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Archive for the ‘law and grace’ Category

Antinomianism means “against the law.”  This is an unbiblical teaching that believers no longer have a responsibility to God’s moral laws.  While we are free from the ceremonial law and lifestyle and the national law of Israel, we still must obey God’s moral laws such as don’t kill, lie, commit adultery, steal, etc.  Neither the reformers or the early church taught this, but it was taught by the cult of the Gnostics and by several unbiblical cults today.  Strangely, this false teaching is spreading through the churches.

The false teaching sounds like this, ” since God forgave our sins, past, present, and future, we don’t have to confess our sins.”  This is in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus who told His apostles before he left to teach all things He commanded which includes the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer where we are commanded to pray, “forgive us our trespasses.”  The false teaching explains that Jesus’ commands are old covenant, which would mean that Jesus spent 3 years teaching an old wineskin message.  If Jesus had taught an old covenant message, they would never have crucified Him.  Even John Calvin, the first Calvinist, taught that believers needed to confess their sins.

Much of this teaching is fueled by Joseph Prince, Pastor of New Creation Church in Singapore.  I have found that his biblical interpretations are in opposition to the reformers, the early church fathers, and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.

At the root of this teaching are two things:  1)  A misunderstanding of law and grace;  2)  A departure from biblical teaching.  There are 3 parts to the law:  the ceremonial law,  the national law, and the moral law.  We are completely released from the ceremonial and national law in the Old Testament.  But, every believer has a biblical responsibility to keep God’s moral law by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Secondly, many churches have departed from teaching God’s word.  At a popular ministry conference, one nationally known megachurch pastor instructed pastors to stop saying, “the bible says….”  If there ever was a time we need to get back to the bible, it is today.  Believers who are established in the truth of the bible cannot be easily deceived by false teaching.

Contemporary Evangelical theologian J.I. Packer defines 5 strains of Antinomianism:

  • Dualistic Antinomianism (Gnostic) This view sees salvation as for the soul only, and bodily behavior as irrelevant both to God’s interest and the soul’s health…
  • Spirit-centered Antinomianism …puts such trust in the Holy Spirit’s inward prompting as to deny any need to be taught by the law how to live. Freedom from the law as a way of salvation is assumed to bring with it freedom from the law as a guide to conduct.
  • Christ-centered Antinomianism …argues that God sees no sin in believers, because they are in Christ, who kept the law for them, and therefore what they actually do makes no difference, provided that they keep believing.
  • Dispensational Antinomianism …denies that biblical law is God’s direct command and affirms that the Bible’s imperative statements trigger the Word of the Spirit, which when it comes may or may not correspond exactly to what is written.
  • Situationist Antinomianism …says that a motive and intention of love is all that God now requires of Christians, and the commands of the Decalogue and other ethical parts of scripture, for all that they are ascribed to God directly, are mere rules of thumb for loving, rules that love may at times disregard.[10]    

The classic Methodist commentator Adam Clarke held,

“The Gospel proclaims liberty from the ceremonial law: but binds you still faster under the moral law. To be freed from the ceremonial law is the Gospel liberty; to pretend freedom from the moral law is Antinomianism.”
Sin seperates us from God.  Unconfessed sin in the life of a believer will seperate them from fellowship with God, and open them up to deceiving spirits.  Keep a short account with God.  Pray daily for His cleansing.
Another source of this error is thinking that the promises of God are automatic.  All of the promises are accessed by ongoing prayer.  God promises healing and provided for such in the atonement, but we have to pray and ask for healing.  God promises to provide financial needs, but we have to pray it in as the need arises.  We can’t just pray the sinner’s prayer and then assume that the promises are automatic because they are not.  Everything in the Lord’s Prayer can be accessed only through daily prayer.  “Give us this day our daily bread…”  Why do we have to pray that if God already promised it to us?  Everything God has flows to us through the pipeline of prayer.  Jesus explained in John 15 that we are like branches in a vine.  We must abide in Jesus through constant praying which is a joy and not a burden to those who love Him.
The biblical term for antinomianism is lawlessness.  One extreme is legalism, the other extreme is lawlessness.  Jesus corrected wrong thinking about the law in the Sermon on the Mount.  In this great teaching, Jesus taught against legalism and lawlessness.  Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
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There was a movement called gnosticism in the early church.  They taught an extreme view that everything physical is evil and everything spiritual is good.  The book of 1 John was written to counter their false teaching that taught that Jesus did not have a physical body.  They also believed that they did not have to confess their sins since Jesus had already paid for them.  This doctrine is being promoted today internationally by a popular television minister.  It saddens me to see God’s people deceived so easily.  This is what Jesus describes as lawlessness in Matthew 7.  The antichrist is known by the title, “The Man of Lawlessness.”  I’ve been asking the Lord, “Could this be the great falling away?”

