Monthly Archives: May 2018

How do we identify false teachers?

HOW DO WE IDENTIFY FALSE TEACHERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How do we go about identifying false teachers? An extremely broad question, it has no simple, concise answer. It would be impractical and impossible to provide here an exhaustive list of all such heretics and heresies. Primarily, false teachers support and defend an enormous range of theological positions. Secondly, each erroneous doctrine has nuances, or varieties, further multiplying the false teachings that would have to be covered in this study. No solitary article could adequately cover it all.

The author has thus judged that the best way to address such a topic is to provide fundamental guidelines. These criteria are designedly not restricted to a select few false teachers; they are valuable in revealing them in all sorts of systems and situations. Nevertheless, in an effort to maximize this study’s effectualness, there will be provided specific examples of dangers of which you the reader need to be vigilant.

Dear friends, it is with great joy in our Lord Jesus Christ that we now present to you our special-edition 500th Bible Q&A study!

I. CAUTION

We will begin with something we will call “The Patterns Rule.” It is quite critical that we pay very close attention here!! Recognizing patterns is your greatest strength in recognizing false teachers. Instead of focusing on just a few instances of doctrine or behavior, your goal is to see long-term patterns (habits) in doctrine and behavior. This will minimize the chances of you wrongly accusing good, honest, sincere Bible teachers who (like all of us) simply suffer the limitations of fallibility. Believe it or not, all preachers and teachers (including this author) make mistakes. We misspeak. We give a wrong reference, say an incorrect name, read a verse too quickly and skip over a letter or word, misquote a passage, use poor grammar, mispronounce or misspell Bible terms, and so on. These slip-ups do not make us false teachers. It is the Christian approach to give people the benefit of the doubt when they make mistakes. Let us consider a few examples.

Not long ago, this author heard a preacher reading Mark 15:43. Where Scripture had “boldly,” he said “bodily.” On another occasion, he said “armies” when the Bible read “army” in Revelation 19:19. Yet another time, in Zechariah 1:17, he read aloud “spared” when Scripture said “spread.” There is no need for alarm here. This does not make him a false teacher. Instead of saying he is a “false teacher,” a better way to describe him is “dyslexic”… or maybe just someone who reads too quickly to pay attention to individual letters. This is still a case in point: we need to have a Bible in front of us as much as possible when listening to someone else read the Bible out-loud to us. Why? The next preacher might be deliberately misreading the verses! We would do well to discuss that kind of individual now.

When someone gains a reputation (remember, long-term patterns!) for misquoting verses, for repeatedly misrepresenting the same passages, for usually or always giving wrong Bible-verse references, for constantly claiming “The Bible says” and yet never providing specific chapter and/or verse numbers, these are strong indications the person is being willfully dishonest. Let us take it a step further now.

If one single sermon or book—or perhaps several sermons and countless books—abounds with these errors, those are warning signs that the preacher or teacher is not under the control of the Holy Spirit. Such numerous inaccuracies in rapid succession are not honest mistakes. Human wisdom, speculation, and religious tradition have obviously replaced the pure Word of God. The words of God are being deliberately altered, purposefully suppressed, and intentionally ignored. Someone has a theological system to maintain, a pet denominational doctrine to uphold, a vain speculation to guard, or a heresy to hide. Therefore, that person will not think twice about violating the Scriptures. What they want is control, dominance, over a person or group: they do not care where they are going with it, so long as they are leading!! It happens more often than we would care to think, dear friends. Do NOT think it cannot happen at your local assembly! (This cannot be stressed enough—oh, how this cannot be stressed enough.)

First John 4:1 speaks of Israel in the future: “[1] Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Did you notice the liars? There are many false prophets”many deceivers. Yet, they are quite “pious” in their appearance and vocabulary. Just as God has His preachers, so Satan has his counterfeits.

Notice 2 Peter 1:19–2:3, also Israel in the future: “[1:19] We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [1:20] Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. [1:21] For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. [2:1] But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. [2:2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [2:3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

Now, consider the Apostle Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians chapter 11: “[13] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. [15] Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

Finally, hear Paul’s words to the elders (church leaders) of the church at Ephesus. We read in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed [Beware!!!!] therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Not only are there Satanic men outside the church aiming to come in and deceive; they are also in the church leadership (!!!!) those wanting to deceive people and draw them out so as to form new groups (sects)!

In light of these verses, and numerous others we could have listed, we think it best to address false teachers. There are doctrinal perverts not only outside the Grace Movement, but (unfortunately) in it as well. It would do us well to learn doctrine to guard ourselves against falling prey to them. Now, we will get to the bulk of the study.

II. CRITERIA

1. Doctrine

Doctrine is the most important criterion; it must be considered first. Other criteria—those that are supplementary—will be discussed later in this section.

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-2: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” There is such a thing as “doctrines of devils.” Friends, not all doctrine is equal; not all supposed “Christian” people preach and believe the same thing. Therefore, when the “Ecumenical Movement” proponents tell us to throw away doctrine and just gather with all professing “Christians” around “the love of Jesus,” they are telling us to ignore verses that scream against false doctrine. When such ecumenists make the claim they really do not care what people believe or teach, that is a warning to us. Having such a carefree attitude toward doctrine is to be contrary to dozens upon dozens of Bible verses. Notice some other Scriptural admonitions about false teachers.

Reading from Titus chapter 3: “[9] But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. [10] A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; [11] Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” The “heretick”—or false teacher—is flipped about, turned over, perverted. What he believes and teaches is SIN. It does not glorify Jesus Christ. If he twice refuses to be corrected, the Bible says to leave him alone. If he twice refuses to be corrected, the Bible says to leave him alone. Did we get that? If he twice refuses to be corrected, GOD says to leave him alone!

As we saw in 2 Peter at the beginning, there were false prophets in ancient Israel. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 describes them: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.What was God’s solution to false teachers under the Law economy? Israel was to put them to death! Friends, God does not take false doctrine lightly!!

We can categorize false teaching into two groups. One is a false gospel message—this is the most serious. Then, there are the other types of misleading information. We will look at both classes now, one at a time.

A. GOSPEL PERVERSION

As touching the Gospel message for today, the easiest way to spot the false gospels is to listen for the emphasis of religious works. The constant stressing of human effort to get into Heaven is a false gospel. A false teacher’s “gospel invitation” is dominated by pleas to walk an aisle, say a prayer, make a confession of sins, make a public profession of faith, get water baptized, keep the Ten Commandments, kneel at the “altar” and weep, turn from one’s sins, and so on. It is a lie straight from the pits of Hell to suggest to a lost person that he has something to offer God, some inherent goodness or sincere effort that will cause God to pass over his sin. God’s grace is pushed aside in favor of pleasing man. The cross of Christ is ignored. God’s grace is hidden. What a damnable message!

Galatians 1:6-9 says that if someone is preaching anything other than Paul’s Gospel, we are to have nothing to do with that person: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Paul’s Gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; [2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

Notice Acts 16:30-31: “[30] And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? [31] And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.The Apostle Paul was under the impression that faith in Jesus Christ was enough to get someone into Heaven. We would do well to agree with God’s spokesman to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:2). You may also see Romans chapters 1-5 for a fuller treatment of the Gospel of the Grace of God. This is your “litmus test” to see what is a true Gospel and what is a false one (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:1-4).

Romans 3:24-28: “[24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

While a clear Gospel message is important—the most vital of doctrines—there are other types of Bible information of which we need to be aware.

B. OTHER DIDACTIC DEVIATIONS

The Bible is the world’s most important Book. It threatens Satan’s policy and plan of evil. God’s Word equips the lost person with the Gospel that can save his sinful soul from the everlasting wrath of God in eternal hellfire (what we just covered)! Also, Holy Scripture furnishes the Christian with the mind of God as pertaining to daily grace living (which we will now address). If Satan can attack God’s Word in the subtlest of ways, he can keep lost people on their path to Hell and keep Christians on their path to more ignorance!

Beware of those who say, “It makes no difference what Bible version you use; they all basically say the same thing.” Stated another way, “Doctrine means nothing to me.” (As per copyright laws, all modern English bibles must read differently. The way publishing houses achieve variety is by relying on assorted Bible manuscripts, texts that the Church the Body of Christ has refused to accept over the centuries because of those texts’ obvious faulty readings. There are significant resultant alterations to the Bible text. They are not minor differences!!) As English-speaking Christians, we need to use an Authorized Version King James Bible. This author has spent many, many years researching the Bible versions issue. He had to abandon his modern-version position because it was incorrect—theologically, historically, and morally. We will get to that later.

The most important Bible study verse is the only verse that tells us to “study” the Bible. Second Timothy 2:15 is that verse: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Since Paul tells us to “rightly divide the word of truth,” he will also tell us how to do it.

Genesis 1:1 opens the Bible with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is a program for the heavenly places, and another program for the Earth. It is absolutely imperative that we keep these two programs separate!!

