Gleanings (12/23/11) – Bewitched by Distortion

Note: In my zeal to get to Christmas, I blogged yesterday (12/22/11) for today’s lessons. Today I go back and pick up a lesson appointed for yesterday. If all goes well and the stomach bug doesn’t take out the last two of six here in our home, I will write of Christmas Eve tomorrow for it will be Christmas Eve.

Galatians 3:1-14

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you . . .?

It did not take long for folks to start distorting Christianity and bewitching Christians for personal gain, power and/or money. In Paul’s day the distortion was “Jesus plus circumcision” rather than “Jesus and Jesus alone” as the means of salvation. If faith (casting our lot with Jesus) saves then circumcision avails nothing. Yet some enthusiastic Jewish Christians were requiring circumcision of Jews and Gentles alike. Paul and the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) got it resolved. For salvation it is Jesus, not Jesus plus something else.

To this day the distortion remains Jesus plus, you fill in the blank. Jesus plus reading your bible for an hour a day. Jesus plus right doctrine. Jesus plus tithing. Jesus plus speaking in tongues. Jesus plus fasting. Jesus plus prosperity (the absence of which means you do not have sufficient faith). There are a million and one manifestations of it out there. How can you identify it? It’s the PLUS that gives it away.

And the plus is always law, something man requires of you OR something that God actually desires of you and man requires you to do it perfectly.

Worst offenders? Those promoting health and wealth in my humble opinion. That’s no surprise to any regular reader. It is the grossest of distortions in the modern day. If faith makes us wealthy why do the vast majority of people who actually obediently follow Jesus live in the third world? It defies reason and is hostile to the Gospel.

But beware too of those who say “Jesus plus I have a word for you.” That is, God has revealed to them something you must do. A good friend rightly asked once, “If that is true, why didn’t He reveal it to me?” It is a means of controlling and manipulating. It sets the table for spiritual abuse. There is no doubt God speaks to us through others, even circumstances. But there is little history of Him telling others of a personal act (law, not Jesus) that you must do in order to be in a right relationship with God.

Beware of the plus. Jesus accomplished the possibility salvation on the cross. You need only believe this in your heart. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. He or she is a bewitcher, intentionally or not.

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