Friday, February 17, 2012

One John One Nine by Joel Brueseke

Part One
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Under the Old Covenant, the very best the people could hope for was for their sins to be temporarily covered.  Through various rituals and animal sacrifices, they could be ceremonially cleansed but yet even with the blood of bulls and goats their sin could never be taken away.  In fact, through those sacrifices there was really only a reminder of sins (Heb 10:3-4).  Contrast this with "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  It's interesting to me that the same Greek word used in Hebrews 10:3, in which it's said that the blood of bulls and goats only provided a reminder ("anamnesis") of sins is the very same Greek word used by Jesus in the account of the Last Supper in Luke 22:19 and that Paul also spoke when he repeated Jesus' words, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me" and "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

See the contrast?  The blood of bulls and goats only provided a reminder of sins, but through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, our sins were taken away, and this is now what we are to remember and be reminded of often.  Our sins were taken away.  They no longer exist.  They were not simply "covered," as was the case under the Old Covenant, but they have been taken away.  To bring them up again is to deny the finished work of Jesus.  To do so is to not remember His broken body and shed blood through which our sins have been taken away.

When, then, about 1 John 1:9?  Aren't we to bring up our sins again, by "confessing" them in order to be cleansed and forgiven?  There are several problems with building a doctrine of confession-for-Christians from this lone verse.  First off, nowhere else in the New Testament is there instruction for Christians to confess their sins in order to be cleansed and forgiven.  Even in all of Paul's writings and in all of his dealings with sinful behavior in the church (and he dealt with a lot of it), not once does he give any instructions for confessing sins.  In fact, time and time again he reminds the church of the finished work of Jesus and that they are already holy, righteous, cleansed, forgiven, sanctified, justified, and so on and so on.  For example, in 1 Cor 6:9-11 he exhorts them to not live as those who have not yet been washed, sanctified and justified --- because they themselves have been washed, sanctified and justified.  That's already who they are, so go ahead and live like it!

Paul goes on to say that "all things are lawful." There's no condemnation and we remain cleansed even when we don't live like who we are.  "But," he says, "not all things are helpful... not all things edify... I won't be brought under the power of any."  The issue isn't one of losing our righteousness, sanctification or justification, or of no longer being clean. The issue is living out who we truly are because that's who God literally made us to be.  The issue isn't a matter of being cleansed and forgiven over and over again, each time we sin!  We have been cleansed once and for all and we have been forgiven once and for all.  "And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Col 2:13-14).

With all of the rest of the truth of the New Covenant, it should be plain to see that John was not addressing Christians in the first chapter of his first epistle.  Since Christians are already forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness, there would have been no reason for John to instruct them on how to become forgiven and clean!  But the church that he was writing to was a mixed church, as many churches are, made up of not only believers but of unbelievers too.  And among those in the church were some Gnostics, who, among other things, didn't believe that Jesus had come in the flesh.  John addressed them, and I'll get into that in Part Two.

Part Two
When reading different parts of the Bible, it's always important to keep various things in mind, such as:

- To whom are the words spoken or directed?
- Which Covenant is represented in the teaching?
- What is the overall point being made?
- Context, including surrounding sentences, the entire book, etc.

It's also important to note that the various books of the Bible, not the least of which include the New Testament epistles, were not written in a void. That is, when a writer wrote an epistle, he didn't simply sit down and say to himself, "hmm, which topics and doctrines of the Christian life should I write about today?"  Most often the epistles were, in fact, responses to questions from the church, and to events that were happening within the church.  John's first epistle was no exception.  The first part of this epistle was directed toward a certain group of people within the church he was writing to.  Gnostics had come into the church with some erroneous beliefs and false teachings about Jesus, and John addressed these head-on.

Unfortunately, a "face value" reading of this epistle, without a knowledge of this first century Gnostic infiltration of the church, has (not surprisingly) led to a misunderstanding of the first ten verses that make up Chapter One.  Study aids are very helpful in understanding these things.  In the introduction to 1 John, the Nelson's Study Bible says:

    "Gnosticism was a teaching that blended Eastern mysticism with Greek dualism (which claimed that the spirit is completely good, but matter is completely evil)... Based on the concept that matter is evil and spirit is good, some Gnostics concluded that if God was truly good He could not have created the material universe.  Therefore, some lesser god had to have created it... The dualistic views of Gnosticism were also reflected  in the prevalent belief that Jesus did not have a physical body." 