Believers are freed from the ceremonial and governmental Old Testament Laws, but we have a responsibility to obey God’s moral laws.  That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “…forgive us…”

How can good, well-meaning believers, even leaders and ministers of the Gospel be so easily deceived by the enemy?  Listed below are the steps that lead to false teaching and an unbalanced church.

Step #1.   A De-emphasis of God’s Word.  Experience begins to take priority over the teaching of God’s word.  In the beginning it sounds like this, “We had such a good service, the preacher didn’t even get to preach.”    The subtle message communicated to the people is that the study of God’s word is not that important.  For many believers today, the only scripture they get is spoon-fed to them through the pulpit.  We all need to dig God’s word out for ourselves on a daily basis.  Christians who know their bibles are not easily deceived.  The teaching of the entire counsel of God’s word brings spiritual balance to churches and individuals.

Step#2.  Extremism.  Because experience has become the priority, each experience must be greater than the last or the people will lose their fascination with what is happening.  Truths are pushed to unbiblical extremes.  If this means this, then this means that, and so on.  The Pharisees were extremists:  legalists in some matters, lawless in others.  They strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.  Every demonic false doctrine that deceives and sends people to hell began as a biblical truth taken to an extreme.  People who do not drink the proverbial Kool-Aid the false teacher is giving out are considered lukewarm believers or modern-day Pharisees.  If you attend a church that has primarily taught exclusively on one topic for many months or more than a year, you are in an unbalanced spiritual environment.  We need the entire counsel of God’s word to be spiritually healthy and discerning.

Step#3.  A Spirit of Deception.  In this phase, the new “revelation” replaces the simple understanding of God’s word.  Scriptures that conflict with the new “revelation” are explained away.  Church members who don’t “get it” are looked at with suspicion.  The peer pressure to conform pushes those with honest questions out of the church.  People who don’t adopt the new “revelation” are pronounced to be under a curse from God.  The inner circle of the spiritual leaders becomes smaller and smaller and they become paranoid of anyone who questions their direction.  Those who stay and conform get on a euphoric emotional high to think that God would choose them to deliver this special message from Heaven.  Wise counsel from the outside is shrugged off and rejected.   This group has become what sociologists call a closed social group.  They live in their own reality, distrust other believers, and despise any who question the “revelation.”

Return to a simple walk with God.  Jesus is the standard.  In the Great Commission in Matthew 28, the apostles were commanded by our risen Lord Jesus to go to the whole world and teach everything Jesus taught them during His earthly ministry.  Part of Jesus’ commands is the Lord’s model prayer…. “Forgive us as we forgive …….”    –Jeff Burke

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In the Sermon On The Mount, (Matthew 5:1-7:27), Jesus contrasts the New Covenant values with the Pharisee’s misuse of the Old Covenant Laws.  Jesus corrects two un-biblical extremes:  legalism and lawlessness.  You can take any valid truth to an extreme and it can become a falsehood.

