Why Does Scripture Offend Some Believers?
By Angie Lewis
Why does scripture offend some people? I think that part of it
is because some believers do not understand the difference
between religious laws established in the Old Testament and the
Word of God established in the New Testament.
If we become easily offended when someone speaks in opposition to Old Testament laws and customs then maybe we are not ready to hear what is being said or maybe we are just overly sensitive to comprehending what is being said in the New Testament. Regardless, those who preach, write, witness, and evangelize should be careful about how they present God’s Word so they do not come across as being self-righteous and offensive.
In other words, there is nothing to judge in such matters as these, and even if there were judgment should be left up to God. God is the Judge and we are God’s stewards communicating the gospel to those who have ears to hear. In fact, scripture tells us to avoid offending others if it would hinder the gospel in any way. That means at times, we should submit to the laws and customs of others (if it does not hurt anyone) for the sake of the gospel.
Apostle Paul didn’t want to offend anyone and many times throughout his ministry he would be ‘all things” for “all people”, so that he might save some of them. There were times when Paul submitted to certain Old Testament Laws because he did not want to offend his hearers.
They have been informed that you (Paul) teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their head shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law. As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.
Acts 21: 21-25
In the next verse, Paul did what he was told and submitted to their laws for the sake of not offending anyone.
The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.
Even though Paul submitted to their customs and laws so he would not offend, he was also very firm in his Christian convictions. And like Paul, we should also remain firm in our Christian convictions but flexible on non-essential customs that would not sacrifice our beliefs.
For instance, in the New Testament scripture tells us over and over again that the only way to salvation is through faith! In fact, following non-fundamental laws are of no value for our salvation. Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament laws and released us from its “burden of guilt”. We should not feel that by observing Old Testament laws it is the way to salvation.
So my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Salvation is through Faith in Jesus Christ and if we offend someone because we preach or write about this awesome biblical truth, honestly, there is nothing we can do about that. But we can try and show them through our example of why we believe with such conviction. We certainly cannot undermine our deep felt convictions in Christ because someone is offended by it. Discernment is the key here.
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I become like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I become like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I become like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I become weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23