Category Archives: God’s Will For Us

Is Obedience Only for The Legalistic? Part 3

He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 

For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 

But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— 

then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 

Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:

‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

Matthew 15:3-9

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Jesus and His disciples were watched by the religious leaders very closely to see if they would obey “the law.”  Jesus was often tested by them on this subject.  But “the law” of the Scribes and Pharisees was at odds with God’s law in a profound way as Jesus points out in the verses above.

 Their law was their own interpretation of the unchangeable  law of the Creator.  Their law contained additions without any blessing, direction, or endorsement from the Creator and Giver of the law.

As pointed out in the condemnation by Jesus to those mutilators of God’s law in Matthew 15, they had attempted to create a loop-hole in God’s 5th commandment to make it a little less harsh and easier to “keep.”  God’s law clearly and simply states:

 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12

But, the  leaders said this law could be voided through the offer of a gift as a substitute for giving honor and respect to those who bore and raised them.   It was like they were paying their way out of an obligation that was not to their liking.  So they changed it!  There is not scriptural authority for doing so.

Jesus didn’t like their addition and proclaimed their man-made tradition would make God’s “commandment of no effect.”  Jesus desired them to obey this commandment from the heart, but because they didn’t and tried to come up with ways to make their changes legal, Jesus viewed this as legalism and worthless .  As a result of their changes and their traditions their worship was “in vain.”  It disclosed their hypocrisy of lip service vs heart service.

A couple of other things to notice about this commandment and Jesus’ response:

1.)  God does not put a condition on whether to honor your mother and father or not.  It doesn’t say to honor them if they are worthy of the honor and respect or if they were perfect parents.  Most parents, including myself, are no where near perfect, but we do have a God-given love for our offspring that most children do not understand.  Many times we fail, but that does not make a loop-hole for the breaking of this commandment.

2.)  Jesus doesn’t do away with this commandment or indicate  obedience to this commandment would be legalistic.  As we discussed in a previous article, the new covenant is based on the laws written on the heart.

3.)  Jesus does not give them a list or tell them how to honor their parents.  Lists encourage tasks or works.  While the ten commandments could be considered a list, they are 10 principles. disclosing God’s character and will.  We see in these commandments a God that desires love and respect for both himself and our neighbors.  They are not a list to “work on” to deserve salvation or love from God.

The law of God is not minimized or changed by the new covenant. Even the giver of the law (Jesus) will not change even the smallest part to accommodate mankind. Some are surprised to discover that Jesus, before He came to the world as an infant, gave the 10 Commandments to Moses.  That is a different study for a different time.

Those who have been born again and have a new heart will obey from a love basis rather than a basis to be saved (legalism).  The new covenant people obey the Lord because they ARE saved, not in order to BE saved.

 These born-again followers will understand that to honor their mother or father is the will of God Himself and it will be a natural response from a heart transformed by the power of God to love and respect them.  To try and circumvent, excuse, rationalize, or change it is hypocrisy and attempting to put our own thoughts and reasoning above God’s.

This commandment, like the others, should be read carefully and simply.  Nothing should be added nor taken away, not even one letter or stroke of the pen.  How can anything that is perfect be changed anyway?  It is a transcript of how God wants us to live, not a checklist for finding favor or salvation from the Lord.  Those who will endeavor to obey for the right reasons will be blessed.

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Revelation 21:14

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Jesus made it clear to the  Scribes and Pharisees that he did not come to change the law and that anyone who taught others to break even the smallest detail  was outside of God’s will.  Any attempt to modify the law affected the truthfulness of the worship experience.   This is a pretty serious situation.  Listen to his exact words:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Matthew 5:17

It is here where some will say, “since Jesus fulfilled the law (10 Commandments) it is no longer viable.”  The next verse clears that up.

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Matthew 5:18

We still have a heaven and an earth, so the law remains.  Also, it has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus fulfilled it, and he still wants us to teach that the law should not be broken.  It is so immovable that Jesus makes reference to “jot” and “tittle”  (smallest letter or stroke of the pen) will not be modified or eliminated.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:19

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the one who teaches that even one thing can be changed in God’s “perfect law of liberty” James 1:25. How about you?

Jesus perfect obedience to this law (fulfillment) is the basis for His perfect sacrifice (No sin found in Him) and for the forgiveness for our breaking the law which is sin.

Sin is the transgression of the law

1 John 3:4

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23.

But sin is much more.  We are born sinners with a nature to sin.  Anything not of faith is sin.  There are a 1,000 ways we can sin, but in the end, all can be summarized by the 10 commandments.

 When we are born again, we are given a heart of flesh with God’s law written upon it (New Covenant) and we obey out of sense of love and respect rather than a method of salvation (legalism).  Our very nature is changed.  The thief stops stealing,;the liar stops lying; the adulterer stops sleeping with women who are not his wife…..

If you love me, keep my commandments

John 14:15

Of course they are not perfect.  When we do sin, we have an advocate:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1 John 2:1

Oh!  The mercy and forgiveness of our great God!

How can we claim to be followers if we disobey or re-write the law to suit us as did the religious leaders of Jesus’ time?

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In Luke, Jesus confirmed as He did in Matthew 5 that the law would never change.  Further,  He used the passing of heaven and earth to drive home the point:

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.”

Luke 16:17

Other writers agree with Jesus on the eternal existence of the law and His word:

“All His precepts are sure. They are upheld forever and ever”

Psalm 111:8

“The sum of your word is truth;
    and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.”

Psalm 119:160

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

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Jesus was tested another time on a different commandment. But, the same principles apply.

“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12: 1-8

The Scribes and Pharisees were particularly zealous for this law.  They added their own rules that is in the thousands.  However, like the 5th commandment, the law is presented by the Lawgiver in a simple manner.  However, the religious leaders made it very legalistic and burdensome.  In the process, this law intended to bless man became another checklist of things to do or not to do.

In this incident, Jesus and his disciples were hungry and began to shuck corn in a field and eat it as they walked along.  This violated one of the Sabbath “rules” created by the very legalistic religious leaders, but Jesus said they were “guiltless.”  Here is an important question:  Is there anywhere in scripture where God forbid such action by the disciples? No!  It is another example of man’s tradition or adding to the law that makes the law a burden and makes their worship vain.

To make his point (That He and the disciples had not broken the 4th commandment), He asks the supposed scriptural authorities the question:  “Have you not read….”  This question (referring to 1 Samuel 21: 1-6) puts them back on their heels.  They obviously had read it, but they had missed the  application from their reading about the priority of man’s needs above a ritual of the law.  Jesus begins to connect the hunger of David’s men and the hunger of Jesus and His disciples.  Very simply, the value of men and their hunger needs outweigh any man-made religious ceremony (i.e., Hot warm bread used in the sanctuary service and the need to eat on the Sabbath when nothing else is available).   Again, there is no law written or intended by the Lawgiver for anyone having to subscribe to such a strict interpretation of a simple law and go hungry on a day the Lord has blessed and made holy.  Further, Jesus clearly states the priority of mercy over sacrifice and ceremonial religious laws.

The 4th Commandment is very simple and plain in its delivery by the Creator, much like the 5th commandment.  The Great Lawgiver and Creator states the commandment simply and provides the reason as to why a professed follower should obey it.  (Not to be saved, but because they are saved)

The command: 

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 

The Reason:

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20: 8-11

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As with the 5th Commandment, Jesus made it clear that His Law should not be modified or added to in any way.  The same observations for the 5th Commandment can be made for the 4th Commandment:

1.)  God does not put a condition on whether to honor the Sabbath or not or that He had plans to modify or change it.   He says, “Remember” and to “Keep it Holy” since the reason for the commandment has to do with the fact that he is the Creator (and Redeemer-See Deuteronomy’s version-Chapter 5: 12-15)

2.)  Jesus doesn’t do away with this commandment or indicate  obedience to this commandment would be legalistic.  As we discussed in a previous article, the new covenant is based on the laws written on the heart.

3.)  Jesus does not give them a list or tell them how to keep the Sabbath holy, other than refraining from work on that day.  The reason?  We are to respect our Creator and “rest” as He did. It is not only a physical rest, but a rest of relationship with the Creator and His Creation.  It is about relationships and not a religious list of things to trip us up so that we sin.

When the Lord stopped working after His work of Creation, it was not that He was tired, but that He wanted the time to be immortalized as proof of his Creatorship.  Further, Adam and Eve began their first full day with the Lord on the Sabbath.  This must have been a very special Sabbath as they began to see and understand life and a relationship with the Creator.

