(Here’s one of the unorganized posts I warned you about in an earlier post…)
God never wanted the Law
Story illustrating God didn’t want Law in chapter 4 of “Imagine” by Andre Rabe
“Marriage is meant for intimacy and enjoyment – suspicion and distance undermine the very purpose of marriage. One can never replace the spontaneity and freedom of being in love, with formality and obligation and still maintain the same quality of relationship.
Let’s imagine a scenario in which a husband and wife have had a fight, and seeing that it’s just a fantasy, lets say it’s all the wife’s fault! The husband tries to converse, but the situation is so tender that the wife can’t face any further confrontation. Silence and distance become her only escape.
Through the days and weeks that follow the situation only gets worse and this results in a separation. The husband observes his wife sinking into a pit of depression but she is not willing to face him or converse with him. However the husband still loves his wife and believes that the relationship can be restored, so he makes a practical interim arrangement. In order to prevent her from falling into absolute destitution and despair, he commits to support her and provide for her if she keeps to some basic and reasonable obligations. For instance: remain faithful to him, no other lovers allowed! Very reasonable. A few other ‘boundaries’ are agreed – about 10 in all. All this is done for her protection.
The only thing these arrangements are supposed to reveal, is that the husband still believes that the relationship can be saved. These arrangements were never meant to replace the original intimate relationship. They were only put in place for her protection and provision until the original relationship is restored. By no means can this situation compete or compare with the spontaneous, intimate relationship they once enjoyed.
And something terrible happens in this arrangement: It gives validity to the distance! The very distance that needs to be destroyed, finds an opportunity within this temporary arrangement to make itself legitimate. This new law-system gives validity to the distance!
And the wife, instead of trying to find a fundamental solution to the problem, now hides behind the fact that she is keeping the rules and therefore deserves the provision. She actually finds this new system very convenient, because she does not have to deal with her husband directly. She feels justified in keeping the rules, and even when she breaks the rules there are ways of correcting the situation without direct contact with him. Her hearts grows even harder!” – Andre Rabe
Law not given by God but by angels to Moses, then Moses to the people
I first believed (as my parents taught me) that God wanted to give the Law and he indeed give the Law. Later, I came to understand that actually, God didn’t want to give the Law, but he did so reluctantly as a kind of compromise (as you explained). Currently, I’m of the opinion that God may have communicated some parts of the Law but that he did not do so in its entirety. Part of the reason for that is the violence inherent in some laws. Another is because I don’t believe the scriptures are inspired in the way most christians would define inspiration. I wrote a series about inspiration on the blog, and actually one of the posts deals with the topic of the Law specifically. I point out a number of scriptures that seem to indicate that the Law was in fact not given by God (at least in its entirety). You can read it here: https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/what-does-biblical-inspiration-mean-really-part-5/
Temples, priests, sacrifice, prophets, seers, kings and laws (even specific ones) were not unique to Israel by any means.
“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” (Galatians 3:19-20).
“The moral standards by which Israel’s first ancestors were expected to act seem to come not so much by God’s unique commandment but by expectations of the surrounding cultures. The behavior of Israel’s ancestors is not a matter of direct revelation by God, but of the accepted cultural norms of the day.
In John 8:17 and 10:34 Jesus refers to the Law as “your [the Pharisee’s] Law” and not “our Law,” thus refusing to identify with their way of thinking.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person…” (Matthew 5:38-39; Jesus is directly quoting Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21). Here Jesus gives ways of living that are opposite to that of the Law. “You have heard it said…But I tell you…” In essence, Jesus is saying that he did not say that part of the Law and is now telling them what he really thinks (as opposed to what they thought he, that is God, was saying). After all, if the Law was perfect (which it would be if it was given by Jesus), Jesus would have no need to correct it and show a better way.
This raises the question: was the Law really given by God? An answer of “no” is what Paul seems to imply in Galatians 3:19-20. “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” Even if the original was given by God, what if the human and angelic elements modified it in the process of transmission and transcription?
Jesus seems to imply this in Mark 10:2-5. “Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.'” Jesus makes it sound very much like Moses was not only the writer but also the author of this commandment. “Moses permitted [it],” not God.
Is saying “this is grace and that is law” eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
Connection between conscience and tree of knowledge of good and evil
They didn’t have a conscience (consciousness of sins; see Hebrews) before eating of that tree.
“Grace cannot prevail until law is dead…until morality has been bound, gagged, and stuffed unceremoniously in the trunk.” – Robert Capon
It’s interesting how there are many things that the world doesn’t feel guilty about that believers do. This makes me think that the guilt that believers experience in such areas is merely from the Christian culture surrounding them.