Peter the Apostle preached in Acts chapter 3: “[19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

God spoke some truths “since the world began” (when He placed Adam on the Earth). We see that He used prophets, or spokesmen, to manifest that information to man. Therefore, the Bible says this is “the prophetic program.”

Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans chapter 16: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….”

In stark contrast to God speaking information “since the world began,” He also withheld some information. This body of truth was “kept secret since the world began.” It is “the mystery program.” God did not make it known until He first revealed it to the Apostle Paul. This shows us that Paul has a unique apostleship, a special place in God’s dealings with man. Notice how the Holy Spirit led Paul to write my gospel” in verse 25. God entrusted to Paul a special Gospel message, some good news that no man prior ever knew anything about.

Paul also wrote in Ephesians 2:11-13: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

We should think of the Bible as a timeline. There is “time past” (verse 11), and there is “but now” (verse 13). Verse 7 talks about “the ages to come.” Such divisions show us that there was a time when God made a distinction between Jew and Gentile, Israel and the nations (verses 11-12). However, with Paul’s ministry—“but now” (present-day)—that racial and religious distinction is temporarily suspended. In this “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), God does not see Jew and Gentile. He sees saved (those in Christ) and lost (those in Adam). You may read Ephesians 3:1-9, for example. Those who are saved (who have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour) are members of the Church the Body of Christ. The Church the Body of Christ is separate and distinct from the nation Israel because the former belongs to the mystery program and the latter belongs to the prophetic program. We the Body of Christ do not belong in prophecy. The nation Israel does not belong in mystery.

The ministries of Peter and Paul are not to be combined. They are to be rightly divided. Israel and the Body of Christ are not to be mixed. We must rightly divide them. Prophecy and mystery are to be separated. Law and Grace are to be rightly divided. Earth and Heaven must be separated. The most common form of false teaching is when all these distinctions are “smoothed over” as though there is only one church in the Bible, only one Gospel in the Bible, only one group of apostles in the Bible, only one realm in the Bible, only one program in the Bible, only one operating system in the Bible, and so on.

As noted earlier, Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13): he is God’s spokesman to us. If we ignore the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon, then we are ignoring God’s Word to us. Alas, there is the constant plea today that we need to “go back to Pentecost, Acts chapter 2.” While such people may be sincere, they are sincerely wrong. Our pattern is found in Pauline doctrine, Romans through Philemon. We do not go to the Old Testament—Genesis through Malachi, or even Matthew through John (Christ’s earthly ministry)—to find God’s Word to or about us. We do not go to the early part of Acts, and we do not go to Hebrews through Revelation. These are all God’s Word to and about Israel. We study the whole Bible, for it is all the inspired Word of God, but we study it rightly divided. Paul’s ministry is to and about us Church the Body of Christ, believers in the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

That being said, we should see that a false teacher is someone who does not make the above distinctions. They do not like dispensational Bible study. They may actually and openly declare it to be “heresy,” a “manmade system,” “cultic,” and so on. Rather than answer the doctrine point-by-point, they resort to character assassination and insults. Dispensational Bible study is a threat to their religious system, their denomination, and they recognize it as such. They will fight it as much as possible to maintain their preconceived ideas. Whether they realize it or not, they are false teachers. They are teaching error by grabbing Israel’s verses and making them fit us today—legalism (Law-keeping), water baptism, confession of sins, spiritual gifts (tongues, healing, et cetera), Sabbath-day observance, kosher food laws, tithing (forced giving), feast days and holy days, and so on. They will even try to fit us (the Body of Christ) into the Tribulation period, the wrath to come, the reign of the Antichrist. Such people are not serving Jesus Christ with their perverted (non-dispensational) teachings.

The most dangerous false teacher is a legalistic one. First Timothy chapter 1: “[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. [5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; [7] Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. [8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” 

Paul told Timothy to command those in Ephesus not to change the doctrine (verse 3). Doctrine is important. They would change the doctrine by moving from Pauline revelation (grace) over to the Law (see verses 7-8). They were legalists; their motto was, “Perform, work in religion, to get God’s blessings! Keep His commandments or receive the curses!” (Does that sound familiar?) That is indeed what Moses instructed, it is Scripture, but Moses is not God’s spokesman to us. Paul is God’s messenger to us, and Paul said nothing of the sort in Romans through Philemon. We are blessed because of and in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)—not because of something we did but because of something He did (Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 2:10; Titus 3:4-7).

In 2 Timothy 2:15-18, we see some false teachers who mix prophecy and mystery by having the Church the Body of Christ enter the Tribulation period: “[15] Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [16] But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [17] And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.They would tell Christians that they had missed the Rapture (resurrection of the Body of Christ into Heaven) and were now experiencing the wrath of God. We hear that even today—a placing of the Body of Christ into the Antichrist’s reign. They are false teachers… and Paul was not afraid to name them in verse 17!!

2. MANNERISMS

Romans 16:17-18 tells us: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [identify] them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.What are the “marks” of such people? They change the doctrine by moving away from sound Bible doctrine (dispensational Bible study—namely Pauline dispensationalism). Their goal is to attack the Bible text, discredit God’s Word, so they can then replace it with an introduction to their opinions and biases. How sad it is, but they use their convincing words to sway the ignorant masses to their side!

Let us show you, dear readers, 18 specific instances of how these false teachers operate.

A. Entertaining Preacher

False teachers seek to entertain because they want popularity, the acceptance and approbation of men. Now, dear friends, please do not misunderstand. A preacher or teacher telling a joke is not a sin. What is a sin is when the minister gains a reputation for “comic relief” (remember, long-term patterns!). People go to his “services” simply to get a good laugh. They love to hear his myriads of jokes and hilarious stories. He places little emphasis on teaching the Word of God because that Word is not always palatable. The Bible offends, dear friends, the Bible offends. We will discuss the “Ear-Tickling” and/or Prosperity Preacher later.

B. Generalizing Preacher

False teachers try to avoid dealing with controversial matters in public. They do not get into too much detail in their teachings. Mostly (remember, long-term patterns!), they stay general or vague so as not to offend. Their goal is not to preach Bible truths; rather, it is to entice the audience to keep coming back. While time and space constraints limit us all, false teachers waste time. They will focus most of their efforts on one indistinct or non-specific issue. Or, if they go into some detail, they try to focus on nothing but teachings that most people would agree on—the shallow things or basics of Christianity. This way, people of “all denominations” will come without hesitation. Their information is usually common knowledge. They read Bible verses but actual commentary is lean—perhaps totally nonexistent. At their home Bible studies, for example, you ask them pointed questions about what they have just read, and you see them “wiggle.” They will comment on specifics only if you ask them to do so. They will not naturally be specific in public. “Putting them on the spot” is the only way to catch them in duplicity. Sometimes, they will not comment at all.

C. Disinclined Preacher

Everyone can be shy when meeting new people. Due to our personalities, some of us are naturally introverts and we retreat. We do not like mingling with others, particularly strangers. Please do not misunderstand us here either. Shyness is not sinful. However, when a preacher has very little social interaction with you—especially in-person—he may have something to hide. He does not greet you first; you usually or always have to approach him if you are to have a conversation with him. He does not want to draw too much attention to himself or his teaching, and he has little to no interest in discussing doctrine with you. False teachers show no real enthusiasm when dealing with people over the Word of God. There is apathy—no outward joy or enthusiasm, no emotion at all—when they are given opportunity to evangelize or teach others. They could not care less. There is disinterest in ministry opportunities. Of course, this is to be expected. The Holy Spirit has been quenched, hindered from working. (Remember, long-term patterns!)

D. Prayerless Preacher

False teachers rarely, if ever, open and close their messages with public prayer. If any preacher or Bible teacher simply begins and abruptly ends his sermon without praying, that is a major problem that cannot be ignored. Friend, you should be careful getting involved with that ministry. Sometimes we forget to pray, either before or after the sermon. That is unintentional and no need for alarm. However, when a minister habitually skips public praying entirely, this is serious. Remember the patterns rule! The incessant absence of prayer indicates that the speaker has no interest in God blessing the time of study, no desire for God the Holy Spirit to speak through those words read from the Holy Bible. This prayerless speaker has an agenda—he wants to teach what he wants to teach, and he brings his Bible only to hide those intentions. In the energy of his flesh, he delivers a message that the Spirit of God would never endorse. He certainly will not involve the Holy Spirit if he knows the Holy Spirit disapproves of his message.

E. Pestering Preacher

A false teacher will continue to beleaguer you, time and time again, trying to convert you to his line of thought. He may repeatedly send you his literature/media, when you did not subscribe to that mailing list. He keeps calling your phone, emailing you, and/or sending you physical mail. When you make it clear to him that you are not interested, he continues sending booklets, visitors to your home, and so on. These patterns all suggest he is desperately attempting to proselytize you. He is not interested in giving you free will; he wants to control you.

