Common Misconceptions on Biblical Text

This comes up almost daily for me.  You’re trucking along, enjoying your facebook posting, and reading others.  Maybe you posted the controversial status, maybe someone else did.  But someone did.  And then someone says something about the Bible that is completely wrong, and now you have to comment.  Do not back down, do not shrug and overlook it, you are called by GOD to point out a misunderstanding of Biblical text.  Ironically, you are called to do so by a verse of the Bible most commonly believed to mean that you should remain silent in the face of sin.  Matthew 7:3.  If someone thinks Matthew 7:3 is telling them to be silent on sin, they are heading down a dark and frightening road, and it’s your job to point the way out to them.  Whether they go though, that’s on them.

Common Misconception 1:  Thou shalt not Judge.  Ex. “Pull the plank from your own eye first.”  “Only God can Judge.”  “Well cast the first stone if you’re sinless.”

Pull the plank from your own eye…”

Matthew 7:3 – 3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This is actually one of the most commonly misused verses in the bible.  It is taken to mean “do not tell anyone they are sinful, who are you to do so, you have sinned as well!”  This is not the meaning of this verse at all.  In fact, you have to ignore quite a bit about this verse in order to take that meaning.

This verse, in summary is saying “Get your own act straight so that you can help your brethren, you have no credibility if you’re telling someone how to live their life and yours is all busted up.”

You see the part that says “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the spec from your brother’s eye.”

That’s what fancy marketing types refer to as “a call to action.”  It’s saying “go tell people they have specks in their eye, when you clear yours up.”  It’s not a hypothetical.  It’s an illustrative metaphor used to tell the reader to go fix people who are broken and confused.  Literally the opposite of the misconceived meaning.

“Only God can Judge”

There is literally no Bible verse to refer to here, it’s 100% made up fiction.  There is one that has to be 100% ignored if you believe it though.

1. Corinthians 6:1 (It’s really 6:2 but I like context to lead understanding so we’ll post the whole thing.)

1If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

Hah!  We’re going to judge angels folks.  We can’t judge each other?  It seems like Paul is talking directly to the uneducated facebook elite.  Granted, this is a discussion on the idiocy of Christians suing one another in a secular court (hey, did you know that you couldn’t sue your fellow Christian? Now you do!), but this is an aside, a sort of “while we’re on the subject.”  So it does stand as a wholly independent statement.  In a bit clearer language it states “You think we can’t judge one another?  We’ll judge ANGELS!  Are you kidding me?”  OK the last line I just put in based on a fairly thorough understanding of Paul’s attitude and the tone of his rebuke here.  So you know, take that with a grain of Sault.  Hah!  See what I did there?  I have fun.

“Well cast the first stone if you’re sinless”

John 8:1 –

1but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?” 6They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Now, if you look at that with your social justice warrior shades on, you miss that very last part.  It’s just not there in those rose colored spectacles.  Where do you get those?  Hot topic I bet.

What is this story of Christ defending an ADULTERESS SAYING?

Well, Christ fulfilled the law.  This is a demonstration of that. Old testament law said in Leviticus 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death”  So these guys are just following God’s will.  Don’t think evil of them.  This was how God did have people deal with such things before Christ’s sacrifice.  Granted, that hadn’t happened yet, but this was what someone in HR would refer to as “a teachable moment.”  Christ was getting everyone warmed up for the New Testament fulfillment of the law.  Luckily he had the authority to do that what with being the embodiment of God Almighty.  Plus I think Christ had a soft spot in his heart for messing with Pharisees.

But that last line.  It’s trouble for those folks who would have you believe this verse states “You shouldn’t judge,” or “don’t tell people they have sinned,” or “you aren’t fit to tell someone they’ve sinned.”  What is that last line?  Here, I’ll put it in bold and all caps for those of you wearing those rosy glasses which fictionalize the word of God for you so you don’t have to feel bad for favoring your own moral code instead of God’s.

“GO NOW AND LEAVE YOUR LIFE OF SIN.”

What does that tells us?  It tells us quite a lot for such a little verse.  It’s implications are huge.  Had Christ not rebuked this woman, I would have a much different outlook on this topic.  Here is what it tells us:

1. Christ was pro rebuking.  He rebuked someone.  Christ was a teacher, he used himself as an example.  He was a living example of what we all could have been had our progenitors not been so curious about quinces.  He wants us to follow his example:

1 Corinthians 11:1 – Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

2. Christ was anti-sin.  He wanted you to stop it if you were living an active lifestyle of sin.  That means every day you wake up, put on your sinnin’ shoes, and head outside.  Everyone sins, no matter what.  It’s really just like using the bathroom.  Everyone does it.  But you don’t have to clothe yourself in it, bathe in it, and sleep in it.  You can choose to flush it away in as clean a fashion as possible.

So he commands this woman, after saving her life, to stop screwing it up with sin.  I believe an uneducated facebooker or two might post on Christ’s wall “don’t judge” after such a display.

