Contrary Spirits and Troublemakers

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
–Matthew 7:6–

When you are involved in theology or philosophy, there is a path of reasoning that you can pursue in which you sort out wrong ideas and right ones. This is called a theological or philosophical “argument,” and if Christians are to be involved in this, which they are, they should do so in a way that is characterized by gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15). What is often called “judging,” and is condemned under the censure of “judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matt. 7:1), is often just reasoning, and is not about put-downs, insults, and the nitpicky chewing out that I think Jesus is referring to when he speaks against judging. In Matthew 7:5, just four verses after saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” he says, “You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye!” Jesus judges the man, calling him a hypocrite, a pretender, an actor. Accusing him of being a false Christian who is merely pretending to be good, but whom on the inside, is rotten and mean-spirited. The hypocrite had a plank in his eye. He had a felony on his record currently; a capital offense presently; a mortal sin. But he had the audacity to criticize this other person who had but a speck in his eye; a misdemeanor currently; an honest mistake that anyone could make, which was easy to do; a venial sin. Matthew Henry said:

Here is a good rule for reprovers, Matthew 7:5. Go in the right method, first cast the beam out of thine own eye. Our own badness is so far from excusing us in not reproving, that our being by it rendered unfit to reprove is an aggravation of our badness; I must not say, “I have a beam in my own eye, and therefore I will not help my brother with the mote out of his.” A man’s offence will never be his defence: but I must first reform myself, that I may thereby help to reform my brother, and may qualify myself to reprove him. Note, those who blame others, ought to be blameless and harmless themselves. Those who are reprovers in the gate, reprovers by office, magistrates and ministers, are concerned to walk circumspectly, and to be very regular in their conversation: an elder must have a good report, 1 Timothy 3:2, 7. The snuffers of the sanctuary were to be of pure gold.

“A man’s offence must never be his defence.” That can’t be all he’s got to stand on to be in God’s will. What else should he have in his defense? As a criticizer, he should have this in his defense: that he bears the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). But if there is found in him a great amount of sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension, faction, envy, drunkenness, or orgies (Gal. 5:19-21), then you can be sure that his critiques and judgments are most likely not in line with the Holy Spirit, but coming from a natural source: the carnal, natural reasonings of the human brain, and nothing additional or divinely aided. People that get involved in theological debates are not likely involved in fornication, idolatry, drunkenness, or the occult. But they could very well have lots of baggage with demon spirits, or natural and unmortified inclinations, that tend to hatred and fighting, fits of rage, and selfish ambition.

Such people often have what I call contrary spirits. These spirits may or may not be demonic, but they basically come down to a contradictory attitude. You say white, they say black; you say green, they say red; you say left, they say right; you say up, they say down. Its not really logical or about reasoning things out intellectually. Its based on picking a fight with you, because they don’t like you, and they just want to contradict you. Jonathan Edwards said that the godly man “has a mean opinion of the contrary spirit, and that, not only in others, but in himself. He looks upon it as a dishonorable and hateful spirit.” Jesus said that contrary people are like dogs or pigs; and that you should not throw your theological pearls to them, or else they will tear you to pieces with their words (Matt. 7:6). I’ve said in another place that theologians and pastors should not censure people who ask theological questions. But at the same time, I don’t think preachers should throw their pearls to swine. The difference is obvious: an inquisitive soul will have an inquisitive, curious, and prying spirit, and might get excitable at times, but will be reasonable throughout a discussion, and the subjects that are touched upon. But a dog, or a pig-like man (pigs are dirty, aggressive animals), will only have the presence of mind to contradict you; and have not that many reasons for why, other than that they made a contrary statement against what you said. And they will make it known that they don’t like you and your views, just because they don’t. These people are not spiritual seekers, they are just troublemakers. So, I’d say Jesus would have us to ignore such troublemakers.

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