F. “Unapologetic-Bible-Scoffer” Preacher

The false teacher will openly laugh at you when you show him from the Bible how he is teaching heresy. When you confront him about the wording of a specific Bible verse that he misquoted, he will further misquote it just to maintain his theological system he tried to advance earlier. He will make light of serious matters; his lighthearted attitude about doctrine is obvious, and his unbelief cannot be hidden. You caught him erring in doctrine, but he refuses to be corrected by the verses.

G. “Ear-Tickling” and/or Prosperity Preacher

If there has not been a controversy at that teacher or preacher’s assembly in recent years, that means that he is telling people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. If there has not been a dissonant voice in the near past—a long-time adherent breaking away from the group, or a newly-come visitor soon leaving—this author would wonder about the doctrinal integrity there. God’s truth offends; doctrine divides. Departing individuals are expected. When you hear nothing but flattering remarks, complimentary language, “always positive” content, that means the preacher is there just to entertain (which entices individuals to stay). He will avoid using the “negative” Bible words—“sin,” “Hell,” “judgment,” and “wrath,” for example. He will share nothing but positive stories, heartwarming ditties to soothe people’s troubled ears. False teachers also say that Christians are to never be sick, never to be poor, and so on. (This would naturally cause poor and/or ill believers in Christ to doubt their salvation, right?) Such a minister is to be avoided at all costs.

H. Eloquent and Bombastic Preacher

Related to the Ear-Tickling Preacher, the persuasive orator uses polished, inflated language. Please do not misunderstand. There is nothing wrong with being educated, having an extensive vocabulary, and using good grammar. Still, it must be said. Some preachers and teachers are nothing but intellectuals. You can hear it in their voice and read it in their books. They gather their people to have a “philosopher’s club,” where they talk about Scripture and various “spiritual” ideas, but they never really get into the meat of the Bible. There is no serious Bible study. They make it a point to use all these elaborate, multi-syllable words that very few (if any!) in the audience understand. Such mental gymnastics actually hinder the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. Theology is preferred; academics are emphasized. First Corinthians chapters 1-3 should be consulted here, as the Corinthians were rebuked for worshipping philosophy!

I. Habitual Original-Bible-Languages Preacher

Some false teachers refrain from using common language (in our case, English). They have been trained (at seminary, Bible College, et cetera) to depend mostly—if not entirely—upon Greek texts, Hebrew texts, Aramaic texts, Latin texts, and so on. Occasional references to Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek are okay, but false teachers become addicted to appealing to original Bible languages (remember our patterns rule!). “Bible study” for them is nothing more than flipping through a lexicon, reading a Bible dictionary, writing entire Greek passages on a chalkboard, and so on. A Bible may not actually be present in the room either! The common person does not speak these (technical) languages, so they are at the mercy of the false teacher. It is a form of control, a “beating up of the ‘lowly, unenlightened bumpkins’ in the pews!” They have no idea of what is really going on; they have no way of verifying what the teacher is actually saying. The “Anti-King-James-Bible Preacher” and “Private-Translation Preacher” are closely associated with this.

J. Anti-King-James-Bible Preacher

Some teachers have simply been misinformed here. They have good intentions but have been taught wrong about Bible versions. (This author was once a false teacher in this point!) Still, others are willfully ignorant of it. They do not want to give the King James Bible the benefit of the doubt. In their mind, it is wrong and that is that! In the English-speaking world (much of our ministry’s audience), the false teacher will constantly correct the King James Bible. What makes this ministry so problematic is that people are taught in church to question the Bible. This minister decries how colleges destroy people’s faith in the Bible; meanwhile, he tells us the King James Bible is flawed throughout and we must look to him (and others like him) for a “more accurate Bible text.” His sermons and books abound with such phrases as, “This word should have been this…,” “A better translation is…,” “The most ancient and reliable texts read something else…,” “Our 1611 translators goofed here…,” and so on. Authority is taken away from the Protestant Bible—the King James Bible line of witnesses and manuscripts—and given over to Roman Catholic texts (modern English versions). It is really a continuation of the Counter-Reformation that the Roman Church initiated 500 years ago to: (1) discourage Protestants from using their personal Bible, and (2) cause them to seek counsel from the tradition-worshipping Roman priesthood that possessed “the better text.” Many Protestants, sadly, have adopted such a practice; they attack their own Bible text! How Satan loves it!

K. “Private-Translation” Preacher

Another type of minister you want to watch out for is someone who makes his own Bible translation as he goes long in the service. He refuses to use a Bible in his audience’s language: he deliberately avoids using a Bible written in the language of his spectators. Rather, he uses a Greek/Hebrew/Latin Bible and translates as he teaches. A private interpretation is dangerous. Friend, you have no way of knowing if he translated correctly or just fabricated something! (And, what difference does it make… he is the authority and you are the know-nothing peon in the pew who cannot make comparisons between languages!) While in translation, our 1611 King James Bible was reviewed many, many times by many, many qualified men. This author will take their judgment over the opinions of one man in this day of mass apostasy!

L. “Experience-Based/Extra-Biblical” Preacher

When something other than the Holy Bible is the authority, that is false teaching. That offends people, but so what. It must be said. In such groups, experiences will take the place of the Scriptures—“I saw this miracle, I heard that voice talking to me, I felt this inner impression….” They make it a point to tell stories of other people’s superstitious experiences as well. “God spoke to me…. Angels appeared throughout the room…. I am filled with the Holy Ghost and let me tell you what He said… I had this vision, dream, hunch, leading inside to do this or that….” Second Timothy 3:15-17: “[15] And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Friends, the Bible is all we need to know everything God wants us to know and to do everything God wants us to do! We do not need angels, hunches, opinions, visions, and so on.

M. “Praise and Worship” Preacher

This man is akin to the “Experience-Based/Extra-Biblical Preacher” and the “Ear-Tickling Preacher.” When a preacher or teacher spends most of his ministry stressing music and singing, this is precarious. The Word of God is not studied at his meeting-place; instead, priorities here include dancing in the church building, loud (perhaps deafening) “concerts,” and the like. Loss of self-control is rampant. Emotions are exalted. Entertainment is key. There is no semblance of spiritual sanity. The flesh (sin nature) is in complete control—God the Holy Spirit is not! We can find such people in 1 Corinthians chapter 14

N. “Lone-Teacher” Preacher

False teachers claim that they do not need anyone to teach them the Bible. They say that “God” (?) has taught them and they alone are equipped to teach others. No one can teach them anything because they know it all. Some will tell you outright that you do not need preachers, teachers, or commentaries. Who are these individuals? They are preachers, teachers, and writers of commentaries! This is actually a cult in the making, if not already a well-founded one. Their so-called “revelations” deny the sufficiency of the Scripture itself. In fact, they may exalt their own writings as “the Word of God.” When they isolate you so as to make you believe that you have to come to them and them alone for Bible answers, that is dangerous and certainly not of the God of the Bible. Their flesh is running the show, and they will not submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading. You have no reason to stick around that assembly or Bible study group!

O. “Spiritualize-to-Tell-Spiritual-Lies” Preacher

This individual tells you that when the Holy Bible says one thing, it really means something else. They depart from a literal interpretation; this error is also known as the “allegorical/figurative method” of approaching Scripture. For example, “Babylon” really means “Rome,” “Israel” actually means “Body of Christ,” “grace” really means “works,” “Jerusalem” actually means your hometown, and so on. You are always supposed to be looking for code words, hidden meanings, clandestine definitions, mystical implications, and so on. If that were the case, how would you ever figure out anything in Scripture?

P. Self-Professed “Infallible” Preacher

False teachers refuse to hear where they are wrong. They waste all their opportunities they had to correct their mistakes. They do not want to have anyone questioning what they teach. They discourage all opposition and all discussion. They may tell people in their assembly, “You are correcting me about the Bible? What do you know about the Bible? You let me teach you and you be quiet.” They come into groups and try to make major doctrinal changes without Scriptural authority. They are despots. Leave them be!

Q. Tradition-Dominated Preacher

Every religious traditionalist is a false teacher (whether they realize it or not is beside the point). That is brutal but that is honest. Whenever church tradition creeps in, it will soon push the Holy Bible aside. Their unique expressions are, “The Church says…,” “Brother So-and-So teaches…,” “Doctor This-and-That holds to this…,” and so on. Jesus Christ addressed this crowd in Mark chapter 7: “[8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…. [9] … Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…. [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

R. “Scant Verses” Preacher

A false teacher will use just a couple of verses in each sermon. He will not do comparative verses because verse comparisons restrict the meaning of the verses he just read. In order to have as much latitude with a verse as possible, the false teacher will concentrate as much as possible on that verse (or a few verses). This way, he can read the Bible, appear to be teaching the Bible, but actually not let the Bible define more fully what it means.

