Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies Pt. 3: “I’ll Cover You”

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“I’ll Cover Smother You!”

Some of you may remember the old western TV shows of the fifties and sixties.   “I’ll cover you” was a frequently heard phrase in those shows.  It usually meant one cowboy would make a run for it while his/her partner engaged the bad guys with a few well aimed pot shots.  The purpose was twofold:  to provide some protection for the one going forward and to hopefully take some of the bad guys out at the same time.  It was an equal partnership based on trust and unity of purpose.

Somehow, “I’ll cover you” has come to mean something entirely different in today’s Christian circles.  Instead of ‘we’re in this together’, it now means “you answer to me”.  Instead of “I’ll lay down my life to protect you”, it means “I’ll do all I can to control you so you don’t outshine me.”  Instead of “we need each other” it now means “you need me and I aim to keep it that way.” And instead of “I’ll pray for you, minister to (serve) you and support you in Christ’s love” it means “you will pray for me, obey me and support my ministry with all your resources, including your time, your money and your children”.

Sad how humans have this knack for taking a good idea and corrupting it, isn’t it? 

But corruption is corruption, even when it’s dressed in religious clothing.  This ‘covering’ teaching is twisted truth.  It’s founded on a self-serving version of Christianity that’s not found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus actually rejected authority wielded through position or title and taught a new kind of authority, one not based on human might but on sacrificial service and humility (Luke 22:25-27).

For many years I was part of denominations that strongly champion the need for “spiritual covering” under the guise of “accountability”. 

Accountability is a good thing, right?  I am totally 100% behind every born again Christian both being accountable to other Christians and providing accountability for other Christians, through relationships established by the Spirit of God.  So what’s the problem?  The problem is that in the ‘covering’ system, those who supposedly provide accountability for you, are not in turn accountable to you!  You will find yourself on an organised ladder with some above you and some below you.  And if you are at the bottom of the ladder and humbly desire to serve God, the only way you will be permitted to do so is to start moving up this hierarchical ‘covering’ structure in the hope one day your spiritual gifts will be recognised and you will be allowed a little freedom to be who you are in Christ (while still maintaining your man-made ‘covering’ of course). 

That’s not spiritual accountability, that’s the system of the world.  That’s not relationship, that’s subservience.

True spiritual accountability is established and maintained on mutual respect.  It is forged between people who invest time and truth into their relationship.  It is knowing each other well enough to recognise both strength and vulnerability in the other.  It is caring for one another enough to speak truth in love without intimidation or fear.  It is the freedom to both receive and to give out of one’s spiritual gifts and callings on an equal basis.  Above all it cuts both ways.  Only the Holy Spirit can initiate and maintain such relationships. I believe it is better to be building even one relationship like this with another trusted Christ follower than to be able to name any of the best known names in churchianity as our spiritual covering.

Ultimately, whether we have access to such mutually accountable relationships or not, (and I realise many don’t), our accountability is to God and the only covering we need is Christ.  Anyone offering us their ‘spiritual covering’ has stepped between us and Christ, who is the only Man able to mediate between God and humanity (1 Timothy 2:5).  

The danger of the ‘spiritual covering’ teaching is its power to shut down large sections of the church with Christians fearing to move out and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit while they wait for the approving voice of their ‘spiritual cover’ to give them permission.  Let’s be clear, rebellion born out of frustration is never the answer and will only bear bad fruit.  However, the Bride of Christ needs to grow up into the fullness of the stature of Christ, not the fullness of the stature of the pastor, prophet or apostle whose covering she supposedly sits under. 

Another danger is the potential for spiritual, emotional and even sexual abuse.  Why are these things so prevalent in the church system today?  At the heart of it is misuse of power and position afforded by the ‘covering’ doctrine.

If you’re caught up in this false doctrine, next time someone asks you “who covers you?” try answering with the truth:  “Jesus Christ”.    You’re sure to attract some ifs and buts.  Relax, He’s got it covered:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)

Copyright Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2013 

Related articles:

Uncovering the Covering Doctrine (a much longer article)

Husbands as Priests of the Home, Another Gospel

Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies Part One

Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies Part Two

Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies, Pt. Two

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Keeping the Sabbath

In Part One of this series, Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies, the subject was law keeping.  In Part Two I wish to zero in on sabbath keeping and what that means to us under the New Covenant.

The Lie: “ God said the seventh (sabbath) day is to be a day of rest and made the sabbath holy.  Therefore we should also keep each seventh day sacred and set apart,  and refrain from working on that day as God did.”

The Truth: There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.  For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.  Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:9-11).

Traditionally ‘good’ Christians have gathered together on the seventh day of the week, (either Sunday or Saturday according to personal belief) in a vague kind of observance of the fourth commandment (Ex. 20:8-10). 

There is no problem with gathering together for worship and fellowship. This is spiritually healthy. Neither is resting from work at least one day a week a problem and is good for our physical and mental health. Rigid adherence to observing one day above all others as specially sanctified for those purposes, however, is a problem if we truly wish to honour Christ.

It is amazing how many Christians will cling tightly to the Old Covenant commandment concerning the sabbath, while giving hardly any regard to other commandments about lying, coveting, idolising or committing adultery.  But the scripture is clear:  to break one commandment is to break them all. To fail in one part of the law, which is far more than the ten commandments, is to fail in all (Gal. 5:3)  If we are going to insist on keeping the sabbath, we must be consistent by keeping all the other laws passed down from Moses.