Both the Jews and the heathen were operating in some faulty values concerning prayer.  The Jews had made prayer a religious show to impress others.  The heathen had turned prayer into a long series of repetitions in their attempt to impress God with their works.  Jesus taught that our focus in prayer should be on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Some have argued that this model prayer is Jesus’ teaching on how to operate in the Old Covenant and is not for believers today because it happened before the cross.  This view is in direct conflict with the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18…..Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” NLT.  Part of Jesus’ commandments to the disciples is found in the model prayer that He gave us as a guide to praying.

Jesus was not teaching an old wineskin message.  The greatest evidence of that is the reaction of those living under the Old Covenant – after listening to His teaching they conspired to have Him crucified.  I’ve found that the gospel is very simple because Jesus Himself is the standard we live by, not the latest fad of the TV preachers.  This prayer contains new wineskin principles spoken to New Covenant believers.

Matthew 6: 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.[c] NKJV.    We know from the term “daily bread” that this prayer is a daily prayer.

When we do not confess our sins to the Father, our hearts become hardened to the Holy Spirit and we can become open to deception and false teaching.  In the next chapter Jesus concludes this sermon with a warning against lawlessness.  When we ignore God’s moral laws and say we have no sin, we commit the sin of lawlessness.  While we are free from the ceremonial laws and national laws of the Old Testament, we still have a responsibility to follow God’s moral laws and principles.

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Build on the Rock

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.  NKJV

Jeff Burke

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Do Christians today need to confess their sins?

I heard a television minister this week say that born again believers do not need to confess their sins in prayer to God.  If you are exposed to a ministry that teaches this, you are being taught false doctrine on the most basic level.  I also understand where the misunderstanding originates from, because for many years I struggled with the issue of law and grace.  There are 2 false ideas being taught today:  legalism and lawlessness.

This new idea is that since Christians are no longer under the law, there can be no sin to confess without the law.  This concept is based on a basic misunderstanding of the 3 uses of law throughout scripture:

1) The National Law of Israel.  (Judicial laws for the functioning of a theocracy)

2) The Ceremonial Law (Connected with the Old Covenant system of priesthood and animal sacrifices)

3) God’s Moral Law (The knowledge of sin:  stealing, killing, lying, sexual sin, pride, etc.)

Legalism deals with going back under the ceremonial laws and adding ceremonial law (sacrifices, cleansings, feasts, etc.)  and national law (eye for an eye) to the gospel.  Paul makes his case against legalism in the entire book of Galatians.

Right now, I want to deal with the false teaching of believers not confessing their sin.  This is nothing new.  The early Gnostics taught the same thing (there were 2 basic types of Gnosticism).   Jesus dealt with this false teaching and the writers of the Epistles did also.  They called this error Lawlessness.  Here are some scriptures (NKJV except where noted)  that denounce lawlessness:

Matthew 7:23, And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 13:41, The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness…

Matthew 24:12, And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

Matthew 6: 12, And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. (NLT)

1 John 1: 8, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

As believers, the bible instructs us to examine ourselves and confess our sins to God and to each other.  The Corinthian church is an example of what happens to a church that stops doing this.  The wrath of God rested on those believers because of unconfessed sins.  Paul’s solution was for them to judge their own sin and confess it so that God would not have to deal with their unconfessed sin in judgment.

Jesus gave us a model prayer to guide our daily prayer life.  Confessing sin is a part of the model Jesus gave us… so we’d better be doing it.  Unconfessed sin in the life of believer will result in hardness of heart and a love that grows cold. The letters to the seven churches in Revelation dealt with this very problem.  Where is this big push for lawlessness inside the church coming from?  2 Thessalonians 2:8, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.”  This is nothing less than the spirit of the antichrist creeping into the church and confusing a generation of believers who do not know their bibles.  Stay in the word, examine yourselves daily and confess any revealed sin in your life daily.  Keep short accounts with God and man.  Jesus called this “watching and praying.”  Grace and Peace –  Jeff Burke

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