Have you ever wondered about the heavenly bodies that tell us about time?  Even scientist will admit we measure time by the sun and the moon. Our year is based on the orbit of the earth around the sun.  Our month is based on the orbit or phases of the moon around the earth.  But there is nothing in nature to base our 7 day weekly cycle.

A 7 day weekly cycle  exists only because it was instituted by our Creator (Jesus) in the beginning.  Why not a 6 day cycle or a 5 day cycle?  The 7 day cycle and the Sabbath screams:  God created us!

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Jesus Conclusion:

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:

Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.

Mark 2: 27, 28

Jesus told the religious leaders that He made the Sabbath to be a blessing for man not a list of do’s and don’t’s so that man is made a slave to the Sabbath.  Notice it is made for “man” or mankind  not just the Jews.  The commandment was given long before there was a nation of Jews.  That reasoning would also indicate that all the other commandments are only for the Jews and not for us.

The Scribes and Pharisees had effectively made the Sabbath a burden and God’s original intention was lost through their adding and modifying a simple commandment meant to be a lasting memorial to our Creator and an opportunity to “come unto (Jesus) and rest.”

Jesus knew how it should be remembered because He is Lord of the Sabbath!  This is the real Lord’s day!  It was created by God and it belongs to Him

“But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”

Exodus, 20:10

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In conclusion:

We can learn from these two incidents regarding honoring parents and honoring the day God blessed.  It tells us  that the law of God is immutable and has a relationship/heart purpose.  They are not part of a list of do’s and don’ts to follow so one can be saved.  God forbid!  it is a law of liberty (James 2:12).  It can not be modified to meet our own convenience, thinking, or tradition.

Jesus gave the Law and He knows better than anyone how to follow the spirit of the law which does not negate the letter.

I am sure your spouse would want you to keep the letter of the law regarding adultery, but even more the spirit (i.e., you are faithful because you love her/him.)

The same goes for your neighbor.  You don’t steal, lie, cheat, or covet his wife, or kick his cat (the letter of the law).  Not because you have to, but because you respect him as a child of God and because of the born-again heart given you by the Lord (Spirit of the Law).

Have you asked yourself how can you “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy?”  The key word here is holy (a.k.a sanctified).  How do you make it about a love relationship with God and His creation rather than a list of do’s and don’t’s? How do you make it a delight or a blessing and not a burden?

The Sabbath was made for man, to be a blessing to him by calling his mind from secular labor to contemplate the goodness and glory of God

Of all the commandments, the 4th one is the most misunderstood and the one where legalism can quickly smother the spiritual blessing God has prepared for us each week.  It is not just about when should church attendance be conducted.  This is no doubt a “holy” activity for the Sabbath.  It was Jesus’ and Paul’s custom to go to meet with God’s people each Sabbath.  I would say they are good examples to follow.  Wouldn’t you?

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In our next study, we will see how the enemy has attacked the law of God and the family unit (the 4th and 5th commandments) to serve his purpose of confusing and  leading people away from a knowledge of the Lord which is salvation.

He has a special anger towards those who teach and obey the will of God and testify of Jesus Christ:

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17

Is Obedience Only for the Legalistic, Part 2

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Mathew 5:17-19

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Part 1 Summary

In the earlier blog, we looked to the word of God to answer the question about legalism and the role of God’s law in the heart of the believer.

Briefly, we saw that there are many laws in the Bible.  Some were temporary (Ceremonial and Sacrificial).  These laws or ordinances were like a school master that taught God’s people about sin, salvation, and the coming Messiah.

These had their purpose and their end came when  type (e.g. spotless lamb) met anti-type (i.e. Jesus).  When Jesus came, we no longer needed the School Master to teach us. We now had Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection as our teacher and hope.

But, the law that  is eternal is the moral law contained in the 10 commandments.  Jesus did not come to abolish it or to destroy it.  On the contrary, His life magnified the law and made it honorable.  Example:  Jesus told us men that looking upon a woman with lust was the same as committing adultery

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Mathew 5:28

Here we see Jesus “magnifying” the law.  He makes it bigger so we can clearly see or understand to scope of the law.  It also demonstrates that man is sinful to the core.  It tells us we need a Savior not only from eternal death but from the power of sin.

Sin is defined in one place as the breaking or transgressing of the law.

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

1 John 3:4

John goes on to tell us something very important for the believer.

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.

1 John 3:6

Is it not clear that if someone sins, they don’t know Him?  But if the believer “abides” in Him, that person will not sin.  Now be careful here.  It is not saying you are perfect and never sin.  It means you do not practice sin as clarified in the the next verse:

He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

1 John 3:7

Before John ever gets into this discussion, he sets the boundaries of the discussion by saying this:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

1 John 2:1

God’s desire is that we do not sin. We have Jesus as our advocate in heaven (another topic for another time) to cover us should we sin.  But this advocate is not an excuse to practice sin. That the true follower will not do.  The thief will not continue his life of stealing.  The adulterer will stop sleeping around.  The person with other gods will give them up.  Is this a fair statement?

Here is what we must remember:  We are born with a sinful nature.   When we are born again, we are given a spiritual nature.  These two natures will compete against each other and it is our choice and God’s action as to which one will win the war between flesh and spirit.  Keep in mind that battles may be lost due to the carnal nature, but this does not mean the war is over and a victor crowned.  Paul describes this battle in Romans 8 (Another study for another time).

One of my favorite writers wrote something that I think is very appropriate here and supported by the grace of our great loving God:

“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John,

“These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1.

Steps to Christ, P. 64

The law, specifically the 10 commandments, point out to sinful man what is sin.  To know about the law and sin is to know more about the God who gave it and more about ourselves.  It points out how really sinful we are and that we need  a savior because we cannot “enter into the womb a second time” and be reborn.   We cannot give ourselves a new spirit.  The law enhances the reality of grace and His power, but God’s grace does not eliminate the law otherwise he could have simply eliminated the definition of sin instead of having his Son pay the penalty for sin i.e., death.  This would be a divine loophole of sorts. I don’t see where God provides loopholes, but He does supply grace and power.

The law, like God, is eternal and it is given the same description as God Himself.  The law expresses His character which is holy, just, and good.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Romans 7:11, 12

We can not take the 10 commandments off the wall and wash our face with it,  the law points out the smudge on our face, which tells us we need to be cleansed.  To try to wash our face with the law would be the definition of legalism.  Instead, the law indicates God’s will for us and that we need a Savior not only for breaking it, but for the power to obey it as will be shown in the following discussion.

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When talking about the law of God, we must discuss the topic of new covenant versus old covenant.  Here many make a deadly mistake, thinking the old covenant was about keeping the law for salvation, but the new covenant is freedom from keeping the law and living under grace. This implies disobedience.  As we shall see both covenants include obedience to God’s law.  The new covenant does not diminish the requirements of the law, but there is a twist that should give encouragement to us and help us avoid legalism.

Jesus is the “Mediator of the new covenant.”

And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:15

By the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross, He redeemed everyone, including those under the first covenant.  This redemption for them and for all “who are called may receive the promise of eternal life.”

So again, we see that the cross is the central point for both those in the old testament and the new testament.  It is here where all, on both sides of the cross, look by faith to Jesus for eternal life.  Those in the old testament looked forward in faith and were instructed by the School Master or the sacrificial and ceremonial laws given by God through Moses to teach them about Jesus. They were not saved by works and obedience, but by faith in the spotless lamb of God (Jesus).

Those of us on this side, look to Jesus’ death on the cross by faith for eternal life and we  have the life of Jesus and the testimony of His followers to teach us.  Also, we have the experience of those before the cross to teach us as well.  In fact, those before the cross and the writings of the old testament can instruct us in righteousness.

Paul wrote to Timothy and reminded him of this fact.  Paul wrote it before the writings of the other new testament writers were known and brought together.  So Paul’s message to Timothy is referring to the writings of the old testament when he said,

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousnessthat the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16

Those books in the old testament will reproof, correct and even instruct the new testament believer in righteousness.  Further, it will make us complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We should never say or believe things like, “That is in the old testament, I am a new testament believer.”  Rather, we should say, we are a believer of “All Scripture.”

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The experience of God’s people before the cross serve as examples of how we should both live and respond to God.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

Their lives and experiences become examples of how to live or not to live.  Their experiences will give us hope!

