Law, Grace, and Evil

Posted on 3/24/2013

On May 9, 2003 in the little town of New Chapel Hill, Texas, Deanna LaJune Laney killed two of her three sons using a four-pound rock. She seriously injured her youngest infant son, rendering him unable to care for himself the rest of his life. When Ms. Laney called the Smith County (Texas) 911 operator, she told that operator, "God had told her to do it."

When you study Mrs. Laney's background, you will discover that she was a member in good standing of the First Assembly of God Church in Tyler, Texas, one of the larger churches in the city. Local news reports tell of how she sang in the choir, engaged in church activities, and even "spoke in tongues." According to the teachings of most Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders, she was supposedly "filled with the Holy Spirit" because she spoke in tongues. Many theologians in the Assembly of God church further argue that when you have the Holy Spirit within you, it is impossible for that person to have an evil spirit, let alone be possessed by them.

Ms. Laney, despite being "filled with the Holy Spirit," (at least according to Assembly of God church doctrine) still had the capacity to commit two clearly insane murders. After she committed these murders, she told the Smith County, Texas 911 Operator that "God told her to do it." Later on, she would explain to law enforcement officials and prosecutors that God was telling her to do this so she could "get her house in order in preparation for the end times."

As with similar events of this type, some of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Theologians started scrambling and making excuses for what had happened. Others, like Pilate before them, feigned ignorance and washed their hands of the entire matter. The non-Pentecostal theologians, as many would expect, likely used the opportunity to tell the world that Pentecostalism is dangerous that that people should never even venture into a service. The harsh reality is that thousands of people attend Pentecostal services every week and an extremely high percentage of them never hear God tell them to kill their children or anyone else.

When the dust settled and people had time to think about what had happened, the rantings of the theologians can be turned into realistic thought.

While many religious analysts will contend that the problem lies in defective teaching within the Assembly of God Church's doctrines, the real problem goes much deeper. Many church denominations wrongly teach that the Torah (Law - the first five books of the Bible) has been done away with and we now live by the grace of the LORD. This heresy overlooks the fact that Jesus, our example and redeemer, followed the Law implicitly. He made this statement:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

Jesus makes it clear that those who follow him must continue to follow the Law. However, when we transgress the Law, we can confess our sins to the LORD and he will forgive them (I John 1:9). He will also cleanse us of our unrighteousness.

Had Ms. Laney been properly taught that she must follow the Torah, she might have been able to see that when she was being told that she should kill her children, she could have resisted the temptation, called upon her church leaders, and maybe received some help. That would have been a first major step. What the next step should be in a situation like this depends upon the circumstances.

The real questions many people ask in situations like these remains, "Why did the LORD not protect her from this evil?" If she has the Holy Spirit working within her (which speaking in tongues might suggest), then how could she commit these murders and be declared insane by a court jury? Why did the LORD allow her to commit these murders? The clear answer is that Christians remain "free moral agents" that can choose to follow the LORD or follow the word of evil spirits pretending to be the LORD.

One of the most famous parables of the New Testament is the Wheat and the Tares:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:24-30)

A lot of people trouble themselves over the symbology of the wheat and the tares. However, if they would read earlier in the chapter, they would learn that the seed is the word. This parable tells us that both the LORD and the devil have words. Believe the word of the LORD and you grow wheat in your life, but if you believe the word of the devil, you will grow tares in your life. Ms. Laney believed the word of the devil and grew a lot of tares in her life. That does not mean she cannot be redeemed in her life, it just means she was deceived. Many church organizations would serve their purposes better if they spent more time teaching the Law (Torah) instead of telling their people it is impossible to follow.

It is regrettable that most church organizations either teach that grace covers everything, so their people can do what they want, or they toss out the Torah and create their own law-books which are even more difficult to follow than the Torah ever was. For example, the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church is mind-boggling for even the most conscientious of all priests to follow. Instead of creating law-books or giving people license to behave any way they want to, it would be better to teach people how to live the way the Bible teaches. Doing this will go far in eliminating the behaviors of people like Mrs. Laney. It will also prevent us from falling prey to the fake ministries traversing the earth.

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