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Have you ever heard of an anathema? It refers to a person who is considered eternally condemned or cursed of God. In other words, one is doomed to eternal condemnation in hell if he is anathematized.
The Greek word anathema is used 5 times in the Bible and Paul was the only writer to use it. Those are the only anathemas which are binding for us today. They are found in Romans 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Cor.16:22; Gal. 1:8 and Gal. 1:9.
Only Five Binding Anathemas
The first anathema is cited and shows Paul’s desire for the Israelites to be saved in exchange for himself being eternally condemned or cursed:
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race (Rom 9:3)
A different anathema states that no one can say Jesus be cursed under the control of the Holy Spirit:
Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:3)
The third time anathema is used in Scripture is at 1 Cor. 16:22, where we read:
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. (KJV)
Then we have the last two times that word (anathema) is found. Paul wrote regarding the seriousness of preaching a false gospel in Gal. 1:8,9 where he used that word anathema twice. He said this:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Those are the five anathemas found in the Bible and the only ones relevant for us today. The last three are associated with not loving the Lord Jesus and the lethal error of preaching a false gospel. With that in mind, to love the Lord Jesus means you will obey him (John 14:15, 23,24). To know what a false gospel is, one must first know the real. The real gospel includes a conditional security for the believer:
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2)
if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Col 1:23)
Hence, to declare something to the contrary is dangerous to both the preacher and listener!
Catholic AnathemasAs is often the case, there seems to always be counterfeits. Such is true here with anathemas as well. When it comes to counterfeit anathemas, no group will ever surpass the Roman Catholic church. The Roman Catholic church has pronounced hundreds of anathemas on those who would disagree with them. Though Roman Catholics of our day would vehemently deny that one must be a Catholic to have salvation, the large number of anathema pronouncements against all who would doctrinally disagree with them presents a solid case for the opposite!
From The Council of Trent
Let me give you a few specific examples of counterfeit anathemas from the Roman Catholic church Council of Trent, which took place from 1545 to 1564. Regarding sprinkling infants, for what they call baptism, the Catholic church stated the following:
If anyone says that in the Roman Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism, let him be anathema. (Session Seven, canon 3 under baptism).
In other words the Roman Catholic church pronounces a curse of damnation to hell on all who correctly reject, based on the Bible, the idea that an infant is born again when sprinkled during their baptism. They also teach that at infant baptism one get forgiven and becomes a child of God.
Here is another example. This one is given regarding what they call the Holy Eucharist. Bible believers call that communion. They said this:
If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema (Session Thirteen, chapter 8, canon 1).
In other words, the Catholic church has placed an anathema upon billions of people who reject their doctrine that the consecrated communion wafer is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine and should be worshiped like God Himself. This particular false doctrine related to transubstantiation has led many into idolatry. Clearly, if one worships a communion wafer he has committed idolatry. Yet the Catholic church would call this true worship. Imagine that!
One final example of another counterfeit anathema is related to what the Roman Catholic church wrote about their own mass:
If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema. (Session 22; chapter 9, canon 3).
So again the Roman Catholic church condemns to hell billions who correctly reject their doctrines associated with the repeated unbloody sacrifice for sins, purgatory, etc.
If you are thinking those Catholic anathemas came 450 years ago and have no place today, remember this: The latest Roman Catholic church council, Vatican Council II, reaffirmed the Council of Trent. By reaffirming Trent they also reaffirmed well over 100 Anathemas placed on all non-Catholics, including the ones just cited!
As I stated earlier, there are true anathemas and there are false ones. The only anathemas that are from God (the ones you need to be concerned about) are the ones cited in the Bible. They alone are relevant. All other anathemas are erroneous and therefore nothing but empty words. Don’t fear them. GOD BLESS YOU.
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