Reflections – March 2001
“The; New Galatians”
“Love; not the world,neither things that are in the world.If any man love the world,the love of the Father is not in Him.” (1 John 2:15)
Most Christians are familiar with the story of the church at Galatia, and the circumstances that necessitated the apostle Paul’s writing the epistle to the Galatian Christians.
The hallmark of the Protestant doctrine of salvation is summed up by the statement, “Saved; by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.” We are stunned when we read the stinging rebuke delivered to the Galatians by God through Paul, “O; foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you. . .”
Protestantism has historically rejected the idea and teaching that a man can save himself through the keeping of the law. We know from the Bible that it is a feat that no man can or has accomplished. Sinful man can never keep the law of God, which is a reflection of His holiness and righteousness.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice we celebrate life, liberty and freedom. Yet we also understand that we are not to use this freedom as a cloak for fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Historically speaking, there have been sects that have fallen to that licentious pattern. The Antinomian Gnostics reckoned that the only way to defeat the lusts of the flesh was to indulge them to the point of boredom. In essence using their liberty as a cloak for fulfilling the desires of the flesh.
Still, we do enjoy freedom and liberty in Christ. We are commanded in Scripture not to subject ourselves once again to the bondage of the law. Galatians 5:1 says, ” Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” The heresy of some of the Galatian Christians was not that they were teaching salvation by works, but that they were teaching observance of the law as necessary to the process of sanctification. ” Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3) In context we understand that what here was being advocated was a return to the observance of the ceremonial aspects of the law (i.e., circumcision). It was being forced upon others by those who were unwilling to break from tradition.
Did you get the key word in all of this? Tradition. Tradition taking on the force of an edict from God. Individual and self perceptions about what is right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate for the Christian suddenly taking on the force of “Thus; saith the Lord.”
I have seen too many young Christians become discouraged by this very mindset. People over the course of years tend to develop a set of standards that they believe represent the essence of what it is to live the consecrated, Christian life. Over the course of time they begin to apply that standard in measuring the spirituality of others. The problem with this is that often you find those standards comprised of not only what the word of God sets forth as standards, but also what the individual or group adds to the word of God. Additions that are based upon their own set of traditionally held prejudices (e.g., Christians should not dance, go to sporting events, etc.). When pressed for scriptural support for some of these preconceived standards they most often quote 1 John 2:15 as supporting text. Notice however they usually only quote the first half of that verse, “Love; not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” This, they would have us believe is the catch all Bible verse that covers all these specifics that are not clearly addressed in Scripture. Not only is this not true, but in fact in applying this verse to someone who fails to see the sin for example in dancing with his wife, actually calls into question the veracity/genuineness of their conversion experience. This becomes very serious business.
KJV 1 John 2:15 Love not (present active imperative – to stop an action in progress or to keep it from becoming a habit) the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love (present active subjunctive; 3rd class condition-probable future condition) the world, the love of the Father is not in (Locative) him.
1 John 2:15 tells us to not be:
Lovers of the world.
Lovers of the things contained within this world.
It is understood that world here really refers to that system of fallen humanity and its ideology, which has set itself up in opposition to God, who is the creator of the cosmos. To be a lover of the world or by extension the things that are in this fallen system and it’s ideology carries with it the implication of the absence of the love of the Father (Objective Genitive). He has no love for the Father in him. This of necessity calls into the question the veracity of a person’s conversion.
It is one thing to hold to a personal conviction about things or practices. It is quite another matter to set them forth as a Biblical standard without the evidence of Scripture. It is still yet much more to apply a Biblical passage, which actually speaks to the issue of conversion to a brother or sister in the Lord who happens not to agree with another’s personal convictions concerning things or practices not prohibited in scripture.
This new form of Galatianism is dangerous and counter productive to the health of the Body of Christ. God has given each of His children of His Spirit. He is the one who brings conviction by His word coupled with His illuminating, comforting, teaching ministry. We have no right to press our personal convictions upon others unless they are Biblical convictions. We have no right to question a Christians salvation because they do not believe the same as we do concerning issues such as dancing and movie going, etc. Yet that is exactly what Christians do to one another when they pull Bible verses out of context and recklessly apply them to each other.
If you have a conviction about something or some practice, share it with your brother, sister in love knowing that to the degree your conviction is correct, God in due time will demonstrate the wisdom of that conviction, but only in proportion to it’s Biblical foundation. Remember, none of us came to the faith in a perfect state of sanctification. God has a plan for each of His children. He knows what He is doing.He does not need us to help Him with extra-Biblical rules and laws in the process of sanctification.
Rev. Carmen Rizzo