Jesus is also found in type all through the old testament.  To bypass these books is to miss Christ.

 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was ChristBut with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.”

1 Corinthians 10: 1-7

So as we look at the new covenant or the new testament, we must not forget the value of the old covenant and the old testament.  It still provides us help in our Jesus journey. It is even provides information that should be obeyed and understood by the Christian who appreciates the value of the new covenant.

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To understand the new  covenant, we must understand the old covenant.  Is that a fair statement? Why two covenants?  Did God make a mistake and create a new covenant because it was impossible or too difficult to live under?  Many think this because of somethings Paul states.

Generally, a covenant is defined as an agreement between two parties, but it can be simply a promise by the Lord. For example, the Lord made a promise to the people of earth to not destroy it by water ever again. This was a covenant or promise from the great Creator.

“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth… and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.”

Genesis 9:13,15

The Lord did the same type of “one-sided covenant” with Abraham when he promised him land and descendants:

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—’ ”

Genesis 15:18

 “And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”

Genesis 17: 2-7

However, these covenants (promises) of God are not the covenants distinguished as old by Paul.

There was a point where the people of God tried to make a covenant or agreement with God and they became “old.”

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the Lord commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” 

Exodus 19:5-7

In the next Chapter of Exodus (20) we see these words:

And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

Exodus 20: 1-2

Then the Lord spoke the 10 Commandments Himself as shown in Exodus 20: 3-17

Here was the covenant the people made.  It seemed to be the response God wanted, but noticed they agreed to obey God based on fear and their own efforts.  They state, “all that the Lord has said we will do.” They attempted to obey God under their grit and determination. Obedience was not from the heart but rather from duty and fear.  After a while their promises faded away and became old.

They were afraid of God and this formed their their response.

Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

Exodus 20:19

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Citing the fear and poor promises of the people, the writer of Hebrews cites the need for a new covenant:

 “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”

Hebrews 8:6

What better promises?  Did God make a promise that was inferior or had a fault? No!  The problem or fault was found with the people who made the covenant with God as shown in the verse that follows:

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them. He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judahnot according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.

Hebrews 8: 7-9

The fault was with the people who made a promise they could not keep.

Have you ever made a promise to God while under fear?  “God if you will just get me out of this situation, I will serve you until I die.” But, after you are delivered, you forget your promise and go back to serving only yourself. In this situations, you are doing exactly what the children of Israel did.  They made a promise they could not keep.  Why?  Because they were attempting something without a changed heart.  They did not realize their own weakness. God desired them to obey out of love and through His power.

Continuing in Hebrews 8, we see the better promise, but it still contains God’s law and obedience.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 

Hebrew 8:10

So the new covenant is one where God provides the promise and the people respond to His love in obedience because they have a new heart (rebirth). But notice that the new covenant still involves the law of God and obedience.  The law is never destroyed or eliminated, it is a new attitude about it where the obedience comes from the new heart.  If it is on the heart, do you think you will obey the letter?  The spirit and the letter of the law go together.  Let me explain:

If a born again Christian says to his wife, I obey the law concerning adultery in the spirit, but not by the letter.  What has he just told his wife?  Would the wife be comfortable about the separation of spirit and letter?  Could the husband sleep with her sister (letter) but keep the “spirit.”  NO!  If He is living in the spirit of the law, he won’t even allow himself to look at a woman with lust!  Especially, he will not tempt himself with pornography!  Men, if you are looking at porn, you need Jesus to both forgive you and to help you overcome it.  It is sin!

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“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:6

Paul is explaining how we often get the cart before the horse.  Many try to serve only in the letter.  These are the legalistic.

In a very difficult part of Paul’s writing, he continues to explain that the law is spiritual and we are carnal.  There are the two natures that live and fight within us until Jesus returns.  The purpose of the law is to tell us what God considers as transgression and how sinful we are:

I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”  Romans 7: 7

“…by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 3:20

Here Paul understands that desiring the possessions of another person is sin, but he goes further:

“I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

Romans 7: 9

Paul was “foot loose and fancy free” as we say in the South. But, when he became aware of the words of the law, he came under great conviction and he saw his way of life meant death, for he had said earlier in the chapter,

“the wages of sin is death.”

Romans 6:23

The law points out what God calls sin regardless of what the world might think.  When we come to accept the fact that we are sinners, we seek God and find forgiveness and the power to live a life in Christ.  We don’t want to continue in an unsatisfying life of sin and disobedience.  God begins to write His laws in our hearts so that our obedience comes from a new heart powered by God himself.  The law does not go away.  In fact, it becomes a writing inscribed in our way of thinking so that the thief stops stealing, the liar stops lying, etc.  If, in our brand new way of thinking,  we do slip; we have an advocate with the father.

I have heard someone say, I obey the law with my spirit and not by letter.  I am under grace. How does that work?

Paul cautioned again such thinking when he said,

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Romans 6:15

 Being “under grace” does not mean one can disobey God’s law. We are not “under” the law because we are not under the penalty, because Jesus paid the penalty for our transgression of the law.  His death shows the permanence of the law.

The followers of God are shown to be true followers by obedience to it.  To claim we follow Jesus and willfully disobey is to not be a follower, for He said,

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Luke 6:46″

It is like saying I am a follower of Robert Atkins, but I don’t obey the diet plan.  I obey it in my spirit, but not the letter.  How much weight do you think that person would lose?

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It is no wonder that Satan himself is upset with the last day people who wish to testify of Jesus Christ through an experience of obedience to His words that include the 10 commandments.  This identifies them as true followers and not religious pretenders.

“And the dragon (Satan) was enraged with the woman (church), and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17

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Conclusion

God’s 10 Commandment law has never been destroyed.  It is still a sin to have other god’s, to build statues of gods  and fall down before them.  It is still a sin to disrespect God’s name and character.  It is still a sin to forget the Sabbath of the Lord and dishonor his creation and the time He blessed.  It is still a sin to dishonor your parents, to murder, to commit adultery, to steal, to lie, and to covet your neighbors possessions.

All 10 of these commandments line up under the two great commandments.  The first being to

“love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” The second is like it, “to love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 37-39

The first 4 commandments hang (summarized) under the first principle and the last six under the second principle.

But notice the order.  If one fails to love God completely, they will not be able love their neighbor with a Christ like love.  They will in effect become legalistic (if connected to religion) and a worthless noisy show-off of a cymbal if God’s love is not the basis for their obedience:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.”

1 Corinthians 13:1

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No.  Obedience is not for the legalistic although there are many who obey to somehow impress God or attempt to make themselves worthy of blessings and salvation.

Obedience is for those who have been born again, where love for their Creator and a testimony to the true God can be expressed through obeying his word.

To obey God is to have true freedom. Just ask the man in prison who murdered someone or the person whose life is run by lying.

To say that we love Him and not obey Him makes us a liar.

“He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:4

Obedience comes from a new heart supplied by the Redeemer.  It is not religious, but it is real.  Obedience is the walk with the One you love, not the requirement for walk. The walk, like a child, will be shaky at first, but as you hold the Father’s hand, you will get stronger to do his will, but unlike the earthly example, our hand must be in the hand of our Creator constantly, because if it isn’t, we have the possibility of returning to the mud from which we were cleansed (See 2 Peter 2: 18-22)

I close with the inspiring words from Steps to Christ, p. 60, 61

“But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love. The law of God is an expression of His very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new-covenant promise is fulfilled, “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Hebrews 10:16. And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience–the service and allegiance of love–is the true sign of discipleship. Thus the scripture says, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 5:3; 2:4. Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience.”

Is Obedience Only for the Legalistic? Part 1

Recently, I heard a radio preacher say, “The Old Testament was about obedience, but the New Testament is about grace.” I don’t want to read too much into this or interpret his statement incorrectly, but I hear this same idea said in different ways.  In almost all cases the implication is there are two methods of salvation:

1.) Obedience for those before the cross and

2.)  Grace and faith after the cross.

Obedience (Old Covenant)  image002  Grace/Faith (New Covenant)

Only a few days later, I heard another speaker talk about Galatians in such a way that it lead me to believe that talking about obedience was “another gospel.” The preacher stated: “nothing can be added to the work of Jesus. To add anything else is “another gospel.”  Without a doubt, no one can add to what Jesus has done for sinful man. and we cannot do enough good works to merit salvation. including obedience.  Here is the proof:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:9, 10

“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5:18

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

Romans 3:21-23

All three of the verses above were from Paul.  Paul was a highly educated and dedicated Hebrew.  Before his conversion, he considered himself “blameless” concerning the righteousness that comes by the law.  but then he discovered Jesus and his eyes were opened.