In addition, since the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil, then "sin" wasn't an issue, as it didn't matter what a person did with their body.  To address all of this heresy, John writes:

    "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:1-3)

He is telling the Gnostics that indeed they had seen and touched Jesus - He had truly come in the flesh - and then he said he was declaring this to them so that "you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." He then went on in the last few verses to tell the unbelievers/Gnostics how it is that they could come into the light and be forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness.

It's not until the second chapter that John redirects his thoughts and begins talking to the believers. "My little children..."  And he even tells them quite directly, "I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake." (1 John 2:12). How does he know whether or not they've individually done their continued confessions? :) He doesn't, nor does it matter in the least.  The point is moot. What he does know is that those who believe (those who he is speaking to) have already been forgiven once and for all, and he assures them of that.

Then later, in chapter 4, he reminds them to beware of the false prophets/Antichrist spirit, and it seems he's speaking in large part about the Gnostics:

    "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." (1 John 4:1-3)

Regarding all this, Paul Anderson-Walsh, in his book Safe and Sound, writes:

    "It is clear to me, at least, that the Apostle John's concern was not to instruct the church in the way of asking God for daily forgiveness but rather, to bring the Gnostic anti-Christs to heel and to salvation and the reception of their forgiveness.

    The Apostle John's purpose here in the fourth chapter was not to show the na├»ve young saints how to get forgiven but now to protect themselves from interlopers."

Regarding the "new and living way" by which we have "boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus," the writer of Hebrews writes, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering..."  He doesn't say "Let us hold fast the confession of our sins."  He has spent several chapters talking about the finished work of Jesus and how we have been perfected and made eternally clean by the blood of Jesus.

Part Three
Throughout the entire book of Hebrews we see the superiority and complete sufficiency of the finished work of Christ, and specifically in chapters 9 and 10 we read about all that was accomplished through the blood of Christ.  With His own blood, Jesus "obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12).  The blood of Christ cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:14).  Heb 9:22 says "almost all things are purified with blood and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  In the Old Covenant, the blood of animals had to be offered often and yet never took away sin, but through one offering Jesus has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb 9:26).  In those Old Covenant sacrifices, "there is a reminder of sins every year, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb 10:3-4).  But our sin has been taken away, once and for all, with the blood of Jesus.  Through the one sacrifice we have been perfected forever (Heb 10:14).

The point in all of this is that our redemption, our cleansing, our purification was all accomplished through nothing but the blood of Jesus.  Through the blood, our sins have been taken away and we have been perfected forever.  Before we were saved by grace through faith, as sinners we could do absolutely nothing to clean ourselves up or to make ourselves righteous or forgiven.  Even if we behaved 'righteously' 99% of the time, it did absolutely nothing to make us clean and righteous, and to receive the forgiveness provided for us through the cross of Jesus Christ.  The only thing that made it possible for us to be cleansed and forgiven was the blood of Jesus.

Now, as saints who have received all of this freely, all of these things are factually true about us.  Even when we don't behave like who we truly, factually are, our unrighteous behavior does not negate what the blood of Jesus has accomplished.  We are not made unrighteous through our unrighteous behavior.  We don't become unclean. We don't lose the fact that all of our sins have already been dealt with and taken away.  We don't become 'unforgiven.'  We are in the light.  We do have fellowship with one another and with God.  Our actions don't cause us to lose fellowship with God.  It's all based, not upon our behavior, but upon the blood of Jesus.

To say that that's an important truth is to greatly under-exaggerate it!  In our lives in Christ, the economy that we live in is not based upon our behavior, but upon the finished work of Christ.  His blood has accomplished what our behavior never could, and so to say that our behavior can negate what His blood did is to "trample the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant by which we've been sanctified as a common thing, and to insult the Spirit of grace" (see Heb 10:29).

What John writes in the first chapter of his first epistle does not fit into the Christian life.  It does fit the truth that can be told an unbeliever to show him how he may come into the light, have fellowship with God, practice the truth and to receive the forgiveness provided for him at the cross and be cleansed of all sin.

