Paul's Passing Thoughts

Do You Believe A False Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 27, 2018

True or False?

  1. Jesus died for all of our past, present, and furture sins.
  2. Jesus obeyed the law perfectly so that His righteousness can be imputed to us.
  3. Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.

If you answered “True” to any of the above questions, you believe a false gospel.

But how can this be?

Let’s examine each of these statements one at a time.


Question 1: Jesus died for all of our past, present, and furture sins.


The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that Jesus’ death on the cross and the shedding of His blood is an “atonement” or “covering”, not only for past sins, but for any sin a believer may commit in the future.  According to this gospel, this “covering” is necessary so that when God looks on the believer, He doesn’t see sin, He sees the righteousness of Christ.

Here is why this is false:
The New Testament makes no reference anywhere of Jesus’ death being a “covering”.

The “atonement” is an Old Testament concept and refers to the Law’s function as a “guardian” until the “Promise” came. (Galatians 3:22-24)  That Promise is Jesus Christ!  When Jesus died, He ended the Law and with it, its ability to condemn.  Believers are born of God; new creatures who are not “under law”.  The apostle Paul taught that where there is no law there is no sin. (Romans 5:13)  Since believers are no longer “under law”, they can no longer sin.  There is no law to condemn them.  Because the law is ended for believers, we no longer need a guardian. (Galatians 3:25)

Jesus died for your past sins only!
For the believer, there are no present or future sins.  There is no condemnation for believers! (Romans 8:1)


Question 2

Jesus obeyed the law perfectly so that His righteousness can be imputed to us.


The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that the standard of righteousness is perfect law-keeping.  According to this gospel, because of man’s metaphysical depravity he is unable to keep the Law.  But because of Jesus’ perfect law-keeping, His righteousness is imputed to believers.  Therefore, believers are not righteous as a state of being, they are simply “declared righteous” (forensic justification).

Here is why this is false:
The Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law (Romans 3:21, 28).  To say that believers are “declared righteous” by virtue of some vicarious imputation of Jesus’ righteousness is an attempt to make Law the standard for righteousness.  This is not righteousness apart from the Law.  Furthermore, the Bible never states that believers have the righteousness of Christ.

The standard for righteousness is the New Birth!
When a person believes on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is born again, literally “born from above”.  When that happens, a believer inherits his very own righteousness from God because the old man who was “under law” has died, and in his place is a new creature who is the righteous offspring of the Father!

And since this new creature is born of the Father, he is not under law.  And since he is not under law, he CANNOT sin (1 John 3:9), because where there is no law, there is no sin!


Question 3

Christians are “sinners saved by grace”.


The Reformation gospel of Protestantism teaches that Christians are still sinners.  Martin Luther referred to this as simul justus et peccator – “simultaneously saint and sinner.”  According to this gospel, because Christians are still sinners, they are in need of perpetual forgiveness of sin.  In other words, Christians are still metaphysically depraved.

Here is why this is false:
This statement is a contradiction.  It is an impossible reality for man to exist in two different states at once.   The Bible says that man is either “under law” OR “under grace”.  “Under law” is the Biblical definition of an unsaved person.  A person who is “under law” is under condemnation.  Only those who are “under law” are sinners.  So to say that a Christian is a sinner means to consider him still “under law”.  The Protestant gospel makes Christians no different than the unregenerate.

Such a statement is a patent denial of the reality of the New Birth.  The New Birth is an existential change in a person’s state of being.  A believer is literally reborn as the righteous offspring of the Father.  He is no longer a “sinner” because the law is ended for him.   Where there is no law there is no sin.

Christians are righteous children of the Heavenly Father!
The New Birth has freed us from sin.  It no longer has any power over us.


What Is the True Gospel?

Man does NOT have a sin problem.

That is a scandalous statement and one that contradicts everything you have probably heard in church your whole life. It would seem to be a logical conclusion that the Bible teaches that man’s problem is sin, but let us reconsider two primary assumptions:

  1. Does man indeed have a problem?
  2. Is that problem sin?

The Bible teaches that there are only two kinds of people in this world; those who are “under law” and those who are “under grace”. To be “under law” means to be subject to the Law’s condemnation, which is death, and ultimately the Lake of Fire. Every person ever born into this word is “under law” and is therefore condemned because at some point in his life he has broken the Law in one way or another.

Even if a person has no knowledge of God’s Law from scripture, the Bible tells us that every man has the Law of God written on his heart, which is the conscience (Romans 2:14-15). The conscience is what gives man knowledge of right and wrong. One day, every person “under law” will be judged by God according to the Law, whether that be God’s law as recorded in scripture or by his own conscience. So clearly, man does indeed have a problem.

What about Sin?
The Bible describes Sin as an entity which seeks to wield control over others. (Genesis 4:7) Sin’s desire for control is manifest in man’s subsequent desire to wield control over others. Ironically, Sin obtains its power of control over others through the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56).   Sin uses the Law to control others by provoking man to break the Law through desires. Once there is a law that governs some behavior, Sin uses that same law to provoke a desire to rebel against what that law requires (Romans 7:7-8).

Without the Law, Sin has no power. Therefore, where there is no Law, there is no Sin. Any person who is “under law” is not only provoked by Sin to break the Law, but he is condemned if he does.

So the problem then is not with Sin, rather it is the reality that any man “under law” is under condemnation. The solution then is that man needs a way to get out from under the Law’s condemnation. Man needs a new relationship to the law.

Man’s New Relationship to the Law
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved, their response was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” Belief means faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. A person is born again (literally “born from above”) when he hears about Jesus and believes what he hears. Hearing implies a cognitive process of allowing oneself to be persuaded by a reasonable argument.  So we understand then that “faith” is more than just an assenting to the facts, but it has to do with being thoroughly convinced in your mind that something is true.

