A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Live by the Leading of the Spirit. Old Wineskins Cannot Accept New Wine.

Why do so many notable professing Christians consistently not listen to us as we try to explain how evil hides in the churches? We believe it is because their religion, their system of handling the Bible, is the product of dead letter hermeneutics (Bible interpretation). They are old wineskins and cannot accept new wine.

We have set the Ecclesiastes series aside for today, but will resume next Sunday.  Today we want to draw your attention to the sermon that Ps. Crippen preached last Sunday at Christ Reformation Church.  The audio can be found here.  Below is the PDF. Barb Roberts has made a few additions to the text, which are indicated by square brackets.

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The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11

Peter’s words here sound rather different than the commands of the Old Testament, do they not? Under the Old Covenant, instruction was given that sounded more like this:

Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying,

“Keep the whole commandment that I command you today. And on the day you cross over the Jordan to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster.  And you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over to enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you.  And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster.  And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them; you shall build an altar to the LORD your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God,  and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God.  And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.”  

Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the LORD your God. You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today.”
Deuteronomy 27:1-10

Do you hear the difference? Peter, here in the New Testament in Christ says things like:

  • Keep loving one another earnestly
  • Show hospitality to one another
  • Serve one another
  • As each has received a gift, use it

That is quite different than “and you shall write on the stones all the words of this law…you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God.”

[addit from Barb:]  The apostle James gave teaching similar to Peter’s —

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:  that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood [the blood of slaughtered animals]  and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well.
Acts 15:28-29 ]

The Apostle Paul knew this essential difference between the Old and New Covenants. He put it like this:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”  Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
Galatians 3:10-12

You also see this vital difference between the Old and New Covenants made very plain by Paul here:

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Romans 2:28-29

See it? The Old Covenant is external, does not change the heart, while the New is by the Spirit, not by the letter.

Last week during the Sunday School hour we considered the Spirit and the Word. We said that the handling, or rather “mis-handling” of the Bible without the Spirit will inevitably lead to the religion of the Pharisees. And I think it is very important that we spend some more time on this same subject this morning so that we all get a very firm understanding on this vital subject. Because if you do not get this, you are going to be a vulnerable target for false, enslaving, Scripture-perverting religion and teachers that are so widespread today in the churches.

We had it here in our church in years gone by. I am finally sorting even more of it out. Why was I always so uneasy around certain individuals who used to be here? I thought it was me, but it wasn’t. Now I know. They were people devoid of the Spirit, parading as Christians. But they were Pharisees and therefore their religion was one of condemnation.

God’s Word Written on Stone

Let’s listen once again to Jeremiah’s words from our earlier Scripture reading:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband,” declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Old Covenant was written on stone and then unregenerate men and women were commanded to obey it. All of it. They had to have someone constantly reminding them “obey the law.” Sins were not and are not forgiven under the old covenant. The old covenant could only condemn and curse, just as Paul told the Galatians.

And yet Jesus said of His covenant:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 

It is my proposal to you this morning that Old Covenant religion, produced by people who claim the name of Christ but who in fact are not of Him, constructed by the Spirit-less handling of the Scriptures, is a pervasive and perhaps even dominating infection in the visible church today.  Down through the entire history of the church, even in the time of the New Testament Apostles and before, spirit-less religion has been present. And, like the Galatians, there are Christians today who have become enslaved to it.

Do you remember that Martin Luther spoke and wrote of the Babylonian Captivity of the church?

The Babylonian Captivity of the Church appeared in print less than a week before the papal bull against Luther reached Wittenberg in October, 1520. Both works were being prepared at the same time: while Rome was working to prosecute Luther’s heresy trail, Luther was putting the Roman sacramental system on trial.

In the book Luther accuses the Roman church and the papacy of holding the church in captivity. As Babylon held Israel captive, now the papacy was holding Christians in bondage by Rome’s theology and use of the sacramental system. Rome’s sacramental system had (and still has) seven sacraments. Luther considers each one in turn. He maintains that only three of the seven are sacraments: baptism, penance, and the bread [that is, communion]. These three remaining sacraments, Luther writes, are held captive by the Roman church.
[Reverend Aaron Moldenhauer @ lutheranreformation.org]

If you do not understand these things clearly, all of the promises of freedom and peace and joy given us in the New Testament will ring hollow with you because the religion laid on you is not Christ, but dead letter Pharisaism which will lead you, in moments of honesty, to tell yourself “who needs this?”  You also will not understand much of the Bible.

