How to "Be Perfect" before God.

Gary Amirault

The purpose of this article is to show how a mistranslation of a single Hebrew word can have a serious affect on major Christian doctrines and our ability to lead a life that demonstrates that God does indeed live in us. A careful comparison of the King James, New International, New Revised, and Young’s Literal, for example, will reveal thousands of differences between them, some of them on key doctrinal issues. This article is about the little word “perfect” in Genesis 17:1 in the King James Version (“blameless” in most other versions). It is about how mistranslating one single Hebrew word can help build an entire doctrinal foundation which is totally at odds with the Truth. It is about how a single mistranslation of one Hebrew word can have a significant effect on an important teaching in Christianity, the teaching on Holiness or Sanctification. It’s about what God thinks about “perfect” versus what Church tradition says about it. There’s a WORLD of difference!

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:9) (Later in this article is a very short test. It’s purpose is to reveal to the readers whether grace is indeed working in their lives or whether some leaven has entered in, thus voiding or weakening the power of the Living God in their lives. Please don’t jump to it without reading the article.)

Sanctification

Any Christians who have spent considerable time in the Scriptures and in Church, particularly if they have been in a variety of different denominations, will find themselves wrestling with the issue of how anyone can be absolutely certain they will be in heaven after death. Most denominations of Christianity teach that Christians CAN lose their salvation. Therefore, making certain one’s salvation is secure just might be the main order of business in one’s life. After boiling down the rhetoric we hear about the salvation that Jesus offered, it basically comes down to: “Jesus saved us but we must keep ourselves saved.” Under such a burden, the focus becomes “self.” We will see that this emphasis on “us” is the very thing that keeps us from being able to manifest the powerful life of Christ.

Denominations and church leaders who teach conditional salvation (which is the majority of them), are usually very vague as to what constitutes a sin or the accumulative number of sins that would send a Christian to Hell. One would think that if this were true, then God would make it absolutely clear how that could come about. But the fact that the churches don’t seem to be able to come to any consensus on this matter leaves the individual believer with having to formulate some kind of standard for themselves. In the end it seems, under this kind of teaching, that no one, except those locked up in their own pride can be certain they are truly saved. The Pope of the Roman Catholic Church has stated himself that he is uncertain of his own salvation. He “hopes” he is saved, according to his own words.

Let us look at how a single word being mistranslated in the best selling Bible translations has helped keep Christians in this state of doubt. This state of doubt, this state of fear has actually caused MANY Christians to lose their minds.

According to the best selling English Bible translations, Abraham, the father of those of faith, was “perfect” and “blameless” before God.

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” (Gen. 17:1, KJV)

Most of the other leading selling English translations (NKJV, NIV, NASB, NRSV, NLT, etc.) use the word “blameless.”

The Hebrew word behind the KJV “perfect” and the “blameless” of the other English Bible translations in Genesis 17:1 is “taw-meem.”

The information on this Hebrew word in one of the best Bible software programs on the market is as follows:

H8549 tamiym {taw-meem'}
* from 08552; TWOT - 2522d; adj
* AV - without blemish 44, perfect 18, upright 8, without spot 6, uprightly 4, whole 4, sincerely 2, complete 1, full 1, misc 3; 91
* 1) complete, whole, entire, sound 1a) complete, whole, entire 1b) whole, sound, healthful 1c) complete, entire (of time) 1d) sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity 1e) what is complete or entirely in accord with truth and fact (neuter adj/subst)

Based upon this above definition from the Brown-Drivers-Briggs Lexicon in the Hermenteutika Bibleworks Software Program, it would appear these leading selling English translations were correct in translating taw-meen as “perfect” or “blameless.”

Now if Abraham was perfect, he would surely have had something to boast about; however, there are other scriptures which make it quite plain that Abraham was not "perfect" nor was he "blameless."