Paul, seemed to be concerned where people would take verses like those above.  He abruptly asks a question at the end of Romans 3 and again at the beginning of Romans 6 to clarify:

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Romans 3:31 

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 

Romans 6:1

The established law has a place in the Jesus Journey of the believer, but what is it?

Despite Romans 3:31 and other “obedience” verses we shall see, people continue to quote verses that would seem to say, we can pretty much ignore the 10 commandment law.  Here are a few:

We are not “….under the law, but under grace.”

Romans 6:14

“The law was done away with.”

Colossians 2:14?

“The law has been nailed to the cross.”

Colossians 2:14?

Obedience is “another gospel.”

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”

Galatians 1:6

Incorrect application of these passage may make it sound like God does not want us to obey and if I want to obey God, I have reverted back to the Old Testament way of salvation and have become legalistic, perhaps even lost.  By choosing to seek to live in obedience, I have left the gospel of grace and faith. So is obedience only for the legalistic?

I have tried to boil this down to 5 important thought questions:

1.)  Has obedience ever been a method of salvation?  Was Moses, the prophets, the people of Israel saved by the works of the law? Has anyone ever been able to save themselves through obedience?

2.)  What is the relationship between obedience and grace?  Are they mutually exclusive of each other?

3.)  What does Salvation mean and what is the purpose of the law?

4.) Does God expect me to live a life in  disobedience to his commandments?  What happens if I start to try to obey?

5.)  Does Obedience have anything to do with the new covenant?

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Now I am certain, I don’t need to get up get dressed and head to the local temple and sacrifice a lamb for the sins I have committed.  This was definitely part of the instructions God gave Moses to give to  God’s people.  I also know that being circumcised is not a prerequisite to being a part of God’s people. But, how do I relate to God’s law?  What is the danger if I ignore it or if I obey it?

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What is God’s law?

Is it just the 10 commandments?

Is it the old sacrificial system given by God to Moses?

Is it some spiritual thing that I keep in my spirit but am careful to not obey the letter?

Here is what I know from God’s word;

The word “law” appears 529 times in the entire Bible.  If you throw in “statute” and “ordinance” we can add another 219 times.  So that brings us to 748 verses.  

Do they all mean the same thing?  This is where many people get confused. 

The three main categories  for these 748 verses are used primarily in 1 of 3 main ways:

A.)  God’s Ten Commandments written with His own finger.

“And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”

Exodus 31:18

B.) The laws given by God to Moses concerning the sanctuary services, sacrifices, feast days. The ceremonial laws contained in ordnances.  Written by Moses and placed in a pouch in the side of the Ark of the Covenant.

“Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.”

Deuteronomy 31:26

These ordinances and laws were ceremonial and gave identity and teaching to the chosen people before the cross.  After the cross, God made the Jew and Gentile one.

“And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.”

Exodus 18:20

“….having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”

Ephesians 2:15

C.) The word of God contained in the “books of the law” a.k.a Torah (First Five books of the Bible)

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 1:8

 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1: 2, 3

So it is always important to understand which law God is referring to before making any decisions as to what God would have you do.

One last question before we start,  Does the freedom given me by the grace of God give me license to disobey?

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In this post, we will start with questions #1 and #2

1.)  Has obedience ever been a method of salvation?  Was Moses, the prophets, the people of Israel saved by the works of the law? Has anyone ever been able to save themselves through obedience?

The answer is NO!  The Jews of old were saved just like those of the New Testament:  By the grace of God through faith and not of any works.  Listen to Paul:

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

Galatians 2:21

There would have been no need for Jesus to die on the cross for our sins or the sins of those in the Old Testament time if “righteousness” could come through the law.

Through the ceremonial feast of Passover (Exodus 12), the Jews under those laws were taught that the unblemished innocent male sheep had to die for their sins.  They had to believe this in faith.  Merely following the directions of God through Moses was not the point of their forgiveness but led them to understand about the coming Messiah who was the “true lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” John 1:29

So by faith, the Jews looked forward to the Cross for their salvation not in obeying the law.  But the law was good in that it came from God himself through Moses and it taught (through an object lesson) the cost of sin, the price that had to be paid, and the transference of their sin onto the unblemished Son of God.

When Jesus came, type met anti-type.  There was no longer a need to have ceremonies and laws that pointed forward to Jesus.  Now they had the life and teachings of Jesus and that teacher (using types) ended.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Galatians 3:24, 25

All those ceremonial laws pointed forward to Jesus and His death on the cross that they might have faith in Him.  Today, we look back at Jesus and the cross that we might have faith.  Both of us are saved by faith, not by the works of the law of ceremonies.

Those laws had fulfilled their purpose of pointing the OT people to Jesus.  When He died on the cross they ended and we were no longer “under” those sets of laws.

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Galatians 3: 23

This faith spoken of by Paul is another word for Jesus.  The faith that is revealed is Jesus.  It is clear from Hebrews 11 (Faith Chapter) that those of the OT lived their lives by faith as we do:

The term “By faith” or “through faith” appears at least 19 times in Hebrews 11!  They are all references to the OT people of faith!

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off…And these all, having obtained a good report through faith.”

Hebrews 11: 13, 39

Please keep in mind, faith is not a thing….a religious thing….It is “trust” in God.  It is made evident by a response.  A person can say they have faith in God, but their works will show it.  Faith is not based on nothing.  It has substance and evidence.  This substance and evidence comes through trusting in God’s word.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

James 2:18

Paul shows the method of salvation i.e., grace through faith not of works.  James tells us that the works (obedience) produced from a believer is the evidence of their faith.  The two go together.

James goes on to say,

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

James 2: 8-12

James uses the term “law of liberty” twice.  Here is the hint that obeying the law gives liberty.  Just ask the murder in prison or the person who is trapped in a web of lies.  There is a blessing in obedience to God’s 10 commandments.  Wouldn’t you agree?  We are not talking about the method of salvation, but rather the results of salvation.

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it,and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:25

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2.)  What is the relationship between obedience and grace?  Are they mutually exclusive of each other?

How can anyone claim to be a follower of the only true God and not obey?

“He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

1 John 2:4

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Luke 6:46

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.”

Luke 6: 47-48

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 

Romans 6:1

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5: 17-19

Heaven and earth remains and so do the 10 commandments.  Anyone who teaches to break the least of the commandments is not doing the will of God.  I don’t want to be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.  Do you?  The best way here is to teach to obey the law of God.

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Conclusion:

The 10 commandments remain as does heaven and earth.  The ceremonial laws taught about Jesus and salvation, but they ended at the cross where type met anti-type.

Obedience does not save you, but a saved person will be obedient.  The thief will stop stealing.  The liar will stop lying.  All of this happens because of the new birth….the new heart God gives the person saved.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people”

Hebrews 8:10

If you are thinking the new covenant spoken of here is for Jews only.  Remember there is neither Jew nor Greek and that if we belong to Christ we are “Abraham’s seed” (Father of Jews) and “heirs according to the promise.”

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

 “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Galatians 3:29

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“A woman is driving way over the speed limit. Suddenly, she sees in her rear view mirror the flashing red and blue lights of a police car and hears the familiar wail of the siren. She pulls over, grabs her purse, and takes out her driver’s license. The policeman approaches, takes her license, and returns to his car.

She wonders how much the ticket is going to be (she was way over the limit); she also worries about how she will be able to pay it. A few minutes later the policeman comes back and says, OK, Miss, what we are going to do, so that you don’t have to face the penalty of the law again, is abolish the law. You no longer have to worry about the speed limit.

As ludicrous as that story is, it’s no more so than the theology that teaches that after Jesus died, the law, the Ten Commandments, was abolished.”  Dr. Keith A. Burton,

“Wages of sin is death.”

Romans 6:23

“Sin is the transgression of the law.”

1 John 3:

The definition of sin has never changed.

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“There are two errors against which the children of God–particularly those who have just come to trust in His grace–especially need to guard. The first, already dwelt upon, is that of looking to their own works, trusting to anything they can do, to bring themselves into harmony with God. He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin. It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith, that can make us holy.

