If . . . Then . . . Using Our God-Given Common Sense to Think Things Through
“If... then...” statements are used many places in the Bible. Sometimes they are used to make a point by the line of reasoning called in Hebrew kal v’chomer (“light and heavy”). In other words, “If A is true, then how much more is B true?” For example:
If your heavenly Father feeds the fowls of the air, then how much more is He willing to provide food for His own children? (See Matthew 6:25f.) If God clothes the grass of the field with beautiful, fragrant lilies, then how much more is He willing to provide clothing for His own children? (See Matthew 6:28-30.)
If it is right to help your ox if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, then how much more right is it to heal a person on the Sabbath? (See Luke 14:3-5.)
If God spared not the natural branches, then take heed lest He also not spare you, a wild, grafted-in branch. (See Romans 11:21.)
If men of God sow spiritual things by their teaching, then should they not be allowed to reap some carnal things in the form of financial support for the time, energy, and money they have invested to go forth and sow the seed? (See 1 Corinthians 9:11-14.)
Many more “If... then...” kal v’chomer examples can be found in the Bible.
“If... then...” statements are also used in the Bible to expose error. This is done by attaching the erroneous idea to the “If...,” and then taking the idea to its logical conclusion, thus exposing the fallacy of the idea. For example:
If Satan cast out Satan, then he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? (See Matthew 12:26.)
If righteousness comes by law-keeping, then Messiah died in vain. (See Galatians 2:21.)
If there is no resurrection, then Messiah did not rise, and our faith is vain, and we are false witnesses, and we are still in our sins, and there is no future hope for dead believers. If in this life only we have hope in Messiah, then we are of all men most miserable. (See 1 Corinthians 15:13-19.)
Many more “If... then...” statements to expose error can be found in the Bible.
Now let’s examine a few ideas that are commonly believed by many good Christians in today’s world. Let’s consider these beliefs and take them to their logical conclusions. Let’s use our God-given common sense and think of the implications of these oft-repeated statements. If these statements are true, then what conclusions can we draw from them?
1. “We don’t have to keep Old Testament commandments because Jesus fulfilled the law.”
Deuteronomy 13 says that if a prophet arises among you and teaches people to turn away from the commandments of the Torah, then that man is a false prophet, even if he performs signs and wonders. Therefore, if Jesus abolished or made void the commandments of the Torah, then he would be a false prophet.
To “fulfill” does not mean to abolish or make void. In Jewish thought, “to fulfill the law” can mean to correctly interpret the law, which is what Yeshua did in His teachings. The Greek word can also mean to fill something full, to give it its fullest expression, which is what Yeshua did by His example and by giving full meaning to the types and shadows in the Old Testament - by becoming the Passover lamb, the first fruits of the resurrection, the sacrifice and high priest of the heavenly Tabernacle, etc.
2. “According to Acts 15, the only Old Testament commandments that Gentile believers need to obey are the four things listed in verse 20: idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood.”
This one is a no-brainer. If these are the only four Old Testament commandments that Gentile believers need to obey, then it is okay for Gentile believers to steal, to lie, to dishonor parents, to practice divination, and to do a lot of other things that Christians believe are sinful.
Obviously Acts 15 is not saying that these are the only four Torah commandments that Gentile believers need to obey. (For a detailed explanation of Acts 15, see “Who Were the Judaizers?” GOE 2-3 or 7-2.)
3. “We keep the Sabbath in a spiritual way now, by ceasing from trying to earn our justification, and resting in the finished work of Christ and finding rest unto our souls. God doesn’t expect us to keep the Sabbath in a literal, physical way by keeping the seventh day of the week holy, because now we understand the deeper spiritual reality that the Sabbath commandment points us to. The New Testament tells us what that deeper spiritual reality is. It is rest unto our souls, which frees us from any obligation to obey the Sabbath commandment in a literal, physical way.”
