People are so anxious to be free of any kind of control, we grasp at any reason to deny anything that prevents us from doing what we want.
OK, this is a pretty strong statement, but based on the evidence, it is valid. This is not to say that people look for excuses to do just anything, but many of us will accept any rationalization without close examination if it gives us the freedom that we decide that we want. We seem to do this even if it means ignoring the unchanged and unchanging word of God in order to gain this "freedom".
In fact, before we get started, there is a small pamphlet called "Does God's Grace Blot Out the Law?" that explains the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, and the value of the Law for today's Christian. The author covers not being under the Law, whether the Law is still binding on Christians, obedience, judgment, and other points that always come up in the discussion about faith and law. It is so well written that we really can't do it justice by trying to paraphrase it here. However, it is only about 10 pages long, so it doesn't take that long to read it. You can view it or print it out as a text document here: BlotOutLaw.
Hopefully you will at least see that there is more to your freedom in Christ than what the typical pastor presents on Sunday. As you have heard about the freedom available in this great country of ours, our freedom in Christ also comes with responsibilities. To act otherwise is to minimize the gift of Christ.
Bad advice from the "top"
Many "modern" pastors tell their flock that the Old Testament is no longer valid for today's Christian. But what references do they use to convince people of that? They use Romans 10:4
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
, but they use it incorrectly, totally misunderstanding the term end and read the meaning as termination and not "goal" as was intended by the writers. Not on purpose, mind you, but incorrectly anyway. They do it with "zeal", but forget to find out what it really means. Is zeal bad? Nope. Look at Romans 10:2-3
2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (NIV)
immediately before the verse they misunderstand. They need more "knowledge". What does this mean?
"I don't like that one, so how do I avoid it?"
Just this week I had a conversation (a five-hour long discussion) in my den with a pastor of a local Baptist church. He used omission as a way to determine what God expects us to do in order to follow Him and His Son. He said that we only have to follow the commands that were repeated to us in the New Testament. There is only one reason for this stand - as this came up regarding keeping the Sabbath - was to be able to break the fourth commandment. Supposedly, that is the only commandment not specifically mention in the list Jesus gives in His conversations with people in the New Testament.
Well, if Jesus and the apostles kept it, and Paul kept it, and we are to imitate them, how does not stating what everyone is doing all the time translate to an abrogation of the Sabbath? (See Sabbath/Sunday for a more complete discussion.) Now, Jesus made all the commandments stronger than his audience understood, but somehow He did away with keeping the Sabbath without telling anyone?
A closer look
Well, let's take a look at one of the big reasons people claim in order to avoid obedience - Romans 10:4
Using a popular version of the Bible we see:
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (KJV)
However, if we look around, we find the NIV:
4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
which is better, but still misleading according to the Complete Jewish Study Bible CJSB:
4 For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.
and there is the Greek which has wording that agrees with the KJV:
4 [the] end indeed of law [is] Christ for righteousness to everyone - believing
- but from several points of view. This gives us a series of choices, but is that really the way to do it? Now, do we just shop around for the Bible version that makes us happy with our own understanding? Nah.
The idea that is pushed by the modern pastors is the KJV version that says "Christ is the end of the law", and they hold that because of this phrase, the law is now no longer valid for all who believe in Christ. Now, while that is plain English, the true meaning of the passage is not clearly conveyed. Otherwise, we would have to come up with a new way to interpret Romans 3:31
31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
(KJV, to make it a fair comparison)
where Paul denies that the law is void. How do we reconcile this?
Do some research
Well, luckily, it was easy to investigate this issue. The usual look-up of the meaning of the KJV phrase "Christ is the end of the law" was a good start. And, what did we find? Glad you asked. The word translated as "end" by the KJV is the word "telos" in Greek. This was found on Beyond Today, the first listing in the Google search for "What did Paul mean by 'Christ is the end of the law' "? They said this:
In Romans 10:4, Paul's words are translated: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Regrettably, most translators render the Greek word telos simply as "end" instead of giving Paul's intended meaning of that word in this context. Reasoning incorrectly that faith makes the law void, they have adopted an illogical assumption that Paul plainly rejected in Romans 3:31. This passage reads: "31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law."
To discover the proper translation of a word that can be used in more than one way, its context has to be understood correctly before any effort is made to determine the right nuance of meaning that the author intended. Here is a simple example. One might ask a college student, "To what end are you attending college?" The word "end" in that context would refer to the "objective" or "goal" the student has in mind. Receiving a degree would be only the "end result" of his college years of learning, not the end to his ability or desire to learn.
Do we just accept this? As Paul would say, "Heaven forbid!". Next we look up the Greek word "telos" in the dictionary. Here is what we found:
Now, the definition does use the word "end" as in the KJV and the Greek, but it does not mean "dead, done, gone, no longer applicable, defunct, discarded" or any other term that is currently pushed by the nay-sayers regarding the validity of the law. It means end, purpose, or goal. Now we can go back and choose the Bible version that gives us the best understanding of the verse
4 For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. (CJSB)
. Now it conveys a meaning more in line with the original words in context, rather than allowing a "freedom" that contradicts the rest of the Bible. Well, imagine that, the words written by a Jew, translated by a Jew into English, and passed on to us Gentiles so we get the intended message. So what would the pastors do with that interpretation? Still tell us not to keep the Sabbath?