3. CONVERTS/CONGREGANTS

We have seen how doctrine can be examined to expose false teachers. Also, we have discussed how mannerisms can be considered to uncover false teachers. Lastly, we will look at how the preacher’s or teacher’s own audience will demonstrate him to be sound in the faith or sick in the faith.

Try, as much as possible, to interact with any converts or congregants of the teacher or preacher you are evaluating. Individuals who have sat under a false teacher’s ministry will exhibit a great number of the above doctrinal and practical departures and oddities. They have such a basic understanding of the Bible—perhaps even no understanding.

When gaining information from congregants or converts, you do not want to say, “Hey, your preacher is a false teacher. You know what I heard him say? You know what I read in his book?” No, that will draw attention to your investigation, and that may “tip off” the alleged false teacher to change or hide his teachings just so you not catch him in the act. Rather, you ask their position on various issues and see what they say. The more converts or students you ask, the more things they say in common, you are safe in concluding they have likely heard it from that one preacher. The preacher, whether good or bad, will set the example. His ministry will duplicate himself in the minds and behaviors of those under his ministry. For example, if someone from one person’s ministry usually asks the same related questions concerning one particular controversial issue, the chances are great that that ministry embraced that quirky position.

III. CONCLUSION

1. DOES THIS REALLY MATTER?

What better way to begin closing this article but by answering objections? (This author has heard them, and he will be glad to address them now.)

A. “We all sin—no one is perfect!”

Indeed, see Sub-Section “E.”

B. “We are all still learning—no one has all the answers!”

Indeed, see Sub-Section “E.”

C. “We cannot read hearts—only God knows if they are truly false!”

Indeed, and No. See Sub-Section “E.”

D. “We all have our disagreements—no big deal there!”

Indeed, and No. See Sub-Section “E.”

E. What God says

We all sin, but that is no excuse for false teaching. We are all still learning, but that is no reason to accept false teachers. We can disagree, but there are places where we cannot disagree. God knows we all sin, God knows we are still learning, God knows we can disagree, God alone can read hearts. Yet, He still told us on numerous occasions to “avoid” false teachers. He did not say, “Well, everyone sins, everyone disagrees, everyone does not know everything, no one can read hearts, so you need not be so concerned with someone teaching error here and there!” It is as if God thought He gave us enough information to spot and avoid false teachers. Are we willing to hear those words? Or, are we just going to blindly gravitate toward personalities?

Galatians 1:6-9 says that if someone is preaching anything other than Paul’s Gospel, we are to have nothing to do with that person: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Is that clear enough?

Romans 16:17-18 tells us: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [identify] them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.Is that clear enough?

Second Corinthians 6:14-18: “[14] Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? [15] And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? [16] And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. [18] And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Is that clear enough?

First Timothy 6:3-5: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” Is that clear enough?

Christians who have no appreciation for the Word of God rightly divided, as well as those who are unsaved (outside of Jesus Christ), will tell us not to “attack” false teachers. They tell us we should not be giving out names, we should not be criticizing “other Christians,” and we should not be “nitpicky” because nobody has all the answers. Why? They have their own flawed theological systems that they do not want you to expose! They want to defend the false teachers they embrace. They want to soothe their raging emotions. How they will lash out at you, and call you the most vicious of titles!

Contrary to what many people would have us believe, doctrine matters. The Holy Spirit knew all our limitations, our lack of perfect understanding in every Bible detail, and yet He still warns us over and over and over again in the Scriptures to be on the lookout for false teaching. God called those people liars and deceivers, so we need not worry about “reading hearts.” He said if they are teaching bad doctrine, they are not worthy of our time and support. They are not serving Him. End of story. Period! The only reason for being unable to discern truth from error is just plain laziness. People refuse to get in the Bible and study it for themselves. That is offensive, but that is the truth. We all need to accept that.

It should also be pointed out that even the smallest of departures from the truth are problematic. Just as a building under construction is “offset” little by little as each floor is constructed—the result being a massive difference from the blueprints—so “little” doctrinal errors will combine to form one gigantic apostasy. Galatians chapter 5 speaks of legalism (doctrinal error—works-religion) creeping into the Christian groups throughout central Turkey: “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” As a little yeast would make a whole ball of dough expand, so a little false teaching corrupts an entire assembly. It will grow worse and worse. And, to think—it all started with a “little!” (Do you want to eat just a “little” poison?)

2. THE SIMPLE PREY

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-2 once again: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” These “seducing spirits” are preacher’s voices. They draw naïve people away from the truth by delighting or pleasing them in some way.

Romans 16:17-18 tells us: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark [identify] them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. [18] For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” False teachers fool the simple. These “simple” are innocent and unsuspecting. They do not realize what is happening to them—that someone is spiritually weakening and destroying (poisoning) them. Galatians 3:1 says, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” The false teachers put their people under “spell,” sort of like hypnosis. They are no longer thinking clearly; they are like spiritual zombies now. How awful!

Finally, 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “[3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” The false teachers are telling them just what they want to hear!!

3. PERFECTING YOUR “FALSE TEACHER RADAR”

My dear friend, be not discouraged if this study has caused you to see where false teaching has affected or misled you. This author his had his own “rough experiences” in religion. It has taken him over a decade in ministry to see his own faults and false ideas he once held and defended. We are all growing, purifying our ministries, and (Lord willing) we will do so until the Rapture (or physical death). As long as you heed the verses quoted in this study, and consider the advice presented here, this author is fully confident that the Holy Spirit will give you the readers the strength to perfect your ability to spot false teachers. How does he know? It has been his firsthand experience. Diligent Bible study, long prayer, careful investigation, and a believing heart are all key to fine-tuning how you discern the ministries of preachers and teachers.

4. THE RISKS

If you take this information to heart and act on it, this author guarantees you that you will lose friends. (He knows firsthand many times over!) As he has become accustomed to saying in recent times, “So be it!” You will also gain the friendships of people who do want to know God’s truth, who share your desire to maintain sound Bible doctrine. Just remember when Paul confronted the deceived Galatians in Galatians 4:16: “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?”

5. CAN FALSE TEACHERS BE “SALVAGED?”

One final note before we wrap this up, dear readers. This author has learned that some preachers and teachers can indeed turn from error to the truth. Usually, however, this is not the case. They have too much too lose—power/influence, popularity, wealth, and so on. This author would greatly caution (!) anyone who is attempting (or considering attempting) approaching a false teacher close to them. Unless the person is grounded in the Word of God rightly divided, the false teacher may very well corrupt the well-meaning person. This author would advise those people to be very careful here, and perhaps seek the advice and/or aid of more skillful Christians.

While we should attempt to recover those in Satan’s trap (2 Timothy 2:24-26)— particularly as it concerns brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:1-2)—it is never wise to risk a whole congregation just to reform one errant Christian. A group that openly and significantly disagrees with a false teacher, that group should be very careful in any “salvaging” operation. It is highly likely that the false teacher will further corrupt the group. If he does eventually turn from his evil teaching, fine—praise the Lord. He should be showing progress in his reformation. If he is still retaining and teaching his errors after a significant amount of instruction in the truth, it is best to leave him alone (Titus 3:9-11). He wants to stay confused, and we give him his free will choice (1 Corinthians 14:38).

For the sake of our ministry, for the sake of our audience, we will have to separate from false teachers. We should not apologize for it. It does not matter how kind he is, how comical he is, how knowledgeable he is, how handsome he is, how articulate he is, how much he claims to “love the Lord,” it is time to let him go his way. With a broken heart, you give him over to his error. It is what he wants. It is what GOD wants (Titus 3:9-11).

Also see:
» Does doctrine matter?
» But what if they read the Bible at my church?
» Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?

How did the Law kill Paul?

HOW DID THE LAW KILL PAUL? HOW WILL IT KILL US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Romans 7:9 tells us: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” How did the Law kill Paul? Furthermore, how will it kill us?

The seventh chapter of Romans can be quite challenging because of the conflict so vividly described therein. You are encouraged to read it in your own time. Our purpose here is not to give an in-depth, verse-by-verse commentary on the chapter. Rather, we want to provide the chapter’s overall context. After its background has been established, the chapter will be self-explanatory. Verse 9 will then be easy.

Romans chapters 1-5 present a clear Gospel of Grace. This is justification—how to have a right standing before God. It shows man’s dilemma in sin, as well as God’s solution. We see man’s guilt in chapters 1-3, and God’s provision at Calvary in chapters 3-5. The next three chapters (6-8) are sanctification. Soul salvation unto eternal life has already been covered; the issue now is Christian living in light of the believer’s identity defined in chapters 3-5. Chapters 9-11 are dispensational in nature—Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. We are not Israel, we are the Church the Body of Christ; we should therefore not behave like Israel, claiming her promises and blessings as our own. The Book of Romans concludes with chapters 12-16—daily application of grace principles in specific life situations.