God made it possible for man to get out from under the Law’s condemnation through the New Birth. When a person believes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the “old man” who was “under law” dies. Laws have no jurisdiction over dead people. Dead people cannot be condemned.

When the “old man” dies, a new creature is reborn in his place. This new creature is born of God. He is the literal offspring of the Father. This new creature is not born “under law”. The Law has no jurisdiction over him. This means the Law CANNOT condemn him. And since there is no Law to condemn this born again new creature, there is no Sin. The one who is born of God CANNOT sin!

“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” ~ 1 John 3:9

Notice, the apostle John does not say the believer “won’t sin” or “chooses not to sin”. He says he CANNOT sin. He is not ABLE to sin. Why is the one who is born again not able sin? Because sin has to do with Law. You cannot condemn one of sin when there is no Law under which to accuse someone. Think about it; if there was no 55 mph speed limit on the highway, and you were driving 56, would a patrol officer be able to write you a citation for speeding? Of course not. Why not? What law could he use of which to accuse you? There would be none. So it is with the one who is born again. The believer is no longer “under law,” therefore there is no Law than can be used to condemn. The believer has a new relationship to the Law.

Since the Law can no longer condemn, the Law’s original intent can now be realized: to show love to God and to others!

This is why believers strive to obey. It is not a means to merit some right standing with God. The believer is already righteous because he is God’s offspring. The believer obeys because he wants to show love to God and love to others. Love is the fulfillment of the Law.In fact, the Bible teaches that those who love God have a natural love for the Law as well.

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” ~ Psalm 119:97

“I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalm 119:113

“I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.” ~ Psalm 119:163

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” ~ Psalm 119:165

Even if there was no speed limit on the highway, would you still drive as fast as you possibly wanted? Hopefully not, because you would recognize the inherent danger, not only to yourself by driving recklessly, but also to the other drivers on the road. You would drive in such a way as to preserve your own life and the lives of others. You would be functioning according to the Law of Love.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”~ Romans 8:2

This new relationship to the Law through the New Birth is offered as a free gift to any who believe on Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.

How does Jesus’ death on the cross forgive sin?
In Old Testament times, when God codified the Law for Israel with Moses, the Law took Old Testament saints into protective custody. During this time, believers were preserved from condemnation upon their death because sin was imputed to the Law. This was the “covering” aspect of the Law, and the ceremonial observation of the “Day of Atonement” was a recognition of Israel being under the Law’s protective custody. (Galatians 3:22-24)

This protective custody was in effect up until the time of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus’ death was the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham. When Jesus died, He ended the need for the Law’s protective custody. When the Law ended, all sins that had been imputed to the Law were taken away with it.

The picture of the “scapegoat” in Leviticus 16:21-22 describes what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplishes. The priest would lay his hands upon a live goat, a symbol of sins being imputed to the Law. That goat would then be delivered into the hands of a strong man who take that goat into the wilderness and release it.   Jesus is that “strong man” who took away the sins imputed to the “scapegoat” of the Law.

“…Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29

In essence, Jesus is both the “Lamb” and the “strong man”. He is the Testator of the Old Covenant, the One of whom the Law speaks, the One to whom sin is imputed. The death of the Testator brings an end (fulfillment) to that covenant, thereby taking with Him all sins which had been imputed to Him.

Since the Promise of Christ has come, there is no longer a need for a guardian. The “covering” aspect of the Law is no longer needed. (Galatians 3:25-26) This is true for every person who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation. The New Birth puts the old man to death. All those past sins are forgiven. They were taken away when the Law was ended for him upon his New Birth. There is no ongoing need of forgiveness for “present” or “future” sins because the believer CANNOT sin. There is no Law to condemn him, therefore there is no sin.

Why do Christians still “sin”?
Man is and always will be a free-will agent. His behaviors are governed by choices that are the logical conclusions of his assumptions. Man was created by God to be a rational, thinking, creature. It is how man is made in God’s image. In this way, man is good. To say that man is “good” means to be good existentially, or that which is intrinsic to the nature of his existence. It means man has the capacity to act in accordance to the purpose for which he was created: to think, to reason, to live, to BE.

That a man may make a choice to do evil does not mean that he IS evil. Conversely, that man may make a choice to good is not what MAKES him good. Man’s ability to even make a choice at all is what makes him “good”. He is functioning according to how God designed him to be.   Do not misunderstand – “goodness” should not be conflated with “righteousness”.

It is not a man’s choosing to do evil deeds (or lack of good deeds) which condemns him, no more than it is a believer’s choosing to do good deeds (or lack of evil deeds) which saves him. Unregenerate man is condemned because he is “under law”. A believer is saved because he is born again and NOT “under law”. Therefore, because one who is born again is not “under law”, there is no such thing as “sin” for the believer.

Nevertheless, this does not preclude the fact that a believer can still choose to not obey the Law. At the same time, this does not give a believer license to ignore the Law. While failure to obey the Law no longer condemns the believer, it is still a failure to show love. Children of the Heavenly Father ought to behave in a manner that is consistent with their righteous nature.

The Bible says the flesh is “weak”. Weakness does not mean evil. The apostle Paul said that the treasure of our righteous new creature-hood is contained in “clay pots”. So even though a believer is righteous, Sin still seeks to control him through the weakness of his flesh. And because man is a moral agent capable of free-will decisions, a believer can still choose to give in to fleshly desires provoked by Sin. But it is important to understand the distinction; such an action does not condemn! It is a failure to show love.

Perfection is not the issue here. This is why it is so important to understand that righteousness has nothing to do with law-keeping. There is a reason Paul and the other apostles bent over backwards to make this case throughout the New Testament. Believers are righteous because they have been born again and are no longer “under law”. Whether or not a believer obeys the law “perfectly” is irrelevant because there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1)

This reality is incredibly freeing, because now a believer can aggressively pursue love without fear!

