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The Pleasure Trap of Paulinism 

 

God's Mercy In the Ten Commandments.

In Exodus 20:6, you will see that God gave us a principle that our conscience would normally and readily recognize as true. This verse tells us how to be saved eternally with God. It simply says God's mercy is given to those who love God and obey His commandments.

However, we are deliberately taught by Pauline teachers that this principle on mercy / grace is false. We suffer a modern constant Pauline drubbing upon the claim that we "shall be saved" by "holding in memory" a belief in two facts about Jesus, citing 1 Cor. 15:1-4.

What are these two facts which by believing them alone will save us eternally?

Paul says you must simply believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, and you "shall" be saved. No other conditions. This is a mercy with no requirement either to love God or obey His commandments, at total odds with Exodus 20:6.

On top of this, we are brainwashed to reject Exodus 20:6 if we ever read it. This conditioning is done by scaremongering. We are told that "adding" anything else to the supposed faith-alone gospel of 1 Cor. 15:1-4 will cause our damnation. Thus, not only is it supposedly wrong to think repenting and turning to obey God to obtain His mercy for your sins is necessary, but also you are told that merely believing it is true and then attempting to fulfill this condition of obeying God will sever you from Christ. Again, this is based upon Paul's teachings, particularly in Galatians 5, as discussed below.

 

Hence, we are now almost universally taught that obeying God with such a mental expectation of mercy from God will cause your damnation -- the very opposite of what God promised you in Exodus 20:6 for such mental attitude and behavior. 

 

For Paul tells us that obeying God for salvation will "sever" a Christian from Christ. Such an effort to obey God's principles to be right with God will cause a curse, Paul says, to fall upon you that will send a Christian believer to hell. And Paul adds that Christ will profit a Christian nothing, and you will fall from grace, by taking the path of obeying God, including obeying the sabbath day of rest, if you have the mental belief that this is a means of staying justified in God's eyes. See Gal. 1:6-12Gal. 2:14-16 (cursed if not continue in all points of law); Gal. 3:9-12Gal. 5:4 NASB (severed from Christ); Gal. 5:2 KJV (Christ "profit you nothing").

 

The icing on top to cement this startling view is the Pauline villification of God's principle in Exodus 20:6 as unecessarily exposing us to the risk of boasting. Paul again is cited for this proposition. See Eph. 2:8-9

When these out-of-context verses are combined with pastors flattering us falsely every week that we can be assured salvation for faith-alone (no obedience / works necessay), we end up ensnared by the pleasure trap of Paulinism. It will take a lot of spiritual studies to escape its snare. Hopefully, this article will help you begin to restore your spiritual-recognition that Exodus 20:6 is true. And it is something Jesus teaches and refers to many times.

Here is Exodus 20:6 -- God clearly stating His grounds for mercy to obtain salvation -- a verse right inside His delivering the Ten Commandments — sandwiched right between the first and second commandments: 

"[I extend] mercy to those who love me and obey my commandments." (Exodus 20:6 NKJV.)

This has both a loving and conditional aspect. The loving aspect is a promise of mercy and the conditional aspect is that we must turn to love God and obey His commandments.

 

Paul's Salvation On Holding in Memory Just Two Facts as True.

What is the opposite message we hear today? God has supposedly made a way that there is no love and obedience condition to have a right to God's mercy, but instead we must keep only in memory just two facts about Jesus. We thereby supposedly become saved forever. Thus, when we sin again, we allegedly need only remind  ourselves about these two beliefs to restore our joy of salvation. As Paul puts it in 1 Cor. 15:1-4

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures(1 Cor. 15:1-4 KJV.) 

 

Please note that Paul cites himself as his only authority -- it is a gospel "I preached to you." For this significant erasure of Exodus 20:6 -- part of the Ten Commandments, Paul does not cite God nor Jesus nor the Bible for this supposed new truth. Paul just directly does away with both elements - as if neither need ever be mentioned again -- on his exclusive authority to say so by his own preaching. 