So let’s consider the Spirit and the Word a bit more.

Listen again to Ezekiel –

I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 26:24-28

It really is the very same promise given through Jeremiah which we read. A promise to do a new thing in the very hearts of His people, by His Spirit. And that is the heart of the difference between the Old and New Covenants. Between the religion of the Pharisees and the religion of Christ. The new birth, you see.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”  Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
John 3:1-10

Notice carefully that of all the things Jesus could have said to this Pharisee, it is the new birth He speaks of. And Jesus is emphatic. Here is this man whose life is immersed in the Old Covenant, yet who is dead in his sins, devoid of the Spirit, even though the New Covenant and Spirit were the very object the Old Covenant was directing the Jews to.

Also take close care to notice — This is not only about Nicodemus getting saved and getting to heaven. It is about Nicodemus as a teacher of Israel being blind to the real truth of the Scriptures and his desperate need of the Spirit to open his eyes to it.

The only religion Nicodemus knew was a dead letter, enslaving, “do-this-and-live” religion that put heavy burdens on people and never put them right with God.  A religion that was blind to the real spirit and message of the Scriptures.

This is what Jesus meant in this statement:

And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Matthew 13:52

Understand? A scribe, a professional handler of the Law, if he once comes into a true understanding of the nature of God’s kingdom has, by the Spirit, his eyes opened to the real meaning of the Scriptures he thought he knew so well. The “new” treasure he brings out of the Scriptures is Christ and the nature of His kingdom.

And again:

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:13-17

The Spirit and the Word. The Old and the New Covenants contrasted you see. The Pharisees in their Spirit-less religion constructed from the dead letters of the Law carved in stone, do not know nor do they teach mercy. They are the old garment that cannot accept the new cloth, the old wineskin that will burst if the new wine of the new covenant is put in them.

[this paragraph added by Barb]  When they are challenged by Spirit-indwelt believers, the old wineskins often burst out with annoyance and indignation. Their attitude is “How dare you say such things about me! How dare you question me! How dare you challenge me!” And they put on the poor me act too – “You’ve been so harsh towards me! So cruel!” And they tell others, “Look at how these harsh people are hurting me!” For example: Gary Thomas. And so they win allies among their fellow old-wineskins. Therefore, be prepared to be spattered with spit and bile when these old wineskins burst!

I am convinced that THE fundamental reason so many pastors, church leaders and notable professing Christians consistently will not listen to us as we try our best to explain how evil hides in the churches is that their religion, their system of handling the Bible, is the product of dead letter hermeneutics (Bible interpretation). They are old wineskins and cannot accept new wine.

You see the incredible danger of Pharisaism. Of this dead letter, Spirit-less religion constructed by men using the Word without the Spirit? It eventually makes people unable to see Christ. Their allegiance to their traditions and laws so binds them that they cannot and will not accept anything that threatens it.

Therefore, Christ sidesteps Pharisees and takes the gospel to new wineskins. 

There are exceptions, like Nicodemus and Paul, but by and large Christ sidesteps Pharisees and takes the gospel to new wineskins.

[this and the next three paragraphs are by Barb] And God creates those new wineskins. Every single Christian is a new creation, made alive by God, brought from death to life. Dead in sins before, but now made alive in Christ by the Spirit.

Apart from Paul, there is no mention in book of Acts of a Pharisee who came to faith. The priests and Pharisees mounted a campaign against the gospel. They tried to silence it. They tried to adulterate it with legalism (gospel plus works). They tried to stamp it out. They spread false rumours about those who preached the gospel. They plotted against them. They utilized every underhanded tactic they could to try to crush the gospel and send it off the rails.

And note what John 12:42 says: “many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.”  The leaders believed in Jesus but were too cowardly to come out and stand for truth because they were afraid of the Pharisees.

We see so many leaders doing that today. For example, we know that R C Sproul believes abuse is grounds for divorce but he won’t come out and say so publicly.  We have many other examples of influential people who tell us privately that we are saying the right thing, and “I shared your post with my wife,” or “I shared you book with a woman I know who is a victim of abuse.” Or “Jeff, I know you are right about the bullies in ARBCA, but please don’t tell anyone that I think this.” [link]  But they won’t come out and stand on the front line with us.  They won’t share our work with the pastors and leaders in their sphere of influence. And quite often they urge us to be ‘less harsh’.

