|Juneteenth had not been a major holiday or widely known, but this year many companies and places are honoring when slavery ended in the United States, because of the great social unrest after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by excessive force from a white police officer. Juneteenth celebrates the final ending of slavery when Union troops took down its last holdouts on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation[6.12.3].|
My reason for writing this Juneteenth, though, is not to bring more awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement, but to bring a light on another form of slavery that is still too prevalent in the world – spiritual slavery. It comes from bad doctrine and teaching that is too often upheld in the church and other religions, and has been putting shackles on faithful and eager followers all over the world.
But unlike the physical slavery Black Americans and other peoples have endured, the people being enslaved spiritually are often willing, but unwitting participants to their slavery when they blindly accept the chains handed out by ministers and spiritual leaders who they’ve given trust to. These chains include false teaching, like mandatory tithing and church attendance, but can include other kinds of mandatory obedience to rules that are not truly absolute commands of God.
Some of these “commands” seem to be backed up by scripture and so ministers who’ve accepted incorrect teaching can use scripture inappropriately to enforce their policies and even guilt and coerce obedience, but these kinds of policies are not from Christ’s light yoke, Who has not given us “a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but [we] have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15).
We are not simply blind slaves with Christ, but are coheirs of God’s kingdom with Him and are meant to know God’s will and the further truth (John 15:15). Unfortunately, dark forces in the world blind people to the untainted truth, and God’s ministers and people are no exception, especially if they do not discern good teaching from bad or correct what they have wrong.
As an example of bad doctrine and focuses involved in this slavery, I will use teaching from a church that addressed regular attendance and Bible study[3.1.112]
. They tried to enforce participation when someone spoke to them about not being able to attend often because of work. The church’s teaching made attendance a “command” from the Lord by linking Matthew 7:24-27 about hearing and acting on the words of God with Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
However, we will see in my correspondence with the church that their teaching is in error and that the supposed “command” to assemble for God’s People is actually an urging and not an absolute command. We will also see in this example, bad focus on absolute obedience, improper use of judgment and coercion, and incorrect knowledge of what is meant in scripture, what sin actually is, and what are absolute commands or not.
First, I will copy the church’s web Q & A page, titled “Are you telling me I won’t make it to heaven because I have to work?”[3.1.112]
Question to La Vista Church: I have been struggling with this question, and I'm constantly being made to feel guilty for not making Wednesday evening services. I used to go to every service that I could until I got my current job where I work at least ten-hour days and I am on call once or twice a month. I absolutely love the job because my boss is a Christian and I love the work. I often prayed to get out of my last job and I finally did only by God's grace.
Now I can't make services as often because I'm so drained of energy from work. I know that if I don't get to bed at a decent time, I might not make it to work the next day. I get up at 4 AM. To be at a service till 8:30 at night really makes it tough.
Now I tithe 10% every week from my paycheck. On top of that, I probably give another 5 to 8% per week. I feel as though my pastor is getting in the way of my spiritual journey by making me feel guilty because I haven't been attending midweek services. This is something I had done for a year straight before I started my new job. I did it because I wanted to. I never thought that this would become an issue.
So according to you I'm not going to make it to heaven because I don't attend Wednesday evening service any longer? What about in my time of retirement when I'm at the church whenever the doors are open? Anytime I have free time like that and able to, I am at the church. Now that my life has taken a different course I'm being judged for not being able to do something I always enjoy doing before. The thing is that at my last job I was so miserable because it took me away from Sunday service as well as Wednesday. I have health issues and I am a single man in his forties who just doesn't have it like I used to. I have prayed for the strength wisdom and knowledge to be able to do what's right and what pleases the Lord. Whatever happened to whosoever shall believe in me shall have eternal life and never perish? I believe in Jesus with all my heart. I know I'm a wretched sinner going to hell without him. I know that I fall so far from his glory. I know that I sin when I don't even realize that I'm doing it but when I finally do catch myself, I ask for forgiveness and it's important to me. I just don't understand how not being able to attend midweek services is going to buy me a spot in hell, especially when it's normal for me when I am able to attend.
