Corinth’s Problems & Church Discipline

Corinth

What were the main problems in Corinth?

 1. Divisions – Contentions based upon ownership of Different Teachers:

now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, they all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you but that ye be perfect fit together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”   (1 Corinthians 1:10)

2. Lack of Church Discipline

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”  (1 Corinthians 5:1-7)

3. Litigation among Christians

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?”   (1 Corinthians 6:1)

Corinth was a port city, a world trading Center, where affluence and self-indulgence were abundant.  Culture there was homogenized; where race and ethnicity were mixed, which created an ideal breeding ground for tolerance, which gave way to a multiplicity of Idol worship, which became centralized, organized, and very prosperous. 

It was an environment that was difficult for a disciplined, narrowly defined religion; such as Christianity to function healthfully.

 Golden eggs

Root Problem

Corinth was filled with affluence and prosperity, which are sought more than any other quality of a culture, yet also precede moral decline.

What is so interesting about the issues surrounding affluence and prosperity, is the universal effect it has on all of humanity.  In fact the one downside to democracies, is that the masses eventually become affluent and prosper. 

And while physically and financially this is a destination: spiritually, emotionally, and cognitively; it becomes a detriment.  Whether it is a direct democracy (Grecian attempts), indirect democracy (republic representation), or any other form of government which seeks to place power in the hands of the people; once people have the power to vote and therefore affect their lives, they will always seek those positions which advance them financially. 

And it is this sense of success and prosperity that has caused mankind to improve his status, as well as his existence on this earth. 

However, built within the makeup of humanity are qualities and attributes, which when subjected to prosperity and success, eventually bring decline and failure. 

This is why a democracy has never lasted more than the few hundred years.  And in no small part due also to the fact that eventually evil men replace good ones.*

tytler

An Example 

When the thirteen colonies were still a part of England, Professor Alexander Tyler wrote about the fall of the Athenian Republic over two thousand years previous to that time, he said:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.  It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury.  From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years [the Old Roman Empire as a notable exception].  These nations have progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith

From spiritual faith to great courage

From great courage to liberty

From liberty to abundance

From abundance to selfishness

From selfishness to complacency

From complacency to apathy

From apathy to dependency

From dependency back to bondage 1*  

 

Human Nature – An Uphill Battle

Growing a church in an affluent, successful culture is a difficult proposition; especially based upon humanity’s presuppositions in relationship to their environment as outlined above. 

Such adages as: “Familiarity breeds contempt”, and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”; are two examples of patterns in which humans respond to given situations. 

And it is in observation of these characteristics, that the church of Jesus Christ has difficulty.  It’s because the creature is subject to sin, and patterns that reemerge creating difficulties when approaching a sinless God. 

And it is the Bible and the Bible alone that has the ability to address these human maladies of character and attribute. 

And while many attempt to utilize psychology in addressing these problems within the church, this is spiritually heretical, as well as anti-biblical, ungodly, presumptive, and ineffective.

CGA

Psychology – Not the Answer

Some have noted the correct definitions concerning the insights of psychology, and therefore given credibility to its theories. 

However, it is quite different to observe something and therefore define it, perhaps predict its reaction occurred, as compared to explain why the reaction, or the essence of the thing reacting.

The point is psychology has made observations and therefore gained credibility having done so.  However, one can watch a dog all day long and therefore make pretty elaborate predictions concerning some of its behaviors. 

But, you cannot define many of the motivations of those behaviors, nor can you define the essence or inner being of that animal.  You cannot scientifically discern its thought patterns and reasoning, if it really feels emotions, or responds to instinct; or if there is really such a thing as an instinct. 

Psychology is the same way.  There are many insights today psychology has alluded to and therefore, gained credibility, however this does not mean that psychology’s insights are sound.

There are many of these examples, such as: “Birth Order and Temperaments” (when applied to original family members, by Kevin Leman), “Thinking Errors,” Transference, Counter-transference, Projection, Association, and many other observations which have given psychology an air of credibility. 

