Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
We have recently touched on the sacramentalist element of greater Christendom in my entry, Grace Alone that Purifies Now and Later. We've noted there and elsewhere how these elements have tried to make inroads into Evangelical communities for the sake of proselytizing. But I believe there exists a greater danger to the young Evangelical believer.
We have looked at the Gentile Twelve Tribes Heresy and other similar heresies which constitute a Judaizing infiltration among believers. But even these, although quite dangerous, come with a label that may not appeal to the Evangelical. That is, there already exists a general sense of error when "Hebrew Israelite" teachers or sacramentalist teachers come among us. The greatest danger, in my opinion, to the young believer (or the untaught) comes from the law-keeping element among Evangelicals.
There are some who have done some good work on behalf of God's word and the message of Christ who have fallen into the delusion of law-keeping or Sabbath-keeping. I will refrain from naming any of these as I don't want to divert from this short message and warning by getting into details about certain teachers. I will say this, some of them have materials that I have enjoyed. But I believe I am squarely established in my commitment to right division that their external doctrines pose no thereat to me (and I do not recommend them to the weaker brethren).
A the end of this short post, I will list a few related entries and a couple of podcasts for those interested in further study.
The basic problem with supposed law-keepers (or those who quote from the Mosaic law as binding on believers in this age) is that while accusing some of us neglecting the law, they themselves pick and choose what they believe as binding. I know of no professing Christian believer who also claims the law for himself who suggests we should be taking animals to the temple in Jerusalem for sacrifice. So, on that obvious point, they are (whether they like it or not) dispensationalists. Neither do I see any claiming the promises of the land promised to Abraham from the Nile to the Euphrates. They recognize a change in stewardship, a change in practice, and a change in hope. That is dispensationalism.
I know a supposed law-keeper who will not use his computer on the Sabbath as the computer heats up with use and thus it is the equivalent of starting a fire on the Sabbath. I know other Sabbath-keepers who tap away on their keyboards without a second thought. And what of a Sabbath-keeper in one time zone who is communicating with a Sabbath-keeper in another time zone? These are some of the manmade issues that arise when we extract the Law from its place in God's plan and use it as we see fit.
I could list many many parts of the law that the law-keepers tend to ignore. Similarly, I can point to many things the Lord himself taught in his earthly ministry that those who claim his words are their gospel ignore. Is it worse to try to be obedient to the calling of this age as taught by Paul while not following the letter of the law (or all the words of Christ) or to claim the law and the words of Christ as both binding and applicable today? There is a hypocrisy alive in anyone who believes he is truly keeping the Law.
Let's look at a small sample of some the commands and teachings ignored:
You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.
You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. You shall make tassels on the four corners of the clothing with which you cover yourself.
If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate... “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman...
Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms...
Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
We see the Kabbalistic Hasidic Jews seeking to follow Leviticus 19 more than we see the supposed Law-keeper in Christendom.
I could go on and choose command and teaching after command and teaching from the Law and the Lord's earthly ministry that "law-keepers" and "red letter Christians" generally ignore. That last one from Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) I have used for years with those who claim that sermon as their truth. I have asked many times for help with medical bills, etc. To date, I have seen exactly zero dollars.
The excuse given is the guiding sermon of their life is reduced to "guidelines." Similarly, just as the Lord teaches to "sell what you have and give alms" in Luke 12, the Pentecostal church sold all they had and gave to the apostles and lived communally (Acts 2, 4). Further, after Gentiles were grafted into the promises of Israel, Paul taught that it was the duty of Gentile believers to send money to Jewish believers in Jerusalem. We have covered the many differences in the Acts Age assemblies and the current age, but it seems as though no one cares. The differences are chalked up to things like "transitional truths" to "accommodation," or worse, to Apostolic error!
If you have not followed our studies on Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, and in your heart you know that there are differences in scripture which need explanation, please look through this blog or check out my podcast on Spotify (or any of the major podcast services), "Brooklyn's Dad Talks About Everything."
My style is conversational and I believe in the liberty of the believer. All who claim Christ alone as their only hope are my brothers and sisters, I offer explanations and an understanding of the Word that, hopefully, will free some from the bondage of the law and the bondage to the flesh.
The law was weak through the flesh. The law was part of a covenant to expose sin and failure in God's earthly, chosen people who were and are to be "a royal priesthood," "a kingdom of priests" for the nations in a coming age under the New Covenant. Both the Old and the New Covenants are for Israel. They are earthly. The First failed through the flesh, the second shall succeed as God himself with give them the ability to succeed in the new, spiritual nature.
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
-1 Cor 15:55-56
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.-Romans 8:1-8
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
And many more.
And as the rich, young ruler was looked upon with compassion by the Lord as he answered his question in regard to age-abiding life, we look with great concern on the one who thinks he keeps the Law.
As He was setting out on a journey, a certain governor inquired with him, and asked, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit age-abiding life?” “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. You know the commandments:
You shall not commit adultery.You shall not commit murder.You shall not steal.You shall not give false testimony.Honor your father and your mother.”
He said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth.” Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
If there ever was a passage the law-keepers would to point to, it would be this one in Luke 18. The question concerns what the KJV translates as "eternal life." Here I have used the Far Above All Translation which renders the Greek more correctly as "age-abiding life." However, either way we want to think about it, the problem for the law-keeper is three-fold.
- The Lord does not mention the Sabbath. By calling the Lord "Good," the young man has called the Lord "God." This would satisfy the first three commandments. By selling everything that he has, it would show a lack of covetousness. That puts us at nine. We also note here that the principles of these same nine are repeated by Paul. After all, murder was wrong before the Law was given. Abel was guilty with or without the Ten Commandments. Paul never tells Gentiles to observe the Sabbath (or any of the Law apart from the "necessary things" of Leviticus 17).
- The Lord's command is to "sell all you have." This is the condition the Lord places on proving there is no covetousness (in addition to the other commandments). Note that the twelve had done this, but Judas remained covetous in his heart. But even as a starter, how many Law-keepers or "Red Letter" Christians have followed this command?
- The man claimed he "kept all these from my youth." The Law demands absolute perfection. The provision made in the Law was an imperfect sacrifice which we are told "can never take away sin" (Hebrews). The Law-Keeper cannot keep the Law perfectly. Paul warns that there is only one sacrifice for all sin, whether under the Law or not, and that is the one-time, never to be repeated sacrifice of the perfect Son of God. That sacrifice is put to our account by grace alone through the avenue of faith alone. But if one seeks righteousness under the Law, we get this warning, "you have fallen from grace."
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
The greater point is the delusion of keeping the Law perfectly. In regard to the earthly blessings in the coming Kingdom, obedience in heart and mind to the weightier matters of the Law will be important. But never for the free gift of Life through his name. That comes by believing alone (John 20:30-31)
We have this account in Matthew 19:
But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said,‘You shall not murder,’
‘You shall not commit adultery,’
‘You shall not steal,’
‘You shall not bear false witness,’
‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and,‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
We see the Lord covering the earthly calling for obedience more generally in ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ but still no Sabbath. And even if the Lord included it in his earthly ministry for Israel, the Law-Keeper would fail to keep it "perfectly."
Podcast on Spotify: HERE
- Thoughts from Genesis on Death and the Sabbath
- What Plagues the Body of Christ
- Different Hope, Different Callings, Different Commands
Sample Podcasts on YT:
A 7-part series on Bible Interpretation