How To Argue Like A Believer

I am a member of a number of different discussion groups, most of which are religious, meaning they profess to be composed of Christian, Hebraic Roots, or Messianic people.

Too often you wouldn’t know that by how they talk to each other.

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The topic of God, sin, or how to live our lives is a hot potato, no doubt of that, and engenders some really passionate discussion. Passionate is OK, really, so long as it is compassionately controlled. That means you can destroy someone’s argument but when you start to destroy the person making the argument, you have lost.

There are a few verses in Proverbs about arguing with a fool, but not everyone who argues is a fool. In fact, most are intelligent people who, sometimes, just believe in the most ridiculous things. And when we try to convince them of the truth (as we see it), we often feel like we are running headfirst into a brick wall.

And the fact of the matter is…we are.

That is the point at which I often see the discussion devolve into an exchange of personal insults.

Here’s what Socrates said about this condition:

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. 

As Believers, we should represent God well. And what I mean by “Believer” is anyone who professes to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; you may (or may not) accept Yeshua as your Messiah, which isn’t necessary to believe in God. Anyone who believes in God should act in accordance with the way he says we should.  Of course, being human that won’t happen all the time, but that’s no excuse why we can’t make it happen all the time we are in a discussion with others.

I was once told by a boss, whom I respected as my boss and (I am happy to say) still respect as my friend (that’s you, James M.), that what I say is usually the right thing, but I say it the wrong way.  Ultimately, the right thing is lost because of the wrong way I say it.

A proper argument or discussion is when we exchange ideas without anger, and we should never tell the other person what they must believe. If we want to have any chance of convincing them of our position, we must first demonstrate that we respect their right to believe what they choose to believe. If we don’t start off that way, we will never get them to listen to our side. That’s a given. So, before we begin to argue for our side, ask them why they believe in their side. Asking them questions why they believe will give us the ammunition we need to shoot down their “facts”, and we may even learn something new. Just because we believe differently doesn’t mean we are always right.

Sometimes they may be the ones who are correct! If you aren’t willing to listen to their arguments, attentively, then you have already lost, even if you are correct.

There can often be more than one “truth” to a topic, and listening is the best way to realize that.

Never tell anyone they are not spiritual enough (even if they aren’t), or that they don’t know what they are talking about (even when they really don’t) because that is a personal attack, and all you will hear is “Shields up, Scotty!!”  And when that happens, you have lost. And not just lost the argument but lost the chance to possibly save someone’s soul from eternal damnation.

We need to first ask why they believe, and then tell them why we believe otherwise, giving biblical references or established facts. If you don’t know, absolutely, where your facts come from, then be prepared to say “I have heard” or “I was told”, in order to let the other person know you aren’t really sure, but chose to believe.

The best start to winning an argument is not to try to get the other person to believe as you do, but to get the other person to doubt what they believe. That is the first step; once they doubt their facts, then you can provide your reasons why you believe and let them make their own choice.

And if you find yourself getting frustrated with their refusal to accept your ideas, then stop. Recognize that the moment you are frustrated, you are no longer working to spread God’s truth, but to satisfy your own prideful need to be recognized and accepted. At that point, sin is crouching at your door and you must master it before you start to insult the other person.

We mustn’t allow ourselves to represent God poorly, as not only will this weaken our position, but it could also turn the other person, who may not be a Believer, away from God. The very last thing we ever want to hear is someone say to us “And you call yourself a Christian!”

Everyone is given free will to choose what they will believe and since that is a gift from God, who are we to take it away from them? They will be held accountable for what they believe, and when someone believes something that will hurt them, eternally, we should try to convince them of God’s truth, and if they refuse to listen, pray for them.

But never, ever insult them or their beliefs: that won’t change their minds, and in my opinion, is an insult to God.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages, and check out my new discussion group, Just God’s Word .

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

The Spirit of Bilyam in the Modern Body of Messiah

In the book of B’midbar (Numbers), Chapter 22 tells us the story of how Balak, the son of the king of Moab, hired a man named Bilyam (Balaam is how most Christian Bibles spell it) to curse the Israelites, who have just defeated the Emori and now are on the border of his land.

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I think we all know the story: Balak sends messengers to summon Bilyam to curse the Israelites, God tells Bilyam not to go but he ends up going. An angel is sent to stop Bilyam but his ass continues to sidestep the angel until Bilyam gets so angry he beats the ass. That’s when the ass speaks to him and Bilyam sees the angel with drawn sword. God tells Bilyam to continue to go but say only what he is told to say, and Bilyam ends up blessing the people instead of cursing them.

Balak then sends Bilyam back to his own country and right after Bilyam leaves (Numbers 25) the people of God commit the sin of Ba’al-Peor. They were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to partake in their paganistic rituals and worship of the Moabite gods, which resulted in God’s anger being poured out on the Israelites in the form of a plague which took 24,000 lives.

