Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways,
as a nation that did righteousness,
and forsook not the ordinance of their God:
they ask of me the ordinances of justice;
they take delight in approaching to God.
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness,
the people in whose heart is my law;
fear ye not the reproach of men,
neither be ye afraid of their revilings.
God's Law Eternal-1
Today there is a pervasive belief that the grace of Christ is somehow diametrically opposed to God's Law & that faith in grace actually nullifies Old Testament law altogether. Those who observe God's laws are often derided as 'legalists', a term nowhere to be found in biblical scripture. What I want to reveal here is:
1. the fact many prophetic scriptures throughout the bible refer to the reverence & practice of God's laws, including sabbaths & Holy Days, continuing into both the latter day & millennial periods.
2. the fact that Christ himself clearly required the respect & observance of God's commandments &
3. the fact that, although the Pauline Doctrine is credited as having perpetuated the notion that grace supplanted 'legalism', a more careful analysis of Paul's scriptures will illustrate that this was probably not his genuine intention. So let's begin:
1. Many prophetic scriptures throughout the bible refer to the practice of God's laws continuing into both the latter day & millennial periods.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,
that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and with the house of Judah:
(the WHOLE house re-gathering is a latter day event)
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the Lord,
I will put my LAW in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
22-Therefore say unto the house of Israel,
Thus saith the Lord God;
I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel,
but for mine holy name's sake,
which ye have profaned among the heatheen, whither ye went.
(again, the WHOLE house of Israel is being addressed here)
25-Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,
& ye shall be clean....
26-A new heart also will I give you,
& a new spirit will I put within you:
& I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh,
& I will give you a heart of flesh.
27-And I will put my spirit within you,
& cause you to walk in my statutes,
& ye shall keep my judgments, & do them.
(Please note: Having the spirit of God within us does NOT mean we are exempt from walking according to the statutes (aka commandments) of God. This passage is very clear on this point.)
22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord,
so shall your seed and your name remain.
23 And it shall come to pass,
that from one new moon to another,
and from one sabbath to another,
shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.
(obviously, this prophesy is yet to be fulfilled)
22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God;
I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake,
which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries,
and will bring you into your own land.
(this also refers to the latter day re-gathering of the WHOLE HOUSE of Israel)
25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean:
from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you,
and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
But in the last days it shall come to pass,
that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established
in the top of the mountains,
and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2 And many nations shall come, and say,
Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths: for the LAW shall go forth of Zion,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
16 And it shall come to pass,
that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem
shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts,
and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
(the holy days will still be reverenced in the millennial period)
And the dragon was wroth with the woman,
& went to make war with the remnant of her seed,
which keep the commandments of God,
& have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
(In the book of Daniel, this is the description given of the satanic 'little horn':)
And he shall speak great words against the most High,
& shall wear out the saints of the most High,
& think to change times & laws.
2. Christ clearly required the respect & observance of God's commandments.
3 But he answered and said unto them,
Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother:
(the first of the ten commandments)
and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother,
It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free.
Thus have ye made the commandment of God
of none effect by your tradition.
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth,
and honoureth me with their lips;
but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me,
teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter,
neither on the Sabbath day.
(Here Christ is referring to latter day tribulation period.
Evidently he still expected that the Sabbath
will retain its relevance until his second return.)
(Christ to the leper)
And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man:
but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest,
and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded,
for a testimony unto them.
6 He answered and said unto them,
Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites,
as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me,
teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God,
ye hold the tradition of men,
as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them,
Full well ye reject the commandment of God,
that ye may keep your own tradition
(Today our traditions of Christmas, Easter & sunday Sabbath
continue to replace the commandments of God.)
10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and,
Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother,
It is Corban, that is to say, a gift,
by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition,
which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
20 Thou knowest the commandments,
Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness,
Honour thy father and thy mother.
Christ speaking to reassure the Jews said:
“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 & 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,
& shall teach men so,
he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do & teach them,
the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
The reality is that Christ not only commanded the observance of Mosaic law,
he actually upgraded the standard!