Again, all too often people struggle with Romans chapter 7. The perspective of the chapter is firsthand—Paul wrote it—but is he speaking as a Christian or as a lost person? Dear readers, there are no lost people in the chapter. As noted earlier, this section of the Book is Christian living. If we want to find lost people in Romans, we have to go to the first five chapters. Chapter 7, however, highlights a common problem in the lives of believers in Christ even today. “I” or “me” or “my” appears nearly 40 times in the passage of Romans 7:7-25. The Law keeps us focused on ourselves. What are we doing to please God? What are we doing to measure up? Are we trying enough? Will we try harder next time?

Chapter 7 of Romans, obviously, comes immediately after chapter 6. In chapter 7, we see copious references to the Law. Halfway through chapter 6, we see the reference to the Law, a performance-based acceptance system. We also know this as religion or legalism. Christian living is entirely dependent upon the identity or position the believer has in Jesus Christ. In chapter 7, Paul is not walking in the light given in chapter 6. His flesh gravitates toward the Law. We are no different. This is how we know chapter 7 is not about lost people but about saved people thinking and behaving like lost people. There is a very close resemblance, which explains why confusion often abounds as to whether Paul is a saved or lost man in chapter 7.

We will quote Romans chapter 7, verses 1-6, just for context. For sake of brevity, commentary will be withheld except to say this carries the thought found in Romans 6:14-15: “[14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

Romans chapter 7: “[1] Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? [2] For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. [3] So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. [4] Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. [5] For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. [6] But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

The Law kills. It does not give anyone any power to meet its absolute, stringent standards. Romans 3:19-20 says: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. God designed the Law to do nothing more than condemn every person as a sinner. The Law thunders out the verdict of “GUILTY!” Watch how Paul will experience this firsthand in his own Christian life.

Back to Romans chapter 7: “[7] What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. [8] But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.”

As verse 7 says, there is nothing wrong with the Law. Even verse 12 adds: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” However, the Law does not belong in the life of the Christian. Romans chapter 6 again: “[14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” The Holy Spirit never motivates in a believer in the Dispensation of Grace to live under the Law. Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

While there is nothing wrong with the Law, there is a problem. That problem is found in the sinner. The Law simply shows us there is a sin nature in each of us. Sin will use the Law to have “dominion” (or control) over us; therefore God took us out of the Law system and put us under the Grace system! This is the heart of our Dispensation, the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

First Timothy chapter 1 says: “[7] Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. [8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

The Law is not made for a righteous man. We are righteous in Jesus Christ; He is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; cf. Romans 5:1; et al.). Therefore, there is no purpose for the Law in the life of the believer. Once the Law shows the sinner his need for the Saviour, the Law has served its one and only purpose. Alas, even today, people struggle with works-religion, reveling in self-righteousness. See Romans chapter 10: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Now, Galatians chapter 3: “[22] But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. [23] But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [25] But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

Back to Romans chapter 7: “[7] What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. [8] But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” As a preacher of the truth, Paul was poor. He saw the religious leaders around him, stealing from the ignorant naïve masses. Those professional church operators were wealthy, so Paul naturally grew envious. His sin nature took advantage of the situation, and he was completely consumed with covetousness. Without the Law, his Christian life had operated just fine. The Holy Spirit was using Grace to teach him how to live.

Titus 2:11-15 says: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

Something happened in Romans chapter 7. As soon as Paul introduced Law-keeping into his Christian life, sin became rampant. Again, the Law cannot do anything but condemn. It makes us the issue when Jesus Christ should be the issue. The cross of Christ is what matters—what He did to defeat sin rather than what we do to overcome sin.

Now, we have gotten to the verse in question. Romans 7:9 says: “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” This is not physical death, and neither is it spiritual death (going to Hell). It is functional death. It is like the deadness of Sarah’s womb and the deadness of Abraham’s reproduction organs. God supernaturally intervened to make them both function normally and produce a child, Isaac (Romans 4:19). At first, Paul enjoyed the Christian life because God’s grace taught him how to live and empowered him to live. However, when he placed himself under the Law system, sin controlled and defeated him as it did when he was unsaved. Paul ceased to function according to his Christian identity because he went contrary to how the Spirit of God works today. Go back to Galatians 5:18: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

We continue in Romans chapter 7: “[10] And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. [11] For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. [12] Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. [13] Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. [14] For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

Paul is now thinking like a lost man. In verse 14, he claims to be “carnal, sold under sin.” He is under the assumption that he is a slave to sin. This is not reality. Paul is deceived, confused. He has abandoned the information—the truths—he just laid out in chapter 6. Many professing Christians are in the same predicament. They do not live under Grace. They live under the Law. They do not live like Christians; they live like unsaved people. They need to read and believe chapter 6, and we need to read and believe chapter 8.

Let us notice Romans chapter 6, for example: “[1] What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? [2] God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [3] Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

“[5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

“[17] But God be thanked, that ye were [past tense!!!] the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. [18] Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness…. [20] For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. [21] What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. [22] But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. [23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Let us go back to chapter 7. Be sure to note how Paul’s struggle intensifies now. He wants to do right, but he always does wrong. What he hates, he ends up doing. His sinful flesh is using the Law system to get the advantage over him. Rather than the Spirit of God controlling him, the flesh of man is directing him. Behaving contrary to what God is doing today, he is doomed to fail. Grace, not Law, is how the Christian life operates today. Galatians 5:18 once more: “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

With that said, Romans chapter 7: “[15] For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. [16] If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. [17] Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. [18] For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. [19] For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. [20] Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”

Sin deceives us. It makes us believe that we can manage it. The Law is a sin-management system. This explains why the flesh (sin nature) gravitates toward the Law. Now we see exactly what is going on in chapter 7. God put us under grace in order to save us from condemnation of the Law. Not only are we free from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire), we are also from the power of sin (daily sinful living). We do not have to sin!

Continue reading in Romans chapter 7: “[21] I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. [22] For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: [23] But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? [25] I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

As Paul closes Romans chapter 7, he is a miserable, despondent person. He is so looking for deliverance, and he sees the rescue is through Jesus Christ our Lord. Chapter 8 opens with the answer. We are to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh! We are to mind the things of the Spirit and not the things of the flesh!

Romans 8:1-6 is the key to Paul’s dilemma at the conclusion of chapter 7: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.We are to think the way the Holy Spirit thinks (grace), and that is how we guard against the predicament in chapter 7.

By the way, in one sitting, read Romans chapters 6-8. Watch the truths in chapter 6 be ignored in chapter 7. Then, notice how they are reaffirmed and expanded in chapter 8. We are dead to sin (chapter 6), we are dead to the Law (chapter 7), and we are alive unto God by the indwelling Holy Spirit (chapter 8).

Also see:
» What does it mean to “mind earthly things?”
» Does “walking in the Spirit” mean the same thing as “living in the Spirit?”
» Is grieving the Holy Spirit forgivable?

Should women speak in church?

SHOULD WOMEN SPEAK IN CHURCH? MAY THEY ASK QUESTIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

These inquiries stem from 1 Corinthians chapter 14: “[34] Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. [35] And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Why are Christian women instructed here to be silent? How is it “a shame” (disgraceful) for them to talk in the assembly, especially with regards to asking questions?

Firstly, this “speaking” is not normal dialog. If we look at the context (verses 1-33 especially), we see the background is the spiritual gifts of prophesying (preaching) and speaking in tongues. The gift of tongues is the supernatural (Holy Spirit) empowerment of speaking in human dialects never formally learned (see Acts 2:1-11—especially verses 6-11). It has nothing whatsoever to do with some ecstatic, “angelic” gibberish that “God alone understands.”

According to our opening verses, men only (never women!) were to exercise the gifts of prophesying and tongues. The implication is that if women ever did prophesy or “speak in tongues,” it was NOT the Holy Spirit controlling her. Friend, contrary to what you might have seen and heard in Charismatic circles, God the Holy Spirit never, ever leads a woman to exercise the gifts of prophesying and tongues. It is the working of her sinful flesh, the working of Satan, but never the working of the God of the Bible. That is what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 14:34. While you may not like it, while you may hate it, you cannot change it! Just leave it alone and believe it! 🙂

What about verse 35? “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Again, this is not normal, everyday chitchat. It is something excessive and distracting, particularly women dominating the congregation. Women serve roles in the local assembly, but not in places where they appear to be functioning as men. The order of creation and marriage is man followed by woman. That pattern carries over into the local church.