However, in light of psychology’s anti-God bent, which is obvious in the presuppositions of almost all of the over 500 different modalities, we know that this humanistic philosophy is wrong. 

Therefore, while some of the psychological insights based upon observation would appear to be correct, for the Christian this is completely wrong.2 

And to attempt to address the problems of the church of Corinth utilizing psychology is absolutely erroneous (and yes those that call themselves Christian psychologist would attempt to do so).

 Bible - complete

The Bible – God’s Answer to the Problems in the Church

It is God’s Word, and God’s Word alone that can correct the problem of humanity within the church of Jesus Christ.  The problems that occurred in the church at Corinth, which can be seen in affluent churches all over America today, have a common cure, it is Matthew chapter 18, which states: 

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.   But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.3

Church Discipline

Of the three problems I listed concerning the church at Corinth which Paul addressed in his epistle which we refer to as 1 Corinthians, that of: division, lack of church discipline, and Christian litigation; perhaps the most difficult to address is that of Christians suing each other. 

It is obvious that the church at Corinth did not utilize Matthew 18 in addressing church discipline, the same is noted concerning divisions and confronting those that created those divisions. 

It is obvious that they did not utilize the Word of God in addressing problems, in fact their self-indulgence no doubt created an environment where tolerance was easier to allow, than the uncomfortableness that is necessary when confronting sin. 

Simple is Better When it Comes to Correction

However, Matthew 18, as simple as it is, gives us all that we need to know concerning discipline within God’s church.

And in addressing perhaps the most difficult of these three areas of wrong behavior, that of litigation; again the answer is very simple. 

The same way Paul talked about addressing incest in the church. 

First, and this should go without saying, utilize the Bible as the only rulebook of  behavior, and the final authority. Then:

1) Confront the one who is offended (meaning you are the transgressor); if that doesn’t work, 

2) Take one or two witnesses and confront him again; and if that doesn’t work,

3) Take the issue before the church, and confront him there; and if this does not work,

4) Kick him out of the church, and if he repents (if he will not forgive you ?); receive him back 

Notice what it does not say – it does not say to go to the pastor, he is not involved in the process as a major player, only as a member of the church. 

Too many times the reason that church discipline does work bring the results Christ spoke about – keeping the church pure, is because it becomes a us versus them.  Splits in the church start between the pastor’s side and an elder or board member, with people taking sides. 

It is not to be this way.  When two witnesses does not work, we are to go to the entire church, not any individuals which is where cliques are born – bring to everyone at once, let them decide.

Something to Think About

I believe it was Walter Martin that expounded the following view, which I thought was quite interesting. 

Paul states that it’s better to suffer loss than to go before the world with a Christian suing a Christian. 

This connotes the spirit of Christianity, that of being willing to suffer for the sins of others, to turn the cheek, to love those that abuse you, and to symbolize how Jesus would have responded in his “First Coming”. 

However it is incorrect to assume that Jesus would only turn the cheek, because when He comes the second time, He will not. 

The point is one’s behavior should become contingent upon one’s mission, and the responsibilities that we hold when doing what God wants us to do, will help us choose which Biblical model to follow. 

Christianity is not pacifism, and while there were many during the Revolutionary war, that felt it was biblically correct to submit to King George based upon the Bibles injunctive to submit to the powers that be, because they are ordained of God; if it was God’s design that these United States would be created, then to turn the cheek concerning the tyranny of King George, and in opposition to God’s will; would have been sin.  This is where “correctly dividing the word of God4, according to the Holy Spirit, and in context with the whole Bible; becomes necessary. 

With this in view, Walter stated; that when a Christian took advantage of another Christian and refused to respond in order to correct the problem, even when the church excommunicated him, then he was no longer a Christian Brother, and the Christian could sue a non-Christian in order to seek justice. 

This seen in light of the Biblical mandate that a man was to take care of his family 5, and if he allowed someone to take all his money and he could not feed them, then for him to not take advantage of his legal right for legal regress, would have been wrong, as well as poor stewardship of God’s fund.  

I know this seems to resist the flavor of New Testament Christianity, and this is an area that I truly believe is up to the individual, and between them and God. 

