Category Archives: DENOMINATIONS, CULTS, & FALSE TEACHING

What is “secondary separation?” Should we Bible believers practice it?

WHAT IS “SECONDARY SEPARATION?” SHOULD WE BIBLE BELIEVERS PRACTICE IT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Primary separation is when someone withdrawals from those who teach anything contrary to sound Bible doctrine. Therefore, secondary separation means someone withdrawals from those who keep fellowshipping with those who teach anything contrary to sound Bible doctrine. As we will see, the Scriptures in no uncertain terms command us to practice primary separation. However, some contend that the Bible does not support secondary separation; therefore, they assert secondary separation is inappropriate for us. “Man-pleasing” aside, we delve into this most important topic. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

PRIMARY SEPARATION

Dear friend, let us read and consider these five chief passages concerning primary separation. They are largely self-explanatory, so individual commentary will be limited. If we can see the purpose of primary separation, it will assist us in better understanding the goal of secondary separation.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 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. 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(Galatians 1:6-9). This word “accursed” is a teacher thrown out from the assembly, that he or she no longer spread denominational (legalistic) doctrine and distract from the doctrines of grace (Paul’s ministry and message, Romans through Philemon).

“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; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself(1 Timothy 6:3-5). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 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” (Romans 16:17-18).

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

To summarize: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”(2 Corinthians 6:14,17). “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. 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(Galatians 1:8-9). “…[F]rom such withdraw thyself(1 Timothy 6:5). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them(Romans 16:17).“…[F]rom such turn away (2 Timothy 3:5). Why should we resort to such “extremes” when dealing with false teachers or bad doctrine?

In the Scripture, leaven (a leavening agent such as yeast) symbolizes sin or false teaching. For example, Matthew chapter 16: “[6] Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…. [11] How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? [12] Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.The Pharisees were nothing but religious hypocrites—hiding behind rites, rituals, and ceremonies to pretend to be God’s people when they were really working for Satan (see Luke 12:1)! As for the Sadducees, these aristocratic skeptics doubted the supernatural—angels, spirits, and resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 20:27; Acts 23:8). These two sects of Judaism were some of the Devil’s most efficient tools to distract the nation Israel from Jesus Christ and God’s words to them. Even now, church tradition (like that of the Pharisees) and liberalism/rationalism (like that of the Sadducees) sidetrack us from God’s words to us through the Apostle Paul.

Regarding the confused local churches in the region of Galatia (recall Galatians chapter 1 from earlier), the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul penned these words in chapter 5: “[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. [10] I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” All Satan needs to mislead a local assembly is one person who has no interest in maintaining sound Bible doctrine. As a leavening agent spreads to the whole lump of dough to make it rise in its entirety, just a little amount of false teaching will grow and grow and grow and grow. What started as a single “harmless” errant soul is now an entire congregation “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). As soon as one person’s sinful flesh gets to working, everyone’s sinful flesh is pressured to behave likewise. Satan is most wise, and he knows just how to attack God’s people! Yet, friend, if we have God’s wisdom, Satan will not triumph over us.

We examine one last passage before moving to our next section. This is 2 Timothy 2:14-18: “[14] Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. [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.”

Honestly, if Christians actually believed and followed these verses in 2 Timothy, just about every local church around the world, every “Bible” college and seminary around the world, every “Christian” ministry around the world, would lose most of its funding and membership/enrollment. Denominational systems exist only because people do not “study… rightly dividing the word of truth.” (No wonder denominationalists hate dispensationalism!) If they do not respect the dispensational boundaries God the Holy Spirit placed in His Word, they are not serving the Lord and they are not using His Word His way. They do not recognize Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13), that the Dispensation of the Grace of God was committed solely to him (Ephesians 3:1-2), that we follow Christ’s heavenly ministry as described in Romans through Philemon. Instead, there is a constant appeal to Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew to John) and/or the Law of Moses (Ten Commandments) for victorious Christian living. This is not what God is doing today. Paul’s epistles describe the Lord’s current dealings with man. Yet, if we are willingly ignorant of Paul’s special ministry and message (1 Corinthians 14:37-38)—and the majority are—then we will wind up with more and more spiritual darkness. “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16). These profane (common, unholy) and vain babblings (empty/worthless chatter) are God’s assessment of non-rightly divided Scripture and its resultant groups, sermons, books, and so on!

Let us draw our attention to 2 Timothy 2:17: “And their word will eat as doth a canker:….” The following entry is found for “canker” in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

γάγγραινα, -ης, , (γράω or γραίνω to gnaw, eat), a gangrene, a disease by which any part of the body suffering from inflammation becomes so corrupted that, unless a remedy be seasonably applied, the evil continually spreads, attacks other parts, and at last eats away the bones:….”

Dear friend, this is a graphic description of how evil doctrine is communicated from one person to another, one group to another. Imagine a disease that starts off affecting one small part of the body but, if left untreated, infects other areas. Remember, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”—and here, “a little disease diseases the whole body!” Christendom has consistently tolerated false teachers in its midst for centuries, and look at all the error, confusion, and discouragement in more local churches and denominations than we can fathom. It is not God’s fault! He warned us 2,000 years ago that the risk was there and great. Ignoring these admonitions, we have no one but ourselves to blame. As Israel allowed herself to be polluted, so the professing church has followed suit.

We have discussed primary separation enough, so let us move on the controversial practice of secondary separation.

SECONDARY SEPARATION

Should we depart from those who refuse to separate from false teachers and others who engage in additional ungodliness? Yes! Not only should we stay away from unbelievers who support and/or teach false doctrine, but also we should part from professing believers and even genuine believers who refuse to separate from them. Why? The fundamental problem is the same in both cases: they all pose a risk to our spiritual health, and the spiritual health of our family and our local church. Again, review the aforementioned statements regarding primary separation. The point is, we should avoid anything and everything that is contrary to sound Bible doctrine—no matter who or what says otherwise.

Any professing believer who is unsure about the necessity of secondary separation is simply advertising Bible ignorance. They are not familiar enough with the Scriptures to make an informed decision that would correspond to Father God’s thoughts. All we have to do is turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 5 and see the Holy Spirit through Paul encouraging secondary separation—even if it involves fellow members of the Body of Christ!