The believer is already in the light.  "You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness" (1 Thess 5:5).  "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord" (Eph 5:8).  The believer already has fellowship with God.  "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:9).  "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him" (1 Cor 6:17).  "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God" (Rom 7:4).

The believer is already forgiven and cleansed of all sins:

    "But you were washed, but you were purified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor 6:11).

    "And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins'" (Matthew 26:27-28).

    "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us" (Ephesians 1:7-8).

    "I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name" (1 John 2:12).

    "...then He adds, 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.' Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin" (Heb 10:17-18)

    "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:32).

    "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).

Look especially at those last two verses.  They both essentially say, "forgive others because God has already forgiven you."  It's no longer, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matt 6:14-15).  That was before the cross.  Now, after all that has been accomplished through the blood of Jesus, we're exhorted to forgive others because in Christ, God has forgiven us.  We don't forgive to get forgiven.  We forgive because we've been forgiven.

As a saint, you are pure, holy, righteous, clean, forgiven.  That's who you are.  So what do we do when we don't behave as who we are?  If confession of sins is not the answer, then how do we respond when we miss the mark?  I'll get into that in the fourth and final part of this series.

In the meantime, I love linking to this blog post from Bino Manjasseril: Dismantle the Confession Booths.  He posted this almost three years ago and I still go back and refer to it often.  It's a scripture-only post that shows how we've already been completely forgiven, redeemed, cleansed, made complete, made alive with Christ, made righteous, etc.

Part Four
My main purpose for writing this series of posts was to expose how a huge and deceptive doctrine has been built in the church based upon one lone Bible verse, and it's a doctrine that is simply not supported in the rest of the New Covenant scriptures and in fact stands in opposition to them.  If we're honest with ourselves, where did we Christians get the idea that we need to confess our sins again and again in order to be cleansed and forgiven again and again?  Is it not from this solitary verse?  But if we've missed the point of this verse (and surrounding passage), then we're doing something that God never intended for us to do.

One might say, "What's the big deal with confessing our sins, even if we don't 'have' to?" Well, wouldn't it be a big deal if a man asked his wife every day if she would marry him?  I don't mean a romantic gesture in which he lets her know in a playful way that loves being married to her.  I mean, what if a man seriously asked his wife to marry him every day, as if somehow they became 'unmarried' every day.  The whole idea of that is an insult to the union that became a reality once and for all on their wedding day.  The point of Part Three of this series was to show how we never become 'unclean' or 'unforgiven' before God, and we always remain in union with Him. Our attempts at trying to get Him to make us clean and forgiven again and again show that we don't understand the reality of what is already true of us, and is an insult to the Spirit of grace.

In reality, we have been separated from sin.  Our sin has been taken away.  A one-time event took place in which all our sins were dealt with once and for all.  What a wonderful thing that has been accomplished through the blood of Jesus!  Just think, if our daily sinful behavior negated the effects of that one time sacrifice, and made us unclean and unforgiven again and again, then Jesus would have to come back and die for our sins over and over again!  Our behavior didn't make us clean in the first place, and cannot make us unclean.  Only the blood of Jesus made us clean and has, in fact, cleansed us forever.  God does not see any sin in us.

So what do we do when we don't live according to the clean, righteous, forgiven people that we truly are?  Well, after several chapters of showing all that the one-time blood sacrifice of Jesus accomplished, the writer of Hebrews says this: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23).  He continues on with another highly decontextualized  and misunderstood passage that begins with "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..." (Heb 10:26-31).  The whole point of that passage is that there is no other sacrifice for sins other than the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.  So when we do sin, let us hold fast the confession of our HOPE (not of our sins) that we have in the ever-cleansing blood of Jesus.

What if I don't feel cleansed and forgiven?  What if I'm carrying around the weight of my sinful behavior?  Some might say that confessing their sins makes them feel better or lifts that heavy burden. I do understand the idea of confessing sins making a person feel clean and forgiven, but I while I understand it, I want to strongly challenge that notion.  We're not meant to bear the weight of our sin.  Again, we have been cleansed and forgiven solely by the blood of Jesus - not by how we feel. I would say that if we truly want to feel forgiven and cleansed, then we must accept the truth, by faith, that even though our actions are sometimes contrary to our righteous, perfect, holy state, we are in reality always forgiven and cleansed.  Our feelings come and go.  The fact is that everything has been accomplished solely and sufficiently through the blood of Jesus and nothing less than that!  (Including, and even especially, our feelings).  The truth trumps feelings every time.

