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Avoiding a Deadly Cocktail of Curses

Proverbs 22:16, Malachi 3:9 and  Galatians 3:10

 

RUSH your best gift in to our ministry RIGHT NOW! Sign your name to this red prayer rag!  Sleep over it just ONE night and don’t forget to wrap it around the BIGGEST bill in your wallet!  God gave HIS best for YOU, so you should do the same for Him!  Old Scratch is absolutely TERRIFIED about what you’re about to do! Make giving fun and he’ll tuck tail and run!  This is YOUR month of Jubilee Release! Seven, I said SEVEN major BREAKTHROUGH WITH GOD MIRACLES are about to transform your life forever!  So act NOW! There might NEVER be another opportunity for you to work God’s Golden Blessing Keys to unlock His mighty power! The bigger the sacrifice the bigger the blessing!

 

Month after month such propaganda would arrive in my mailbox.  I was desperate enough to “prove God”, even when I only had pennies in my purse.  I disregarded the voice of caution inside me as being a mere temptation to “be selfish”.  Funny how years of listening to “new revelations” in church,  over the radio, and at religious crusades can warp your understanding of how God operates and what you need to do to persuade Him to move in power on your behalf.

 

I inhaled that twisted teaching like a vacuum cleaner .  I turned a blind eye to any evidence that God’s “anointed servants” were living like kings off the backs of poor working people. After all, I really didn’t expect Brother Wonderworker to appear on TV dressed in a torn T-shirt and faded jeans.  They had to keep up appearances “for the glory of God”, but I eventually came to the conclusion that no preacher’s poodle needs its own air-conditioned condominium!

 

I needed desperately to believe in something. I had a Hero in heaven, Jesus, but like many other people, I thought I needed a (visible) hero on earth too.  In those days, I really didn’t have much of an awareness that ALL believers in Christ are on an equal footing in the sight of God, where it concerned the priesthood of all believers. God is not nearly so impressed with wealth and fame (or lack of it) as people are.  Every one of His beloved children who earnestly seeks Him with a pure heart gets a royal welcome before His Throne of Grace.  God shows no partiality (Acts 10:34-35).

 

Things only got worse in those days when I got regular mail-outs from famous preachers.  I was bowled over by the slick brochures, “personalized letters”, and tiny vials of “miracle oil” that would arrive several times a month.  Surely my miracle would come if only I would follow “God’s” instructions and send in the preacher’s red hankie wrapped around my last dollar.  Most of the time all I could offer was prayer. Somewhat uneasily I conceded that God just might be doing “something new” in the church world, by teaching His kids the Golden Principles of Prosperity.  God was depicted as Someone Who was powerless to help you unless you first “sowed a sacrificial seed” into His Kingdom. You had to give (and give big!) to get your needs met by God.  Even if your favorite televangelist ate the finest food and wore the fanciest clothes, he (or she) was still “God’s anointed” and “giving” only got rewarded by God if it was done to the likes of them.  Giving to gimmicky preachers is done merely for the sake of “putting your faith in action”, not because the preacher is going hungry and needs food, as happened to the Apostle Paul (I Cor.9:4; 2 Cor.11:27).  Sacrifice was encouraged to be done just for the sake of sacrifice, although such a thing never was taught by Jesus or any of His apostles. What greedy televangelists are really saying is this: God demands continual “give-till-it-hurts” sacrifice.  Preachers make you think that while Jesus’ one-time sacrifice on Calvary was sufficient to get us saved to heaven, it isn’t enough to save us from satan’s attacks on earth! 

 

Whenever people were asked to give in the New Testament, it was only to meet REAL needs, not to “test” God to see if He would outgive your gift to the preacher a hundred fold! Jesus plainly says in Matt.4:7: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  “Tempt” as used in this verse comes from the Greek word “ekpeirazo” which means to test thoroughly. Preachers appeal to Malachi 3:10 where God tells the sons of Jacob (see verse 6), not the Church, to bring in the tithe and to prove Him to see whether He would open the windows of heaven and pour them out a blessing.  God does not say:

 

Bring ye all the money into the church offering plates that there may be new carpeting in the vestibule, etc.