"Where does it say that?"
Just to give you an idea of why I would make this "drastic" statement, let's look at an example of how the meaning of a passage can be twisted. I believe that the Sabbath is a day that both God and Jesus still want us to keep - as Jesus did Himself, as well as the Apostles - including Paul - well after Jesus' death. Not to be kept for our salvation, but for our health, personal peace of mind, to the glory of God, as well as that minor detail - obedience. Others believe that keeping this day denies the "freedom" we have in Christ.
A lady we know from a Sunday-keeping church told me the other day (paraphrased) that "Jesus spoke of this and said to keep every day alike, so we no longer have to keep the Sabbath." It's clear that many people hold this view, but when asked to explain why they do, they have no solid reasons or references. She has made this statement to both my wife and I at least three times on different occasions. Since we were at a Bible study in this case, I held my tongue because this was not the topic of discussion.
It means what...?
Now, there is only one passage in the Bible that refers to treating, keeping, or considering every day alike - Romans 14:5:
...4 Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man regards a certain day above the others, while someone else considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes a special day does so to the Lord; he who eats does so to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God...
So, what is Paul talking about?
Not only is this statement not made by Jesus, as claimed by the lady, it is from Paul speaking about the ceremonial "special" days, the festival days from the law of Moses. It was the debt due from violation of this law that Jesus "nailed to the cross" at His death. It has nothing to do with the seventh-day Sabbath, as verses 1-4 in the same chapter clearly show the subject of discussion - ceremonial laws of food and feasts, and judging others who still practice them.
Even the notes in my NIV Study Bible indicate that, even though many believe this is referring to the seventh-day Sabbath, it is more likely that it regards the Feast Days and ceremonial days that many believe are no longer necessary after the sacrifice of Jesus, and especially not for the Gentiles. Even there, it regards only "disputable matters" or opinions as he clearly says in verse 1. This has never been a statement that approves disobedience of the clear word of God when He states commandments.
Notice also that the passage uses the phrases "one man" and "someone else", and then goes on to say that each should be convinced in his own mind. Yep, it does say that, and the clear meaning is for those subjects that are, in Paul's own words in Romans 14:1
1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.
(four verses earlier), opinions or "disputable matters". But, consider this: When God makes a clear statement about what to do, does this passage then allow a man to decide "in his own mind" not to do that (making it a "disputable" matter)? Or conversely, if God says not to do something, can we do that anyway if we are "convinced in our own mind" (again, making it "disputable" or our opinion)?
"Oh, good. Now I don't have to..."
Well, at least one part of this idea is true. No one must obey any of the ten commandments, or do anything else God says. We are free to choose our path. And, since that is the case, we can also choose not to "go to Heaven". According to this line of thought, we can evidently do things that God said not to do, as long as we are convinced of two things: 1 we are convinced in our own minds that we are right and 2 we are convinced that He only gave that instruction to the Israelites. Well, have you ever read Leviticus 18:8-18
8 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonor your father.
9 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father's daughter or your mother's daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.
10 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your son's daughter or your daughter's daughter; that would dishonor you.
11 " 'Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father's wife, born to your father; she is your sister.
12 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your father's sister; she is your father's close relative.
13 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your mother's sister, because she is your mother's close relative.
14 " 'Do not dishonor your father's brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.
15 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son's wife; do not have relations with her.
16 " 'Do not have sexual relations with your brother's wife; that would dishonor your brother.
17 " 'Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son's daughter or her daughter's daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.
18 " 'Do not take your wife's sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.' "
? Yeah, yeah, this is Old Testament, and God only gave it to the Israelites, so it doesn't apply to us, right? No, really, look at it and think about this.
"Yeah, but that's different."
When Adam and Eve were created, the only way the earth could gain in population was through incest. I know, I know, but it's true. Now at some point, God said "Enough!" and told only the Israelites not to do it any more. However, do we still think that incest is a good practice for us Gentiles? Are you convinced "in your own mind" and "by your own understanding" that it's OK since God didn't specify that we Gentiles not have relations with our close relatives? You say that it's not in the moral law (ten commandments), so it's OK for us?
"Well, food is different, too..."
Just like the diet instructions the Israelites are given in Leviticus 11. Just like the other commandments he gave only to the Israelites. Just exactly when is it that we must obey God's commands? If it is God's will for His people, that is when we must - unless you do not consider yourself one of His. Otherwise, we are blatantly disobeying the will of God. Don't just look at me like that. Go ahead, give me your side.
What makes one set of commands different?
So, if it's commandments in Exodus for Jews, we keep most of them, and if it's in Leviticus 18 for Jews about incest we agree with, we keep all of it, but if it's about what is and is not food for the Jews in the same book (Leviticus 11), we ignore it. Oh, there's nothing selective about that. ???
Don't forget what happened to the five foolish virgins. They were sure "in their own minds" that they were qualified for the wedding... Shouldn't we make sure whether or not a matter is disputable before deciding?
