To the Church at Laodicea By Chuck Missler "And unto the angel of the church…
By Lea Sylvester
“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” Romans 2:13-14
While watching a well-known Christian television station, a televangelist’s program was on and I caught the words, “If there is no law, then there can’t be a sin.” This amazed me, surely I heard this wrong or he didn’t mean what he seemed to be saying. But no, he clarified his statement for emphasis. If God has no laws, then we can’t sin against them. Hmmm.
This explains a great deal about the state of “the church” today. The Old Testament isn’t for “us” and we aren’t under “the law” (which is a curse) so if there is no law, then how can we sin? Does this sound familiar to you? The deception is rampant here and it is deceiving very many.
The “law” as referred to so often is NOT a curse. Let’s get this straight. If the law itself is a curse, then God must have made some mistake. After all, it was God Himself who gave the law to Moses, wasn’t it? So, God must have realized the mistake and took it all back? This is so far “out there” that it isn’t even in our galaxy.
Unfortunately, most Christians today believe this. It is exactly the thing that Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, spoke to the Pharisees of His day about. They had distorted HIS laws and he vocally and emphatically rebuked them for doing so. The very way Jesus Christ lived His life and the way in which He died was according to the “law” (which is a curse). Someone forgot to tell Him it was a curse, evidently.
In Romans Chapter 2, Paul is writing to the Church at Rome and is explaining how a Gentile Believer, (Gentiles were considered “strangers” or a “gerim” and not a part of Israel. They were expected to keep the civil laws but were exempt from observing God’s Moedim or Feasts unless they chose to do so and if they did, they had to do so as was expected of God’s people), could be elevated to the status of a first class citizen of Heaven (by becoming a follower of Jesus Christ). And the question Paul asks is: why, gentile, would you want the second class status of a gerim when you could have the status of a first class citizen of Heaven? And, in effect, Paul offers the same argument in other of his writings to the Jewish people. That is, Paul says, ‘hey Jews, why not accept Yeshua as Messiah, and be elevated from your current legal status (the legal status most of you were born into) as gerim to God, to become first class citizens WITH God, in the Kingdom of God?’
Now understand, all of this is contained in the rules and ordinances of the covenants God made with Israel. And, so often Christians are taught or believe that the covenant is gone (referred to often as “the old covenant”) but it is a fact that those very covenants all speak of and point to the Messiah. Do you follow this? Paul was not addressing whether it is good to be obedient to the Torah, the Law, or not (he addresses that issue head-on in other epistles where he says in that it is good and preferable for a Believer to obey the Torah). Read Romans 2:13 again. Paul says such things as the doers of the law will attain righteousness. And, in 2:14 “Gentiles who do what the law requires will be held innocent.” And, in 2:25-28, “Those who keep the law will condemn those who do not.” Paul is talking about behavior and response to God, NOT how one becomes saved. Paul is speaking not about how a gentile becomes a member of the Kingdom of God but about how one is to live his or her life afterward. But, he also says obedience to the Torah (the Law, often called “the curse”) is the proper response for a person who gets saved by his Jewish Messiah. This fact is critically important to all Christians yet this fact will not be printed, preached or discussed many places.
In the Old Testament, God set up unchangeable patterns that we are to learn, recognize and apply to our lives forever. These precepts of our Heavenly Father, the Almighty One who created everything, are holy to Him. Therefore, they should at least be important to us.
For instance, and since we are approaching the season the Feast of First fruits is celebrated, we see the principle of “first-lings.” In more familiar language, First fruits. That is, everything belongs to God. Back in the days of the Old Testament, only farmers could participate in the most common First fruits offerings, because they were the ones who grew the crops, and therefore they were the ones required to offer the first of their crops as sacrifices.
Numbers 15:17 begins showing us how this was made possible for everyone, not just farmers, to participate in this and how it became more practical. Therefore, every Hebrew household became able to participate. Every Hebrew household baked bread, as it was the staple daily food so with the requirement of an offering of a portion of that bread dough to God, every Hebrew home could have a direct participation in the First fruits offerings on a regular basis.
