Christian living is a complicated subject largely because it is a matter of interpolation. Jesus and to a degree the apostle Paul–a.k.a. Saul l’Tarsi–are role models, mentors to be imitated. We have their sermons and narratives to draw on to see how they lived and what doctrines and principals are to be applied. However, we are forced to then interpolate those principals and doctrines to our present day circumstances and then using sound interpretation apply the commands and instructions of scripture to our lives. It’s pretty complicated if you break it down and focus on every little step. If you are trying to accomplish it on your own it just doesn’t work. Likewise if you are completely uninvolved, believing that Grace is a big magic wand that frees you from responsibility to exert any effort in achieving the goal of be shaped in the form of Christ, you’ve failed before you begin.
To complicate things further, there are several distinct heresies, movements and patterns of thought, that have plagued the church from its infancy. These are so toxic that Paul had to summarize, label and condemn these poisonous movements at the beginning. At some point we’ll have to go through these individually. They are: Christian Stoicism, Christian Epicureanism, Christian Gnosticism, and Christian Psychology. In addition, he made it clear that the secular forms of these beliefs, while outside the church, are toxic to society, and likely to pervert the unwary Christian by distorting his view of Christ and of the Bible.
But for purposes of this message, I need to focus on the results of these heresies and how they have shaped a minister who has allowed himself the cognitive dissonance of espousing all four to some degree and trying to teach Christian principles at the same time.
Rather than attempt to recount the last sermon I heard from him–an effort that might seem like a paper tiger defense–I’ll simply present to converse Biblical truth that counters his heresy. His hearsay–slander–I’ll leave for God to correct in his own time and immanent manner. Baruch El Shaddai.
The first counterpoint is this:
- If you don’t believe a relationship with God is conditional, you don’t have one.
God loved the World so much that he sacrificed his only birthed son so anyone who places his faith in that sacrifice will live forever. (John 3:16) There’s a condition for relationship with God under the new covenant. You have to place your hope in Yeshua Hanasari, the Son of God and the Day of Atonement in his blood as a figurative lamb of sacrifice.
You must charge the direction of you life and go back the way you came toward righteousness. You must receive a mikvah or ceremonial bath, to be dipped or baptized, in the authority of Jesus, just as the Traditional Jew is dipped in the name of the Father and the Ruach Hakodesh–spirit of holiness. (Acts 2:38) Those are conditions on relationship with God under either covenant.
You must obey the moral commandments of the law. Many will try to say that under the new covenant they are exempt from the law. They will even distort Paul and try to say that adhering to the moral law of the Torah is sin and even a means of losing out on salvation. This is a satanic doctrine. The word obey appears appx. 33 times in the New Testament. Obedience appears appx. 16 times. In that context, scripture tells us that there is trouble and anguish for him who does evil, Jew or Gentile, and peace and good reputation for him that does good works. (Rom. 2:8-10) Further, the Wrath of God is poured out on those who are disobedient and do not live a righteous life after having received salvation through the holy spirit. (Eph 5:1-10) This is a condition on relationship with God. If you love me, keep my commandments. (Joh 14:15-21)
- The second point is, if you don’t believe a relationship with God will make you a weirdo, you haven’t got one.
You are a peculiar people and a royal priesthood. (1Pet 2:9) The Spirit living in a believer is not the Spirit that pervades and rules the world at large. (Joh 14:16,17) Human psychology is at odds with God, because the idiosyncrasies of the human animal are opposed to right and healthy thinking, established from Godly perspective. The fleshly creature, that must grope along in the world, does so blindly because it is incapable of even comprehending the Law of Grace or the Moral Law and the Spirit that has inspired them. (Rom 8:7) So a fundamental conflict will be at work in the mind of the authentic believer, between the will to do right, by the power of the spirit and the will to do wrong, by the natural appetites. This weirdness, which inevitably will be visible to those who get close, makes us family with other authentic believers who are naturally going through the same evolution and the crises this engenders. But the world, who are continually seeking equilibrium in themselves and to quell the trouble in their spirits in order to be at peace with the naturally corrupt animal nature, will be appalled and reject such angst as a sure sign of instability and even evil. They will hate this aspect of the authentic believer, and attempt to fix or persecute her. (1Cor 1:23-27;2:14;3:19;Jam 3:12-17;4:4)
- Lastly, if you don’t believe that all interpersonal relationships are conditional you don’t have one.
I can cite scripture for you. Verses that tell us to shun and disfellowship people over all sorts of disobedience and strife. I can show where Jesus even said to disobey and shun parents and members of family of origin, if such is necessary to follow his teaching and example. I can show where Jesus made one tiny window for divorce and Paul established standards for temporary separation, with church oversight and prayerful agreement by both spouses. But this one is–to be flippant–a no-brainer. Everyone can readily see that if a person is not friendly, she won’t have friends. If a person is contentious or ugly in personality, if he drives people away with rudeness and cruelty–such a person will not have relationships, whatever the context. Scripture supports this, but it is so obvious it does require a deep study to identify, at least from the outside.
Grace is not a magic wand that sets aside personal responsibility for how we act, speak and think. The things we do to others will be the salvation or the damnation of us. If we are mocking, cruel and cynical to fellow believers who have been victimized by the sin of others, we lack compassion and are nothing more than meaningless noise. If you remember that you have a sin against someone, don’t take communion till you have made it right or exhausted all efforts to submit yourself to the judgment of the one you have offended. This is Godliness. This is the fruit of the spirit. Without it you will not see the kingdom, rather you will experience the wrath of God and “many are sick among you.”