“[1] It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. [2] And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. [3] For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, [4] In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, [5] To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

“[6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. [9] I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: [10] Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. [11] But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. [12] For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? [13] But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

There was a certain Christian man in Corinth who was actually having sexual relations with his father’s wife (hopefully that was his stepmother and not his biological mother!). Such shameful behavior was common knowledge in the assembly, but no believer was mature enough to address it. The saints were gloating about it, finding pleasure in learning such news! Verse 6: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” Watch verse 11!“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Now, verse 13. “Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

Why is this “brother” (Christian!) to be avoided? If he is allowed to remain in the assembly, Satan will certainly use him as a tool to destroy the spiritual edification of all these saints in Corinth! First Corinthians 5:6: “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” That same principle is still in effect today. Do not keep company with an idolater… even a “believer” (verse 11). Idolatry is replacing God with someone or something else; it is also taking God’s words and putting something else in their place; it is also replacing God’s life (Christianity) with some other life (works-religion). As long as we fellowship with anyone dabbling in this, or associate with someone who communes with someone connected to this, we have rendered ourselves vulnerable to Satan’s merciless evil world system. If they have not separated from the world unto sound Bible doctrine, we must get away from them or be liable to falling with them!

One final passage, 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15: “[14] And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. [15] Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” What is this context? Try verses 6-13: “[6] Now we command [not a suggestion but a commandment!] you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. [7] For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; [8] Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: [9] Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. [10] For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. [11] For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. [12] Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. [13] But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

We are to have no company with the person who is disobedient to the Lord’s words issued through Paul (especially the contents of his second epistle to Thessalonica—those who are lazy and refuse to work, those who confuse prophecy and mystery, and so on). We are to separate from those (even Christians!) who do not separate from the world. Secondary separation is Biblical and needful, just as crucial as primary separation.

Christians (genuine or professing) who compromise with the world and its non-Christian beliefs are particularly dangerous to us because:

  1. They are rebelling against a greater amount of spiritual light than someone who is completely unfamiliar with the Bible or Christianity. It is much more serious than an outspoken unbeliever, for a professing believer is expected to love the Lord and His doctrine. We have all the more reason to part ways with anyone who knows better and yet is not living in accordance with their knowledge. We expect lost people to act sinful, to have no spiritual judgment as to what doctrine is right and what doctrine is wrong. The same should not be said of Christians.
  2. They have a closer form of godliness than forthright unbelievers, so they will be Satan’s main avenue to influence us. “If this Christian is doing or believing it, so can you! How can it be wrong when Christians support it?” This deceptive mentality is ever so persuasive, and we can be sure the Devil will use anyone and everyone’s flesh—especially our own—to cause us to fall into that spiritual trap.

Also, if we do not isolate ourselves from those who do not separate from false teachers, they will have a larger following than they otherwise would not have had. Multitudes will appear to be in agreement with them, for practically no one will leave them. Then, with all those of their persuasion now in view, the natural man or the carnal believer supposes: “How can so many people be wrong?” Well, whether a thousand or a million, they are wrong! Neither the majority nor the consensus dictate what or what is not truth. Had the error been abandoned, had people left those who had not forsaken the error, far less people would be negatively influencing here.

If we do not separate from those who do not separate from error, then our testimony is compromised and we look cowardly and foolish. “No, I do not agree with them because their doctrine is wrong, but I see no problem with associating with those who commune with them.” Quite frankly, this is a turnoff to anyone who would value your spiritual advice. You are a hypocrite in their eyes and they will see your beliefs as nothing more than another reason why “religion” and “Christianity” are irrelevant and worthless. Lost people may be in darkness, but they are not stupid. They can spot and expose pretenders even when genuine Christians cannot (or refuse to)!

Once, this author was listening to a fundamentalistic (conservative) denominational preacher lament how he was unsatisfied with how another (albeit, liberal) preacher in his theological system was handling compromisers. The liberal man was diminishing the importance of separating from worldly or heretical believers, since he had a mind for defending men instead of doctrine. He was outright against secondary separation because he knew he would fall into disfavor with “scholarly” people, and he would lose funding and support from those who aligned themselves with his ministry and those apostate ministries he could not abandon. Surely, this situation has occurred far more than once in the last 20 centuries of church history.

As an extremely simple illustration of the value of secondary separation, go back to the comment about 2 Timothy 2:17 and “canker” (gangrene). An untreated disease will wreak havoc on other tissue or even bone. Now, let us imagine a certain infectious illness. Would it be proper to say this? “While I will not mingle with those who are sick with it, I, however, do not mind associating with those who have been exposed to it!” That is foolishness, yet that same nonsense is uttered when we refuse to apply secondary separation. People can be carriers of false doctrine just by letting themselves be constantly under it. Without thinking, they will speak or write what they have heard others say. Eventually, we will find ourselves using their language—and possibly sitting next to them in their pew too! Never forget this adage concerning apostasy, a falling away from the truth: “Big change takes longer to happen than you think it would, and then it happens faster than you thought it could.”

CONCLUSION

Both primary separation and secondary separation are Scriptural and equally vital to spiritually-healthy believers, Christian families, and local churches/ministries. We do not fellowship with those who teach non-grace doctrine (primary separation), and we stay away from those who have not parted with them (secondary separation). To be unconcerned with either separation, to deny one or both as needful, is just Bible ignorance (willful or deliberate is irrelevant). We do not separate primarily and secondarily out of spite or hatred for those with whom we disagree but we separate primarily and secondarily out of respect for God’s words and God’s house (our inner man, in which the Holy Spirit dwells, and the local assembly of Christians). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We do everything we can to minimize the defilement of God’s dwelling place—that is, if we truly want to honor and serve Him!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Corinthians 5:7-8?
» Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?
» Will God kill false teachers?
» What is the difference between apostasy and heresy?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» What is the greatest threat facing the Grace Movement?
» What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean in 1 Corinthians 16:22?
» How can false teachers sleep at night?
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Should we pray with people of various denominations?

» Are denominationalists deliberately lying?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» Should we read denominational literature?

» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

Should we pray with people of various denominations?

SHOULD WE PRAY WITH PEOPLE OF VARIOUS DENOMINATIONS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Other names for this activity are “interfaith” prayer, “interdenominational” prayer, or “ecumenical” prayer. It is often done when local religious leaders or even college students gather in public to pray for their community, state, country, or even the world. Never do we fault anyone for seeking to do right and improve society, provided they are sincerely desiring to do God’s will in life. However, we do question the underlying doctrine guiding people to do what they do and say what they say. Is it God the Holy Spirit working in them, or is it just their flesh laboring to substitute God’s work? Usually, when denominational people are involved, it is nothing but erroneous doctrine underpinning their theological system. Essentially, there is no Holy Spirit superintending the matter, so, in that case, it is nothing more than an exercise in futility.

