21 Mar 2010

Fear Over New Testament Biblical Warnings

Submitted by theshovel
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Depending on your religious background, the many warnings recorded in the New Testament might cause you to wonder and cringe every time you come across one. I have been corresponding with a new friend who learned to see every warning as yet another possible way to fail God and be cast out of favor. My response addresses the question as to what purpose warnings play among those have been made complete in Christ. Are they for us or could they be directed toward unbelievers?

As the letters of the apostles were written to the believers, I don’t see the warnings as TO the unbelievers, but in reference to that which is born of the flesh. It speaks of the mind of the unbeliever, obviously including those who were specifically trying to deceive them, but not restricted to anyone in particular. Consider how numerous of the warnings have to do with not giving heed to the smooth words of those who use verbiage rather than the life of Christ as their validation:

Now I beg you, brothers, look out for those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them. For those who are such don’t serve our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent. Romans 16:17-18

Now, while this may seem straightforward, it contains the same basic warning as in most of the other warnings.

…envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:21

This warning is in reference to those who practice such things. Here, Paul was following up on his story of the two sons, those who are after the manner of the fleshly son, not the son of freedom.

Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, don’t you listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the free woman. However, the son by the handmaid was born according to the flesh, but the son by the free woman was born through promise. Galatians 4:21-23

Keep this fixed firmly in your mind as you consider the warning in Galatians: Do you not hear the Law? For this is the continuation of his warning as written in Galatians 5:21. “…those who practice such things…” are those who are OF the law. “For the law is not of faith”. Notice in the above Romans verse how those who deceive with their speech are the very same who cause divisions and occasions of stumbling. These men use words that contradict their own behavior, for they are the ones Paul referred to earlier in the same letter:

But if you bear the name “Jew,” and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. Romans 2:17-24

The deceivers Paul warns about are the very ones who preach their doctrines of morality, while somehow, with their smooth and flattering speech, making their own immorality seem righteous. It’s the same with the Galatians’ warning, for Paul had been describing those who had sneaked in among them at the very beginning of his letter. By time he states the forewarning that he had already forewarned them about, he wants them to recognize that the growing biting and devouring of one another came in among them because of the very thing he had warned them about. His warning repeats the simple question, “Do you not hear the Law?” Now, connect this with the following, also from Galatians:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:7-9

Considering the whole thrust of Paul’s concern in writing Galatians, do you see how sowing to one’s own flesh has to do—not with the ridiculous idea that the heart of the believer looks for ways to be flippant about sin—but with a reversion to law for righteousness? After all, the heart of one who has been made alive desires true righteousness. Those who preach God’s “authoritative” word, with their smooth and flattering speech”, play off that desire in order to ensnare those who are so willing to please God that they will follow that which seems to be from God. If you really examine the warnings of Paul, you will recognize that they apply to the basic concept of doctrine as preached by the official Churches we’ve known. Realize that I’m not talking about Truth itself, rather the separation of he who is truth (Christ) from the very words that testify of him. Our systems of doctrine are just as impotent to bring about righteousness as were the doctrines of the scribes and Pharisees.

Be not deceived, God is not mockedGalatians 6:7

And what is the idea behind that mocking? It’s so very simple, for it rests upon the truth of God’s creation in producing “after their kind.” You see, in following the weak and worthless elemental teachings of the law, one supposes that spiritual fruit can be produced by sowing to that which deals with the flesh. But as a cow cannot produce an eagle, we who are born of freedom cannot gain more freedom by following the righteous sounding teachings of those who are born of the flesh. This is the bottom line to Paul’s warning to the Galatians, as well as to the Romans and others.

If those who are born after the flesh can only produce more flesh, why would we ever follow after their agendas, their teachings, their philosophies, their advice, their rules, their interpretations of God’s words, their form of godliness, their judgments, etcetera, etcetera? The warnings are valid toward us who believe because they demand to us that we cannot get more life, better life, righteous living, godly desires, more understanding of God or more spiritual insights from those who do not have what they profess to have. After all, the deception behind the words of deceivers contains a simple flaw: they profess what they do not understand.

As you read through many of my writings you may not be aware of the warnings I’ve put forth countess times simply because I don’t use scriptural sounding phrases like, “I forewarn you.” I purposely don’t use a lot of Biblical phrasings because of the way they have become so easily misunderstood, and I desire a real communication rather than an adherence to the bogus idea that one needs to sound Scripturally authoritative to declare the only real authority in the universe.

Jim :)

Shoveletter: 

Comments

I know what the Lord wants me to do yet I have put it off for many years. One day I was playing solitaire and hearts on the computer almost all day even though I knew this is not what God wants for me. I am 72 and I'm tired.
My heart feels so far away from God. When do we know if we've gone too far in not doing what we know is God's will?

theshovel's picture

My friend, your tired and weary heart would do well to know that your God is pleased with you because of Christ. He desires that we all walk in the freedom of that pleasing. Perhaps you have listened to the voice of condemnation that has convinced you that God views you according to what you see as only failure.

Jim

Thank you again for bringing clarity into the understanding of what scripture is saying...and showing the positive bent (which is, so often, how the Lord means it to be). For some reason, many in Christiandom prefer thee negative (sad, and even horrifying, what they say about God and His character), so I appreciate the way you approach His words.
You know, I have yet to hear any (well, have heard it once, but not in a church building) shout forth the delightful words the 17th century common people used for "gospel" -
The good, glad, merry news that makes a man leap for joy."
Off the subject a bit, but not really. You are a harbinger of GOOD news - ah that there were mor like you.
Thank you,
Joanne Anstine

theshovel's picture

My dear lady, it is my privilege to declare this good news to you, as well as to all who will hear it. :)

Jim

Wow Jim,
You came out and said "it"!! Very cool! I am very encouraged by this letter you wrote and thank you for it! My comments won't surprise you, nor will my opinion...

