Are Guilt Feelings from God?

Romans 8:1-11 (HCSB)
1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

The title of this study and the two quotes that follow are from the book entitled, ‘No Condemnation’ by Bruce Narramore (a book that Anthony Sisco highly and consistently recommended I read). As I continue to read through this book, I feel like the guy from the Maxell commercial:

I believe that God has already started using it to change my life! There are great insights about guilty feelings versus godly sorrow in this book that I believe everyone should read. The title of this study, ‘Are Guilt Feelings from God?’, is the title of chapter 10 of the book and the two following quotes are also taken from chapter 10 of this book:

Quote 1: “I made a startling (to me) discovery. I found that not once was guilt used as an emotion in the entire New Testament! Guilt is used in a legal or judicial sense. And it is used to describe our condition as fallen people alienated from God by virtue of our sins. But it is never used in the sense that most of us consider guilt today – that inner emotional state of self-condemnation, punishment and rejection. The New Testament, in other words, speaks directly of objective guilt but not of subjective guilt. This discovery that guilt was strictly a legal term in Scripture led me to other questions. Could it be, I wondered, that the Bible is not suggesting that God motivates us out of feelings of guilt?”, S. Bruce Narramore

Quote 2: “After gaining this first insight into the biblical use of guilt, I decided to look further. Although guilt is never used as an emotion in the New Testament, I wondered if I might find its essential ingredients (inner punishment, rejection, and disesteem) endorsed as constructive motivations. But a study of these types of motivation also reveals they are not a part of the scriptural pattern of motivation.”, S. Bruce Narramore

Chad’s comments:

Before I examine the truth of Narramore’s first quote, I wanted to point out some things I noticed in Romans 8:1-11 after reading through most of Narramore’s book. First, notice how many times the word, ‘flesh’ appears in Romans 8:1-11: I count 10 times! It is also important to point out that the word ‘flesh’ as translated in the HCSB (and the NASB) is more accurate than the NIV’s, ‘sinful nature’. What I mean is that word, ‘flesh’ encompasses much more than just our ‘sinful nature’. With that in mind, lets look again at verse 4-9:

‘in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you.

I have always read this passage to mean that we should either walk according to our sinful nature or by the Spirit. In other words, I thought this passage was just saying that we can either allow the passions of our sinful nature to rule our lives or we can live by the Spirit. The NIV’s ‘sinful nature’ also supported this view. But now I am thinking that the flesh can also refer to our feelings and these feelings can also include ‘guilty feelings’. In other words, it seems to me that ‘living according to the flesh’ can also mean that we allow our ‘guilt feelings’ from the flesh to guide us rather allowing the Spirit from God to guide us.

Also, in verse 1, we read, ‘Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus’ and then verse 3 we read, ‘He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh’. Before we were in Christ, sin ruled over us and could rightly condemn us before God (condemn meaning to render us in an unsaved state of soul before God). God turned the table on sin and condemned sin itself by sending His Son as a sin offering.

Examination of Narramore’s First Quote

Here are the times that the terms ‘guilt’ or ‘guilty’ appears in the New Testament:

John 9:40 (HCSB)
40 Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and asked Him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?” 41 “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. [To have sin is an idiom that refers to guilt caused by sin.] But now that you say, ‘We see’—your sin remains.

The NIV renders John 9:40 as:

John 9:40 (New International Version)
40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

John 15:22 (HCSB)
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin. [To have sin is an idiom that refers to guilt caused by sin.] Now they have no excuse for their sin.

John 15:22 (New International Version)
22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.

John 15:24 (New International Version)
24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.

John 19:11 (HCSB)
11 “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.” [To have sin is an idiom that refers to guilt caused by sin.]

John 19:11 (New International Version)
11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

Matt 13:41 (HCSB)
41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness

Mark 3:28-30 (HCSB)
29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Romans 3:19-20 (HCSB)
19 Now we know that whatever the law says speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment. [Or become guilty before God, or may be accountable to God]

1 Cor 11:27-32 (HCSB)
27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body.[Lit be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.] 28 So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.

James 2:10 (HCSB)
10 For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of [breaking it] all.

Luke 13:4 (New International Version)
4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?

John 8:46 (New International Version)
46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?

John 16:8-10 (New International Version)
8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt [Or will expose the guilt of the world] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

The NASB renders John 16:8 as:

John 16:8 (NASB)
8″And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;

Acts 5:28 (New International Version)
28″We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Acts 22:25 (New International Version)
25As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”

Acts 25:11 (New International Version)
11If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

Acts 28:18 (New International Version)
18They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death.

Hebrews 10:2 (New International Version)
2If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

This occurrence of ‘guilty’ (in the NIV) definitely seems to be referring to the feeling of guilt (seemingly going against Narramore’s first quote). But the more accurate HCSB renders this passage as:

Heb 10:2 (HCSB)
2 Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, once purified, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?

Also, the NASB renders this passage:

Hebrews 10:2
2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?

So although the NIV renders this passage, ‘would no longer have felt guilty for their sins, the HCSB renders this passage, ‘would no longer have any consciousness of sin’ and the NASB renders this passage, ‘would no longer have had consciousness of sins’. So neither the HCSB nor the NASB translations use the term ‘guilt’ or ‘guilty’ to describe ‘guilty feelings’. Narramore still seems to be quite correct in his quote.

Hebrews 10:22 (New International Version)
22let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Does Narramore’s first quote fail to be completely true because of this one passage in Hebrews 10:22? No! The HCSB renders this passage:

Heb 10:22 (HCSB)
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

And the NASB renders this passage:

Hebrews 10:22 (NASB)
22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

So we learn a couple of important things from all of this:

1. The following quote from Narramore absolutely 100% true:

“I made a startling (to me) discovery. I found that not once was guilt used as an emotion in the entire New Testament! Guilt is used in a legal or judicial sense. And it is used to describe our condition as fallen people alienated from God by virtue of our sins. But it is never used in the sense that most of us consider guilt today – that inner emotional state of self-condemnation, punishment and rejection. The New Testament, in other words, speaks directly of objective guilt but not of subjective guilt. This discovery that guilt was strictly a legal term in Scripture led me to other questions. Could it be, I wondered, that the Bible is not suggesting that God motivates us out of feelings of guilt”

2. Some of the issues we have with the Scriptures can be from less accurately translated versions of the Bible.
After all, we don’t believe that any modern translation is the perfect word of God, but we do believe the original scriptures were the perfect Word of God and it makes sense to me that we use translations that are as close to the original as possible.

Examination of Narramore’s Second Quote

When I think about Narramore’s second quote, some passages come to mind that need to be examined:

Romans 14:1-23 (HCSB)
1 Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, but one who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 One who eats must not look down on one who does not eat; and one who does not eat must not criticize one who does, because God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to criticize another’s servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And stand he will! For the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it to the Lord. Whoever eats, eats to the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is to the Lord that he does not eat, yet he thanks God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and came to life for this: that He might rule over both the dead and the living. 10 But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another, but instead decide not to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. 14 (I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. Still, to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.) 15 For if your brother is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. By what you eat, do not destroy that one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves the Messiah in this way is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. 20 Do not tear down God’s work because of food. Everything is clean, but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats. 21 It is a noble thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 Do you have faith? Keep it to yourself before God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.

It seems as though there are two different standards in verses 2, 5 and 14:

In verse 2:
1. Only vegetables can be eaten.
2. Anything can be eaten.

In verse 5:
1. Some days are more important than others.
2. Each day is the same.

In verse 14:
1. To someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean.
2. Nothing is unclean in itself.

In seems that in each case where a person has restrictions, he or she has these restrictions because of a weak faith:

1. ‘Accept anyone who is weak in faith’
2. ‘but one who is weak eats only vegetables’
3. ‘instead decide not to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way’
4. ‘For if your brother is hurt by what you eat’
5. ‘By what you eat, do not destroy that one for whom Christ died.’
6. ‘Do not tear down God’s work because of food.’
7. ‘but it is wrong for a man to cause stumbling by what he eats’
8. ‘or do anything that makes your brother stumble’
9. ‘ But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.’