And there is a markable difference in judgement and condemnation.  They are NOT the same thing, at all.  Judgement is literally using your judgement.  You could call it “reasoning” just as much as judgement.  Determining a truth.

Condemnation is saying “you are evil,” or “you are going to hell,” or “you are hateful.”  Hey, that last one…I seem to hear that a lot.  Look at that, I’m condemned all the time!  For judging mostly…weird.

In fact, Christ divides the two wholly in Luke 6:37 – 37“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

Again, pay attention.  The line does not stop at “do not judge.”  It’s saying “don’t judge and you won’t be judged.”   It is used in context with the speck parable which is referring to hypocritical judgement.  The point is, Christ knew the difference between these two words, and so should we.

So to sum up:  Judge away.  Judgy judge judge.  It’s fine, it’s recommended, it’s commanded BY GOD.  If you have an argument about this, please, talk to God about it, I’m just passing on his message, it is written in his word, read it for yourself.  In multiple translations.  On a trane on a plane, on a boat, in a moat.  Just read those verses if you think the Bible condones you being silent when you see someone stumbling.

Common Misconception 2:  You are Cherry Picking.  Ex. “So do you eat shellfish?  That’s forbidden too you know” All the others are variations of this (do you wear multiple fabrics/stone women for adultery etc.)

“So do you eat shellfish?”

Leviticus 11:9 9“ ‘Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales. 10But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. 11And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. 12Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.

Yep.  That’s a bible verse that says you are not under any circumstances to eat any lobster, crab, or oysters.  Period.  No getting around it.  Welp.  Better go picket red lobster.  Oh, no, wait a minute,

CHRIST FULFILLED THE LAW OF THE OLD TESTAMENT!

I know, I know, this sounds like bogus get out of homophobia free talk, but it’s 100% true and backed up by scripture.  Does it mean the old testament is invalid or abolished?  No!  It means exactly what I said.  FULFILLED.

If you think I’m mincing words, go to a restaurant, order food, then cancel it. What happens?  You didn’t get your food.  Now ask that your order be fulfilled.  You’ll get your food.  I promise.  (Actually it depends on if your waiter has a decent vocabulary, but you get the picture.)  This is the difference between cancellation and fulfillment.  At the end of the meal, your food is gone.  One way allows you to take the food with you, and the other does not.

Here is the scripture to back me up here, trust nothing that isn’t verified by scripture.

Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Romans 10:4 – “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

Galatians 5:14 – “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””

And if you’re still a bit unconvinced about the shellfish, take another gander at my boy Paul’s words:

Romans 10:13 – 13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.16Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.c

Now, I know, the social justice warrior in you is screaming “but that says let’s not judge one another!  it says it!  judgement is a sin!”  That might be true, if you didn’t read anything else in the Bible, and if you believed the Bible contradicted itself and all the Biblical backing I posted earlier in Misconception 1. were invalid.  But it isn’t true, this is a verse out of full context (very long, Romans 10, read it for yourself). Paul is instructing Christians from differing backgrounds to follow their hearts, and stop quibbling with each other over petty things like eating shellfish.

IN conclusion: We are not bound to the law of the old testament, but if you feel convicted shellfish is unclean, don’t eat it.

Common Misconception 3:  Homosexuality is not a sin.  Ex. “Christ never discussed homosexuality.”, “The Bible is mistranslated,” “You’ll just say anything to justify your hatred/homophobia/transphobia/word of the day.”

“Christ never discussed homosexuality.”

You know what?  You’re right.  Time to go home guys.  Pack it up.  Because we all know that the Bible only consists of the Gospels.

Wait those are only 4 books of the Bible?  CARRY ON THEN!

So we have a whole new testament to choose from.  Not to mention the old testament said that it was an abomination and that we should KILL homosexuals.  No, I am not flip flopping, I am not saying follow the old testament law, I am saying, this is a good reference point to say that “God frowns upon homosexuality.”

Now, for some real true black and white Biblical backing:

Romans 1:18 –

God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

So to sum up: homosexuality is likened to: a dark heart, false wisdom (could be called arrogance), foolishness, sexual impurity, sinful desire, shameful lust, degrading, unnatural, lust, and is the result of God departing from man, leaving him to his own Godless desires.

That is flooring.  It is absolutely terrifying, honestly.  The idea of God saying “I want nothing to do with you, see what you can do without me.”  And we see.  So we see from this verse, written by Paul, a disciple of Christ, that homosexuality (the act of it, the pursuance of it, not the actual attraction), is not only sinful, but indicative of a departure from God, and a wholly destructive practice.

You know, there are more New Testament verses on this.  But this is definitive.  These verses blow me away every time I read them.  So are we called to hate the homosexual?  To picket their funerals and tell them they deserved this?

No.  The Democrat Fred Phelps, though I don’t know his heart or if he was repentant before death, is likely in for a very big surprise when he lays eyes upon the heavenly host.  I believe in that moment he will be filled with grief greater than I pray I ever know, whether he is ashamed before God and welcomed into heaven, or cast into the pit.   We are Christians.  We do not hate man kind.  Any of mankind.