“All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (See also Rom. 3:23, 5:12; Dan. 9:11; Psalm 53:1-3; Eccl 7:20)

The King James Version translation of Gen. 17:1 and others like it have led many sincerely devoted Christian leaders like John Wesley, to advance teachings on Holiness and Sanctification which are in complete conflict with the truly Good News of the Cross of Christ. As a matter of fact, most Protestant leaders have followed John Welsey’s understanding on Holiness and Sanctification. Here is an example of his line of thinking on these most important doctrines:

"But whom then do you mean by ‘one that is perfect?’ We mean one in whom is ‘the mind which was in Christ,’ and who so ‘walketh as Christ also walked; a man ‘that hath clean hands and a pure heart,’ or that is ‘cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit;’ one in whom is ‘no occasion of stumbling,’ and who, accordingly, ‘does not commit sin.’” (From A PLAIN ACCOUNT OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION, as believed and taught by the Reverend John Wesley, from the year 1725, to the year 1777, in The Works of John Wesley (1872 ed. by Thomas Jackson), vol. 11, 29)

How anyone could write the above while reading what Paul plainly wrote to the Romans is almost beyond belief:

“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Now to him who WORKS, the wages are NOT counted as grace but as DEBT! But to him who does NOT work but BELIEVES in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3-5, NKJV) “Jesus Christ, AUTHOR AND FINISHER of OUR faith.” (Heb. 12:2)

Oh, dear precious brothers and sisters, PLEASE let those words of Paul soak into your minds and hearts until the grace that comes with that promise oozes out of your very being!

I can only assume that John Wesley was blinded by some of the translational errors in his Bible translation. If John Wesley had the information you are about to receive, he may have dramatically rewritten what he wrote in “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.”

Conditional Salvation

There are countless denominations and movements that stem from John Wesley’s teachings. His ideas about Holiness and Sanctification have affected many tens of thousands of church leaders and their congregations. The Charismatic, Pentecostal, and Holiness movements all have their roots in Wesley’s teachings.

The Wesleyan strain of teaching owes its origin to an earlier theologian by the name of Jacob Arminius. The theological name used to describe this line of teaching is commonly called Arminianism. (By the way, I’m NOT writing as a Calvinist to expose Arminianism’s errors! Calvinism is also a perversion of the gospel.) In a nutshell, Arminianism advances the idea that people must “choose salvation” in this lifetime by accepting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for their sins.

Moreover, this human will-centered ideology asserts that all mankind is guilty before God and the punishment for that guilt is endless torment in a fiery hell. However, after accepting the free gift of grace, one must begin to show signs that they have indeed received grace; one must begin to DO works that would indicate they have Christ within them. And one must begin to refrain from doing works that are considered sinful or evil according to how their denomination or church defines what is sin and what isn’t. What determines whether a person has crossed the line is probably as varied as the number of people who believe in conditional salvation.

Ultimately, each individual believer must make up their own minds what that line may be. It’s interesting that most Christians draw a different line for themselves than for others. The reader can be assured they have a hard time finding two pastors who will both draw that line in exactly the same place. That should tell you something about this system. (I have been to one church in my community where a small mustache on a man’s face would send them to Hell. This denomination has over 20,000 churches and almost 3 million adherents.)

According to this line of teaching, there are sins Christians can commit which would cause them to lose their salvation and “go to Hell.” Therefore one who has indeed been “born again” CAN lose their salvation and find themselves in a Hell of everlasting punishment. The message is clear: “Even as one ‘chose’ to get saved, they can also ‘choose’ to get unsaved.” So it is clear that the “eternal” life promised at the “altar call” by this “survival of the fittest” theology REALLY isn’t “eternal” after all! (Food for thought: Was Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory simply the logically produced fruit of the teaching of a corrupted church?)

Most pastors will not drill home week after week on Sunday mornings all the things that one must do or not do in order to maintain their salvation. No, this doctrine is usually used in a more subtle way. This doctrine most often comes out when a sheep begins to get out of line. Most human beings are incapable of sustaining a continuous bombardment of sermons that center on walking the straight line to avoid the fiery flames of Hell. They’ll go find another church or go insane. Once the teaching that one can lose their salvation is injected in a soul, it is not necessary to keep the message ever before them (although some do). After all, it only takes a little leaven -- a little doubt -- to leaven the whole lump -- that is, keep a person in fear. Once the fear is injected into the soul, it can then be sugar-coated with phrases like, “Oh, it’s very hard to lose your salvation. You really have to stray FAR before anything like that may happen. Remember, God loves you and has no desire to see you in Hell.” But phrases like that do NOT neutralize the poisonous seed that is already firmly planted in the hearts of souls. Once the seed is planted, its power to rob us of the power of the life of God is in effect. The sugar coated words about how hard it is to lose one’s salvation merely serve to prevent us from ejecting the seed. They are Satan’s subtlety at its best.