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:” ~ 1 John 4:18

A believer no longer has to worry about what laws he has kept or hasn’t kept because the threat of condemnation has been removed. That possibility is no longer hanging over his head like some impending doom. Now he is free to focus on just loving God and loving others, and the way he shows love is by striving to obey the Law.

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” ~ Romans 13:8

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ~ Galatians 5:14

 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ~ John 14:15

A Misunderstanding of the Law
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Jewish religious leaders had come to believe that keeping the statutes in the Torah was what made a person righteous. But because they made the assumption that man was metaphysically evil, this assumption meant that man was disqualified from being able to understand the Law’s requirements. This is turn meant that if man could not understand the Law then man could not keep the Law.

The Jewish leaders believed it was necessary for some mediator to dictate to man the requirements necessary for righteousness. To accomplish this, they crafted their own interpretation of the Torah for man to follow. Since man could not understand the Law, he could obtain righteousness by following the interpretations of the Jewish leaders. This interpretation is what was known as their “traditions” or “orthodoxy”.

There are a number of problems with this, not the least of which is that the Bible teaches that righteousness is apart from the Law. As already mentioned, the apostles went to great lengths to make this point clear. For the Jewish religious leaders to hold this perspective, it was indicative of their egregious misunderstanding of the Law’s purpose. The Law was never intended to be for the purpose of obtaining a righteous standing with God.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”~ Galatians 2:21

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” ~ Galatians 3:21

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” ~ Romans 3:20

“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” ~ Galatians 2:16

The Law is the means by which man shows love to God and others, but making the Law the standard for righteousness actually circumvents love. How does this happen?

The Jewish religious leaders replaced the Law with their orthodoxy. The people were taught that since they could not keep the Law, it was pointless to even try. By replacing the Law with orthodoxy, the Jewish leaders effectively took away man’s only means of showing love to God and others. Rather than striving to show love to God through obedience, they became preoccupied with adhering to Jewish orthodoxy. Their lives were no longer characterized by love but fear.

When the standard for righteousness is perfect law-keeping, fear is always the result. Fear is the result of condemnation. Condemnation comes from being “under law”. Any system that makes Law the standard for righteousness keeps man “under law”. The Jewish system of perfect law-keeping by adherence to orthodoxy kept the people “under law” and took away their means of showing love.

This is exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing.

“… Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition [orthodoxy].” ~ Matthew 15:6

“And he said unto them, ‘Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition [orthodoxy].’” ~ Mark 7:9

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition [orthodoxy], which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” ~ Mark 7:13

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” ~ Matthew 24:12

The word translated “iniquity” in Matthew 24:12 is the Greek word ανομια (anomia). It literally means “no law”. This is the Biblical definition of antinomianism. It means to take away the law. Jesus said Himself that taking away the Law would result in love growing cold. And why wouldn’t it? If you take away the Law, you take away the only means man has to show love to God and others.

Jesus spoke these words as a prophesy, but the end result of this logical progression of thought is always the same: taking away the Law results in a lack of love and lives characterized by fear. Be sure to understand the distinction. The Jewish religious leaders misunderstood the Law’s purpose. They thought it was for the purpose of meriting righteousness. But righteousness is apart from the Law. Righteousness comes through the New Birth. The Law is used as a means to show love to God and others.

What was true of first century Judaism is also true of every religion that ever existed or still exists today: it makes some form of law-keeping as the standard for righteousness. Every religion begins with the same root assumption: that man is metaphysically evil, making him disqualified from being able to understand truth. Since he cannot understand truth he must have truth interpreted for him. Religious orthodoxy is nothing more than truth repackaged for mass consumption. It is therefore adherence to this interpretation of truth that brings righteousness.

Protestantism is no different! But Protestantism’s version of orthodoxy is obfuscated under the pretense of “faith alone”. On the one hand, it will acknowledge that righteousness is apart from the Law; that man does not merit righteousness by keeping the Law. Then on the other hand, it will insist that Jesus keeps the law for us. In other words, since man cannot keep the Law, Jesus must do it instead.

How is it proposed that man is able to benefit from this so-called perfect law-keeping of Jesus? By living by “faith alone”.   You see, if at any time you find that you are performing a work of obedience to the Law “in your own efforts”, you are attempting to rely on your own strength to merit salvation instead of “resting” in Christ to do the work for you. (Notice that the assumed motivation is to merit salvation instead of showing love.)

It should be blatantly obvious that regardless WHO is keeping the law, even if it is Jesus keeping the Law in our stead, it is still a righteousness that is based on perfect law-keeping. This is NOT a righteousness apart from the Law.   Moreover, to rely on Jesus doing the works of the Law for us so that His righteousness can be imputed to us is nothing more than works-based salvation.

For over 500 years, Protestantism has been perpetrating a fraud and a contradiction of epic proportions! Like every other religion that has come down the pike since the beginning of time, Protestantism is based on a faulty assumption that results in a willful misunderstanding of the Law. It is a religion of antinomianism that circumvents a believer’s ability to show love through obedience. It makes obedience nothing more than a subjective experience that Christ supposedly performs through the believer. It defies the believer’s natural inclination to love God’s Law. It defines righteousness as perfect law-keeping. This unwittingly puts the believer right back “under law”, the Biblical definition of an unsaved person. Protestantism views believers no differently than the unregenerate.

Most importantly, the false gospel of Protestantism robs the believer of assurance. The Christian life becomes one of constant introspection of whether one is living by “faith alone” or not. Protestantism’s single perspective on the Law means the believer is in constant fear that he might come under condemnation. He is not free to love others. He is not free to love his Heavenly Father. He can never know for sure if he really is saved.

Dear Christian brother, know this. The Bible says that we CAN know for sure that we are saved. When we understand that our righteousness comes by virtue of the fact that we are the literal offspring of the Father, everything becomes so simple. It doesn’t matter if we fail. Perfection is not the point. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Believers are no longer “under law”. Where there is no law there is no sin. This is a wonderful reality!