First Timothy 2:11-15 tells us God’s plan for the functioning of the local assembly: “[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” This is the proper cross-reference to 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

If a woman is usurping the authority over the man in the local assembly—or even in the marriage relationship—there is opposition to how God designed human life to operate. Satan will use this disorder to undermine those associations. If the Lord Jesus Christ is to be honored and glorified, the man leads in God’s Word (right way) while the woman follows him. First Corinthians chapter 11, verse 3, also written to the Corinthians, please note, says: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[21] Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. [22] Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. [24] Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Unfortunately, because of sin, life is greatly complicated. Two problems arise concerning the marriage relationship and the local church arrangement. Firstly, the man may not lead in God’s way (right direction), so the woman who wants to do right must go against him. Sadly, he is not operating as God planned, so she has to act independently. Secondly, the man who does lead in God’s way (right direction) may encounter a woman who refuses to follow him because she wants to do wrong. Regrettably, she is not functioning as God intended. Such clashes hinder—and if left unaddressed will eventually destroy—the marriage and the local assembly. You had better believe it, friend, you had better believe it!!

There is spiritual safety when a woman follows her husband in sound Bible doctrine. Satan’s goal (he is most wise) is to remove the woman from the follower position and place her into the leader position, thereby defeating both man and woman—and ultimately disrupting God’s work in the marriage and local church. Go back to 1 Timothy 2:11-15, which describes how Satan manipulated Eve to stop following Adam, and how Adam willfully chose not to guide his wife when she did stop following him!! This is exactly how the human race fell… how sin made its entrance into the human condition. We would be fools to dismiss the role of the sexes as trivial and fluid. Today’s “gender identity” and “sex identity” exploration fads are most dangerous. They are the Adversary’s way of upending human society, especially marriages (families) and local churches.

For sake of emphasis, we read from 1 Timothy chapter 2 again: “[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

Returning to 1 Corinthians chapter 14, there were women preachers and women tongue-speakers in Corinth. The Holy Spirit through Paul thoroughly condemned them. Once more, we read: “[34] Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. [35] And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” Some may not like it, but that is what the Bible says. Let God be true, but every man a liar.

Why would the Holy Spirit forbid women from asking questions? Well, remember, it is the Corinthian women specifically. “Let YOUR women keep silence in the churches….” They were notorious for being disruptive, domineering, and masculine. This is the key to understanding the “women and head coverings” issue dealt with earlier in chapter 11. Christian women in Corinth were taking away from the men’s ministry there. Therefore, the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul admonished them to cease their wayward activities. (For more information, see our head coverings study linked at the end of this article.)

It has been said, more than once, that the modern Charismatic Movement would die out in a day if the women were removed from their roles. The same could be said of the Corinthian assembly—and that is exactly why the Holy Spirit wrote what He did through Paul. That mockery of Jesus Christ’s ministry was not to be ignored as “petty immaturity.” It was to be shut down entirely and immediately. Such words of rebuke thunder throughout unruly Christendom even now. “Let YOUR women keep silence in the churches….” Women (usurping the authority of the men) and men (failing to lead) are such a scourge in so many assemblies. Dear friends, the Church the Body of Christ has done such a pitiful job in learning these lessons from Corinth. After 2,000 years, even with the completed Word of God in our hands, professing Christians are struggling to get down even the basics in local church operations. No wonder they are so riddled with error!

Sometimes, even now, women will dominate question-and-answer sessions in local church settings or Bible conferences. Whether inadvertently or deliberately, it is still awkward, not conducive to learning, and contrary to Christian behavior. If one lady persists, or a group of ladies persist, in inquiry after inquiry after inquiry, it puts the authority and attention on them (when it should be on the [male] preachers and teachers—they have the task of teaching the Word of God). The (male) leaders should have the group’s attention, for God has given the teaching ministry over the whole group. (Go back to 1 Timothy 2:11-15—“[11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”)

This author can just hear the objections, the critical remarks, to the study thus far. He will be swift to address them. This has nothing to do with men being more special or better than women. This is not misogyny. God the Holy Spirit does not hate women, and neither does this author. Again, the idea is headship. Someone has to take the lead and, because of creation, that is the man. Our sisters in Christ need to be very careful here, and not repeat the mistakes of the Corinthian women in Christ.

In all fairness, we are not going to leave out our Christian brothers. Friends, this is going to be offensive as well, but it must be said. If a lady in the assembly has an abundance of Bible questions, it is highly likely that her husband is at fault. The more she asks, the worse he appears. Why does this author say that? The Bible commands in verse 35 of 1 Corinthians chapter 14: “And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” As noted earlier, God Almighty has given the husband the job of being his wife’s Bible teacher. If the wife knows little to nothing about Scripture, it is not the preacher’s fault! While she is responsible for her own decisions, the blame is (to a large degree) on her husband! Her husband is to be her spiritual guardian, and how he has failed miserably!! This was Adam’s fault—and, again, remember how the human race fell thereafter! It is a very serious matter, a grave issue indeed. Do not brush it off. He should take her home, and, in love, instruct her in their God’s words. At home, she can learn quietly without disturbing everyone in public. This is what Paul was urging the Corinthian men to do with their wives.

CONCLUSION

First Corinthians chapter 14 is controversial, a most “hot-button” issue: “[34] Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. [35] And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

Surveying the entire First Epistle to Corinth, we could use several descriptors for their assembly. Two of the obvious ones are “chaotic” and “confused.” There were great disruptions, and Satan absolutely reveled in their Biblical ignorance, spiritual immaturity, and complete foolishness. Saints (yes, saints!) were abusing spiritual gifts, drawing attention to themselves. In our study here, we saw that women were not playing the submissive role. Rather, they were boisterous, overassertive, and unruly. Men were refusing to take the leadership roles and/or they were being outright rejected in leadership roles. Saints (yes, saints—women!) were drawing attention to themselves by preaching, speaking in tongues, and asking too many questions in public. The men in Corinth were failing to function as leaders and the women were overbearing instead of following.

As to be expected when God’s design is ignored, the Corinthian group suffered greatly from spiritual madness and mayhem. Hence, the Holy Spirit through Paul told the Corinthian women to keep silent and ask their husbands at home. There were simply too many disruptions, distractions, spectacles, and commotions—all dragging down the Lord’s ministry in Corinth. It is “a shame for women to speak in the church” (GOD says that Christian women who are not submissive in the local church and marriage relationship are disgraceful!!). It does not mean that women are forbidden to converse at all within the church building. It means they are not to exercise the gifts of prophesying and tongues. They are not to lead the entire congregation. The men in the assembly were to stop being wimps and set things in order.

Yes, women can speak in church. Indeed, they can ask questions. However, as we saw with the Corinthians, they can get carried away and draw the whole assembly into Satan’s trap. When women assume leadership positions—namely, teaching men—this is extremely threatening to all involved. We all (women and men) need to guard against this and see that it does not occur in our local churches!

Also see:
» Should Christian women wear head coverings?
» Should a woman lead a group in prayer?
» Should women serve in the ministry?

“Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”

“THOU THAT ABHORREST IDOLS, DOST THOU COMMIT SACRILEGE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Romans 2:22 says, “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?” What are we to make of the terminating expression, “thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”

The larger context is chapter 1 and verse 18, all the way to chapter 3 and verse 20. God is condemning mankind as nothing but sinners worthy of His wrath. Judgment—the Tribulation period—was on its way when our Dispensation of Grace interrupted Israel’s prophetic timeline. With a new program beginning with the Apostle Paul’s conversion and commission (Acts chapter 9), there is a new Gospel message as well. That Gospel message—called “the Gospel of the Grace of God” in Acts 20:24—begins in Romans chapter 3 and verse 21 and continues until chapter 5 and verse 21.

Romans 1:18-32 is directed toward the wicked, idolatrous Gentiles (or nations) JEHOVAH God had given over to Satan at the Tower of Babel over 2,000 years earlier. Paul would later preach to these idol-worshipping pagans, telling them the reason for their awful condition.

Acts 14:15-17: “[15] And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. [17] Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Acts 17:28-30: “[28] For in him [God] we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. [29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. [30] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:….”

Since these pagan Gentiles are cohorts of Satan, they are deserving of God’s wrath. However, God has delayed that wrath, and sent Paul to preach to them all about how Jesus Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). They could, by faith, have a relationship with the one true God their ancestors had rejected back at the Tower of Babel. Ultimately, in Christ, they would avoid that wrath altogether (including Hell and the Lake of Fire). After centuries upon centuries of spiritual ignorance, utter darkness, these Gentiles could come into the light of God’s grace! We will stop here and back up a bit.

Ephesians 2:11-13 contrasts the “time past” and “but now” arrangements: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Verse 13 is Paul’s ministry—“but now.” The period known as “time past” was when Israel had a relationship with God while the Gentiles were without Him.

The Jews scorned the Gentiles for their pagan idolatry, but there was one problem. Whether Jew or Gentile, they had all come from one father—Adam! So, God the Holy Spirit began in Romans chapter 2 to show the Jews that they were just as worthy of His wrath as the Gentiles of chapter 1. We see the “Jews” named in verse 17 of chapter 2, but they are implied in verse 1 of chapter 2 and go all the way to verse 20 of chapter 3. By the time chapter 2 winds down and chapter 3 has begun, God begins to lump Jew and Gentile into one pitiful group. Whether unsaved Jew or unsaved Gentile, they are all under sin and Satan’s control!