How many people do you know who have grown up in a typical Spirit-less church, learned all the Spirit-less laws of that church (disguised as Christianity), and are now so bound to that religion that they absolutely will never, ever hear the real words of Christ?

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Luke 24:44-49

Listen to Paul summarize it once more —

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
Galatians 3:1-10

I repeat — many, many, many if not most local churches today are in this Babylonian captivity of Spirit-less religion produced by the handling of Scripture without the Spirit. They are “bewitched” by false teachers and are growing harder and harder in their refusal to hear Christ.

In our Wednesday group we are reading through the great biography of George Whitefield. The Church of England in Whitefield’s day was a classic example of Spirit-less religion. The clerics and scholars were completely ignorant, just like Nicodemus, of the new birth. Clueless.

Furthermore, it was THIS work of the Spirit in the heart of the sinner that Whitefield and eventually the Wesleys experienced and began to preach, AND it was this preaching of the necessity of the new birth that particularly incensed most all of the clergy. They called it fanaticism or enthusiasm and did all they could to get rid of Whitefield.

So what happened? The very same thing that happened in New Testament times — Christ grew His real church outside the temple. Forbidden to preach in the church buildings, Whitefield preached in the fields. Thousands and thousands came.

Let me give you a very real example of what Sprit-less religion and its Spirit-less handling of the Scriptures ends up doing to people. Here is what it looks like in action as told by a lady whose abuser husband is exceedingly wicked and cruel, and who claims to be a Christian:

I’d appreciate some prayer. I just returned from a meeting with my pastors and I feel like I’ve been in a battle and am shell-shocked and can hardly stand up. 

They agree with me that 1 Cor. 7 means that if an unbelieving spouse separates, then the believing spouse is free and can remarry. At first I thought, that’s great! Praise God who’s been working on their consciences and doing my battle for me! But then I learned that they don’t believe I qualify, as they can’t say with “100% certainty” that my abuser is not a Christian, and they don’t believe that he separated, but I did.

I didn’t expect that response at all, considering all the testimony I’ve given to them. I am at a loss. They have no ears to hear why he is obviously not a Christian or why he clearly caused the separation. 

Apparently the only way they could be sure he was not a Christian is if he says the words, “I don’t believe in Jesus anymore” or something to that effect. Which of course, the wolf is unlikely to do, especially if he realizes that would free me. Or if HE was to commit adultery (and I find out about it), or divorce me and also remarry, then at that point I would be free. 

I can’t help but feel like the only way out of this is to go back to my abuser and let him kill me so they will know. But even then they would probably say he was a Christian. I don’t know. I know this is not a new story for the readers and ACFJ team. But boy it hurts when it finally happens to you in turn.

THAT is the Spirit-less, wooden, cruel mishandling of God’s Word that ALWAYS results when men devoid of the Spirit apply Scripture. It kills, sometimes literally.

It is the very same thing as this which Jesus roundly exposed as wicked –

And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
Matthew 23: 18-24

I conclude that this kind of gnat-straining and camel-swallowing handling of God’s Word is being taught in the seminaries widely as the minutia of the letter is emphasized and the Spirit ignored.  Never ever once in my seminary years did anyone ever even speak of the Spirit of the Word as vital to the handling of the Word. I never, ever heard anything like the following which is taken from a very early Protestant Reformation confession of faith called the Bern Synod of 1532-

Chapter 37: How the minister should study and read the Scripture

‘The holy Scripture ‘makes wise to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given from God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be lacking nothing, equipped unto all good works.’

We must of necessity consider the duty we have industriously to read the Scriptures. The order to be followed is that before we take up the Bible we should begin with a prayer that is sincere and spiritual. This prayer from the heart is of such a nature that he who prays is impelled by the Holy Spirit, so that first with increased love he thanks God for blessings received. From this will spring consolation and a stronger faith.

Next, the Holy Spirit urges him to request that the Lord might further removed from us the destitution, shortcoming, and folly, which are yet holding us in wicked oppression. This gives rise to a longing and ardor which the Lord has called a hunger and thirst after righteousness, and which in turn is always followed by satisfaction and true bliss.

Thus it is evident that prayer is an emptying and preparation of the heart, so that the intention and counsel of God, which lie hidden in the letter, may be comprehended and retained.

