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 those same Scriptures 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 believe that 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 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. Remember what Paul SAID that Grace does, (Titus 2:11-15).
- According to Paul, God’s True Grace makes salvation evident, visible and available to everyone.
- According to Paul, God’s True Grace trains people to reject, to renounce and to forsake ungodliness and worldly sinful passions.
- According to Paul, God’s True Grace trains people to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives, while we wait for Messiah’s return. Grace does not make it okay to indulge our sinful nature, Grace empowers us to OVERCOME it.
- According to Paul, God’s True Grace came through Messiah and REDEEMS us FROM every Lawlessness and from every Lawless deed. True Grace DID NOT manifest to make it okay to live outside of God’s Laws, Commandments, and His Instructions. Grace came to REDEEM us FROM continuing to live that way. Therefore, continuing to be Lawless, CANNOT be what Grace means. If I am redeemed from stealing, that doesn’t make stealing, (or any other sin) okay to do now. It means I can overcome sin with Grace, NOT indulge sin.
- According to Paul, God’s True Grace through Messiah purifies us and makes us His Special Possession, a people ZEALOUS FOR GOOD DEEDS. God’s true Grace DOES NOT FORBID doing the good works, or the good deeds that God wants us to do in Scripture. Doing good deeds is NOT a LACK of Grace. Being zealous for, having the desire, having the willingness, and having the growing ability TO DO good works; that is NOT a lack of Grace. That IS Grace according to Paul.
- When Paul talked about Grace, THIS is the definition that Paul had in mind. Paul clearly said that whenever we talk about Grace, THIS is the definition that we are supposed to use. Paul clearly said that we were not supposed to allow anyone to disregard us when we use THIS definition of Grace. Most modern Christians do not obey Paul’s instructions when they talk about Grace. They use a false definition of grace that is the direct OPPOSITE of the grace that Paul said we were supposed to declare. That’s a huge part of the problem.
- Episode 6, (today’s episode), we have further clear and straightforward evidence that Paul simply COULD NOT be teaching AGAINST obeying the written Scriptures of the so-called Old Testament. Let’s get right into the Scriptures.
As It Is Written: “The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore, many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. (Acts 17:10–12 NASB95)
This biblical account is highly CRUCIAL. Why? Because if you consider the passage carefully and objectively, it can clearly identify what Paul WAS teaching, and what Paul WAS NOT teaching. I mean, the only way that you can misconstrue and pervert this point, is if you WANT to TWIST Scripture to make sin appear okay.
Unpacking the Passage
- These people were faithful Hebrews with no faith in Jesus yet in the beginning of this passage. We know that, because the passage clearly tells us that they came to believe in Jesus being the Messiah AFTER these events. There is no way around that.
- They were willing to be open minded and to listen to what Paul had to say respectfully, but they weren’t going to accept it automatically.
- They diligently searched the Scriptures every day to see if Paul was telling the truth.
- AFTER diligently searching the Scripture every day, the Bereans came to believe that Paul was telling the truth, and they accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah, along with many others, including Greek men and women.
Pivotal Issue: What Scriptures Were the Bereans Searching Every Day?
This is an issue that many modern Christians love to ignore, but it’s unmistakable. We must consider the context. What, “Scriptures,” were the Bereans searching every day? We know in context that they COULD NOT have been looking at so-called New Testament writings for 2 crucial reasons.
1st They did not have a New Testament available to them. The so-called New Testament was not even compiled or made widely available until after A.D. 300.
2nd, since they weren’t yet believers in Jesus being the Messiah, they would not regard any part of the so-called New Testament to be Scripture or to be authoritative from their point of view when this biblical account began. Even if there had been a New Testament available to them, (which there wasn’t), they would not have considered it to be Bible when this account began in any case. That means that by simple historical fact that the Bereans must have been searching ONLY the Old Testament daily, NOT the New Testament; when they were searching the Scriptures every day to try and verify if Paul was telling the truth concerning Jesus Christ.