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you,
That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her
hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time,
Thou shalt not kill;
and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother
(without a cause) shall be in danger of the judgment:
and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,
shall be in danger of the council:
but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
The disciple John confirmed that this was indeed the new standard:
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer:
& ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
17 And when he was gone forth into the way,
there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him,
Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good?
there is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments,
Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness,
Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master,
all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him,
One thing thou lackest:
go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor,
and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:
and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
Unfortunately, the young man to whom Christ was speaking wasn't able to attain to this heightened standard & 'went away very grieved'.
A new commandment I give unto you,
That ye love one another;
as I have loved you,
that ye also love one another.
It has often been mistakenly assumed that Christ was providing a commandment here intended to "replace" the commandments God passed along to Moses. This couldn't be further from the truth. Moses, of course, provided the 'softer' version of the commandment:
....thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself....
What Christ did was to RAISE the standard.
He was now requiring the apostles to love as HE loved-
to be willing to lay down their lives for their fellow man. THIS is the point!
HE DIDN'T LOWER THE BAR-HE RAISED IT TO THE ULTIMATE!
Again, John confirmed the raised aspiration:
Hereby perceive we the love of God,
Because he laid down his life for us:
& we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
According to historical accounts all of the Christ's inner circle apostles were killed with the exception of John who was exiled to the Isle of Patmos where he documented his 'Revelation'. Did they always know what they signed up for? Of course. This is what Christ had to say to Simon Peter after the resurrection:
17 He (Christ) saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time,
Lovest thou me?
And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things;
thou knowest that I love thee.
Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest:
but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands,
and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.
And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Moreover, Peter later affirmed the immutability of the contract he made with Christ.
Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle,
even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
Certainly, all of God's true prophets understood the risks.
Christ to the Pharisees said:
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets,
and wise men, and scribes:
and some of them ye shall kill and crucify;
and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues,
and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth,
from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias,
whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
THIS is what it means to be a Christian!
IF THIS is what you're being taught in your church, you're in good hands.
If not, watch out!
3. Pauline Doctrine is credited as teaching that grace supplanted Mosaic 'legalism'. However, a more careful analysis of Paul's scriptures will show that this was probably not his genuine intention.
Peter himself warned followers that a misunderstanding of Paul's message could result in the 'destruction' of their souls:
15....even as our beloved brother Paul
also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things;
in which are some things hard to be understood,
which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,
as they do also the other scriptures,
unto their own destruction.
People who believe faith in grace & law are mutually exclusive rarely address the fact that Paul made the following unequivocal statement regarding this very issue in the book of Romans:
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified
by faith without the deeds of the law.
31 Do we then make void the law through faith?
God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Granted, these statements among others within Paul's writings may lead to some confusion without a clear understanding of the cultural context in which he was operating. My best advice is that you study the teachings of Christ very well BEFORE attempting to study the doctrine of Paul. There is no more authoritative a standard than Christ himself. If any interpretation of the Pauline message appears to be inconsistent with, or to contradict, Christ's teachings it must be considered suspect.
Throughout his writings Paul spoke about the dangers of sin. Yet sin is only identifiable if there is a law to measure against it.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:
for sin is the transgression of the law.
Paul himself said:
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid.
Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law:
for I had not known lust,
except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Elsewhere Paul confirmed the need for knowledge of the law when he discussed the sins that would keep one from entering the kingdom of God. Among them he included 'coveting' which he expressly stated in Romans 7 was not knowable without the standard of God's law.
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters,
nor adulterers, nor effeminate,
nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners,
shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Her prophets are light & treacherous persons:
her priests have polluted the sanctuary,
they have done violence to the law.
7 For the priest's lips should keep knowledge,
and they should seek the law at his mouth:
for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
8 But ye are departed out of the way;
ye have caused many to stumble at the law;
ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi,
saith the Lord of hosts.
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