Prayer is talking to God in light of His Word to you. However, dear friend, if you do not know what God has told you in His Word, how can you have effectual prayer? What is the point of you praying when you have no idea about what you are praying?! Even if you do happen to be in the very small minority that is grounded in the Scriptures, how can you expect denominational people to be in agreement with the truth in prayer when sound Bible doctrine does not even form the foundation for their prayer life? They cannot pray for God’s will, or pray in accordance with it, because they do not know it. It does not make sense for the person who understands sound Bible doctrine to presume he or she will have a profitable time in prayer with someone who does not. There is no fellowship, no communion, no unity—and was not the purpose of the prayer meeting to agree to the point of solving society’s problems?! The Holy Spirit is being quenched or hindered in the ignorant soul, only compounding the woes in the world. Do we still want to participate in this debacle, jeopardizing our own spiritual health in the process?

We can never, ever, EVER (!) force God to do something He is not doing today. Maybe He did do it in the past, and we are quoting Bible verses under the impression He will behave that way for us. This is just how denominationalism treats the Scriptures. Citing Bible passages without recognizing to and about whom they were spoken or written, is dangerous. It will lead to frustration, misunderstanding, and even an outright abandonment of the Bible! Denominational systems rely so heavily on verses quoted out of context. They take passages not to or about us, and they assume these verses apply to us. Here is a sure way to open ourselves up to a host of uncertainties, disappointments, and illusions. Satan’s policy of evil will use all of this as a doorway into our lives—and let us not underestimate him! Let us heed the warnings of Scripture.

For example, consider 2 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.”

Could these words be any plainer? The Bible says we are not to attach ourselves to unbelievers—and just because someone claims to be a “believer” or “Christian” does not guarantee they really are, either. Many unsaved people say they are “Christian” just because they have joined a local church, enrolled in a denomination, had “Christian” parents, attended “Christian” schools, and so on. The aforementioned passage goes beyond simply forbidding our intermarriage with unbelievers. It refers to mingling with them in their religious services (would that not include prayer?!), participating in their ignorance (would that not include prayer?!), joining them in their Satan worship (would that not include prayer?!). This is strong language, but it is what the Bible says, and we either believe it or we do not. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.”

Galatians 1:6-9 is another thought-provoking portion of God’s Word: “[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.”

According to the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, the Galatians were to have nothing to do with false teachers. These false teachers were actually Bible teachers: they wrongly taught that the Law of Moses (Scripture!) was applicable in this the Dispensation of Grace (see Galatians 4:21). Even today, you can find legalists and legalistic teachings (“perform to get God’s blessings”) throughout the thousands of denominations, sects, groups, and cults of Christendom. Instead of stressing grace (what God has done for us through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork), they put the focus on us or works-religion (what we can do to merit God’s favor—tithing, water baptism, confession of sins, repentance, commandment-keeping, et cetera). They are ignorant of God’s Word to and about us today, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Look at another excerpt from Paul’s epistle to Galatia (chapter 5, verses 7-9): “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” What happened to these saints? Well, remember from chapter 1 (cited moments earlier), how false teachers had deceived them, leading them away from Paul’s ministry and message. Just as a small amount of yeast causes the entire lump of dough to rise, so a little false teaching inflicts great damage on its audience. The whole local assembly is subject to fall into the error. Friend, if you fellowship with individuals who are not spiritually stable, you yourself will wind up compromised. You will begin repeating their silly phrases. You will be misquoting verses too. You will end up deceived. Unfortunately, the Church the Body of Christ has been far too naïve in this regard, believing it is immune from such ruin. Over these last 2,000 years, we have permitted an abundance of lies in our seminaries, colleges, and pulpits. Little to nothing was done to stop it, and now look at the doctrinal mess besetting the whole professing church worldwide! Non-Christians look at us and cannot help but laugh. We are totally irrelevant because we do not have a clue what God is doing in the world today! And we claim to have and know the truth?! No wonder unbelievers have such a poor attitude toward the Bible.

Here is yet another admonition or warning about exercising great caution concerning false teachers: “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; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself(1 Timothy 6:3-5). What do the Scriptures say? We are to “withdraw” from anyone, isolate ourselves from anyone and everyone, who teaches something other than what the rightly divided Bible teaches. When you listen to denominational people pray, they sound like “know-nothing” people. Their minds are “corrupt”—and you know it because you can hear the words coming out of their lips. Whatever they are saying is so antithetical to what the Holy Spirit has already said through the Apostle Paul. There is no unity, for doctrine divides.

Again, Romans chapter 16: “[17] Now I beseech you, brethren, mark 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.” If they do not teach sound Bible doctrine (God’s Word rightly divided; 2 Timothy 2:15), we are not to fellowship with them. They should not be allowed to teach at our Bible conferences or during church services. They should not be leading us in prayer either. We should not marry them. We should not go “witnessing door-to-door” with them. We should not cooperate with them in blood drives, clothing drives, food drives, or any other parachurch/paraministry philanthropic endeavors. The Bible says we are to “avoid them.” Once more, we either believe the Bible or we do not.

One final passage, 2 Timothy 3:1-5: “[1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” It is extremely important that we notice these people have “a form of godliness.” They appear religious. It seems like they are Christians. However, the Holy Scriptures consider them to be evil. What should be our response to them? “From such turn away.” Could that be any clearer, friend? It does not matter what they do or say because they “deny the power of godliness.” There is no power of God with or in them, for they have rejected His words that contain that power (Hebrews 4:12)—sound Bible doctrine. If you have the power of God with and in you—that is, you have trusted sound Bible doctrine—then you cannot expect to be compatible with these individuals.

For anyone to say it does not matter where we go to church, or it does not matter with whom we pray, or it does not matter what we believe, or it does not matter whom we invite to teach in our local assembly, that person is simply advertising Bible ignorance. They are totally unfamiliar with what the Bible has already stated about these issues, the verses we have just read, and they are therefore disqualified from being any authority on the subjects. Before they talk about matters they do not understand, they had better go study the Scriptures, lest God hold them accountable for misrepresenting Him and His words.