It’s certainly true that the Sabbath, in a symbolic way, points us to the deeper spiritual reality of finding rest unto our souls by resting in the finished work of Christ. But if understanding the deeper spiritual reality of a commandment frees us from a need to continue obeying it in a literal, physical way, then let’s consider another one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
If the above reasoning as applied to the Sabbath commandment were applied to the Adultery commandment, then we would arrive at the following conclusion:
“God doesn’t expect us to abstain from adultery in a literal, physical way by being faithful to our spouse, because now we understand the deeper spiritual reality that the marriage relationship points us to. The New Testament tells us what that deeper spiritual reality is. It is Christ and the church. ‘It [marriage] is a great mystery,’ Paul said, ‘but I speak concerning Christ and the church’ (Eph. 5:32). Now that the deeper meaning of the mystery of marriage is revealed to us, we are no longer obligated to obey the commandment ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ in a literal, physical way.”
Ridiculous reasoning, you say? Yes, I agree. But no less ridiculous than applying the very same reasoning to the Sabbath commandment. If it’s okay to spiritualize away the need to literally obey one of the Ten Commandments, then it’s okay to spiritualize away the need to literally obey any of the Ten Commandments, if you can find a deeper spiritual meaning represented by that commandment.
4. “Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality. Therefore you have no right to condemn homosexual acts.”
If homosexual acts cannot be condemned simply because we have no written record of Jesus specifically mentioning homosexuality by name, then there are a lot of other acts that cannot be condemned for the very same reason: kidnapping, slavery, necromancy, witchcraft, and a host of other evils that man’s heart can devise. If homosexuality can be justified because we have no written record of Jesus mentioning it by name, then all these other acts can likewise be justified for the very same reason.
It’s also important to point out that you cannot prove that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, because the Gospels do not record every single statement that Jesus ever uttered.
Furthermore, Jesus did in fact condemn homosexual acts every single time He affirmed the validity and the truth of the Torah. He did not need to reiterate every single commandment in the Torah; He simply affirmed the Torah as a whole, and thereby condemned everything that the Torah condemns.
5. “In Matthew 15 and Mark 7, Jesus abolished the Old Testament dietary laws by declaring all foods clean.”
In both of these parallel passages, Yeshua rebuked the scribes and Pharisees at the table for making void commandments of God:
“Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? ... ye made the commandment of God of none effect... laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men... Full well ye reject the commandment of God” (Matt. 15:3, 6; Mark 7:8-9).
The Biblical dietary laws are not man-made Jewish traditions. They are commandments of God. Therefore, if Jesus abolished the dietary commandments of God at the very same time when He was rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for abolishing the commandments of God, then this would make Jesus a hypocrite for doing the very thing He was rebuking them for doing. And, according to Deuteronomy 13, he would be a false prophet.
And by the way, the expression “he declared all foods clean” appears only in modern translations. It is not in the KJV, which is translated from the Textus Receptus (“Received Text”), the New Testament manuscript that was regarded as the inspired text until the late 1800s, when Westcot and Hort introduced corrupt, inferior manuscripts.
(For an explanation of Matthew 15 and Mark 7, see “God’s Dietary Laws: Abolished in the New Testament?” GOE 3-6.)
6. “The claim that New Testament believers should abstain from eating pork, shellfish, and other non-kosher animals is a doctrine of devils according to 1 Timothy 4:1-5.”
Paul does say that one doctrine of devils takes the form of commandments “to abstain from meats.” But the question that must be asked and answered here is this:
Which dietary commandments is Paul talking about? Man-made dietary laws, or God-given dietary laws? Is Paul saying that any kind of dietary laws is a doctrine of devils, even Biblical dietary laws?
Many Christians say, “Yes, the teaching of any dietary laws is a doctrine of devils. We can eat anything we wish.”
If you believe Paul is talking about any and all dietary laws, even God-given Biblical dietary laws, then you are saying God is a devil, because God commanded His people to abstain from certain meats.
The Biblical dietary laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 were given by God. Therefore these laws cannot be a doctrine of devils - unless you want to say that the God who gave them is a devil. (For an explanation of 1 Timothy 4:1-5, see “God’s Dietary Laws: Abolished in the New Testament?” GOE 3-6.)
7. “Paul said in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither male nor female in Christ. This means there are no gender restrictions in Christ, so a woman can do anything a man can do.”
If this is the true meaning of Galatians 3:28, then...
Well, please read the following cartoon to see the implications that can be drawn from this erroneous understanding...
Image (top/middle): Illustrations by Louis Poyet 1846-1913.
Image (bottom): Reverend Twistruth & His Disciples, from Daniel Botkin's Twistruth comic books. Find them in the Gates of Eden Shop!