 

Instead of what Exodus 20:6 requires, Paul clearly teaches elsewhere that faith alone saves. For you are "saved by faith, not works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9.) So "keep in memory" -- as Paul clearly says in 1 Cor. 15:2 -- just the facts that Jesus "died for your sins" and "rose the third day" and you supposedly "are saved."

 

Such an attractive principle — if you latch onto it — necessarily drives from your mind any necessity to obey God as a condition to receive his mercy. In fact, Paul says it leads to the sin of boasting if you believe works of obedience form any condition of God's mercy -- His grace.

Damnation Follows For Compliance with Exodus 20:6. 

Paul goes even farther than just this. Paul emphasizes that you are cursed, and severed from Christ, and Christ will profit you nothing if you try to obey God's law as a condition of salvation -- principles at total odds with  Exodus 20:6.

In Galatians, Paul bemoans Galatian Christians who wish to keep sabbath as provided in the Ten Commandments - a command specifically applicable to all Gentiles in community with Israel. See Deut. 5:12-15 ("sojourner within thy gates"); Lev. 25:6 ("sojourner settling with thee"); Exo 23:12 (sojourner).

 

Paul then says "anathema" -- cursed -- are those who wish to be just / justified by keeping such parts of the Law, i.e., sabbath, etc. For otherwise, Paul argues, they will have to keep "all" of the Law, and not selected parts. (Gal. 1:6-12Gal. 2:14-16 (cursed if not continue in all points of law); Gal. 3:9-12 (under a curse, misquoting Deuteronomy, as explained at this link), Gal. 3:21.

In the same vein, Paul says to the Galatian Christians about those who obeyed God as Christians to stay in God's grace: "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by Law; you have fallen from grace." (Gal. 5:4 NASB.)

So Paul acknowledges he is talking about true Christians. They are severed from Christ by obeying Sabbath rest as a condition of salvation as expressed by God in Exodus 20:6. Thus Paul teaches you are saved by faith alone, but become damned by obeying one of God’s commands in the Ten Commandments if motivated to satisfy the requirement in Exodus 20:6 — part of the Ten Commandments too. Paul is talking about the Sabbath command in context -- a command that was specifically extended in the Law to Gentiles aka foreigners / sojourners.

And again on the parallel topic of circumcision (which the Law necessitated a Gentile have done only if they wished to enter the Temple at Jerusalem or participate in passover), Paul says: "Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all." (Gal. 5:2 NIV.) Or as the KJV says, "Christ will profit you nothing." (Gal. 5:2 KJV.)

Thus, even a Christian who wanted to be circumcised solely to enter the temple to avoid being damned by defiling the Temple's holiness standard,  would actually lose their salvation for such clear sin-avoidance. Hence, Paul warned a Christian would be eternally separated from Christ by that act of obedience to an optional command  that the Law said a Gentile must follow if they wanted to enter the temple and pray.

This is clearly a ludicrous principle - you are supposedly damned for obeying a principle the Law said you must obey so as not to  be damned. How ridiculous! Yet, your Pauline pastors teach these Paul teachings as if they make good sense. Their reasoning? By avoiding obedience to God's law, you avoid the risk of 'boasting.'  They cite correctly Ephesians 2:8-9 which indeed implies this. But Paul's saying it is so does not make it so. Paul has no quote of Jesus or authority of some inspired vision for this patently absurd view.

So why does this nonsense get swallowed without objection by almost everyone in the pew every Sunday? What's the attraction holding our minds to this silly doctrine?

 

Because It is The Greatest News Ever

Let's admit it -- Paul's message is overwhelmingly great news ....   

I get everything for nothing.

I only have to accept two facts of history as true. 

But this represents the pleasure trap of Paulinism.

Why? 