Once, someone argued “interfaith” prayer, “interdenominational” prayer, or “ecumenical” prayer, was acceptable because it was just a short meeting. As long as it is brief, we can do it. Applying that logic, we could swim in raw sewage—so long as we leapt out before too long! We could drink a little poison—but not too much! We could hold our hand over an open flame—provided we withdrew before being burned! Would we go sit in their local church building for an hour and listen to false teachers teach or preach? No? Well, in the form of prayer, they are teaching and preaching to us at a prayer meeting. They are still imparting to us their erroneous view of the world, the Scriptures, God, et cetera. This exposure to error will negatively affect us at some point—perhaps short-term, perhaps long-term, but, rest assured, it will ultimately damage us. All we have to do is look around at Christendom, with its thousands upon thousands upon thousands of denominations; with its millions upon millions upon millions of confused and spiritually immature church members. Dear friend, is that really what you want to get involved with?! Do you actually desire to pray with these kinds of people?! Absurdity ad infinitum!

SUPPLEMENTAL: THE LESSER-KNOWN DANGERS OF ECUMENISM

One of the most ardent supporters of interfaith, interdenominational, or ecumenical functions, is the Roman Catholic Church. Why? Since the Protestant Reformation over 500 years ago, the Vatican has devised and employed various methods to bring Protestants back under the pope’s authority. Sometimes, this came in the form of physical assaults or wars—burning Bibles and Christians at the stake, appointing Catholic leaders after subjugating nations, and the like. In recent centuries, however, the Roman Catholic institution has taken a subtler approach to “return dissidents to the fold of Rome.”

For instance, during the early to mid-1800s, when Roman officials wanted to lead the Church of England back to the pope—from which King Henry VIII had split the British people centuries prior—a campaign known as the Oxford Movement or the Tractarian Movement was underway. A series of pamphlets or tracts promoting Roman Catholic doctrine (propaganda) was written and circulated among the English people. Also, Roman Catholics (especially Jesuits), pretending to be Protestants, trained subsequent generations of preachers in their false teaching at colleges, which ultimately led to Roman Catholic ideas infiltrating the Church of England through the pulpits (apostasy from which it has never recovered).

Out of this disaster emerged two Cambridge professors and Anglican church leaders, B. F. Westcott (1825–1901) and F. J. A. Hort (1828–1892), who successfully led a Bible translation project to overthrow the Protestant King James Bible and its underlying Greek Textus Receptus. The 1881 Revised Version and its underlying Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament are based heavily on the Roman Catholic Greek Bible known as Codex Vaticanus (or “B”)—you did see “Vatican” in “Vaticanus,” did you not?! In 1901, the American Standard Version was released, bringing the false texts and textual theories of Westcott and Hort to the United States, which resulted in over 100 Bibles during the next century. Now you know why there are so many modern English versions today! With Protestants using dozens upon dozens of Roman Catholic Bibles, and having no one standard text, their confused minds and hearts are ready to hear those words that will lead them back to Rome: “A better translation is… [Rome’s Bible says…].”

Especially since the opening of the 20th century, Roman Catholics have actually sat on translation committees of Protestant Bibles. In fact, for decades, Cardinal (Jesuit!) Carlo M. Martini (1927–2012), of the Pontifical (Pope’s!) Bible Institute, served as one of the primary editors of The Greek New Testament (United Bible Societies) and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. These Greek Bibles are essentially the perverted texts of Westcott and Hort, and are the tools modern English translators use to produce modern English versions! Whether they know it or not, American Protestant churches have been “Romanized” just as the Church of England was in the 19th century!

Of course, practically no one is aware of this—and those who know it often choose to remain silent for fear of being labeled “unscholarly,” “troublemaker,” “heretic,” “divider,” “church-splitter.” Likewise, these are the insults reserved for those who refuse to participate in Rome’s ecumenical, interfaith, or interdenominational prayer services. “We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» Does doctrine really matter?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?
» What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean in 1 Corinthians 16:22?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Should we be “fruit inspectors?”
» How can false teachers sleep at night?

How can false teachers sleep at night?

HOW CAN FALSE TEACHERS SLEEP AT NIGHT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

How can false teachers telling lies and selling their religious “trinkets” on television sleep at night? They are conning people, stealing their trust and money. Does not their conscience bother them? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Such religious leaders can be divided into two categories:

  1. Those who know they are doing wrong but continue anyway for whatever reason (pride, money, popularity, and so on). It is just as clear to them they are serving the Devil as it is clear to us we are serving the Lord.
  2. Those who are innocently following the first (more experienced) group of leaders.

Of course, the “commoner” followers—the majority—make up the third group. They are just so naïve, so unskilled in or unfamiliar with sound Bible doctrine, they will look to any so-called “leaders” for help, winding up following either the first or second group of leaders (both of which are in error, whether deliberate or unintentional is beside the point).

How can the false teachers telling lies and selling their religious “trinkets” on television sleep at night? Why does their conscience not bother them? Again, some are just ignorant (untaught), and we correct their ignorance with sound Bible teaching. Nothing bothers them, they see no wrong in what they are doing, because they are unacquainted with the truth they oppose. These members of the second group are simply mimicking what they have seen and heard: it is a blind following of other leaders (the first group).

As for the first set of leaders, these used to be in the second category until they found the truth, saw their error, fought the truth to retain their error, and have graduated to the highest echelons of management. Here are the people sin has fully deadened or anesthetized inside. They are the most dangerous because they are beyond feeling. While it is possible for them to be recovered from their error, the chance is quite slim. They are so far entrenched in their iniquitous ways they are likely never to desire to leave them. Too much will be lost (money, social standing, et cetera) if they “make the break”—and they know it.

Let us consider a simple illustration. When our skin is damaged, whether due to surgery or an accident, our nerve endings are injured or irreversibly destroyed. Loss of sensation, temporary or permanent, then occurs. This is the outer man, the physical body, but sin affects the inner man, the spiritual body, similarly.

First Timothy chapter 4: “[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; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

The people who have left “the faith” or sound Bible doctrine (verse 1), they have “given heed” or paid attention to “seducing spirits” or voices leading them away from the truth (verse 1), they have also “given heed” or paid attention to “doctrines of devils” (verse 1). We want to concentrate on verse 2 now. These people “speak lies in hypocrisy,” claiming to serve the truth while actually opposing it with their false teaching (see Matthew chapter 23 and John chapter 8, for instance). God’s Word also describes them as “having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” To “sear” is to burn, like a brand placed on the hides of livestock, with the hot iron rendering the skin insensitive. The Greek word for “seared with a hot iron” is “kauteriadzo,” from which we get “cauterize” (the medical practice of burning skin with an instrument to prevent bleeding or infection). In other words, their conscience—their ability to determine right and wrong, and standards to be used to feel either accused of wrongdoing or excused of wrongdoing (Romans 2:15)—is uncaring, unresponsive, not bothered.