Under this system, because one is ever in a condition of never knowing honestly whether they are truly saved or not -- there is a strong impulse to do works that would “appear” righteous. These “works” become proof that God is indeed working in their lives and that they are on the road which prevents them from falling into Hell. The central core of life then, under this teaching, becomes saving oneself to the everlasting exclusion of billions of people who will perish in Hell for all eternity as “failures” who didn’t measure up. I know this may shock some readers, but this teaching is pretty much at the heart of modern Christianity and especially in Evangelicalism.

Getting Perfect Enough To Stay Saved

Because the teaching that there is the possibility of losing one’s salvation is a central tenet of modern Christianity, is it any wonder that there is a great interest in promoting and preserving “self” in the church? After all, the most important people to keep out of Hell are yourself and those closest to you, right?

One of the sad by-products of this teaching is that a person is never able to enter into the promised rest spoken of so clearly in the following scripture:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat.11:29-39, KJV)

It is a difficult labor for the SELF-righteous person to enter into God’s promised rest. A SELF-righteous person has filled themselves with countless dead works. It is a labor indeed carrying them about and counting them all the time to make sure they are enough. It is a hard thing to compare oneself to others to see if one is doing better than their neighbor in the good works/bad works department. One must really pay attention to “self.” And that’s really hard work. There’s little joy in that kind of work – there is no rest.

Let us now take a look at the life of the father of faith, Abraham, to see what it means to be “perfect” before God. He also knew a lot about rest.

When he spoke to Abram, God used the Hebrew word translated “perfect” in Gen. 17:1, “taw-meem.” The best way to determine the meaning of an ancient word is to see how it is used in other contexts. And since Hebrew is a “root word” language, knowing the word’s root is also helpful. The real meaning of taw-meem is almost the opposite of what most Bible translations and the Bible reference books tell us it means. Taw-meem actually means expended, exhausted, depleted, spent, completely empty or to come to an end, as in “come to the end of oneself!”

“Walk before Me and be perfect.” (Gen. 17:1: KJV)

A more literal and accurate translation of Gen. 17:1 would be:

“Walk before My faces and be empty of yourself.”

The Hebrew word behind the King James “before Me,” (paw-neem) literally is the plural form of the word for “face.” The word taw-meen is also in the plural form indicating a multiplicity of emptiness. We’re talking about a multiplicity of no room to boast about ANYTHING in the FACES (multiplicity of fullness) of the Almighty God! We’re talking perfect humility. That leaves a LOT of room for God’s grace! While grace is NOT the subject of this article, I feel it vital to make the point that grace for many Christians, has become nothing more than a theological term or something Christians say before a meal. Grace is the very power unto fullness of salvation! “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,” (Tit. 2:11, NKJV) “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, NKJV) We, Christians, have GOT to get out of theology and into reality. Grace is the very power that should clearly demonstrate that we have been born from another realm. A Christian full of grace and truth -- empty of themselves, the traditions of men and the cares of this world should be a bright beacon – he or she should really stand out!

Having had an encounter with the Living God in a manner similar to Abraham’s, I can completely understand how this is the correct way to read Genesis 17:1. In my encounter, I became completely undone. I was finished. God was everything and I was nothing. And that is what Genesis 17:1 actually says. Now THIS translation lines up perfectly with what Paul wrote about Abraham and faith. This helps clear up some of the confusion found in most Christian discussions about grace versus works.

Let’s look at a few examples of how taw-meem is used in other places in the scriptures to prove what I’m saying is true.

In Josh. 10:13 the word taw-meem is used to describe when a day is fully gone. Lev. 23:15 speaks of seven Sabbaths being “completed,” that is, fully spent, used up. That’s the word tawmeem.

The root word for taw-meem is “tah-mam.” We find some of the senses of this word in Strong’s Concordance (#8552). Some of them are “to complete, in a good or bad sense. Or figuratively to accomplish; to cease; be cleaned, consume, have done, come to or make an end, fail, come to the full, be all gone, be spent, sum, be upright, be wasted, whole.”

Here are some examples of how its root verb “tah-mam” is used: “money failed in the land of Egypt,” (Gen. 47:15), “When the year ended,” (Gen 47:18) “they are consumed.” (Jer. 24:10)

(Much of the information on the Hebrew word “taw-meem” was gleaned from a friend named Alan Newton.)

The Hebrew words for “Almighty God” in Genesis 17:1 are “El Shaddai,” the “All-sufficient One.” The contrast is obvious in the Hebrew. Abram, the completely empty one, the spent one, the depleted one, the totally reliant one is walking in the faces of the completely full and sufficient One. THAT is what Christians are supposed to be – totally dependent upon their Maker, not trusting in the arm of their flesh, ESPECIALLY for “righteousness’ sake.”