The opposite and no less dangerous error is that belief in Christ releases men from keeping the law of God; that since by faith alone we become partakers of the grace of Christ, our works have nothing to do with our redemption.

But notice here that obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love.”

Steps To Christ, page 59, 60

Only 9 Commandments? A Day Forgotten

“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:19

In previous posts, we have seen that the law of God is immutable.  It cannot be changed, not even one jot or tittle. The law is like God himself.  He does not change and his word or law does not change.

“For I am the LordI do not change

Malachi 3:6

We also learned there was a School Master whose job was finished when Jesus died on the cross.  This was the laws contained in ordinances i.e., the ceremonial and sacrificial laws that pointed forward to Jesus in types and shadows.

In the series “Is Obedience only for the Legalistic?” it was demonstrated that obedience is not legalistic as long as you do not try to obtain salvation or favor from God through it.

 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

This verse does not make void the law.  The same writer (Paul) asked the following question and then quickly answered it just to make sure no one came to the wrong conclusion regarding faith and the law:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

Romans 3:31

James asks the believers a similar question to make sure we don’t miss the point of faith either.  The point is, true faith will have works including obedience.

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? “

James 2:14

The answer is this:

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:18

No obedience and no good deeds = No evidence of faith.  This is an example of legalism.  Trying to save yourself on your own terms without trust in God or His word.

Faith in Jesus = Obedience and good deeds (Trusts and Obeys).  We obey because we are saved and born-again.  We do not obey in order to be saved.  This is impossible.

Obedience is part of the Christian experience.  James says it plainly:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

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Obedience to the law is a natural response from a transformed heart.   The born-again follower desires to live by the principal of the law which is summarized by the two tables of the law:  Love God and Love man.  The 10 Commandments fit under one of these two headings.  But obedience is more than the letter.  It begins in the heart but expresses itself in the letter.  Example:  Jesus taught us that adultery begins in the heart, but that does not mean that the act (the letter) is not sin because it is.  The act demonstrates how uncontrollable the un-redeemed heart can be.

In a look at the new covenant we found that the law is not changed or eliminated rather God writes it on the heart.  This is where obedience starts just as does sin.

 Without this “born-again” experience, obedience becomes burdensome and religiously legalistic because it attempts to do something it is not equipped by God to do.  Any good deeds from the human unredeemed heart is for self glory and is not a love response to God and His glory.

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Despite the immutability of the law, there have been attempts to change it.  The most blatant and obvious are from the Roman Catholic church leadership.  They eliminated the 2nd commandment.  Split the last one into two commandments and then changed the interpretation of a very plain 4th commandment.  Most of the world has accepted these changes and gone about their business.

But followers of Jesus follow His word and those inspired by God who were writers of the Bible.

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Below,  are the typical reasons given for modifying the 4th commandment are discussed.  Today, the 4th commandment is believed to read as follows:

Remember the 1st Day of the week and go to church because Jesus was resurrected on the 1st Day of the week and the Disciples kept the 1st day of the week.  Do not work on Sunday from the time you get up in the morning until after church or about 1:00 PM.

Here are God’s exact words:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Exodus 20: 8-11

The differences are obvious:

God

Man & Tradition

7th Day Holy (Saturday) 7th Day is not holy-Jesus and disciples changed the day of worship to the 1st day of the week. (Sunday)
Should not work for 24 hours Should not work until after church
Reason for commandment: God is Creator Reason for change: Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week
The Lord blessed the day  Jesus and Disciples example make it holy.

The reasons for the variance  are typically expressed as follows:

1.)  We worship on Sunday because this is the day Jesus arose.

2.)  We worship on Sunday because the disciples worshiped on Sunday after the resurrection.

3.) There is no evidence the disciples worshiped or honored the Sabbath after Jesus was resurrected.  The 4th commandment is not repeated in the New Testament.

4.) The disciples broke bread and took up an offering on the 1st Day of the week-This proves they were worshiping on the 1st day of the week.

5.)  The Sabbath is for the Jews only.

6.) If you honor the Sabbath, you are legalistic and are trying to save yourself.

7) The calendar was changed.  We don’t know which day is the 7th Day.

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Let’s take these one by one and see if there is biblical evidence to support any of these statements;

1.) We worship on Sunday because this is the day Jesus arose.

Reread the 4th commandment and you will see that there is nothing in the commandment about which day to worship.  It does not say to Remember the 7th Day to worship……Worship can occur on any day.  It is not limited to only one day a week.

The commandment is to “keep it holy” or set apart from the other days.  You honor it by refraining from your normal activities of work. Of course worship is a good thing to do on the Sabbath.

We honor it because it signifies that God is the Creator.

It is true that Jesus arose on the first day of the week. But there is no evidence from Jesus that he commanded his disciples or anyone to re-write the 4th commandment.  As our opening verse states, we are not to think that Jesus can to change the law.  Not even the smallest letter of the law can be changed.  Anyone who teaches otherwise is not in God’s will.

Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

1 John 2:7

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2.)  We worship on Sunday because the disciples worshiped on Sunday after the resurrection.

Let’s start with the first Sunday after the resurrection.  Were the disciples gathered together to worship because Jesus arose?  No! They were together (except for Thomas), but it was because they were afraid of what the Jews might do to them.  Also, they did not believe that Jesus had arose until the evening.  Thomas didn’t believe Jesus had arose until 8 days later:

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled,for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

John 20: 19

This was not a worship service.  It was a fear service.  Notice it was at night not an 11:00 AM worship service.

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20: 26-28

After 8 days.  This would have been on what we call a Monday, the disciples were again inside.  But this time they were believers.  They told Thomas that they had seen the Lord!  John 20:24.  It was not until Thomas could see and touch the Lord himself that he would believe.  When he did, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

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3.) There is no evidence the disciples worshiped or honored the Sabbath after Jesus was resurrected.  The 4th commandment is not repeated in the New Testament.

“But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.”

Acts 13:14

Paul and his party went to the synagogue and was asked to speak.  In verse 16, Paul stood up and gave a quick sermon to both the “men of Israel” (Jews) and “those who fear God” (Gentile converts).  The sermon was about how God had led his people and how the prophets wrote about Jesus, but the Jews who read the prophets every Sabbath  crucified him (Verse 27, 28)

Many think that Paul only went to the synagogues on the Sabbath because this is where the Jews were and He could reach more of them.  But remember, Paul considered, at least, a part of his calling was to be a teacher to gentiles:

 “to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”

2 Timothy 1:11

Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first (Jews); but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:46 

When the service was over (As described above in Acts 13), the Gentiles wanted to hear more (Verse 42). In fact, they begged to hear more.  It would have been very appropriate had the disciples been meeting on the 1st day of the week to simply ask them to meet with them the very next day.  A response from a Sunday observing Paul would have went like this, “We now meet on the 1st day of the week in honor of the resurrection of Jesus.  We are meeting tomorrow.  Come to our worship service and we will talk and worship more then.”

That never happened.  In fact,  Here is what happened:

“Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.”

Acts 13: 43-44

Paul persuaded this “on-fire” group of non-Jewish (Gentile) audience to wait until the next Sabbath instead of the next day!  This was written a long time after the resurrection of Jesus (Between 30 to 40 years).  This was plenty of time for the disciples to set up a new day to honor in place of the Sabbath, but there is no indication at this point that a change had been instituted.  Paul was still honoring the 4th commandment.

In another place we see Paul seeking a quite spot to pray on the Sabbath.  He met with some of the women who were also meeting for prayer by the river.  This is more inline with the purpose of the Sabbath i.e., to rest and seek God through prayer.

“And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.”

It was the habit of these women to meet at the river for prayer on the Sabbath.  There is no indication Paul promoted a new day of worship or honor.  In fact, he participated in the blessing of the Sabbath by seeking a quite spot to commune with God and pray with other believers.

Paul met Lydia who “worshiped God” and she received what Paul had to say about Jesus and was baptized.  Again, no indication that Paul said the new day of worship and prayer was the 1st Day of the week.

Acts 16:13

Paul ministered to both Jews and Greeks on the Sabbath in the Synagogues:

It is important to know that both Jews and Gentiles who worshiped God also attended the synagogue on the Sabbath.

“And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.”

Acts 18: 4

There is no indication from the 9 verses mentioned in Acts that Paul or any of the disciples either worshiped on Sunday or encouraged new Christians to do so.