Answer from La Vista Church: I assume you are referring to Is it a sin not to attend Wednesday night Bible study? This question was asked whether we should attend Bible classes that are not on Sunday if it was at all possible. The answer given dealt with those who were able to attend but chose not to do so.
We all have to make a living. "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either" (II Thessalonians 3:10). Some people's job doesn't allow them to attend services as often as they would like. We are near an Air Force base and often the servicemen are not given a choice as to when they must work. This is different from a person who could attend but finds other things more important than being with his fellow Christians. What I pointed out is that people in the latter group are demonstrating their lack of commitment by their lack of attendance.
Jesus illustrated the problem when he stated:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall" (Matthew 7:24-27).
Attendance is not the only command (Hebrews 10:25), but anytime someone decides that something God commanded is not that important will develop instability in his faith over time.
When someone is hindered from attending Bible classes, I offer to hold classes at a time that is convenient for him. This isn't as good as being with all the brethren at scheduled services, but at least he is still learning and growing his faith. Sadly, many turn the offer down.
In regards to your own situation, whether you can handle fewer hours of sleep one day a week or not is something you'll have to decide. But do keep in mind that we answer to God for the choices we make, not men.
My correspondence with a La Vista Church elder about their teaching follows with names removed:
Ty: Hello, I am a minister and teacher of Christ Jesus. A Christian brother brought to my attention your teaching about attending church and Bible study, so I could comment on it. It is on your page titled “Are you telling me I won’t make it to heaven because I have to work?” I also reviewed your “How to Become a Christian” page to get a better idea of your views and your teaching.
Do not take offense to things I say, as they are meant to bring you into further truth and have you realize that you have unhealthy focuses in your views and doctrine. You have some good teaching, but from what I read, I see you have excessively religious, sin, and obedience centered views that are not Godly doctrines. For example, your views on what the church is and should be are overly restrictive and religious.
And in answering the person about attending church and study, you guilt and intimidate him and people into attending services and/or study. You also inappropriately link scripture to support the “command.”
Attending church or any ministry meeting is not a mandatory or absolute command from God. Matthew 7:24-27 does not go with Hebrews 10:25 as a command of God. Matthew 7:24-27 goes with general sin and the foundation of belief in Christ (our belonging to Christ), which Jesus spoke of in the verses before.
You put that together with Hebrews 10:25, but Hebrews 10:25 is not an absolute command from God to assemble. If you read what Paul is saying in context, it is only an urging. The verse goes with the previous one, so if read properly, Paul says, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling…”
There is no wording of a commandment or order from Paul. He is simply suggesting how we should act, so his statement about assembling should not be taken as an absolute command.
How you were taught to teach may have affected your viewpoints, but you need to move further into being an approved workman for the Lord (2 Timothy 2:15) and understand scripture in its correct context better.
You should never frighten people to attend church, study, or meetings, especially with the last statement you made in answering the person, “But do keep in mind that we answer to God for the choices we make, not men.” That is nothing short of coercion through intimidation and threat for something that isn’t even a sin. Your choice of words lends toward guilting people, such as “demonstrating their lack of commitment by their lack of attendance.”
How much one attends church or ministry does not equate to showing God their commitment to Him and righteousness. Your ways of wording and thinking are not in alignment with the Spirit, Who gives us peace, understanding, and wisdom, not lending to judging others excessively or using coercion.
You have forgotten our freedom in Christ and that we are no longer slaves to law (2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:15; Galatians 5:1). You should not be suggesting that attending church or other meetings is mandatory or giving inappropriate pressure to enforce it. The same goes for tithes and offerings, if you are teaching that, since the person said he was a faithful giver.
Do not put the Lord’s People under bondage with regulations that are from man or dark spiritual forces. May you have the discernment to know what is truly right and required, through Christ Jesus. Amen.
