We often forget that Paul, although being the primary author of the New Testament expository epistles and their foundational Christian doctrine, was in fact a Jewish scholar. He described himself thus; “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6).
Paul knew God in a way that few gentiles could claim to know Him; his knowledge of God was ingrained in his Jewish culture and traditions; he knew of the disobedience of the Jews and how it led to their apostasy and idolatry; how God’s judgement fell upon them repeatedly, culminating in their being taken into captivity to Babylon, the temple destroyed and Jerusalem devastated. In his epistles, this aspect of God’s harsh judgement on the unfaithfulness of His people seems to be taken for granted to a certain extent, Paul’s main purpose being to proclaim the gifts of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and what that means for His faithful people.
For this reason, the Pauline epistles have been much used to make artificial saints who reach out and embrace the promises of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ while concurrently denying that there is anything they themselves must, or can, do. Peter warned of this, writing; “…..just as our beloved brother Paul wrote, according to the wisdom being given to him; and just as in all his letters, speaking in them concerning that in which some things are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unsteady distort, as also the other scriptures, to their own ruin. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, guard against being carried away by deception of these lawless ones so that you should not lose your own firm footing” (2 Peter 3:15-17).
Just as Peter forewarned, the Pauline epistles have been so distorted in modern Christianity so as to remove entirely any understanding of the necessity for obedience or fear of the Lord; the emphasis on Paul’s teaching in the modern Church is on the gifts of God’s grace, freely given, on forgiveness of sin and the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. And as predicted by Peter, the unlearned and unstable have used the Pauline epistles to manipulate the people of God, using them for their own purposes, including base gain, of which Jude also had something to say.
Thus the modern Church has no understanding of who God really is and the importance of a healthy fear of Him; this is why modern Christianity doesn’t focus much on the Old Testament and on the teaching about God, His divine wrath, His holiness and His demands for obedience. Because there is no fear of God in the Church, there is no knowledge of God in the land; the world looks at the Church and sees a weak and powerless institution, talking one way and walking another.
This is to belittle the sufferings of Christ Jesus and to make the cross of Christ a convenience.