Because Paulinism uses Paul’s words to instill a belief that restored obedience as a condition of mercy (forgiveness of sin) is a frightful requirement, leading us invariably to the sin of pride ("boast"-ing). Based upon Paul, I can then justify doing nothing for God toward obedience. Instead, I can insist God must grant me mercy based upon my simply keeping in “memory” these two fact-beliefs which Paul specified. I can then enjoy the notion that God has to let me into heaven because I believe just these two facts about Jesus.

Jude's Curious Epistle

What does Jude -- second Bishop of the Church and brother of Jesus -- say about this idea? Jude talks of a doctrine of grace devoid of the second of the two principles we saw in Exodus 20:6 -- "obey my commandments" -- as a condition of God's mercy.

Jude equates this view with a teaching by a "wolf in sheep's" clothing who Jude says penetrated Christianity with a lawless doctrine that twists God's "grace" into "licentiousness.” This unnamed Christ-professing figure, Jude says, shares the lessons of Balaam -- a figure alive in the time of Moses.

What was Balaam's doctrine?  Let’s look for an answer where Jesus references Balaam in the context of talking about a false apostle in Revelation. Jesus speaks of an unnamed false apostle, and then next condemned the doctrine of a new Balaam in Rev. 2:14 who Jesus says now permitted Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

Who can Jesus be talking about?

Could it be Paul?

For Paul unquestionably taught Christians are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols, only restraining from doing so around a brother with a "weaker" conscience who thinks it is wrong. By doing so, the "weaker" Christian  may be encouraged to do something he thinks is wrong by your eating such meat. But otherwise, you have the "stronger" conscience, and know it is perfectly acceptable to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Your freedom to eat such meat should not be constrained by another's "weak" conscience who needlessly fears that eating such meat is wrong. See 1 Cor. 10:28-29 and 1 Cor. 8:4-12.

 

George Reber, a Paul defender, in The Christ of Paul (1876) is shocked at Jude for likewise calling this NT person a new Balaam. Reber derisively said of Jude:  "The Epistle of Jude is nothing but a bolt hurled at the head of Paul." (Link.) If you want to see how Jude's proofs about an unnamed "wolf in sheep's clothing" apply to Paul and his principles, see para. # 18 at this link.

 

Scaremongering That Obedience Damns You Is The Sugar On Top.

 

The ultimate "pleasure trap" -- which I will explain later what that means -- is to define the true doctrine of salvation -- God's mercy -- so that believing in the truth of Exodus 20:6 is depicted as spiritually dangerous. Accepting the truth of Exodus 20:6 will supposedly cause you to fall into pride. Into boasting. This sin will then cause loss of salvation. You can then justify to God that you will never try to be obedient for salvation-sake ever again because such desire will always backfire and cause the very thing you want to avoid. You can now tell God that you will only obey Him when you feel some need to get a reward in heaven. 

 

How pleasing that is in our own sight.

 

It is an unbelievably  attractive gospel that creates a dopamine-like effect of pure pleasure. It drives out the voice of John the Baptist, Jesus and Yahweh who give contrary warnings. Each preached to us that works worthy of repentance were an essential component of God's grace -- His mercy.

  

Science Shows Paulinism Exploits Our Mental Proclivities 

A neuroscientist Tali Sharon in a Ted talk discussed studies that show people will negate a warning and accept a more optimistic projection over the warning even if the optimistic “truth” is untrue. See this you tube at the six minute mark: https://youtu.be/xp0O2vi8DX4

 

Thus flattery combined with wishful thinking -- a pleasing “truth” -- attracts us like the porch light that attracts moths who mistake it for the light of the moon to which they are designed to fly toward. Our mind naturally seeks to be optimistic about our salvation. We gravitate toward pleasing messages that flatter us and have no cautions about what path to take. We are thus susceptible to pleasure traps on what is the path to salvation. What are such traps? Such snares?

