By Brother Michel Lankford
Review: How Can We KNOW that Paul Was NOT Teaching Against Obeying ‘Old Testament’ Commandments of God?
- Episode 1: We saw that Paul made 6 clear testimony statements in the book of Acts that he was not teaching against God’s Commandments, (Acts 24:14-16; Acts 25:7-10; Acts 28:17-21).
- Episode 2: Paul specifically UPHELD the ongoing authority, validity and continuing usefulness of the Old Testament Scriptures. He even went so far as to teach Torah principles to Gentile congregations in Rome and in Corinth, (e.g. Romans 15:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10; 2 Timothy 3:12-17). He even told his protégé Timothy to CONTINUE doing the Sacred Writings that he had learned since childhood. Paul specifically did not tell Timothy to stop doing them, but to CONTINUE doing them. There was no New Testament compiled when Timothy was a child. You can’t CONTINUE DOING a set of Scriptures, but then treat them like they are done away with at the same time.
- Episode 3: Paul himself specifically SAID that NOT subjecting ourselves to God’s Law is a characteristic of someone who is still being controlled by the sinful nature. Paul said that this was CARNAL MINDED. Paul said that not subjecting ourselves to God’s Law is, “Hostile against God.” Paul said that a person who thinks and lives that way, “Cannot please God.” Paul said that the carnal minded person who does not subject themselves to the Law of God, is walking in DEATH. That’s not Eternal Life. Paul could not have been teaching against obeying God’s Commandments like Christians think he was. He clearly said that such a thing was carnal minded, hostile against God, cannot please God, and it leads to death. There is NO WAY that Paul was teaching disregarding and disobeying God’s Law because of Grace like Christians think he was (Romans 8:5-8).
- Episode 4: Paul specifically taught AGAINST Lawlessness/ANOMIA more than any other single writer in the New Testament. He said that Lawlessness was a characteristic of the sinful nature, (Romans 6:19; Romans 8:5-8). We were disobedient to God before we were Born Again and saved through Messiah, but we should NOT continue to live that way After We Have Been Born Again and Saved through Christ. He clearly told us that we had to separate from Lawlessness/ANOMIA in order for God to accept us as His child, (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). Paul himself was also the one who identified Lawlessness/ANOMIA as a sign and defining characteristic of the Antichrist, (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). If some characteristic or behavior defines the Antichrist according to Paul, then OBVIOUSLY that SAME characteristic and behavior CANNOT also identify a Christian living in the Grace of Almighty God at the same time. What many Christians assume to be Grace today, Paul himself identified those characteristics as a sign of Antichrist.
- Episode 5 (Today’s Episode): Paul had a clear and unmistakable definition for Grace. He clearly described what Grace does and how Grace functions in his writings. What is even more important, is that Paul specifically told us that when we talk about Grace, we are supposed to use THIS particular description, and not let anyone disregard it. Let’s take a look.
When Christians Today Talk About the Grace of God…
If you ask a Christian today about what it means to be, “Under Grace,” these are the types of descriptions that you are likely to hear. These types of things are even taught in Bible school and in many church pulpits today.
- Grace supposedly means that we are free from obeying God’s Law, because of what Jesus did through His death, to make atonement for sin.
- Grace supposedly means that we can ignore and disregard God’s Laws, Commandments, and Instructions, since we are saved through Christ, and since obeying God is not what causes our salvation anyway.
- Being under Grace through Christ supposedly means that we are now free to BREAK God’s Laws, Commandments and Instructions, because Messiah fulfilled it for us. So under Grace, we are now supposedly free to do the OPPOSITE of what God’s Laws, Commandments and Instructions tells us to do.
- Trying to obey God, and trying to do what God says is supposedly a sign that you do not have enough Grace. Trying to obey ANY biblical commandment is supposedly a lack of Grace because it supposedly means that you are still trying to gain or earn righteousness by works of obeying what God says.
- DISOBEYING What God and Jesus said to do is now supposedly proof that you are walking in Grace, because it shows that you are putting faith in what Christ did, and you are not trusting in your own works of obeying God to save you.
