Notice the five traits Paul speaks of in verse 20 (see the chart on page 13):
Bringing into bondage.
Being devoured (being preyed upon).
Being taken from (stealing).
Being exalted over.
Being smitten on the face.
People put the edicts and opinions of designated rulers above their own perceptions of truth, logic and intuition. Do you?
Prominent mental trap
Have you meditated upon some reasons that intelligent people sometimes allow people with religious titles to take advantage of them?
One main reason is the faulty concept about "God's government on earth."
This prominent mental trap among Church of God people has created problems for many.
It has influenced people to become passive in their mental observations, including their views concerning religious matters!
Notice some of the bolder psychological traps.
- "We are God's government on earth."
- "We are the group with the mantle and baton."
- "We are the only true church."
- "We are the only ones doing 'the work.'"
- "We are the Philadelphians. If you leave our church, you will go through the tribulation."
- "If you leave our church, you will go into the lake of fire."
- "If you do not accept the 18 truths, you do not have access to God."
- "If you do not accept Herbert Armstrong's teachings, you will not be in the first resurrection."
- "If you reject [name withheld; however it could be any of many names] as Mr. Armstrong's successor, then you are rejecting God."
- "Not just anyone can attend our church service. We have a closed-door policy."
- "A person should not read literature or listen to tapes from other churches."
Over the past decade I have talked with hundreds of people who have become thoroughly disillusioned with church rulership.
Do you know what irritates many saints more than bold proclamations? It is the camouflaged traps about "God's government on earth."
When a person goes walking in the forest, a camouflaged trap is much more dangerous than an obvious trap. The same is true about psychological traps that are disguised.
In one paragraph a group will write that the Body of Christ is a spiritual organism. A few paragraphs later the same people will connect the spiritual Body to a physical ruler or group of rulers.
In one breath a group will claim that God's church is not gathered solely in their group. A few breaths later the same people will say that their group has the mantle and baton from God.
In one moment a group will say that the people of God are distributed among many branches of the Church of God. A few moments later the same people will claim that they are "the" continuation of "the work."
In one paragraph a group will mention that it uses the Bible to promote cooperation with other branches of the Church of God. A few paragraphs later the same people will describe the numerous policies that restrict their group's interaction with other branches of the Church of God.
In one instant a group will acknowledge that people in different branches of the Church of God are brethren. A few instants later the same people will discipline members of their group for attending the Feast at a site of another branch of the Church of God.
In one moment a group will explain that it is not exclusive. A few moments later the same people will exclude teenagers from participating with their group.
A representative of a group will mention that he is a minister of Jesus Christ who is committed to God and the Bible. However, when a conflict arises involving a biblical principle and a corporation policy, he will emphatically proclaim, "I am a company man."
Deluded but wrong
Have you considered this: Are the rulers with religious titles themselves caught in the psychological traps they spring upon other people?
Would rulers deliberately practice the class system that Jesus condemned? (Matthew 23:6-12). Or are they deluding themselves because of the seductiveness of power and prestige?
Would rulers deliberately receive excessive compensation from the gospel? Or are they deluding themselves because of the enticement of money, a big-business perspective and job security?
In Paul's past he had hurt saints. After Paul repented he followed the example of Jesus. (See chart at left.)
Paul did not have dominion over the faith of the saints (2 Corinthians 1:24).
Paul did not receive excessive compensation from the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:7-12, 23-28).
Would you have appreciated Paul? Or would you have been befuddled by rulers with religious titles?