 

Jesus plainly said “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (put Him to the test).  Whenever two scriptures seem to conflict, we must remember that Jesus is Lord of the Church.  The conflict is resolved because tithing never was on money, tithing was never done on the wages of laborers, the tithing law was for Israel only, and tithing was nailed to the Cross of Christ along with all other temporary Mosaic ordinances (Col.2:14). Preachers who tell people to give their rent money “by faith” to “prove God” are tempting them to sin by breaking Jesus’ own commandment not to put God to the test.

 

I read that fishers for funds are getting so desperate these days that they even coax Christians to “empty their bank accounts for the Lord”.  Then when the landlord wants the rent, it’s supposedly the Lord’s fault if He doesn’t provide a quick-fix for the mess caused by some lying preacher’s sales pitch.

 

Prosperity theology had never been pushed at the church where I received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  But it wasn’t many years after my Baptism that I first heard of that “Christian” doctrine, in the seventies. When money got tight at our house I decided to “prove God”. At every opportunity I sent in bits of money to this preacher or that preacher. I held a huge yard sale to raise money for my favorite missionary work.  As people bought my discarded items I literally tingled with excitement, doing the math in my head: 100 X 100 equals 10,000 smackeroos!  Once we got our hundred-fold return, our troubles would be over! Our home got burgled shortly afterward, and other troubles hit us. When he was in L.A., my husband got robbed by an armed street thug, who took what little he had. Preachers say that if only you’ll sow more seed (give money to THEM), God will make you the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.  If that were true, then why isn’t the average church parking lot filled with Rolls Royces?  Many years ago we rented a spare room to a Christian, to help make ends meet.  This guy served in his (non-Charismatic) church’s music ministry and tithed faithfully.  He was there every time the church doors opened.  The church he attended was one of the richest in L.A.  He subsisted on a diet of dried soup mix and rode a bike to work. He declined our offer of a square meal, saying his “simple sustenance” was good enough for him.  This young man saw nothing wrong with tithing to a pastor who dressed in fancy suits and enjoyed the “finer” things in life.  Preachers count on poor parishioners to:

 

  1. Be content with a bare-bones lifestyle so they can donate more, or:
  2. Even if parishioners aren’t content to live on soup mix and drive an old bike to work, they’ll go on sowing “seed” in hopes of a BREAKTHROUGH MIRACLE (which ends up breaking their heart and shattering their faith when disillusionment sets in).

 

If  “planting a seed” makes you rich, those windy  preachers must have meant “rich in trouble”! In those dark days of my ignorance I clung to everything the “prosperity preachers” taught.  I loved those exciting preachers so much I “vowed” to God that if He rewarded my “seeds” with a huge harvest, I’d give a big hunk of my hundred-fold harvest to that smiley preacher who taught me the Seven Keys to Success.  But instead of hitting the jackpot, some terrible trials came our way. I felt mighty low at times and had to war against  a spirit of shame and humiliation sent against me by satan.

 

What a blow to my misdirected faith! It’s a miracle I survived spiritually in those days when I took my focus off the real Jesus of the Bible and  got blown off course in my Christian life. When I was deceived by spiritual quacks only the devil prospered. Day after day I wondered: “When is my 100-fold reward EVER going to materialize?  Are those rich TV preachers really more precious to God than us poor peasants?” How can you locate the light at the end of the tunnel when it’s a struggle even to keep the lights on?

 

But whenever I’d tune in to my favorite TV preachers, they looked like they were in a carefree paradise!  Those pretty preachers lived in a wonderland of piped-in praise music, golden furniture and flower gardens.  Their clothes sparkled with perpetual newness. They had diamonds and delight.  Most people I knew experienced only drudgery and dread of incoming bills.

