It is a near universal practice for people to take passages from the Bible and use them outside of their proper context. By far, the most common example is using Old Covenant (Testament) passages and applying them to New Covenant situations. If you really want to understand the Bible, context is the second most important thing you need to understand. The most important factor is that you learn God’s method of understanding the Bible. (To read, “How to Understand the Bible,” Click Here; click the back button to return to this page.)
Context is such a broad and sweeping issue that it is difficult to discuss in a concise manner. Yet, it is so important that virtually everything you have ever been taught about Jesus Christ, salvation and the Christian life has been distorted by faulty context. Here are just a few of the errors that people believe because of faulty context; the list could go on and on.
1. “I can lose my salvation”
2. “I’m under the Mosaic Law, or at least the 10 Commandments”
3. “I must confess my sins every day”
4. “I’m just a sinner saved by grace”
5. “God gets angry with me when I sin”
6. “I must tithe or God won’t bless me”
7. “God wants me to take a stand against sin in the world”
8. “I’m saved because my sins are forgiven”
9. “Life is a constant battle between my two natures”
10. “I must try to do great things for God”
11. “When natural disasters occur, God is judging our nation”
12. “God credits me with Christ’s righteousness even though I am still a sinner.”
Each of these statements is completely false. Yet, faulty context has made these beliefs common today, if not nearly universal. Each of the 12 errors above will be corrected when you understand what the Bible actually teaches about the Law and the Gospel (use the back button to return to this blog).
By far, most of the error taught today (and historically) is related to not understanding the proper context of the Mosaic Law. When you understand the Law, you will understand why people have believed most of the errors listed above.
The Law was holy; it expressed the righteousness of God. But, the Law was based on human self-effort (works); this is the critical issue. The Law required 100% compliance; one violation meant violation of the entire Law. Jesus was born and lived under the Law. He fulfilled the Law by His sinless life. In doing so, Jesus ended the Old Covenant Law and implemented New Covenant grace. Grace is based on the power and works of God, not the works of man.
Initially, it may seem counterintuitive to think that the Ten Commandment are no longer in effect. People have been protesting this very thing for centuries, “You are giving a license to sin!” Actually, the Law causes sin to increase, not decrease (1 Corinthians 15:56) since it is based on human strength, not the power of God.
Jesus moved the righteousness of the Law into the hearts of those who believe in Him. Now, being righteous and living righteously come from Jesus Christ living in you, not your attempts to follow the Law.
So, what is your relationship to the Law today? The spirit of the Law, its representation of God’s holiness, is eternal. But the doing of the Law was replaced by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago. The Law under the Old Covenant was external, powered and accomplished by human self-effort. The “laws” under the New Covenant are internal, powered and accomplished by the spiritual power of Jesus Christ in the heart of every believer. The Old was imperfect because of human weakness; the New is perfect because of Jesus Christ.
Confession of Sins
The practice of confessing sins to a priest (Catholic) and daily confession of sins (Protestant) is based on two context errors.
1. God charges people with their transgressions of His laws only when He puts them under His Law. God never put the Gentiles under the Mosaic Law and, therefore, never charged the Gentiles with their transgressions of the Law.
Romans 4:15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. (NKJV)
Romans 5:13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Since all sins of all people for all times were forgiven and forgotten on the Cross of Jesus Christ, the only two remaining issues in salvation today are: [a] the eternal and unforgivable sin of unbelief – the rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior and [b] the sinful heart that is in every unbeliever. Forgiveness was fully and forever resolved 2,000 years ago.
2. The first chapter of 1 John is a summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the Apostle John had been presenting to the Jewish people. Verse 9 is not a call for the daily confession of sins. Rather, it was saying to the Jews that if they acknowledged their sinfulness and trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior, God would transform them from sinners to righteous children of God. The second half of verse 9 is historically ignored; it is the key to understanding the verse. Chapter 1 of 1 John is the promise of the New Covenant that God made with the children of Israel (see Hebrews 8:7-13 and Hebrews 10:15-18).
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The word “fellowship” in verses 3 and 6 is referring to salvation fellowship, not an in and out daily fellowship; and “in and out” daily fellowship with God is totally foreign to Scripture. It is a distortion of Mosaic Law which Jesus Christ ended and replaced with New Covenant grace.
The practice of tithing during New Testament times did not even begin until 300 years after Christ. It was a ploy by the Catholic church to raise money. So, if tithing really was something God wanted you to do, all of the Apostles and all of the believers until the 4th century completely missed the boat. In faith, all good works are initiated by Jesus Christ living in you; they do not come from your own initiative (John 5:19; John 5:30; John 8:28; John 14:10). Jesus gifts some people with generosity. Tithing is a self-effort practice that is based on human works, not faith. Many of the people that God has blessed with wealth fulfill their “obligation” by giving 10% and then spending the rest on themselves. In the meantime, millions of believers around the world go hungry and do not own a Bible.