Pleasure Trap Defined 

pleasure trap is anything artificially created to appear like God’s true design which is so juiced to boost attractiveness  unrealistically that true warnings are ignored. For example, as Dr. Lisle explains in his Ted Talk  https://youtu.be/jX2btaDOBK8,  one pleasure trap is where the brain turns off natural warnings / signals, and responds to eat unnaturally processed oily salty foods solely because of unrealistic and processed taste concentrations which our ancestors never experienced.

 

This too is the power of modern Paulinism. It is like the unrealistic sweet or salty junk foods we eat regularly. It is also like the unrealistic cocaine high that you cannot give up. We will self-destructively pursue recklessly the next fix of potato chips or the snort, ignoring our pangs to obey our conscience despite  our declining spiritual-health. 

 

How is this done spiritually using Paul’s words?

Stringing Together Out-of-Context Verses of Paul

Paulinism strings  verses together from primarily only Paul week after week at church, for a powerful  effect.  Paul’s words, had they instead been read along with Jesus' words being given equal or greater weight, would never have been able to persuade. On top of this repetitive narrow focus on Paul, Pauline teachers juice Paul's authority by the simple uncorroborated power-claim that Paul enjoys the label “apostle." This label is incessantly ascribed to Paul without any proof other than Paul’s self-serving claim. See link.

 

And this is how God’s truth of salvation — His expectation we love God and obey His commandments for forgiveness of sin — an unassailable truth from the Ten Commandments themselves — now revulses us. We are so satiated by sweet words of optimism that faith alone saves that the true Word of God seems like a tasteless and unsatisfying dish of unseasoned vegetables. Our pastors have fed us the equivalent of exciting Frito Lay potato chips or Hostess cupcakes - we just cannot get enough of flattery reassuring us weekly that we are saved by belief in two historical facts about Jesus: he died for our sins and rose from the dead. We hear the echo incessantly of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. It is part of the Nicene Creed of the 300s that we typically are asked by our pastors to affirm as true.

 

Thereby, Paulinism points us directly at a path of self-destruction like the moth is drawn to the unnaturally bright light at night of a porch light. Paulinism presents an artificial pleasure trap that hooks into our natural attraction to be saved upon physical death by some artificially and exagerrated powerful misleading means

 

What should we do in response? Our goal must be to break free, see the truth of the ungodly pleasure trap, and head back to the true light of God’s and Jesus’ unassailable words.

Paulinists Ignore Paul's Words That Undermine Paulinism.

Interestingly, here Paulinists are so enamored with faith-alone for salvation that they recklessly encourage a misidentification of Paul’s self-contradictatory statements. Paul utters obedience-conditions for salvation stated in the same 1 Corinthians epistle. He also does so three times elsewhere. Paul thus a total of four times gives Christians warnings that they will not “inherit the kingdom” if they commit various sins. Paul primarily cited examples from the Ten Commandments. Paul expressed frustration that the churches he seeded understood something different from something he said. See 1 Cor. 6:9, Ephesian 5:5-7, Galatians 5:19-21, and 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8. See also full discussion at this link.

 

Yet, the Pauline preachers of today tell their followers that Paul means in these passages only a loss of reward, because we know elsewhere such as from 1 Cor. 15:1-4 that Paul promises salvation for only keeping certain beliefs in “memory.” They read this to mean that no misconduct on our part can erase such salvation. They insist Paul's warning Christians elsewhere that they won't “inherit the kingdom” for sins specified in the Law means we are only at risk of losing a reward in heaven instead of our being barred from entry. Somehow not "inheriting the kingdom" supposedly means you are still there but lack joy during your eternal life.

 

These pastors equally ignore Paul's words in Romans 2:13 KJV that only the "doers of the Law are justified" but not those who "hear" alone. What else can that mean other than that those who believe alone but do not do the Law's requirements are not justified?

