About Jesus Steve Sweetman
If I had called
my sister stupid as a child, my mother would
have scolded me. I wonder if
the apostle Paul's mother scolded him when he called the Christians in
In Galatians 3:1
Paul says, "you foolish Galatians". (NIV)
The Greek word "anoetos"
that is translated as "foolish" in Galatians 3:1 can easily be
translated as "stupid". Maybe
our Bible translators remembered their mother's admonition and
translated "anoetos" as "foolish" instead of
may sound a bit more polite than "stupid", but
"stupid" seems to better reflect Paul's sentiment.
Whatever the case, Paul was really upset with these Christians.
They really were stupid, and it wasn't because they didn't have
the capacity to be intelligent, because they did. They
simply failed to use their intelligence, which was leading them astray
into serious false teaching.
message that Paul received from Jesus stated that men and women, whether
Jew or Gentile, could be declared righteous in the sight of God through
the process of justification. Justification
and righteousness could only be found through Jesus, and absolutely
nothing else. The false
teaching Paul was combating in
referred to the 1999 book entitled "The Deliberate Dumbing Down Of
America", written by Charlotte Iserbyt-Thomson.
Iserbyt-Thomas speaks to our failure in post-modern times to use
our intelligence. Like the
Galatian Christians, we have the capacity to understand, but we're too
lazy to exercise this capacity. I'd
dare say that this infectious mental illness has penetrated the thinking
processes of the majority of Christians these days.
We fail to take the time to sit down and seriously think through
Biblical issues. We quickly
read the Bible without thinking about what we read. For
this reason, many people will not fully understand what I've just said
in the last paragraph concerning justification and righteousness.
It seems to me, that when we read the Bible, we hope the Lord
will bypass our brains and just drop bits and pieces of understanding
into our hearts. It doesn't
always work that way. Or, we
hope a Sunday morning sermon will clue us in on these things, but that
doesn't necessarily happen either. I
think Paul might well call many of us stupid, or should I say foolish,
if he were around today.
Fifty years ago
Christians had a pretty good understanding of what the words
"justification" and "righteousness" meant.
Ask Christians today what these two words mean and you'll
probably see their brains go up in smoke.
The mental stress that occurs in the attempt to provide an answer
throws their brain cells into mass confusion. The resulting collision of
these brain cells causes a fiery explosion that accounts for the smoke
rising from their ears and nostrils.
justification, you must accept the Biblical premise that each and every
human being ever born is a miserable sinner from conception. We simply
donít have the ability to do as God wants.
I know that's not acceptable in today's "let's all feel good
about ourselves world", but that's foundational to Christian
therefore the process by which God has removed this designation of being
a miserable sinner from who we are.
The disciple of Jesus no longer stands before the Judge of all
things as being a sinner. God
views him as being perfectly just. To
be clear about being a sinner and committing sinful acts; we don't
become a sinner when we first commit a sin.
We commit sins because we are born a sinner.
When God the
Father watched the Roman soldiers kill Jesus, He saw you and I being
killed as well, because Jesus was executed as a condemned sinner on our
behalf. Our sins have now
been deleted from God's eternal spreadsheet, but more importantly, God
no longer views us as who we really are.
We're still miserable sinners, but for those of us who have
trusted our lives with Jesus, that designation no longer exists over our
heads. That's what
Justification means, and that's what provides us the opportunity to be
declared "righteous" in the sight of God.
the process by which God views us as being perfectly right, not merely
in what we do, but in who we are. Even
though we're still miserable
sinners, God declares us as perfect saints.
Imagine that. God
views you and I as being perfectly right in who we are, even as He
Himself is perfectly right in who He is.
That's mind boggling. God
views the Christian in the same way He views Himself, even though the
Christian is light years away from being like Him.
If you fail to
understand "justification" and "righteousness" you
will fail to understand what being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ
is all about, and that is sadly the case with many of us today. It's
time to exercise our brain cells, think these important Biblical issues
through, and allow them to penetrate the core of who we are.