Otherwise, omitting prayer, one is accustomed to read holy Scripture as though it were a mundane history, for the perusal of which one need employ only reason. That brings forth nothing less than a conceited, fleshly wisdom, which afterwards is presented to the poor congregation as coming from God and from the Word of God. [Boldface added by JeffC]

Accordingly, it is well said in the Epistle of James, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, and he will give with simplicity, etc.’ (James 1)”

So take care. Beware.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

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For further reading:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, a recent post by Ps Sam Powell.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED especially if you have been affected by Bill Gothard’s teaching.

Don’t Let a Hypocrite Make You Think You are a Second Rate Christian

Church Leaders Charge Victims with Sin for Leaving the Abuser

The Church is in Great Need of Another Reformation – But of a Different Kind

Many Christians Do Not Seem to Know Whose Side they are on or Who the Enemy is

Zeal Without Knowledge: Bible Interpretation that Leads to Mercilessness and Injustice

Spiritual Sounding Talk that Has no Content Enables the Wicked and Oppresses the Innocent

The Religion of the Pharisees (a series of 8 posts). Click here to read Part One and from there you will find links to the rest of the series.

21 Comments

  1. M&M

    I know it’s legalistic to be more strict on divorce than the Bible, but it’s hard to talk about fruit or say “a real Christian wouldn’t do that to his wife” without sounding “works based” and “legalistic”.

    It’s important to me to look at the pattern over time because sometimes it really does take years for a real Christian to get control of their temper or addiction or habitual sin, but the Christian will eventually change and the abuser won’t. Some acts of abuse are so horrible that it’s hard to believe the person is a Christian after one act, but for more common things like harsh angry words it takes time to see if the person’s pattern includes genuine love or manipulation.

    • Hi M&M, in Lundy Bancroft’s recent webinar, he said this gem:

      There is a difference between an annoying controller and a coercive controller. When you stand up to the coercive controller, the coercive controller gets even worse.

      (that is a close paraphrase of what Lundy said)

      Is that relevant to what you are saying here, M&M?

      • M&M

        Somewhat, but I was also thinking of a few people I know who had some moments of acting emotionally abusive (I’m not applying this to physical violence), but it wasn’t their total pattern. For example, if someone places inappropriate blame sometimes and takes proper responsibility sometimes at first I can only guess if their motive is control or if they’re just struggling, but over time I can see if the blame is more frequent than taking responsibility or less often. I can also see if the blame becomes less often over time or more often over time. If it becomes less I can believe that the good times were sincere love. If it becomes more I can think the good times might be just manipulation.

        If someone “rewrites history” infrequently I can believe it’s honest forgetfulness since I’ve done that myself, but the more often it happens the more suspicious I’d be.

        It would be easy for me to jump between assuming the worst and assuming the best so I try to look at all the evidence.

      • MoodyMom

        One lesson that took a lot of time to sink in, but has meant a lot to me – it doesn’t have to be you. If you’re in the marriage or relationship where you’re deciding what to do by “looking at the pattern over time” to see if change is going to happen or if he’s going to continue in habitual sin – it does not have to be you that figures out those results. Like you said, M & M, “Some acts of abuse are so horrible that it’s hard to believe the person is a Christian after one act”. It can be somebody else who can follow the abusive person to see if there’s ever any change (therapist, law enforcement officer, judge, elder). The consequences of “acts of abuse that are so horrible” mean that relationship damage is done. By doing horrible acts, he’s given up any claim that you owe him forgiveness, you owe him more of your years, you owe him more submission or surrender, you owe him this, that, or the other thing. It doesn’t have to be you. Let somebody else figure him out.

      • M&M

        MoodyMom, I need to clarify that I was thinking about more than one person in my post and how I evaluate people in general. The “some acts are so horrible” doesn’t apply to my husband, only to a friend’s ex. The “blame gets less over time” applies to some people closer to me and I think the slow yet real change is completely in line with what H said about the Holy Spirit.

        In fact, slow change is probably more trustworthy than the rapid, but short term changes that abusers make. I’m not intending to make anyone stay longer who needs to leave, but I’m contemplating what I’ve seen in some people.

    • IamMyBeloved's

      I am just going to weigh in for a second and say that when dealing with abuse, we are not talking about natural human faults, error or sin that is repented for and dealt with. We are talking about the inhumane treatment of one spouse (and/or children) by the other spouse. We are speaking of purposeful manipulation, abuse (in all its forms, not just physical) and destruction of one spouse by the other, even if the abuser says he repents or cries over what he has done. A truly repentant person would see the results of their actions and then remove themselves from the home and get help and not expect to go back until they had proven to themselves and others that they were truly repentant AND changed.

