Pauline’s doctrine, not against the Laws of God

Apostle Paul, who was the Apostle of grace, did not encourage sin in the churches to which he wrote his epistles; his emphasis was for the Jews not to impose Judaism on gentiles before they can be allowed to become a Christian. Haven preached against legalism (man-made laws, not the law given by God) and the curses associated with breaking the Laws, he concluded by saying

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?  Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:1-4).

Paul did not encourage sin in the church; rather, he is saying that we should be dead to sin. Then, why is a Minister of God not bordered with the presence of sin in the church. As I said earlier, a believer may not change instantaneously; however, there must be sign/s of changing rather than remaining in sin. As if that is not enough, some believers are boasting of the sin they are committing. For example, there are some who claimed to be Christian and are not ashamed to identify themselves as gay. Are they boasting for a change or to convince the weak in the church to join them?

Unfortunately, some ministers have no problem with people like this; rather, they make them feel comfortable in their state. Ministers of prosperity and their followers have twisted view of grace, caused them not to be ashamed of any sinful act. They believed that because God’s grace is limitless, the freedom that every Christian enjoys is also limitless.

Apostle Paul was telling the Galatians,

“but if while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are sinners, is Christ therefore a Minister of sin? Certainly not” (Gal. 2:17).

The only way we can live to God is to be dead to sin. The determination to stop living in sin should be our first priority when we give our lives to Christ. So, for a believer to continue to live in sin in the church is not something to boast or advocate for.

The point is this; a little tolerance of sin has a tremendous impact or influence on any church that tolerates it. Many churches today are misconstruing liberty to harbor worldliness and sin in her midst; this is very evident in the rate at which social and moral decadence spreads like cancer in the church. It calls for special attention if Christianity must continue to be what it stands for.

One question that kept surging in my mind is this; is Christianity progressing, stagnant or retrogressing? Why is this question? Unchallenged sin, moral decadence, worldly acts and unholy behavior in the churches can contaminate the whole Christianity. Apostle Paul said

“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1Cor. 5:6)

This issue must not be ignored, or else, ignoring it would cause many new and potential converts to follow their evil ways in the church; thus, forbidding those who are willing to give their lives to Christ; thereby putting them out of the church.

Jesus’ supreme and final payment for our ransom, His death on the cross frees us that believe on Him from the curse of the Law and slavery to sin. Therefore, we are no longer slave to sin because the spirit of Son is in our heart; that is grace. What does this means? We are not to live in sin anymore but to leave sin and grow toward spiritual maturity and perfection. We cannot live in sin and expect grace to abound.

In another instance, Paul said,

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said. Therefore the law is holy and the commandments holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:7, 12).

God’s Law is not the problem

So, what is the problem? Liberty from ceremonial laws advocated by Paul did not give any christian licence to sin or indulge in their own selfishness (fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuals, sodomy,theft, covetousness, drunkenness, revelry, extortion etc.). All these acts enslave the more on the sins from which Jesus had liberated them.

We Christians are the problem because we failed to follow Jesus’ step – walk in the spirit; as a result, we lack to understand or misconstruing what is grace. Grace empowers us to live above the law. If we fail to live above the law, then what happens? Should we expect grace to abound?

There is the need to know which of the Laws we should not live by. You don’t put yourself under any bondage of the curse of the law because the moment you gave your life to Christ you need to live under the directive of the holy spirit; however, you don’t want to ignore the fact that you have to keep the Ten Commandments or those laws commanded by God. You may not be perfect to obey all, do not think of the penalty because one of the works of the grace is to empower you to obey. I know as long as you are in Christ and you are striving every moment to grow spiritually, no curse of the law will come upon you.

But for someone to wallow in sin every moment and claiming grace to abound or a minister of God preaching grace every day without mentioning the need for holiness, godliness, and even stressing the need to break away from their old sinful nature is shameful and does not encourage spiritual growth. If a minister of God keeps preaching without mentioning the need to break away from the reason for which grace was given in the first place amounts to telling believers to do what they like. Grace abounds toward those who stayed under the canopy of Him through which grace came to be.

The laws of God promote love; any law that does not promote love is not from God; they are man-made laws which were enacted for the purpose of selfish or oppression reason. There is the need to draw the line of demarcation to distinguish God’s law from man’s law. We should not lump all together whereby believers take freedom from the curse of the law to engage in freedom to do what they like, which draw them deeper into the sins that would place the curse upon them.

The law stands for love

“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mk. 12:29-31)

If the law stands for love, how does it become a curse then? It is because as human, it is difficult to keep. However, this is the very reason Jesus came into the world in human flesh and had experienced these human weaknesses, thus He proffers the solution by telling us to walk in the spirit in order to avoid not being able to do what the law says.

