Category: Cults

Judaizers – The Law vs. Grace

The Judaizers

The entire book of Galatians is Paul’s effort to correct the heresy of Judaizers who were trying to tell people that they had to be circumcised and follow Jewish law to be saved. Paul explains at length that we are not saved by law or ritual (i.e. Galatians 4:4-5). In Chapter 5, he is talking about circumcision: how if a person trusts in circumcision to save them, then Christ is of no value (5:2). Paul was furious! He even went so far to say that he wished the people who were trying to convince the Galatian believers to be circumcised (Judaizers) would emasculate themselves!

How Paul deals with the Judaizers

In Galatians 5:19-25, Paul helps distinguish what proceeds from the Spirit, and what proceeds from the flesh. He describes the evidences of living by the flesh (sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc.) and then he proceeds to describe the results (fruits) of walking in the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, etc.) and encourages us to continue to walk in the Spirit.

Judaizers were telling people that they had to follow Jewish law to be saved. If they had succeeded, Christianity would have become just another Jewish sect (Barclay, 1976). In the preceding verses, Paul is talking about how if a person trusts in circumcision to save them, then Christ is of no value (Gal 5:2). Paul was furious! He even went so far to say that he wished the Judaizers would emasculate themselves! In verse 13, he warns the church not to use our Christian freedoms to indulge the flesh. Verses 5:16-18 may have been seen by the 1st century church as a “how-to” guide for living in grace instead of under the law. Paul explains that if we live by the Spirit, we will not satisfy our fleshly nature. It’s not going to be easy! Our flesh and spirit are at war, and this conflict does not allow us to do what we want (cf. Romans 7:14-25). And that if we walk in the Spirit we are not under the law. The verses that follow (vv. 19-26) are indications of a life of walking in the flesh contrasted to those of walking in the Spirit. Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

How might the Galatian people perceive Paul’s letter?

The poor Galatian people had to be so confused! Judaizers were telling people that they had to follow Jewish law to be saved (Barclay, 1976). Paul was furious! (Gal 5:12) If they had succeeded, Christianity would have become just another Jewish sect (Barclay, 1976, p. 3). Paul devotes most of this letter to answering the judaizers. Chapter 5 is the peroration (summary) of his argument (Fausset, 1871). In the preceding verses, Paul tells us we are called to freedom but warns us not to use our Christian freedoms to indulge the flesh (v.13). The poor Galatian people might see vv. 5:16-18 as a “quick-start” guide for living under grace: Live by the Spirit, and we will not satisfy our fleshly nature. But it’s not going to be easy! Our flesh and spirit are at war; we are never free from this conflict (Gl 5:17b NLT). Verse 18 reminds us that if we walk in the Spirit, we are not under the law. The verses that follow (vv. 19-26) describe the fruits of a life of walking in the flesh vs. those of walking in the Spirit.

We could relate to the Galatian people!

We in the Western World could easily relate to the Galatian people. The Galatians, as a part of the Roman Empire, would have been bombarded on all sides by a myriad of religions competing for their attentions just as we are today. And I dare say the subtleties of law vs. grace would easily be lost on the average new believer in America. A new believer in America (and many “old” believers) would be easy prey for a slick-talking judaizer.

The Theology of Galatians 5:16-18

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The theological principles of Galatians 5:16-18 are: 1.) How to live a clean life – to keep from following through with our carnal desires with the help of the Holy Spirit (v. 16); 2.) The ongoing war between our flesh and spirit (v. 17) and; 3.) Christian liberty – living by grace rather than under the law (v.18).

How can we apply God’s Grace to our lives?

1.) In the year 1531 AD, Martin Luther wrote: “When I was a monk I thought I was lost forever whenever I felt an evil emotion, carnal lust, wrath, hatred, or envy. I tried to quiet my conscience in many ways, but it did not work, because lust would always come back and give me no rest…” You don’t have to be a monk to feel this way. I also tend to be a “perfectionist” and have a very hard time dealing with any shortcomings. It is comforting to know that we are not under the law. And as I walk in the Spirit, though I feel unholy desires at times, when I walk with God, I need not carry them out.

Today I am free of the obsession to drink by the grace of God. When I first got sober, I tried everything I could think of to be at peace when not drinking – to no avail. Today, I am doing what is suggested in the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 steps are a “spiritual program” based on Christian principles. It is not about being “good”, it is about getting rid of the garbage in our mind that is blocking God, then improving our relationship with God and helping others. Today though once in a while, a drink sounds tempting, it is no longer a losing battle because I walk in the Spirit. I quit trying to cure myself long enough to let God in to do His work.