However, I also believe Walter had a point, and that if we expect Jesus to act the same way when He comes a second time as He came when the first, then we are sorely mistaken.  And it is the application and the understanding of that application where in the Holy Spirit should have final say so according to God’s Word taken in context.

It is my opinion, that it is a humanistic mindset that habitually, and only paints Jesus Christ as the  continual victim, who can only turn the cheek at wrongdoing; and demands that we do the same.  Jesus taught that we should forgive our brothers 6, (family member, not friend or enemy) in excess of 490 times 7, yet, removing consequences from negative behaviors, is also ungodly, as reciprocity is the foundation of salvation and created the necessity of Jesus Christ dying for our sins as the substitutionary Lamb of God.

Conclusion

No matter how you approach the subject of church discipline, without it the church does not function as Christ intended, any more than allowing a child to only have its own way and become spoiled would be a function of parenting. 

And it is in knowing when it is time to turn the cheek, shut up, or debate and correct, that the Holy Spirit must guide us. 

However, when it comes to problems within the church that breed sin, it is our responsibility, and in accordance with Matthew chapter 18, that we must address these problems, and become willing to feel uncomfortable in any situation.  Otherwise, who is the Lord, and who is the servant.      

Brent 

Endnotes

1.  Sources:     Chalfant, John W., “Abandonment Theology – The Clergy and the Decline of American Christianity, America – A Call to Greatness”, Winter Park FL, 1999.

2.  Christian Psychology

Christian Psychology is not any better than secular psychology, is a true misnomer.  Having been classically trained in psychology, as well a theological education based upon the Bible; it is my personal opinion, along with other highly credible sources, such as: John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, Jay Adams, Ed Bulkley, Martin Bobgan, and many others (almost all of those classically trained, licensed, certified and credentialed in psychology as some point in their lives): that psychology is not a science, nor can it be mixed with Christianity without doing a disservice to both.  While many good-hearted Christians, that are psychologist refer to themselves as Christian psychologist, this is an oxymoron, it is an attempt to mix oil in with water.

Matthew 6:24 says: “No one is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and he will love the other, or else he will be devoted to the one, and he will despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”  

We understand that the direct context of Jesus statement regards serving the desires to gain money as compared to serving God, however, the principle concerning the inability to serve God and anything else is still the same.  What ever competes with God as that influence which structures your life is in opposition to your servitude to God.  

I’m not saying you can’t be a believer and be a psychologist.  I am saying that you cannot serve God with the same commitment and hold on to the precepts of psychology which are antithetical to God’s teaching in the Bible on almost every subject.  Attempting to present your own presuppositions, then adding a few Scriptures which may or may not support your presuppositions, is not the same as letting the Bible stand on its own and following it directly.  

You are using God in the Bible as a prop to support your own worldview.  I have never met a Christian psychologist that doesn’t utilize psychology as his main presupposition attempting to find Scriptures to validate his psychological worldview.  

I’ve tried it myself, it does not work.  This is not to say that certain tools that are used by psychologist cannot be used by believers, because these tools are ways of addressing human issues were not created by psychology, psychology observe them and claim them as their own.  

Such as Kevin Leman’s Birth Order observation, or many other observations within psychology based upon human observation, especially when it comes in regards to behaviorism, which is antithetical to most other psychoanalytic modalities, or modalities wherein they set their own presuppositions by presenting that the only way to deal with current behavioral issues is by addressing past events.  

Wherein the client is observed as a victim, where there are no absolutes, where the answers to life’s problems are only found within by the person themselves.  All of these views, especially seen in the current popular Carl Rogers form of a person centered therapy’s are at odds with the Bible on all of the subjects.  

Psychology presents man as a victim, wherein there is a rationalization for his behavior, and understanding, compassion, and emotional and cognitive healing are his greatest need.  The Bible presents man as a sinner in need of salvation, wherein forgiveness and responsibility to fulfill the will of a just and loving God is his highest calling.  (if you have any questions concerning this, please feel free to contact me, and I will list other source reference material, so that you can scrutinize the subject on your own.)