 

Pilots Who Ignore Warnings Doom Their Passengers 

But this brings to mind the 2005 tragedy of Helios airline flight 522 as it ascended from 10,000 to 18,000 feet after departing Cyprus while heading for Athens. The 737 gave the pilots a sound warning of an in flight problem which sounded similar to a ground configuration warning that only sounds when on the ground. The pilots did not recognize it was an inflight-warning sound about pressurization of the cabin which will become deadly as they ascend if not addressed.

 

The pilots spoke via radio with the ground mechanic. It was learned later that this mechanic had mistakenly forgot to set the pressurization switch back to "auto" when he was done. Via radio, he asked the pilots questions  designed to alert the pilots to the true problem -- asking about the status of the auto-manual setting on the pressurization switch. However, the pilots repeatedly brushed aside his questions.

The main pilot pressed for an answer how to throw a circuit breaker to take offline the "erroneous" warning sound. The pilots even ignored the fact that the oxygen masks had dropped for the passengers, triggered automatically by a change in pressure in their cabin. The plane's passengers thus knew there was danger. They trusted the pilots, however, were paying attention. But the pilots were not paying attention to how the passengers were doing. The passenger's confidence was misplaced, and soon enough the pilots themselves would lose consciousness, dooming all onboard. When that happened, the plane  simply flew in one direction until the plane ran out of fuel, and crashed into the side of a mountain. The pilots needed to heed the mechanic's questions (which implied a warning) in time to save the passengers and themselves.

 

The pilots fault was they remained resistant to listen to questions from the ground mechanic who tried to alert them to check the pressurization status. Thus, when the ground mechanic point blank asked the pilot: "Can you confirm the pressurization is set to AUTO?," the pilot ignored him, responding: "Where are my equipment cooling circuit breakers?" referring to wanting to know where was the location of the breakers to stop the warning signals.

 

Thus, the pilots did nothing right, ignoring the mechanic three-times pursuing the same issue. The pilots instead insisted the mechanic respond to their question on how to simply disrupt warning sounds to turn them off.

 

 

However, had the pilots listened to the lowly ground mechanic - the one responsible for the error in the first place, and followed his questions, they would have learned that the auto pressurization was mistakenly turned to "off." All they needed to do is flip the switch from "manual" to “auto.”  Instead, the pilots were “ignoring the question,” fixated instead on finding the breakers to turn off what they thought was the sound of a ground misconfiguration warning that should only sound while on the ground. 

 

See this for youselves in this re-enactment at the 7:00 to 7:57 mark of this video: https://youtu.be/Go3K0UUt2Us

 

Let's give meaning to the death of all those people by treating this as a parable to teach us that we must pray self-styled pastors wake up, sound the warning, and flip the switch to Jesus from Paulinism. We need to reject skewed string-cites from Paul, even ignoring Paul's four inheritance warnings given to believers to fly right or not make it to heaven.

 

Thus, in our present state, we have oxygen masks of Bible verses from Jesus to alert us. However, no pilot is telling us how to use them. We are doomed by our pastors misreading Paul’s inheritance warnings as not applicable to get us to grab the oxygen masks and have a true chance at survival.

Let's Dig Deeper Into the Helios Crash Parabolic Analogy. 

So why did Helios flight 522 eventually lose all power and crash, killing all crew and passengers? 

 

A single mechanic on the ground checked the pressurization of a door, and to do that he turned the pressurization system from auto to manual. He forgot to reset it back to auto. So as the plane ascended above 10,000 feet, all the pilots ever had to do was flip a single switch from manual to auto to live.

 

On three separate occasions the pilot ignored instructions to take care of this. He didn’t think that was the problem. He thought the problem was there was a mistake and the warning sound was for a ground configuration issue which he knew was impossible in flight. He just wanted to turn off the sound. He didn’t want to address the truth of what the real warning was even when more reliable sources on the ground were telling the pilot what to do. The pilot did not want to even listen to the person who was most intimately involved in creating the mistake himself: the ground mechanic who should have set the pressurization back to "auto."  