 

It seemed like TV preachers were forever traveling to exciting destinations.  Always first class, of course!  Their lives were one long jubilee.  THEY didn’t have to drag their bodies out of bed every morning to go to some dreary, dead-end job to scratch out an existence.  They were living life to the fullest because their pockets were always full. All they had to do was turn on the tears and show pictures of hungry kids.  After a long, drawn-out song from one of their happy-clappy acts, there would be a whoop of excitement as the latest tote board figure was read out: “Hallelujah!  We’ve reached Five Million Dollars for our BEG-A-THON!” 

 

When the carrot approach no longer works, there’s always the stick. Preachers hold the curse of Malachi 3:9 over the heads of people who refuse to tithe money, which is never commanded in Scripture to be paid as a tithe. Preachers add a soft touch by reminding folks that God will rebuke the devourer if they tithe on wages. Why is it, then, that some who tithe very generously to preachers and faithfully follow the ABC’s of faith are the ones who can’t pay the light bill or have to put an item back at the supermarket checkout?  The more I gave to preachers, the tighter things got for us.  After I stopped giving to gimmicky preachers I began to see more needs met in my life and more answered prayer, believe it or not!

 

Any principle of righteousness which applies to one believer usually applies to all in the New Testament. Tithing is treated as an essential to the Christian faith, a prerequisite for gaining and keeping God’s favor. Tithing is put on an equal footing with practices expected of all Christians, such as faith, prayer, walking in love, etc.  But Paul never taught unpaid housewives or slaves how to tithe. How could a poor slave getting zilch on his paycheck every payday tithe to God from it, so as to merit His favor thereby?  Paul didn’t even teach Lydia the rich businesswoman how to tithe off the profits of her purple cloth!  If tithing is so all-fired important, then where are the scriptures which teach converted heathens how to do it properly?  It is forbidden by God to add commandments to His written Word (Deut.4:2).   Tithing on cash wages was NEVER commanded in either testament and educated preachers know it! Yet Malachi 3:8-11 is yanked out of context and incorrectly applied to the modern church. In this passage God says that SOMEBODY robbed Him of SOMETHING which was due Him in tithes and offerings, and so they were “cursed with a curse”.  But if they brought those tithes in, the windows of heaven would be opened.  Malachi is misapplied to Christian believers today to get at their pockets. Period.

 

Preachers lead their flock to think that God is addressing New Covenant believers in Malachi. WRONG!  Start reading Malachi from the very beginning (very few preachers ever start their tithing pitch from Malachi Chapter One).

Mal.1:1: The burden of the word of the LORD TO ISRAEL by Malachi.* * *Failure to distinguish between Israel as a nation and Jesus’ mostly Gentile church causes much misunderstanding of Scripture. Applying the tithing message of Malachi to the Church is just like somebody taking medication prescribed for somebody else.  Tithing was for Malachi’s time, and God was writing out a prescription to spiritually sick Levites: Be faithful to bring in their “tithe of the tithe” OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCE ONLY to the Temple storehouse to feed priests who were working their courses of duty there (the priesthood worked 24 courses, or alternating shifts, of duty at the Temple, see I Chron.24:1-19,31).  Faithfulness to tithing (and other Mosaic ordinances) was prescribed for those under the Law, as was circumcision, animal sacrifice, phylacteries, sidelocks, dietary laws, etc.  Those things are NOT prescribed for us, and do us harm by bringing us back under the Law.

 

Keep one Law, you must keep it all (see Gal.5:3).

 

Other verses in Malachi clarify just who this book is directed to:

Mal.2:1: AND NOW, O YE PRIESTS, THIS COMMANDMENT IS FOR YOU.* * *God is here addressing the priesthood, not congregational worshippers, and certainly not Gentile converts to Christianity!

Malachi 3:3: And he (God) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify THE SONS OF LEVI, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.* * *Under the Old Covenant, ordinary Israelites (and certainly not Gentiles) had no right to directly approach the altar of God to offer any sacrifice.  In this chapter, God is dealing with the sins of THE SONS OF LEVI, not the sins of the Eskimos, the Apache Indians and the Greeks!