I have read those same verses time and time again and only to run into the thought: "well there is no way that the religious could have been actually doing that kind of stuff could they?". We look at :

"..envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:21"

and think, nah there is no way that is a description of the religious here...no way! Yet inside there is that voice that says yep!! It sure is! Man! What a massive blow to the idea that MORE of the same will somehow produce anything but arrogance and self righteousness and eventually down right evil destructive manifestations. Yet all we see around us [by viewing according to the flesh] is people seemingly doing "good" by following after the same elementary principals. They seem so "righteous", so "upright" so much "better" than us. And they make a point of it in front of you, even to the point of trapping you if and when possible. Yet...I have personally noticed the evidence of something not so "righteous" or "good" going on from within them. It is hard to pin point, especially when the ones who are of the world have learned to cover up there true inner desires and make it seem as though they do NONE of these evil things. Yet there hearts are full of it...so were the Pharisees of Jesus' day.
Jim it is hard to imagine that they level of self righteousness they were filled up on actually lead them to do such things so openly and so obviously! Yet they probably found a way to justify it all the same and even put down we who are of the promise!???!!

..I forgot to mention that God was gracious enough to allow me to actually experience the stirring of the law in my life so that I can actually see with my own eyes the very impulses that the law stirs...so I speak from experience with respect to my last post..not just guess work.

Great article Jim! GREAT!!!!![one of your best..in my humble opinion]

Adam

theshovel's picture

I appreciate your words of encouragement and life! :)

Love, Jim

As I read your article again tonight I couldn't help but think about this portion of the letter of Hebrews:

"see to it that no one comes short of the grace of God;that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled"

It seemed like even Apollos [or whomever wrote Hebrews] was warning the believers of those that were without the Spirit mingling in with them [or they with them]and leading them into the corruption of the old dead, flesh. I may be totally off, but I do see some sort of correlation with what you wrote in Hebrews. Similar idea...

"It seemed like even Apollos [or whomever wrote Hebrews] was warning the believers of those that were without the Spirit mingling in with them [or they with them]and leading them into the corruption of the old dead, flesh." <-visitor

i enjoyed that very much! :) thank you :)

dignz

"Visitor" AKA....ADAM!!

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. I believe the scriptures should bring hope

and the scriptures should bring encouragement

Jim, I know you don’t see this because you have been preaching the Christian’s freedom in Christ for awhile, but I have a very different take on Galatians. Yes, Paul was writing to a church, and churches normally are composed of mostly believers. But Paul doesn’t pull his punches in his letter, calling what that legalistic teacher (or teachers) was pushing “another gospel.” He was getting on the Galatians for going back to the Law - in this case, the Ceremonial Law - for their justification. As you know (and still agree with?) “justification” means “to declare righteous.” To seek righteousness from obedience to the Law is to nullify Eph. 2:8-9. He who does this does it to his eternal peril. That’s why Paul makes it very clear that those who go back to the Law for justification “have fallen from grace” and that Christ is of no benefit to them (5:2, 4). If Christ is of no benefit to them, at least we can affirm that they aren’t saved, although you would probably list many more benefits to having Christ! So, I see those Galatians who claimed to be Christians showing their true colors by falling from grace. Naturally, if the majority - albeit, false converts and teachers - are preaching ceremonial law, they are bound to influence true believers who don’t have a solid foundation yet. So Paul’s warnings were directed at two groups: 1) the false teacher(s) and false converts 2) the weaker true converts who had been seduced by the false teaching I really liked how you started out explaining Gal. 6:7-9 … “Considering the whole thrust of Paul’s concern in writing Galatians, do you see how sowing to one’s own flesh has to do”not with the ridiculous idea that the heart of the believer looks for ways to be flippant about sin”but with a reversion to law for righteousness? After all, the heart of one who has been made alive desires true righteousness.” Amen! But then you go and read into the text your pat interpretation, taking the opportunity to take pot shots at the “official Churches” and their “systems of doctrines.” Again, you probably don’t see this, Jim, but you have established the very thing you criticize: a “system of doctrine” where key texts revolve around “freedom in Christ,” even if some or all of those texts say nothing of the sort. And while you condemn these “official Churches” for their, “According to Jim,” suppression of the Truth, you are in the process of creating the very thing that grates against you: “The Freedom in Christ Movement.” Now, I have a pretty good idea how you’re going to respond to this. Oh well. I just felt I had to “say” something. I also find it interesting how you got on me for “systematizing” my interpretations, appealing to other books to help understand Paul’s meaning in a particular book. Aren’t you doing the same thing here, going back and forth between Romans and Galatians to build your case? Bill

Bill Forgive me for jumping in. Gal 3:6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness 7 so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations2 will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who believe1 are blessed along with Abraham the believer. 10 For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law .”11 Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith. 12 But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them. 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. 17 What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise. The context is clearly God’s moral law. I don’t understand restricting Paul’s argument to simply ceremonial law. It is also clear that the law was only for a time untill Christ’s Spirit could be received by faith.

One warning that is always left out is Romans 11:19:24. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,[f] if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

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