This is the Gospel news that believers need to bring to a world that needs to be reconciled to God.

The world is full of unsaved people who do very good deeds. Whether he realizes it or not, every time man shows love to another, he is fulfilling the Law. It does not matter if the person is saved or not. Unsaved man has the ability to show love to others just as much as one who is saved. But it is not that expression of love that saves. It is not a fulfilling of the Law that saves. For even though an unsaved man might obey the Law of Love, he is still condemned because he is still “under law”. That is the whole point.

Man does not have a “sin problem”. He has a relationship to the Law problem. This is why Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” The exhortation to you, dear brother in Christ, is this: Go out this day and show forth your love to God and others. You are God’s righteous child. Pursue obedience and fulfill the Law of Love!

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Lose the Sin Lists

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 14, 2017

God’s Acknowledgment of “Self” and the Full Circle of the Ten Commandments.

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on November 12, 2017

Originally Published May 25, 2016

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” ~ Exodus 3:14

When Jehovah (I Am) identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush, He did more than just tell Moses His name. God made a philosophical statement about reality. God acknowledged His own existence, and in so doing He declared His intrinsic rights because of that existence. Furthermore, by acknowledging His own existence, God also recognized man’s existence. I believe this is at the heart of what the Bible means when it says that man was made in God’s image. We have a right to “self” because God has a right to “self”.   And for us to acknowledge our own right to “self” demands that we by extension must acknowledge others’ right to “self”, just as God acknowledges ours.

Do not misunderstand what I mean by “right to self”. I do not mean “self-ishness”, which the Bible clearly decries. “Selfishness” means to love oneself MORE than another. On the other hand, the Bible never teaches us to love others more than ourselves. Said another way, the Bible doesn’t teach that we should love ourselves LESS than others. It says we are to love others AS MUCH AS we love ourselves. Herein is the way in which we acknowledge another’s right to “self”, we treat others as WE would want to be treated. We see our own value as an individual and in so doing recognize that others have that same value. That value includes one’s right to existence and the means necessary to sustain that existence. The United States’ Declaration of Independence embodied that idea in this way:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

“That all men are created equal” is to recognize that all men have the same basic right to “self” and to existence, and that equality of individualism is preserved in the rights to seek those things which would secure that existence. No one ever has the right to violate another’s right to “self”, EVEN GOD!

In a conversation with a close friend the other day, I posed the question, “why is stealing wrong?” My friend replied that stealing is wrong because God said so; it’s in the Ten Commandments. Stealing is wrong because God said, “Thou shalt not steal.” I then followed up with the next question, “Why did God say stealing is wrong?” For this my friend had no answer. All he could say was, “I don’t know, I never thought about it before.”

You see for my friend, as it is with most people (particularly Christians), that God “said it” was enough for him. It was nothing more than an appeal to authority. An authority says this or that, so we must do it or not do it. This is the same reasoning that led to the slaughter of 6 million Jews while millions of others gave their tacit approval. People’s behaviors are the product of their assumptions, to paraphrase John Immel. No matter how irrational the behavior may seem, if you find the assumption you will find the reason for the action.

So why DID God say that stealing is wrong? It is a simple question, and once challenged to think, my friend finally did ask it of me. Stealing is wrong because it is a violation of “self”, of the individual. Our possessions are the products of our labors which are an investment of ourselves. Your labor is an exchange of value. You enter into that exchange with an employer who trades you wages for your investment of yourself. Those wages then in turn are exchanged for those things that are necessary to further your existence – food, clothing, shelter, etc. – and if there is any surplus, luxuries – car, mobile phone, flat screen TV, etc. So in reality, everything you produce – labor, wages, food, clothing, car, TV, etc. – is a product of you as an individual. For someone to steal those things from you is to violate “you” (self) because those things represent what the individual produced as a function of “self”. You have a right to them because you produced them because you have a right to “self”.

Contrary to what people/Christians are taught, the Bible is not a theological book. It is a philosophical book. And the Ten Commandments in particular are not simply an authoritative codification of do’s and don’ts. It is a philosophical statement from God to man about the value of the individual. It is a statement about how God values Himself, and it is a statement about how God values man. Conversely it is a statement of how man is to value God and how man is to value man. God’s very first statement to man is an appeal to God’s own sense of “self” and value. God as an individual. “I am God. I exist. I have value.” Therefore, the way we show God that we value Him is to have no other gods before Him! We do not make vain attempts to conceptualize God’s sense of “self” by making an image to represent that. We do not mock God’s name because His name is intrinsically tied to who He is. To violate God’s name is to violate who He is.

Man, too, has value as “self”. Therefore, we honor our parents, we don’t murder, we don’t commit adultery, we don’t steal, we don’t lie, and we don’t covet, not because God said so, but because we acknowledge that this would violate another person’s right to “self”. This is the basis for morality. It can be said then that the definition of morality is anything that does not violate God or man as “self”.

God’s command to not covet seems all-encompassing. The last commandment perfectly reduces everything down to the root motivation for all violations of “self”. And that is self-ISHNESS. A desire to usurp for oneself that which rightfully belongs to another. And as we have said before, that is a desire caused by Sin. The Bible describes Sin as an entity that seeks to control others. It seeks to master and enslave. It seeks to violate another for it’s own benefit, to wield control over another.

The New Testament offers another perspective on covetousness.

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” ~ Ephesians 5:5

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” ~ Colossians 3:5

The apostle Paul had a unique insight among the other apostles in that he was a certified expert on Jewish law. This perspective gave him an ability to draw parallels between Old Testament and New Testament concepts that the others did not. Peter even declared that many of the things which Paul taught were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16).   In these two passages in particular, Paul sees covetousness as being nothing more than idolatry. I’m not exactly sure how he gets there since he doesn’t elaborate on it.