The following quotes from Romans chapter 3 summarize: “[9] What then? are we [Jews] better than they [Gentiles]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; [10] As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: [11] There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. [12] They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. [13] Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: [14] Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: [15] Their feet are swift to shed blood: [16] Destruction and misery are in their ways: [17] And the way of peace have they not known: [18] There is no fear of God before their eyes. [19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Jew and Gentile] may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” And, of course, how could we forget verse 23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “All” have sinned means “Gentiles and Jews.”

We will forgo any further background comments, and proceed to answering your question. Romans chapter 2 reads: “[17] Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, [18] And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; [19] And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, [20] An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.”

The nation Israel had such self-confidence, boastful of knowing God’s Word and will (namely, the Mosaic Law) whereas the Gentiles were given over to spiritual ignorance (cf. Romans 9:4-5 and Ephesians 2:11-12). You can see the Gentiles in Romans chapter 2 (above) described as “the blind… them which are in darkness… the foolish… babes.” The Jews need not get smug (self-righteous) here. Actually, the Holy Spirit through Paul will now issue proofs of His charges against the Jews. He will pose a series of four questions that outright condemn Israel, to counter her pomposity. These questions are God’s way of trying to convert unsaved Jews during Paul’s Acts ministry. The last question is the one with which you are struggling. We need to look at all four separately to get the full picture. The first three will establish a pattern that we can use to interpret the final one (your baffling question).

Romans 2:21a: “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?”

This question is the primary one, with the last three being derivatives. The Jews that teach others, do they not teach themselves? This is basically another way of saying, “Do you practice what you preach? You tell others to do something and to learn something, but have you yourself done that something and learned that something?” (Of course, the answer is “NO.” Watch the following questions.)

Romans 2:21b: “thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?”

“Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15) is the Eighth Commandment. It was part of the most fundamental portion of the Mosaic Law. Israel had entered this contractual agreement with JEHOVAH God at Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19:1-9). She was expected to keep it perfectly or be cursed/punished severely. As Paul writes, the Jews condemned the Gentiles as thieves (“You Mosaic-Law breakers, you anti-God sinners!”). Yet, Paul asked, “Do you Jews steal?” (The implication is they do.) In effect, the Holy Spirit says, “Then, you have no right to look down on those Gentiles. You are guilty of the same sin!” Or, to say it more bluntly, “You Jews are hypocrites!”

Romans 2:22a: “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?”

This was another one of the 10 Commandments—the Seventh, specifically. “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” said Exodus 20:14. Yet, according to Romans chapter 2, the Jews committed adultery as often as their Gentile neighbors. To wit, the Israelites lost their testimony, ignoring Moses’ warnings many centuries earlier in Deuteronomy chapter 4: “[5] Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. [6] Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. [7] For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? [8] And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

The Israelites were to use God’s Word in life to show themselves to be different. They were to behave in God’s land like they were God’s people. Yet, they tossed aside that Word and became like everyone else in thought, word, and deed. Remember, this is the whole case the Holy Spirit is laying out in the second chapter of Romans. Israel cannot be self-righteous because she is just as evil and deserving of divine wrath as the Gentiles she criticizes. She needs Paul’s Gospel just as much as the pagan Gentiles to whom he is now preaching in Acts. Without Paul’s ministry, the wrath of God would fall upon all those evildoers.

Israel had the Law, the eternal words of the eternal God, but that did not make them any less sinful than the Gentiles who did not have the Law. Possessing the words of God, and believing and doing the words of God, are two separate matters. Romans chapter 3 opens with the following: “[1] What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? [2] Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” Israel had the Word of God, and yet acted like they did not!

Romans 2:22b: “thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”

This is the problematic question. “Abhor idols… commit sacrilege?” Again, we set the tone by using the inquiries that have preceded this. The Jews condemned the Gentiles for stealing—they also were thieves. They censured the nations for committing adultery—they too were adulterers. They Jews condemned the Gentiles for being unclean idolaters—they too committed sacrilege. Idolatry and sacrilege are paired, please note.

As per The Oxford English Dictionary, “sacrilege” means “violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred.” It is taken from the Latin sacrilegium, from sacrilegus ‘stealer of sacred things’, from sacer, sacr- ‘sacred’ + legere ‘take possession of.’ The idea of sacrilege then is something “holy” being stolen and used for “unholy” purposes. The Greek word rendered “sacrilege” appears one time in the King James Bible—here in Romans 2:22. It is hierosuleo (hieron, “temple;” sylao, “to rob”).

In the Law, God taught Israel that idols were unclean. They were not to get involved with either idol-making or idol-worship (see Exodus 20:1-6, Exodus 34:13-17, et al.). On one hand, to feel religious, Israel “abhorred” (hated, detested) the idols and criticized the Gentiles for associating with such false deities. Yet, as Paul said, the Jews would rob temples. The tone has already been set, so we can just come out and say it. Israel would greedily seize the idols of the Gentiles! They would take the holy vessels and other objects of the pagan temples and set them up for themselves! Being sinners as well, Israel did not mind touching those filthy objects, dirty instruments used in the offering of unclean animals and blood. (And yet, Israel denounced the Gentiles for being ceremonially unclean and idolatrous!!!)

Romans 2:24 is a stinging reprimand, a most fitting way to conclude this study: “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you [Israel!], as it is written.”

Also see:
» Can you explain Romans 2:24?
» What is the “temptation” in 1 Corinthians 10:13?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?

Does the Bible teach that mental illness is really devil possession?

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT MENTAL ILLNESS IS REALLY DEVIL POSSESSION? IS PHYSICAL ILLNESS ACTUALLY DEVIL POSSESSION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Sometimes, people assume that the Bible considers mental illness as nothing more than devil possession. Even today, some dismiss God’s Word as “unscientific” because they suppose its human writers did not understand intellectual disabilities and bodily illnesses. The Bible writers—so-called “benighted bumpkins”—explained every physical affliction with the wanting description of “devil possession.” However, there is a verse that corrects the critics’ misunderstanding. The Bible writers are not confused; the Bible critics are.

Matthew 4:24 is just that verse: “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.” But, first, before we address this Scripture, we want to ask a question. Why were these healing miracles so vital to Christ’s earthly ministry? Were they designed to simply give suffering people relief, to remove difficulties from their lives?

Matthew 4:17 tells us at the very beginning of His ministry: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Lord Jesus Christ traveled the highways and byways of Israel in Matthew through John and preached and healed every type of bodily affliction, disease, and disability. Matthew 9:35 reports, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease among the people.” In order to validate His preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom—God’s earthly kingdom now within Israel’s grasp—the Lord Jesus performed numerous miraculous demonstrations. Jesus Christ was God manifest in human flesh, and He was proving Himself to be just that to Israel!

Luke 8:1 says, “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing [demonstrating by miracles] the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,….” And, Matthew 12:28: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” You may also check Matthew 8:16-17 (cf. Isaiah 53:4), Matthew 10:5-8, Matthew 11:4-6 (cf. Isaiah 35:3-6), Mark 16:16-20 (especially verse 20), Luke 4:18, and Acts 2:22 for additional references.

Hebrews 2:3-5 summarizes: “[3] How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [4] God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? [5] For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” Finally, Hebrews 6:4-5: “[4] For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, [5] And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,….”

These physical deliverances (miracle healings and casting out devils) were foretastes, or previews, of the worldwide liberations that would occur when Jesus Christ would return at His Second Coming to reign over Israel in the Earth (see Isaiah 33:24 and Zechariah 13:2). This kingdom is yet future—we know of it as “the Millennium,” or “the 1,000-Year Reign of Christ.” Now that we understand the purpose of the miracles of Christ’s earthly ministry (and the ministries of His apostles), we can address the issue of mental illness and devil possession.

The word “lunatic” is not in technical usage today, but it is still commonly applied to someone suffering from mental illness. You have probably already noticed the word resembles “lunar”—as in, the Moon. Friend, you would be correct in making that connection. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word “lunatic” originated from Old French lunatique, from late Latin lunaticus, from Latin luna ‘moon’ (from the belief that changes of the Moon caused intermittent insanity). The word first appeared in the 1300s, so it has been around for quite a long time.

Religious people, usually bound by superstition, or those who hear and believe them, may say that those suffering mental illness (or even physical illness) are really just “devil possessed.” However, the Bible would disagree. If we return to Matthew 4:24, notice: “And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.”

The Bible writers—in this case, Matthew—some 2,000 years ago knew there was a difference between “those which were possessed with devils” AND “those which were lunatick.” Being devil-possessed and being mentally ill were obviously not the same affliction according to the Spirit of God. There is even a demarcation between those “sick… with divers diseases and torments” AND “those which were possessed with devils.” Physical illness is not necessarily related to devil possession.