Ephesians calls this condition “beyond feeling:” “[17] This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, [18] Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: [19] Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. [20] But ye have not so learned Christ;….” Sin has rendered these unsaved, pagan Gentiles indifferent or apathetic to spiritual pain. According to Ephesians, saints (though saved from sins in Christ) can be vulnerable to that same sin nature. Hence, 1 Thessalonians 5:19 exhorts: “Quench not the Spirit.” Even Christians can ignore or oppose the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. They can outright resist Him, preventing Him from taking verses and bringing them to life in their life. If they are not walking by faith in sound Bible doctrine, the Holy Spirit cannot lead them into God’s life.

Also see:
» Does doctrine really matter?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» Is grieving the Holy Spirit forgivable?

» Are denominationalists deliberately lying?
» Should we hate the denominational people who misled us?

What are “teraphim?”

WHAT ARE “TERAPHIM?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Authorized Version features the word on six occasions:

  • Judges 17:5: “And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.”
  • Judges 18:14: “Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and a graven image, and a molten image? now therefore consider what ye have to do.”
  • Judges 18:17: “And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.”
  • Judges 18:18: “And these went into Micah’s house, and fetched the carved image, the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye?”
  • Judges 18:20: “And the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people.”
  • Hosea 3:4: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:….”

As a cursory examination of the above verses reveals, “teraphim” are heathen or pagan aids to worship. They were statues that resembled people, connected to “magical rites.” Often translated in the King James Bible as “image/s” (Genesis 31:19,34-35; 1 Samuel 19:13,16; 2 Kings 23:24; Ezekiel 21:21), it is also once rendered “idols” (Zechariah 10:2). In the verses with which we began, the Hebrew word (“teraphim”) was simply transliterated. The teraphim Rachel stole from her father in Genesis were small and portable, whereas the image Michal placed in the bed was the size of a man (a dummy to fool David’s assassins)! As in the case of the Zechariah quote, such “household gods” or “family idols” were thought to speak and reveal “divine oracles.” Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar appealed to teraphim for guidance (see the Ezekiel quote above, and our “consulted with images” study linked below).

Also see:
» “Made his arrows bright…consulted with images…looked in the liver?”
» “Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?”
» What is “peeping” and “muttering?”

» What are “groves?”

Does “touch not mine anointed” forbid us from correcting erring church leaders?

DOES “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED” FORBID US FROM CORRECTING ERRING CHURCH LEADERS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In an effort to “lord over God’s heritage” unopposed (1 Peter 5:3), pompous and tyrannical ministers and teachers through the years have fled to the Scriptures for refuge. Their favorite passages in this regard, of course, can be summarized with the following maxim: “Touch not God’s anointed!” In other words, “Do not challenge me, for I am a leader and not a peon such as yourself!” Does God’s Word actually forbid us from correcting erring church leaders? Have they been authorized to do as they please, without any resistance?

Pay attention to the two verses a pastor or teacher may employ when being opposed:

  • 1 Chronicles 16:22: “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”
  • Psalm 105:15: “Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

Based on these passages, it is thus argued: “God Himself selected me to be over you! I am His anointed and His appointed! You have no right to defy me, questioning what I teach and/or believe, telling me how I should run this assembly!” It is sad to say it, but this is just another classic example of ripping verses out of context to prove a denominational position.

Read the Chronicles passage in context, King David composing and singing a psalm (song) as they bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem: “[15] Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; [16] Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; [17] And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, [18] Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance; [19] When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it. [20] And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; [21] He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, [22] Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” As previously noted, this song of David is also preserved for us in Psalm 105.

The LORD’S “anointed” in these passages is certainly not some church leader in this the Dispensation of Grace. If we let the context speak (will we?), it is JEHOVAH God ordering the Gentiles not to harm Israel’s patriarchs as they migrated during the nation’s infancy. Two prime occasions of this are Genesis 20:1-18 (Abraham and Sarah) and Genesis 26:1-16 (Isaac and Rebekah). These verses have absolutely nothing to do with us!

On the contrary, 1 Timothy 5:19 certainly does apply to church leaders in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” The “elder” or church leader is certainly not immune to personal sins or false teaching. We would do well to note: if there are two or three independent witnesses to corroborate his misbehavior, he should be the subject of an investigation (done meekly in Christian love and within the assembly, of course). This is not done to shame him, but rather protect the congregation from any contamination. If his dismissal from the assembly is the only viable solution, that God’s ministry not suffer, then so be it. The local church should seek out a man who will be faithful to sound Bible doctrine.

“Take heed 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. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 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” (Acts 20:28-32).

Also see:
» What about modern-day apostles and prophets?
» Should ministers study Scripture to prepare for teaching?
» Is the “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?

» How do we identify false teachers?

Should ministers study Scripture to prepare for teaching?

SHOULD MINISTERS STUDY SCRIPTURE TO PREPARE FOR TEACHING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Yes, indeed, ministers should study Scripture to prepare for teaching. However, opponents of this practice cite four Bible passages allegedly supporting an alternate view: they argue it is totally unnecessary to prepare for sermons, for “the Spirit will lead us” (?). We will examine and assess their position, especially those verses they use as their proof-texts.

Here they are:

  • Matthew 10:17-20: “[17] But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; [18] And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. [19] But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. [20] For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
  • Luke 12:11-12: “[11] And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: [12] For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
  • Luke 21:12-15: “[12] But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. [13] And it shall turn to you for a testimony. [14] Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: [15] For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
  • 1 John 2:20,27: “[20] But ye have an unction [“anointing,” verse 27] from the Holy One, and ye know all things…. [27] But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”

If these verses actually indicated preachers today need not prepare for their sermons by studying—for they supposedly “know all things” and “it has been given them what they shall speak”—then it would be equally true all the Christians in their congregations needed no man (those preachers!) to teach them either. The human teacher’s job would be totally unnecessary. Those who claim they need not be taught, for God has given them a “special word,” have placed themselves into a bind. The very verses that endorse their non-studying before services also support their congregation’s nonattendance to said services!

