This doctrinal study is based mainly on transcriptions from the pulpit teaching of R. B. Thieme, when he was pastor of Berachah Church, Houston, Texas. There are also excerpts from Ralph Braun’s Categorical Notebooks and from the teaching of Chester McCalley, when he was pastor of Beth Haven Church in Kansas City, Mo.
“Human Viewpoint” is the term used to describe a mental attitude which serves to enable you to handle a situation with which you are faced. It is a thinking procedure which leads to a conclusion.
Human viewpoint thinking comes from a person’s sin nature, from his own mentality, in contrast to divine viewpoint, which comes from the Word of God.
“Divine Viewpoint” is a term which expresses the thinking of God the Father, as it is expressed in the Word of God.
One of the main objectives of Bible teaching, then, is that, as a Christian grows “in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”, human viewpoint is replaced by divine viewpoint, as the truth of the Word of God causes a profound change in one’s mental attitude.
As a believer progresses in his Christian life, he experiences many profound changes in his thinking. His standards change gradually but radically; his frame of reference changes; his mental attitude soon becomes very different from what it once was. His previous way of thinking is replaced by the mind of Christ. God’s viewpoint becomes his own.
The greatest occupational hazard faced by a Christian is the failure to grow in Christ. Persistent personal sin carried on without repentance and confession keeps the Christian out of fellowship with the Lord and hinders the work of the Holy Spirit in his life.
The normal Christian life is a supernatural life. This life cannot be lived apart from the daily intake of spiritual food, the sustenance which comes with the study of the Bible accompanied by the continuous control and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Inattention to the teaching of the word of God concerning the mechanics of daily Christian living results in failure to grow in Christ. This believer will not be able to enjoy the benefits and blessings of the Christian life, and he will certainly not be productive as a child of God.
A companion doctrinal study is: Mental Attitude (Grace Notes Topics Library).
Why Do People Use Human Viewpoint Instead of Divine Viewpoint?
Almost always, people use human viewpoint because they are not familiar enough with the Bible to know what God thinks about a matter. Edification (Christian maturity) is the solution to this problem.
Without divine viewpoint, a person might think that his solution is the most logical course of action, or the most secure thing to do.
Or, the solution may seem to be the most pleasurable, or the most profitable, thing to do. A person who has a limited frame of reference may even think that something is the “Christian thing to do”, to be approved by other believers.
The Problem of Sinful Pride (Arrogance)
Arrogance is sinful pride, an exalted feeling based on personal success or position, or based on good training or education, on personal appearance or on some natural gift or ability. Pride become sinful when it is an inner feeling of self importance which does not take into account God’s provision of every resource and quality which goes into one’s human traits and capabilities.
In 1 Timothy 3:6, the new believer is seen to be a “novice (νεοφυτον), puffed up with pride” (τυποθειϛ).
In Titus 2:5, the younger believer is contrasted with the older believer and is warned to be “discrete”, that is, to have a proper and moderate evaluation of himself (σοφρονειν), the same idea that is expressed in Romans 12:3, not to think of oneself more highly that one ought to think (̔υπερφρονειν).
In Daniel chapters 3 and 5 are examples of two Babylonian kings, Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Nebuchadnezzar had great pride in his national greatness and thought that his nation was self-made. Belshazzar had pride of association with the great kings.
Human viewpoint personal takes credit for success and accomplishments. There is no true perspective as to the source of the success. The person is thinking that he is successful because of his intelligence, hard work, his personality, or the systems that he uses. The idea of grace provision does not occur to the novice believer using human viewpoint.
Human viewpoint exaggerates a person’s self-esteem or self-evaluation. Romans 12:3.
Pride resulting from human viewpoint is a tool of Satan to knock people out of the ministry.
Human viewpoint pride may originate in a person’s real excellence; legitimate success may be the source of arrogance. Babylon was truly a great nation, even in the eyes of God (Daniel 3 and 5), who called it the “head of gold”.
So, how can a person balance the concept of personal excellence, accomplishment, and proper humility, yet not produce human viewpoint pride (arrogance)? Answer: growth through Bible doctrine!
The answer for the novice or spiritually adolescent believer is to move towards maturity, through the intake of the Word of God, the replacement of human viewpoint with divine viewpoint.
The Geographical Test of Human Viewpoint
We are tempted to solve problems in the human way, by making some change in geography (the “grass is greener” syndrome).
There are several Bible examples we can study which illustrate this issue.
In Genesis 12 we see that Abraham decided to leave the promised land and go to Egypt, because of bad economic conditions.
Jonah decided to change his location to get away from an unpleasant ministry task.
The Prodigal Son moved away from home to pursue pleasure and gain personal “freedom”, Luke 15.
Lot moved to the plain of Jordan because he thought there was prosperity there. Genesis 13:10
The children of Israel thought that a change of location would solve all their problems, Deuteronomy 28-30.