- Some theologians will even go so far as to suggest that if we try to follow Christ’s example (1 John 2:6), and we try to obey God’s Standards, Laws, and Commandments just as Jesus Christ did, then some theologians will openly state that to do this is the equivalent of denying Jesus Christ, because they say that when you try to obey God’s laws as Jesus did, then this is the same as claiming that what Jesus accomplished on our behalf was not sufficient.
This is what many modern Christians think that living in God’s Grace supposedly means. The HUGE problem is that this modern definition of grace that many people have grown comfortable with is COUNTERFEIT. If you listen carefully to how Paul defines Grace and its function in his letters, then the modern definition of grace, and Paul’s definition of Grace in his letters are often times the direct OPPOSITE of each other.
What Paul SAID that Grace Means
As It Is Written: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11–15 ESV)
Paul Clearly Identifies the Functions of Grace
- God’s True Grace makes salvation visible and available to everyone.
- God’s True Grace trains people to reject, to renounce and to forsake ungodliness and worldly sinful passions.
- God’s True Grace trains people to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives, while we wait for Messiah’s return.
- God’s True Grace through Messiah REDEEMS us FROM every Lawless deed.
- God’s True Grace through Messiah purifies us and makes us His Special Possession, a people ZEALOUS FOR GOOD DEEDS.
In the last verse of this passage, Paul clearly says that when we talk about Grace, we are to declare THESE things. We are to rebuke and exhort using THIS definition of Grace, with ALL authority. Moreover, we should not let anybody disregard us when we use THIS definition of Grace.
This is the definition that Paul told us to use when we talk about Grace. When Paul used the word Grace in his writings, THIS is the definition that he had in mind. Read Titus 2:11-15 again. When Paul talks about Grace THIS is what he has in mind. However, if you look at things objectively, when most Christians talk about Grace today, the definition of Grace that Paul said we are supposed to use, is not even on most people’s radar anymore. Paul’s definition of grace doesn’t even enter their minds in most cases.
What the Bible Defines to be Sin and Lawlessness Cannot be What Grace Means:
According to TWO major I Greek dictionaries, LAWLESSNESS is defined as follows:
Here is how the New Testament Greek defines the term LAWLESSNESS: (Greek Strong’s # 458-459)-ANOMIA; which means:
- The condition of being without the Law.
- Being ignorant of the Law Violating/ Breaking the Law.
- Having contempt for the Law.
- “To be destitute or in violation of the Mosaic or Jewish Law“ A.KA. Illegality; iniquity; to break, transgress or walk in violation of the Law- (see also 1 John 3:4)
· (See Thayer’s and Strong’s Lexicons)
As it is Written: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4 KJV; cf. Romans 7:7; Hosea 8:1; Daniel 9:11; Isaiah 5:20-24).
As It Is Written: “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. (John 8:34–35 ESV)
If we are truly free from sin, that means we DO NOT CONTINUE to do sinful practices anymore. We start TURNING AWAY FROM sin and we progressively keep doing what God says is good. If we refuse to practice doing that, then we are not free from sin, we are still being a slave to our sinful nature, which means, according to Christ, that we DO NOT have a permanent place in God’s household either. We just read it.
As It Is Written: ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21–23 ESV)
According to Jesus the Messiah Himself, it is NOT ENOUGH to accept and declare that Jesus Christ is your Lord and your Savior. Yes, coming to Christ as Lord and Savior is the critical necessary STARTING point, but you CAN’T stop there, and assume that you are fine. According to Jesus, many people who call Jesus their Lord, are going to be rejected and thrown out of His presence. Why? Because they refused to learn and to do the will of the Heavenly Father, and they lived a lifestyle of Lawlessness/ANOMIA. They chose to live outside of God’s Laws Commandments and Instructions. Jesus SAID that He is going to declare that He NEVER knew such people. By the way, that passage fits right in line with what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, and right in line with what the apostle John said in 1 John 2:1-6.
Paul Was Teaching in AGREEMENT with What Jesus Had Already Said
What modern Christians often forget is that if Paul was actually teaching what they claim that he was teaching, that would mean that Paul would be teaching AGAINST what Jesus Christ has specifically said.
