Friday, June 27, 2008

Wrong doctrine is worse than bad behaviour.....

There is such a problem in the church today. What is it? The preaching of a mixed message, the mixing of the old and new covenants, and of law and grace. Otherwise, known as Galatianism. This doctrine or mentality tries to combine a little bit of law and a little bit of grace and creates a huge distortion of the Gospel and of Jesus finished work! (check out my friend Julie's post, The Hybrid Gospel. for her thoughts on this as well.)
In the Galatian church, you will find Paul getting very riled with the Galatians for drifting from grace. He goes so far as to call them "foolish" or we might say "stupid." Why? They mixed law and grace! In Paul's understanding of grace, this was a huge problem. Now, we know that the Corinthians were champion sinners. Their outward sinning was apparent, blatant and heavy duty. (going to temple prostitutes, yikes!) They were also misusing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and just very immoral and in chaos! But, did Paul call them foolish? No, he did not. In fact he spoke postively and encouragingly to them and told them that they would be confirmed to the end and blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wow!!!
Okay, so what I want to say is that in the church today we are so caught up in fear with people who are living, what I call, "messy" lives. Their outward struggles look really ugly. (such as a recent incident in my own life that became very ugly!) Often, christians don't even know how to handle other Christians that outwardly are obviously sinning and don't "look" so godly to them. Its a sad truth. (I have been on both sides of the coin here, so I am not directing this at any one in particular, it's simply a general observation) It's interesting that we forget who Jesus loved, had compassion for and gave grace to. The obviously messy sinners!!! 
Anyway, back to the contrast between Paul's treatment of the Corinthians and the Galatians. 
He said to the church in Galatia, "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Are you so foolish?" Do you think he might be angry here?  Most people would expect Paul to be upset with the Corinthian church, but he simply wasn't.  His intense reaction toward the church in Galatia reveals what is of priority to God. It is clear that in God's eyes, believing the wrong doctrine is worse than exhibiting wrong behaviour! Wrong doctrine is far worse than wrong behaviour! To God, wrong doctrine is far worse than wrong behavior!( I know I repeated myself, I did it on purpose!)  When it came to wrong behavior in Corinth, Paul was cool and collected toward the believers. He was able to handle their wrong behavior because he knew that the grace of God was able to take care of their spree of wrong behavior. That is why he was able to speak positively to them even telling them, "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus...."  But when it came to wrong doctrine in Galatia, he rebuked the believers there because they nullified God's grace by mixing it with law. 
In the very first chapter of Galatians, Paul says, "I marvel.." or as you and I would say today, "I am appalled.." What appalled him? Paul continues: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." 
Paul was angry because the Galatians were turning away from "the grace of Christ" to a "different gospel," and because there were some people who wanted to "pervert the gospel of Christ." Paul had preached the gospel of grace to the Galatians, but he found that there were Judaizers who introduced the elements of the law to them, mixing God's grace with the law. Do not belittle this problem. It was a serious problem and it made Paul very angry. Since Paul was full of the Holy Spirit and his anger was Spirit-inspired, it would benefit us to really understand why the mixture of law and grace angered him. 
I believe strongly that when this message gets mixed it really brings in confusion, (which the enemy just loves,) and perverts the Gospel of Christ. For example, when I have feebly attempted to share about God's grace to others and how God has revealed his grace to Keith and I, and we are living in more freedom and joy, people have said various odd things. Such as, "Well, you have to be really careful with grace, you really do." "Well you really do have to talk about sin and focus on it or you won't know you need grace." Or the typical comment, "Oh be careful grace will lead you to license to sin", or "yes grace is good, but don't you have to pursue your own holiness?" And on and on. Typically, I don't get too many "Yahoo's." That is really Good News! The grace of God has freed me from sin and death and I am not under the law but grace. His blood shed for me paid the price and was pleasing to God to cleanse me from my sin, not just my past sin, but all my sin, his blood keeps cleansing me. That's great, okay now what's my part! Only believe! You can't do anything it's all been done for you, that is the wonderfully wonderful good news!!  So, can you see how bringing in the law or anything about what do I have to do can be so dangerous. It simply screams out, I have to do something because surely His finished work was not finished!!!! That is in essence what we say when we try to balance grace. You can't balance grace!!! What man calls balance, God calls mixture. Your justification is either entirely a work of His grace or it is by your own works. His grace will be nullified when you add even a little mixture of man's own efforts to be justified. (see the new wine in old wineskins passage.) This is very serious. God hates mixture. 
Grace is the undeserved, unmerited, and unearned favor of God!!!!! The moment you try to merit the free favors of God, His grace is nullified. 
I don't know about you but I have lived in the "balance", the mixture and it never worked and never brought me victory over my struggles with sin. I think this mentality and practice numbs people and robs them of the power to have true victory and takes away the enjoyment of their freedom in Christ. It's the abundance of His grace that leads us to triumph!  I would much rather admittedly be the mess that I am and allow God's grace to transform me, because it will, rather than try to pursue my own holiness through efforts and a mixture of law and grace. It almost seems ridiculous, but it's God's idea not mine!!! 

(much of my post was taken from a portion of Joseph Prince's book, Destined to Reign, chapter 20, The Problem with Mixture.) 


jul said...

Yahoo!!! There does that make you feel any better? Great great post!

lydia said...

Yes, let's never stop yahooing!! Thanks Jul!!!!

Joel B. said...

Google! Oops, I mean, Yahoo!

And I think all of this leads to the Christian world not understanding the term "fallen from grace." It really is appalling! Much of the church world thinks that those who have fallen from grace are those who are like those bad Corinthians who were sinning. But Paul says it clearly to the Galatians, "you have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace."

Yep indeed, I think that was quite the rebuke!

Amy said...

this is so good, right on....such an encouraging reminder- thanks!

lydia said...

It dawned on me (from reading Dan's latest post) that
Christians that practice mixture and can't handle the "messy" Christians, should not even read half their Bible, look at all the people that were a mess that God used, like David for example, he did some pretty heinous stuff, yet God called him a man after his own heart. He loved David, and David loved God and His presence more than most!!

Anyway....thanks Joel and Amy!!