While not judging one's worthiness for salvation, we are obligated to follow 2 Tim 4:2 and remember 2 Tim 3:15-17:
2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim 4:2)
...15 From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work... (2 Tim 3:15-17)
This reference to knowing the scriptures from infancy is referring to the Old Testament, as they did not even have the "new" testament scriptures at the time, and refers to the value of that knowledge in making one "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus". Does this sound like the OT was discarded by Paul, or worse, that we can choose what parts we want to follow? Finally, how can you instruct, convict, correct or train if everything is at the whim of each believer depending on his opinion or "his interpretation" of the words of God?
"Who are you to tell me...?"
People tend to think that if someone doesn't want to believe what can be pointed out as clearly stated in scripture, they can tell the one who points it out to mind his own business because he has no authority. That's true, no one is required follow the rules. They can choose their own destiny. But, if personal opinion is the case for everyone, what good is 2 Tim 3:15-17 (above) to anyone? If everyone's opinion is valid, how do we teach or learn? Also, if it can be shown that we are obviously wrong in our analysis of the word, but "everyone is correct in their own opinion", then how do we learn our own error if we merely have a difference of opinion? It sounds more like Paul is saying that salvation comes through faith combined with knowledge and obedience.
However, when we mentioned this to the lady in the Bible study the previous two times we had this discussion, she denied the point as invalid and later made the same statement in this Bible study. This is what was meant by the "drastic" statement above. Many people quote a phrase from the Bible that is out of their own context and come to a conclusion that is demonstrably incorrect. Pointing out the facts will not necessarily change their mind. They feel they have found what they need to "prove" their point, and will not be convinced of the truth because their "truth" is what they feel regardless of the facts and whether or not the stand they take conflicts with the rest of the Word.
Take the good with the bad
Many of us have been criticized heavily for thinking that part of our job as a Christian is to point out possible error, and it's beginning to appear that this "advice" has some merit. Paul advised Timothy to avoid "foolish and stupid" arguments:
23 Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26)
This is not because the logic or the point of the discussion is stupid or foolish, but because some conclusions are in error because people "do not know the scriptures" (Matt 22:29
29 Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
, Mark 12:24
24 Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?"
). Often, the positions that people take are largely based on emotion and any discussion degrades to an argument based on an opinion many are not even willing to investigate. In these cases, arguments are foolish and stupid if continued.
Lately, Paul's advice to gently instruct is nearly impossible to accomplish because people do not feel the need to study because their hearts (pride?) and pastors tell them that they are correct, and besides, everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, anyone trying to help is left to meekly imply that the person is in error and the "rebuker" is immediately rejected as alone in his viewpoint and has no official standing.
While it's easy to recognize the wisdom of this advice to avoid arguments, this should not prevent the pointing out of errors. Jesus' words advised the Sadducees and the Pharisees firmly as to their error (Matt 22:29
29 Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
). Of course, we do not have the authority of Jesus, but does that mean we are not to name the error and suggest correction? I expect anyone who sees an error in my deductions to bring it to my attention so that I can correct it, and that corrective action is up to me - it is not the responsibility of the rebuker. His job is to let me know when I err - then it is my job to correct my error. It's the same here - my job is to advise, then stop. What else could Paul have meant by 2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work...
Now, using scripture as the foundation for this correction and training entails actually knowing what scripture really says. Each verse must be interpreted in such a way as to agree with the rest of scripture, not taken to mean something that is contrary to the rest of the word of God.
One or the other? Why not both?
This page is called "Faith vs Law" because that seems to be the context in which people view the discussion between all law and faith in Jesus. For some reason, for most people, there is no common ground between the two. They seem to feel that you either follow the law or you believe in Jesus, but any attempt to do both makes you some kind of legalist trying to save yourself by works. The problem is that most people do not define either position well enough to even make a valid decision. For the purposes of this article, I will try to do that here.
There are several terms that are critical to this discussion:
Law - a "four-letter" word
In general, most people see "law" as a rule or set of rules established by an authority with the power to enforce them. While this is true in a broad sense, it does not include all senses of the meaning of the word. Some examples would be the "law of gravity", the "law of sin" (Romans 7:23-25
23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
), the "royal law" (James 2:8-11
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
), the laws of nature, the law of Moses (ceremonial), and the law of God (ten commandments). So, when we speak of law, we must clarify the context in order to communicate the sense and meaning of the statements we make.
For example, to say that we are no longer under the law of gravity makes no sense for a person standing on this planet. However, just using the word "law", and leaving out the words "of gravity" does not give us context for the statement. There are moral laws that give us clear statements to identify sins that are abominable to God and there are ceremonial laws that were intended as a temporary way to reconcile us with God after we sinned ("we", speaking as humans).
Another way to think of the law
An article in the September 2018 issue of Gleaner entitled THE LAW by Dick Duerkson gave an interesting description of the purpose of the law. First, he gave several statements that described sin:
Sin is choosing to go my way rather than God's way.
Sin is living like I know better.
Sin is "me first".
Sin is separation from God and His will.
