by Mike Ratliff
12 Χάριν ἔχω τῷ ἐνδυναμώσαντί με Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν, ὅτι πιστόν με ἡγήσατο θέμενος εἰς διακονίαν 13 τὸ πρότερον ὄντα βλάσφημον καὶ διώκτην καὶ ὑβριστήν, ἀλλὰ ἠλεήθην, ὅτι ἀγνοῶν ἐποίησα ἐν ἀπιστίᾳ· 14 ὑπερεπλεόνασεν δὲ ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μετὰ πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 NA27)
12 I have gratitude to the one who empowered me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful having put me into his service, 13 previously being a blasphemer and persecutor and an insolent man, but I received mercy because I did it in unbelief, being ignorant, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with faith and love in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
Today Frank Viola posted “The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 9 Sure Ways.” While I understand “the gist” of what is being said in the article and have rules for commenting on my own blog to curb that sort of thing, the target of this post by Frank is not people like those I block for being obnoxious, rude, belligerent, et cetera, but those who are critical of him, his ministry and those with whom his partnered. For my own part, I don’t think I have written anything about Frank or his friends that violated any of those 9 points, but I have certainly disagreed with him about a few things having to with doctrine and his “mission” to change the Church.
Those who cannot tolerate criticism and try to deflect by posting articles like The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 9 Sure Ways, do so by trying to make themselves out to be victims and those who are obedient to God’s mandate to be discerning are just mean, and are, therefore, jerks because they are divisive. Look at what is going on in the pop-culture soft-gospel part of the visible church right now. Everyone is embracing one another across their nearly non-existent, man-made doctrinal lines and all becoming one big happy visible church family. However, those with discernment and the courage to stand firm in the face of this “nonsense” are seen as “jerks” and will always be on the outside looking in here because they are not politically correct nor do they play ball to become popular with the masses nor do they really care what imposters who call themselves theologians or Christian leaders or pastors or whatever think of them or say about them. No, all that matters is their obedience to God, not man (Acts 5:29).
I consider articles like Frank’s to be bait in a trap that I have no intention of taking. Genuine Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). That means that even though I am in Christ and he is in me, until I go to be with him in Eternity, I must remain in the temporal in this body in this life. However, I am not the same as I was before God saved me. Neither was the Apostle Paul. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (1 Timothy 1:12-14). What was Saul of Tarsus (Paul) before God saved him? Paul himself tells us that he was a blasphemer (βλάσφημον), that is, one who slanders God. He not only did this, but compelled Christians to do it as well in his persecution of them (Acts 26:11). He was a persecutor (διώκτην), that is, one who pursued someone for the purpose of persecuting them.
Both of those makes Saul of Tarsus a real jerk, but the third thing he mentions about himself prior to his conversion is the most graphic. I translated it as “an insolent man.” It is the Greek noun ὑβριστήν (hybristēn), the Accusative, Singular of ὑβριστής (hybristēs), “an overbearing, violent person.” Paul is describing himself before his conversion as one who is not just violent, but who is driven by violence and contempt for others. To see them humiliated and suffering actually brought him pleasure. Would that have made Saul of Tarsus a sadist? Ἡβριστής also appears in the list of sins that describe man’s fallen nature in Romans 1:30.
Also, our Lord said in Luke 18:32 describing how he would suffer during his arrest and trial, “παραδοθήσεται γὰρ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν καὶ ἐμπαιχθήσεται καὶ ὑβρισθήσεται καὶ ἐμπτυσθήσεται”, or, “For he will be delivered up to the gentiles and he will be ridiculed and he will be mistreated and he will be spat upon.” The words, “he will be mistreated” translates the verb ὑβρισθήσεται (hybristhēsetai) the Finite, 3rd Person, Singular, Future, Indicative, Passive of ὑβρίζω (hybrizō), “to mistreat or insult. “It should be obvious that this is the verb form of ὑβριστής. The way our Lord was treated at his crucifixion was with spite.
Now my brethren and I speak to those of you who are truly with me in that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, Saul of Tarsus was a real jerk and so were those who crucified our Lord. So were all of us before the miracle of our New Birth in Christ. However, none of us were too great a sinner for God to save us. God saved Saul of Tarsus and he became Paul the Apostle. When I look back on my own life before Christ I cringe, but that was what our fallen nature was all about. That was then, now we are in Christ and are New Creations in Christ. Let us not be jerks, but obedient slaves of our Lord Jesus Christ not slaves of this culture or the trends and fads that is driving what is shamefully going on the visible church. We must be above all that as we remain faithful even if it means telling the truth to the Body of Christ about how certain so-called Christian leaders are preaching unbiblical stuff and embracing things from other religions et cetera. We must obey God rather than man. We do this all for the glory of God alone.
Soli Deo Glora!