 

Two verses later God says: And I will come near to you (sons of Levi) to judgment; and  I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and AGAINST THOSE THAT OPPRESS THE HIRELING IN HIS WAGES, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right.* * * * WHICH right? The right to eat tithed food out of the tithing storehouses in time of need (see Deut.14:28-29) * * * *and fear not me, saith the LORD of Hosts. * * * Whoever God is addressing in this passage was defrauding not only God, but the “hireling” (wage earner).  Now if God is rebuking the wage earner for non-tithing of money, that just doesn’t make sense, especially since tithe teachers can’t produce even ONE solitary scripture out of the whole Bible to prove that God commands money to be paid to any religious institution as tithes! 

 

Contrary to what preachers say, not every verse in the Bible is addressed by God to us today!  Example: the entire Book of Obadiah is a pronouncement of divine judgment aimed solely at the wicked nation of Edom, which persecuted Israel and earned God’s everlasting enmity.

 

Obadiah 1: The vision of Obadiah: Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.

 

Throughout this very short (1 chapter) book, God rebukes the Edomites for sins their ancestors committed against the Israelites.  The Edomites mocked the Jews when Judah got invaded by Babylon.  The Edomites prevented the Jews from escaping their captors when they were being led away to Babylon (Obad. 14). A terrible outpouring of judgment was coming upon Mt. Seir, home of the Edomites.

 

Obadiah 18: And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau: for the LORD hath spoken it.

 

It makes just about as much sense to apply this particular curse to the Church as it does to apply the curse of Malachi 3:9 to modern believers living under grace! Simply because God is not addressing the Church in Malachi, any more than he is addressing the Church in Obadiah.  I don’t remember hearing many sermons preached on Obadiah.  I guess there’s no money to be squeezed out of Obadiah.

 

Every time God shifts His focus from one person or group to another when He dishes out rebukes, He makes it clear that He is doing so! In Ezekiel 28:11 God instructs Ezekiel to “take up a lament” against the king of Tyrus (which many scholars believe to be a symbolic name for satan). God’s proclamation of judgment against the king of Tyrus continues through verse 19.  The next subject of rebuke is named by God in verse 20 as Zidon, which had been an adversary to Israel.  Zidon is rebuked and threatened with bloody judgment until verse 25, when God declares that Israel shall be brought back from captivity and dwell safely in her own land. All of Ezekiel Chapter 29 and part of Chapter 30 is devoted to proclaiming judgment against Egypt.  One particular individual is targeted by God for judgment in Ezekiel 30: 20: Pharaoh.  God’s lamentation against Pharaoh continues well into Chapter 32. Pharaoh is chewed out by God for His sinful pride and told he will descend into the nether parts of the earth with other foes of God (Ezek.31:18).  In Chapter 32:17-32 specific nations are mentioned as being headed for hell, among them Egypt, Asshur, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, and the Zidonians.  Thank God, people of ALL nations of our time are eligible for salvation through Christ, but those who oppressed Israel and died unrepentant died without hope.  

 

In Malachi 3:3 God speaks of His need to purify THE SONS OF LEVI to make them fit to offer up animal sacrifices under the Old Covenant There is no transitional phrase between Mal.3:3 and 3:5 to indicate that God has suddenly shifted His focus from rebuking the priesthood of ancient Israel to rebuking the wage earner of the Church Age!  God isn’t even rebuking the poor laborers of ancient Israel, who never were required by God to pay tithes on their daily wages! Whoever is being rebuked by God in Malachi 3:5 is guilty of oppressing the hireling, as well as poor widows, strangers and orphans! If this passage is proof that street sweepers and chicken pluckers must tithe on their wages, then why on earth would God rebuke the hireling (wage earner) for oppressing the hireling?  Simple logic tells you this passage can’t be for Joe Blow Burger Flipper!

 

Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye SONS OF JACOB are not consumed.* * *Are WE literal sons of Jacob?  I doubt that most of us are.  Again, there is no transitional phrase between Mal.3:6 and Mal.3:8 to indicate that God is shifting the focus of His rebuke from the sons of Jacob to include the children of other nations.  As much as preachers love to pound people over the head with the Curse of Malachi to increase their offerings, they are doing it without God’s authorization! The curse of Malachi is no more applicable to the Church than the ancient curse over the nation of Edom! 