With this information, we begin to see new light about the importance of Abraham, the father of faith. It is now much clearer to see Abraham as a type of Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I do nothing of Myself.” (John 8:28) We see that Jesus also “emptied Himself” or “poured Himself out” just as the Genesis 17 verse speaks of Abram.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:5-13, NIV)

We can find enough truth in this one verse to write many books; but I want us to focus upon just a few relating to our subject in order to emphasize the importance of accurate understanding. Jesus tah-mamed Himself, He emptied Himself just like Abram did. And because of this, God the Father raised Him up, even from death itself, to place Him above everything. Likewise, God made Abram to be Abraham, the father of many nations. We see they both emptied themselves that GOD HIMSELF might fill them with HIS WORKS!

There are verses that may appear at first glance to justify the translation “blameless” or “without blemish,” as being the correct and appropriate meaning of the word tah-meem. But a closer look at the context and circumstances will reveal that the idea of coming to the end of flesh and its power seems to always be the underlying meaning. For example, King David seemed to boast in his righteousness, cleanness, blamelessness and being void of any iniquity before God in Psalms 18:20-24. David says he was “blameless” before God in the King James Bible. But is that so? We know there is NONE righteous, nay, not one according to Isaiah as well as other writers.

David was born under the Mosaic Law which was still in force. David committed adultery with Bathsheba which, according to the Mosaic Law, was punishable by death. Furthermore, to hide his adultery, he set up the husband of Bathsheba who was one of David’s generals to be purposely killed in battle. Again, this was a sin worthy of death under the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, he allowed many thousands of people to openly see the Ark of the Covenant on Mount Zion even though David knew the Levitical Law stated that anyone who saw the Ark of the Covenant other than the High Priest once a year under very strict holy circumstances, must die. According to the Law, David should have been killed many times over, yet he believed he was tah-meem before Yahweh. Perhaps David had a better understanding of what tah-meem meant than our modern translators. David was a man after God’s own heart – he TRUSTED God, he put his life into God’s hands. We see this typified in his battle with Goliath. It was not David’s belief in his own strength which brought the victory; it was David’s belief that God would bring the victory that brought down Goliath. We see this trust again when God gave David a choice of being judged by men or by Yahweh. David chose Yahweh. Wise move.

The word tah-meem is used to describe in Exodus and Leviticus the animal sacrifices, that they must be without spot or blemish, again seeming to point to perfection. But we must remember what happened to these beasts. What happens to the Passover lamb? Was it not to be completely consumed? “And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.” (Ex. 12:10) So again, we see that the primary idea God wants to convey with this word seems to be that of being completely empty of the powers of self, of flesh, of the powers of this world and to have complete reliance and trust in the power of God.

What Does This Mean To Christians?

It means true Christians, who are NOT filled with their own righteousness, but trusting ONLY in the righteousness of the cross of Christ and His ability to fulfill all promises on behalf of mankind, will have “God working in them to will and to act according to HIS good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13) For many Christians, grace is merely something said before a meal. For others, it describes a smooth way of carrying oneself. “She’s so graceful.”

Grace through faith as a theological concept is totally worthless except to sell books with which to fill empty shelves. Grace through faith if mixed with the leaven of self-righteousness breeds an emphasis upon human effort, and ultimately undermines the grace of God. But His grace through His faith given to us as a free gift apart from our own works IS the very POWER of God within a believer. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is in this very word GRACE!!! THIS IS THE ABUNDANT LIFE Jesus promised to bring to those who abide in Him. It is His abundant life to those -- who trust Him -- who abandon themselves to Him. God’s grace plus nothing is Heaven’s Bread for those who empty themselves out that He may fill them with Himself Who is the Bread of Life. This is the Christian way of life. This is being perfect. This is taw-meem!

Why is there so little of the power that the early believers manifested being experienced in the church today? Sadly, it is simply because we have become SELF-righteous! SELF-filled and SELF-centered. Why did Jesus call the works of the Pharisees “leaven”? Because it just takes a little bit of works-yeast to contaminate a person’s whole life! Yes, even just a little reliance on ourselves, just a little law-keeping, just a few ordinances or “traditions of men” will “MAKE THE WORD OF GOD OF NO EFFECT!” (Matt. 15:6-9)

The Church Has Been Leavened With SELF-righteousness – A Look At Its Fruit

Isaiah calls the righteousness of men, ALL men and women, “filthy menstrual cloths.” (Isaiah 64:6) If Isaiah were alive today and used modern English he would call our righteousness based on our works “dirty Kotex”! Yes, I realize your translation probably has “filthy rags,” but the scribes and translators cleaned it up. The Hebrew is usually MUCH more graphic than our sanitized and politically correct translations.