Still, it is an interesting piece to the puzzle. Consider that one of the Ten Commandments speaks to idolatry. When one thinks of graven images, one usually thinks of idolatry. But Paul seems to suggest that idolatry involves more than just “idol worship”. It is a violation of God as “self”. Covetousness is a violation of man as “self”. What Paul has done here is to show the intrinsic relationship between the two. To violate man is to violate God, and to violate God is to violate man. Do not misunderstand, I am in no way suggesting that man IS God. But I do want to point out that there is a mutual recognition between God and man with respect to existence.

So to violate the tenth commandment is to violate the first, and thus we have come full circle. The Ten Commandments then are not statutes in and of themselves. It is not a means for God to show us “filthy rotten sinners” just how “holy He is” and how “sinful we are.”  It is a full-orbed treatise on morality and existence. It is not a law for authority’s sake. It is God instructing us on reality. What we see in the Bible is that LOVE is the motivating factor in all of this. To love someone is to ascribe value to them. Perhaps this is the relationship between idolatry and covetousness. To idolize something is to objectify it, to assign value based on its desirableness to oneself instead of an individual’s intrinsic value as another individual.

Whatever the case may be, when we show love to God and others, we have thus fulfilled the whole law because in this way we demonstrate a like view of both man and God, and we see reality the way God sees it.


“It’s Not a List of Do’s and Don’ts”

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on October 24, 2017

Originally published October 24, 2016
Protestant orthodoxy wreaks havoc in the lives of believers.  It produces confusion, fear, and lack of assurance of salvation.  The screen captures below represent the confusion of one such Facebook user, who’s single-perspective on the law produces the very same “loveless” christianity that she bemoans.

janine-01 janine-02

Notice in her post, it’s not our love but “Jesus’ love through us”.  It’s a list of rules and regulations that no one can follow.  She claims she wants to “emulate” the love of Jesus in her life, but that is impossible to do when your orthodoxy takes away the very means of doing so (anomia).

This same person had posted just a few hours earlier that she was “feeling like a screw-up”, and that she prayed to God to show her that He loved her.  How sad is that!  But this is what protestantism does!  Of course she’s going to feel like a screw-up, because she feels like she is constantly under condemnation.  When you  make perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness, how else can you expect to feel when you fail to keep the law?  Of course you would feel like God doesn’t love you because you’re a screw up.

But then protestantism turns around and teaches us that, don’t worry,  we’re all just totally depraved screw-ups.  We’re just sinners saved by grace.  As if that’s supposed to make everything perfectly acceptable.


Exercising Spiritual Gifts in Love – Lesson 1: The Body as a Metaphor

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 26, 2017

The following is part one of a four-part series.
Taken from Andy Young’s first session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

Click here for lesson twoClick here for lesson threeClick here for part four
(Links to the archived files are found below)

I usually have trouble trying to decide on what my sessions are going to be about for these conferences. Those of you who are familiar with the Tuesday Night Bible study endeavor, you know that I am very comfortable taking a book of the bible and just methodically working through it like we did with our Acts study. I am not very comfortable with topical studies because you run into the danger of proof-texting. (stacking verses to support your topic). And I think I explained that somewhat at the beginning of my first session at the 2014 conference a couple of years ago.

Some time ago when Paul and Susan and John Immel and I were first getting into the planning stages for this year’s conference, Paul was wanting to go with this theme of coming out of a Protestant Dark Age. This Dark Age has been characterized by fear. This protestant gospel keeps men under condemnation, and so as a result you have millions of Christians walking around in constant fear that they are going to do something to mess up their salvation because they are still worried about condemnation, even though Romans 8:1 PLAINLY states that there is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.

Rather than living lives characterized by fear, the life of the believer should be characterized by love. So with this “awakening” as it were, as we try to help believers come out of this Dark Age, what we need to be doing as believers, as we seek to disciple others, as we seek to build up each other and equip each other, we need to help people overcome this fear of condemnation and help each other learn how to love. I really think if we spent more of our time, our effort, our energy focused on loving others there wouldn’t be any time to think about fear.

A few months ago I wrote an article for Paul’s Passing Thoughts, on 1 Corinthians 13. It was basically a word study on the definition of love. As I was trying to decide on a topic that would fit in with the theme for this year’s conference I decided that I would take what I wrote for that article and expand on it. What the apostle Paul is dealing with in chapter 13 is not just a treatise on love. Chapter 13 is great study on its own, but there is so much more to be learned in the larger context, and so I want us to be able to see where this definition of love fits in, what is Paul’s larger message that he’s trying to communicate. What exactly is Paul addressing here in this section of 1 Corinthians?

So I think this will work, because it allows me to be able to speak on a particular topic, but at the same time we will go through an exegetical study of a larger passage, and so we will avoid the risk of “proof-texting”.

To put it in a nutshell, this section of 1 Corinthians is actually about spiritual gifts. And while chapter 13 is a wonderful treatise on love, it is really about how believers are supposed to use their gifts. This topic entails all of chapters 12 through 14, and we are going to go through all of it.

So here’s how I’m going to do this. I don’t intend to get bogged down in a detailed look at each of the gifts. If we wanted to do that we could probably spend months on that kind of study, and frankly I don’t think the canon of scripture we have is an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts. I really think that there are other gifts that some believers possess that aren’t listed in scripture. And I could give you various reasons for that.

As we go through this study we are going to see Paul discusses the gift of tongues at length. Because of that, I think it would be helpful in our study if we began with a review of tongues. So before we get into 1 Corinthians, lets begin by going to Acts 2.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” ~ Acts 2:1-4

They were filled with the Holy Ghost (furnished).  And as a result of being furnish with the Holy Ghost, what happened? Verse 4

“…[they] began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Here is the first reference to what many call gift of tongues. Now I’m using the King James, and it is translated “tongues”

γλοσσα – “glos-sah” – the tongue. By implication, a language.

