Many years ago I attended a Revival Meeting in a church in Georgia. The special speaker was an elderly pastor who was well known amongst Independent Baptists. (He is now with the Lord.)
He was preaching a message on the subject of consistency. In that message, he made a statement that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “I’ve been in the ministry for over 40 years. If I found out today that something that I’ve been doing for the past 40 years was wrong, I still wouldn’t change because I believe in being consistent.”
Several folks responded with an “Amen”. I didn’t.
I’ll never forget the red flags that went up in my heart when he made that statement. To give him the benefit of a doubt, however, I also remember thinking to myself that perhaps when I get older I’d understand better where he was coming from.
Well over 20 years have gone by and so far I still don’t agree with that statement. Out of respect for who the preacher was I left some reservation in my heart that perhaps the preacher had a point that I wasn’t seeing at the time and that maybe I will see it when I’m “older and wiser”. However, as the years go by, I am even more convinced that he was wrong.
I don’t find anywhere in the Bible where an error becomes OK just because you’ve been committing that error, or believing an error, for a long time. Something wrong doesn’t become right the longer you believe it. It just means that you have been wrong for a long time.
Error is error. Period. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what your God-given position is in life. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve accomplished and how much good you’ve done. It doesn’t matter how big your congregation is. It doesn’t matter how many respect you. It doesn’t matter how educated you are. It doesn’t matter how right you are on so many other things.
A political commentator said one time, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.”
How long you’ve believed something is immaterial as to how true it is. If you found out that something you believed or practiced for many years was wrong, changing to conform to what is right and true is what pleases God. This is called growth. Remaining in error, simply because that’s how you’ve done it for many years, does not impress God. That is how growth is stunted.
God is a God of truth! He is not going to excuse your error just because that’s how you’ve done it or not done it for a long time.
Not changing your mind about something even though you know you are wrong is not being stedfast in the faith no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re being “consistent”. That’s called being stubborn. Sometimes we’ll treat stubbornness and stedfastness as if they are the same. They are not.
When you stand firm for something that is true, you are stedfast. When you stand firm after you are proven to be wrong, you are stubborn.
In the Bible there is no virtue in stubbornness.
1 Samuel 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
Saul had lots of potential. He started out very good and was used of God in the beginning. But he became stubborn and eventually God rejected him when he refused to repent of his stubbornness. At that point, God quit blessing and using Saul. Instead, God replaced him with someone better. From that point, Saul stopped growing and instead only became worse. His life ended tragically and shamefully.
There are a lot of Christians who are not growing anymore. As a result, they have become ineffective for the cause of Christ.
In fact, I have learned that some Christians don’t even want to grow anymore. That is why they don’t want to change. They have become complacent. Stagnant. Stale. As such, they prefer to be in an environment where they can be comfortable in their complacency.
What happens when Christians become complacent and comfortable with their lack of growth is instead of working on themselves they start looking down on others. They must develop a sense of superiority in their minds over others in order to justify their lack of true spiritual progress. They become self-righteous Pharisees.
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees harder than any other group of people in His day. The Pharisees hated Him because in order to conform to the truth they would have to change. Pharisees don’t want change. Pharisees don’t want progress. Pharisees want vain-glory. When you don’t give them the glory they want and instead you challenge them to change they will crucify you. Just ask Jesus.
Don’t be like the Pharisees. Don’t be like Saul. Let’s be more like Jesus. Let’s conform to His image. Let’s change anything in our lives that ought to be changed. That’s called improvement. The day we stop improving is the day we stop growing. When we discover that we are wrong about something, let us not make the excuse that this is the way we have always believed, or always done it, or not done it. Let’s conform to the truth without worrying about what anyone else thinks about it.
I have learned that the less I concern myself with what others may think of me, no matter who they are, the more free I become to just care about being conformed to the image of God’s son. I have learned by experience that when we are willing to let go of our stubborn pride and weak excuses, to grow no matter what, God blesses with fruit, and joy, and peace of mind, and opportunities to glorify Him like never before.
Nobody is perfect and we all say dumb things, even the best of us. But I hope that in my elderly years, I will be giving Christians better advice than to encourage them to remain stubborn and not change when they find out that they are wrong about something. I don’t think that kind of advice pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind“