“What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor 6:15).
“Satan has called this world his territory. Here his seat is, and he holds in allegiance to himself all … who reject a plain, ‘thus saith the Lord.’ They stand under the enemy’s banner; for there are but two parties in the world. All rank either under the banner of the obedient or under the banner of the disobedient” (DG 84).
The Medical Model
In my medical practice I see many different types of diseases. Some skin problems, such as warts, are easily recognized, even by laymen. But sometimes even warts are difficult to diagnose, some warts can cause cancer, and some cancers can look like warts. Experience helps the physician recognize uncommon and unusual presentations of a disease. Experience also teaches the physician to recognize dangers in something that may appear innocuous.
Diagnosing Spiritual Diseases
Diagnosing spiritual disorders is similar to diagnosing medical disorders. Some spiritual diseases that are generally easily recognized, may have unusual presentations that are more challenging to diagnose.
An Example of a Common Spiritual Disease: Infidelity, Unbelief, and Skepticism
“With a fascinating, bewitching power, unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind” (CT 136).
• Epidemic Threatening the Church
“Skepticism and infidelity are increasing everywhere” (5T 681).
“Infidelity prevails to an alarming extent, not in the world merely, but in the church” (GC 583).
“We cannot but look anxiously upon the youth of today as those who must take these burdens, and upon whom responsibilities must fall. These must take up the work where others leave it, and their course will determine whether morality, religion, and vital godliness shall prevail, or whether immorality and infidelity shall corrupt and blight all that is valuable” (GW 68).
“Every conceivable form of error will be accepted by those who willfully reject the truth. He who looks with horror upon one deception will readily receive another” (GC 523).
• Varying Latency Period
“The seeds of unbelief, in some instances, have taken immediate root, while in others they have lain buried quite a length of time, until the individual in whose heart the seed was sown has taken a wrong course and given place to the enemy, and the light of God has been withdrawn from him; then the seeds of infidelity which were sown so long ago have sprung up and borne fruit” (RH 2/12/1880).
Acceptance of infidel arguments ➡︎ God’s law indistinct ➡︎ rebellion against God’s government.
“It is one of Satan's devices to lead the people to accept the fables of infidelity; for he can thus obscure the law of God, in itself very plain, and embolden men to rebel against the divine government” (PP 113).
Infidelity Diagnostic Pearls
The diagnosis of Robert Ingersoll’s bold infidelity is easy for anyone to recognize—He openly scorned the Bible. But infidelity can also present with subtle signs and symptoms that may fool the novice spiritual clinician. To avoid making this mistake it is important to learn to recognize “infidelity under some pleasing disguise” (FE 99). This skill is especially needed today, since “infidelity prevails in many of the churches in our land; not infidelity in its broadest sense,—an open denial of the Bible,—but an infidelity that is robed in the garb of Christianity, while it is undermining faith in the Bible as a revelation from God” (PP 168).
Infidelity Diagnostic Pearl 1: Don’t be mislead by a profession of belief in the Bible (Ja 2:19)
Infidels may profess some belief in the Bible to gain credibility for their disbelief and falsehood.
Everyone can find something to believe in the Bible. Who can’t believe the following statement, “the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald” (Lev 13:40). If the devils themselves have a certain belief in the Bible (Ja 2:19), we should not be surprised that even a blaspheming infidel may claim belief in the Bible. Such betray the Son of God with a kiss (Lu 22:48). We have been warned that in the future [evil] "spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted” (GC 588).
Infidelity Diagnostic Pearl 2:Disbelief in any portion of the Bible is infidelity of all of Bible (James 2:10).
Infidels who try to hide behind portions of the Bible they “accept” are unmasked by the part they reject.
Would a wife be reassured by a husband’s nearly complete faithfulness to her? Would she be pleased with a husband who denounced unfaithfulness in general, while defending limited infidelity?
Those who reject little or much of God’s word are infidels. Whenever we place ourselves above one part of the Word of God, we really are placing ourselves above all the Word of God. “Has God placed His work in such a careless manner, that man could fashion it to suit his own inclinations, receive that which was agreeable to him, and reject a portion?” (1MR 306).