The following words are those of a minister who lived under the weight of this SELF-centered gospel for a number of years until it finally took him to manic-depression: “And what is the practical problem with this self-focused gospel? Well, gospel means ‘good news.’ And this gospel can ONLY be good news to those who imagine that their ‘self’ can meet all of its requirements. Those who labor under that silly illusion manifest the fruits of conditional love, joylessness (except in their own accomplishments and appearance) impatience with the frailties of others, judgmentalism, self-righteousness, a critical spirit, and only the appearance of self-control (in certain arenas, such as non-smoking, non-drinking, non-movie attendance, etc.) and unfaithfulness in the arenas of humility, forgiveness and mercy.

“However, this self-centered gospel is BAD news for those who DO NOT labor under the illusion that they can fulfill its requirements. These folks manifest the fruits of: love of painkillers (both legitimate and not), joylessness, depression, self-loathing, hero worship/dependence (idolatry of people and their opinions), the appearance of gentleness instead of the real thing, and lack of fidelity due to addiction to emotional, sexual and chemical painkillers.

“And fairly often the person who has ingested the leavened gospel of self-focus will fill both roles. Have you noticed? Yes, on one day, he or she will strut about as a holier than thou Pharisee, and on the next day, that same person will be a suicidal basket case, filled with self-hatred and suicidal despair and depression.

“And what is the root of the DESPAIR that works in the basketcase? It is the LIE that he or she SHOULD be able to meet all of the requirements of this self-focused gospel!

“And the root of the PRIDE that works in the arrogant Pharisee is THE SAME LIE--coupled with the illusion that he or she CAN do it.” Endquote.

What can we expect to see in God’s own people when our eyes have been seduced to center on self instead of the finished work of the Cross of Christ?

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5, NIV)

Have you looked around lately? “Forms of godliness but denying its power.” That’s what this whole article is all about – revealing how this error came to be.

When Grace Is No Longer Grace

I wrote at the beginning of this article there would be a test to see whether one had fallen from grace -- or to determine whether they had any in the first place. Here it is:

Picture yourself in front of whatever you conceive in my mind is the Judgment Seat of God. There are only two people left to be judged, you and Hitler. And God tells you there is only room for one more in heaven. He also tells each of you to state in writing why you believe you should be in heaven as opposed to the other person.

If your mind and/or heart begins to dwell on the fact that you have lived a much better life morally than Hitler did, you’ve already fallen from grace or never had any.

If you think about all the horrible evil Hitler did and how such a person should not be allowed into heaven, you have already fallen from grace or never had any in the first place.

If you recall that you tried to keep the Two Big Commandments, or the Ten Commandments as best as you could or that you didn’t drink, cuss, or smoke (too much), then you’ve fallen from grace or you’ve never had any.

If you look at Hitler and feel it would not be just if he were allowed in with you, you have fallen from grace or never had any to begin with.

If you think you should be allowed in and Hitler excluded because you “chose” to follow Jesus, you’ve fallen from grace or you’ve never had any.

If you haven’t exhibited the same supernatural power of the Almighty God that caused the disciples to prophesy, to heal the sick, to have dreams and visions directly from God, to possibly speak with new tongues, to raise the dead spiritually or physically, to have signs and wonders following them, then there is a good chance you’ve never experienced the grace of God or have fallen from it.

Surely the fruit of the Spirit is equally important or perhaps even more important. And there are some gifts of the Holy Spirit which perhaps are more difficult to ascertain whether they come from the Holy Spirit or from the flesh – gifts like teaching, exhorting, giving, ruling and showing mercy as found in the list in Romans 12:4-8. But I’m afraid way too many of us hide behind what we personally think as Holy Spirit fruit that others may find as nothing but rotten flesh. It is easy for us to deceive ourselves regarding the “fruit of the spirit” – it’s a little harder to deceive ourselves regarding the “gifts of the Spirit.”