The above passages, of course, refer to God’s intervention during times of persecution—not just Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday evenings. When the members of the Little Flock (Luke 12:32), Israel’s believing remnant, are dragged in to participate in sham trials before unbelievers (Jew or Gentile rulers), the Lord Jesus Christ encourages His people. He will definitely take care of them, as the Holy Spirit will empower their hearts and minds to speak the truth. In Acts chapter 2, just as the Lord promised, He poured out the Holy Ghost on the Messianic Jews; when they were persecuted during the early Acts period, the indwelling Holy Spirit led them to preach God’s Word in the courtroom! Check Acts 4:1-22, Acts 5:27-32, Acts 6:5, and Acts 6:9–7:60. Similar events will precede Christ’s Second Coming, yet future from us.

Paul’s Pastoral Epistles—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—make no reference whatsoever to such phrases as “God will give you wisdom” and “think not what you shall say.” If there was a good opportunity to set the record straight, it would have been here in these Bible Books. Would not the Holy Spirit have told us such information in these four handbooks for founding and maintain local assemblies? Evidently, whatever Jesus was saying in Matthew chapter 10, Luke chapter 12, Luke chapter 21, and 1 John chapter 2; He was referring to something other than governing local churches and performing ministry duties in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God!

Anyone who claims to be preaching or teaching without any prior personal study will make it evident. The poor quality of their messages will be proof enough they have indeed come unprepared! We should come out and say it without any hesitation: such souls are lazy, and completely unfit for ministry. They are pitiful examples of Christian behavior, and will do more harm than good among God’s people. By expressing the fact they have not studied their Bible, they are freely confessing, “I do not love the Lord.” To value and esteem the Scriptures is to study and believe them; it is wholly impossible to love the Lord and not love His words. In light of eternity, it will have been far better had they kept their Bibles open in their study and their mouths shut in their pulpit!

Also see:
» How do we identify false teachers?
» What about modern-day apostles and prophets?
» How does one know if he or she is maturing in the Word of God?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» Does “touch not mine anointed” forbid us from correcting erring church leaders?

What does “sottish” mean?

WHAT DOES “SOTTISH” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Jeremiah 4:22 employs the word: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” It is such strong language, but it is warranted. The Prophet Jeremiah conducted his ministry in Judah 600 years before Christ, during a time of great apostasy—a falling away from the truth. He preached before and during the Babylonian Captivity, God’s judgment on the Southern Kingdom for its persistent idolatry.

“And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands (Jeremiah 1:16). “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water…. For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot(Jeremiah 2:13,20).

“As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets. Saying to a stock [wooden idol], Thou art my father; and to a stone [stone idol], Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah. Wherefore will ye plead with me? ye all have transgressed against me, saith the LORD. In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. O generation, see ye the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? wherefore say my people, We are lords; we will come no more unto thee? Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number (Jeremiah 2:26-32).

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:1-4).

Back to verse 22 of Jeremiah chapter 4. “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” The Jews are spiritually senseless, insane, lunatic. Instead of heeding sound Bible doctrine—especially the Law of Moses—they are thinking like idolatrous heathen. Rather than being spiritual adults, they are mere children; immaturity has so crippled them, and their religious silliness shows throughout the Book of Jeremiah as well as much of the Old Testament Scriptures! It is in this context that the adjective “sottish” appears. The word simply means foolish, with the Hebrew term (“sakal”) translated “fool” or “foolish” in Ecclesiastes (2:19; 7:17; 10:3,14) and Jeremiah (5:21). It is therefore no coincidence “sottish” is from the Middle English word indicating “fool.”

Rejecting God’s wisdom for her (Deuteronomy 4:1-10), Israel did not guard herself from the foolishness of the evil world system around her. What was true of the Gentiles at the Tower of Babel ultimately became applicable to Israel as well! “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Romans 1:20-25).

Thankfully, in the Millennium, Israel will be given new spiritual leaders, people who will teach her sound Bible doctrine so she can think as the LORD God designed them to think. Pay close attention to verse 15 below (contrasted with Jeremiah 4:22).

Jeremiah 3:13-21: “[13] Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD. [14] Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: [15] And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. [16] And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. [17] At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. [18] In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. [19] But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. [20] Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. [21] A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God.

“Sottish” can also mean “stupefied with or as if with drink; drunken.” This is another key to explaining Israel’s lack of mental acuity in the spiritual realm. Revelation chapter 17, descriptive of the Antichrist’s (future) false religious system, relays the following: “[1] And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: [2] With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. [3] So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. [4] And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: [5] And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

The “wine” that will make the world and Israel drunken in the future under the Antichrist is false religion, Baal worship, pagan idolatry. Here is exactly what polluted the world and Israel during Old Testament times (especially throughout Jeremiah’s ministry). The Whore of Babylon is the culmination of the pagan idolatry that began at the Tower of Babel some 4,000 years ago. Even today, we believers in Christ are told not only to avoid inebriation with physical wine, but also not be drunk with figurative wine (mind-altering false teaching).

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:15-21).

Read Jeremiah 4:22 again: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” This stands in contrast to the Holy Spirit’s will for the Body of Christ in Romans 16:19: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise [skilled] unto that which is good, and simple [uninformed, ignorant] concerning evil.Have we been faithful in following Romans here? Nay! Have we grasped even the basics of the Dispensation of Grace as found in Romans? Nay!

Throughout the 20 centuries of its existence, the professing Body of Christ has been skillful in reciting denominational creeds and prayers, knowledgeable of the writings of the church fathers, and mindful of intellectual gymnastics and conspiracy theories, but—after 2,000 years of having a completed Holy Bible—can it identify what Father God is doing today and what He would have us do today? Nay! Beloved, we are following in the footsteps of ancient “sottish” Israel! If we are to grow up in grace, we had better listen to the Lord Jesus Christ speaking through the Apostle Paul, the Bible Books of Romans through Philemon!

Also see:
» What is a “lunatick?”
» What is the “madness” of Luke 6:11?
» What are some tips for faster spiritual growth?
» How do I know if I am maturing in the Word of God?

Was Jesus born in Jerusalem?

WAS JESUS BORN IN JERUSALEM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! To say Christ was born in Jerusalem is to misread Luke chapter 2.