Jesus wasn’t just engaging in polite conversation when He implored: 

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)

He was speaking to a people whose daily lives were a continual observance of the law of Moses.  Their burden was the law, their heavy labour was trying to keep it.  And there was nothing gentle or lowly in heart about the Pharisees and scribes who had set themselves up as official interpreters and enforcers of that law.  When addressing the Pharisees Jesus referred to Moses law as “your law” (John 8:17, 10:34, ) implying they had taken possession of God’s Word in a way He refused to identify with.

He was also telling them that all the books of the law as well as the writings of the prophets were simply prophecy of Himself, the Christ.  

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Matt. 11:13)

With the death of John the era of law was passing.  Now here before them was their prophesied Christ, their Messiah, in whom they could find authentic, ceaseless rest.  It was not rest from physical labour He offered .  It was rest for their souls.  It was to be found not in a day, but in a Christ who is the end of the law.

The apostle John understood and reinforced this when He wrote: For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)  Law is truth, but truth is an impossible taskmaster without grace. 

Israel kept the sabbath day religiously, year in and year out, but still they never entered God’s rest due to unbelief (Heb. 3:7-19).   We as the church can be guilty of doing the same by not believing in the all sufficiency of Christ’s Cross to deliver us from Old Covenant law keeping.  Christ was born under the law in order to redeem those who were under law (Gal. 4:5).  The really good news is that includes us!

There is no longer any day of the week that is holier than any other.  All of the law, including the fourth commandment, is a shadow of what was to be fulfilled in Christ.  In Christ every day is holy and every day is a day of worship.  There is no day of the week in which followers of Christ enter into rest, for He Himself has become our Sabbath Rest.  We enter and continue in rest by partaking of Christ. And the rest He brings us is not our own, it is the Father’s rest which He entered after six days of creation (Gen. 2:2,3).

For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Heb. 4:10,11)

We have entered into Christ, in whom it is always “today”.  We can worship Him on Sunday, we can worship Him on Saturday, and we can worship Him any other day. We are free to do all and to bless each other whatever day we choose to gather in His Name (Rom. 14:5,6).   

The deception lies in choosing to bind ourselves to an unnecessary yoke in rigid observance of an Old Covenant law that only ever foreshadowed the One who has fulfilled it.

Choose Life!   

Copyright Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2012

Constructive discussion is always welcome.

Related Articles:

Law and Spirit

Shedding the Older Brother

Today if you Hear His Voice

Jumping Through Hoops 

Twisted Truth and Lethal Lies

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The Myth of Lawkeeping

The Lie:  “Jesus said He came to fulfil the law, therefore by His example, I must also make the Ten Commandments my standard for living a Christian life.”

The Truth:  “But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:6 NKJV

When Jesus said He came to fulfil the law He meant it, and He did it (Matt. 5:17-18).  The Old Testament law, all of it, including all the Commandments, has been fulfilled once and for ever. Though Jesus often challenged the religious leaders on their interpretation of the law, He never broke it.  “Fulfil” in this case does not mean to continue to repeat something over and over, it means to fill to the top, to carry through to the end, to make complete and perfect in every detail.

The Old Covenant law, or Torah, cannot be divided into parts we must keep and parts we can disregard.  The Ten Commandments are just a small part of what Paul and James both referred to as the ‘whole law’ (James 2:10, Gal. 5:3)  The ‘whole law’ contains about 613 commandments.  Do we really believe we can fulfil the law as Jesus did?  Are you ready to give up eating pork or bacon?  Are you willing to take part in animal sacrifices?  Are you ready to refrain from any semblance of work on the Sabbath, including driving your car, walking the dog or taking the kids to the park?  Oh and while we’re talking Sabbath, are you ready to change your day of worship from Sunday to Saturday, the seventh day according to Torah law?

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with God’s law.  In fact the law is good, holy and just (Romans 7:12).  But lawkeeping never fixed the problem in man.  Under the law, yes including the Ten Commandments, a high priest still had to enter the Holy of Holies once every year with the blood of animals to atone for the sins of the people.  Why?  Because even though the law is good, humans in their natural state are carnal.  The law was given to reveal God’s attributes to us and to convict us of our lost state. That’s why trying to keep the Commandments will actually minister death to us in the form of false religion, because sin grows stronger under lawkeeping (Romans 5:20)  Hey, I didn’t say it, Paul did!

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 2 Cor. 3:5-8 NKJV

Any attempt to fit our lives around a list of ethical rules, even the Ten Commandments, is doomed to failure because it leaves out our need for a Saviour.  Does that mean we can throw away the Old Covenant part of our Bibles?  No, we need the Old Covenant to teach us about God, and about ourselves…….but it’s the New Covenant that saves us from ourselves. 

The Commandments haven’t been discarded, they’ve just evolved into the rule of love.  And we cannot truly love except through Christ. 

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.  Romans 13:8-10 NKJV

Don’t seek to keep the Ten Commandments because you will fail and bring yourself under condemnation.  Then you will have to become a Pharisee, pointing out the sins of others, in order to hide your own condemnation.

Seek only Christ and His grace and you will find God’s law being fulfilled in and through you.

©Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2012

Related Articles: Law and Spirit

By the way, your comments are always welcome, but please do me the favour of at least prayerfully reading the scriptures I give before hurling your objections at me. In that case I am happy to respond.   Someone once wisely said “God will offend the mind to reveal the heart.”  Check why you’re offended before throwing stones.