Grace is indeed fully unmerited favor. It is indeed fully all God and NONE of man. Period. And anything that you add to your ledger apart from God’s choosing YOU is not grace through faith and will lead to boasting. And boasting in one’s own righteousness is plain old FLESH. “Flesh and blood CANNOT inherit the kingdom of God” nor its power. (1 Cor. 15:50, KJV) So THERE is the reason why there is so little of the power of God moving in the church today, its trust is in flesh – THE CHURCH IS FLESHY!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and NOT of yourselves; it is the GIFT of God, NOT of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are HIS workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good WORKS, which GOD PREPARED BEFOREHAND that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:8-10, NKJV) (Do you see the connection of good works and God, not our own works?) Christians are doing their own good works thinking their frantic self-effort and nice-appearing deeds will keep them saved. Yet it’s these very works which are producing SELF-righteousness which is voiding grace, thus preventing the good works of God from manifesting! Because we are filled with our own works which produce SELF-righteousness, we are not empty to receive the good works of God prepared from the foundation of the world for us to walk in! It’s a nasty catch-22 situation from which we must be set free if the power of the kingdom of God is going to manifest through us!

Did You REALLY Decide to Follow Jesus?

Paul, the apostle to the nations, warned with tears so many times of the danger of mixing just a little bit of our own righteousness (according to the Law of Moses, or our denomination, or our own sense of morality) with the free gift of grace through faith. Even our faith is not of ourselves, but originates from God. Hebrews 12:2 clearly reveals, “Jesus Christ, AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH.”

Just a little leaven, a tiny bit of our own righteousness, will rob us of the very power of God. Adding even a little of our own righteousness puts us in the flesh in which there is only corruption -- and no life. Yet we have all done this at some point, so where is our hope? It MUST be solely in Jesus Christ.

I think if Paul were alive today, he would write Gal. 3:1-3 this way:

“O foolish Christians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3, NKJV)

Did you catch that? The Hitler test makes it quite obvious that almost ALL Christians have either never tasted grace through faith or have begun in grace through faith and have almost immediately reverted back to some form of law-keeping. The law-keeping can be quite subtle; must go to church, don’t cuss, obey the pastor, do the Ten Commandments, don’t do drugs, don’t sleep around, etc. Please don’t misunderstand me. Grace through faith is not a license to sin. But if we trust in our rule-keeping for our standing before God, for our righteousness, then we quench the very power of God -- we grieve the Holy Spirit -- we fall from grace.

Very often, it’s not so much what we do or don’t do, but how we judge others that reveals our lack of understanding and appreciation of God’s grace. We have forgotten that as we judge others, those very judgments come back upon our own heads. When we judge the prostitute for her immorality, we judge ourselves and fall from grace. The Scriptures do not say not to judge, but to judge righteously. Most of us want grace for ourselves and condemnation for others. That is NOT righteous judgment.

When we look at Hitler and think that we could NEVER be like him, we judge ourselves. After all, the fact of the matter is, if God were to remove His grace from any of us, we COULD become the most corrupt animal on the planet. And let’s remember that God chose the proud and haughty King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, to show us what we ALL are apart from God’s grace. Do you remember the king who went on all fours eating grass for 7 years? (Dan. 4:30-37)

Apart from grace, there goes every single one of us.

May we ALL hold forever before us the wise words of the apostle of Grace who repeatedly warned us of just how easy it is to fall prey to self-righteousness. It is the leaven which has leavened the whole lump, the whole church. God help us all.

Beginning at Romans 3:10:

“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished -- he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

“Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

(Romans 4:1) “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-- but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who JUSTIFIES THE WICKED, his faith is credited as righteousness.

“David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.’ Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

“It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring-- not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.” (Rom. 3:10-4:16, NIV)

Let us become perfect in the same manner our father in the faith, Abraham, was perfect – let us pour ourselves out, that our Maker might fill us with the “good works which He has before ordained that us should walk in.” (Eph. 2:10) Then we will live in such a manner that our joy and Jesus’ joy will be full indeed! Then we will be true witnesses to the Truth.

Putting It All Together

The key to living an abundant life as a Christian is to stop focusing on SELF. That’s why Jesus provided a cross for every single one of us. The best way to stop thinking about SELF is to put others more highly than oneself. (Phil. 2:3) Abraham was a type of this way, he emptied himself for God and for others. God, the Father emptied Himself to honor His Son. He poured Himself into the Son. He poured Himself out for others.