 

This is like our modern pastors today. Paul is like the ground mechanic who made the mistake. Paul is "difficult to understand," Peter says in 2 Peter 3:15-18, so no wonder Paul made a mistake in stating things absolutely with no conditions in Ephesians 2:8-9, and in 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. 

 

Even when the four inheritance warning passages are cited as telling Christians that violating various commandments will cause us not to "inherit the kingdom of God," our pastors just know better. Paul cannot mean what this says. He must mean we lose rewards only. They tune out not only Paul but anyone who says otherwise. They are lowly lay persons who are just disturbing their focus upon getting people saved on faith alone oxygen. The warnings of Paul and these lay-persons are snidely disregarded with impunity by our pastors. Thus, our pastors remain unaware that faith-alone oxygen will evaporate as their congregants try to reach for the heavens. It is insufficient to get us to the higher altitude above 18,000 feet in this real-world parable and thus into heaven. We lack the protective pressurization that Exodus 20:6 provides -- the path of loving God and obeying His commandments for salvation -- an unmistakable warning post because it is right inside the Ten Commandments. No pastor, and none of us, can ever say we never saw it there. We will have to confess instead that we just ignored words in the most read portion of the Bible: the Ten Commandments.

 

So our pilot-pastors presently refuse to take Paul’s own warnings seriously that obedience is crucial to go to heaven. Instead, they ignore even Paul's warnings. Thus, they fail to get themselves and their passengers to safety. We’re all being led to destruction for the failure of just one flip of a switch — from Paul — with his confusing, poorly articulated words — back to Jesus – our true auto pilot. Let's make the effort to insist all of us -- pastors and their passengers -- get back on track before it is too late.

 

 P.S. Please note the absurdity of Ephesians 2:8-9 -- we are "saved by faith, lest any man should boast." There are two absurdities in this.

First, in light of Exodus 20:6, Paul presents boasting as if the risk of that sin necessitates God eliminating Exodus 20:6 going forward. For Paul presents the consequences of boasting as far more egregious than the consequences of disobeying any or all of the other laws of God. Paul thereby implies that we should never further try to avoid blasphemy or idol worship or adultery, etc., to remain saved. It is more important to avoid boasting, and to that end, we must accept God no longer has a conditon of "loving me" and "obeying my commandments" in Exodus 20:6 so as to remove the risk of boasting.

The second absurdity is that in this path, by the same principle against boasting, Paul should equally imply that rewards cannot be sought based upon loving and obeying God. For obviously such good works for rewards are equally or more so pose a risk of boasting. For now you think you are "entitled" to rewards. How does that lessen the risk of boasting?  I don't see any thing materially different as to the moral risk of boasting. For whether salvation or rewards is the goal, if you do good works to achieve either, you always have the risk of boasting either way. Hence, if Paul's principle were true, both salvation and rewards  with God must necessarily both be by "faith, not works, lest any man should boast." Thus, to be consistent, Paul must mean you enjoy complete abundant fellowship with God, with every reward possible, and not merely obtain salvation, just by believing Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-4.) Hence, Paul is saying 'stop trying to repent from sin, obeying God, loving God, or otherwise in every case, whether for rewards or salvation,  you will be tempted to boast’ —  a supposedly horrifying sin that should negate your concern ever again to try to avoid any other sin. The upside is you get everything — salvation and rewards just for belief, for otherwise God would be guilty of tempting you to sin (Paul implies). Thus, you are entitled in either case to salvation and rewards by faith alone, lest any one should boast.

However, that is silly — rewards should not be given for faith alone in two facts — Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead. What great feat worthy of rewards does holding such two facts in memory represent?

 

Thus, Ephesians 2:8-9 — when you stop and think about it — is pure nonsense. This is why 2 Peter 2:15-18 calls Paul's words "sometimes DYSNOETAS" - literally destructive of good sense;  nonsense, etc. See Second Peter.