By Femi Aribisala
Paul is least in the kingdom of God.
Jesus says the false prophet will be a Christian. He will be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He will prophesy in the Lord’s name. He will cast out demons and do many signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. Nevertheless, the Lord will deny knowing him because he will practice lawlessness. (Matthew 7:15-23).
The man in the bible who diminishes the law and practices lawlessness is Paul. It is Paul who says: “to the lawless, I was lawless.” (1 Corinthians 9:21).
Diminishing the law
Paul says Christians have died to the law: “You also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.” (Romans 7:4). He claims Jesus abolished the law entirely: “(He) has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.” (Ephesians 2:14-15). According to Paul, Jesus abrogated the law: “having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14).
Christians need to ask where Paul gets his doctrine from. Nowhere in scripture does God say the law will be abrogated. The transition from the old to the new covenant does not imply a change of the law. Jeremiah says: “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33). It is a new covenant but the same old law.
The Messiah, does not abrogate the law. Ezekiel says he will actually cause Israel to obey the law. (Ezekiel 37:24). Isaiah says he will “magnify the law and make it honourable.” (Isaiah 42:21). Jesus himself says: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17).
But Paul declares: “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4). He says furthermore: “If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galatians 2:21). However, he then contradicts himself as usual by saying: “It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” (Romans 2:13).
Indeed, contrary to what Paul says, righteousness actually comes from obeying the law. Moses says: “It will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25). So who are Christians going to believe concerning the Law of Moses: Moses, the law-giver himself; or Paul, the law-interpreter?
Paul makes a declaration of lawlessness: “All things are lawful unto me.” (1 Corinthians 6:12). He says furthermore: “We are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:15). However, when James confronted him with the accusation that he was promoting lawlessness, Paul promptly affirmed the continued validity of the law by making Nazarite sacrifices according to the law. (Acts 21:20-26).
When he was arrested, he proclaimed to the Sanhedrin total adherence to the law: “I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” (Acts 24:14). But he was simply being deceitful as usual. He confesses elsewhere: “To those under the law I became as one under the law- though not being myself under the law.” (1 Corinthians 9:20).
Beggarly elemental principles
Paul says the law comprises “weak and beggarly principles” which keep men in bondage. (Galatians 4:9). He says it brings God’s wrath (Romans 4:15); cannot justify (Galatians 2:16), and cannot give life. (Galatians 3:21).
However, when a man asked what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to fulfil the law: “An expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’” (Luke 10:25-28).
Paul also belittles the Ten Commandments, referring to it as the ministry of death and condemnation: “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!” (2 Corinthians 3:7-9).
However, the psalmist disagrees entirely with Paul. David says: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (Psalm 19:7-8). Joshua says adherence to the law brings “good success:” “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8).
Agent of Caesar
Paul says the law was given by angels who are “no gods.” (Galatians 3:19; 4:8). But Moses says God himself gave it to him directly (Exodus 25:21-22), and Jesus confirms this. (Mark 12:26). Therefore, Jude’s derision of “dreamers” who reject authority and slander celestial beings is applicable to Paul. (Jude 1:8-10). Paul curses angels from heaven who preach a gospel different from his. But Revelation says angels from heaven preach the true gospel: “I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth.” (Revelation 14:6).
Paradoxically, while he says we should disregard the Law of Moses, Paul insists we must obey the laws of governments. While he ridicules angels from heaven, he commends government officials as “ministers of God.” Angels must be disobeyed for allegedly operating without God’s authority. But Caesar must be obeyed because his laws are “the ordinance of God.” (Romans 13:1-4).
How in heaven’s name can evil men like Nero or Hitler be described as God’s ministers who must be obeyed? God justified Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for refusing to obey Nebuchadnezzar’s command to worship idols. Paul’s injunction that Christians must obey all rulers raises questions about him being an agent of Rome. When he was arrested, he appealed to Caesar for deliverance and not to God. He was then taken to Rome under heavy military escort, where he was lavishly accommodated.
Jesus says anyone who teaches men to break the least of God’s commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19). Paul’s antinomianism is proof-positive he is least in the kingdom of God.