      It does take time to sort out patterns and whether what is happening is abuse or if it is just human failure and sin that an individual can see and desires to change. A true believer will always desire to make appropriate change and not continue to just slide down the slippery slope. A true believer has sin, but struggles against it, being sorrowful over it.

      The thing I would caution against, is dismissing repeated patterns because it does not take long for the fog of abuse to set in, and once it does, victims usually tend to become over-ridden in fog and can have a harder time discerning what is happening to them.

      • Keeningforthedawn

        IamMyBeloved’s — thank you for your clarity here. You have a knack for making the main thing the main thing. You’re absolutely right about describing abuse as inhumane treatment. Also, that last paragraph about repeated patterns leading to brain fog — so very, very true. Your words are essentials that I would like to keep first and foremost in my mind.

    • H

      I think there’s difficulty in looking at either the severity of the sins or pattern over time, because then it becomes a foggy discernment of, well, just how many times is too many times. It becomes a game of calculation, with no one having a clear answer and accusations of legalism.

      What I think is more helpful is looking at a person’s attitude towards their sin rather than making it into a tricky calculation of how extreme the sins are or how often or how long they occur. Yes, a Christian may sin, but a Christian will hate their sin. They may cover up their sin for a period, but eventually they will be driven by the Holy Spirit to confess it. They will be open to exposing sin in their lives (though it will remain unpleasant and embarrassing).

      Patrick Doyle has some great videos on YouTube that explain this. He claims that while Christians battle patterns of sin and non-Christians can exhibit what looks like “fruit of the spirit” (patience, kindness, self-control, etc.), a true Christian bears signs of the Holy Spirit at work such as conviction and inner peace. He gets this from Jesus’s words in John to his disciples that when He leaves, He will send a Helper to be with them, the Holy Spirit. And Jesus specifically states two functions for the Holy Spirit, comfort and conviction. So it’s a person’s attitude towards their sin that proves if someone has the Holy Spirit or not.

      To illustrate this: My abuser has lived a pattern of sin over time. I think it’s pretty reasonable to say he’s not a Christian based on that alone. But I rest the weight of my case against him in that he has NEVER shown any signs of conviction. While we were together, he forbid me, coerced me, and spiritually bullied me into never telling anyone about his secrets and the way he was behaving, even though I reasoned with him again and again that God would bless us if we confessed our problems and brought them into the light before Christians who desire our good. He refused to do this. It was a threat to him. Even to this day after being exposed, he has never spontaneously confessed anything. He begrudgingly acknowledges his behavior when forced into a corner about it. But I’m not exactly impressed by that. I do not see the workings of the Holy Spirit in him. His heart is dead to God.

      So I feel focusing signs of the Holy Spirit at work very adequately side-steps the problems of legalism that come up with trying to quantify someone’s sin. Plus I feel like it very neatly fits in with the teachings of 1 John, specifically 1 John 1: 5-10 and 1 John 3:4-10.

      • I very much agree with you, H. You have spoken with much wisdom here.

  2. KayE

    I’ve found that ordinary people do listen.The people who it’s always difficult if not impossible to get through to are the leaders. It’s the pastors, elders, ministers, teachers and speakers who are hard hearted, arrogant and cruel. if you play by their rules you won’t see their true nature but when you don’t, their viciousness comes out.

  3. Scared momma

    Is there a way to see/hear Bancroft’s webinar? I would love to hear it.

    Can anyone recommend a good tween study bible? Or daily devotional? Something to help child get started reading the bible, but not overwhelm them. They frequently listen to pastors sermons, but would like to start reading bible. Typical children’s bibles are too easy, but overwhelmed by my study bible. She does not know where to begin, or feel she could ever read something that big and difficult.

    Thanks

    • Lundy’s webinar is a four week event. The first webinar has already happened but you would probably be able to view it still if you register.

      Here is the registration page: https://app.webinarjam.net/register/35006/fdd4575b09

      And at Lundy’s website you can read more about it.

      We did publicise the webinar here at the blog and on our FB page some time beforehand.

    • KayJay

      There is a beautiful coloring Bible that I have seen at Barnes and Noble and even Sam’s Club in the U.S. The reader can color one page while meditating on just the portion of Scripture that is on that particular page. It’s a great tool to help with focus for kids of all ages! I got one from Amazon for my teen daughter who loves it.

  4. IamMyBeloved's

    “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line,
    here a little, there a little.”