IF Paul was truly teaching, ‘Reject God’s Law now because you are saved by Grace and not by works.’ ‘Don’t obey God’s Law now because you are saved by Grace.’ ‘Disobey God on purpose. Do the OPPOSITE of What God’s Commandments and Instructions, tells people to do, because disobeying what God said to do proves that you are walking in God’s Grace through Christ. Disobeying God on purpose shows that you are trusting Christ, and not trusting in your own obedience to save you. IF Paul was truly teaching these falsehoods, then Paul would have been promoting what the Bible calls sin, (Hosea 8:1; Daniel 9:11; Isaiah 5:20-24; Romans 7:7; 1 John 3:4).
IF Paul was promoting what even the New Testament defines to be sin and Lawlessness/ANOMIA, then according to JESUS, Paul would not be saved. If Paul was truly teaching what Christians believe that he was, then according to JESUS, Paul would be heading to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. He would not be going to heaven. Those are Messiah’s OWN Words, not mine.
As It Is Written: ““The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41–42 NASB95)
Jesus Himself clearly SAID that if we live a lifestyle of Lawlessness/ANOMIA, (if we live outside of God’s Laws Commandments and Instructions), and we cause others to stumble into such a lifestyle of Lawlessness, then such folks will be taken out of God’s Household, and they will be thrown into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Folks, that is not a picture of going to heaven. Grace CANNOT possibly mean, ‘Don’t do God’s Commandments.’ Grace CANNOT mean, go ahead, and live outside of God’s Laws, Commandments, and Instructions.’ Jesus clearly said that people who live that way, and cause others to live that way will be going to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Paul himself even confirmed that we MUST TURN AWAY FROM such a lifestyle of Lawlessness/ANOMIA in order for God to accept us as His Children, (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
Remember what Messiah said about apostles. The word apostle means one who is sent to deliver messages:
As It Is Written: “Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. (John 13:16 NRSV)
As It Is Written: “for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.” (John 12:49–50 NRSV)
Jesus clearly said that He knew that the Commandment of God IS Eternal Life. Therefore, to speak AGAINST the Commandments of God, is to speak AGAINST Eternal Life, even according to Messiah’s definition of the term.
Therefore, IF Paul was truly teaching people, ‘go ahead and live outside of God’s Laws Commandments and Instructions and do the opposite of what God says to do, because you are under Grace’, then according to JESUS, Paul would be speaking AGAINST Eternal Life! Moreover, Paul would also NOT be a legitimate apostle. Why? The word apostle literally means one who is sent to deliver a message. The hard and fast rule was that the messenger is NEVER greater than the One Who SENT him to deliver that message. I clearly demonstrated that Jesus plainly said that those who practice Lawless deeds will be in the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, and they are NOT going to heaven, according to Messiah, (Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 13:41-42; John 8:34-35…
IF Paul then turns around and teaches the OPPOSITE doctrine to what Jesus said, if Paul then turns around and says, oh yeah, don’t worry about it, you are going to heaven if you profess faith in Christ, regardless of whether you obey God or not; then Paul would then be teaching the direct OPPOSITE of what Jesus clearly said. Paul would then be putting his own opinion above would Jesus said in the Gospels. In so doing, Paul would also then be discrediting his own apostleship, if he contradicted Messiah, Who sent him to deliver the message. Paul’s apostleship would be null and void. He would not be a valid apostle at that point, because he espoused a point of view that would be the OPPOSITE of what Jesus specifically SAID. As it turns out, Paul told people to SEPARATE FROM Lawlessness/ANOMIA, just like Jesus did. He was not promoting living outside of God’s Commandments as though that were Grace, like most Christians claim that he was. He taught in perfect agreement AGAINST lawlessness, just like Jesus did.
Returning to Paul’s True Definition of Grace…
If you use the definition of Grace that Paul told us to use, then Grace does not mean what most Christians think it does:
- Grace CANNOT mean that we are free from obeying God’s Law, because of what Jesus did through His death, to make atonement for sin. Why? Because Paul clearly said that not submitting to God’s Law is a characteristic of the sinful nature, (Romans 6). He already said that not submitting to God’s Law is carnal minded. That’s hostile against God. That does not please God. That leads to death, (Romans 8:5-8). He already told Christians that we MUST SEPARATE FROM Lawlessness/ANOMIA, in order to be accepted by God as His Children, (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). Now he goes on to say that the grace of God came through Christ Jesus to REDEEM us FROM every Lawless deed, and that it will make us zealous to do good works, (Titus 2:11-15). According to Paul, Grace does not make it okay to live outside of God’s Laws, Commandments, and Instructions. Paul clearly taught the opposite doctrine.