The most damnable of all false teachers is the teacher that explains away one portion of the Bible while professing to accept it all. “We may disguise poison by mingling it with wholesome food, but we do not change its nature. On the contrary, it is rendered more dangerous, as it is more likely to be taken unawares. It is one of Satan's devices to combine with falsehood just enough truth to give it plausibility” (GC 587).
Infidel Example 1: Rejecting the biblical age of the earth
“It makes indefinite and obscure that which he has made very plain. It is infidelity in its most insidious and hence most dangerous form; its real character is so disguised that it is held and taught by many who profess to believe the Bible” (PP 111).
“Infidel geologists claim that the world is very much older than the Bible record makes it. They reject the Bible record, because of those things which are to them evidences from the earth itself, that the world has existed tens of thousands of years. And many who profess to believe the Bible record are at a loss to account for wonderful things which are found in the earth, with the view that creation week was only seven literal days, and that the world is now only about six thousand years old. These, to free themselves of difficulties thrown in their way by infidel geologists, adopt the view that the six days of creation were six vast, indefinite periods, and the day of God's rest was another indefinite period; making senseless the fourth commandment of God's holy law” (3SG 91).
Infidelity Diagnostic Pearl 3: Infidels will join with culture to especially promote disbelief in essential doctrines which are under attack by society (1 Tim 4:1). The infidel arguments of the false prophet will always get a good hearing because people want to believe that their cherished sins are uncondemned by God’s word.
“The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so” (Jer 5:31). However, those parts of the Bible that “you will be least inclined to receive is the very part most needed” (5T 98).
Infidelity Diagnostic Pearl 4: Infidels within the church may be regarded as learned men (John 7:48)
Infidel opinions are often promoted with arguments designed to sound biblical or scientific although they actually neither (1 Tim 6:20; Mt 22:29; 2 Pet 3:16).
They will seek to evade plain Bible truths utilizing predictable methods such as the following:
• The Rabbinical method (Mk 1:22).
Scholarly sounding words with references to ancient manuscripts, Hebrew and Greek, the early church fathers, history, tradition, or hypothetical situations, that make contradictory, vague, and fanciful meanings appear plausible. This produces a smorgasbord of conflicting interpretations from the clearest Bible passages. The meaning of a plain Scriptural passage becomes ambiguous, understandable only to the academic elite.
“The rabbis spoke with doubt and hesitancy, as if the Scriptures might be interpreted to mean one thing or exactly the opposite. The hearers were daily involved in greater uncertainty” (DA 253).
• The out of context method (Ps 56:5; 2 Pet 3:16).
Snippets of texts are wrested from their context which give a meaning far different than God intended.
“In order to sustain erroneous doctrines or unchristian practices, some will seize upon passages of Scripture separated from the context, perhaps quoting half of a single verse as proving their point, when the remaining portion would show the meaning to be quite the opposite. With the cunning of the serpent they entrench themselves behind disconnected utterances construed to suit their carnal desires” (GC 521).
• The soul-winning method
Though departure from the Bible always results in the loss of souls, it will audaciously be asserted that rejecting the plain Bible instruction in some area will bring revival, strengthen mission, retain young people, and invigorate out reach.
This was the argument of the Judaizers in the days of Paul. “They sincerely thought that in taking this medium ground between Jew and Christian, they would succeed in removing the odium which attached to Christianity, and would gather in large numbers of the Jews” (LP 121).
• The ridicule method
Often the disguised infidel attempts to marginalize those who follow the plain reading as ignorant, uneducated, few in number, divisive, extreme, fanatical, and unreasonable, just as they did with Jesus (Joh 7:15, 47-49). They may try to shame those who use plain Scripture in defense of their actions, ridiculing them as employing the “proof text method.”
“As in earlier ages, the special truths for this time are found, not with the ecclesiastical authorities, but with men and women who are not too learned or too wise to believe the word of God” (COL 79).
Paul’s charge to Timothy is God’s charge to us, “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim 6:20).
Stay tuned for part 2 . . .
Phil Mills, MD, is a graduate of the Loma Linda School of Medicine, and a dermatologist in private practice. Phil also enjoys writing and theology.