3.  Matthew 18:15-20 – “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

4.  2 Timothy 2:15 – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

5.  1 Timothy 5:8 – “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever

6.  The Greek word used for “brother” here is froadelphos and come from two words, (as a connective particle) and delphus (the womb); a brother (literally or figuratively) near or remote, brother, not friend, or even enemy. 

7.  Matthew 18:21-22 – “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’
is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

I have added the below statement concerning psychology taken from last’s article for those who did not read that article to give you greater insight into this subject

Conclusionary Statement Concerning Psychology
Whenever I speak utilizing what may be considered psychological tools (such as: “Thinking Errors“) or approaches – I always need to make the following statement.

Personal Note:
As a licensed and certified counselor who specializes in substance abuse, as it is related to interpersonal relationships, dual diagnosis, personality and mood disorders; who has been classically trained in many different psychological modalities; I find none of them correct in themselves to deal with the problem of the soul and spirit of man.

ADDED
Having studied almost every psychological modality, I can unequivocally state that every one of these are a man centered pursuit, and therefore doomed to ultimate failure as it not only neglects God; but in almost every case is antithetical to God.  There is an old proverb used by a parent to a child which states: “show me your friends, and I will show you your destiny.”

The point is, though it is our own actions which we are held accountable for, it is observationally true that there is a definite connection between those that we associate with and our own character, or lack of it.  Those that feel the necessity to be identified in the field of psychology display a presupposition, a vulnerability to be accepted within those ranks, and as such; display a lack of preeminence of God in their lives.

This may be a display of spiritual blindness for those that are believers, or at the least call themselves so; or simply a bad choice (when a believer spends years in college studying psychology, they are highly invested; it is this investment that corrupts their discretion concerning God in His Word – life always comes down to choices).

Christ said it well (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13), “no man can serve two masters...”  And for those that believe that man-made psychology has the answers to life; by necessity cannot believe that the Bible has the sole answer to the human condition.  I’ve met many professed believers who have convinced themselves that psychology is neutral; neither good, nor evil.  This choice to be blind towards psychologies antithetical nature concerning that which is biblical – does not invalidate the condemnation that they will receive for such beliefs.

There are those of us that attempt to play the role of Daniel, that of working within a corrupt system in order to fulfill God’s Will, without being corrupted ourselves.  However, this can only be done when one acknowledges that the system is corrupt to begin with, because it is opposed to God.

It was Daniel and his three friends who stated that the dietary requirements of the King were wrong (because it violated God’s direction from His Word), and that God’s Word was superior.  They were braving, even breaching the subject that the current system could be incorrect, but they stood their ground for God; which is witnessed when ever they were persecuted at later points for refusing idol worship, and violating God’s Word.

And for those that attempt to mix psychology and the Bible, all you have to do is listen to their teachings in order to understand that they follow Roger’s presupposition of being “Client Centered” (which many popular modalities incorporate), as opposed to being “God centered,” wherein they violate the Bible and biblical teachings at every juncture.

It has, and will always be the analogy of “oil and water,” and as these individuals become more and more enamored in psychology, they harden their heart against God in the process; by hardening their heart against His Word.

Having spent hundreds of hours, mandated by my licensure; as well as certification, to study many different forms of therapeutic approaches, along with their underlying tools; I can wholeheartedly say that they are man centered, man created, and unbiblical; even those calling themselves Christian psychology, and or Christian counseling.

I have always maintained a 4.0 grade average, while always on the Dean’s list.  Yet, to do so I have learned what to do, concerning test and assignments – I answer their questions according to what they have taught both in the classroom and text, not giving them my belief concerning their statements, but answering their statements according to their own presuppositions and understandings.

Yet, in the classroom or otherwise, I have never compromised my belief system; sharing with all that I disagreed with the psychological approaches, yet displaying that I understood what they had taught, though I disagreed with it.

Those professors that adamantly disagreed with me were always held captive by the premise that higher education is to provide information that the student is to fully and completely understand, yet when it comes to his own practice, the graduated student is to utilize what he chooses to be the most efficient and effective forms of counseling.  They essentially made it so I could never be penalized for my antithetical views to their own presuppositions.