I urge you to contact that person again and change the page or remove it to correct what you stated. Feel free to contact me on any spiritual matters and further discussion. Peace and wisdom be on you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
La Vista Church: Ty, The three passages cited toward the end were dealing with the Law of Moses.
"Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit" (II Corinthians 3:12-18).The "liberty" that Paul is discussing is the liberty to see God's teachings clearly and directly without a "veil" of stubbornness getting in the way. The Israelites living under the Law of Moses did not really comprehend what God was teaching them because of their own stubbornness. "The LORD spoke further to me, saying, 'I have seen this people, and indeed, it is a stubborn people'" (Deuteronomy 9:13). Paul is not stating that we are free to do as we please.
"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh -- for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:12-17).The "slavery" under consideration is slavery to sin (the "flesh"). Paul is returning to his earlier point that when we become Christians, we are freed from sin. "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin" (Romans 6:4-7). This was something the Old Law could not offer. "For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:5-6). However, being released from the Old Law, which could not remove sin, does not imply we are now under no law at all. "Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God" (Romans 7:4).
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4).Circumcision was a term of the Law of Moses. Paul is scolding the Galatians for wanting to subjugate themselves to portions of the Old Law. But he does not mean we are no longer under any law. A bit later he tells the Galatians, "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). As Paul told the Corinthians, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law" (I Corinthians 9:19-21).
"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles" (II Peter 3:1-2).The authority of the Bible rests upon the fact that its teachings come from God. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17). All Scripture includes Hebrews 10:25.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:23-27).There are two things we are told we should do:
1. Hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering and
2. Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
The reason we hold without wavering is that God is faithful about keeping His promises. Paul then tells us how we can accomplish these two things: by not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. It is in the gathering of Christians that we gain encouragement and instruction. How essential is this? Hebrews 10:26 begins with "for." This is a conclusion derived from the prior points. Without holding on and without the stimulation of fellow Christians we may end up willfully sinning and ultimately end up in hell. Contrary to what was asserted, Paul believes that attending the gatherings of the saints to be critical to the well-being of every Christian.
Ty: La Vista Church, I’m sorry. The “liberty” in 2 Corinthians 3:17 is the liberty of freedom in Christ and not of seeing God’s teachings clearly. This is in context to earlier in 2 Corinthians 3, where Paul is speaking about how the Spirit gives us life by the New Covenant as opposed to death and the “letter” of the Old Covenant. There is nothing in the New Covenant promising we will see God’s teachings clearly, but the Lord promised His Spirit and a new heart to go with the eternal salvation in Christ.
As for Romans 8 and the spirit of slavery, it does not refer to slavery to sin or simply to slavery to the Law of Moses. It is about being under bondage to law or rules in general as I told you. This goes with literal spirits of slavery people get from following and spreading false gospels and false teachings, which include laws and rules that are not of God.
I am a first-hand witness to these spirits. I’ve seen how they work in the church and on Christians. These demons are often imposters of the Lord or His Spirit, claiming to be the real thing, and spread false teaching in God’s name. If one submits to them and their teaching, which often includes doctrines of excessive obedience, people become enslaved and blinded under these spirits literally.
These spirits of slavery oppose God’s Holy Spirit within us, which Paul spoke of in verses 9-11 of Romans 8. This is God’s literal Spirit, deposit, or promise of our eternal salvation in our bodies, and not the figurative “spirit” of following Christ or righteousness.
Paul does not say we are freed from sin in Romans 8. He said we are “free from the law of sin and death” through Christ Who brought the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2). This is freedom from the Law of Moses as well as freedom from sin’s eternal penalty. Being freed from sin or bondage to sin varies greatly for each person, but that is not the same as our being eternally saved or not.
I also never said we are no longer under any law. I am fully aware that scripture is God-breathed, but you do not seem to be fully aware that not all words of our Bibles are God’s or inerrant. There are words that are of the writers’ opinion, such as Paul stating his opinions and NOT the Lord’s commands in 1 Corinthians 7:12 and 7:25. Other things in the Bible are mistranslated, badly translated, or worse.
