Friday, August 28, 2009

How Much of the Law Should Christians Keep?

Anti-Nomian: Ever heard that word? Maybe not. It means "against law." It's sometimes applied to those who think now that they are saved they can live like they want. That's not what You think is it? Hope not! Some folks, who also disagree with that, go so far as to say that we STILL keep the laws of Moses as Christians. Is that right? Well the 10 Commandments are pretty good. Yes, they are great! In fact all of God's word is great! It reveals a Great God to us doesn't it?
But why stop with the 10 Commandments?
Lets also avoid Pork, and hanging out with sinners, too! Oh wait, Jesus hung out with sinners didn't he? OK, then that's OK. Oh yeah, Peter was told to kill and eat pigs. In fact God told him "what I have called clean you better not call unclean." Could that have applied to actual pigs? Or was it just symbolic? Maybe pigs, shrimp and rattlesnake are OK after all. (I hear rattlesnake tastes like chicken. I heard that Aborigines eat moths, they taste mothy I understand.)

Consider Acts 15:5: "Some believers, belonging to the party of the Pharisees, rose up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and order them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and elders gathered together to consider this. 7 After much debate, Peter stood and said, "Brothers, you know in the early days God made a choice among you, that ... Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, ...bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 [So] why are you putting testing God by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."
And Rom 3:21: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law...
And Rom 3:31: Do we then overthrow the law by faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
And Finally, Rom 6:14: For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
The simple fact is that we are no longer "Under" the law. (I didn't make that up, God did.) We are not "Under" its penalties. We are not "Under" its absolute direction for our lives. We are not "Under" it's obligations. We are under Grace. We are to be Led by the Spirit so that we do not sin against God. Just because we are not "Under" the law doesn't mean that there is no sin. But the Law of Moses is not the final referee or judge of sin that it once was, the Holy Spirit is!
The law is still good because it tells us about God's holiness. But if you are going to live under the 10 Commandments then get ready to live under the law about travel on the Sabbath, the foods you eat, and wearing a shirt that doesn't blend two different materials, etc. etc.

We know from Moses' law there is one God for us to worship, we should honor our parents, and not steal or murder. But we aren't under the penalties of law. We are led by the Spirit to fulfill the law as God leads us. He doesn't lead us contrary to His absolute rules. But apparently, not all of God's rules were absolute. Else he wouldn't have shown Peter pigs and snakes and told him, "Arise Peter, Kill and Eat." No, fellow servants of Christ, we are absolutely NOT under the law. But the Holy Spirit will still lead us in the paths of righteousness.
So, I'm NOT an AntiNomian. I believe in the law of the love of Christ. St. Augustine once said "Love God and do as you please." This has of course been misunderstood and misapplied. If one truly loves Christ with a divinely given love then one will not sin against God. If one truly love JEsus, then one truly loves others.
God saved the gentiles without converting them to being Jews. No circumcision was required, no keeping of the feasts and fasts were required, and God sealed their salvation with His Holy Spirit. They didn't need to keep the law. No one except the Judaizers, with whom Paul had such great differences, told them to keep the law. In fact Paul told them, you guys who like to tell the Gentiles to be circumcised, I wish you would get a knife and cut the whole thing off. (Gal.5:12 'cut off' in KJV etc. means to amputate or emasculate ones self.)
You see even Abraham was saved without circumcision or the law of Moses. He came before all that. God saw his faith and accounted righteousness to him. That is the kind of salvation the church has now. They are not saved "Because" they are gentiles, or "Because" they are Jews. They are saved by grace through faith, and that's not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.
So do we have no guideline in scripture about what sin is? IS there no way to objectively recognize it? No, there is. The Law of Moses is such an example of sin. But in that it is the law for the Jews and the Nation of Israel it is not absolute. (That is not to say it is not true in it's context. It is without error in its purpose and meaning.)
But we have a New Covenant in the Blood of Christ. And we have a new compilation of scripture, to go along with the Old Testament, called the New Testament. It has plenty of directions concerning how we should live. The Gospels record the instructions of Christ. The letters record the teaching of the Apostles, which was based on the teaching of Christ, and can be found in the words of James, Peter, John, Paul, and others. Just after the Gal 5 verse I mentioned above we find words like this: Gal 5:13 For, brothers, you were called to liberty. Only do not use the liberty for an opening to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." ...
Gal 5:16 I say, then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are contrary to one another; ... 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ...25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Therefore away with the anti-nomians who say that all things are allowable to us. That is not true. There are things we do which grieve the heart of God.
And away with the Pharisees and modern-day heretics who describe a law which is used by them to beat those who don't recognize their legalism into bondage.