What Do You Believe and Why?

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Although people do not realize it, they may embrace beliefs that are simply not true. How is that possible? It’s because their views have been formed as a result of tradition, hearsay or information not based in fact or properly researched.

Furthermore, people will often adopt the beliefs of their family, group or religion with little or no question. If or when those positions are challenged, people will defend them even if their position doesn’t match the facts. An example of this reaction is described in the following true story.

Elizabeth Kenny and infantile paralysis

In the early 1900s Elizabeth Kenny served as a nurse in the remote Australian outback. She diagnosed and treated people who could not get to a doctor. For example, in 1911 she was called to a farm to help a young girl who was in severe pain and whose legs were seriously impaired.

In a telegram to Aeneas McDonnell, a physician at the Toowoomba, Queensland, hospital, Kenny described the symptoms and asked for a treatment method. Dr. McDonnell thought the symptoms indicated poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis. Although there was no known cure, he advised Kenny to do what she could to deal with the symptoms.

She then treated the girl with applications of moist, warm towels so as to ease the pain and relax the muscle spasms in her legs. Kenny then gently stretched and massaged the muscles. However, the now-relaxed leg muscles would not function. Kenny then worked at retraining them so they could again operate normally.

Not only did the little girl recover completely, but Kenny administered her treatment to five other children in the vicinity who suffered from the same affliction. Each of them regained normal mobility.

Method in conflict with accepted practice

Kenny’s innovative procedure conflicted with conventional medical practice, which was to immobilize affected limbs with casts and splints. She believed that the routine method of treating the disease actually generated its deformities and paralysis. Although Kenny’s new technique was not a cure, it offered significant relief from pain and severe crippling.

Kenny’s treatment brought her into sharp disagreement with many Australian medical authorities. They found it inconceivable that such a simple method, originating with a nurse and not a trained medical doctor, could produce such positive results.

Nevertheless, the resistance Kenny faced did not discourage her from working to help children in need. Although it took nearly three decades, her technique gained some recognition in Australia, where she set up treatment clinics in several cities.

In 1940 the government of New South Wales sent Kenny to the United States to introduce her treatment. Although many American physicians were opposed, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis found it credible.

In June 1940 she demonstrated her method at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis General Hospital. The medical personnel at these institutions recognized Kenny’s procedure as a new model in treating polio. During the 1940s many Kenny treatment centers opened across the United States.

Kenny retired to her home in Toowoomba in 1951. Two years after her death in 1952, a vaccine was developed that led to a rapid decline in the number of polio cases. Kenny’s principles of muscle rehabilitation left an important mark in the medical world. Some have called her the founder of modern physical therapy.

Conventional wisdom often seems correct

Elizabeth Kenny’s story is remarkable in terms of the thousands of children she helped. A larger point however, deals with the intense opposition she encountered for many years from the medical establishment. It is a prime example of what happens when people’s beliefs are challenged by competing facts.

Such beliefs are often described as “conventional wisdom,” which the dictionary defines as “the body of ideas or explanations generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field” (emphasis added throughout). People often feel comfortable with such beliefs because other people feel the same way, including perceived experts and authorities.

For example, through most of the 19th century epidemic illnesses such as cholera and the plague were commonly thought to be caused by poisonous mists in the night air. Also, until the early 20th century, a common way to treat disease was bloodletting. Even though these ideas were later proved wrong, generations of people believed they were valid.

Conventional wisdom is pervasive

Conventional wisdom can be a snare. People of all ages can be held in its grip. It can begin as early as childhood. If, for example, parents and relatives are members of a particular political party, union or religion, children simply assume the views of those organizations are correct.

Even though conventional wisdom is pervasive in both secular and religious society, it’s often faulty. True knowledge comes only from the Creator God and is inherent in the laws He has set in motion to guide people’s lives (Psalms 32:8 Psalms 32:8I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye.
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). It’s each person’s responsibility to carefully examine what they accept as true (John 8:32 John 8:32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
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).

Where does conventional wisdom come from? To understand, we must go far, far back in time.

One of God’s angels, referred to in the Latin translation of Isaiah 14:12 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
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as Lucifer, meaning “light bringer,” was an honored cherub the Bible describes as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12 Ezekiel 28:12Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
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).

This archangel allowed his heart to be filled with pride. It corrupted his character and judgment. Afterwards he led a third of the angels in rebellion against God and attempted to take over God’s heavenly throne. Being no match for Him, they were cast down to the earth (Luke 10:18 Luke 10:18And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
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; Revelation 12:4 Revelation 12:4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
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).

In their rebellion these angels became evil spirits or demons. And Lucifer became Satan—meaning “adversary.” He has ever since incited rebellion and strife in the lives of human beings (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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; 1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
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). He seeks to especially prevent people from understanding God’s marvelous truth by insidiously promoting counterfeit knowledge and wisdom (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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; James 3:13-14 James 3:13-14 13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
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).

The devil is skilled at corruptly influencing humanity because people do not naturally want “to retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28 Romans 1:28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
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; Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
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; see also Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
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). This leaves them easy prey for the devil’s unrighteous influence.

The apostle Paul aptly described Satan-inspired, human wisdom as foolishness (1 Corinthians 3:19 1 Corinthians 3:19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness.
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). He urged people to conduct themselves “not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 Corinthians 1:12 2 Corinthians 1:12For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
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). He cautioned them not to be held hostage to “the commandments and doctrines of men,” which falsely offer “an appearance of wisdom” (Colossians 2:22-23 Colossians 2:22-23 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
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).

Conventional Christian doctrines vs. the Bible

Perhaps you are a Christian and feel you understand the seriousness of what Paul said. You also need to be aware that the apostles and Jesus Christ Himself repeatedly warned about counterfeit Christianity. They also warned of ministers who, being unwittingly motivated by the devil, would promote seriously flawed doctrines (Matthew 7:15 Matthew 7:15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
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; 2 Peter 2:1 2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
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; 2 Corinthians 11:15 2 Corinthians 11:15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
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).

These wrong teachings are often filled with half-truths. That means they appear reputable to many people, but they don’t accurately reflect what the Bible teaches (John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
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; Luke 4:4 Luke 4:4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
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; 11:28).

Here are some conventional beliefs you need to look at, each followed by what the Bible actually teaches:

Conventional doctrine: “Once saved, always saved,” also known as “eternal security.” Biblical truth: An individual can receive salvation from sins through Christ and still, through neglect, ultimately come to reject God, thereby losing salvation (2 Peter 2:21 2 Peter 2:21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
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; Hebrews 2:1-3 Hebrews 2:1-3 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him;
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; Hebrews 6:4-8 Hebrews 6:4-8 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft on it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God: 8 But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose end is to be burned.
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; Hebrews 10:26-38 Hebrews 10:26-38 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst you became companions of them that were so used. 34 For you had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward. 36 For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
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).

Conventional doctrine: The reward for a good life is going to live as a disembodied consciousness in heaven at the time of death. Biblical truth: The dead are not conscious, and no one has ascended consciously to heaven following death except Jesus Christ—after He was resurrected from the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
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, Ecclesiastes 9:10 Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.
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; John 3:13 John 3:13And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
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; Acts 2:29 Acts 2:29Men and brothers, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us to this day.
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, Acts 2:34 Acts 2:34For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit you on my right hand,
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).

Conventional doctrine: You have an immortal soul. Biblical truth: You do not have an immortal soul. A soul can die, and again there is no consciousness in death. Death is compared in Scripture to a lifeless sleep from which people must be awakened in a resurrection (Ezekiel 18:4 Ezekiel 18:4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.
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, Ezekiel 18:20 Ezekiel 18:20The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him.
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; Ecclesiastes 9:5 Ecclesiastes 9:5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
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, Ecclesiastes 9:10 Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go.
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; Daniel 12:2 Daniel 12:2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
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; 1 Corinthians 15:18 1 Corinthians 15:18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
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).

Conventional doctrine: Sunday is the Sabbath. Biblical truth: The seventh day of the week, Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, is God’s Sabbath (Genesis 1:31 Genesis 1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
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- Genesis 2:1-3 Genesis 2:1-3 1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
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; Exodus 20:8-10 Exodus 20:8-10 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
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; Isaiah 58:13 Isaiah 58:13If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words:
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; Mark 2:28 Mark 2:28Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
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).

Conventional doctrine: Jesus was crucified on a Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning, being dead for parts of three days. Biblical truth: Jesus was in the grave for three days and three nights, which cannot fit between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning (Matthew 12:39-40 Matthew 12:39-40 39 But he answered and said to them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
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).

These are just a few examples of many long-established, conventional Christian teachings contrasted with true biblical understanding. Do you see why it’s so important for you to thoroughly challenge what you read, hear and accept as truth?

Jesus Christ resisted conventional religious ideas

Jesus Himself was the best example of challenging the status quo. His teachings and actions persuasively corrected accepted religious notions (Mark 1:22 Mark 1:22And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
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; Matthew 5:21-44 Matthew 5:21-44 21 You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; 24 Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing. 27 You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: 28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It has been said, Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce: 32 But I say to you, That whoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery. 33 Again, you have heard that it has been said by them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself, but shall perform to the Lord your oaths: 34 But I say to you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shall you swear by your head, because you can not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil. 38 You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say to you, That you resist not evil: but whoever shall smite you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue you at the law, and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow of you turn not you away. 43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
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). Jesus told His followers to carefully scrutinize what they were taught and to avoid following the wide, easy way that would lead to their destruction (Matthew 7:13 Matthew 7:13Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
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).

The apostle Paul also encouraged people to “not be conformed to this world” but to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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). You also need to question your religious beliefs by honestly comparing them to scriptural truth (Acts 17:11 Acts 17:11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
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).

True understanding comes from being willing to look outside traditional Christian teachings to what is actually written in the Bible (Isaiah 55:8-9 Isaiah 55:8-9 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
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; Isaiah 66:2 Isaiah 66:2For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
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; 1 Corinthians 1:19-21 1 Corinthians 1:19-21 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
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).

Of course it may be difficult to accept what you learn because you will have to unlearn deep-seated ways of thinking. Discovering that something you believe is wrong can, at first, make you feel uncomfortable. Admitting you have been wrong is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Nevertheless, if you sincerely desire to please your Creator and follow His way of life, you will strive to reject all error and love the truth (3 John 11; 1 Peter 1:22 1 Peter 1:22Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently:
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).

Living by every word of God

Elizabeth Kenny developed a revolutionary method to treat polio. Although many ridiculed her successful procedure, she never gave in to their criticisms. Kenny rejected conventional wisdom and lived by what she knew to be correct. You should also honestly compare traditional Christian doctrines with the Bible. Prove what’s really true!