You seem to confuse “the law of Christ” with law in general and inappropriately link assembling to be a law or commandment of Christ. The “law of Christ” in simple terms is to fulfill the two greatest commandments to love the Lord and love your neighbor. Galatians 6:2 gives a clue of that in saying, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” That is in loving your neighbor, which goes with the “good deeds” of Hebrews 10:24. The “law of Christ” is a summation of the New Covenant’s working on us with the love we are to show towards God and others. The New Covenant does not make us slaves to law, but being saved makes us pursue righteousness, which is why Paul said we are slaves to righteousness in Romans 6. This is a willing pursuit and not slavery to obey law perfectly.
It appears you have been taught incorrectly about things or drew the wrong conclusions yourself. Being a saved Christian with the Spirit in us or God’s Mind, is no guarantee we will understand scripture or other spiritual guidance correctly. How much lies and false teaching you believe in greatly affects your understanding, and the dark spiritual forces you have further hinders you from seeing and understanding correctly. The kind of knowledge you have about spiritual and Biblical things is also important in getting things right.
For example, the confession we are told to hold fast to in Hebrews 10:23 is much more important than the love and other good deeds we are told to pursue in Hebrews 10:23-25, at least as far as our eternal salvation goes. Assembling is one of those “good deeds,” but again it is not a commandment to enslave people with and it is not a sin to forgo church services. Even if it was a sin, Hebrews 10:26-27 saying willful sinning will bring judgment and fire doesn’t mean it will absolutely negate our eternal salvation in Christ.
Judgment will come in this lifetime for true sin, but the eternal fire alluded to in Hebrews 10:27 is another aspect of judgment that doesn’t have to always go with our temporal judgment. You need more information on how salvation and the New Covenant works to understand better. You also need to understand that sin in general does not take away our eternal salvation in Christ. May you read “The True Gospel and Imposters” article at 3rdCompassDOTorg for more complete details and related scripture.
I see you are trying to understand things as you know it, but believe me when I say you have things wrong and have darkness to be rid of. If you do not believe me, then may you look at my background page titled, Predestined, at 3rdCompassDOTorg and see what the Lord gave to show my calling.
May you correct that “Are you telling me I won’t make it to heaven because I have to work?” page or take it down, and correct your teaching with that person as I urged you to. It does not serve the church well to blatantly coerce obedience with threats, especially related to things that are not sin or true commandments. Threats and coercion do not build up or edify our brethren.
After my last response on March 27, 2020, I did not get a reply from La Vista Church and their Q & A page has not been changed as of this writing. Their unwillingness to change and accept positive correction is something I’ve seen a lot in churches and ministries that stubbornly keep to established viewpoints even when they are shown what is good and true to correct it.
Spiritual leaders too often reference scripture, like freedom from slavery of the law in Galatians 5 that La Vista Church used above, without seeing that their erroneous doctrines are enslaving God’s People and themselves all over again under another heavy yoke. They build upon Christ’s solid foundation with stonework not of Him and protect it when it should be removed.
This attitude is hardly different than the slave owners who kept to their established beliefs long after the Civil War ended with their defeat, and President Lincoln proclaimed an end to slavery in writing. They needed the more forceful change of government troops to end their ways on that first Juneteenth in 1865.
For the church and God’s People, this more forceful change started in the COVID-19 pandemic dismantling the usual way of doing things and has gotten people to think more about why God brought this judgment on the world (see COVID-19 for more)
. But like La Vista Church, I’m afraid too many of the faithful will dismiss bad events as something not meant to open their own eyes to deeper problems in their beliefs, just as the secular world does the same and only tries to combat a virus rather than see the sin and darkness that brought it.
May the fact that the church and God’s People will continue to suffer with the secular world in COVID-19 and coming judgments, open her eyes to her own need for corrected wisdom and change, through HaMashiach Yehoshua – Christ Jesus. Amen.