We are called to warn them.  To tell them, in the kindest terms that there is a better way.

And though it is extraordinarily, supernaturally difficult to tell people that the thing they want most in life will send them sailing into the abyss of sin and godlessness, we have to.  And in many cases, just saying that, in loving terms, will make you an enemy in their eyes.

There is no defense here.  There is only patience and prayer and the hope that God does not turn from them. We must be as loving as possible in these situations.

What do I suggest if I say that homosexuality is a sin?  It’s very simple.  Don’t have sex out of wedlock, and don’t subscribe to the worldly definition of Marriage as being a union between two consenting adults (soon to be multiple consenting adults, then possibly non human/non adults.)

Know that sex is for the married, and that only a man and woman can marry.  The Bible does acknowledge polygamy, but it isn’t exactly smiled upon.  One of the requirements for a pastor is that he be married to one woman.

With this in mind, your options are simple.  You may marry a person of the opposite sex and have children with them, or not.

That may sound flippant, but I’m just trying to illustrate the simplicity of this.  It is not an easy road.  If you sexually want a man and only get to have a woman, I feel nothing but sympathy for you,  that is an absolutely terrible problem to have.

But maybe God has a purpose for you because of this supposed hindrance, maybe you are to be an example for others of what a Godly person with homosexual tendencies should be.  In this brave new world, I would almost say it is a certainty.  So many are misguided into the farce that homosexuality is fine, who cares?  It’s two consenting adults?  They’ve apparently never read or cared about Romans 1.

“You are a hateful bigot.”

This isn’t really something I can refute with Biblical reference, except to say that this is a condemnation, and as Christians, we are warned against such things.

For me to share the accurate word of God with you is the most loving thing I can do.  As a Christian we are called to love everyone.

Matthew 5:43 –

Love for Enemies

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbori and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

We’re supposed to love even our enemies.  And we are supposed to correct and rebuke based on the word.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

We want you to enjoy the benefits of God’s word, we want to show you the way, truth, and life.

John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We are not ashamed of the word:

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

And it is an act of love to deliver it to you:

Romans 10:13  – 13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”f

14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”g

“The Bible is mistranslated.”

This is possibly the most troubling misconception, because it reveals someone who is going to be very divisive, a very confused and misguided soul.

It comes in many forms whether it is the direct approach above or something more seemingly benign like “the Bible was  inspired by God sure, but men wrote it, and men are imperfect,” or the feminist approach “the Bible is sexist.”

My response to this is always the same.  It’s a logical conclusion, but it does tend to ruffle some feathers.  I ask one question if I do not know the answer for a fact, because based on these statements, the question is necessary:

“Are you an atheist?”

Hear me out here.  What you’re saying here, is that God was not capable of getting his word to you as intended.  Which means that not only is God not omnipotent, but that God is fallible.  As Isaiah 55:9 states:

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

God’s word will achieve its intended purpose, meaning, what you’re reading when  you read the Bible is God’s definitive word.  If it isn’t, which part is to be believed?  You’re really just making it up as you go at that point, because if God can be wrong, if he cannot even achieve his desires, then how can you say he even exists?  The only written evidence you have of his existence is the Word, if it’s wrong, it’s wrong.  Otherwise you’re worshiping your own made up religion based on the parts of the Bible you choose to believe, something I’m often accused of.

And God states that he wrote the Bible.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

You can’t have it both ways.  You can’t say “this part is right, and this is wrong.”  If any part is right, then the entire word is right.  It is the word of God in that case and is wholly correct.  If any part is wrong, the whole thing is wrong because we have no way to determine which parts may be right if any, and nothing ensures that any part of it was written by God.

So I ask again, “Are you an atheist?  Because you either believe the Bible is the word of God, or you cannot believe in God.  What would you even be basing that belief on?

“The Bible is open to interpretation.”

In closing I’m sure there will be many more posts like this.  There are so many folks confused on the basic construction of the Bible much less the meaning of its words.  I don’t have all the answers, but I do believe the Bible is literal.  If it were open to the interpretation of man, that would defy these verses

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Because if you’re leaning on your own understanding, you’re not leaning on God’s, are you?  Surely we must comprehend his word.  Here’s a solid litmus test for you.  If your interpretation of the Bible yields contradictions within the word, if it divides you from your brethren, then abandon it, and simply take the word at face value.  Why?  Because God is not the author of confusion.

1 Corinthians 14:33 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace–as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

If he were, we would have thousands of denominations in disagreement over the word.

Oh wait, we do.  Looks like the fallibility of man has struck again.  This is what the phrase “the Bible is open to interpretation” yields.  When I meet someone with a literal view of the Bible, it is like meeting a long lost brother.  We can discuss the Bible in total harmony and have a solid agreement on it.  When read as literal, it presents a cohesive, beautiful work of art.  Less so when it’s wrapped around a human understanding.

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