God’s Word cannot be shamed here. It is in perfect accordance with what we understand today.

Also see:
» Why did Jesus Christ heal on the Sabbath day?
» Is there “healing in the Atonement?”
» Can you explain Paul’s ministry during Acts?

Is the United States’ recent embassy move to Jerusalem a fulfillment of Bible prophecy?

IS THE UNITED STATES’ RECENT EMBASSY MOVE TO JERUSALEM A FULFILLMENT OF BIBLE PROPHECY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The prophecy preachers are excited now that the United States has relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem! Is there any merit in their elation? Could this news be a sign of Jesus’ soon return?!

Someone points to Zechariah 8:22, “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.” By having its embassy in Jerusalem, the United States is allegedly drawing worldwide attention to said city. Perhaps other nations will follow the United States in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital? They may even flock to the city en masse!

In His famed Olivet Discourse, Jesus laid forth many specific details about end-times prophecy. Two questions had generated that sermon: “And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” (Luke 21:7). The more famous version is Matthew chapter 24; Mark chapter 13 is a third account. Matthew 24:3: “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” What we want to know about these verses is that they outline the various “signs,” or indications, of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Luke 21:20 says: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” Certain prophecy preachers see here the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict having been intensified by the embassy transfer.

Making history, United States President Donald J. Trump will be meeting with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un next month. Some have gone so far as to see this predicted in Daniel chapter 11—the interaction of “the king of the north” and “the king of the south.” While we can see a connection of North Korea and the king of the north, the United States can hardly be considered “the south.” (For the record, the king of the north and the king of the south would be in reference to the land of Canaan—the land north of Canaan [that is, Syria] and the land south of Canaan [namely, Egypt]. North Korea and the United States have absolutely nothing to do with Daniel chapter 11! President Trump and Dictator Kim Jong Un are not there either!)

So, what are we to make of these current events? Should we be alarmed, excited, or indifferent? Rather than offering opinions, hunches, speculations, and the like, we will look at facts.

Firstly, we should point out that very rarely is the Bible ever used as God intended. This author, many years ago, was caught up in “seeing the Bible in the newspaper and nightly news.” When some world event occurred—especially concerning Israel and/or the Middle East—he arrived at the conclusion, “How close we are to the Lord’s return!” It was 70 years ago this month that Israel was founded as a modern nation. For seven decades, Christian people have been saying, “Israel is in the land and the Lord’s coming is near!” (A good many of these individuals have since died, having never seen His coming.) Rather than using the Bible properly, they rely on the traditional (ly wrong) approach the preachers and teachers learned in seminary and Bible College. The scoffers and skeptics then use this as ammunition to discredit the Bible. No, the Bible is not discredited; Bible corrupters and Bible abusers are discredited. These are nothing but cases in point for the need of proper Bible study. As you can see, people grab verses from just about anywhere in Scripture and try to make it fit a modern situation.

The only verse in the Bible that tells us to “study” the Bible also tells us how to study the Bible: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). If we keep looking and reading, we will find other verses to help us understand exactly what it means to “rightly divide the word of truth.” Two passages very helpful in that regard will be shared now.

Peter the Apostle preached in Acts chapter 3: “[19] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. [20] And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: [21] Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” If we get nothing else from this, friends, we at least understand that God told man some information since Adam’s creation. God was unfolding His plan and He was revealing it to man piecemeal (little by little).

Paul the Apostle was led to write something quite different in Romans chapter 16: “[25] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, [26] But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:….” With Paul’s ministry God is revealing some information He has kept secret since Adam’s creation.

Did you notice the simple divisions presented by the above verses? In the Scripture, there is revealed truth and there is hidden truth. Revealed truth is prophecy—something God spoke since the world began. Hidden truth is mystery—something God kept secret since the world began. There is absolutely nothing difficult here unless we have a denominational system to defend or a church tradition to maintain. It is so crystal-clear if we just let the words of God say what He means and mean what He says.

Let us offer a few more verses about special Paul’s ministry and message. When he was converted on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9, Saul had a personal face-to-face meeting with the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Years later, in chapter 26, Paul provides his testimony: “[15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” We want to notice that Jesus Christ personally commissioned Saul of Tarsus as the apostle, or sent-one, of the Gentiles (verse 17). Romans 11:13 thus says, “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” And, Ephesians chapter 3: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.”

All of this shows us that, if we ignore Paul’s writings—the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon—we are disregarding God’s Word to us the nations. We do not go to Christ’s earthly ministry to find current divine revelation (remember, Jesus will not reveal the mystery until Paul’s ministry some years later). It makes no sense to grab Matthew chapter 24, or Luke chapter 21, or Mark chapter 13, and try to find us or God’s present dealings with man. How silly it is to yank a verse from Zechariah or Daniel and make it fit in this the Dispensation of Grace! Daniel and Zechariah had no idea about us the Church the Body of Christ.

If prophecy is ongoing, then that means the mystery program has stopped. If the mystery program is ongoing, then that means the prophetic program has stopped. Both cannot be operating because they are so radically different. Prophecy involves the nation Israel; mystery involves the Church the Body of Christ. We should stop mixing Israel and the Body of Christ, Law and Grace, Heaven and Earth, Prophecy and Mystery. Such mingling has caused absolute confusion in churches for thousands of years now.

Never once did the Apostle Paul—God’s spokesman to us Gentiles—ever tell us to look for “signs” of Christ’s return. We can search Romans through Philemon in vain. “The Jews require a sign,” 1 Corinthians 1:22 says. Are we Jews?! Then why are we looking for “signs?” In fact, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we have no reason to be looking for the Second Coming of Christ anyway (which is what Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21 anticipate). The Second Coming is prophecy whereas we are living in the mystery program. We are not looking for the coming as predicted in Matthew through John. Rather, we are looking for the coming as found in Romans through Philemon—Christ’s secret coming for His Body. This is commonly called “the Rapture,” although the Bible uses terms such as the “resurrection,” “redemption of our body,” “our gathering together unto Christ” (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Timothy 2:18; et al.).

While interesting, today’s events are not fulfilled Bible prophecy. According to Romans chapters 9-11, prophecy is temporarily paused!

Also see:
» Is God finished with the nation Israel?
» Should I be concerned about the four “blood moons?”
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

What is “the eye of the needle” in Matthew 19:24?

WHAT IS “THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE” IN MATTHEW 19:24?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says:

  • Matthew 19:24: “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
  • Mark 10:25: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
  • Luke 18:25: “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

What is this “eye of the needle?”

Let us begin to grasp the context, Matthew 19:16-26 (the parallel passages are Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 18:18-27). We will read from Matthew’s account:

“[16] And, behold, one came and said unto him [Jesus Christ], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? [17] And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [18] He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, [19] Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

“[20] The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? [21] Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [22] But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

“[23] Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. [25] When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? [26] But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

Jesus said in verse 24, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” What is this “eye of the needle?” Immediately, we think of something like a sewing needle, with its small eye through which thread passes. However, some claim that Jesus is really talking about a camel passing through a small gate (the so-called “camel gate”). Which explanation is correct?

Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words has the following information under the entry of “needle:”

“Note: The idea of applying ‘the needle’s eye’ to small gates seems to be a modern one; there is no ancient trace of it. The Lord’s object in the statement is to express human impossibility and there is no need to endeavor to soften the difficulty by taking the needle to mean anything more than the ordinary instrument. An attempt is sometimes made to explain the words as a reference to the small door, a little over 2 feet [0.61 meter] square, in the large heavy gate of a walled city. This mars the figure and receives no justification from the language and traditions of Palestine.”

Someone once said the camel going through the eye of a needle is an example of the Lord’s humor. Think of the absurdity. A giant camel fitting inside of the tiny eye of a sewing needle!

What Jesus Christ was teaching was that material riches were a hindrance in His earthly ministry. It is not good to be wealthy in Matthew through John! His audience would not want to give up their wealth to follow Him. Think of the wealthy ruler who went away—this was the very reason Jesus mentioned the camel passing through the eye of the needle in the first place!

As per Christ’s instructions, those followers in His earthly ministry were to sell all they had and give alms. Reading from Luke 12:31-33: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. [33] Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” They did just this in Acts 2:41-47 and Acts 4:31-37.

Why were they to sell all their possessions? They were to prepare to avoid Antichrist’s snare. With the Antichrist’s coming on the horizon, Israel was to sell their possessions. Revelation 13:16-18 says: “[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. [18] Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

Once the Mark of the Beast would be instituted, they would not be able to buy or sell without it. In order to keep their money, they would be pressured take the Mark of the Beast. However, if they had given up all of their wealth as Jesus commanded, they would have nothing to ensnare them.

Also see:
» Who are the “poor” in Galatians 2:10?
» Who are the “fatherless” and “widows” of James 1:27?
» Must I walk an aisle to show I am saved?