Also, it appears as though the one who considers something to be unclean (that is not unclean in itself) has a standard other than Jesus’ truths (verse 14: ‘I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself.’)! In other words, for this person, something (his or her emotions, conscience, understanding or whatever else causes him or her to think something is unclean) is exalted over Jesus’ truths. Yet, still Paul says, ‘to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean’ and, ‘But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin’. Many related questions arise:

1. What are some possible reasons that someone could think something is unclean?
2. Should the person who thinks something is unclean (that is, something that Jesus says is clean) not try to change his or her thought pattern regarding this?
a. If a person should not try to change his or her thought pattern regarding something he or she considers unclean, doesn’t this person stay in a state of having a different standard than Jesus’ truths?
b. If a person should indeed try to change his or her thought pattern regarding something he or she considers unclean, how does one get change his or her thought pattern without violating verse 23, ‘But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin’. In other words, how does one go from eating only vegetables (for example), to eating meat without experiencing some doubt when initially eating meat? On the other hand, maybe the very act of eating meat is an act of faith since one would have to put his or her trust in Jesus instead of putting his or her trust in his or her own conscience. In essence, one would have to surrender his or her conscience to Jesus.
3. Are ‘guilty feelings’ the exact same thing as ‘doubt’? In other words, is Paul saying, ‘But whoever has guilty feelings stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin’?

Also, when Paul says, ‘to someone who considers a thing to be unclean, to that one it is unclean’, is he commanding or describing? In other words, is Paul commanding that something should be unclean to someone who thinks something is unclean or is he just describing the thought pattern of people in this kind of situation?

Overall, based on the fact that the person with restrictions has a standard other than Jesus’ truths (what he/she considers to be unclean), I can’t imagine that Paul would advocate that this person stay in that state of mind because that is basically saying that what each individual thinks is wrong for him or her is in fact wrong for him or her, whether or not Jesus says its wrong. How is that living differently than we did before we were Christians? We would still be allowing our feelings to be our God. I, for example, would go from following whatever felt good as my God (as a non-Christian) to following my conscience as my God (as a Christian). The common denominator: My feelings would still be my God, instead of Jesus being my God.

In verse 5, we read, ‘Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.’ Narramore makes the point later that regardless of what it feels like, our consciences are not some separate entities that have lives, feelings or thoughts of their own. Our consciences are simply a function of our minds.

1 Cor 8:4-13 (HCSB)
4 About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him. 7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now, that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat. 9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if somebody sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall.

We see from this passage that the conscience can be wounded, destroy people’s faith and make a brother/sister fall! Does this mean that our consciences are from God, always right and/or should always be followed? In other words, does this mean that we should make our consciences our overall standard over Jesus’ Word? I believe as we continue in this study, we will see that the answer to that question is, ‘No’!

Here is what we do know so far without a doubt from the Scriptures:

1. Our consciences are not always in line with the Word of God or the truths of God.
2. Having weak faith is a definite cause for a conscience demanding restrictions that God does not require.
3. The thing missing for the person who gets a defiled conscience is knowledge.

On the flip side of these two texts, passages from Galatians, Colossians and elsewhere seem to advocate not allowing guilty feelings to be our standard:

Col 2:8-23 (HCSB)
8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. 9 For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him. 16 Therefore don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his fleshly mind. 19 He doesn’t hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth from God. 20 If you died with Christ to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: 21 “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? 22 All these [regulations] refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines. 23 Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value against fleshly indulgence.

So in Romans 14, Paul says, ‘2 One person believes he may eat anything, but one who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 One who eats must not look down on one who does not eat; and one who does not eat must not criticize one who does, because God has accepted him.’ and ‘Whoever eats, eats to the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is to the Lord that he does not eat, yet he thanks God’ and ‘But whoever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin’, but here in Colossians, Paul says, ’20 If you died with Christ to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: 21 “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? 22 All these [regulations] refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines. 23 Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value against fleshly indulgence.’

