In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 2TI 4:1 (bbe)
Never before has this been more true nor more confused and destructive. Television streams a constant barrage of every false and demonic doctrine packaged and presented with all the finesse of only a video studio can achieve, marketing lies and deception along with charms and keepsakes and vacations at amusement parks. People can have any flavor of false prophet or even build a personalized religion by sampling these media giants like a hungry child at an open buffet. There plates are full but when they eventually must regurgitate the tasty but malnutritious bounty, they ultimately go hungry and cannot reproduce. Being unfruitful (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.) they will ultimately be pruned from the vine and cast into the fire.
Strong language, I know, but not undue. Recently I was channel surfing and landed for a moment on a prophet of Lucre and Mammon who was trying to excuse his ministry, which is generally comprised of assuring rich oil merchants that their money is proof of God’s favoritism and their sinful lives are merely an inconvenience. It is serendipitous that the man is named for the god he preaches.
On this particular day he was prophesying from Galatians, a much misinterpreted book because taken out of context several verses are so filled with hyperbole’ that the meaning is lost, until you read the following passage which corrects the course and intention of the passage. Mr. Money had the Scripture saying that since, Jesus death was to bring about relationship and, since human’s ultimately fail in obeying the law on their own, the law is valueless except as a contrast with the life of license to live without conscience, which he assures us is the meaning of grace. Now I know from other of his broadcasts that he does teach that God’s Standard of Holiness is a necessity in the Christian life. But in the moment, confused by the unintelligible babble of the so called amplified Bible, he over stated Paul’s indictment against legalism and Judaizing of the Church, with a license to be free of the Law as a School Teacher to show us what a Holy God disapproves in the life of his children. Like so many others he misunderstood Paul.
As peter said:
These are fountains without water, and mists before a driving storm; for whom the eternal night is kept in store. For with high-sounding false words, making use of the attraction of unclean desires of the flesh, they get into their power those newly made free from those who are living in error; Saying that they will be free, while they themselves are the servants of destruction; because whatever gets the better of a man makes a servant of him. For if, after they have got free from the unclean things of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again taken in the net and overcome, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them to have had no knowledge of the way of righteousness, than to go back again from the holy law which was given to them, after having knowledge of it. They are an example of that true saying, The dog has gone back to the food it had put out, and the pig which had been washed to its rolling in the dirty earth. 2PE 2:17-22 (bbe)
Mr. Money’ take on Galatians would necessitate a discrepancy, that Peter’s Gospel and Faith are at odds with Paul’s in effect a different religion. God changed his mind. Instead, we live by faith and that means we know that our sins were forgiven on the cross, even the ones we’ll commit after salvation and therefore we are never accountable as long as we believe. Well God might be displeased; it might hurt our relationship–but he’s patient so it’s all good, all the time.
But let’s look at what Galatians really says. At the heart of Paul’s thesis he makes the following statement:
Being conscious that a man does not get righteousness by the works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, we had faith in Christ Jesus, so that we might get righteousness by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law will no flesh get righteousness. But if, while we were desiring to get righteousness through Christ, we ourselves were seen to be sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? In no way! For if I put up again those things which I gave to destruction, I am seen to be a wrongdoer. For I, through the law, have become dead to the law, so that I might be living to God. I have been put to death on the cross with Christ; still I am living; no longer I, but Christ is living in me; and that life which I now am living in the flesh I am living by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who in love for me, gave himself up for me. GAL 2:16-20 (bbe)
“So that we might get righteousness by faith. . .” Some would have you believe this means that the righteousness gained by faith is not a works righteousness because if you ever do right, then you are being legalistic. But Paul asks, rhetorically, “Is Christ a servant of sin?” The answer is a resounding no. Christ was sinless, this is the very basis of his substitutionary death on the Cross. The whole point is our identification with Christ on the Cross is the death of our carnal nature and slavery to living in sin. “I have been put to death on the cross with Christ. . .and that life which I am now living in the flesh I am living by faith. . .” Our human life is crucified and the spirit empowers us to live a holy life, not by ignoring sin and legislating it away. How more legalistic can one be, than a pardon without a transformation. The guilty murderer pardoned of his crime and all future crime to commit murder again and again without remorse and without punishment? Is this what the God in Christ bore the suffering and humiliation of the cross for? Of a certainty it is not! Instead Christ died that, living through us, replacing our broken, human spirit with a new inspiration of God’s breath, we could be made new like Adam before the fall, free to live sinless by letting Christ live through us and kill each sinful habit and trait one by one, perfecting us in his grace. This is the grace unto salvation the Victory in Jesus. It is the power to trust and to obey, for it is obedience not offerings of money, land, goods, produce or even blood, that pleases God.
Imagine, for a moment, you are a parent. You love your child with the whole of your being. That child goes off to school in the morning and comes home that night with a shapeless limp of clay, malformed and sickly, glazed so poorly the bubbles have burst exposing cavities that go down to the ceramic beneath. Your child holds this miserable creation out to you and with a fearful smile and shameful eyes says, “here mommy”; “here daddy–.” There’s a pause then, “I made this for you!” And a tiny glimmer of hope lights in the back of childish eyes that are all to well aware of the inadequacy of the offering. Do you reject the pot; dash it against the wall and try to teach the child how to make better pottery?
In the same way, “Our heavenly father rejects neither our offerings, nor our works.” Instead he blesses them and sets them in a prominent place, so he can say, “My child made that for me!” With all the pride of a daddy showing that first pot, or Christmas tie, or photo of a gangly teen with pimples and greasy hair.
The cross is adoption, but grace is the growing. Eventually you will make fine pottery or master works of what ever craft you choose, because the Christ living in you will live through you growing ever more righteous. Take the burden of your sin to God, one thing at a time and shed it. Let him crucify it dead and never to be remembered by him or by you and thereby committed again. As Peter says don’t return to your wallow and be destroyed, worse off than before, because there is no remaining means of salvation for you.