Psychology:
This is not to say that certain observations and tools used within psychology are not effective, and efficient – they are, worldly speaking  (in achieving humanistic ungodly goals – which in the end contaminate the soul).  Yet, if the observations are correct, it is not because they come out of psychology, but because psychology has observed human nature, and attempted to take credit for what was part of the development and workings of interpersonal relationships.  Let me give you an example.

Psychology gains its credibility based upon its observations (which are to be separated from their tools / treatment and conclusions), yet this does not mean that it is successful, but that it simply appears to be correct wholly based upon its observations, as compared to the end goal of helping an individual deal with problems.  The first problem in this statement is that who defines what the problem is, and how to deal with it, and what is the correct answer.

Psychology is man based and therefore man makes all these determinations.  Yet, one of these determinations is that the concept of God is a sign of emotional or cognitive sickness. (However, the believer must seek all these answers in God’s Word according to God’s Will, which is always antithetical to man’s will and presuppositions, though man was created in God’s image; after his creation, through the act of willful disobedience and not trusting God in faith, man became a fallen creature that is corrupted through and through.  As they say, you cannot use a sick mind to cure a sick mind.)

It is these observations that give psychology the credibility with the masses, who are biblically illiterate as a whole.

Let me give you an example concerning its observations. 

Anyone could observe a dog.  How they eat, how they sleep, how they bark, how they interact with other dogs and other animals; their ability to think through complicated situations, and what they need to survive both in the human world and animal kingdom.  Anyone that has spent any amount of time documenting and studying their behavior would in time be able to predict certain conclusions based upon patterns.

This is where psychology has gained its credibility, such individuals as Kevin Leland, who came up with the observation of personality traits according to birth order, who merely studied humanity until patterns emerged – anyone could do it.  Time after time certain observations made in psychology gain credit merely because patterns are identified and understood concerning conclusions.

This is where the credibility of psychology comes in, wherein the patients listening to the practitioner is amazed; yet, these observations have been present for all of humanity, studied in what was formerly referred to as philosophy (Greek: for the “love of knowledge”), which has always dealt with the makeup of man and his relationship to his Creator and environment.  Yet, psychology (Greek: for the “study of the soul”), which is still in the infancy of development (less than 200 years old), merely utilizes tools of previous philosophers and scholars concerning the observation of man and his behaviors in order to come to conclusions.

Yet the problem is, utilizing the allegory of the dog, is that by those observations one could make predictions of behavior; yet these predictions would never explain the origin of the dog, the true inner makeup of the dog, the dog’s future, nor evaluate the correctness of its behavior.

The first problem is psychology begins with the premise that man is an animal, and for those Christians that try to mix psychology and Christianity do so while corrupting the presuppositions that are innate to all forms of psychology (there are over 250 modalities, types of psychology), by defying foundational presuppositions, and the Bible as well.

One such example is the common denominator within a majority of those psychological modalities which are currently popular, is what is referred to as “client centered” (man centered) in their approach.  However, the Christian must be God centered in his belief system.  Man centered psychology believes that all the problems that man may have are answered from within them (each person has their correctness inside), and that the counselor strives to help them find those answers within themselves, only as a facilitator; yet always guiding the client towards ungodly presuppositions, claiming that their services are benign; wherein reality they have eternal consequences.

The field of psychology has always begun with certain presuppositions; rather stated, hidden, or even known by some of its current practitioners.

There are many types of psychology; consequently, there are many different groupings of these presuppositions.  A random listing might consist of: Determinism, ExperimentalismReductionism, Naturalism, and Relativism.  Others might also add Materialism, Evolution,Empiricism, Humanism, and even Occultism.

Therefore, it is only according to the guiding principle and foundation of the Bible that anything in psychology can be loosely handled – such as, what is referred to the observation of “Thinking Errors,” which are simply patterns of excuse making and rationality, in order that a person can rationalize negative behavior which we as Christians call sin.