Observe the following: “[1] And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. [2] (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) [3] And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. [4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David: ) [5] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. [6] And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. [7] And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Submitting to the Roman Emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary left Nazareth of Galilee (northern Israel, cf. Luke 1:26) and traveled to southern Israel for a taxation or census. Being of David’s family (Matthew 1:1,6,17,20; Luke 1:27,32,69; Luke 3:31), they went to David’s hometown, Bethlehem of Judaea (1 Samuel 16:1-18). Genealogical or family records were kept in ancestral birthplaces. While Joseph and Mary are living in Bethlehem of Judaea, Mary gives birth to Jesus. The angel of the Lord appears to shepherds out in the field, informing them of Messiah’s arrival. He says, in part: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). What is this “city of David” here?

It is true the Old Testament applies the title “city of David” to Jerusalem, and this was because it was King David’s capital city (2 Kings 9:28; 2 Kings 14:20). Here in Luke chapter 2, however, the “city of David” can only mean Bethlehem of Judaea, for it was David’s hometown. Luke already restricted the meaning in verse 4: “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.” Only if we are careless will we insert Jerusalem into Luke 2, verses 4 and 11. Moreover, the shepherds correctly interpret “city of David” (verse 11) as Bethlehem of Judaea, for that is precisely where they intend to go! Read verse 15: “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

At this point, we must expose the fact the Book of Mormon differs significantly from the Holy Bible. In Alma 7:10 of the Book of Mormon, we read: “And, behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.” The Book of Mormon is wrong. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Joseph Smith, while writing the Book of Mormon, evidently misread Luke!

This by no means should be considered “splitting hairs,” “nitpicky,” or “making something out of nothing.” If we do not specify Christ was born in Bethlehem, or Bethlehem Judah/Judaea/Ephratah, we are failing to make the connection of prophecy being fulfilled. He would be born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, so to say Jerusalem is to deny fulfilled prophecy (or make it harder to realize prophecy was fulfilled). Over 700 years prior, Micah 5:2 had foretold: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Go over to Matthew chapter 2: “[1] Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, [2] Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. [3] When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. [4] And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. [5] And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, [6] And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” The name “Bethlehem” in Hebrew means “house of bread,” so it is only fitting the “Bread of Life” (John chapter 6) be born here!

Bethlehem Judah (also known as Bethlehem Ephratah and Bethlehem of Judaea) is approximately 5 or 6 miles (8 to 10 kilometers) almost due south of Jerusalem. It is not to be confused with another Bethlehem, northern Israel, near Galilee in the territory of the tribe of Zebulon (Joshua 19:15)—and Bethlehem Judah/Ephratah/Judaea is not to be confused with Jerusalem either!

Also see:
» Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?
» How can Luke 2:1 report “all the world” was subject to Caesar Augustus?
» Is there an historical mistake in Luke 2:1-2?

Was Jesus a gluttonous drunkard?

WAS JESUS A GLUTTONOUS DRUNKARD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Matthew 11:16-19: “[16] But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, [17] And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. [18] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. [19] The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”

Luke 7:31-35: “[31] And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? [32] They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. [33] For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. [34] The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! [35] But wisdom is justified of all her children.”

On the basis of Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34, it has been argued Jesus was a sinner. Indeed, strangely, some “Christian” (!) people who use the Bible have gone so far as to say the Lord was actually a glutton and a drunkard! Are they correctly interpreting these passages? We have three reasons to believe the Lord Jesus Christ was neither a glutton nor a drunkard.

1. DOES THE SAVIOUR NEED A SAVIOUR?

Firstly, if we are willing to accept as factual that Christ was a glutton (one who excessively greedily eats) and a drunkard (one who is habitually intoxicated with alcoholic beverages), then the Saviour Himself had a sin problem. If the Saviour is also guilty of wrongdoing, then He Himself needs saving. Therefore, where is His Saviour? In fact, can a sinning Saviour even adequately pay for others’ sins? If Jesus Christ were a sinner, then He was really no different from the rest of us, and the entire premise for Christianity is reduced to nothing. Could we then even call ourselves “Christians?!”

2. IS THE BIBLE DISHONEST?

Secondly, if we are willing to accept as factual that Christ was a glutton and a drunkard, then the Bible record is not true in several verses when it speaks of Christ’s impeccability or faultlessness.

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). “Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles” (Matthew 12:18). “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). “And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(Mark 1:11). “And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased (Luke 3:22). “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29). How can Jesus—a supposed glutton and drunkard—be so highly praised here? If we cannot trust these verses, then what in the Bible can we trust? Why do we use the Scriptures at all?

The Bible speaks of drunkenness and gluttony (greediness of food) in a negative light. For instance, Deuteronomy 21:18-23: “[18] If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: [19] Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; [20] And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. [21] And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear. [22] And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: [23] His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God; ) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Proverbs 23:21). “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying” (Romans 13:13). “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10). “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:… Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19,21). “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;…” (Ephesians 5:18).

How could Father God endorse a “gluttonous, drunkard” Jesus? Evidently, Jesus was neither a glutton nor a drunkard, for the Scriptures report: “For he [Father God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). First Peter 2:22 alleges Jesus “did no sin.” Also, Hebrews 7:26: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;….” The only way Christ could be “separate from sinners” is if He Himself were not a sinner! Of course, that is if we believe the Bible and apply a bit of common sense. If we do not believe the Bible, then we need to say it instead of pretending like we do.

3. WAS JOHN THE BAPTIST DEVIL-POSSESSED?

Thirdly, if we are willing to accept as factual that Christ was a glutton and a drunkard, then we are also forced to conclude John the Baptist was devil-possessed. After all, the same parties who accused Jesus of evildoing similarly faulted John for being under Satan’s control!

“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:18-19). “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34).

Read from Luke chapter 1: “[13] But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. [14] And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. [15] For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. [16] And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. [17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” This is hardly the description of a man possessed with a devil! As opposed to John the Baptist being filled with an unclean spirit, he was controlled by the Holy Spirit. He was devil-possessed to the extent Jesus was a gluttonous drunkard. Both instances are a resounding to no extent whatsoever.

CONCLUSION

Re-read Matthew 11:16-19 and Luke 7:31-35. John and Jesus’ critics cannot be pleased. They are mocking both John and Jesus, exaggerating and slandering to scorn. No matter the preacher, Israel is totally unresponsive, refusing to convert to JEHOVAH God. The Jews do not want John’s ministry, and they do not want Jesus’ ministry. John lived out in the wilderness and had a meager or simple diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1-4; Mark 1:4-6), but they falsely accused him of devil possession. This is an extreme charge. Now, look at the contrast, the other extreme. Jesus ate and drank with the public, but they erroneously charged Him with gluttony and drunkenness. Both allegations are patently false. John and Jesus are both misrepresented, distorted, and defamed. These are unsubstantiated or baseless charges. To say it more bluntly, they are flat-out lies!

