When I started leaving Christianity, I felt the powerful grip from a New Testament verse, causing me a lot of anguish. The verse was, Matthew 10:33, where Jesus says “…whoever denies me, I will deny them before my Father in heaven.” This verse is communicated again differently in Luke “…he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:9). Said, either way, it can make you feel very condemned to deny Jesus. Getting to the truth of things, when we study and gain perspective we will find many gaping holes with both of those verses.
Matthew 10 is at a point in which Jesus is sending out his Apostles to preach the message. Some call this the “Little Commission” the Apostles will be trying to evangelize just the Jews. Later under the “Great Commission,” the Apostles will be sent out to evangelize the nations. Jesus, in Matthew 10, is giving a pep talk to his Apostles before they start hitting the street to convert. At the end of Jesus’ speech, he targets those who will not accept his gospel by threatening their salvation.
Interestingly, Jesus does not refer to himself as God in this thread. He makes himself out to be a spokesman for God. If Jesus was God, he would have said,
“…whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him” Matthew 10:33
Instead; Jesus comes across as a mediator by adding a disclaimer onto the end of his statement:
“…whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before my father in heaven”
Luke 12:9 is even more distinct;
“But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God”
Here, Jesus is not even advocating to God; but he is rather reporting to God’s messengers, the angels.
First, we see that Jesus and God are NOT one. This is not shattering because the New Testament confirms this on several occasions1: Mark 10:18, 16:19, Matthew 3:16-17, 20:23, 27:46, John 11:41, 14:1, 28, Luke 3:21-22, 22:42.
A question surfaces, “Can one advocate to God on behalf of another person?” Let us consult God’s Word, the Torah, for the right answer. In Exodus 32:31-32. Moses is interceding for Israel by trying to atone for their sins of the golden calf, with his own life, which is what Jesus is supposedly noted doing for humanity in general. God’s answer to Moses’ intercession was pretty straightforward, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book…” (Exodus 32:33-35). So, there is no way we can advocate for another person’s sins. This theme of personal accountability is repeated throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament). In the Christian Bible, being accountable for your actions becomes reversed when one segues into the New Testament (Romans 3:21-31, Hebrews 9:28, 1 Peter 2:24)
The verse after Luke 12:9 states “… everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him…” (Luke 12:10). Jesus seems to be contradicting himself by forgiving people that deny him. The truth is, he is making a point, “you may speak against me, but you better not speak against the Holy Spirit.” For those of us that follow the Torah, we honor God and His Ruach (Holy Spirit). However; unlike Christians, we don’t separate God and His Ruach. Verse ten of Luke 12 is an escape clause to the whole “denying” statement.
At the top of his speech, Jesus goes into a rant about how his mission is to bring violence and division to the world (Matthew 10:34-39 and Luke 12:49-53). This contradicts God’s Word because the Messiah will usher in a time of peace (Micah 4:3, Isaiah 2:4, 11:6-9, 65:25, Hosea 2:18). Many Christians state that during Jesus’ second coming he will usher in this time of peace. When looking at Revelations 1:16, 19:11-21 we see a wrathful Jesus after blood. Many feel that this is a Christian “do over” because their messiah did not fulfill the prophecies.
The good news for me is, that the fear of the threat, “if you deny me, I will deny you” has lost all of its power on me; because of the truths that I have learned from my Makers written word in Torah. The bad news is, that the verse “to be denied for denying” is still a threatening message that keeps many Christians in fear of seeking real truth found in Torah (we should pray for their release from these lies, so they can know the same freedoms as we do). Remember, we have clearly allowed scripture to prove that we cannot advocate for another person’s sins, so none of us have to live in the fear of the empty threats that the new testament weaves any longer; because what they’re pushing doesn’t come into alignment with Gods written word, “Torah” so it’s NOT truth. Least but not last, and just for memories sake, the new testament has Peter denying Jesus three times (Mark 14:66-72) – think on that for a second – it may even give you a little chuckle.
As for denying the ONE true God, just remember “Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’ “(Psalm 14:1).