One of the most effective deceptions that Satan has foisted upon Christians is the idea that certain groups are more spiritually mature than less-enlightened believers. The endless game of, "I am more approved in the Lord's eyes than you," divides the Body of Christ and gives non-believers a negative opinion of the Christian faith. Few people would ever openly say, "I'm a better Christian than you." It is through their beliefs and deeds that they proclaim their superiority. Listed below are six common ways people use to promote spiritual elitism.

1. Members of the One True Church

The trademark of this belief is that a particular group has a stranglehold on the truth and that there is no salvation outside of its organization. The groups hold that leaders are specially anointed by God, are in many cases infallible in interpretation of holy writings and, more importantly, are above reproach. These groups believe in what they feel are superior interpretations of scripture and they are more concerned about the doctrines and traditions of man than the Word of God.

Special revelations from God are a trademark of the One True Church. In most cases, the luster of the revelation can be found to have been tarnished by failed prediction. Bible requires 100 percent accuracy rate for all predictions that are claimed to have originated from God.

One-true-churchism leads to people questioning their salvation and spending more time worrying about their actions than on studying the Word of God and enriching their personal walk with Him.

Mark 7:9: "And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."

2. The Keepers of the Law

This group of people believes in keeping Torah observance. While I see no problem with people choosing to keep the levitical kosher (dietary) laws or the Sabbath, there is a fine line between personal choice and self-righteousness.

These groups maintain that Jesus never intended for the law to go away. They base this belief on Matthew 5:17 and John 14:15, which say, "Think not that I have come to destroy the law," and "If you love me, you will keep my commandments," respectively.

What they are missing, however, is that Jesus clarified what He was referring to and it had nothing to do with the 613 laws of Torah. When Jesus was cornered by the Pharisees and asked which of the commandments were the greatest, He replied:

Matthew 22:37-40: "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment and the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." What was He referencing?

Isaiah 29:13: "Therefore the Lord said, Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men."

Jeremiah 31:33: "But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."

It is impossible for the Judaic law to save anyone. The standard is too high for anyone to follow the law to perfection. The law said, "Don't do it." Jesus said, "You're guilty if you even think about doing something that is wrong." Paul warned us in Galatians that we can fall from grace by trying to follow after the law.

Galatians 2:21: "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."

Galatians 5:4: "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."

3. Legalists

Scripture tells us that we are to exhort fellow believers (1 Thess. 4:1). So where is the line between assisting a believer in his walk with the Lord and condemning a believer for his every thought and action?

Common sense dictates that a believer should not dress wantonly and get drunk, but common sense is not enough for the legalist crowd. That crowd feels a duty to protect people from themselves, so it creates measuring sticks in order to maintain its role as its brother's keeper.

Based on 1 Thessalonians 5:22, which says to abstain from all appearance of evil, popular legalisms promoted are: no drinking, smoking, dancing, going to movies, or attending sporting events (because beer is sold). Women can't cut their hair or wear makeup, jewelry or slacks. Women's skirts or culottes must be at least below the knee in length. Men must wear trousers at all times, regardless of the weather. No eating out on Sundays. Everything must be approved by a minister. The list is endless.

While I am not advocating a free-wheeling lifestyle, I am saying that we are to walk in the Lord's light. Our deeds are like filthy rags to Him; it is what is in our hearts that matters. Legalism pits believers against one another in an unending cycle of condemnation. Additionally, it can turn people away from understanding the grace of Christ when they are made to feel that they have bigger shoes to fill than they can wear.

Matthew 23:24: "[Ye] Blind guides, who strain on a gnat and swallow a camel!"

4. KJVOnlyism

Some Christians proclaim that the 1611 King James Version (KJV) is the one and only true English version of the word of God and that all other versions were corrupted by Satan.

While Rapture Ready uses the KJV for Scripture references, it is only because this version is the mostly widely quoted. Nothing is dramatically wrong with other versions of Christian Bibles such as the New King James Version, New American Standard Version, and the Revised Standard Version. However, some versions, such as the Clear Word Bible of the Seventh Day Adventists or the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, were specifically rewritten to accommodate private interpretations, but even these versions contains the heart of Biblical truth.

No Bible version says that Satan died for our sins. The King James Only crowd implies that positive magical qualities are attached to the KJV version, and that negative energies indwell all non-KJV Bibles. I have never found a need to go digging into the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek. Whenever I encounter a passage that seems unclear to me, most of the time, I'm able to find some other verse that resolves the confusion.

The King James Version was written in Elizabethan English (a la Shakespeare), and can be rather difficult for people to read, especially for those new to the faith. What is more important: encouraging people to read their Bibles to learn about Jesus, or overwhelming them with language that makes understanding the text more difficult, causing them to turn to commentaries of man rather than the Word of God?

Hebrews 5:12: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food."

5. Word of Faith Proponents

This group promotes the doctrine of "name-it-claim-it," which says that the Lord has a storehouse full of blessings in heaven just waiting for the faithful to claim while they're here on earth. It teaches that those in the Lord's favor are blessed with health and wealth and that those who are struggling in life are not blessed because of their inferior relationship with the Lord and their inferior faith and trust in Him.

The biggest question here is the one of universal application. Is this teaching practical and accessible to all? Is a teaching of the Lord if it only applies to affluent suburbia but not the underdeveloped nations of the world? What application does the teaching have for believers imprisoned for their faith by atheistic, Islamic and other repressive governments?

Word of Faith promotes elitism between the "haves" and the "have nots" by claiming that those who "have not" are inferior Christians of inferior faith and the Lord is treating them as such.

Matthew 6:19-20: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Mark 10:31: "But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

6. The Intellectuals

One of the most basic human desires is the praise of mankind. Many Christians like to impress other believers with their intellectual capabilities. Some go as far as proclaiming themselves spiritually superior to anyone who doesn't share the same level of academic achievement.

The intellectual crowd is very harmful to the spreading of the Gospel. They motivate fellow Christians to try to master a lofty vocabulary that is often above the heads of average people. They hold the general philosophy that it is better to appear to be intelligent than it is to be understood by your audience.

The Bible repeatedly warns against trusting in the flesh for wisdom. Because Satan is a spirit being, with nearly unlimited intellectual skills, no man is able to match wits with him. Anyone who strays from the Word of God to rely on his own understanding is making a terrible mistake.

1 Corinthians 3:18-19: "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness."

Romans 1:21-22: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

Bottom Line

Individuals who hold to an "I'm a better Christian than you" mindset can always find Scripture that will support their stance. What they need to do is examine their rationale for holding to this view. If their offering of correction is not sparked from love, then one can only conclude vanity is their only motivation.

Philippians 2:2-3: "Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself."