Tag Archives: Paul

Marks of a False Teacher

The Bible warns many times of false teachers.  Here is a good list of hot to spot them:7 Marks of a False Teacher | Challies Dot Com.  I would add that false teachers will downplay, mock or reject any passages you mention about false teachers.  Hat tip: Pastor Timothy.

Here are a few:

False teachers miss what is of central importance and focus instead on the small details. Jesus diagnosed this very tendency in the false teachers of his day, warning them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matt. 23:23). False teachers place great emphasis on their adherence to the smaller commands even as they ignore the greater ones. Paul warned Timothy of the one who “is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim. 6:4-5).

False teachers obscure their false doctrine behind eloquent speech and what appears to be impressive logic. Just as a prostitute paints and perfumes herself to appear more attractive and more alluring, the false teacher hides his blasphemies and dangerous doctrine behind powerful arguments and eloquent use of language. He offers to his listeners the spiritual equivalent of a poisonous pill coated in gold; though it may appear beautiful and valuable, it is still deadly.

False teachers are more concerned with winning others to their opinions than in helping and bettering them. This was another of Jesus’ diagnoses as he considered the religious rulers of his day. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” (Matt 23:15). False teachers are ultimately not in the business of bettering lives and saving souls, but of convincing minds and winning followers.

 

How would the Corinthians respond to Paul if they applied pro-gay reasoning?

Note: This ceases to be much of a satire when you see how the “Christian” Left responds to things like the Nashville Statement.

People who hold to pro-gay theology* (i.e., God doesn’t consider it a sin and that He approves of “same-sex marriage”) use all sorts of fallacious arguments to make their case.  In this post I am taking the pro-gay theological reasoning out for a test drive, so to speak, to see how it applies to other passages.  After all, if their principles are sound they should work in other situations as well.

You may be familiar with Leviticus 18:22 (Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable) and some of the improper interpretations of it. But I wondered how their reasoning would apply to a verse in the same passage, such as Leviticus 18:8 –Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father. After all, the context of Leviticus 18 is abundantly clear because it starts and ends with the same admonitions: Don’t be like the pagan Canaanites and do the detestable things listed in the middle of the text, or you will be vomited out of the land like they were.  These were obviously not ceremonial laws just for the Israelites.

You can use any verse from Leviticus 18 to make the same points (bestiality, child sacrifice, etc.).  I chose this one because it happened to be addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5.  Especially note how Paul chides the Corinthians for being proud and boastful about this a man sleeping with his father’s wife.  Read it once, then read it again and replace the descriptions of incest with homosexual behavior.  That is how I view the pro-gay theology community (especially the heterosexuals): Proud and boastful for ignoring God’s Word.

1 Corinthians 5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Now let’s apply the various lines of pro-gay theological reasoning to Leviticus 18:8 and 1 Corinthians 5 and see how well they work. I realize that not all pro-gay theologians hold all these views.  I tried to convey their reasoning as accurately as possible.  Using their logic, we could conclude that:

  • Even if it is a sin, we are being so inclusive by keeping him as a member!  Look at us, being open-minded and tolerant!
  • Jesus didn’t specifically say not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife, so it couldn’t have been very important and probably wasn’t even a sin (the argument from silence).  We should err on the side of saying it isn’t a sin.  We ignore the fact that Jesus, as God, authored the Old Testament and that He fully supported it.
  • The man was born that way (i.e., with the desire to have sex with females).  It was his natural desire and function.
  • He and his father’s wife love each other!  Who are you to say that is wrong?  Gene Robinson, a Bishop in the Episcopal church, left his wife and kids so he could be with his gay lover.  Pro-gay theologians usually affirm and applaud this behavior.  Living up to marriage commitments made before God isn’t nearly as important as indulging your sexual preferences.
  • How do you know he and his father’s wife didn’t pray about it?  Maybe God gave them a personal revelation permitting them to have sex and/or get married.  That would make it acceptable.
  • Maybe the couple says that Jesus told them it was OK.  Who are you to argue with Jesus?
  • Leviticus 18:8 was a ceremonial law.  It was only for the Jews.  It obviously doesn’t apply to Gentiles.  If you eat shellfish then you obviously are a hypocrite if you don’t condone incest.
  • The Bible never actually uses the word incest.
  • There are only a few verses saying not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife [probably less than there are describing homosexual behavior as sinful].Therefore, how can we be sure about it?  And they are kinda obscure as well.
  • The man or the father’s wife was a temple prostitute or this was part of some pagan temple worship, and that is what made it wrong [even though the text doesn’t even hint at that].
  • Paul was an ignorant prude.  He didn’t understand sexual behavior or have the advantage of all the knowledge we do.  [This assumes that the Holy Spirit didn’t inspire his writings, of course].
  • You are just using the “ick” factor and saying “Eeewww” because a man having sex with his father’s wife seems gross to you.  There is really nothing wrong with it, though – you were just made differently.
  • Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Paul must be sinning here because he is clearly making moral judgments.  [Please ignore the fact that I’m judging Paul for judging and that I’ve taken Matthew 7:1-5 out of context].
  • You are just an incest-o-phobe.  You need therapy for your irrational hatred.  In fact, speech like that should be prohibited because it will incite violence against those who practice incest.
  • You just don’t love the man and his father’s wife!  If you did, you’d want them to be happy.  Hater!  Hate speech!
  • Other parts of the Bible portray God acting in ways that don’t appear to be in line with his moral laws, so they obviously aren’t really from him.  Therefore, Leviticus 18:8 may not be his Word either.  When in doubt, we should ignore Scripture, because God’s revelation to my heart trumps anything in the Bible.
  • Some parts of the Bible aren’t clear to us [even though this part is] so we can ignore it.

If that sounds like an unsound line of reasoning that’s because it is an unsound line of reasoning. These principles don’t work on the passages they are designed to dismiss, and they completely self-destruct when applied to other passages.  Pro-gay theology is flawed, sinful and destructive and should be abandoned by any Christians who hold those views.

Once again, note that:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind. There are no exceptions for “committed” relationships.
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to LGBT couples parenting children.

Remember, if homosexual behavior is a sin – and the Bible clearly identifies it as such – then affirming and encouraging that behavior is also a sin** and providing the orthodox Biblical view is the loving thing to do.  God is perfectly holy, but He is also perfectly gracious and merciful and will forgive those who repent and believe in Jesus.  Hear the Good News:

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love LGBTQ people, be friends with them and pray for them.  If they need to develop a friendship with you so they can see what normal relationships should look like, then do so.  But don’t encourage them to participate in sinful behavior.  If you do, then you are loving yourself, not them.  Here’s an example of how to witness to them.

And remember, God catches his fish and then He cleans them.  You don’t have to convert their sexuality before sharing the Good News that God adopts, completely forgives and eternally blesses everyone who repents and trusts in Jesus.

Comments are welcome, but please stick to the topic.  We aren’t debating secular views, we aren’t demonizing anyone (pro-gay or orthodox) and we don’t need straw-man arguments (“You just don’t love them,” etc.).

* There are the three commons ways pro-gay theologians make errors, namely by believing that:

  1. The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.
  2. The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.
  3. The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describe gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable and the “new” sin is saying that homosexual behavior is sinful.

** Romans 1:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

—–

The Pyromaniacs make some great points on this passage as well.

Typical comments of Sojourners’ followers

I noticed the following comments left at Top 4 Reasons Jesus Is My Favorite Feminist from the blog of Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis:

Liberal guy: But then you have Paul aka Saul of Tarsus in 2 Timothy going on his anti-female screed.

Liberal woman 1: Paul is not Jesus. Paul seems to be a split personality in his writings. He says a number of things that I suspect Jesus would not have agreed with

Liberal woman 2: Thank you! Finally, someone who gets it: Paul was not divine, nor was he anything other than a man who seemed to be quite conflicted in many ways. Personally, I have little use for most of his misguided and inconsistent writings. I’ve never really understood the church’s seemingly endless fascination with Paul–it’s almost as if he’s right up there next to Jesus, and that’s a ludicrous premise. Paul is waaaaaay overrated.

It is odd to me how someone can claim to be a Christian yet be so dismissive of huge parts of the Bible.  Here was my response:

No one claimed that Paul or any other Bible writers were divine. But everything Paul wrote in the Bible turned out exactly as God wanted it to, and Jesus, as part of the Trinity, agrees with it. If you say otherwise you are creating a god in your own image. You are sitting in judgment of the Bible and only accepting as inspired the parts that agree with your sensibilities (see 2 Tim 4:3, among others). Have you gone through all 31,173 verses to tell us which are “really” from God and which aren’t, and why should we trust your interpretation — which just happens to agree with the world’s perspective?

Having said that, I have yet to find a “Paul was a misogynist!!!” person who actually studied all of the Bible carefully.

Remember, Paul wrote, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” If you think about that you’ll realize it is the highest possible standard.

Paul was surely perceived just as radically and politically incorrect in his day as he is in ours, but for the opposite reasons. Take off the modern blinders that equate feminism with the right to have your unborn children killed, then read all of what He wrote and consider how God’s word elevated women relative to their treatment at that time.

 

Because of their idolatry, God gave them up to . . . square dancing?!

Well, not exactly.

Romans 1 has a tightly written explanation of why homosexual behavior is an example of rebellion against God’s created order.

Romans 1:26-28 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

I am very familiar with the objections and counter-arguments about Romans 1 and have written about them in Romans 1 and natural functions and Romans 1 and temple prostitutes.

But I was re-reading the False Teacher Profile post and something struck me that I hadn’t noticed before.  Uber-commenter Bubba made the following observation about the pro-gay theology views of the false teacher in question (bold added):

Paul is also quite clear in Romans 1: because of man’s idolatry, God gave up the unrighteous to impurity (1:24), to dishonorable passions (1:26), and to a debased mind (1:28), leading to all manner of evil, including envy, murder, and slander. Even if one were to put a heavy emphasis on the fact that this consequence of homosexual behavior was in the context of idolatry, it’s still impossible to conclude that homosexual behavior is biblically permissible.

AFTER ALL, God wouldn’t “hand over” an idolator to behavior that is good or even morally neutral. “They were idolators, and so God gave them over to prayer and almsgiving” DOES NOT WORK as a logical progression, nor does the idea that they were idolators, and so God would give them over to morally neutral behavior like square dancing and poetry readings.

No matter how you try to spin it, God was punishing their idolatry with something negative.  No matter what completes the “God gave them up to ____” passage, it is, by definition, a negative thing.  So those who claim that the “real” sin is idolatry are missing the point.

As Bubba noted, God didn’t “give them over” to square dancing or some benign thing, He gave them over to homosexual behavior.

Yes, idolatry is a sin that we all have to fight, and there is a laundry list of sins at the end of Romans 1 that we can be tempted by.  We shouldn’t grandstand on the sin of homosexuality just because it isn’t a temptation for us.  But neither should we lie and say it isn’t sinful.  And when the world and false teachers are trying to force us to change our religious beliefs on this topic, we need to defend the truth.  They brought up the topic, not us.

God “gave up” the false teachers as well, as their idolatry leads them to sit in judgment of God and to give approval to those who practice homosexual behavior and other sins.

Despite what the media, government and countless false churches will tell you, homosexual behavior is still a sin.  It is a forgivable sin, and one that people can be rescued from, but it is still a sin.  If you can’t bring yourself to say that then Christianity may not be for you.

A commonly misinterpreted verse: Philippians 4:13

Hello visitors!  I hope you enjoy this post and come back regularly.  If you go to the main page you can subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner.  Also see another commonly misinterpreted verse, Jeremiah 29:11.

Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through him who strengthens me”) is one of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible. I used to misuse it. I can’t remember the last time I heard it used correctly. It is one of the top 10 searched verses on biblestudytools.com, along with another frequently misused verse, Jeremiah 29:11.

We can’t ignore 2 Timothy 2:15 (Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.).  Getting Bible verses wrong isn’t a felony, but if we love God and our neighbors we’ll want to be careful with his word and humbly change our views once we realize we’ve been mistaken.

I enjoy the Pyromaniacs blog and agreed with the basic premise of Self-esteem, Possibility Thinking, and Philippians 4:13 .

That verse is not a manifesto for self-esteem and possibility thinking —although it is often used that way. People quote the verse as if it meant “With Jesus’ help you can achieve whatever dream you have for yourself.” That’s not the idea at all. Paul is speaking as a man who wants to do the will of God and knows he is too weak and sinful to do it, but he is laying hold of Christ’s power to do in him what he knows he cannot do on his own.

I agreed with the first part but not as much with the last part. Yes, people misuse the verse to mean that they can accomplish all sorts of things through Jesus. It is technically true that we could accomplish great things with Jesus, of course, but that isn’t what Philippians 4:13 means. The verse refers to Christ’s power doing something very specific in the believer, not some sort of general power.

I love using Phil 4:13 as an example of how to read in context. You don’t need to be a Greek scholar.  You don’t need to read the entire Bible, or all of Philippians, or chapter 4 or even a paragraph to get the real meaning. Just go back one verse!

Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Verse 13 is Paul’s secret for being content in all situations. That’s it. Do every thing through Jesus and you can be content in everything. It isn’t about what you accomplish, it is about how you do whatever you do.

For starters, remember that Paul wrote this letter from prison.  Having done prison ministry for years I assure you that if the believers there could do “all things” in the context most people us it, they would start by getting out of prison immediately.

I would never actually say this to someone because it would come across too snarky, but when people quote Philippians 4:13 I’m tempted to ask, “Really? You can do all things through Christ? Does that include reading scripture in context?”

Instead, I say something like, “Oh, yes, Paul’s secret for being content in all situations. I love that verse.” I usually get a slightly puzzled look in return, but I hope they re-read it themselves and see what I meant.

Some people may think they’ve lost something special when they realize they’ve misinterpreted the verse. But did they really think that Jesus was going to help them win every race, get every job, get A’s on every test, leap tall buildings, etc.?

This theme of contentment and being strengthened by Christ is found in other passages as well.