3rd Now, here is the inconvenient truth, and the pivotal question that no modern Christian wants to face. You assume that Paul was teaching AGAINST obeying the Old Testament, because we are under Grace through Christ. You conveniently assume that Paul was teaching, Reject God’s Law now because you are saved by Grace and not by works.’ You conveniently assume that Paul was teaching, ‘Don’t obey God’s Law now because you are saved by Grace.’ You conveniently assume that Paul was teaching, “‘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.
The real answer is that modern Christians are horribly mistaken. Paul WAS NOT teaching the Lawless version of “Grace” that modern Christians ASSUME Paul was teaching. If Paul was teaching the Lawless version of Grace that Christians assume he was teaching, then there is NO CHANCE that the Bereans would have believed Paul’s testimony about Jesus being the Messiah after searching the Old Testament every day. The fact that the Bereans believed Paul after searching the Old Testament daily, clearly means that Paul could NOT have been teaching AGAINST honoring the Old Testament of written Scripture. The fact is that there is no place anywhere in the Old Testament that teaches that when Messiah comes, then God’s Commandments will be suspended, and it will now be okay to do the OPPOSITE of God’s Commandments if you believe in Messiah to be your Righteousness. If this is what Paul is teaching, then where did the Bereans confirm such a teaching in the Old Testament?
If Paul was truly teaching that coming to Messiah means that you can disregard and disobey God’s Commandments because of Grace, then the Bereans would NOT have accepted Paul’s teachings about Jesus being the Messiah. They would have considered Paul to be a LIAR after searching the Old Testament every day. The Bereans would NOT have believed Paul’s testimony:
As It Is Written: “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth. (Psalm 119:142 NASB95)
As It Is Written: “You are near, O LORD, And all Your commandments are truth. Of old I have known from Your testimonies That You have founded them forever. (Psalm 119:151–152 NASB95)
As It Is Written: “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting. (Psalm 119:160 NASB95)
As It Is Written: “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8 NASB95)
If Paul was truly teaching AGAINST the Bible’s definition of truth; if Paul was truly teaching AGAINST God’s Law, and AGAINST God’s Word standing forever, then how did the Bereans come to believe Paul after searching the Old Testament every day, if Paul was truly teaching in opposition to the Law? The Bereans could not and would not have believed Paul’s testimony about Jesus being the Messiah, if Paul was teaching in favor of ditching the Commandments of God. They would NOT have believed that Paul was telling the truth.
If Paul was going around teaching AGAINST honoring the Biblical Feasts and Festivals that YHWH Almighty established; if Paul was going around saying God doesn’t care anymore if you honor HIS Appointed Days or you don’t. If Paul is going around saying that under grace through Messiah, you can keep ANY Sabbath day YOU prefer. You don’t have to honor Passover. You can honor Good Friday and keep Babylonian Easter/Ishtar customs and traditions to celebrate the resurrection of the Messiah! Hey, and if you want to commemorate the birth of the Savior, then don’t honor the feast of Tabernacles like the Bible teaches to do, because that regulation has been abolished. IF Paul has a reputation for going around teaching that way, there is NO CHANCE that the Bereans believe Paul’s testimony about Jesus being the Messiah, especially after searching the Old Testament every day! They could not have believed him. They would have concluded that Paul was lying.
- The Bereans would clearly have seen that YHWH’s Appointed Holy Days are a “FOREVER” regulation to be kept throughout every generation, in every dwelling of believers, so how could it be that God doesn’t care whether you honor His Feasts or not? (Leviticus 23:14, 23, 31, 41; Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:12; Isaiah 56:1-7 etc.)