“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:19-21, NIV)

Jesus Christ poured Himself out for His Father and for others. And now the Head of the Body asks His Body to do the same thing, to get SELF out of the way, that He might pour Himself into us that WE might pour ourselves out for the sake of the rest of the world which both God the Father and His Son have covenanted to deliver from its bondage to corruption. They intend to set all creation free through the children of God.

“… the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage to corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Rom. 8:21)

In light of what we have read about the Hebrew word taw-meem, perhaps now we can gain a better understanding of Jesus’ words in the latter half of the fifth chapter of Matthew. Without a clear understanding of what taw-meem means, one might think Jesus was imposing a law upon us that was even more burdensome than that of Moses. We were incapable of fulfilling the Mosaic Law, how on earth were we going to keep a law that demanded an even higher threshold? “Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect?” You’ve got to be kidding us, Jesus!?

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

With the correct understanding of the word taw-meem, we can now understand how we, as children of God, can “be perfect, even as our heavenly Father is taw-meem.” We, in SELF, cannot. It is utterly impossible. These words in Matthew chapter five are NOT a commandment, they are a PROMISE! Jesus is telling us that when we have truly come to the end of SELF-effort – when we have emptied ourselves of the self-life, then we will find the promised rest. Then GOD will perform through us His very own words, works, ways and will. He IS capable of loving His enemies, we in SELF, are not. And to even think we can or to pretend to think that we are, is vanity at its highest. It’s never been about US fulfilling laws and burdens we are unable to bear; it’s always been about the promises of God. We, Christians, just like the Jews, have forgotten this.

The church in its present state is FULL of this kind of vanity – and that is why there is little power coming from it. Look at the power of the first believers in the book of Acts. Does your church manifest this power? Or is it really mostly hype? Or is it merely social works that any Kwanis, Lions, Eagles or Shriners organization can perform? Not that social works can’t be very helpful to some in need, but there is a BIG difference between social works done in the strength of the flesh and the works of God through the Holy Spirit. Have you checked your own Divine Power Meter lately – honestly?

Have the Gifts of the Holy Spirit Ceased?

One of the leading problems confronting Christians regarding this matter is the fact that the majority of Christians have been taught that this dunamis power of God is no longer available to us; that it was removed from the Church in the first century because it was not longer needed. According to this teaching (and it is a crippling one indeed), the power available to the early believers was exchanged for a complete Bible. When God added the 27 books of what is commonly (but incorrectly), called the New Testament, the gifts of the Holy Spirit passed away. There isn’t a shred of evidence in the Scriptures that God did such a thing. The power of God the early believers experienced is as available today as it was 2,000 years ago. The only reason we don’t see it manifest more today is unbelief and the focus on SELF. The church-at-large has substituted thousands of traditions of men and doctrines of demons in place of the simplicity found in Christ. THAT is the major reason why there is so little heavenly power in Christians.

I coined a word – humilification. That’s the process we, as Christians, are going to have to go through to get to the place Jesus wants to bring us. We have to get our imperfect SELF out of the way that He might fill us with HIMself that we might truly manifest all that it means to be called His children.

The church, in its present state is in unbelief. Unbelief is the very POWER that prevented Jesus from doing great miracles in His own hometown. (Matt. 13:58) The greatest obstacle Jesus has in delivering creation from its bondage to corruption is His own people. That was the case 2,000 years ago and that is the case today as well. If the power of corporate unbelief can have a negative effect upon the very Son of God, what do you think it can do to the earnest deposit of the Holy Spirit given to us through the baptism of the Holy Spirit? It can and does quench it. I know in my own life, when I am in the midst of a people who are humble and centered on Jesus, I find bubbling up from me a greater manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; a greater manifestation of the compassion of the Lord, a greater desire to see others set free from their bondage to all sorts of things that hold them in bondage. There must come a corporate purging of unbelief in the body of Christ if the dunamis power of the Almighty God is to come forth.

If Christians are ever going to fully manifest the power of the Holy Spirit, we must cease in our lust of trusting in our own ability to follow Jesus and begin to trust in His ability to lead us. One puts confidence in the flesh, thus, quenching the Holy Spirit – the other tah-meems (empties) us of anything to do with the flesh to open the way for the “works prepared by God from the foundation of the world” to flow through us. It is time to stop being a hindrance to the flow of the Holy Spirit.

If your spirit bears witness with the contents of this message and you feel your congregation is in a condition in which it is preventing the power of the Almighty God from coming forth, give them copies of this article. If they won’t move forward, then move yourself and your family out and find a group that will tah-meem themselves that the mighty works of God may flow out and bear testimony that God is in your midst and in the earth. This world needs the power of grace through faith flowing from Christ’s body. It is the sin of unbelief in the church that is preventing the power of grace from flowing to it. WE, the body of Christ, must repent.