Sin is a symptom of a broken relationship.
Sin is ignoring God's advice.
Sin is not "just" doing bad stuff; it's living like God doesn't matter.
After describing sin, he goes on to describe what his brother used to say.
Paraphrased, it's like God finished making things on Day 6 and went for a stroll with Adam and Eve, describing the garden and how to get along if they were to live happily in the garden. Then they came upon some "sinkhole" areas that were marked with yellow caution tape. When Adam asked about them, God said that there are ten giant sinkholes in the garden. He mentioned that they are marked with the tape to let you know where they are. If you go past the tape, there are no bottoms to the sinkholes, so falling in would be really bad. God said that if you call me, I will catch you if you fall, but you will still get hurt. It's best not to venture past the tape.
Ignoring good advice, or listening to bad advice, can hurt
That is what the ten commandments do. They point out the places where we should not go, as well as the places we should go. Those ten sinkholes have not changed since the very beginning, so we still need the same warning tapes (commandments) that have always been there. For some reason, people remember that God promised to be there when we call after wandering off the path, but forget that the fall will still hurt and cause us problems. To think that we can ignore the tape and never get hurt is naive. Most of the churches today are saying that there is no more yellow tape (law) to show us where the sinkholes are, implying that God will prevent us from getting hurt, or maybe from even falling.
"But, Christ forgave all our sins, right?"
Today, when we sin, we Gentiles and Christians now go to Jesus for forgiveness and need not perform the ceremonies that Paul referred to as the law. The Jews still have the OT laws, but no place to legally perform them since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., so hopefully they are not held responsible. However, for either the Jew who sins or the Christian sinner, can they continue to do so willfully without consequence? Hopefully, no one believes that.
Does this mean we can no longer commit a sin no matter what we do? If not, what does it mean to say we are no longer under the law? It would have been so much easier if Paul had said "we are no longer have to obey the Ten Commandments or the law of Moses and can now go straight to Jesus for forgiveness", or "we are no longer required to obey the law of God's ten commandments because we are saved and cannot fall out of God's grace no matter what we do".
What he actually said
Unfortunately, Paul was not so clear in most of the English translations, at least the accurate ones, so the common stand is that we are no longer required to obey any law. However, in 1 Cor 9:19-23 below (especially verse 21) Paul describes a condition he is in - he is not free from God's law, but is under Christ's law. How does this work for those of you who think being under both is "legalistic"? How can Paul be "no longer under the law" and "not free from the law" at the same time?
There is another way to look at this, as explained by a new Bible translation we found that I will describe after this example of the Corinthian passage mentioned above:
"19 For although I am a free man, not bound to do anyone's bidding, I have made myself a slave to all in order to win as many people as possible. 20 That is, with Jews, what I did was put myself in the position of a Jew, in order to win Jews. With people in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah, I put myself in the position of someone under such legalism, in order to win those under this legalism, even though I myself am not in subjection to a legalistic perversion of the Torah. 21 With those who live outside the framework of Torah, I put myself in the position of someone outside the Torah in order to win those outside the Torah - although I myself am not outside the framework of God's Torah but within the framework of Torah as upheld by the Messiah. 22 With the "weak" I became "weak," in order to win the "weak." With all kinds of people I have become all kinds of things, so that in all kinds of circumstances I might save at least some of them. 23 But I do it all because of the rewards promised by the Good News, so that I may share in them along with the others who come to trust." (1 Cor 9:19-23, CJSB)
Oh, now that makes sense
Especially note the wording of verse 21. The problem that both Paul and Jesus linked with the unbelieving Jews of the day was their legalistic modification of the "law". Hence, here Paul says he is not bound by the legalistic "law", he is bound by the framework of "God's Torah" - the commands of God Himself.
The more you study different versions of the Bible, the more differences you will see in the interpretations of the manuscripts from which they were taken. Recently, my wife and I found this Bible translation called The Complete Jewish Study Bible, published in September of 2016. This version interprets the manuscripts from a Jewish perspective and provides study notes on relevant passages from that same perspective.
Why didn't they just say that?
The refreshing thing about this Bible is that you don't see attempts to change the wording or meaning of a passage to fit some preconceived notion. This direct, honest interpretation serves to do something that is most useful to one who seeks the truth. It literally removes most of the perceived "contradictions" of most English texts by using the actual original Jewish (OT) or Greek (NT) words in context, then explaining them in the study notes at the bottom of the page.
While this does not remove all the questions that may be raised, it drastically reduces the time we have to spend in the Interlinear versions, the Bible Dictionary, and the Bible Handbooks when something appears contradictory, unclear, poorly stated or improperly explained.
Back on point
OK, back to the Law discussion. People seem to know that we have to follow some set of rules, but now we seem to be quickly getting to the point where we choose which ones we want to follow. Then, if anyone disagrees with us, we can claim that they are not allowed to judge us. The best example we found is the one that gets the greatest emotional response - the fourth commandment (the third for the Catholics). Why are the rest still valid, and everyone claims they are, but not the fourth? Back to that later.
