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What the Bible says about Intellectual Vanity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Luke 15:4

The lost sheep knew that, without the instruction and the care of the shepherd, it was lost. Nevertheless, because of curiosity, it strayed, wandering away from the shepherd (James 1:14). The lost sheep represents the foolish and thoughtless wanderer from God to whom He says, "Do not listen to anything that will lead you away from Me and My truth" (see also Ezekiel 14:11). The caution in Proverbs 19:27—"Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge"—is not just for children but for the well-educated adult who instead listens to the ungodly teachings of those who feign knowledge (II Timothy 4:3-4). How often have Christians allowed themselves to be enticed away by their own intellectual vanity? God corrects this type of person's straying by allowing the curse of his sins to fall upon him.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of Luke 15 (Part One)

1 Corinthians 8:1-2

A cause of Corinth's divided congregation was that the members were flaunting their gifts, claiming they wanted to edify, but the fruits of division showed Paul the real motivation was intellectual vanity - pride.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity

Hebrews 2:3

What had happened to the people to whom the book of Hebrews was written? They were losing—indeed, had already lost—much of their former conviction. Though they had plenty to believe in relation to God, as Paul shows within the epistle, their conviction was dissipating through neglect. They were not working out their salvation (Philippians 2:12); thus, they were losing it!

Conviction is the opposite of superficiality. This does not mean a superficial person cannot be religious. Rather, he may appear religious outwardly, but in terms of a true, inward transformation of the heart, he is lacking, as seen in the absence of zeal in seeking change or in real application of righteousness.

In Paul's judgment, the Hebrews had lost the internal certainty that what they believed was right, trustworthy, and so important that they should willingly give their lives to it. They were allowing other concerns like business, social, and entertainment matters too much time and attention. In the world, the forces of hostile skepticism are everywhere and constantly pressuring a Christian from every angle. The Hebrews' works showed that they were steadily retreating before that pressure.

This world is the Christian's largest, broadest field of battle, and nearly constant influences designed to drive a wedge into our carnality emanate from it. What happens if we neglect the right use of God's gift of faith? Hebrews shows us that a Christian does not immediately "lose it," but as he slowly spirals downward, spiritual life becomes merely an intellectual position to be held, not a striving after righteousness. God becomes merely an object of intellectual thought, not a motivation for change of behavior and attitude to imitate Him. Church attendance and religion become intellectualized but not experiential. That is how Laodiceanism (Revelation 3:14-22) becomes a reality in a Christian's life. This is especially likely to occur when a Christian group is economically comfortable.

God's gift of faith is intended by Him to be intellectual, practical, and motivational. This brings us back to the many examples Paul uses in Hebrews 11 to illustrate how faith is most profitably used. He provides an orderly arrangement of instruction from basic definitions and builds toward the more difficult principles.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 




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