There was a recent article on the Internet about the extreme immoral behavior of Joseph Smith, the Founder of the Mormon Church. I was surprised to discover that the source of the information was the Mormon Church itself! Predictably, many Mormons reacted with anger. Some were defensive and in denial.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my own religious background. As a teenager I began to read the Bible for myself and questioned some of the teachings of my church. Consequently, I was eventually asked to give up my membership—which was painful because of all my relatives and friends who were still part of this religious movement.
As years have gone by, however, I’ve seen significant changes doctrinally. Many who are still members have come to understand the true gospel of God’s grace and are being used to bring renewal to this group of people. Who knows what God may still do in the Mormon Church!
My assistant here in our Renewal ministries once served as a pastor in a large cult—The Worldwide Church of God. After the founder died, he and a large number of other pastors helped lead the denomination through a lengthy period of doctrinal reform. It was a painful experience for many members. Some became angry and stopped attending. Others continued in denial and refused to change. However, many others were thankful for the changes and their new understanding of God’s Word.
Have you ever had to admit that what you believed was wrong? It’s a painful experience. That’s why the Bible tells us to deal gently, patiently, and lovingly with people in such circumstances (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:14-15). That includes asking God to give them the strength to not compromise with the truth.
In my Life Essentials Study Bible, I share this principle from the book of Matthew: “In a secular as well as in a religious world that is more and more departing from biblical values, we are never to compromise the teachings of Scripture.”
Sooner or later, we’ll be tempted to compromise our beliefs and values. When that happens, let’s remember the words of Peter and the other apostles—“We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And let’s always be open to the truth. It is one of the vital keys to spiritual growth!
And when you think about it, isn’t it true that no person or church has a perfect understanding of God’s Word and His will. If it were otherwise, would it really be possible to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18)?