Now, do you recall that even though Balak was infuriated with Bilyam, Bilyam gave Balak advice on how to get God to destroy his own people? No? Well, we are told about it in Numbers 31:16; that is when we find out the sin of Ba’al-Peor was the brainchild of Bilyam!

The Israelites had just defeated Midian and saved the women as spoils of war. Moses is infuriated with the leaders, saying (JPS Tanakh):

Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Bilyam, to revolt so as to break faith with the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.

Aha!! So, even though Bilyamblessed the people, he reverted back to his sorcerer ways and told Balak how he could get the people to make their own God curse them.

That brings me to today’s topic. The same thing that Bilyamdid which resulted in the people of God sinning, which forced God to punish them, is alive and well in the body of Messiah, today!

Anything that is done against the people of God we know originates with Satan, the enemy of God, and what Satan has done is cause dissent, arguing, pridefulness and personal attacks against each other to promulgate itself throughout the congregation of Believers in Messiah, causing them to sin. This sin that Satan introduces within the body of the Messiah weakens the entire body and will cause, just as the advice of Bilam did, God to take action against his own people.

So, nu? How has Satan done this terrible thing? He has introduced the idea that we need to know exactly how to pronounce God’s name and the idea of the Trinity. And just as the people sinned against God when the Moabite women seduced them into worshiping their gods, so, too, people within the congregations who argue and fight against each other about God’s name or whether or not Yeshua and God are the same or different cause God’s people to sin against God.

Please forgive this next statement, but I am sorry to say, these arguments never were an issue before Gentiles were grafted in. Jews have been substituting Adonai, HaShem, Elohim, and other names for God instead of pronouncing the Tetragrammaton for millennia, and God never once had a problem with that. Also, Jews knew of God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) since Day 1, but never ever thought it was the same exact entity as God, himself. And the Messiah was never, in the Jewish mindset, to be God.

This type of seduction into argumentation as a means of separating God’s people is not new: as far back as the early congregations formed by Shaul, he was warning his Gentile Believer congregations against arguing with each other. Here are a few examples:

2 Timothy 2:14Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

Philippians 2:14-15Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” 

Titus 3:2They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

1 Corinthians 3:3…That’s because you are still worldly. As long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, you are worldly and living by human standards, aren’t you?

Besides these warnings, we should also remember all of the warnings in the Book of Proverbs against useless arguing.

I have seen, as you have, so many times when people who are supposed to be Christian or Messianic argue about things that really have nothing at all to do with salvation or knowing God’s desires for us. They start off defending their position, then when the other person refuses to agree, they begin to argue, reverting to name-calling, judging the other person as unfit for God’s kingdom or heretical, calling them spiritually immature or a non-Believer, and eventually reverting to childish, insulting and degrading personal attacks.

These are sins against God. Every sin we commit is first and foremost a sin against God. King David knew this and said so in Psalm 51.

I am not exclusively blaming Gentile Believers for this problem, even though I do believe it started with Gentiles at the end of the first century thinking they can just change all of God’s rules. Today, I see this dissension from all Believers, whether Christian, Hebraic Roots, Messianic, or what-have-you. It is not righteousness that is behind this, but the spirit of Bilam infiltrating the body of Messiah.

The answer to this problem is actually not very complicated: focus on what saves, maintain a position of humility, don’t allow pridefulness to overcome you to the point where you find yourself insulting someone, and never, ever, ever let yourself be drawn into an argument when you can plainly see that the other person is not going to change their mind.

What I do is to state my case and if the other person is not open to even hearing it, which I know immediately because they don’t address my points but just repeat their side, then I simply tell them we must agree to disagree, and let God judge between us.

If that doesn’t stop them I will stop replying. And in most cases, since they really only want to hear themselves talk, my not being there doesn’t stop them. Eventually, I have to block them.

I do have discussions with people where we are at opposite ends of a topic, but we can discuss it without insults or arguments. These few and far between events are refreshing and renew my hope that we can allow God’s spirit to rule over our own sinful pride when dealing with each other.

Listen to someone as compassionately as you want them to talk to you and when you are in a discussion, always focus on what edifies. Insults, arguing for the sake of arguing, and personal attacks are prideful, unnecessary, and a sin. Follow the example of the archangel Michael (Jude 1:9) who was arguing with Satan but instead of condemning him said, “The Lord rebuke you!

God’s people should be an example of how God tells us to treat each other, and if you can’t be a good example, then at least don’t be a bad one.

Thank you for being here. Don’t forget to subscribe and share this message with others. I welcome comments, even if you have a different opinion, as long as we can discuss things in a godly way.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!