 

Christ REDEEMED us from the curse of the Law (Gal.3:13).  If there’s any curse still associated with it, it must be for those who use it to dig into people’s pockets.   Speaking of curse, the Apostle Paul says:

 

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have delivered unto you, let him be accursed (Gal.1:8.)

VERSE 9: As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

 

  1. Paul himself plainly stated in Acts 20:27: For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.* * *If today’s “seed faith” doctrine and monetary tithing was taught and enforced by Paul, then let both these practices continue, with God’s blessing.  But if Paul did not teach them, then they are doctrines of devils which are part of “another gospel” OF MEN.  Some religious groups reject the truth that only the written Word of God has authority for formulating church doctrine. Instead, they believe in “continuing revelation”, where God’s plan of salvation and way of living the Christian life are continually adapting to conform to changing cultural norms.  Just like tithing was introduced as to the institutional church in the 500’s A.D., today’s Name-it-and-Claim-it doctrine is being promoted as “something new God is doing”.  But the fact Paul didn’t teach this dodgy doctrine makes it a false doctrine and a component of “another gospel”. The Curse of Malachi, along with every other curse of the Law, was nailed to the Cross of Christ, along with those ancient ordinances which could only serve to accuse us before God (Col.2:14). Those who resurrect the Curse of Malachi to make money from it are like a grave-robber who digs up a mummy in an ancient tomb, hoping to reactivate some ancient virus to use as a weapon.  In profiteering off Old Testament curses for gain, unscrupulous preachers place themselves in danger of the curse pronounced by Paul.

  

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US AND THEM

 

Preachers love to enslave “pew Christians” to Old Covenant laws for gain.  But there is a profound difference between believers’ status under the Old Covenant and under the New Covenant.  For example:

 

  1. Old Covenant priesthood: Reserved exclusively for the sons of Aaron (Ex.28:1).  Anyone else who dared approach the altar as a priest was sentenced to death (Num.3:10).

New Covenant priesthood: ALL believers in Christ are priests (I Pet.2:5,9; Rev.5:10

 

  1. Before the Cross, believers (and Jesus Himself) lived under the Law (Gal.4:4).

After the Cross, New Covenant of Grace began.  We are not under the Law, but under grace (Rom.6:14; Gal.5:18).

 

  1. Before the Cross, God’s people were counted as His servants (slaves) in Leviticus 25:42.  They served under the Law with an attitude of fear instead of freedom.  In Galatians 5:21-31  Paul contrasts the status of Hagar the Egyptian bondwoman with that of Sarah, the freewoman. Under the Law, the Israelites’ salvation depended upon doing the best they could to keep the Law of Moses and offer up animal sacrifices for sin.  They lived under the shadow of a curse should they fail to faithfully observe God’s laws (Deut.28:15-68; Gal.3:10).

Since the Cross, believers are free from the Law and its curse, because the penalty of broken Law has been paid by Christ, Who became a curse for us and was nailed to the tree (Gal.3:13).  We are dead to the Law and alive to Christ (Rom.7:4-6). We are not slaves, but sons (Gal.3:5-7). God is angry with preachers who abuse His Word to try to bring His sons and daughters back under religious bondages.

 

  1. Before the Cross, many sacrifices had to be offered to make atonement for sin (Ex.29:10-18; Lev.16:11-28).  The Temple Tax was required of all Jewish males age 20 and over (Ex.30:11-16; Matt.17:24-27).

Since the Cross, Jesus’ ONE sacrifice has ended the need for further sacrifices (Heb.10:12).  In Matt.17:25:27 Jesus paid the Temple Tax required under the Law, but said, “The children are free”, meaning that the children of kings are free of having to pay taxes to their own father.  God does not tax His own children.  Preachers who threaten na´ve Christians with hellfire or curses for not paying sufficient “sacrifices” to religious leaders are risking the wrath of God themselves for being a stumblingblock to new believers still unskilled in rightly dividing the Word of God (see Luke 17:1-2).