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as:
"1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Let's limit this to the context of faith in Jesus, and the hope that we are going to be with Him in the end, which is what most Christian people mean when they use the word. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines the word faith as a noun as it cannot logically be used as a verb, so to express faith is usually "to believe". So, if we have faith in Jesus (believe in Him), we are saying that we understand all that He stands for and will act accordingly because we know that will allow us to receive the salvation He has offered for those who do so. Now, what does this mean?
What does Jesus stand for? What does it mean to believe in Him? He has a name that we use in prayer and when speaking of Him, so what are we saying when we speak of Him?
Your name is more than a tag that people use to get your attention. Think of it like this; If you are an honest, God-fearing person named Bob, with all the actions and concepts that come to mind regarding a good Christian man, that is how you are known by those who are acquainted with you. When others who know you speak the name Bob in a conversation, that is the person that comes to their mind.
Now, if one person in the group refers to Bob as a murdering terrorist who had just bombed a grade school with children present, how would you respond? "That's not the Bob I know!" or "No way! He would not do that!" Now, they may be speaking of another Bob with the same name, but ultimately, the person who comes to mind when a name is mentioned is the one represented by the name in the mind of the hearer, not the name itself.
Who is He, really?
Jesus is the name of our Savior and that Name represents all that He stands for. Now, define and list what He stands for. Truth, love, honesty, kindness, generosity, righteousness, and faithfulness, of course, and much more. But what else? What is many, many times left out of this list in conversations and sermons and articles written about Jesus? Justice, vengenance, wrathfulness, protection, punishment, hating evil and sin, judge, and much more here as well. Where are these attributes of our Lord when people speak of faith in the name of Jesus?
Since these are also what Jesus stands for, how will He distinguish between those who are to be saved and those who are not? He uses a tool He Himself gave us. Matthew 19:16-19 says:
"16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." 18 "Which ones?" he inquired. Jesus replied, "'You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Wait, those look familiar
Verses 18 and 19 were included because some say that Jesus' commandments are not the ten commandments, but His are only the two "new" commandments that supposedly replace them. Some (most Sunday Christians) say that "Love your God..." and "Love your neighbor..." replace the ten, so all we have to do is love Jesus and we are saved. This would have been the perfect time for Jesus to demonstrate that principle, if it were actually true. However, in verse 18 and 19 above, one of those two of His is mentioned and it is added to the ten, not replacing anything.
These two "new" commandments came from Deut 6:5
5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
and Lev 19:18
18 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.
. This says to me that some people subtract from what Jesus said, keeping only a part that says what they want to hear. If you do not believe everything He says and stands for, you evidently do not love Him completely, or to put it another way, you don't love all of Him. You cannot separate who someone is from their character just by ignoring the part of their identity you do not want to recognize. When you speak of salvation, it must include the concepts that make salvation possible as well as those that make it necessary.
With regard to God, this is self-explanatory. Do what He says to do, don't do what He said not to do. Now, obeying God has two parts - because He said so (obedience) and because we know that He has our best interests at heart (faith). The Israelites of old only got half the message. Paul reiterates this concept in Hebrews 4:2:
"2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith."
The NIV says it this way:
"2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed."
This does not mean that we must only obey the law to be saved, just respect the intent of God for our lives and have faith. Note that Paul did not say "they should have followed the law instead of having faith" or "they should have had faith instead of the law", but clearly says they messed up by not combining them. They did not share the faith of those who understood what God wanted. So, when we obey, we obey His Word and believe in Him. That Word is what God spoke, wrote, and says through Jesus - and the prophets. And the basis for all that is the ten commandments. We just have to remember to combine obedience with faith in the complete character of God and Jesus.
The law is for every believer
Now, we can spend more time on these definitions, and I welcome the discussion if you would like to interact, but these will do to make my point about Faith vs Law and give us a foundation for discussion. God spoke His law to the people. This law was for everyone, not just the Israelites (Isaiah 56:4-7).
4 For this is what the LORD says: "To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant- 5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever. 6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant - 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
When He spoke on Mount Sinai the part of the law for Moses to write down, what he wrote contained actions and ceremonies that were to keep men's hearts and minds in line with the will of God until Jesus came to earth to perform the one act for all that only He could do. The difference between the two sets of laws was the intent - one set identified sin and one set was intended to temporarily try to compensate for the debt due for those sins.
If you still think that the "law" is only for the Israelites, what about Ecclesiastes 12:13?
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
The term "all mankind" is translated from the Hebrew word ha'adam, shown here in the Interlinear:
Just in case you forgot, Adam was not an Israelite. He was a man, human, and the references to his humanness are references to mankind - all of us.
Jesus saves - by His rules, not ours
Jesus has now compensated for the debt we owe for those sins, which was death, so the second set of laws (Moses' ceremonial laws) is no longer necessary for those who accept His sacrifice and make every effort to align themselves with the will of God. We are no longer under those laws that pertain to the cleansing of sins if we attempt to stay aligned with His will and believe in Him.