By the way, the kind of works that I am speaking about are not crying or bleeding or oozing statues or paintings like we hear about from the Catholic Church. This is nothing but superstition and quackery. Nor am I speaking of the worked up, hyped up, psyched up nonsense that is pawned off as miracles often touted by Pentecostal, Charismatic, or Word/faith churches. I have been in scores of these miracle-working churches and have discovered that for every genuine work of the Holy Spirit (and there are some), there are hundreds of fraudulent claims being made. I am not talking about getting oneself so psyched up with positive confessions that we actually deceive ourselves into thinking we saw a miracle when in fact nothing happened at all – it was all in our minds, mass hypnosis! No, I’m talking about the real thing, the real workings of the Holy Spirit with mighty demonstration of His power to bring salvation, healing, deliverance and wholeness to us spirit, soul and body.

The “Church” is a City of Confusion

One third of the world’s population finds itself under the umbrella of the name of Christianity or “the Church.” Within this institution are literally tens of thousands of different denominations that try to display to the world a sense of unity when it is threatened from outside forces. But when those threats disappear, they turn on themselves and devour one another.

Two thousand years ago, Paul warned against dividing the body of Christ through the teachings of men and women. (1 Cor. 1:11, 12; 3:3-9) Back then, because the body of Christ was small, there were few choices of men and women to be divided by. “I am of Paul,” I am of Apollos.” But today, the choices are endless. “I am of Luther,” “I am of Wesley,” “I am of Calvin,” or Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, John McArthur, Aimee McPherson, Ellen White, John Darby, the Popes, Charles Russell, D. L. Moody, and thousands of other men and women. There have been literally thousands of different doctrines, rituals, forms of church government, traditions, creeds, articles of faith, etc. that have been added to the simplicity found in Christ. If Christians think these forces are not diminishing the uniting power of the Holy Spirit, they are deceiving themselves. These are all forces of division bringing disunity, conflict and confusion. These forces weaken from within the unity that is needed for Christ’s anointing to have full effect through His body. We need not go to Iraq to visit Babylon, the city of confusion. On every continent on this planet and in every nation are branch offices of THE “City of Confusion” that thinks itself glorious but is greatly deceived. But enough of this – this is really the subject of another article. It will be difficult enough for most Christians to swallow the contents of this article. After spending several years with His disciples, Jesus told them,

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:12-15, NIV)

The fact that there are over 30,000 different denominations of Christendom, each divided from each other by the teachings of various men and women gives ample proof that while many of us “say” we are being led by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, there is a mountain of evidence, thirty thousand divisions strong, that speaks otherwise.

Dear Christian, when Jesus asks you to give an account of what you did with the talents He gave you and you begin to explain to Him that you poured all your resources into building the Reformed, Methodist, Lutheran, Anglican, Catholic Church (or thousands of others), do you think He will let you use the excuse that it was Calvin’s, Wesley’s, Luther’s, King Henry the VIII’s or some Pope’s fault for deceiving you, when Paul made it quite plain in the Scriptures NOT to be promoting men’s teachings? These men and women will NOT be allowed to become your defense attorneys. It will be one on one – you and Jesus. And I suggest to you, dear reader, that you begin down that road today. Begin to tah-meem yourself of the traditions of men and the doctrines of unclean spirits that Jesus Christ may send you the Holy Spirit Who will lead you into ONE Body of Christ in which there is NO confusion filled with “works prepared from the foundation of the world” for you to walk in. THESE works, and these works alone will be accounted unto you.

What I have written is true. The question is, what are you going to do with it?

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11, NIV)

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24, NIV)

The word “grace” in the Greek (charis) explodes with the imagery of great joy. Let us tah-meem (empty) ourselves of all things that may prevent this great joy from expressing itself to all creation. Creation is waiting for us to explode with great fireworks, the works of the Holy Spirit.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them … we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" (Acts 2:1-4, 11, NIV)

Related Suggested Reading Material Located On The Tentmaker Ministries Internet Site:

The Pillar Laws of the New Covenant
http://www.tentmaker.org/books/PillarLaws.html

Gal 1:15 God chose not us. Also “I have appointed you. And “As many as were ordained” and called, chosen, justified, sanctified, etc.

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