 

  1. Before the Cross, God’s House on earth was a manmade Temple (I Kings 9:3; 2 Chron.2:4-6).  

Since the Cross, the Temple of God is comprised of all true believers in Christ (I Cor.3:16; 2 Cor.6:16).  We are brought near to God through the precious blood of Christ (Heb.4:16; 10:19).  We are actually made one spirit with Christ (I Cor.6:17).  So when preachers threaten you for non-payment of tithes and offerings, they are actually threatening Christ Himself (see also Matt.25:40). There is no further need to bring tithes to a literal building to support a discontinued Levitical priesthood.  Tithes NEVER were supposed to be garnished from the paychecks of laborers, only taken from the produce of the Land of Israel.  Mandatory tithing was for Israel only (Lev.27:30-34).

 

 

In order to remain free of those old curses, you must walk in the Spirit and “be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal.5:1).  If you allow some preacher to bring you back under bondage to tithing or any other Old Testament practice to gain merit with God, you automatically get a curse for yourself instead. If you put yourself under any part of the Law of Moses you make yourself a debtor to keep it ALL (Gal.5:3).  And you’ll fall back under the curse of that Law (Gal.3:10). I fell for that prosperity garbage, and got trouble for it instead of blessing.  God can bless a spirit of liberality in giving when it is done out of love toward Him. But He cannot violate His own Word by blessing those who give out of compulsion for the wrong reasons, even if they do so because some fancy preacher misled them.  A grave danger lies in doing anything, even the right thing, with the wrong attitude.  If someone THINKS non-tithing is a sin and doesn’t pay tithes just to “dare” God to bring the curse of Malachi down on him, that Christian will probably be punished by God for bad attitude and sinning against a weak conscience, as in I Cor.8:7; (see also Romans chapter 14). But if “tithes” are withheld because a Christian is true to the Word of God and gives only when the Spirit leads him, then that is pleasing in God’s sight.  Money and lust for it has ruined many lives and sent many souls down the road to perdition (I Tim.6:10). Preachers who deliberately teach lies by twisting the Word of God and adding “laws” that aren’t in it defile the consciences of their listeners and bear a great burden of guilt before Almighty God!

 

Don’t be quick to buy some “exciting new revelation” just because it’s presented by a pretty preacher dancing around with lots of flashing lights and lively music. People tend to judge by what their eyes see (I Sam.16:7).  A powerfully built, handsome, finely dressed preacher behind a pulpit with a long string of degrees is automatically assumed to have your best interest at heart.  Be very careful not to judge a preacher’s character by his pearly white teeth.

 

2 Cor.11:13: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ;

VERSE 14: And no marvel; for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

VERSE 15: Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

I have NEVER heard a sermon preached on this verse:

Proverbs 22:16: He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want (extreme poverty).

 

Remember that verse next time some preacher declares that “God is doing a new thing in the earth, and so long as you open your wallet wide you’ll be on the receiving end of His richest blessings.  But that’s a big fat lie.  Give to that slick operator with the fleet of fine cars and oceanfront mansion, and you’ll bring yourself under the curse of Proverbs 22:16.

 

Don’t ever fall into the trap of “planting a seed” to make God love you more, or you’ll run the risk of losing your own salvation, because it is then you’re mingling works with God’s Gospel of Grace and falling away from sole dependency on Christ’s finished work on the Cross.

 

Galatians 5:4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified (made righteous with God) through the Law; ye are fallen from grace.* * *There was a long dry spell in my life where I felt like I just went through the motions of being a Christian. Though I was still able to pray in tongues, all the joy and confidence in believing in God’s love toward me had dimmed. Now I understand why.  For such a long time I “put confidence in the flesh” (see Phil.3:3) by hero-worshipping silver-tongued preachers behind a pulpit.  Now I fellowship with Jesus with no pulpit standing between us.  I have regained that wonderful status of freedom I had when I was freshly Spirit-filled because I’ve finally thrown out all that old garbage I swallowed years ago and dug into the Word for myself.

 

Now that I’ve broken free of legalism and all its fears I never intend to go back.