References

Barclay, W. (1976) The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Fausset, A.R. (1871) A. R. Fausset commentary on Galatians: The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Luther, M. (1531) Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians

Wikipedia (2011) Retrieved April 3, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galatia

Finally a Sensible Approach to Westboro “Church”

I saw an article today that gave me hope. A pastor in Seattle has invited Westboro protesters to donuts and a sermon.

This is the kind of thing that will beat Westboro’s evil: love. Perhaps if even one member is touched by a truly godly sermon, the word will spread and Westboro will be defanged.

Read the story here.

Make doughnuts not protest — Seattle pastor offers Westboro Baptist picketers sweet treats

Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. Christianity

The Jehovah’s Witness people are some of the most devout people you will ever meet. Sadly, they do what they do with such zeal not out of the love of God, but out of fear. But that will be covered later.

The problem is with the Jehovah’s Witness religion. They do not believe in the Trinity[1]

– the fact that The Father, Son and Holy Ghost are all God, and all One.
They call the concept of Trinity polytheism. Though the actual term Trinity is not actually in written in the Bible, the Bible makes it clear that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one (Mat 28:19). They are all divine. They are different parts of the same God so to speak.
Though the Jehovah’s Witnesses have respect for Jesus, they deny Jesus’ divinity. But the Bible says that the Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
Jesus even claimed equality with God. That is what got Him crucified. Jesus also infuriated the religious leaders by clearly claiming divinity when he said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:58-59 KJV)

The New World Translation

I have struck this from the post pending further investigation. Charles Taze Russell may not have been personally involved in making the “New World Translation”. But whoever translated the Bible to make it conform to the Jehovah’s Witness theology is probably going to be in big trouble come judgement day.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to save themselves

Though Christians believe that it is impossible to save ourselves – Salvation is a gift from God, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a complex, impossible, and completely unscriptural belief about how to get to Heaven.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a caste system. 144,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses will be the “Ruling Class” Then there is the “Earthly Class” – everyone else who manages to save themselves. [3]

The 144,000

The 144,000 from the book of Revelation is very big with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They get the number 144,000 from the book of Revelation. They seem not to notice that in the very next sentence after mentioning the 144,000 in Revelation, the Bible proceeds to spell out exactly who the 144,000 are: the 144,000 are Jewish! 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Jacob… No mention of any gentiles (Non-Jews) whatsoever! (Revelation 7:4-8)
Jehovah’s Witnesses say that We must worship God properly and live in a way that is acceptable to him[4]. Then four pages later, a brief paragraph saying that Jesus is the way to Salvation[5].

1 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Chapter 15 Paragraph 17 (2006 printing)
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc

2 Jehovah’s Witness History
Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry
http://www.carm.org/jw/history.htm
3 Jehovah’s Witnesses: Salvation Through Works
The Watchman Expositor
http://www.watchman.org/jw/worksjw.htm
4 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Chapter 15 Paragraph 4 (2006 printing)
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc
5 What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Chapter 15 Paragraph 11 (2006 printing)
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.

What Makes Cults Different?

What Christians Believe

Virtually all mainstream protestant denominations believe that you come to Jesus as you are. No matter how bad you think you are. His Holy Spirit will quicken your spirit (bring it to life) and with your cooperation, God will help turn you into the best person you can be.

Most cults and even most religions that are not even remotely Christian, believe that you must modify your behavior to be acceptable. You must be “good enough” or do enough “good deeds” to get to heaven.

Many people have gone to an early grave trying to do the impossible — be righteous by their own goodness.

The Bible has proven time and time again that self-righteousness (trying to be good by your own power) is impossible.

Jesus will take you as you are and make you into the person you always wanted to be. And beyond!

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Confess (tell people out loud) that Jesus is Lord.  If you believe in your heart that Jesus was raised from the dead, you are saved! You’re going to Heaven!

But salvation is only the beginning. Ask Him to come in to your life in your own words — from the heart — then go get baptized as soon as possible. (You do not have to get baptized to go to heaven. But you will need to be baptized to have much success on earth.)  The Holy spirit will quicken your spirit – will bring your spirit to life. He will turn your heart to a heart of flesh (This is promised in Ezekiel 36:26). This is a process. Some processes will take longer than others, but one day when you look back, you will notice that you have made remarkable progress — progress that you never could have made on your own.

See the page on Salvation for more information on getting to heaven and baptism.

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