This is where we get our English word “glossary.” Not some mystical, spirit-language. I would assert that this means an actual literal spoken language. There is more evidence that supports this later on in Acts 2, but I want you to look at this other word.

utterance – αποφθεγγομαι – “ap-off-THENG-oh-my” – to speak forth plainly and distinctly

“As the Spirit gave them the ability to enunciate plainly!”

Do you see here, the implication is that these disciples were speaking a language that was meant to be understood by those who heard it because it was plain and distinct. And later on when we get to chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, we’ll see this notion of plain and distinct come up again.

What else do we learn about tongues from this passage? Jump down to verse 6

“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” ~ Acts 2:6-11

Once again we see in this passage the word “tongue”. I want you to see something here. This is not the same word that was used in verse 4. This is not “glossa,” it’s a different word. The word here in the Greek is:

διαλεκτος – “dee-ah-lek-tos”, dialect, more specifically, vernacular.

Now what do I mean by that? What is vernacular? Well let’s think about it this way. We all speak English here right?  I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. When I moved to Columbus I didn’t really think I talked much differently from people around me, but people used to ask me all the time if I was from Cleveland. If you’re not familiar with Ohio, Columbus is in the middle of the state, and Cleveland is in the north end of the state right on Lake Erie. Buffalo is also on Lake Erie, and so it makes sense that people in Columbus thought I sounded like I came from further north.

We all know that there are many verbal cues that people use that immediately tells others something about what part of the world they come from.

– Accents
– word usage

pop, soda, Coke.
grocery bag, sack, poke
athletic shoes, tennis shoes, sneakers
cookie, biscuit
diaper, “nappy”
elevator, lift

– idioms and figures of speech.

All these things are not just unique to a particular language but also to various regions within the same country that speak the same language.

So this is important to keep in mind with what we see happening here in Jerusalem on Pentecost. You have thousands of people who have made this pilgrimage. These are Hellenistic Jews who live in various regions all over Asia Minor and Persia and northern Africa as a result of the dispersion following the Jewish captivity in Assyria and Babylon, and they have made this trek to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost. And suddenly they hear native Jews speaking in their home language of these Hellenistic Jews.

And not just speaking their language. See, when you learn a foreign language, it’s one thing to learn the words and the grammar and sentence structure. But what most people have a hard time getting right is the accent. You can tell right away when you hear someone talk, if they have an accent that gives it away, they’re not from here.

But these Jews said, “These men from Jerusalem, they sound just like us! We hear them in our own dialect, our own vernacular.” The same accent. They sound just like a native speaker. They sound just like someone who spoke this language all their life. That’s not something everyone can master. But when the Spirit filled these disciples in the upper room, they began to speak and they sounded just like those from their native countries. I think this is yet one more point that supports this idea of an actual human language. It certainly was plain and it certainly was distinct. Distinct enough that these men were amazed that Galileans could speak and sound just like them!

So we have established that the gift of tongues from the very beginning was a real language meant to be understood by the hearer. In fact, they said it again in verse 11. We hear them in our own tongue.   It’s the same word again, “dialektos”.   And just like any other spiritual gift, it was given to men for the purpose of building up the body of Christ and equipping believers to do their work of the ministry. Ephesians 4:11, 12 tells us that. And we see that very thing happening in Acts 2. When the disciples were speaking in tongues they were preaching the wonderful works of God! They were giving the gospel, in languages that were foreign to them, but could be understood by those who heard it.

But tongues also served a more specific purpose. Being a spiritual gift, it was to be used for edifying the body, but Peter explained in Acts 2 that this gift of tongues was a sign. And it was a sign specifically to the Jews. And I won’t get into it here, but Peter goes on to cite Joel 2 and he says that this sign of tongues was part of the fulfillment of the Joel 2 prophecy. The Jews would see this sign of tongues and it would be an indication to them that what was happening was authentic. It stated to the Jews that being born again by faith in the name of Jesus Christ was the real thing.

This was vitally important to understand because when we fast-forward to Acts 10, and we have this account with Cornelius, we have this first account of a mass-conversion of Gentiles. And what happened to them? Acts 10 says while Peter was yet speaking, the people (Gentiles) listening were persuaded, and they believed and they were born again. How do we know that? Because THEY (Gentiles) started speaking in tongues!

Up to this point the Jews thought that being born again was a Jewish thing. They still didn’t really understand the concept of the New Man that would be comprised of both Jew and Gentile. So this was a major lesson for Peter and the rest of these Jews present at Cornelius’ house. They see Gentiles all of sudden speaking in tongues, and now this sign has relevance for them as well. It was God’s way of saying, “See, just like when this happened to you at Pentecost, the same thing is happening with these Gentiles.” And Peter and the rest say, “Wow, so I guess God means to bring salvation to the Gentiles too, because now they have the Holy Spirit just like we do!”

So this gift of tongues was important because it was a sign that indicated outwardly to everyone who witnessed it that indeed this person was truly born again. But! – and let me emphasize this – it’s purpose as a sign was meant for the Jews.

So now we finally come to 1 Corinthians 12, and this gift of tongues comes up again, because it appears as if there was some confusion. The Corinthian believers were a confused bunch weren’t they? And I’m not going to take the time here to try and get into the details of what Paul is responding to. This letter is a response. It is reactive and not proactive. Paul is reacting to things that have been brought to his attention.

I will go so far as to say that this is true of not just Paul’s letters but all of the letters of the New Testament. The only exception might be the letters Paul wrote to Timothy. But what we see throughout 1 Corinthians is Paul attempting to correct wrong thinking or wrong teaching and ultimately wrong behavior in these assemblies. In the first part of the letter he’s dealing with a man having an inappropriate relationship with his step-mother. In the chapter just prior to our passage he’s dealing with their unruliness when they fellowship in general and observing the Lord’s Table in particular.

When we come to chapter 12, you can see there is a dramatic change of subject. Paul puts a period at the end of chapter 11. “Ok, I’m done with that subject, let’s move on to the next issue,” as if he’s marking off a checklist of topics.  That next issue has to do with spiritual gifts.