The ancient people gathered at the Tower of Babel because they thought there would be unity and strength in association with other people. Genesis 11
Psalm 139 speaks of a person changing geographical location to avoid confrontation with God.
Human Viewpoint Evaluation of Location
In Numbers 13 we see the children of Israel evaluating a location based on the obstacles attached to it, and made no reference to God’s promise to conquer for them.
- In Numbers 21:5 the people felt sorry for themselves because of their present geographical location.
Some people misinterpret the Great Commission by thinking that it is more spiritual to go to a far-off place to serve than to stay put and serve. Matthew 28:19-21.
Human viewpoint can cause people to think their former location was better than where they are now. The Israelites thought that Egypt was better than their wilderness travels. Exodus 16:3
Divine Viewpoint Evaluation of Location
Sometimes temporary geographical displacement is used as divine discipline: Genesis 15:13; Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28-30.
Our blessing by being in God’s will, in our proper geographical location, depends on Bible doctrine, and is not just automatic with our presence there: Deuteronomy 28 and 29.
Blessing for mature believers is directly related to functioning in the proper geographical location. This way of life features permanence, consistency, and stability, and not a flitting here and there.
Examples of Attempts to Use Human Viewpoint
Study these examples carefully. First, read the scripture passage. Then, analyze what was wrong with the decisions made and actions taken. Finally, decide what the divine viewpoint solution should have been.
- Genesis 16:7. Sarai and Hagar, when facing an apparent human impossibility, turned to an alternate human solution instead of waiting on God.
- Exodus 17. When the going gets tough, by all means blame it on the leader.
- Numbers 13. When faced with an opportunity, the people focused only on the difficulties involves.
- Joshua 7. when measuring the effects or results of a thing, human viewpoint minimizes the effects in proportion to the number involved. For example Achan said, “Oh, I’m the only one involved.”
- Joshua 13 and Judges 1, being satisfied with a partial fulfillment of responsibility.
- 1 Samuel 4 – when involved in the work of God, the practice of using a spiritual thing as a “good luck charm”; e.g. going to church to help your business.
- 1 Samuel 8 – when surrounded by a certain life style, the practice of trying to be like others.
- 1 Samuel 13 – trying to rationalize disobedience to God’s will.
- 1 Samuel 15 – when a leader is pressured by followers, the practice of catering to their whining rather than following God’s instructions
- 1 Samuel 17 – when embarrassed, ridiculing others to save face.
- Nehemiah 5 – when faced with a hard job, dismissing it as “too hopeless to ever accomplish.”
- Job – when others suffer, saying that there must be some sinful cause behind it.
- Ecclesiastes – when desiring some happiness or satisfaction from life, experimenting with human solutions. Saying, for example [education; pleasure; possession; money; reputation; sex; achievement, being carefree] will give me what I want (but it won’t).
- Daniel 2 – Daniel’s enemies tried to destroy him by using legitimate (or seemingly legitimate) methods.
Human Viewpoint in Acts
Acts 2 – those who judged the speaking in tongues as being the result of drunkenness.
Acts 4 – trying to suppress the truth by physical threatening.
Acts 5 – taking revenge when your opposition doesn’t respond to threats
Acts 6,7 – Stephen was stoned when the Sanhedrin wanted to justify themselves.
Acts 8 – Simon the Sorcerer tried to serve God out of false motivation.
Acts 9 – the Christians failed to forget Paul’s old status and evaluated him by them.
Acts 10 – the practice of following legalism and taboos rather than the Word of God.
Acts 12 – evaluating a man on the basis of his looks or speech
Man’s Ideas vs. Divine Viewpoint
Thinking requires vocabulary. Divine thinking requires divine vocabulary. " … Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Under any kind of spiritual pressure, human vocabulary, or human thinking, is not adequate. Only God’s words can give the ability to think correctly under pressure. The Christian’s ability to think correctly is based on how much Bible teaching is resident or applied in the soul of the believer.
The Christian is commanded to have a new mental attitude. Colossians 3:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5.
The warfare between two viewpoints in the believer’s soul must be fought from within, first by knowledge of doctrine, and then by the application of truth to the life. 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 John 1:9.
Every believer has a mind which is capable of looking at life from God’s point of view. Romans 1:18 ff
Mental attitude divine viewpoint is obtained only through Bible study accompanied by the controlling ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Christian who habitually studies the word learns to concentrate and to think from God’s point of view, and thus he becomes stabilized. The mind of Christ is the source of God’s viewpoint which is made clear in the Bible.
The Christian can be transformed by the renewing of the mind through study, knowledge and application of Bible truth. By this means his decisions and actions are most likely to be in agreement with Bible principles. This is the only sure sign of Christian maturity and victorious Christian living.