    For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the LORD will speak to this people,
    to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear.
    And the word of the LORD will be to them
    precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
    line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward,
    and be broken, and snared, and taken.” ESV Is 28:10-13

    This goes along with the post. The Spirit is given to them to lead and they prefer to go back to the “old”, line upon line, “we don’t need the Spirit” type of attitude. They blind and bind themselves and lead others to their same bondage.

    Most importantly, note what God says will happen to them. They will fall backward, be broken, snared and taken.

    Pretty scary, but we see it happening.

  5. H

    I absolutely love this message. Thanks for sharing it on ACFJ. Seeing all the Scriptures laid out make it so clear. Hmm… why don’t my pastors use that much Scripture in their messages, and rely rather on funny stories to make a point? (So annoyed by that right now. They never used to be like that. My church is changing, and not for the better.)

    One question this topic raises for me though is how were OT people saved? Did the “old covenant” ever save anybody? (I’m thinking no….) So were OT people saved also through the new covenant? Why is the old covenant a covenant, then? Isn’t it rather law? It was something that theoretically could save you IF you could obey it, but factually no one could even close to obey it perfectly? It was always meant to lead people to the new covenant? I’m glad I live in NT times so I don’t have to worry about this too much. Lol.

    • How were OT people saved? Did the “old covenant” ever save anybody?

      Good questions, H. I will nudge Jeff C to answer you as well, but here is my response.

      People in the OT era could be saved if they had faith in the coming Messiah, the One who the OT prophets repeatedly promised would come. These promises were made in various ways and with increasing detail during the OT era. For example, in Genesis 3:15, right after the Fall when God was addressing the snake/Satan, He said:

      I will put enmity
      Between you and the woman,
      And between your seed and her seed;
      He shall bruise you on the head,
      And you shall bruise him on the heel.

      That is the promise that God would send a Saviour who would crush the serpent’s head. All Adam and Eve needed to do to be saved was to have faith in that promise of God.

      And later, when God chose Abram, He said to him, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Gen 12:3). That is another promise of the salvation. It does not spell out exactly that a Messiah, an individual, shall come, but does promise blessing for all the families (all the people groups) of the world and points to how that would come about through the line of Abraham.

      A bit later on, God elaborated on this promise:

      After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”

      Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”

      Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

      And a little later again, God elaborated on this promise some more, saying to Abram:

      My covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations.
      No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
      I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
      …As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her. (Gen 17:4-7, 15-16)

      So Abraham had been promised that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed. And then he was promised a son who would come from his own loins and the seed of his wife Sarah, and through that son Abraham would have myriads of descendants. Now, that promise is fulfilled in that Jesus the man is descended from Abraham, and all who have faith in Jesus are spiritually descended from Abraham.

      Paul expounds on this in Romans 4:3 “For what does the Scripture say? ‘ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ ”

      The Mosaic Law which came later was laws about right behavior and wrong behaviour, but anyone who tries to merit salvation by simply doing right behavior, by simply conforming to that Law, is never going to be saved because our sin problem is so deep that we cannot remove the penalty of sin by our own efforts. We all need the kind of faith that Abraham had — faith that trusts wholly and only in the promised Messiah. For the people of the OT, the Messiah was yet to come but the promises had already come and they could be saved by believing in the promises. For us in the NT era, the Messiah has already come and we can be saved by believing in Him.

      Thus, the Law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. The Law demonstrates to us that we cannot keep the Law. But Jesus Christ the Promised Messiah has kept the Law. He kept it fully in living his life without any sin, in perfect righteousness. And he paid the penalty for our not keeping the Law, by dying for us on the Cross and bearing all God’s wrath for all sin. What a perfect Savior!

      • I have now made a few additions to this comment, and corrected some typos.

    • Jeff Crippen

      H- good question. They were saved by faith in Christ, though what they knew of him was less than we know. You se it in Romans 4 for example. Abraham justified by faith. And David knew of being reckoned righteous through faith. Hebrews 11 shows the same.

    • Here is Fred Sanders talking about the Trinity and the Shack. In the second half of the video (about 20:30) he discusses the question you’ve raised.

      • Keeningforthedawn

        Thanks for sharing this discussion, Barbara. The whole interview was very interesting and discerning.

  6. ACON

    Very timely message. The Pharisees seem to be thriving these days. If you want to control people, you need the law. Grace and the leading of the Holy Spirit aren’t suitable for that purpose.

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