ADDED
These observations may be correct – and as such dealing with them on their own basis is as far as one should go; going any further concerning the simple observations, that of utilizing psychological remedies or treatment, do so by violating Biblical principles in the pursuit.

Recognizing these observations, these patterns; can become beneficial only in pointing out these deficiencies, which biblically speaking are acts of sin; to the individual so as to confront their sense of denial.

It is in confronting denial that these tools hold any validity, yet from this point it is the Bible and only the Bible that has the answers.  The Bible is full of Scriptures which speak about the confrontation of denial, especially noted whenever you find the phrase “… did what was right in his own eyes.”

 The Following is a short Essay on “Thinking Errors”:

The following was used with inmate populations – a written handout – and is meant to serve as an example only.  Not this is merely a presentation not an endorsement, nor a representation of what I personally believe – please see my personal statement below

THINKING ERRORS

Introduction
Inborn to all humans is the desire to think we are right.  The thief will always rationalize his larceny, the liar his fabrication, and the adulterer his indiscretion.  As the foregoing illustrates, we even devise new words that sound less offensive and attempt to soften our wrong doings.  Even if our pride compels us to admit we are wrong because we are caught red-handed, and we supposedly assume responsibility for our actions, internally we still justify why our wrong actions were really legitimate.

Some examples of those internal justifications are, “well that’s just the way I am,” or “everybody knows I have a bad temper, it just gets the best of me,” or “that was what I was taught,” “everyone has a bad day every so often,” or even, “well my heart was in the right place.”  However, these excuses are just that, excuses; and with repeated use seem to affect their consciousness out of existence.

Conscious
A person can rationalize many bad behaviors with their mind but their feelings are not convinced, in spite of the fact that they drown their emotions and refuse to listen to their guilt or shame.  After repeatedly refusing to listen to their emotions (Guilt, shame, remorse, conviction, values, principles, or beliefs), their conscious becomes hard, rigid, scarred and non-pliable.

They misuse and abuse their conscious to the point that they can not live with themselves if they allow themselves to own up to the wrong that they repeatedly do and plan to keep doing.  To do otherwise, they would be incongruent, inconsistent, and fake with a double standard in the way they live their lives.  The rationale they use to live with themselves is called denial.

Denial
Denial is the defense mechanism that we use to protect something that is wrong.  It is the way we excuse negative behavior and wrong thinking.  It will either, present a reason that our wrong actions or thinking was really right or divert attention from the real issue at hand, which is, we are wrong.  When humans find themselves in a difficult place of trying to hide or excuse wrong behavior, denial is the prefect tool with many forms that empower it.

With use, denial becomes automatic and we are not even aware of it or how it has tainted our thinking.  Some have given denial an acronym that spells out denial.  Don’t Even kNow I ALying.  Denial not only hinds and protects our bad behavior, but it hides itself.

It is the worst wrong of all wrongs, because it’s job is to hind all other wrongs covertly.  Denial goes beyond being just a tool, to become a technique and a life style.  The reason for this is because of the habituation that becomes apart of our defensive rationale, which in turn corrupts our thinking process.

Denial assumes many faces, which when habitually practiced becomes ways of thinking, they are called, “Thinking Errors.”

Thinking Errors
It has been wisely said that negative thought processes can perpetuate problematic behavior and result in the generation of negative consequences rather than assisting in our problem solving and the creation of alternative solutions to our daily dilemmas.  Some common thinking errors are:

Anger  Is usually a secondary emotion that hides or is a reaction to a primary emotion: fear, jealousy, or envy.  It can also be a mental reaction to: rejection, resentment, greed, self-centeredness or other negative thoughts or events.

Assuming  Thinking I know what others need, want, expect, or think, without asking them if I am correct.  Usually leads to anger. 

Catastrophizing  Assuming the worst has or is going to happen.

Generalizing  Making assumptions about people based on limited Information. 

Blaming  Making others somehow responsible for my behavior.  Usually used in conjunction with Victim Stance. 

Closed Channel  A strong, single focus of thought that wipes out other options for action. I do not hear or see the things that might change my mind. 

Cut off & Corrosion  A strong, single focus of thought that sets itself up as the only choice to a pending decision.  We find reasons to do what we wanted to do all along by discrediting all other options.  This is a legalistic rationalization designed to have only one answer to a question, ours. 

Excuse Making  The habit of finding reasons why we did not do something we should have done or said we would do. 

˜Euphoric Recall  Thinking of only the past “good old days,” without remembering the bad that followed.  We don’t focus on the outcome of negative behavior and consequently don’t deal with or thinking about possible negative consequences that occurred, and can occur again.

Isolation  The belief that it is irresponsible or wrong to ask for help or support.  We think that people are either in control or are controlled by others and we try to manipulate rather than ask for what we need.

Justifying   The habit of finding reasons for what we do.  Why our behavior is logical and correct.

Lack of time perspective  The desire for Instant Gratification.  An unreal expectation of how long something should take in light of our desire to have it prematurely. 

Lying  An habitual behavior for some, lying is used as a defense to confuse, distort or take the focus away from the liar’s behavior. 

Commission  Making up things that aren’t true.

Omission  Leaving things out…only speaking part of the truth.

Assent  Pretending to agree to stop an argument or something incompatible or to look good.

Minimizing  Trying to make negative actions, events or behavior appear small and trivial. 

Power Thrust  Using loud or aggressive behavior or emotional manipulation to get our way.  Often there is a threat of violence of some type. 

Perfectionism  Expecting everything to be done our way or else it is wrong.  Generally our expectations are extremely high. 

Rationalization  Any and every attempt to say what I am doing is ok, because…. 

Shifting Focus  Directing attention away from our behavior or ourselves, onto a different person or situation.

Suggestibility  Going along with someone else’s idea when we know it might not be right.  We do this to look good or be liked; it also gives us someone else to blame if it goes bad.

Super-Optimism  Refusing to entertain the possibility of any negative outcome to our ideas, plans, or actions.  Other people get caught in or suffer the consequences… not us.

Uniqueness  Feeling that we are different from everyone else.  We are special, entitled to whatever we want or rationalize we deserve.  We don’t deserve the same negative consequences as others do.

˜Victim Stance  We believe that bad things always happen to us and that we are always the victims, we always lose.  Our behavior seems to beg for the help of others, but we find reasons that the help that is offered will not work.  Because we are the victim we are not responsible for what happens and we always avoid the responsibility for anything.

˜Zero State  A state of mind where all options for positive change are unavailable.  We are helpless, hopeless and can see nothing that can save us.

The Rationale of Utilizing Thinking Errors
Thinking errors concretionize (go from something fluid, flexible, and deliberate; to something rigid, petrified, and automatic) with use, and so corrupt our thinking process, that our belief system is polluted.  We become what we think.

If we lie all the time, we must rationalize it, and therefore we keep lying about being a liar (because, a liar is one who practices lying) to ourselves as well as everyone else.

Therefore, since it took practice to become a liar, it takes practice to un-become a liar.  The same is true about thinking errors.  As it took habituation for thinking errors to become embedded in our lives, it will take the habituation of stopping the thinking errors, for us to start to think more healthily (honest and true).

Consequently, the first step is to identify thinking errors.  The list above is for this purpose, to help you find and acknowledge thinking errors in your life.  The following tool should help accomplish this in a effective, user-friendly, and thorough manner.

Correcting a Thinking Process so as to Change a Belief System
RIP is an acronym that stands for Realize-Identify-Practice.  RIP is used to aid in burying your old (untruthful and therefore, self-defeating) thinking errors, which corrupt your belief system (worldview), and help in creating a new (truthful and therefore, self-affirming) belief system.

The Solution

Realize.  It has been said that realizing something is wrong is 50% of solving the problem, at this point, you see there is a problem; it is at this painful point that you choice to have eyes to see.

Identify.  From here, you must recognize how the problem is manifesting itself, what particular way is it showing itself, what exactly are you doing?  At this point you must focus your eyes so as to identify the precise thinking (or behavior), so you can correct it from happening again.