- Living outside of God’s Law and having nothing to do with God’s Law CANNOT be Grace, because that is what Lawlessness means, according to the New Testament. Grace came to REDEEM us FROM every Lawless deed, so continuing to commit lawless deeds cannot be what Grace means. That is what Jesus came to save us from doing. If I am redeemed from stealing, that does not mean that stealing is now okay, because Jesus paid the penalty for stealing on my behalf. It does not mean that since the penalty is paid for through Christ, that I can now go on stealing without fear of penalty from God. That’s NOT Grace. That’s giving someone a license to sin in Christ’s Name. That is not Grace. That is promoting sin. True Biblical Grace means that I have been forgiven for my past offenses, when I repent, and by the power of the Holy Spirit I should now stop stealing and progressively be doing what is right in God’s sight. The same principle is true with every other Godly Standard. Take any Biblical Commandment, and the exact SAME principle applies.
- Grace CANNOT mean that I should now ignore and disregard God’s Laws, Commandments, and His Instructions as many Christians believe, because that is what Lawlessness means, even according to the New Testament. According to Paul, God’s Grace came through Messiah to REDEEM me FROM Lawlessness. Grace came through Messiah to REDEEM me FROM ignoring God’s Standards. Therefore, continuing to ignore God’s Standards CANNOT be what Grace means. That’s what Jesus came to redeem me from continuing to do.
- Grace CANNOT mean that I should now DISOBEY and do the direct OPPOSITE of God’s Laws, Commandments, and His Instructions teaches us to do, as many Christians believe, because that is what Lawlessness is, even according to the New Testament. Paul just said that Disobeying God’s Laws Commandments and Instructions is the very thing that Jesus came to REDEEM us FROM continuing to do. Therefore, continuing to disobey God, CANNOT be what Grace means. That’s what Jesus came to save us FROM continuing to Do. Therefore, CONTINUING to do that, CANNOT be Grace.
- Grace CANNOT mean that we should now belittle, make light of or have contempt for God’s Laws, Commandments, and His Instructions, as though they were irrelevant, as many Christians believe today. That is what Lawlessness means, even according to the New Testament. Paul just said that Jesus came to REDEEM us FROM every Lawless deed. Jesus came and provided Grace to REDEEM us FROM having contempt for God’s Laws and Commandments. Therefore, continuing to live like that, CANNOT be what Grace means. That’s what Jesus came to save us FROM continuing to do.
- Living in God’s Grace CANNOT possibly mean that we should purposely live outside of God’s Laws, Commandments, and His Instructions. Grace CANNOT mean that we should live outside of God’s Instructions as given to Moses in the Scriptures, because that is what Lawlessness means, even according to the New Testament. Paul just said that Jesus came and brought grace to REDEEM us FROM every Lawless deed. If we CONTINUE to DO lawless deeds, then we are not truly REDEEMED FROM every Lawless deed.
- Doing good works CANNOT be a ‘lack of Grace,’ like the majority of Christians teach today. Why? Because Paul specifically said that the Grace of God came through Jesus Christ to make us God’s special people; a people who are ZEALOUS FOR GOOD DEEDS. So, when Christians teach people against doing good works, because we are under grace, they are actually teaching the OPPOSITE of what Paul taught about Grace. The grace of God DOES NOT FORBID doing good works. On the contrary, according to Paul the apostle, the true Grace of God will make us ZEALOUS to DO Good Works. Doing good deeds that agree with Scripture are NOT a LACK of Grace as most Christians teach. Doing good deeds that agree with what God says is good; that IS Grace, according to what Paul expressly says.
Check Your Grace
So, the 5TH clear reason that we can absolutely KNOW Paul was NOT teaching AGAINST obeying God’s Commandments in Written Scripture, is because the very definition of Grace that Paul used and commanded us to teach includes the fact that grace REDEEMS us FROM Lawlessness, and Grace makes us zealous FOR Good Works, or Good Deeds. Paul’s definition of grace, DOES NOT make Lawlessness okay, and it DOES NOT FORBID doing the good works that God wants us to do. True Grace makes us ZEALOUS to DO the good deeds that God wants us to do. The way that most Christians describe Grace today uses the exact OPPOSITE description of Grace to what Paul told us to use. The definition of grace that Paul used empowers us to OBEY God. It doesn’t make it okay to DISOBEY God on purpose. Such a thing is teaching a COUNTERFEIT grace in Paul’s name.