It is not that the Lord Jesus condoned sin, or joined people in their commission of sin. Rather, He understood these were the very souls He had come to save (cf. Matthew 9:10-13 and Mark 2:15-17). Moreover, they were willing to acknowledge their sin problem and value Him as Saviour, whereas the religious snobs (Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes) believed they were “good enough” and had no need for a Saviour. Religious elitists belittled Jesus simply to alienate people from Him, that they (the leaders) keep their position in the nation. The Bible is indeed true. However, it does quote sinners when they lie. The Scriptures are a factual representation of what was said, whether or not the statement itself was true. People made fun of the Lord then, and they do it now. They lied about Him then, just like people do today. These passages are a case-in-point that we should be very careful before grabbing verses out of context and distorting them unto our own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).

By contending this point, people may very well be sneakily attempting to justify their own sin. Namely, “If Jesus was a glutton and drunkard, I can be those things too!” Whatever their reason for appealing to Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34, they falsely malign Him, and we would hate to be in their position if they die as lost people and face Father God. They are guilty of blasphemy, and we remember those solemn words of Christ as found in Matthew chapter 12: “[34] O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [35] A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [36] But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. [37] For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

Friends, let us choose our words wisely—especially when speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Also see:
» How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?
» Why did John the Baptist behave so strangely?
» Are denominationalists deliberately lying?

Who were the “scribes?”

WHO WERE THE “SCRIBES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Anyone familiar with the Scriptures has heard of the characters known as the “scribes.” Exactly who were they? Why do they appear in the Bible?

SCRIPTURE SPEAKS

As their title implies, scribes were literate men—able to read and write. They were copyists of the Old Testament Scriptures in the nation Israel. Also, they were teachers of the same. Scribes were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe.

“And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites, wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar” (1 Chronicles 24:6). “Also they were over the bearers of burdens, and were overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites there were scribes, and officers, and porters” (2 Chronicles 34:13). Shaphan the Scribe appears in this chapter.

Living circa 500 B.C., Ezra was another Levitical priest and scribe. These verses from Ezra chapter 7 describe his job: “[6] This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him…. [11] Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. [12] Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time…. [21] And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,….” Ezra faithfully copied the words of God, and was influential in getting the Old Testament Scriptures to us to read even now!

Ezra also taught the Hebrew Old Testament, as we see in Nehemiah chapter 8: “[1] And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel…. [4] And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam…. [9] And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law…. [13] And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law” (cf. Nehemiah 12:26,36).

Baruch was the Prophet Jeremiah’s scribe, writing the words of the LORD as He spoke through Jeremiah. See Jeremiah chapter 36. Another scribe, Elishama, is mentioned here as well. Verse 4: “Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.”

Around 600 B.C., Israel really did not care to read the scribes’ work, the Hebrew Bible. “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain” (Jeremiah 8:8) By the time of Christ’s arrival, even the scribes were in unbelief… some of Jesus’ greatest critics. They knew the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah, including His birthplace (Bethlehem of Judaea), but they did not visit Him when He was born (Matthew 2:4-6). Possessing the Word of God, and yet not believing it, profited them nothing (Hebrews 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Jesus paired the scribes with the Pharisees—self-righteous, conceited people who were not right in God’s sight (Matthew 5:20). Both scribes and Pharisees considered others to be “sinners,” but they viewed themselves as sinless (Luke 5:29-32; Luke 15:1-10).  Jesus said of scribes in Luke 11:44: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” They were hypocrites—appearing to good and righteous, but really as defiled and disgusting as corpses! “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

When teaching their Jewish people the Old Testament Scriptures, the scribes relied on others’ interpretations of the Bible. However, Jesus was His own authority, never quoting rabbis, which impressed the crowds (Matthew 7:28-29). Some of the scribes manifested themselves as unbelievers in that they accused Jesus of blasphemy when He forgave a man of his sins (Matthew 9:3; Luke 5:21). Like the Pharisees, scribes were strict Sabbath observers. They watched Jesus closely to see if He would heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath—a violation of rabbinical tradition (Luke 6:6-11). Right here, they are “filled with madness [insanity]; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.” The scribes will reject Him to the point of His death (Luke 9:22).

In Luke 11:53-54, the scribes partnered with the Pharisees to try to cause Jesus to stumble in His words: “And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” Some scribes and Pharisees even took an adulteress and brought her before Jesus for condemnation—another unsuccessful attempt to embarrass Him (John 8:1-11).

“And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And they could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him” (Luke 19:47-48). The scribes united with the chief priests and deliberately challenged Jesus’ authority in Luke 20:1-8. “And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them” (Luke 20:19). Also, Luke 22:2: “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.” The scribes assembled with Israel’s other religious leaders in trying and condemning Christ (Luke 22:66-71). During His Gentile trial before King Herod Antipas: “And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him [Jesus]” (Luke 23:10).

The scribes gathered with Israel’s other religious leaders in opposing the Apostles in early Acts (chapter 4, verses 1-22). Scribes were some of those who were convinced to be antagonistic against Stephen, the Holy Spirit’s preacher to Israel at the time of Acts chapters 6 and 7 (cf. Acts 6:12). A portion of the scribes of the Pharisees “somewhat” came to the Apostle Paul’s defense during his trial many years later (Acts 23:9). While not clear in Scripture, some scribes (likely few) seem to have some spiritual receptivity, though we cannot ascertain to what degree. See Matthew 8:19 and Luke 20:39.

In closing, the scribes copied and taught the Old Testament Scriptures in Israel. If anyone in the nation should have been familiar with the writings of the ancient Jewish prophets, these were the men. They were the educated, literate crowd—alas, they could not care less about God’s Word or God’s Son. A good many such “scholars” today exist in Christendom. They do not believe the Bible, and, using their vast influence, they encourage others not to believe it either. Remember, the scribes possessed and copied the Scripture… but did not actually trust the Scripture. Let us learn this lesson. It is not enough for us to have the Bible: we must also read, study, and (most importantly!) believe it in the heart!

Also see:
» Who are “lawyers” in Scripture?
» Who were the “Pharisees?”
» Who were the “Sadducees?”