to be "right" or vindicated in our stand. I've seen Christians on social media become so disgustingly nasty or condemning in their remarks to one another, because they had to prove their view was the correct one, that I am just flabbergasted that they cannot see how they are coming across to, not only that person, but others who are watching. It grieves my heart and I'm sure grieves the heart of God, when we claim to follow Him but pushing our theology or views onto others is more important than how we represent Him. I've seen Christians post vulgar things that just astounds me, and use name calling and ridicule, and then they turn around and brag about their beliefs as being superior to others. I've seen Christians post a mixture of occultic practices and Scripture and tear down anyone who tries to lovingly point them to see it. How much we must grieve the Holy Spirit and quench Him in our lives!! How much we play into the hands of the devil! Lord, help us to see our lopsidedness and to care about the things You care about, seeking truly to know You and walk in fellowship with You! How sad to put ourselves in a place where those who see our error are afraid to come along side of us, because we are so obstinate and unteachable. How sad if we have the truth but turn it into something else because of the way we present it. God help us! Do we want people to see You, or us? Help us to discern our own hearts!
I'm sure this is not all I or others could say on this subject, and I'm sure there could be many discussions on this subject, but I hope it will at least be enough to cause each of us to question ourselves before a Holy God and loving Savior. I hope it will not be used as another "argument" to throw in someone's face, but be used as a private moment of examination of our own hearts. As I see these things online, that's what it has done to me. It has made me much more thoughtful of how I am representing the Lord I love and how I am affecting people who I touch one way or another every day. May the Lord enable me to always truly represent Him and to discern when I'm being lopsided.