So on one hand, it sounds like Paul told the Romans that it was ok for them to follow the restrictions that some in their congregation were following whereas he seemed to rebuke the Colossians who were following their extra restrictions. The obvious question arises: Why did Paul ‘allow’ those in the Roman church to submit to their restrictions yet rebuke some fColossian church from submitting to what atleast appears to be the same kind of restrictions? So what made those in the Roman church different from those in the Colossian church? Were the restrictions different? If so, how?

Gal 4:8-11 (HCSB)
8 But in the past, when you didn’t know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. 9 But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and bankrupt elemental forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? 10 You observe [special] days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.

So in Romans 14 Paul says, ‘One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 Whoever observes the day, observes it to the Lord’ and yet here in Galatians Paul says, ’10 You observe [special] days, months, seasons, and years. 11 I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.’ Again, why did Paul seem to allow some from the Roman church to observe special days, whereas he rebuked some in the Galatian church from doing what seems to be the exact same thing: observing special days.

Gal 5:1-15 (HCSB)
1 Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore stand firm and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to every man who gets circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace! 5 For by the Spirit we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness from faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who called you. 9 A little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 In the Lord I have confidence in you that you will not accept any other view. But whoever it is who is troubling you will pay the penalty. 11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated! 13 For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.

So in Galatians 5:2-4, Paul says, ‘2 Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to every man who gets circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace!’ Yet in Acts 16:1-5, we read the following:

Acts 16:1-5 (HCSB)
1 Then he [Paul] went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled through the towns, they delivered to them the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and were increased in number daily.

So why did Paul strongly rebuke the Galatian church about circumcision yet he himself circumcise Timothy?

I believe that the following information is relevant to this discussion:

Date

Book

Author

Place

Audience

43-58

James

James, brother of Jesus

Jerusalem

Jewish Christians

49-52

Galatians

Paul

Antioch of Syria

Christians in Galatia

50-53

1 Thessalonians

Paul

Corinth

Thessalonian Christians

50-54

2 Thessalonians

Paul

Corinth

Thessalonian Christians

56

1 Corinthians

Paul

Ephesus

Corinthian Christians

57

2 Corinthians

Paul

Macedonia

Corinthian Christians

58

Romans

Paul

Corinth

Roman Christians

50-70

Mark

John Mark

Rome

Romans

62

Ephesians

Paul

Rome

Ephesian Christians

60/62

Philemon

Paul

Rome

Philemon (of Colosse)

60/62

Colossians

Paul

Rome

Colossian Christians

60/61

Luke

Luke

Rome

Theopolis & Other Gentiles

61/62

Acts

Luke

Rome

Christians & Gentiles

62

Philippians

Paul

Rome

Philippian Christians

62

1 Timothy

Paul

Macedonia

Timothy (in Ephesus)

62

Titus

Paul

Nicopolis

Titus (in Crete)

63

2 Timothy

Paul

Rome

Timothy (in Ephesus)

63

1 Peter

Peter

Rome

Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia

63/64

2 Peter

Peter

Rome

Christians

64/70

Matthew

Matthew

Antioch of Syria

Jews (in Palestine)

64/66

Hebrews

Unidentified

Unknown

Jewish Christians

65/66

Jude

Jude, brother of Jesus

Jersualem

Christians

85/90

John

John

Ephesus

Jews & Jewish Christians

85/90

1 John

John

Ephesus

85/90

1 John

John

Ephesus

85/90

2 John

John

Ephesus

85/90

3 John

John

Ephesus

Gaius

96

Revelation

John

Patmos

7 Churches of Asia

and

49 A.D.

Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15)
The “Jerusalem conference” is convened by the leaders of the church to discuss whether circumcision is required for salvation.

I’ll add more here later.

Another passage that seems to support what Paul says in Galatians and Colossians is:

1 Tim 4:1-5 (HCSB)
1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.

Paul tells Timothy that some Christians in latter times would depart from the faith because they would pay attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons! I suspect that if I took a poll of many people asking them, ‘What do you think demons teach?’ that many people would say, ‘Demons teach to go sin it up’, etc. Although that is also true, what were these demons teaching? Get this: Here are the teachings of these demons:

1. Marriage is forbidden.
2. You must abstain from certain foods.

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