This morning, my mind has not a singular thought, but rather, the subject of extremism is on my mind. This is a vast subject that cannot be searched out in a few words, but we will attempt to look at a few extreme things as taught by some from things contained in God's word.
Extremism comes in many different forms. It rarely comes with a big red suit, horns, pitchfork, and tail saying, "I am the devil." Most often, the extremes that the devil sends forth are appealing to the eye, and they cause men to lust and be drawn away after it. A very studied elder told me (shortly before my ordination), "The devil comes at ministers in two different ways. He attacks you sometimes doctrinally, and at other times, morally. Generally, ministers are more apt to fall into one or the other, and sometimes both, but the devil will try to get a foothold in one of those two areas."
Doctrinally, one can find the extremes in many places. One subject is that of peace. We are told that Christ is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). However, we are also told that some men will cry, "Peace, peace" when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:11) So, do we seek peace, or is war our course? To answer this question depends on the situation. Peace should be maintained with the guidance of the One who holds it. However, He has also told us to stand fast against the wiles of the devil. We ought to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 3) Therefore, we should not allow or tolerate unsound things, but we should not try to find something to pick apart when things are peaceful in Zion.
Another subject would be the death of our Saviour. Some say that wicked men killed Him, while others contend that He laid down His life. Both of these concepts are true, and neglecting either of them is an extreme viewpoint. The wicked men that crucified Him did everything within their power to kill the Prince of Life. (Acts 7:52) When He bowed His head and gave up the ghost, they were confident that they had accomplished what they intended to do. However, the Lord said that no man would take His life from Him, but that He would lay it down of His own will to raise it again at His design. (John 10:18) Therefore, both are true, and neither gives us the full picture by itself.
Another subject is that of our sufferings in this life. Does God, the devil, or our own accord bring about those sufferings? The answer is all three depending on the circumstance. The Bible is replete with examples of the Lord's people that God punished for their transgressions (children of Israel in the wilderness). The Bible also talks of Job's misery that the devil gleefully wreaked, and again, it speaks of the men themselves causing their destruction. (Proverbs 26:27) So, all three are found, and trying to apply one of them across the board will not work.
Likewise, how is
one blinded to the gospel? Again, the Bible speaks of the Heavenly Father not
revealing some things to them. (Matthew 11:25) It also speaks of the god of this
world blinding their eyes. (II Corinthians 4:3-4) In others, the men themselves
(due to their own pride) resisted the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:1-4)
So, we find that extremism is everywhere, and may we be found rightly dividing
(applying) the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15) The Bible (in its entirety) is
true and without error. However, we must strive to find the correct application
for the particular passage, for without that, we will end up confused and blind
to the teachings and promises of God.