Enemy of Faith: Human Reasoning
Faith sees beyond the physical senses and reasons beyond the human sphere. The limited realm of human reasoning can be damaging to our faith.
A fourth enemy of faith we need to be aware of is human reasoning.
What is human reasoning in this context? It is looking at things from the human perspective—consciously or unconsciously leaving God out of the picture. It is trying to figure out spiritual things on our own. It is looking at the trials of this life with just our physical senses—without “seeing” the unseen hand of God in the picture. Human reasoning can even be assuming that God sees things as we see them.
There are many examples of the problem of human reasoning in the Bible, and one can be found in Matthew 16.
Why do you reason among yourselves?
“Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have taken no bread.’
“But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up?
“‘How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?’” (Matthew 16:5-11).
In this case, the disciples hadn’t brought anything to eat. They were probably hungry and feeling guilty that they had forgotten to bring food. So when Jesus warned them about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, they assumed He was talking about bread to eat. They used human reasoning to determine what Christ was talking about instead of asking Him.
Jesus then had to straighten out their thinking and show them that He was talking about something spiritually deeper. Since He could create enough bread to feed thousands of people, He definitely wasn’t focused on physical food (as they were).
Human traditions must not trump faith
The Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes of Jesus’ time were noted for using human reasoning instead of exploring the evidence and believing what God was showing them.
A classic example is recorded in Mark’s Gospel account. It concerns Christ’s healing of a paralytic while He was preaching in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-5). When healing the man, Jesus forgave him of his sins. The scribes who witnessed the event questioned Jesus’ actions.
“And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Mark 2:6-7).
The reasoning of the scribes was based on ancient traditions and human ideas about what the Messiah would be like. In their minds, Christ couldn’t be God; therefore He couldn’t forgive people. They refused to look at the facts of Jesus’ ministry and admit that their traditions could be wrong.
An enemy of faith
It should be obvious why human reasoning can be an enemy of faith. It is spurred by our human nature and the physical experiences of life. Faith, on the other hand, relies on God, whom we have not seen, and His nature and His plan for all mankind, which are revealed in Scripture. Without God’s Holy Spirit, the human mind cannot grasp that level of thinking. That’s why it takes faith to believe what God says and does.
Human reasoning dismisses the spiritual things we cannot grasp with our physical minds and senses.
Now, is all human reasoning wrong? Not at all. It definitely has its place in secular matters. Scientists, engineers and technicians have to use reasoning to do their jobs. The rub comes when we use human reasoning in spiritual matters instead of going to God and His Word to find the truth.
The source for sound reasoning
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:1-2).
Paul didn’t reason from human philosophies and ideas. He reasoned from a solid source—God’s Word.
The lesson for us: Don’t use human reasoning to try to explain the Scriptures; remember that the Bible interprets itself. It takes diligent digging to find the answers to whatever questions we might have. It also takes a measure of faith.
That’s why human reasoning is another faith killer. If we are relying on our own intellect and suppositions instead of letting God teach us, we are not using faith.
Overcoming the enemies with God’s help
Once again, the four enemies of faith that we have looked at in this series are worry, doubt, fear and human reasoning. Our goal should be to never give in to them and to be strong in the faith at all times. That’s a lofty goal, indeed, but it is obtainable with God’s help.
In order to drive out these four enemies of faith, we need to stay close to God. Whenever we find ourselves entertaining worry, doubt, fear or human reasoning, we need to immediately talk to God about it.
We should ask God to help us grow in faith in our regular daily prayers. But we can also approach Him at any time. We can talk to God while we’re driving, working or eating a meal. The important thing is to talk to Him often, especially when we are being plagued by one of these enemies of faith.
Take time to learn more about living faith in the section on “Faith: Believing and Pleasing God.” Stay strong and keep the faith!