It is important to note that the custom of offering some of the dough from the household bread baking became such a deeply ingrained custom within Israel that even after the temple was destroyed, women would take a small piece of the bread dough and throw it into the fire as a sort of “mini-sacrifice” in remembrance of this commandment. Now, I will quote a saying of Paul, one you have perhaps heard or read from time to time, but now, perhaps you will better understand why he chose the words that he did.
“And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too.” Romans 11:16
Paul was simply using common language of an everyday occurrence in virtually every household in Israel as an illustration. He was referring directly to the principle of First fruits, and to the law and custom of offering a bit of the bread dough as a sacrifice which in turn sanctifies the remainder of the large lump of bread dough.
Jesus was the “First Fruits” and He was our Passover Lamb. As Christians we should celebrate and be joyous; rejoicing in these holy days. They are not just for “Jews.” He is “The Root.” We, along with Believers of all race, creed, color and yes, even “Jews”(who are Believers) are “the branches.” Therefore, if the root is holy, then we should also be holy. Holiness is a word not frequently mentioned today. But it is expected. Think set-apart, different, not like others, not conforming to this world. This is how we should be and this is part of “holiness.”
As to how God’s holy laws became a curse, this writer cannot explain. Jesus Christ Himself said:
“Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20
“The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one tittle of the law to fall.” Luke 16:16-17
The passages of scripture above are clear. And, Luke’s reference to the fact that the law and the prophets were until John refers to the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, came after him (John the Baptist) preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. It, in no way, means that after John came the law and prophets were just irrelevant. That is distortion.
As to the preacher on television, he was grossly distorting the Word of the Almighty God with “another gospel” that he understands; not necessarily the truth. There is one truth and that is the truth God gives us; and it is in His Word. By his rationalization, if we believe God gave us no rules or laws, then if we do or say something that isn’t specifically addressed we can’t be sinning. How easy this is! Everyone should try it! This is the same way I learned how clever children can be. Years ago, I asked my then 12 year-old daughter to “Wash the clothes after school.” But when I got home, I found clothing in the washing machine, wet, washed but still there. When I asked her why she didn’t wash the clothes, she ever-so innocently looked at me and said, “But Mom, you said ‘w-a-s-h the clothes, you didn’t say put them in the dryer, then take them out, fold them, and put them away.'” This is the very same thing as the “principle” this preacher was teaching. God forbid! By the way and for the record, my daughter never did that again.
Let us use our spiritual eyes.We must have discernment and if we don’t have it, ask God for it. It’s time to turn off the television and open the Word of God. Spend time in prayer with Him and let Him show you the truth. We need to understand that commentary (any commentary – even this commentary and others here) by definition comes after the foundational material. In this case, it usually is addressing teachings, principles or things we learn from God’s Word. All any preacher should do today (and most do so) is to comment on what has been previously written (specifically, Holy Scripture). The Old Testament is foundational material and so the New Testament comments on it (Paul especially).
So, if all one reads is the commentary but not the foundational material, we’re going to get some things right and some things wrong. It is in the Old Testament where we will find all of the foundational God-principles explained in detail.
The New Testament fully expects its readers to already have Bible 101, which is the Old Testament. Without it, it is like attempting Algebra classes, without ever having studied basic math. One may well get something out of the Algebra classes, but the meat will go undiscovered and the reasons that underlie the Algebraic formulas will go unknown and therefore will at times be misused.
We are told that before anything, God existed. We are also told that He never changes. Why would he not expect us to understand the Old Testament completely? Remember, the early church did not have a “New Testament.” Were they wrong, too?
“For I am the LORD (Elohim), I do not change.” Malachi 3:6(a)
“Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17
The “curse” spoken of in the Old Testament is sin. The curse of sin is not the law! How could anything God wrote be a curse? It isn’t, wasn’t and has never been! Sin is “the curse” put upon mankind by Adam. In Romans, it is spoken of in this manner: “The wages of sin is death.” Same thing, said different ways. If one word has been changed that God inspired in what we refer to as the Holy Scriptures, then how can we believe any of it? Answer: He has not changed any of it. But man has made his own private interpretations of it. Be as the Bereans, test everything against God’s Word; not man’s word, God’s Word.
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