This does not mean that we can no longer commit sin, as defined by the first set, the law of God, or that we are no longer responsible if we do sin. When we say we "no longer have to follow the law of God", aren't we saying that we can sin with impunity? Remember, Jesus did not tell the adulterous woman that she could go and no longer has to follow the law. He said to her, "Go and sin no more." By the new "Christian" standard, how does she keep from sinning if she no longer has a guideline?
How do we know?
There is a way to look at obedience to the Law that was well described in the booklet I mentioned at the beginning of this page (see BlotOutLaw). If you break a law that does not require death as a penalty, then you can perform works described by the law to make restitution to the person who was harmed. An example is Lev 6:1-5
1 The Lord said to Moses: 2 "If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, 3 or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit - 4 when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, 5 or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering.
. It is only when the penalty is "death" that there is no way for you to work it out - except to die or accept the gift of Jesus on the cross.
"Hidden" statements by Jesus
Jesus said something in Matthew chapter 23 that you never hear anyone repeat. Everyone says "If Jesus said it, then I believe it.", or something to that effect. They love to quote what Jesus says, except when they can't make it fit what they believe or if it points to something they don't want to acknowledge. Matthew 23:2-3 says something you don't hear in sermons:
"2 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."
The paragraphs following clearly show how the teachers and the Pharisees act, then He addresses them critically and directly. After reading all these passages, look at verse 23:23 (speaking to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees):
"23 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."
"But, that's not what my pastor said!"
What??? What was that blasphemy at the end? Mercy and faithfulness are included in the law? But, that means, according to those who attack me for suggesting that the laws are still in effect, if you are faithful and show justice and mercy, then you are a legalist! You are trying to work your way to salvation! Right? Listen to how silly that sounds. Yet, Jesus Himself told us to pay attention to what the "legalists" tell us to do, but to do it with faith. That means to me that the law still stands, but it is never so rigid as to exclude faith and mercy. It's not that we should follow the letter of the law, but the spirit or intent of the law. Isn't this a paraphrase of the words of Jesus? So, do we do what Jesus said to do, or do we go our own way - again?
A favorite of Sunday-keeping Christians regarding discussions of the law is Col 2:14
14 having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us, and stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (NIV (2008))
14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (NIV (current version from Bible Hub online))
, where they claim that the law is no longer valid for today's Christian because it was "hung on the cross" with Jesus. The older interpretations have phrased the passage to imply that the law is "done away with". This confuses me because that means that God evidently no longer cares about our obedience to Him, yet Paul says differently in the next chapter in Col 3:5-6
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
Footnotes: Colossians 3:6 Some early manuscripts coming on those who are disobedient
. How can you disobey God if He removes all the rules?
A "new" way of thinking
Fortunately, the more recent versions are more honest, correctly stating that what was hung on the cross was the debt we owed due to the law, not the law itself. And if you look at the CJSB (Col 2:14
14 He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake.
), you will see it from the Jewish perspective, as it was intended by the original writers. I'm sure God is relieved to know that He is not being discarded by everyone.
And then there is one of my favorites when people try to redefine a word by giving it a meaning never intended. Col 2:17
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
says that the laws and festivals are "a shadow of things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." Many Christians of today say that means we are not required to pay attention to these shadows because they are of no use to us and refer only to the past which was fulfilled by Christ. How is it that this is the only time in our society that this phrase is interpreted this way?
"I'm looking forward to..."
When you see a preview of a movie you may want to see, do you ignore the preview because it means nothing? When you see a notice of a community meeting coming up that you want to attend, do you ignore it? When you are reminded of your wife's birthday that is coming (and you forgot), do you just let it go? No, in every case you use these advance "shadows" to prepare for the "things that are to come" (Hebrews 10:1
1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
). Now, remember that when this was written, Christ had already come and died for us. Paul says in this passage that the law is (current tense) a shadow of things that are to come (future tense). Of course, the sacrifices are no longer necessary for salvation because Christ replaced them with His sacrifice, but the judgment is still coming and we will one day be required to observe feasts when Jesus comes to set up His 1000 year kingdom (Zechariah 14:16-18):
16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the LORD smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths...
"Wait, I have to go?"
This clearly says that all the nations will be required to attend, celebrate, and worship at the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). That means that the shadow is an indication of something yet to come, and this is not just for the Jews. If these things are coming for us then we must prepare for that time, not ignore the notices. If you think this warning is not valid because it is from the Old Testament, then ignore it. However, prophecy from God is something to respect, not ignore. Use the parable of the ten virgins as a model. If we know something is coming, and do not prepare for it, we may find ourselves standing outside and wondering why our "Best Friend" does not know who we are.
A better way to look at it
Since the paragraphs above were written regarding the "shadows of things to come", my wife and I have obtained that copy of The Complete Jewish Study Bible that I have mentioned above. The Jewish perspective we see in this book sheds a better light on the intent and context of the original author of the text. The text of Col 2:17
17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
in many Bibles shows that the translators have added words to the text that change the meaning of the original words. I checked this with the Interlinear Bible we have and found this to be perfectly true. The best example I can give you is the comparison between the Interlinear Bible and the NASB, NIV, NLT, and others:
First, let's start with the Interlinear Bible which shows the English translated from the Greek:
INTERLINEAR - 17 which are a shadow of coming things; but the body is of Christ
Now, look for the added words that cloud the meaning of the passage:
NASB - 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
NIV - 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
NLT - For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality.
