Study 10: Ch.2:1-6
Continuing our look at the false brethren:
The idea is of making someone do something against their will, whether it is by threat, force, constraint or persuasion. In Paul’s case it was to make believers to blaspheme by force; in Titus’ case it was circumcision by some form of persuasion; to say circumcision(or anything else) is necessary for salvation is in itself blasphemy, for to say it is required is to deny the finished work of Christ on the cross.
If we think that is confined only to the NT or recognised heretical groups, then we need to think again; the moment one says or implies one is obliged to do this or that in the Christian life then we are into Galatianism. For the Christian life is not one of rules and regulations, but rather true life springing from the Spirit of God within; and the only compulsion comes from the love of God in our hearts.
Many examples could be added but two will suffice; one being on an individual level and the other more generally.
If a Christian happens not to be a regular ‘church goer’ then one of the standard comments one receives is: ’you must belong to a local church’, and some go as far as saying if you don’t you are not a member of the body of Christ. Now to be in fellowship with other believers is good and is positively encouraged in the NT, but that is not the same as being a regular church goer. ( meeting together as Christians is something different from 'church going' - but that's another topic) It is this sort of accepted talk by ‘evangelicals’ that betrays a lack of understanding of truth and instead replaces it with a man-made law thus bringing believers into bondage.
Another example is where a believer has a either a command from God, or a self imposed idea, to rid his house of certain items, for whatever reason, and then falls into the trap of making it a law for all believers to do the same. If that person is of a strong personality (which is the flesh remember) he ( or she!) will promote their idea and cause fear in others, bring souls into bondage, and contentions follow if they continue on that line. The fall out of such things can have devastating effects in peoples’ lives, very often those who are innocent bystanders.
The underlying cause is simply a refusal to have self put to the cross and simply walk in the Spirit. Very often one hears such phrases as ‘I sought the Lord and He told me this, that or the other’, or 'the Lord showed me'; they claim to have special revelation and insist ( covertly if not openly) that all must follow their particular, and very often peculiar, ideas. Then these become laws to believers and bind them hand and foot.
What we must remember is that every Christian has a walk with God individually and is accountable to the Lord alone and not to anyone else in spiritual matters. If a believer is in the wrong over an issue then conviction from God is what is required, not compulsion of the flesh. Too many Christians try to play the ‘amateur providence’ (to quote Oswald Chambers) in other people’s lives, we are meant to be helpers one of another and not to have dominion of others people's faith.
Paul received the gospel by revelation, and was therefore qualified to teach others truth, those after the flesh can only pass on what they have and that is nothing of any spiritual worth. What is born of flesh is flesh, and only that which is born of spirit is spirit.
One of the great problems within Christian circles is intellectualism: reducing the truth to some form of academic exercise; in doing so something is lost and the flesh soon emerges; people then tend to look up to those with great qualifications of the flesh and the result? Their eyes are taken off Jesus and soon go off the rails into some fleshy diversion.
The question is what do these people add? Is it the ministry of the Spirit from above that gives life, or is it the ministration of the letter than brings only death? Are they clouds that promise much yet deliver nothing, or clouds that bring the refreshing times from God? By their fruits they are known.
Paul refused to give them place, lest he come under their power. We too can learn from this. There is only one Faith and that is the one once (and for all) delivered to saints as revealed in scripture; we are not to allow any other message to bring us under its power.
Many believers in these days are only too willing to accept what other people bring, without checking it out.
Even if the person(s) in question speaks the true gospel, if they add to it, in any way, then they make it false and has to be rejected. The gospel stands alone as God gave it, with no additions, or not at all. This fact alone answers why certain groups who call themselves Christians are false when they appear to hold the fundamentals correct.
To add anything to the true gospel renders the message automatically false.
Having looked at the false brethren we will see how some of the believers responded to them.