In last week’s article, it was noted that being religiously “conservative” is not necessarily the same as being sound in the faith (Titus 1:13; 2:2). The two terms are not always synonymous. Soundness always has reference to good health, wholeness and well being, whether in the spiritual sense (cf., 2 Timothy 1:13) or physical (cf., Luke 15:27). But this is not always true of conservatism. Sometimes “conservative” is merely a buzz word for being sound asleep, or for excusing oneself from at least some aspect of the will of God. And that’s not sound! There is a “carnal conservatism” that is every bit as real and wrong as the increasingly blatant disregard a number of brethren are displaying toward the authority and all-sufficiency of Scripture. To be more specific, consider the following occasions when being “conservative” isn’t sound.
When One is Not Motivated by Love. Revelation 2:1-7 speaks of the church at Ephesus. This church was an active congregation, as well as one interested in doctrinal purity. In many ways it would have seemed to be a wonderful congregation. But the Lord said they had “left” their “first love.” And that’s serious! 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 speaks of the possibility of eloquence in communication, depth in knowledge and sacrificial giving (all good things) being worthless unless one is motivated by love. When One Fails to Act Wisely and Expediently. This has to do with the need to humbly respect God’s will and to do what He has authorized in a manner that reflects sound judgment and action (1 Corinthians 6:12). It is possible to believe what is right, but to lack a sense of discernment and diligence in properly carrying things out (Philippians 1:9-11; Hebrews 5:11-14).
When One Talks but Doesn’t Do. What is so sound about any individual or church that talks but does not practice it? (See James 4:17). And while none of us is perfect, those who truly love the Lord will ever strive to do His will more completely (Ephesians 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 3:8-10). As John penned, “My Little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Are both our actions and attitudes sound?
WHEN “CONSERVATIVE” ISN’T SOUND (3)
In the last couple of articles, it has been noted that being religiously “conservative” is not necessarily the same thing as being sound in the faith. Soundness always has reference to good health, wholeness, and well being, whether in the spiritual sense (Titus 1:13; 2:2) or the physical (Luke 15:28). There is a “carnal conservatism” that is indeed every bit as real and as dangerous as the tendency a number of brethren are displaying toward disregarding the authority and all-sufficiency of Scripture. Here are some more instances when being “conservative” isn’t sound.
When Sinful Pride Replaces Humility. Is it not possible to become so proud of our stand on various biblical matters, as well as the acclaim, associations, and opportunities that may come along with that stand, that pride rears its ugly head in us? (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12; Proverbs 16:18). One may take a stand for truth without knowing God deeply and richly, but God desires both! (Colossians 1:9-10; Philippians 3:10). Humility drives away sinful ego when we truly seek to know Him. As John the Baptizer said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
When the “Whole Counsel of God” Gets Lost in the Issues and Controversies of the Day. Truth is often controversial, and error must be dealt with, but the “whole counsel of God” must be proclaimed too (Acts 20:28). It is not enough to just rebuke and reprove error; one must exhort, comfort and strengthen (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 20:20). God’s people must not be known only for what we are against. We must also be known for what we are for! (Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). There is seemingly no end to the number of errors, which may be seen about us, but that is no reason to give congregations a steady, and constant diet of every issue and controversy among us. Evangelism and vital forms of edification can easily get lost in the shuffle when this is done. May God give us all greater wisdom in exercising biblical balance in this regard.
One of the greatest dangers of “carnal conservatism” is that it is so insidious. It is easier seen in others than in ourselves. And while I trust “carnal conservatism” isn’t so in any of us, it is still wise and proper to ask, “Master, is it I?” (Matthew 26:22; 2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10). For to be guilty of such is to be unhealthy and unsound.