One of the most difficult things to deal with when trying to teach people what they need to know is their past. "Unteaching'' is always hard. People develop habits, ways of thinking and traditions that are sometimes very difficult to correct despite the best efforts of truth and reason.
The human tendency is to define what is true and good by personal experience. Thus, if you have always thought something to be true, then it might be difficult to get you to see otherwise. If you have taught or acted on your beliefs, then the likelihood of your changing becomes even more remote.
Whenever we are confronted with teachings and practices that are contrary to what we've always believed there is a tendency to become defensive. This is natural and not inherently bad. However, we must not allow our defensive reactions based on our personal pasts to be our means of determining truth.
"But that would mean that we've always been wrong!'' is often a defensive reaction that is at least thought if not spoken. If that is the basis of our resistance to any teaching or practice, then we have set up ourselves and our experiences as the standard of truth. This attitude often comes out at times of controversy when truth and reason have failed to convince some.
God's word is truth (Jn. 17:17)! Instead of trying to determine truth by looking at what we've taught and practiced in the past let's get back to God-breathed words. They are all we need for teaching, convicting, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Remember, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up (Jas. 4:6,10). When confronted with truth it may require us to humbly acknowledge that we've always been wrong, but that gives us access to God's grace. Pride leaves us in the unenviable position of meeting the resistance of God.
- by Andy Diestelkamp