“Grace means that God does something for me; law means that I do something for God.” – Watchman Nee
Undutifully fulfill your duty
The only times Paul mentioned the Law to the Gentile churches that he wrote to was when he needed to emphasize its unnecessity in our new lives in Christ. Most of the time he simply didn’t mention it at all.
The fear of not preaching and requiring Law: without Law, the only motivator becomes desire based on joy, not fear. Law followers know nothing of desire, only fear. That’s why they can’t trust getting rid of the Law. “People will start sinning because that’s what they desire!”
We don’t want to be led by our feelings, but we want to be led by our new and holy desires. The distinction is important and it takes lots of trust in what Jesus did and is in you.
“The Law revealed the sin in you. The Gospel reveals the Son in you.” – Jeff Turner
The meaning of God putting his Law on our hearts isn’t getting a conscience or consciousness of sins but the divine nature of naturally desiring that which brings life, what the Law pointed to.
Test to see if you are legalistic: Think about what you would think and feel (or actually try it out if you’re not sure) if you stopped reading the Bible, stopped going to church, quit having set times for prayer, etc. If there is any fear, guilt, shame, or condemnation, then you are legalistic.
The moral principle of the Law (love) is still true, but we don’t derive our morality from the Law anymore. We don’t ever need to read it to know how to live morally because we have Holy Spirit as our guide.
The Law is a part of the Old Covenant which is now obsolete; Hebrews 8:13.
Living by Law is slavery (Galatians 5:1)
Hebrews 7:11-2, 18-19, 9:10, 10:1 (All of Hebrews lol)
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
In this new covenant, good and evil are things we sense, not figure out through the Law. It’s in our hearts.
The Law was our tutor that led us to Christ, but no longer
“Grace and sin can coexist, but grace and legalism can never coexist.” – Jeff Turner
2 Corinthians 3:6-18
The curse was a natural consequence of eating of the tree and of submitting to Satan. God wasn’t putting junk onto people – they chose it. Just like the Law.
“The fall didn’t change God; the fall changed you. The cross didn’t change God; the cross changed you.” – Jeff Turner
We know we are not justified by obedience to the Law (by the works of the law shall no man living be justified). But many Christians feel that they are still somehow bound to obedience to the Law.
To understand our prior and current relationship with the Law, it is important to know its purpose. Paul says that the Law given so that we would know our own sinfulness (Romans 7:7). When we try our best to follow the Law, we find that our efforts are futile. Thus God administrates his grace to us through the Law because it makes evident our need for a savior. God imposed an impossibility on us to reveal our self-insufficiency. It sheds light on the fundamental error made at the fall – that we could do life alone. The Law causes us to turn to Christ.
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:17
“But we know that the law [is] good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for [the] lawless and insubordinate, for [the] ungodly and for sinners, for [the] unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,” – 1 Timothy 1:8-9
But what about after we have turned to Christ? Paul communicates a complete shift in our relationship with the Law that took place at the cross. We used to be joined to the Law; now we are joined to Christ (v. 1-4). We were bound to the Law; now we have been released (v. 6). We served in the oldness of the letter; we now serve in the newness of the Spirit (v. 6).
The law brought with it a curse; Christ has set us free from it
“Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ”
“having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances”
“blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross”
“Christ is the end of the Law”
Ultimately the Law is good (v. 12). Yet it is through it that sinful passions are aroused in us (Romans 7:5). That’s why when, after believing in Jesus, we continue to make efforts to follow the Law we will inevitably fall into sin. It is through God’s commandments that sin produces its actions in us, for without the Law sin is dead (v. 8). Through the Law sin deceives us and kills us.
The Law can neither condemn nor punish us anymore.
“Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16)
Law and the effort it requires will kill you, literally!
Glory/No Glory – The Jesus Trip
There can be no distinction between “ceremonial” and “moral” laws
Obey whole Law or none of it. Obey part of it and you are cursed! We don’t live by Law but by faith in Spirit
The division of Moses’ law into three categories is a “totally arbitrary distinction between aspects of the law” (Walter Martin).