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4.) The disciples broke bread and took up an offering on the 1st Day of the week-This proves they were worshiping on the 1st day of the week

“Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”

Acts 20:7

In this passage we find the only verse in Acts using the term “first day of the week.”   It appears to be a worship service where the Lord’s supper is being taken.

But, let’s look closely at the purpose of this meeting and why it occurred on the first day of the week.  Also, let’s examine the breaking of the bread.

Paul had a long journey to Miletus.  The first part of the trip was a walk to where the ship would depart.  He would leave, therefore, when the sun was up.  Paul spoke until midnight.

Notice that they met at night

 “There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.”

Acts 20: 8

Since there were many lights in the upper room, we can deduct it was night time.  Was it Sunday (1st-Day) night or Saturday night (7th Day)?  It was the dark part of the First Day of the Week (Sunday), but it is what we would call Saturday night today.

Some versions of the Bible understand this and call it a Saturday night service so the reader will translate the time to how we understand the changing of the day:

On Saturday evening we gathered together for the fellowship meal. Paul spoke to the people and kept on speaking until midnight, since he was going to leave the next day.

Acts 20:7 (Good News Translation)

A young man sitting in the window fell asleep and fell out of the window and died!  But, Paul went down and brought him back to life fully healed.  They then went back upstairs and ate and talked until day break.

At day break, he began his travels by foot (verse 11).  If Sunday morning was the time the Christians set apart for worship, Paul must have skipped church.

Instead, Paul rested the entire Sabbath and then he talked with the disciples for a long time knowing it would be some time before they saw each other again.  He left when the sun came up on a Sunday morning for his trip.

Was the breaking of the bread the Lord’s supper?  There is no indication that it is.  The breaking of bread can simply mean eating together:

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

Acts 2:46 

There are no directions from example or teaching that the Lord’s Supper was to be done only on the 1st Day of the Week. It can be taken any time as indicated by Paul’s statement:

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

1 Corinthians 11:26

In conclusion, this was not a Sunday morning worship service with the Lord’s supper.  It was simply the disciples getting together on what we call Saturday night (after the Sabbath had ended and they had rested) before Paul took his journey.

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Often, people will use the following verse to attempt to show that the disciples took up an offering at a church service on the first day of the week, therefore they are worshiping and honoring the 1st day of the week. Let’s read it carefully.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.   Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.”

1 Corinthians 16: 1-4

“This collection for the saints” was for those who were experiencing tough times in Jerusalem.  Paul’s “orders” were simple.  If you were a believer at that time and wanted to follow Paul’s instructions, you would do the following:

1.) Determine how God had prospered you and decided what you were going to give to the saints.

2.)  Once you have determined what you are going to give i.e., clothes, food, sheep, etc. you would “lay it aside” and “store it.”  Where were you to store it?  It was to be “by him” or at the home.

3.)  The reason to determine what, how much, and then set it aside was for the purpose of efficiency so that there would not be running around to gather the offerings that would create confusion when Paul came to take it back with him (or send it by someone else)….“that there be no gatherings when I come.”

So, this was not a passing around of the offering plate in a Sunday worship service.  In fact, there is no hint of a worship service at all in this verse.

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5.)  The Sabbath is for the Jews only.

Abraham is the father of the Jews.  He was born many generations after creation.  It was at creation (long before there was ever a Jew) when God instituted the Sabbath.  Adam and Eve (non-Jews) were blessed to spend their first full day with God enjoying communion with Him and admiring the works of His hands.

This is a wonderful way to honor God’s 4th commandment.  Cease from the  usual activities and spend it with God at church and in communion with Him.  Also, admiring the works of his hands in nature with other people who worship the great Creator.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Genesis 2: 1-3

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Jesus created the Sabbath and proclaims himself to be Lord of the Sabbath.  He made it for man (not just the Jews)

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

John 1:3

“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”

Mark 2:27

The Sabbath was designed to bless man and help him recover from the work of the previous 6 days.  The religious leaders of Jesus day had turned the Sabbath into a burden.  Jesus tells them that they are not servants to the man-made laws about the Sabbath.  It is a day He made to bless man.

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’”

Luke 6:5

This is the “Lord’s Day” a term often used for Sunday.  But if Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, which day is the Lord’s day?  The Sabbath!  How can it be read any other way?

This blessing of the Lord’s Day continues for a full day, not just a few hours at church.

“…from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.

Leviticus 23:32

We know that the Sabbath begins at the going down of the sun from this verse, but also from the account of creation where we hear this term over and over as God goes about of his work of creation:

“”And the evening and the morning were the…” first day, second day, third day, etc. (See Genesis 1 : 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31)

The setting of the sun for the evening comes first.  Then the sun comes up and the day continues until the sun sets and then the daily cycle begins again.

The women who were going to prepare the body of Jesus for burial “rested according to the commandment” after observing his body late on the “Preparation Day” (Friday).   As the sun was going down, they rested (because the new day of the Sabbath was about to begin).  They intended to come back the next day (Sunday or 1st day) when they could see, which would be early on Sunday morning

It was Preparation Day (Friday), and the Sabbath (Saturday) was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 23: 54-56

Jesus died “the ninth hour” or about 3:00 PM on Friday.  So he disciples had only a few hours to take his body down from the cross and prepare spices and perfumes before the Sabbath began at sunset.  They then rested “on the Sabbath n obedience to the commandment.”

The Sabbath was meant to be a time to bless man, but we have ignored it and went our own way ignoring the commandment rather than “remembering” the Sabbath.

I have honored the Sabbath and received of God’s promised blessing on this day for almost 38 years.  My wife and children look forward to this time as a blessed opportunity to focus less on the world and more on community worship, reading of the Bible, and listening to music that soothes the soul.  Try it sometime.

When the sun sets on Friday, turn off the TVs and turn on some soft music.  Take time to rest the mind, body, and soul.  You will find you have time to read the Bible and talk with your family without the interference of TV and other devices.  Spend time out doors admiring the creation of God.  It will change you.  You relationship with God will grow! At first you might find it difficult and feel like you are wasting time, but as you make it a routine of worship, you will find you and your family drawing closer to your Creator and it will revive you physically and emotionally.  You will feel better.  Remember, it was made for you!

“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 58: 13-14

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6.) If you honor the Sabbath, you are legalistic and are trying to save yourself.

As I mentioned above, I hope the series “Is Obedience Only for the Legalistic?” demonstrated that honoring the Sabbath is legalistic only if you make it so.  However, the Sabbath was made to be a blessing, not a listing of things to do or not-to-do.  The Scribes and The Pharisees turned it into such and made it a burden rather than a blessing.  A person is not saved by honoring the Sabbath.  It is done out a born-again heart of love for their Creator.

The Sabbath is like an appointed time or “date” with the Lord each week.  An unconverted heart will make this time unbearable and legalistic.  Of course, unbelievers will completely ignore it. But if a person who loves the Lord, they will find it to be “a delight.”

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7) The calendar was changed.  We don’t know which day is the 7th Day.

The “lost day” argument is usually the the last attempt to destroy the 4th commandment.

True, the calendar has been changed, but the 7 day cycle has never been changed.  The 1st day has always preceded the 2nd day and the 2nd day has always preceded the 3rd day, etc.

When the Julian calendar was changed to the Gregorian calender the number of the month was changed, but not the  order or name of the week.

Wednesday, September the 2nd  was followed by Thursday, September the 14th, then came Friday, September the 15th and so on.

This was done to get the calendar in sync with the the rotation timing of the earth around the sun.  But the Sabbath has always been the 7th day.

In many languages  the Sabbath is identified as such rather than its Pagan counter-part named after Saturn’s day i.e.,Saturday.  Here are just a few:

Arabic: Sabet

Armenian: Shabat

Bosnian: Subota

Bulgarian: Sabota

Italian: Sabato

Latin: Sabbatum

Spanish: Sabado

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Just as God promises a blessing for faith tithing, he promises a blessing for honoring the day he blessed after the creation of the world.  He has given you life and desires to give you good gifts even as a father would want to do so.

If you are going to church on Sunday, there is nothing wrong with that.  A person can worship and go to church any time they desire.  Worship is not limited to a particular day.

But, if you want to experience the blessing God has placed on His day….The Lord’s day….try honoring his commandment which is not just a commandment from God, but an invitation to be blessed. This makes this commandment so different than the others.

When the Lord makes a new heaven and a new earth, Sabbath will continue to be honored:

“…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.

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.

Isaiah 66:22-23

If you want to learn more about how to honor the Sabbath, click here.