Back to the marriage illustration.  I've heard it said that in any relationship, it's good and healthy to confess to one another and to ask for forgiveness and to apologize when we've messed up.  And so it's said that in our relationship with God, it's good and healthy for the relationship if we confess and ask for forgiveness and apologize when we've sinned.  Well, human-to-human relationships are one thing, and sometimes those things may be good, healthy or necessary.  That's a whole 'nother discussion.  But based upon all that I've shared in this series about our union with God and with how He has taken away our sin and has perfected us forever, and on how our actions don't separate us from Him or cause Him to put us back into the 'unforgiven and unclean' category, it's my conviction (I'm convinced) that there is nothing to confess or to ask forgiveness for.

I see nothing wrong with acknowledging that what we've done does not line up with who we truly are, as long as we're not putting ourselves under condemnation and shame.  Self-pity, self-condemnation and a sense of guilt and shame are all contrary to what God wants from us!  Do we really 'get' this?  He has gone to great lengths to take our sin and guilt away!!!  His Blood... remember???  Have you ever heard people say that guilt is a good motivator?  They say that guilt helps drive a person to "do the right thing."  Please don't fall for that lie!  That is not the way of Christ!

But if we acknowledge our sinful behavior with a sense of something like, "I don't want to live like that; I want to live out of the life of Christ in me," and if we continue to hold fast the confession of our HOPE in the finished work of Jesus, then we're walking in grace. If we continue to trust in the fact that He never leaves us nor forsakes us and that even our fleshly thoughts and behavior never change who we truly are in Him, then we're walking in truth that will truly set us free. Instead of going around with a sin-consciousness all the time, we can go around with a righteousness-consciousness, because that is the 100% reality of who we are. That freedom will bring us to a place where we live from that place of righteousness and holiness, rather than trying to attain it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do Christians Sin (1 John 1:8 vs. 1 John 3:9)? by Owen Weber

1 John 1:8 says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
However, 1 John 3:9 says, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

At first glance, this appears to present a glaring contradiction. Do Christians sin, or not? In one verse, John tells his Christian audience that we all sin. Then, in the very same letter, he says that if we're really Christians, we can't continue to sin.

Inadequate Explanations
I've heard many inadequate explanations for this passage. The best of these weak arguments says that the key to the interpretation is the tense of the verb used in 1 John 3:9. It says we can't "continue" to sin. In other words, this argument continues, when we sin and confess it, we won't be repeating that same sin again regularly. However, this proves of little comfort to many Christians who find they're confessing some of the same sins almost every day. In fact, this argument seems to serve only to make some true believers question their salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:17
To unravel this dilemma, we must start with 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Newness of Life
This is a profound verse which is often quoted but rarely thoroughly understood. It's not just saying that when I became a Christian, I underwent a great change. It's actually saying that I went away (died, Romans 6:4-11) and was replaced by a brand new creation. Romans 5:14-15 explains that when we are born physically, we are born into lives of flesh and sin, and we have Adam as our federal headship. Then when we are spiritually born again, we are born into a life in the spirit with Jesus as our federal headship. Romans 7:6 calls this the newness of the spirit. This in not unlike what happened to Saul when he was being chosen as Israel's first king. In 1 Samuel 10:6,9, when the Spirit came upon Saul, "he changed into a different person." God changed his heart. The only difference for us is that while the Spirit eventually left Saul in 1 Samuel 16:14, we Christians are indwelt with the Spirit forever. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and what God sees when He looks at us is that new creation in His Son, rather than our old self.
Romans 7:15 - 8:1
Even Paul struggled with sin in his everyday life. In Romans 7:15, he says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Verse 18 goes on to say, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Here is our first clue to the puzzle. Obviously, Paul was a Christian, and he sinned as a Christian. In fact, verse 19 says, "For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing." Not only did Paul sin, but he kept on sinning. He continued to sin, which 1 John 3:9 says that Christians can't do.