- The Bereans would have clearly seen that MIXING pagan worship traditions and using pagan worship customs to honor YHWH and to honor Messiah, is a SIN that greatly OFFENDS YHWH, and it’s FORBIDDEN (Exodus 32:1-10; Leviticus 18:1-5; Deuteronomy 12:1-4, 8, 29-32; Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 10:1-5; Ezekiel 8); all teach that God FORBIDS this kind of thing. Even during the millennial reign of Christ, the nations of the world will be expected to honor God’s Feast of Tabernacles, and God will withhold the rains for their harvests if they don’t honor those days, (Zechariah 10; Zechariah 12; Zechariah 14). So, if Paul was teaching CONTRARY to those biblical precepts, then how did the Bereans believe Paul AFTER searching the Old Testament every day?
If Paul was going around teaching, ‘Honoring God’s Commandments doesn’t matter anymore. You are now free to IGNORE Leviticus 11. You can now eat any animal that you want to eat. Just pray over it and give thanks to Messiah and suck down any garbage you want; if that is what Paul was teaching, then the Bereans COULD NOT and WOULD NOT have believed Paul, after searching the Old Testament daily.
- The Bereans would have clearly seen Isaiah 66:16-17:
As It Is Written: “For the Lord will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the Lord will be many. “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, Will come to an end altogether,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 66:16–17 NASB95)
On the very last day, when God is judging the nations of the world, God will still be judging people, condemning people, and harshly punishing them right along with the rest of the wicked people, for eating abominations! The Day of the Judgment of all the nations is long AFTER the time of Messiah obviously. If the food laws have been abolished through Messiah on the cross, then WHY are the people of the world being judged for eating abominations on a future day of judgement?! Why judge them? Why punish them for disobeying the Law that has supposedly been abolished? If Paul has a reputation for teaching, eat whatever you want. God is not going to care because you are under Grace, then there is NO WAY and NO CHANCE that the Bereans believe that Paul was telling the truth, after searching the Scriptures daily.
If Paul had a reputation for teaching, you know what, you can worship God any way that you want to, just as long as you are SINCERE about it. Do whatever seems right to you. The Bereans would NOT have believed that Paul was telling the truth. They would have seen that as being FALSE teaching (Deuteronomy 12:8; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 3:5-7; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25; Isaiah 5:20-24; ALL teach AGAINST such a false doctrine.
As It Is Written: ““If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1–5 NASB95)
As It Is Written: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble And dry grass collapses into the flame, So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 5:20–24 NASB95)
As It Is Written: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20 NKJV)
- If Paul was truly teaching AGAINST honoring YHWH Almighty God’s Laws, Commandments and Instructions in the Old Testament, because of Grace, like Christians assume that he was, then there is NO WAY that the Bereans could have believed him after searching the Old Testament every day. Since God’s Law is Truth, then to teach against the Law is to teach against the truth. The Bereans would have rejected Paul as being a liar.
- If Paul were teaching reject God’s Appointed Festival Days and don’t honor those anymore. Go ahead and mix pagan customs with godly worship. God doesn’t mind, like Christians assume Paul was teaching, then there is NO WAY that the Bereans could believe him after searching the Old Testament every day.
- If Paul were truly teaching Ignore God’s food Laws. Eat whatever you want as long as you pray over it. Then there is NO WAY that the Bereans could possibly believe him after searching the Old Testament every day.
- If Paul truly had a reputation and he was teaching that people should worship God according to whatever seems right in their own eyes, just as long as you are sincere, the way that Christians assume Paul was teaching, then there is no way that the Bereans would have believed that Paul was telling the truth in his testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Bottom Line: The very fact that the Bereans came to believe Paul’s testimony about Messiah AFTER searching the Scriptures every day, is a clear identifier that Paul COULD NOT possibly have been teaching AGAINST honoring Old Testament Laws, Commandments, and Instructions, the way that most Christians assume Paul was teaching. If he were teaching what Christians assume he was, the Bereans could not have believed Paul after searching the Old Testament every day. The Bereans believed Paul after searching the Old Testament daily, because Paul wasn’t preaching against the Old Testament, the way that Christians today assume that he was teaching. It’s that simple.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Brother R. Michel Lankford
Whole Testament Discipleship Success