 

The Least of the Commandments

It is hoped that the previous posts called “Is Obedience Only for the Legalistic? (Parts 1-3),” demonstrated from scripture that the law of God (10 Commandment law) is immutable. Immutable is defined simply as: “ not capable of or susceptible to change,”  Merriam-Webster Dictionary

We looked at many passages and examples that demonstrated transgression of God’s moral law (10 Commandments) is the fundamental definition of sin.  It is sin which brought death upon all men and is the reason for the death of Jesus i.e., payment for the penalty of sin.

If God’s 10 commandment law could simply be changed, there would be no reason for Jesus to die on a cross for our sins against God described in the 1st 4 commandments and sins against our neighbors (Last 6 commandments).  These laws are grouped under two great principles:  “loving God with all your soul and mind” and “loving your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:40

The most compelling argument for the immutability of God’s 10 Commandment law comes from Jesus Himself when He said,

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus fulfilled them by obeying them and set the example for us to do the same.  It is obvious we still have heaven and earth, so we still have God’s law and it is outside God’s will to teach or break even the least of the commandments.

James, the brother of Jesus confirms this years after Jesus had ascended to heaven when he said,

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

James 2:10

James goes on to encourage us to be obedient to God’s 10 commandments because we will be judged on “the perfect law of liberty” James 2:12

Strangely, obedience is not a popular topic with many modern ministers because the topic insinuates salvation by works if not properly understood.  But, the writers of the Bible, including Jesus, conclude that grace and faith does not exclude obedience.  Paul, the major proponent of God’s grace asks a powerful conclusive rhetorical question just to make sure no one thinks the law is minimized or voided by grace and faith:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

Romans 3:31

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Many fail to connect the dots between grace, faith, and obedience to the established law .  But, the connection is made simple by this statement:

We do not obey to be saved, we obey because we are saved and because God creates a new heart in us.  This is the born again experience. All things have become new in Christ and it includes a change of heart regarding the will of God.

Under the new covenant, the law is not diminished, but written by God on the  mind and heart (Hebrews 8;10).  If it is written on the mind and heart, do you think obedience will be for the right reasons?

 With your new heart, you will automatically want to avoid sin and obey God’s 10 commandment law that demonstrate God’s will in your life.  Both to God and your neighbor. You will find the power to obey through Christ.  To attempt to obey without his power is both legalistic and futile.  Obedience comes through the power of God:

“…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:13

We have all seen the work of God’s spirit on a person when Jesus writes the law their heart.  The thief stops stealing, the liar stops his lying.  The unfaithful spouse becomes faithful. The things the sinner once loved they now hate and vice-versa.  A born again person wants to obey his Lord.

To say you love God and do not obey means you are not a follower, but are going through some hypocritical religious motion for reasons other than serving God and neighbor:

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:4

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Also, in the previous posts, we saw there were some laws that God gave Moses for the Children of Israel that had a purpose and those laws ended when Jesus died on the cross.  These were the ceremonial and sacrificial laws.  We no longer need to sacrifice a spotless lamb on the altar when we go to church.

Their purpose was to provide graphic teachings to those looking forward to the Messiah on the power of sin and upon the innocent.  Those laws, contained in ordinances, demonstrated the grace of God and His willingness to make a way out of the death penalty by sending his only begotten son.  Once Jesus died, the School Master was no longer needed.  We had the life, death, resurrection, mediator work of Jesus to clearly and simply demonstrate the plan of salvation:

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

Galatians 3: 24, 25

Thankfully we are no longer under the penalty of the 10 Commandment law (i.e., death) or the burdensome requirements of the sacrificial and ceremonial laws.  It is by the grace of our Lord and the faith He gives us to become free of eternal death and may have right to the tree of life.  Those who obey demonstrate they have been redeemed and are free from the penalty of the law.

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”

Revelations 22:14

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Let’s shift gears here and talk about “the least of the commandments.”  Take a look at the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) and try to determine which one is the least.

We would all agree our relationship with God would be in jeopardy if we had other gods, made idols patterned after things on the earth or in heaven and then bowed ourselves before them.  We would also be kidding ourselves to say we have love for God and have salvation, but use his name in a disrespectful manner often and regularly.

Also, how can someone claim salvation when they practice adultery, lie, murder, disrespect their parents and their neighbors?

So which one can we take out and change?  Has any of them been demonstrated by Jesus that they were anything other than immutable?

Can we think to change the 10 Commandment Law of God to only 9 or 8 Commandments because a couple doesn’t fit with our life style or the rest of the world’s philosophy?  Is there one jot, one tittle that we can change or modify so we are more comfortable with it?

Interesting enough the enemy of God does this very thing.  The little horn power of Daniel 7 that can be shown to be the Anti-Christ attempts to change God’s law and make war with God’s saints:

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: …”

Daniel 7:25

As shown before, the enemy a.k.a. Satan, and the devil is particularly angry at a group of people in the last days that are obedient and have a testimony regarding Jesus:

“And the dragon (Satan) was wroth (angry) with the woman (church), and went to make war with the remnant of her seed (those left over from the original), which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 12:17

It is obvious that there is an attack and war on the law of God by the enemy to confuse and lead people away from the perfect will of God as expressed in these 10 great principles of love towards God and neighbor.

To demonstrate this, I have listed the 10 commandments (in summary) as described in the Catechism.  This is the official book of the Catholics to teach new converts:

  1. I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

Now, compare the 10 commandments as found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5:

  1.  You shall have no other gods before Me.

  2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. 

  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

  5. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

  6. You shall not murder.

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

  8. You shall not steal.

  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

A careful comparative review will show that the Roman Catholic church leaders eliminated the 2nd commandment completely.  Why?

That leaves 9 commandments.  So to make it 10 commandments, the last commandment is split into two parts.

In addition, the Roman Catholic Church leaders changed the fourth commandment regarding the Sabbath.  They changed the holiness God proclaimed for the Sabbath (7th day) to Sunday (1st Day). There is no scriptural authority for this change and no examples of the early church to warrant a change in God’s immutable law.

From the Convert’s Catechism, page 50:

Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday….
Q. Why did the Catholic Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday, because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday, and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on a Sunday.
Q. By what authority did the Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her!

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This mutilation of God’s immutable law by the Roman Catholic leadership flies in the face of Jesus’ clear statement:

I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5: 17-19

Is there any doubt that the Roman Catholic leadership teaches its converts to ignore the 2nd and 4th commandments?  Does it not demonstrate that tradition (according to them) is more powerful than God’s own written word?

He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

Mark 7:9

“Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God . . .” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 97.

It is clear from God’s word that religious tradition is not equal to God’s word.  God’s word always trumps church tradition.

 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?

Matthew 15:3

As prophesied by God through His servant Daniel, the attempt to change the law of God would occur by the opponent and enemy of God.  The one who places himself in the place of Christ as the vicar of Christ.  Vicar is a Latin word meaning “instead of”  Vicar of God is the title of the Pope.

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”

Daniel 7:25

Who thought that the deception in the last day would be easily identified?  Those who study and live by the word of God can see the “angel of light” working to lead people away from the simple and plain words of God and towards false security in numbers, display, and tradition.

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So, which commandment is the least?  Even if it is the least, it cannot be changed according to Christ.

If all the protestant denominations were sitting around the table discussing the 10 commandments, we could all agree that it is God’s will to live by the 10 commandments (not to be saved, but because we are saved). We would all agree it would be outside God’s will to change even the smallest letter of God’s law.  However, all agreement would stop when the 4th commandment would come up.  While it is plain and simple, confusion and argument would ensue. The arguments against a Sabbath rest (7th Day) would be:

The law was eliminated.

The Sabbath was changed to Sunday when Christ arose

The disciples met on the first day of the week

Nobody knows which day is the 7th Day

It is legalistic to obey the law

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No doubt, there is a temptation and a propensity by many who want to follow God to become legalistic in their approach to the 4th commandment, but there is a blessing God has promised those who “Remember” it.  It is unlike any other commandment.  Here God invites us once a week on a day he blessed (7th Day-a.k.a. Saturday) to rest and enjoy the hours of the Sabbath with other worshipers and family.

It is not so much about which day one goes to church, but rather which day is honored because God instructed us.  Can we make any other day holy?  Only God Himself can make something holy.  The blessings promised Abraham are ours according to the word of God:

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Galatians 3:29

Here is a promise we can claim as an heir:

 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him,…Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth”

Isaiah 58: 13 and 14

This promise is not about legalism; it is about a blessing promised for following God.