For example, the sixth to the tenth commandments were designed to build a cohesive society among believers. Each was based on the value that God placed on people – their lives, the relationship; their property and their reputation.

  • “You shall not murder – protects sanctity of life
  • “You shall not commit adultery – God regards the sanctity of marriage
  • “You shall not steal – protects the sanctity of property
  • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor – protects the reputation of people from libel and in an establish system of justice.
  • “You shall not covet your …” – protects others from any evil thought, loss of right and possession to the covetous one.

These laws promote love. Grace will empower one to adhere to these laws. But if we are under grace and we cannot keep them, we make grace of no effect. Will the grace still protect one from the curse of the law?

The grace which gives us our liberty empowers us to live in the spirit; the action not to live in sin becomes natural and involuntary. This is the lesson of reality which we need to teach new and old unregenerate believers.

Freedom in Christ centers on love; likewise, the whole law centers on love, for God and others. Show me your love for God, it reflects in your love for others. Likewise, show me your love for others, it will reflect in your obedience to the word of God which is inclusive of the laws.

Many churches preach freedom to worship “as you like”; this is the reason their churches is getting fuller; not for salvation but for miracles – craving or prosperity craving worshipers. Such churches are a perfect seduction for those who want to have it the other way.

Another area where most churches seduce believers is the premise of promises of God as not given based on keeping the law but on faith. Good, that is correct; but Apostle Paul also said,

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.  But the Scripture has confined all under sin that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Gal. 3:21-25)

It thus inferred that we cannot be ignorant of the existence of sin or to remain in sin having given our lives to Christ. If the law tutors us to Christ, does it mean we must disobey that which promotes love? If it tutors us to Christ we should be conscious not to disobey it. Your response to obey should be a reflex action; not having to think about the consequence of disobedience – that is the freedom we are talking about. This does not mean Christians should do what they like or what is not befitting; how do you live in Christ without following His teaching? it is like having a P.H.D in mathematics and you don’t have to recognize all the symbols anymore.

Judging by these quotes of Apostle Paul, he never advocated for Christian liberty without some restraints. If not, he wouldn’t be talking about sin, thing done in flesh, worldliness or things that breaks the relationship between us and God.

Paul was not talking against the law as given by God but the additives attached by men. An example of what was said is, “you don’t have to be circumcised to be a Christian”; “you don’t have to be a Jew before you can preach the word of God”: Or as Jesus taught, “you can save on Sabbath without having to wait until the day after”.

Paul was talking against rules, ceremonial laws or doctrine made after the manner of men that prevent the admittance of converts into Christian fold.

Is the Bible divided? Grace does not make one part of the Bible of no effect. The law is a guide, not a cage; and does not take away our right in the Lord. Why should sin dominate our lives after justification? Instead, we need to grow spiritually to fight and overcome the power and temptation of sin

Apostle Paul warns that we should not use our liberty as an occasion (opportunity) for the flesh, but through love (which is the reason for the law) serves one another (Gal.5:13). Apostle Paul warns because he knew that people would turn this liberty to license to follow their selfish sinful ways.

In another way, we should not misuse our freedom which is meant to liberate us from and the fulfilling the lust of the flesh. The lust of the flesh could be our sinful nature; natural tendency of the flesh to please itself independent of God; or worldly habit (Gal. 5:19-21). These are reflections that manifest after justification if our salvation should stop at justification.

Most preaching that we hear today stops salvation at justification. It is preaching about grace without caution for misuse of the liberty it offers.

 

Wait for part 3 of this topic very soon.

By Lawrence Abitogun

Related posts:

  1. Are Ministers not Misconstruing Christian Liberty and Grace in the Church? Part 1
  2. Are Ministers not Misconstruing Christian Liberty and Grace in the Church? Part 3
  3. Are Ministers not Misconstruing Christian Liberty and Grace in the Church? Part 7 – conclusion
  4. Are Ministers not Misconstruing Christian Liberty and Grace in the Church? Part 4
  5. Are Ministers not Misconstruing Christian Liberty and Grace in the Church? Part 5

Category: teaching

About the Author

Lawrence B. Abitogun, called by the special grace of the Almighty God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by the empowerment of the Holy Ghost, witnessing and preaching the gospel to the world, was born to a Christian parents at Uso, Ondo state, Nigeria. He received his elementary and secondary education in Nigeria from 1959-1971. He obtained a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts and a Master of Science in Industrial Arts at North Texas State University, Denton TX USA in 1979 and 1982 respectively.

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