So like I said, I don’t want to get into the details of speculating about what exactly Paul is responding to or more specifically, what was the issue that the Corinthian assemblies brought to Paul’s attention. The beginning of chapter 12 gives a little indication, but as we go through this we come to learn that it has something to do with spiritual gifts in general and tongues in particular.

So Paul starts out here giving kind of an overview about the function of spiritual gifts, particularly in regard to this idea of a body.

12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, “Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body;” is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, “Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;” is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, “I have no need of thee:” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need). But God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

This is Paul’s reasoning. He’s using a physical body as a metaphor to describe the Body of Christ. These are the assumptions, the premise, the starting point. “Let’s assume this to be true.” He’s using an example that everyone is familiar with. He is establishing reality. People can relate to this because they can observe this. That’s how we organize reality. We observe how things work and we come up with assumptions and draw conclusions. So we have these assumptions about a physical body, and then Paul says, well, this is how the spiritual body works as well, and then we take action accordingly.

So let’s ask ourselves some questions.

How is the Body of Christ like a physical body?
– A body is one.

Now I don’t want to digress into a discussion about if a body is a collective or is it an individual, or get into this argument about was Paul promoting collectivism or the notion of the destruction of the individual for the benefit of the group, because that is not the point here at all. This passage should not be used as a proof text for either side of that argument. This is a metaphor. It is a figure of speech used to aid in the understanding of truth.

13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;

This isn’t the only time Paul has used this kind of language to describe believers. If you go back to one of the things I talked about at last year’s conference, you remember I spoke about the believer’s identity, and how a believer is part of the body. We looked at this passage in Ephesians 2:11-17.

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” ~ Ephesians 2:11-17

So a body is one. It is whole. It functions as one. But even though it functions as one whole…

– A body is made up of parts.

14For the body is not one member, but many...
But now are they many members, yet but one body…

This next point I think is most important because this is where we start to get into the meat of the passage.

– All the parts are necessary!
God put all the parts together to make the body work properly. If there is no nose, the body can’t smell. If there is no eye, the body can’t see. Remember these things. We’re going to come back to this in a minute, but there is one other thing I want to mention before we go on to the next point. A body with a missing part is still a body, but its ability to function is hindered. Let me say that again… A body with a missing part is still a body, but its ability to function is hindered.

– The parts are not envious of each other!
This ties in with the previous point. Just because a foot is not a hand doesn’t mean it’s not a body part. The foot doesn’t go around wishing that it were a hand. Just because an arm is not a leg doesn’t mean it’s not a body part. The arm doesn’t go around wishing it were a leg.

Taking this point a little further…

A body that is nothing but arms is not much of a body. Unless you’re an octopus, a body that’s all arms (or all feet or all hands) is pretty useless. If your body is all hands, it can’t see or hear or taste or smell or run or jump or speak.

So remember how we just said that a body that is missing a part is hindered in function, so also is a body that has too many of a particular part. It’s not going to be very effective at what it was designed to do.

Now, Paul says that believers are part of a body; the Body of Christ; the New Man. What is this spiritual body designed to do? Go out and make disciples. Or think Ephesians 4:12, the “work of the ministry.” This body has a job to do. And just like a physical body, the spiritual body is made up of parts, and those parts are put in place by God to carry out a particular function that enables the body to do its job.

The functions of the physical body parts are analogous to spiritual gifts. Every person who is added to the Body of Christ is given a particular gift, as God sees fit, that will best help the Body to accomplish its job. And Paul lists some of these gifts. This list is by no means exhaustive. We can look in some other places in the New Testament and find other gifts listed that aren’t mentioned here, but there is this list in starting in verse 8. Words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophesy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Now a little later on in the chapter he is actually going to prioritize these, so we’ll get to the in a minute. But the point is, God has given different gifts to every believer.

• Not everyone has the same gift.


• No one has every gift.

I think that’s important to notice. What if everyone had every gift? We wouldn’t need each other would we? There would be no need for us to fellowship together. The Greek word is koinania. It means having in common. What do believers have in common? Do we all have the same gift? No. We are all part of the same body. That’s what we have in common. We’re all part of the Body of Christ. And for the body to function, we need to come together from time to time for fellowship, and edify each other by exercising our gifts. When we come together as a body, and the whole body is working as one, and every part is doing what it’s supposed to do, every part of the body grows. It’s edified.

More than that, the whole body grows. We are edified to do the work of the ministry, and that is to go out and make disciples. We go out and give people the gospel of the Kingdom, and they hear it, and they are persuaded, and they believe, and then they are added to the body, and they receive a gift so that they can in turn edify and be edified. Mutual edification of the body, and they grow and mature, and then they go out and give the gospel, and it goes on and on and on and the pattern repeats itself over and over.

This by the way, is God’s method for church growth. Notice there is nothing here about a building program, or a week of special services, or an evangelical outreach committee, or a youth mission retreat, or inviting your lost friends to church. It’s the body that goes out and finds them. The body gives the message. This is by the way the one task that is common to every believer despite whatever happens to be their particular dispensation of gifting. This is not a task only for pastors. This is not a task only for evangelists. This is not a task only for specially trained missionaries going to a particular country. This is the task of EVERY believer. And when the whole body is working together, when everyone is exercising their specific gift, then each member is edified, and EVERYONE has everything they need to go out and make disciples themselves!

So where does love fit into all of this? Well another point that Paul makes about the body, and I touched on this before, is that every part is vital. Paul acknowledges in this passage that there are some parts that are of greater importance than others. Now I need to be careful here because I don’t want to give the wrong idea. We understand that every part is important because it is part of the body. But we also understand that the heart is more important than the pinky toe. We can live without our pinky toe, but we can’t live without our heart. That being said, none of us would ever say, I don’t need my pinky toe so I’m just going to cut it off right now.