Are you defining grace the same way Paul does? And are you using the same definition of grace that Paul told us to use? That makes a HUGE difference.
God’s True Grace DOES NOT accept everyone and everything regardless of what they think, what they say, or how they behave. On the contrary, Paul clearly said that God’s True Grace trains people to reject, to renounce and to forsake ungodliness and worldly sinful passions. That’s the Grace that Paul preached. So, if the grace that you are learning is not training you to reject what God says is ungodly, then you are clearly not walking in the Grace that Paul preached.
God’s True Grace DOES NOT call it a SIN to OBEY God, to deny your flesh, and to do what God says is right. On the contrary. Paul clearly said that God’s True Grace trains people to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives, while we wait for Messiah’s return. God’s true Grace helps us to live in God’s Standards. Grace DOES NOT REMOVE God’s Standards and say that you are fine without obeying God. If the Grace you are living in does not teach you self-denial, self-control, and how to live what God says is a godly lifestyle, then you are clearly not walking in the Grace that Paul preached.
God’s True Grace DOES NOT make it okay to live outside of God’s Laws Commandments and Instructions. On the contrary. True Grace helps you to obey God and stop disobeying Him. God’s True Grace through Messiah REDEEMS us FROM every Lawless deed. It doesn’t change God’s standards to make sin and lawlessness an okay thing to do. If you are truly under God’s Grace, then you should be overcoming lawlessness, and NOT indulging in lawlessness anymore.
God’s True Grace DOES NOT call it a sin, or a lack of Grace to do good works. Just the opposite. According to Paul, God’s True Grace through Messiah purifies us and makes us His Special Possession, a people ZEALOUS FOR GOOD DEEDS. If the Grace that you are learning is not making you zealous and passionate to do good works, then you are NOT walking in the grace that Paul preached. If you are not zealous to do what God considers to be good, then you are walking in some counterfeit grace, that is the opposite of what Paul preached.
What Kind of Grace are You Really Living In?
Are you living in a grace that Paul defined and told us to preach, or are you living in some COUNTERFEIT grace in Paul’s name?
- Are you walking in a Grace that trains you to reject, to renounce and to forsake ungodliness and worldly sinful passions, like Paul said you should? Or, are you walking in some counterfeit grace that tells you that you should tolerate and accept everything and anything in the name of love and Jesus Christ?
- Are you walking in a Grace that trains you to live self-controlled, upright, and a godly life, while we wait for Messiah’s return, just like Paul said you should? Or, are you walking in some counterfeit grace that tells you to compromise with wickedness, to try to make Jesus more popular with the sinful world?
- Are you walking in a Grace that trains you to SEPARATE FROM and that REDEEMS us FROM every Lawless deed, like Paul says you should? Or does the grace that you live in teach you that it’s okay to disobey God, and disobey His Commandments, which is what every evil sinner does?
- Are you living in a Grace that through Messiah purifies us and makes us His special people who are ZEALOUS to DO the Good Deeds that God and Messiah wants us to do; just like Paul said you should? Or, are you living in some counterfeit grace, that acts like it’s a sinful lack of Grace to do good works?
- Are you following Paul’s instructions when you talk about Grace? THIS is the Grace Paul told us to declare. Are you declaring the Titus 2:11-15 type of grace, like Paul said to do? When you talk about Grace do you use this definition like Paul said to, or do you define Grace to be something else that is way more comfortable, and gives you room to gratify your sinful nature? When you exhort and rebuke people concerning Grace, are you using this Standard? Or, are you allowing people to reject and to disregard this Standard of Grace, because it doesn’t seem to fit what YOU THINK that Grace SHOULD supposedly mean? Are you teaching the Biblical Grace that Paul said we should teach? Or are you teaching a COUNTERFEIT Grace in Paul’s name, to try and make sin appear legitimate?
Those who have ears to hear let them hear what the Holy Spirit says to the congregations!
Brother Michel Lankford