“The Mosaic law is viewed by the Scriptures as a unit. The word torah (“law”) when applied to the law of Moses is always singular, although it contains 613 commandments” – Arnold Fruchtenbaum
“It should always be remembered, however, that the distinctions Christians make between ‘moral’ and ‘ceremonial’ laws in the Old Testament, was hardly perspicuous to the Hebrew mind. In the Old Testament, cultic and ethical, moral and ceremonial, religious and civil enactment’s are all worked together, with no sense of impropriety, since they all express the will of Yahweh for his covenant people Israel.” – Paul K. Jewett
“In the epistles that have been preserved to us, nowhere is a distinction made explicitly between the moral and ceremonial, particularistic parts of the law.” – Herman Ridderbos
The Mosaic law-covenant was a unified code which had a beginning and end in history.
The Law of Moses (as a totality) was connected to a particular covenant people that it not us.
In the ultimate purpose of God, this Mosaic economy was temporary, destined to exist “until the time of reformation” (Heb.9:10) when God would speak in a final way in His Son in the last days (Heb.1:1-2).
This doesn’t mean, however, that it is okay to murder, for example. I’m not saying that we should now do the very things the Law forbade. I am saying that the Law is not needed as a written set of instructions for any moral purposes because it’s been placed in us and written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
Morality, good & evil
There is no good and evil, just wise and foolish
We are made in God’s image. God wouldn’t implant in us conceptions of good and evil that are different than his. He made the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thus if something intuitively seems evil (especially to many people), it most likely is.
“Ultimately the Gospel has little to do with morality and much to do with Love – Love, in which morality finds its true context. Meaning, it’s possible the moral person may be in worse shape than the immoral.” – Benjamin Dunn
“When we operate out of the “knowledge of good and evil”, we have nothing to say and nothing to do unless their is a scapegoat to blame for the world and the Church’s problems. We have to have an enemy, or we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We can only recognize good when we have evil to compare it with, and vice versa. Paul, upon beholding the beauty of God’s grace, however, emerged with a different view of things. He concluded that since “one died for all, all died”! In light of this revelation, he could “know no man according to the flesh”. (2 Corinthians 5) He no longer needed evil in order to enable him to see the good, he simply saw good through the light of what Christ had done for all men.” – Jeff Turner
Drop “sin” from vocabulary.
This word now has the connotation of offending God. But God is not offended by our sin. https://supernaturalgospel.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/unoffendability-and-the-relativity-of-sin-part-1/
Replace with miss, error, deviation, mistake
Adam and Even were at their best when they were ignorant of good and evil and were totally fixated on one thing – life.
Christianity is not about a new morality
“The church is not in the morals business. The world is in the morals business, quite rightfully; and it has done a fine job of it, all things considered. The history of the world’s moral codes is a monument of striking unity and beauty. As C.S. Lewis said, everybody who thinks the moral codes of humankind are all different should be locked up in a library and be made to read three days’ worth of them. They would be bored silly by the sheer sameness.
What the world cannot get right, however, is the forgiveness business — and that, of course, is the church’s real job. She is in the world to deal with the sin that the world can’t turn off or escape from. She is not in the business of telling the world what’s right and wrong so that it can do good and avoid evil. She is in the business of offering, to a world that knows all about that tiresome subject, forgiveness for its chronic unwillingness to take its own advice. But the minute she even hints that morals, and not forgiveness, is the name of her game, she instantly corrupts the Gospel and runs headlong into blatant nonsense.” – Robert Capon
“There is nothing intrinsically contrary to the church’s mission, of course, in the suggestion that an upright life might be a good thing for Christians to attempt. But she that suggestion reaches the point at which it becomes a test of membership in the church, it comes smack up against a radical peculiarity of the Gospel: Jesus was not a teach of ethics. The Sermon on the Mount, for instance, is not a string of sensible lessons in morality: it’s a paradoxical presentation, in the form of ethical advice, of recipes for getting yourself creamed. And the radical Gospel of grace and forgiveness that is the church’s deepest message isn’t ethics either. It’s an outrageously unethical offer not to count anybody’s sins at all, because the Lamb of God simply stopped count in when he drew everybody to himself on the cross. At its root, therefore, the Gospel is immoral not moral: it lest scoundrels in free for nothing.” – Robert Capon
Jeremiah 7:22 “For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
(NIV adds “just” to completely change the meaning lol)
Ethics is the attempt to rationally discern good and evil apart from God, just like in the garden.
“Does this mean there is no room for discussions of morality or ethics within the Christian community? Not at all. But al lot these conversations that name certain behaviors as ‘sinful’ must stem from whether or not said behavior is harmful to others, not whether the Bible has certain verses that condemn the behavior. Certain behaviors are both condoned and condemned in Scripture.
You don’t need religion to have a basis for morality, and any basis, even the scriptures, will be subjective.
There is even a science of morality