Being content sounds bland compared to our worldly desires, but what a phenomenal blessing the real interpretation of Philippians 4:13 is! How wonderful would it be to have contentment in every situation in life? That’s the true promise of scripture that we seek and rejoice in.

As often happens, the real meaning of the verse is better than what we wanted it to mean.

Also see Reading the Bible in Context for a very important lesson and other examples.

Paul vs. Jesus? Not exactly.

A thread over at the false gospel-preaching Sojourners Blog had multiple accusations against a commenter about whether Jesus and Paul taught the same Gospel, saying things like:

. . . the question of whether the Gospel according to Paul agrees with the Gospel according to Jesus seem largely ignored.

A commenter there referred to someone quoting Paul as a “Paulian” instead of a “Christian” and a commenter here literally said that “Jesus trumps Paul.”  And there have been whole TV shows and analyses about the alleged differences.  But is this really the case?

The “Jesus vs. Paul” debate is what is known as a false dichotomy, or a false dilemma.  It implies that you have to choose one side or the other, when there are actually other options.  Please consider this:

1. Jesus is God.  The Bible is the word of God.  Therefore, it is all the word of Jesus.  The original writings turned out just like He wanted them to, including Paul’s letters.

2. The “red letters” (direct quotes of Jesus sometimes printed in red ink) carry no more authority than any of the other verses, let alone the ~3,000 verses saying, “God said,” “The word of the Lord came to me,” etc.

3. Roughly 10% of the “red letters” quoted the “black letters.”  Jesus unapologetically and frequently quoted from the Old Testament, including the most controversial parts such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

5. None of the people making this argument seem to question what Luke wrote in his Gospel, so why do they question what Luke documented about Paul in the book of Acts, including his encounters with Jesus and his acceptance by the other Apostles?

6. Unless you think Paul made up his whole story — which would raise a whole new set of issues — then his claims are just as authoritative as the Gospel writers.

For example, Luke was not a direct follower of Jesus but was a careful historian and under the tutelage of Paul.  Mark was not an eye-witness but leveraged Peter for his Gospel.  But Paul heard directly from Jesus.

7. Think about how much you know about the concept of grace and where that came from.  Do you really want to toss that out?

8. Jesus and Paul don’t disagree.  The clear trumps the unclear, but a Gospel writer’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings doesn’t trump Paul’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings.

9.  Much of Paul’s writings pre-date the Gospels.

So I don’t think Paul disagrees with what others documented directly and indirectly about Jesus, and even if they did you wouldn’t necessarily go with the Gospels.

Quoting Paul doesn’t make one a “Paulian” instead of a Christian, it just means you are quoting the word of God.  Don’t let anyone dismiss your claims because you quote Paul.

Just quote scripture, in context.  It’s all good.

Exodus 21 and abortion

Pro-choice advocates often refer to a passage in Exodus 21 to support their views. 

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22–25, ESV)

The short version is that the key word of the passage is often not translated well and says “miscarriage” instead of “children come out.”  It you study the original Hebrew it becomes very clear that Moses did not mean that if the child is killed that the penalty is less severe.  I highly recommend the following resources as thorough and accurate rebuttals to the pro-choice claims: What Exodus 21 says about abortion by Greg Koukl and The Misuse of Exodus 21:22-25 by Pro-Choice Advocates by John Piper.

But that is just one of many problems with their use of this passage.  Here is a full list:

1. They get the text wrong.  This is a pro-life passage, not a pro-legalized abortion passage.  If Moses wanted to say “miscarriage” he could have used a much more specific word for that.

2. They ignore or rationalize away other Biblical texts that they don’t like, such as Leviticus 18:22 (ESV – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.)  So why do they find Exodus 21 so authoritative? 

They ignore passages like Romans 1 where Paul explicitly declares homosexual behavior to be sinful because they think Paul didn’t know enough about biology and psychology (and they unwittingly tip their hand that they don’t believe any scripture is truly inspired by God).  But if Paul is so ignorant and scripture is un-inspired, why trust Moses to know key scientific facts?  They should dismiss the “miscarriage” term even if it had been in the original text because he didn’t have access to the scientific fact that a new human life begins at conception.

3. They don’t even agree with the other teachings of Exodus 21, such as verses 23-25. 

But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

They are almost exclusively anti-capital punishment.  So why do they rationalize away the destruction of over a million innocent human beings per year in the U.S. based on a poor translation of a single word and then ignore the rest of the passage which is much more clear?

4. They ignore the endless pro-life passages in the Bible.

In summary, Christians (the uninformed kind) and “Christians” (the fake kind) who use Exodus 21 as support for abortion on demand serve up a quadruple dose of FAIL.  If it weren’t for people like them Roe v Wade and the destruction that followed would not have happened.