Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 9 September 2014
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

Have I Become Your Enemy
Because I Tell You the Truth?

Marilyn LaStrape

Marilyn LaStrapeSeveral sources on the Book of Galatians refer to it as the Magna Charta or Manifesto of Christian liberty. It is God’s emancipation proclamation for sinners. However, in Paul’s day Judaizing false teachers were attempting to convince Christians in Galatia that the Jewish law was binding upon them because salvation was obtained by works of the Law of Moses.

This was extremely distressing to Paul, so much so that his letter to them was intense. He was striving to win them back to the simplicity and truth of the Gospel message. He said, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7 NASB).

These false teachers had also planted doubt in the minds of the Galatians regarding the authenticity of Paul’s apostleship. In his defense, he wrote in Galatians 1:11-12, “But I make known to you brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” He told them later in his letter that if they were attempting to be justified by law, they had fallen from grace (Galatians 5:1-4). He did not say they had tried to fall from grace, he said they had done it!

Paul pointed out several great truths in the first three chapters of Galatians: (1) The Gospel cannot be changed. (2) Obedience to the Law of Moses makes void the grace of God. (3) We become children of God by faith in Christ after we are baptized into Christ. In the latter part of Chapter Four, Paul reminded them of how they had eagerly responded to the Gospel message. He further reminded them that although his physical condition was such a trial to them, they did not regard it with contempt. He wanted to know what had become of their gracious feelings and acceptance of him, considering they would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him. Then comes that most pointed question: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth” (Galatians 4:16)? The answer to that question was a resounding, “Yes!”

The Gospel Advocate New Testament Commentary on Galatians (page 248 by David Libscomb) makes several noteworthy statements. “He had told them the truth in reference to their determination to turn to the Jewish law, and they had become offended, and had manifested feeling against him. Truth alone can help man. It is sometimes disagreeable, contrary to his feelings and wishes… He who tells one the truth ought to do it in a kind manner, but we should regard him who tells us the truth as a friend because truth alone can benefit man.”

In over half of the Book of Isaiah, the prophet had a message of doom for Judah because of their rebellion and rejection of God. They continually refused with reckless abandon to listen to God’s instructions. God told Isaiah to tell them, “Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll, that it may be for time to come, forever and ever; that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; who say to the seers, ‘Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us’” (Isaiah 30:8-11). Don Shackleford writes, “Isaiah was likely describing the result of the people’s desire to hear pleasant words (v. 10). Those of Judah were not asking the prophets to cease preaching, but they were asking them to eliminate from their proclamations the commands that characterized true prophetic messages. They wanted to hear… illusions, not the truths of the Holy One of Israel (v. 11)” (Truth for Today Commentary, Isaiah, page 316). Had God through the prophets become their enemy because they told them the truth? “Yes!”

In Acts 6:9-12, Stephen was one of the seven men who had been chosen to see to the needs of the widows who had been overlooked in the daily food distribution. Verse 8 says, “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.” Verse 9 tells of several men from various groups who arose disputing with Stephen. Verse 10 reads, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” So they secretly induced men to tell lies about Stephen, stirring up the people, the elders and the scribes against him, and then, they dragged him away and brought him before the Council. Acts 6:13-14 says, “They also set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.’” Stephen was not deterred from the truth that he spoke; instead of taking it back, he added more to it. Chapter 7, verses 1-51 give us Stephen’s entire defense in declaring to them the whole council of God. Had he become their enemy because he told them the truth? “Yes!”

Sometimes we become the enemy because of who we are, not necessarily by what we said. David said, “Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled; let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly” (Psalm 6:10). Tom Wacaster wrote, “It is a curious thing that the children of God should have any enemies at all. And yet, we are told that Abel was slain by his brother Cain for no other reason than the fact that Cain’s ‘works were evil and his brother’s righteous’ (1 John 3:12)” (The Songs and Devotions of David – Volume 1, Psalms 1-24, page 81).

Paul Sain wrote the book, Ready Reference for Growing Christians, Facts & Scriptures on 100 Biblical Subjects. Page 53 of that book is entitled, “A Few Biblical Facts about Enemies.”

Jesus said we would have enemies. In Luke 6:26-28, He made it crystal clear that having enemies is a given. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you; for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”

Just in case we had any doubts about having enemies, Jesus further stated in Luke 6:35, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

In the latter portion of John Chapter Eight, Jesus spoke to the Jews about the truth making them free. The conversation between Jesus and the Jews was razor-sharp as He told them exactly who they really were despite their faulty perception of self-righteousness. He told them they would know the truth and the truth would make them free (vs. 32). They did not appreciate Jesus telling them they had any familiarity with being enslaved by anyone!

In John 8:40 Jesus told them, “But now you seek to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.” In verses 44-47, Jesus forthrightly told them:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.

Had the Lord become their enemy because He told them the truth? “Yes!”

The rigorous demands of biblical truth are just that. God gave us His Word of truth to be believed and obeyed, not debated and ignored. Biblical truth is rigorous because it is always exact, precise, thorough and meticulous. The demands of biblical truth are always required, stipulated, ordered and expected. Spiritual ruin is inevitable when the truth of Scripture is viewed as the enemy. “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me” (Psalm 119:97-98).

Worthless Servants?

Bonnie Rushmore

Bonnie Rushmore“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor” (Luke 6:12-17). Who were these men Jesus appointed as His apostles?

They were men from Galilee, a northern district in Palestine, considered unlearned, ignorant men from the working class who were looked down on by the Jews from Judea (Acts 2:7). Matthew was a tax collector; the Pharisees linked tax collectors and sinners in the same category (Matthew 9:9-10). Simon was a Zealot, equal to a modern-day terrorist. Peter was impetuous, speaking before he thought through what he was saying; frequently he had the proverbial foot in his mouth. James and John were intolerant (Mark 9:38-39) and revengeful (Luke 9:51-55); Jesus called these brothers “sons of thunder” because of their attitude toward others.

Saul, better known to us by his Greek name Paul, consented to the death and imprisonment of Christians. After he became an apostle, he along with many of the other apostles were imprisoned for their teachings. All the apostles, with the exception of John, were killed because of their belief in Jesus Christ the Son of God. John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos for his beliefs.

Were these men, with their un-Christ-like characteristics, worthless servants to our Lord and Master Jesus Christ? “No!” Jesus chose these men as His special helpers: “Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” (Luke 9:1-2). As time passed, these men grew in their faith in God and His Son, and they became diligent servants.

Some people will not accept the saving power of the Gospel because they think their lives are far from the life Jesus wants them to live. They think they are too bad for the saving power of the Gospel. Look at the apostles; the lives of these men were far from what God wanted them to be. Yet, when Jesus said, “Come follow me,” they left their homes to follow Christ.

Some Christians do not serve the Lord to the best of their abilities because they think of themselves as uneducated and of low esteem. All the apostles, with the exception of Paul, were uneducated and were looked down upon by the Jews in Judea.

Some Christians fail to realize that God really forgave them of their sins when they were immersed in the watery grave of baptism. Thus, they do not eagerly serve God because they think their past is too horrible. While it is true that we may have consequences because of the sins of our past, which may limit some activities, we are still commanded to be diligent servants of our Lord.

What is holding you back from obeying and serving our Lord? Just as the apostles grew in faith and knowledge, through Bible study, we too can grow in faith and knowledge of God’s Word. As we grow, we can become better servants for God. The apostles did not let their pasts pull them away from serving God and neither should we!

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