But Paul goes on to say that those parts of our body that seem insignificant we take special care of. Your pinky toe might not seem to be all that important, but have you ever smashed your pinky toe? If you have a broken toe, you know it with every step you take. It’s there. Or how about this; you’re pounding a nail, and the hammer misses and you hit your thumb. What is the first thing you do? Other than scream a few choice words that believers would never utter, what do we do? We grab our thumb with the other hand and hold it tight. Notice, that when one part of the body hurts, other parts of the body come to its aid. And also as a body, we would never hit our thumb on purpose. I tell that to my kids. Kids do that, they can often get into the practice of cutting each other down and calling names. But I tell them, hey we’re a family. We’re all part of a body. Why are you trying to hurt your body? Why are you hitting your thumb with a hammer on purpose?

When one member hurts, the whole body hurts. And conversely, when one member is praised or honored, the whole body rejoices with it. What affects one member affects the whole body, whether positively or negatively.  Paul made this same point in Romans:

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
~ Romans 12:15

This is love. Now Paul doesn’t come right out and call this love. He’s going to develop that in chapter 13. But these are the points he makes.

This is love:

  • Recognizing that we are all part of the same body
  • That we all have a particular function (gift)
  • Each member’s gift is important to helping the body grow
  • Each member’s gift is important to helping the body do its job
  • I should not be envious of another member’s gift
  • I should be exhorting other members to use/develop their gifts.

Now Paul begins to address the specific issue. The problem is that the Corinthians weren’t doing this. They weren’t showing love when it came to exercising spiritual gifts. Go back to our passage in 1 Corinthians 12, and go to verse 27. Paul makes the connection here for us in this passage. Paul draws this conclusion that we’ve already discussed. Just like a physical body, believers are members of Christ’s Body. Look at verse 27.

27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the assembly, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But [you] covet earnestly the best [better] gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Ok, so there’s the connection. Now Paul has already given us a list of gifts up in verses 8-10. But notice what he does here. He prioritizes them. Remember we made that point that some gifts were more important than others. Some part of the body were more “comely” than others, but that doesn’t mean we despise those parts that seem less important. We don’t cut them off and say we don’t need them. So Paul prioritizes them for us, in order of importance. Apostles, then prophets, then teachers, then miracles, then healings, then helps (think of Tabitha in Acts 9), then governments (this Greek word is a Latin derivative meaning “pilotage” or having to do with the steering of ships; the implication is leadership/administration), then tongues.

Notice that tongues is listed last in priority, below all the other gifts. And we won’t see this now, not until we get to chapter 14, but Paul makes the case that tongues is a minor gift. It’s not even the most important one. It serves a purpose, but when we get to chapter 14, Paul states that there is another gift that is more important than tongues. So there is a priority of importance.

Then next he draws another parallel. Remember how we said that if you have a body that is nothing but arms, it is not going to be a very useful body. And so Paul says here, is everyone an apostle? Is everyone a prophet? And so forth. The question is, in this assembly, does everyone have the same gift? Are you all the same body part? No, obviously no. It’s a rhetorical question, and Paul uses this argument very effectively, to the extent that here is his accusation: Why are you all trying to covet the same gift?

That is the point in verse 31. Now we have a bad translation here in the King James. For sake of comparison let’s look at verse 31 in some different translations.

(KJV) “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”

(ESV) “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

(NASB) “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”

For the most part they all translate this verse the same way, but I think the point is lost in the poor translation. Two things we need to point out. You have this expression “covet earnestly” which in the Greek is the word “dzay-LAW-oh”, which means to be zealous over. This word is in the present tense imperative mood. And we know that an imperative is a command. So in the first part of the verse the Corinthians are being commanded to do something. What is that? Be zealous for the best gifts. The word “best” is also mistranslated, because the word in the Greek is the comparative form and not the superlative form. It should be translated “better” or “greater”.

I think the God’s Word translation actually has the best rendering of this verse

(GW) “You only want the better (comparative not superlative) gifts, but I will show you the best thing to do.”

Now there are two ways you can understand this. Since we are dealing with a command, the question then is who is giving the command? Since it is Paul writing, one could assume that Paul is commanding them. So you could understand it this way:

I, Paul, command you to be zealous for the better gifts.

But what if someone else is commanding them instead. What if Paul is calling attention to the fact that their behavior is a result of what someone else has been teaching erroneously them?

You are commanded to be zealous for the better gifts.

Notice the tense hasn’t changed. It’s still present tense. But now there is a different implication. And this seems to be the source of the problem that Paul is addressing. They were being taught in these assemblies that they need to be zealous for better gifts, better than the ones they may have already been given. And in the context of the whole passage (and that runs all the way through chapter 14) it seems like they were coveting tongues. It would appear that there was a teaching going around these assemblies that, well yes you may have a particular gift, but you all should be speaking tongues, and so they were all going around coveting tongues, to the point of jealousy. Which is not…love. They all wanted something that not all of them had.

And later on when we get to chapter 14, Paul is going to say, look, if you’re going to covet after a gift, you should covet prophecy because prophesy is more important because more people in the assembly can be edified by it. Now, not that Paul was condoning coveting ANY gift, because clearly here at the end of chapter 12 he’s rebuking them. But hypothetically speaking, if you are going to covet a gift, why are you coveting an inferior one. It’s almost sarcasm.

Paul says you are not showing love because you are not interested in gifts for the sake of how it will edify the body. You want this because you think it is somehow superior, or maybe that it is indicative of your spiritual state. And look at Paul’s final statement at the end of verse 31. “Let me show you a more excellent way.” Let me show you a better way. Let me teach you about love. Let me show you why it is important to have a proper view regarding spiritual gifts. And he launches into this fantastic treatise on the definition of love. And that is what we will look at in the next session.

…To be continued

Andy Young 2016 Session 1 Archive Video (YouTube)  Audio Only (mp3)