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« So Let Us Walk | Main | Milemarkers on the Road to Christ »

Is That the Bible, Or Is That Just Me?

Have you ever had someone project his or her own opinion onto you? Maybe, in his opinion, he thought you were lazy and treated you accordingly. You might have lost a job or a promotion because of someone’s prejudicial views projected onto you.

Projection as a defense mechanism.

Psychology: Psychological projection is the phenomenon whereby one projects one’s own thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings, and so on onto someone else (usually another person, but psychological projection onto animals, parents, children, neighbors, other drivers, political figures, racial groups, states and countries, also occurs).

According to the theories of Sigmund Freud, psychological projection is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one’s own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings, and so on onto someone else (usually another person, but psychological projection onto animals and inanimate objects also occurs). The principle of projection is well-established in psychology.

An illustration would be those who feel dislike for another person, but whose unconscious mind does not allow them to become aware of this negative emotion. Instead of admitting to themselves that they feel dislike for someone, they project their dislike onto him, so that the individual’s conscious thought is not “I don’t like Bob,” but “Bob doesn’t seem to like me or I do not like that certain behavior that Bob does.”

Business: In business, psychological projection occurs when a person is operating in a social setting and unconsciously overlays some internal phenomenon on an external situation or person. The person then reacts to the internal overlay instead of to the external reality. To an outsider or to one on whom the projection has been overlayed, the person’s actions and responses seem inappropriate to the real situation.

Human Discourse: We project our opinions of a person’s or group’s motives, beliefs, ideals and legitimacy onto them, whether or not it accurately represents the facts. This leads to stereotyping, prejudice and other unfair assessments. Ultimately, it provides the root causes of civil strife, violence and war.

Psychological projection in matters of faith.

In the operation of belief systems, people tend to project their feelings, biases, hopes and opinions onto the circumstances surrounding them. These projections may be very deeply held ideas that they were taught from childhood. They may be simple coping mechanisms they have invented to deal with their reality. Many of these ideas have been handed down from previous generations as truisms. Here are some familiar ones:

  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.

In terms of heaven and the afterlife, we have widespread sentiments that are based on emotion rather than scripture:

  • All God requires is that you do your best.
  • Just be a good person and you’ll go to heaven.
  • Mom is up there looking down on us right now.

For a believer, the Bible is our final authority about everything.

  • Faith and Practice: Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
  • Salvation: James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
  • The Word of God: John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.


Much of what people project onto the ideal of heaven comes from pure imagination. Heaven has been seen as the ultimate place of indulgence, the realization of every dream, every pleasure, every delight, every longing of mankind.

  • OT:8064 shamayim (shaw-mah’-yim); dual of an unused singular shameh (shaw-meh’); from an unused root meaning to be lofty; the sky (as aloft; the dual perhaps alluding to the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve):
  • OT:1534 galgal (gal-gal’); by reduplication from OT:1556; a wheel; by analogy, a whirlwind; also dust (as whirled):
  • OT:7834 shachaq (shakh’-ak); from OT:7833; a powder (as beaten small): by analogy, a thin vapor; by extension, the firmament:
  • NT:3772 ouranos (oo-ran-os’); perhaps from the same as NT:3735 (through the idea of elevation); the sky; by extension, heaven (as the abode of God); by implication, happiness, power, eternity; specifically, the Gospel (Christianity):
  • NT:3772 ouranos (oo-ran-os’); perhaps from the same as NT:3735 (through the idea of elevation); the sky; by extension, heaven (as the abode of God); by implication, happiness, power, eternity; specifically, the Gospel (Christianity):

1. As used in a physical sense, heaven is the expanse over the earth (Gen 1:8). The tower of Babel reached upward to heaven (Gen 11:4). God is the possessor of heaven (Gen 14:19). Heaven is the location of the stars (Gen 1:14; 26:4) as well as the source of dew (Gen 27:28).

2. Heaven is also the dwelling place of God (Gen 28:17; Rev 12:7-8). It is the source of the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:2,10). Because of the work of Christ on the Cross, heaven is, in part, present with believers on earth as they obey God’s commands (John 14:2,23).

3. The word heaven is also used as a substitute for the name of God (Luke 15:18,21; John 3:27). The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are often spoken of interchangeably (Matt 4:17; Mark 1:15).

4. At the end of time a new heaven will be created to surround the new earth. This new heaven will be the place of God’s perfect presence (Isa 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1). Then there will be a literal fulfillment of heaven on earth.

Where are those who died in Christ? Are they up and walking around? Are they meeting with people? Do they know what is happening on earth?

  • Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Who will go to heaven?

  • John 3:3-5  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again a , he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. [1]
  • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Who will not go to heaven?

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.


We project unfounded ideas onto the place the Bible calls hell. We see it as less than heaven, but somewhat survivable; a place to shovel coal with our buddies, a place where the devil is boss; a place where our worst experiences recur daily; a place where we get stuck with the world’s most annoying people; the underworld inhabited by departed souls, etc. Sometimes we say that hell is not the place for the eternally dammed, but certain things that happen to us in this life, or certain realities we deal with in life (job, marriage, hometown, family, etc.).

Revelation 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.


Here are some popular ways we project our opinions onto eternal judgment:

  • God grades on the curve.
  • We will be surprised whom God admits into heaven and whom he casts into hell.
  • When you die, that’s it. You cease to exist.
  • Nothing really matters except what you do on this earth.
  • The idea of judgment is only a tool other people try to use to control you.
  • If you live up to your own expectations in life, you will be fine.
  • Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow, ye die.

But, the Bible has much to say about judgment. Actually, the bible speaks of seven different judgments:

  1. The judgment of sin at the cross.
  2. The judgment of every believer by the word throughout his life.
  3. The judgment seat of Christ.
  4. The judgment of the angels.
  5. The judgment of the nation of Israel.
  6. The judgment of the nations of the world.
  7. The great white throne judgment.

Psalm 9:8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

Matthew 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Loving God

We tend to project the very best of intentions onto people, especially those whom we love or admire. We sometimes take almost anything they do as proof that deep in their hearts, they really do love God. If we don’t like a person, we dismiss almost anything they do as insincere or as an attempt to manipulate God.

  • He means well.
  • She’s really trying hard.
  • Yes, but look at all the good things he does.
  • Well, nobody’s perfect.

But, what do the scriptures say? 

  • Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Other inaccurate projections:

  • God gives credit for any kind of faith.
  • God does not hear a sinner’s prayer.
  • Church attendance has no effect on one’s salvation.
  • Any giving or offerings is the same as paying tithes.
  • Church life and home life are two different things.
  • Baptism is an outward sign of an inward faith.
  • God fills people with the Holy Ghost at baptism.

We have no other authority than the Word of God.

Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

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