HCSB - 17 These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah.
and, finally, with no additions:
CJSB - 17 These are a shadow of things that are coming, but the body is of the Messiah.
In this table, many Bible versions (not all of them, thank God) contain extra words that were not in the original manuscripts from which they were translated. Some astute readers may read the passages above and see that they mean the same as the INTERLINEAR translation, and they are right. However, many others see those extra words and apply a totally different meaning than apparently intended by the original authors. Look at the NASB version for example. Adding the word mere to the text has caused many "scholars" and novices alike to read the passage as discounting the value of the shadows - even when the phrase following clearly specifies that the shadows are foretelling a significant event in the future.
Even my now second favorite translation, the NIV, adds the words "were" and "however", shifting the patterns of thought to say that we do not have to pay attention to the shadow events because Christ has already eliminated the need for them when He came. The NLT does much the same using the word "only". I see now why we Christians are so diverse in our church stands on what Christ has actually done for us and where we are headed after we die.
Back to the pastors, again
This diversity problem must be placed squarely at the feet of the modern pastors. The effect of these loose interpretations will never be corrected by individual blogs and websites like this one. Only an honest pastor can help by letting his flock know every week that there is a single meaning of most, or all, of the Bible, and that this meaning is blurred by sloppy or deceptive translations. Only the pastors can most effectively use their education and study to inform those who trust them. However, it is apparent that most of them are already set in their ways, choosing instead to keep the people in the pews instead of keeping them informed.
The Complete Jewish Study Bible has notes that explain this subject in a way that matches the real text meaning (written by Jews, remember) and allows passages like Zechariah 14:16-17
16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them.
to remain a shining example of that real meaning. In Col 2:16-19
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
, Paul was trying to tell the Gentiles that they can learn much by examining the Feasts, but not to become bound legalistically to them, as were some of the non-Messianic Jews, and don't let anyone keep them from celebrating them in faith. These Jews modified the celebration regulations to the point where they could not be kept properly by anyone, including themselves.
"Why do I care about the Festivals?"
If we have no need to learn the meaning and proper celebration of the Festivals, what do we do in the Millennium when we are required to attend and worship Christ in the "Jewish" manner? Worse yet, if we keep the attitude that these Festivals are no longer necessary, we are going to get thirsty. Oh, you say that we will be translated at the coming of Christ, so we won't have to celebrate the Feast or need water...but, who is going to show those that do attend how to do it? You must be aware that your translation into spiritual beings depends upon your faith in the true Jesus and His Father, not some fabrication you have made up in your mind. Remember that a full one-half of the ten virgins thought they were going to be in the wedding feast with the Bridegroom, but they were shut out because He did not know them. What do you think that means?
"Aren't the Ten Commandments 'old hat'?"
It is interesting that most of the ten commandments are based on "Thou shalt not". Even a block of wood can keep eight of these ten commandments. However, two of them are based on the concept "Thou shalt do". These are the only two that require us to actually take an action in order to comply.
The fifth one is to honor your father and mother. This one is being buried in political correctness to the point where children disobeying their parents, even in Christian homes, has become an expected part of social interaction, especially with regard to teenagers.
The other is the fourth commandment "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy". Essentially all Christians have been told that the resurrection has somehow magically transformed the fourth commandment from an original command from God that He spent 40 years establishing to one that no longer matters. Oh, it is still there in the list, but with our newfound sense of choice, now we have determined that it means nothing. Some people are so unaware of the controversy that when they see the word "Sabbath", they think it means Sunday.
Case in point
Today (Saturday, the seventh day Sabbath), I was headed for a Bible study session that a Sunday-keeping pastor has been running for some 5 weeks now. This was my second time attending. When I arrived, I found that there was some sort of mix-up and another group was in the middle of a session using the room we had reserved. This pastor went to speak to the person who was responsible for scheduling and was told it would be OK for us to use his cafe for the meeting. When I balked at entering a place of business on the Sabbath, he asked me "Why?" When I said that I was a seventh-day Sabbath keeper, he replied that he was a "seven-days-a-week" Sabbath keeper because Jesus is his Sabbath.
Now, while I understand what he was trying to say, that is a nonsensical statement. The Sabbath (there is only one, but Sunday keepers ignore it and call Sunday "their sabbath") is a day of rest set aside by God on the seventh day of Creation. Jesus even claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath (as in the Lord's Day. I don't understand why many think this mention in Rev 1:10
10 On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,
is a reference to Sunday).
Now, to "keep" a day means to me that you will do what God said to do on that day, not change it to fit what you want to do. For this pastor to say he "keeps" the Sabbath seven days a week means that he is always resting and never working because he rests every day. Or, in the case of this person, always working and never resting because he works every day. Otherwise, we must conclude that he has changed the commandment to say "Work when you want and rest when you want."