However, verse 17 says, "As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." Although this sounds like an excuse, it's a reality. Verse 20 says, "Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."

The Answer
In other words, when Paul was an unbeliever, and God looked at Paul, He saw Paul's soul. Paul was constituted by his soul. He was just a soul, and his body was only a tent (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). However, once Paul became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) in Jesus Christ, when God looked at him, He saw Paul's new spirit. Paul was no longer constituted by his soul. Now "Paul" was a spirit. Unfortunately, in his earthly life, he continued to drag along his old soul and body (the flesh). Romans 7:21 says, "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me." Although the spirit has power over the flesh, this flesh can still sin. Furthermore, Romans 7:22-23 says, "For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." Paul's spirit wants to do good, but he sees his body sin.

Romans 7:24 says, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" So what's the answer? The answer is found in Romans 7:25 and 8:1, "Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the flesh a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Remember, Paul is his spirit (and mentality), which is a slave to God's law, although his flesh (but not he, himself) is a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, since Paul is his spirit, and he is no longer his flesh,
he is not charged with any sin his old flesh might do. He is not condemned, because,
in the eyes of God, he is perfect, in Christ Jesus.

1 John 1:8 is true, because the flesh associated with each Christian still sins. However, 1 John 3:9 is also true because the new Christian cannot sin. It's only the flesh associated with him that's sinning. In Romans 7, when Paul says he sinned, he's referring to the flesh associated with him, as in 1 John 1:8. On the other hand, passages such as 1 John 3:9 are referring to the Christian himself; i.e., his spirit.

So, is it OK to continue to sin? Paul anticipated this question in Romans 6:1, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" Then, of course, he gives us the answer in verses 2 and 12, "By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? . . . Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." Since the spirit has power over sin, we are still responsible for ensuring that the flesh doesn't sin. Those sins are still our responsibility in this life and they still harm us and others, but we will suffer no condemnation for them from God now or in eternity.


God sees me (my essence) as "me, in the Spirit," and not "me, in the flesh."  In other words, even though "I" keep sinning, it's not really me--it's the sin living in me (my flesh, which coexists with "me, in the Spirit").

Romans 8:23-25, "... we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."  Although we have the Spirit, we await the redemption of our bodies (flesh--which we also still have), but we do not yet have (physical) freedom from our corrupted flesh. Also, this brings into light the very definitions of these words:  the relationship of our bodies to our flesh.  Our bodies are our literal flesh.

From Do Christians Sin (1 John 1:8 vs. 1 John 3:9)? by Owen Weber

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Worshipping the Bible by Darin Hufford

At the end of Gideon's "deliverance career" the Israelites wanted to make him their king. Gideon refused, and said that instead of becoming their king he would like them to each bring him a gold ear ring from the plunder. Everyone brought a portion of gold and Gideon melted it down and made a "golden Ephod". The Ephod was the vest that the priests put on when they entered the holy of holies. In the pocket of the Ephod were the lots, which were used when they "caste lots" in order to determine God's will in a certain situation. When the priest entered the temple wearing the golden Ephod, he could actually hear the voice of God audibly. You might remember one time when King David told the priests to "bring him the golden Ephod". David put it on and went into the temple to ask God whether or not he should attack the Amalekites. David heard the audible voice of God tell him to attack.

The story of Gideon goes on to say that after the golden Ephod was made, "all of Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping the Ephod". Think of this for a moment. They actually worshiped the way in which to determine God's will over worshiping God Himself. The story later goes on to say that it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

So what does this have to do with the Bible? One of the things we are taught about the Bible is that it is the way in which to determine the will of God. Just as the Israelites prostituted themselves after the golden Ephod, I believe that modern day Christianity is doing the exact same thing with the Bible. We have prostituted ourselves after the Bible and there is no doubt in my mind that it has become a thorn and a snare to almost every Christian in America. In fact I think many Christians have actually traded God for the Bible. Many others have even come to the point where they think God IS the Bible. I truly believe that the Bible has become the golden Ephod of our time.

Excerpted from Christians and the Bible by Darin Hufford
See my additional notes from that post.