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Next time, we will explore more about the 4th commandment and dispel error being taught regarding its unlawful change.  Did the disciples change it?  We will look at the objections to the 4th commandment and how to obey it without becoming legalistic.  Until then, blessings to you and your family.

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“The Sabbath … is God’s time, not ours; when we trespass upon it we are stealing from God…. God has given us the whole of six days in which to do our work, and has reserved only one to Himself. This should be a day of blessing to us—a day when we should lay aside all our secular matters and center our thoughts upon God and heaven.” In Heavenly Places, P. 152

Good At Religion

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 7: 22-23

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What would you think of a man’s relationship with God who said things like this?

“I wish I was never born.  I want to die.”(3:1)

“Oh that my grief were fully weighed and my calamity laid with it on the scales.” (6:1)

Suppose he said,

“I will complain in the bitterness of my soul“(7:11),

What if he asked God in a group prayer,

“Does it please you (God) to oppress me while you smile on the schemes of the wicked?“ (10:3).

What if he claimed God was responsible for his problems and said,

“All was well with me, but [God] shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target“ (16:12). “

What if he believed God had wronged him…

“Though I cry, ’I’ve been wronged!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice“ (19:6—7).

If you told them to be patient and they responded:

“Why should I not be impatient?“ (21:4).

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What would you think of a man talking to God like that?

They would have to be somebody with a lousy relationship to God, right?

But, this can be deceiving.

The man who said those things was closer to God than anyone else of his time? Would you believe that the man who grumbled, “Why should I not be impatient?“ has a reputation to this day as one of the most patient men who ever lived? His very name is a buzzword for patience.

Thousands of years after this man lived, it is  common to speak of “the patience of Job.“  But we know from reading the story that God was close to Job and He sided with Job when Job’s friends tried to “straightened him out” about his religion and understanding of the great Creator.

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On the other hand, what would you think of the relationship with God who said things like this:

Eliphaz:

Those who sow trouble reap the same (4:9)

Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?(4:17)

As for me, I would seek God, And to God I would commit my cause. (5:9)

Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects (5:17)

Bildad:

“Your sons have sinned against Him…that is why they died. He has cast them away for their transgression. (8:4).

Isn’t this verse supported by scripture?

“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.

Deut. 24:16.

What if a friend tried to scare him into repentance and said,

“The memory of him perishes from the earth,
And he has no name among the renowned.
He is driven from light into darkness,
And chased out of the world. (18:8)

Zophar

Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? (11:7)

Does not the friends of Job have it right about God and Job is just a depressed doubtful religious person?

These friends did not “speak what was right.” (42:7) Their theology sounded right…it is scriptural, but something was not right with their religion.  They are good at it, but something was not right.

 God said to them,

“My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends for you have not spoken of Me what is rights as My servant Job has.”

Job 42:7

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What can we learn from the book of Job and the impatience of Job?

As mentioned, Job spoke what was right and his friends did not. But it sounds like Job is struggling in his relationship while his friends are prospering and have all their needs filled.

The one thing Job needed the most during his ordeal was his family and friends to give him comfort and empathy.

“I have heard many such things’ Miserable comforters are you all! Shall words of wind have no end?” (16: 2,3)

“Though I speak, my grief is not relieved”

16;6

His “friends” did not comfort him, but rather sermonized and blame Job for getting what he deserved.  They even blamed the sin of his sons for their own death

Your sons have sinned against Him…that is why they died. He has cast them away for their transgression. (8:4). 

Let us not be too quick to condemn the friends of Job, because if we are honest with our selves, we often look upon some calamity or death as the result of the “judgment of God.”

We cannot put such events in a nice box by grouping bad things with God’s judgment and good things with God’s favor.  To do so is to be disappointed and discouraged when bad things happen to us.

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There are many cases cited in the Bible of people who were “good at religion.”

The Scribes and the Pharisees had religion down pat.

Jesus identified these great religious leaders of the church as hypocrites in Matthew 23. They say one thing, but do another. They could preach it and teach it, but they could not live it.  Their interest was in saving their religion and pompous life style

Jesus said these things about them and their religion:

“that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” V.3

they “shut up the kingdom of heaven against men” V.13

they “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.”

V. 14

they “travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, (they)  make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

V. 15

They made up their own rules, but Jesus said,

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’

V. 16

They followed the letter of the law, but not the spirit:

For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.

V.23

Notice at the end of this verse, Jesus does not release them from the act of tithing:

These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

V. 23

There is nothing wrong with obeying the law, but to obey the law of God without the spirit that displays itself in justice and mercy is being religious and not real.

The Scribes and Pharisees were very exacting in parts of their experience, but very loose in others:

Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

V. 24

Their appearance was great!  They dressed nice and had the appearance of being righteous.

For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of deadmen’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

V. 27, 28

They try to make others think they are very committed to the cause:

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

V. 29, 30

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Yes, these leaders were good at religion.  There is very little difference today.  It has been said, “Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.”

Today’s society has made religion about a 1 day event for a few hours in a building.  But a real relationship with Jesus changes the heart of an individual. They are born again.  They are different.  Obedience to God’s word comes from a heart experience and not a religious experience.  Jesus said,

If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

While the 10 commandments and any other commandments of Jesus have not been eliminated, the old idea of obedience in order to be identified with Jesus and be saved has passed away.

What does an experience that is real look like?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 (Our opening verse)

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Matthew 25: 34-36

If our experience is about 1 or 2 hours on the weekend and not about others during the week, then we might be in danger of being “good at religion.”

Like Jesus, we are called to serve and not be served.

There are many people out there hurting and need the basics of life rather than sermonizing.  No doubt, they need to hear truth from God’s word, but before that, they need to see it in action.  They need to hear the words, “We are going to help you.” Then they need to see it happen.

Empathy is what the three friends of Job lacked.  The same for the Scribes and the Pharisees.  Empathy is different from sympathy.  Empathy is to feel and understand someone’s pain.  Sympathy is to merely feel sorry for the person’s pain.

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In 1967, Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album by the Beatles was released. There is a haunting song on this popular vinyl entitled “A Day In The Life.” The main verses of the song are Lennon’s work, a rather gloomy first-person narrative of going through the motions and observing, in a detached manner, the cruelties and absurdities of the everyday world.
The song came to mind today as I watched CBS news after a hard day at work. John’s read the news was about:

“a man who blew his mind out in a car. He didn’t notice that the light had changed.” He “had to laugh although the news was rather sad.”

“A crowd of people turned away, but I just had to look.”

As I watch the day’s events on the TV, I am overwhelmed. Today, I realized the news was about me.

Today, I died from a poisonous gas attack in Syria. I was only 3 years old.

Today, as a father from Australia, my grieve was so strong that it sucked every ounce of energy from my soul as I fell to the ground… and wept over the body of my 22 year old son who was shot to death while jogging in Oklahoma. Three evil people were bored and wanted to kill someone. They chose my son who loved baseball.

Today, I couldn’t find work for the 12th month. My small retirement account has all been spent and the bills are not getting paid next month because my job was exported overseas.

Today, I am a single mom and my little girl had nothing to take for lunch because I have no money and live in my car. What can I find her for supper tonight? There is a restaurant nearby that throws out perfectly good food every night.

Today, I am a small business owner who will have to lay off some of my employees because the government is forcing me to provide health care.

Today, I lay in my living room unable to get up because I so depressed, all I want to do is sleep.  I have no energy.

Today, my family was murdered by ISIS.   I am only 35 years old and Muslim.

A bomb blast took away my ability to walk and run the Boston Marathon.  I am a female in my 20’s.

Today, I am Egyptian, Black, White, Syrian, Australian, English, and American….I am everyone.

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for me.”

Religion is strong, but empathy, compassion, and involvement is dead in many of our churches and in our experience with Jesus.

We are living in the last days, when our consciences are numb.

“…speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.”

1 Timothy 4:2

Truly it has come to pass:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.

II Timothy 3:1-5

 What will CBS report about me tomorrow?

 Are you willing to turn from being good at religion and become real for the kingdom of God?

If you are, join me in this prayer,

Father, forgive me for being good at religion and not real for your kingdom.  Please change my mind, my heart, my thoughts and shape it into your will.  Give me a ministry to help those in need of food, clothing, comfort, and fellowship.  This I ask in Your Son’s name.  Amen.