Practice.  Finally, you must choice to prepare for not doing it again by practicing in your mind what is wrong, and what is right and committing to it:

1. Telling yourself it was wrong thinking; because you can see what it was denial.

2. Identifying the exact type of denial.

3. Exposing to yourself what it was and that you choice to not let it continue.

4. Concretionize (make real and solid) your commitment to correct this thinking error by putting it to paper, and thereby examining and dissecting it, piece by piece.  This is the stage of change, where you tell yourself that you will not continue in this thinking error because you can see it is a lie (use a Think Error sheet to dissect and understand your denial).

5. At this point, you must confess to someone who you have been lying to yourself and others; you told a lie now tell the truth.  Back yourself into a corner, by confessing you are choosing not to continue to use this lie to rationalize your behavior.

Conclusion
Change is not easy, especially in your thinking process, but it is possible.  How many times have you changed your mind about something, hopefully a lot, otherwise you must be perfect, and it is this kind of thinking that must be changed the most, pride.  We must humble ourselves enough to allow ourselves to become people of change.  For it is people who are constantly changing for the better that are becoming better people.

If you want to keep on living in denial, being the only one who really believes the lies you keep telling others and yourself, looking like a fool to the world, not growing as a person, being self-centered, serving only your own purposes, staying a child; then go ahead, there are prisons, jails, halfway houses, hospitals, mental wards, and homeless shelters, that you can spend the rest of your life (all of these places are good and necessary, but they are only meant to be temporary, not permanent) in.

A Personal Note ~ My Thoughts
The use of thinking errors has been practiced in the state prison system of Texas (Texas Department of Criminal Justice, TDCJ) when dealing with felony offenders who have substance abuse issues, they are used within a secular environment where utilizing the Bible directly is prohibited.  I no longer utilize any of the psychology based tools, such as thinking errors; and therefore presently do not practice as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) within the state corrections facilities.

I still maintain my licensure and certification as a Certified Criminal justice professional (CCJP),though I do not practice based upon my convictions that the Bible is the only adequate source of dealing with man’s problems.  

So please do not think I am defending these tools or observations, I’m simply presenting them in an effort to explain why psychology has been given credibility by the masses.

If an individual starts a process of addressing their own self-denial by using secular tools such as thinking errors, and life becomes better than it was before where they were trapped in their addiction and their criminality. They may even become rich and live in a palace, and have all the things money can buy, and maybe they won’t be alone, but they will be miserable, because things don’t buy true joy.

They may have a form of happiness.  Happiness is due to good things that happen (which is the root of the word “happiness”) to us, but it is temporary at best and always fleeting.

What makes life full, and brings contentment (the feeling of satisfaction) is joy.  Joy is an inward form of contentment, a peace based upon how we feel about our God and ourselves, and the relationship between the two (which explains why a true believer can lack joy when he is out of fellowship with God, even though he is still a believer, and destined for heaven. We can rob ourselves of joy by disobeying and not trusting God in faith).

Joy  is expressed outwardly by peace, and you don’t get it by being self-centered and always thinking you are right, and in always demanding to have your own way.  You don’t get it by acting like there is no God, except yourself (little god), and expecting your will to be done on earth.  You will never achieve the peace of joy, if you continue to keep lying to others, to prove how you are right, or that your wrong is not wrong, you will not even get it if you manage to correct yourself denial and errant thinking process.  The only way to achieve true joy is through the Lord, and a commitment to him in his word as the basis for how you live your life, surrendered to Him, committed to Him.

If all that you do is use psychological tools such as “Thinking Errors,” and never go on the conclusion which is most important in life, concerning who God is and who you are, and that He is worthy of your trust and faith; you will have a better life on this earth, but it is the eternity to come you will face the greatest regret ever conceived (this is wholly inadequate – hell is beyond our own conception)  Think about it….

 Brent 

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Faith Bible Ministries Blog ~ An Online Study of the Bible

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This online Bible study series addresses primary New Testament words in their original language - Koinè Greek - as opposed to mainly using the English translations; which is like adding color to a black-and-white picture.

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"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

Faith Bible Ministries

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

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