The Biblical commandment says that for six days you shall do your work, so I guess this seven-day-a-week "keeping" would technically be breaking the commandment as well. Also, never once did Jesus claim to be the day of rest, only that He would give us rest:
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus is not a day
I am amazed at the number of people who say that they don't keep the Sabbath because Jesus is their Sabbath. What verse do they quote? None. Some refer to Matt 11:28-30
28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
above, but it requires an explanation that doesn't seem to follow the description or even the intent of the fourth commandment. It sounds more like something their pastor made up to give them the "freedom" to ignore the will of God. You never hear them say that God no longer wants them to follow the commandment, they instead claim that Jesus did (or does?) that for them so they don't have to.
Now, think about the other eight commandments. Do you realize that a corpse can, and does, keep these eight? "Thou shalt not"... Ask any Christian if he keeps the ten commandments. The answer is always "Of course, I do." Even if you then ask, "All ten of them?" the answer is the same. If you ask where they are listed, they know that they are in the Bible, but many cannot tell you where.
So in the mind of most, they keep the ten commandments as listed in the Bible. If you then ask them what they did Friday night and Saturday, they will say they went to the movies, had to work, went shopping, bought a new car, played football, or any number of activities that had nothing to do with thinking about God and His will.
"But, I keep Sunday..."
If you bring this to their attention, they will say that they "keep" Sunday for that purpose. When you ask what they did last Sunday, they will say they went to church, then went to the movies, had to work, went shopping, bought a new car, played football, or any number of activities that had nothing to do with thinking about God and His will. The same list of things they did on Friday night and Saturday, but without feeling the guilt of doing it on the Sabbath.
Guilt? Yes. If you stole or killed, would you feel guilty? There is also guilt in recognizing the Sabbath and deliberately breaking it. So the change from doing what God commanded is actually a way to do what we want to do without guilt. So, now we have reverted back to the value of individual opinion with no references on which to fall back.
Note one part of the paragraph above. It said that there is guilt in recognizing the Sabbath and deliberately breaking it. Most Sunday keepers believe that we no longer have to keep the ten commandments, even though Jesus told the rich man that they are on the way to gain eternal life. Most Sunday keepers also feel no problem when keeping the egg and bunny idea with the pagan holiday called Easter, and do not even associate the resurrection with the Passover.
If people honestly feel that ignorance is bliss, we had better hope that God agrees, though realistically I don't think He does. The only hope we have is described in Luke 12:47-48
47 The servant who knows the master's will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
. This puts those of us who read and study the Bible in a harder place, especially if we get it wrong because of lazy interpretations. We must do our best to get it as right as we can. However, once we get it, we must share with others or we sin (James 4:17
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.
). That's pretty tough if the modern pastors say that the new Christians can never sin.
Back to the basics
To determine what will keep us in His will, we look to His Word. His Word is still the law he spoke aloud and wrote on the tablets. All ten of them. The law that identifies sin must remain and guide men, or there is no need for forgiveness after we accept Jesus as Savior. This concept is known as "eternal salvation" that some feel cannot be lost. As we are told, "sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Rom. 5:13
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone's account where there is no law.
). This is often interpreted one of two ways: 1) If we are "no longer under the law" we can no longer sin no matter what we do, or 2) if we are in Jesus, we do not need the law because we will no longer want to sin. If we are no longer under any law, how do we interpret verses like 2 John 1:8
8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
, Mark 8:36
36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
, 1 Cor 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
, Matthew 16:26
26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
, or Col 3:5-6
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,
? We have much to lose if we ignore the will of God.
So the law and faith must work together for salvation to be complete. If we act like there is no law, then we do not need the Grace of Christ after that first acceptance, and many use that to excuse breaking the laws that they do not like. We cannot separate the parts of Jesus' character from who He is just because we are too uncomfortable to recognize the Just part of His nature.
For another view, and a thorough treatment of Grace and Law that provides real views and thought with backups, see the website at Amazing Facts. This site shows that if you read what God's word says, and not some twisted and sanitized version of what someone thinks it should say, the whole book makes more sense.
Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your view.
After reading all the main pages from this site, one pastor responded with the response below.
If you have faith in Jesus, the law has no use for you. The law is gone for the Christian.
Response from a Baptist pastor:
UPHOLDING THE LAW, LAWFULLY
I, along with the Apostle Paul, uphold the law. Rom 3:31
And how does Paul say to uphold the Law? He says the law is good IF we use it lawfully, properly. 1 Tim 1:8-11
The Law was given to make us aware of our sin. Rom 7:7
It was also given, having made us aware of our sin, to point us to the answer. Gal 3:23-26
Having then come to the answer, He, Christ, has become our sin and we have His righteousness. 2 Cor 5:21
Since we have died with Christ, Rom 6:3,4, we have died, and have been released from the Law, Rom 7:1-6, to serve in the newness of the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:3-11
We who are righteous (in Christ) now operate in the (Holy) Spirit by faith. Rom 8:1-8; Gal 5:16-25; Eph 2:11-18; Rom 8:26-29; Eph 5:1,2; 15-18.
This response was followed by a five-hour verbal discussion of these and other points. To see the results of the discussion, and my responses, see Response to the Law discussion, listed in the menu at the center of this page.