Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Spirit of the Law

One of the ancient churches in Jerusalem, where the spiritual warfare of three major world religions wrestle.

Generally, I believe most Christians have the idea that "the law" (which actually means, "the instruction") is a terrible thing. Obviously it was only a stage in the progressive revelation of God's standards to us, and the covenant we have in the blood of Jesus is superior - in that the Spirit of the Lord actually lives in our hearts making it possible for us to be transformed to the point we are living according to God's standards of holiness. Just knowing what God's standards are does not give us that power, but the indwelling Holy Spirit can if we access what is available to us.

That doesn't mean we automatically make room for the Spirit of the Lord to take control in our hearts. Some receive the Lord as Savior, consider it all they need and go right back to living like they were. Maybe they don't go out honky-tonking anymore, but they certainly give the Holy Spirit a very tiny space in their hearts to dwell in because they retain control of the rest.

The plan of God is not for our hearts to have a tiny little closet of space for the government of the Spirit - He wants to take every spiritual square inch of our hearts so that our lives are entirely governed by the Spirit of God.

The thing about "the law" is not just a collection of do's and don'ts. If a person really studies the Torah through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, you will begin to see God showing us how He judges situations. When Yeshua was walking through Israel in His ministry, He was criticized and marveled at for His interpretation of the Torah - because He understood the spirit behind the judgments. He did not come and say, 'The Torah of God is a useless bunch of rules, forget about them.' No, the scripture says He came and fulfilled every "i dot" and "t cross". He just did it not according to man's misguided - Spirit-less - interpretations of God's standards, but by the SPIRIT underlying the instruction.

Paul said, 16 "if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good....22 For I rejoice in the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

The point of all this is that Paul is talking about believers who practice sin. He is not saying that "the Law" is just something to beat us up with or hold us in bondage to, he is saying that it is a witness against us that we are practicing sin...even as believers.

This is a man who knew what the Torah said, unlike many Christians who never read that part of the Bible because they think it is irrelevant to them. But none of the apostles said it was irrelevant. The things they said about "the Law" were primarily to people who had completely missed the spirit of God's instructions in the Torah and to who had erected man-made "fences" to make sure they didn't get anywhere close to violating God's instructions. They added layers of prohibitions that God did not command as an extra layer of distance from what God did command. In these additions they completely missed the principles of justice - the very spirit of holiness and justice that God was conveying in those instructions.

I have to laugh at many Christians who are the most adamant about putting down "the law" as something evil and imprisoning. (I mean, considering it was God who wrote them with His own finger for Moses, how can we begin to believe that? The rest of the instructions He merely dictated for Moses to write down verbatim.).

Recently I heard a person whose job it is to give exhortations when taking offerings say (paraphrasing), "We give our tithes, but not like a religious thing - not like under the law to tithe." Oh?

Of course, tithing is not a "religious" thing, it is a spiritual thing. Sowing and reaping, seed time and harvest. The command to tithe is an acknowledgment of God as the source of our increase and it is to be used so there will be food in the house of the Lord.

Malachi 3:10 is God speaking: 10
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,

And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive

Why would anyone consider this a burdensome "law" instead of a promise of God?

In Exodus 35, God told Moses to take an offering of the people from all "of a willing heart". In verse 21-22 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart....

Doesn't sound like "a religious" thing to me.

God is not a different God from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, He is just revealing WHO HE IS little at a time, as man can begin to learn and grasp His nature and character. Jesus was the ultimate expression of the nature of God, but that revelation was built upon the foundation of the Old Covenant prophets as well as the New Covenant apostles. Sometimes in our arrogance, we try to delete the whole revelation of God's nature and character revealed in the Hebrew scriptures, and it is a mistake that will keep us from discerning the Spirit of God's standards of righteousness and justice.

When we look at what the Church is warned about being the conditions of the last days, it is lawlessness, not religious slavery to the Law. That is something we should think about.

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