Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chasing shadows

Though there may be health benefits to following Moses' dietary regulations and a Christian's faith can be strengthened and his understanding of God's power and grace can be enhanced by studying and participating in several of the ancient festivals, to argue that if a Christian loves Christ he will keep Moses' ceremonial, sacrificial, dietary, and civil regulations is false teaching, as testified to by Scripture.

More from here:
It is un-Christian (and therefore, unwise) to try to produce good works by the force of the Law or for human, self-centered motives. A Christian lives by faith, and their good works are produced by God (He causes us to will and to do) as a natural result of saving faith.

It is heartening to see you state that a Christian is not required to obey the Mosaic Law, but you undo that by saying a Christian would obey them if they love Christ.
Yeshua DID make all food clean. What is "food"? Do you know what that word meant to God, to Yeshua, and to everyone (like Paul) who knew Torah?
You're trying to make Christ's statement redundant to fit your (mis)interpretation.

Either “all food” is “clean” as the Gospel states, or it is not.
Either God told Peter to eat from that which was formerly unclean, or He did not.
Either all foods are clean if received with thanksgiving as the Scriptures state, or they are not.

In effect, you're implying that instead of making all food “clean,” Jesus made all food “food.”
[Another obvious aside - and I wonder why I bother sometimes: If I said to you, in colloquial English, during a backyard picnic, "all this food here is great", would you pick up a bit of dog...
That is an obviously false analogy. God was not telling Peter to eat fecal matter, he was telling him to eat what was formerly “unclean” or “common” food.
I don't argue that the "dietary laws MUST be obeyed"
In speaking of the entire Mosaic Law, you stated that the commands are eternal, i.e., still in effect.

“Command” means that which must be obeyed. You cannot argue that the commands are still in effect without that meaning that we must follow them. They are “commands,” not “suggestions,” “recommendations” or “really, really good ideas.”
They SHOULD be. Because He knows what's best for you, and wrote it down for you.
I do not doubt this is true with respect to at least some of the dietary restrictions.
...Deut 28-30 points out blessings and curses. They did not expire. They are True.
That is false. The blessings and curses are for obeying or breaking God's laws under the Old Covenant. Did Israel keep these commands? No, as Peter admits. Do you? No.

A Christian is under Christ's New Convenant, the Old Covenant is gone. God blesses us through faith in Christ, not by works. If you reject that, then you are not a Christian.
But you still get to pick for yourself.
If they are God's commands and are still in effect, and the blessings and curses He connected to them have “not expired,” then we do not have a choice, except to disobey and be destroyed, as He said.
that there were VERY good reasons to avoid shellfish and pork.
This is very different from saying that God's dietary restrictions (and the rest of the ceremonial, sacrificial, and civil law) are still applicable under the New Covenant and that obedience to these will bring either life or death.
Let's take the scoffer out the easy way. If you KNEW the Law, you'd know the answer was about 9 AM and 3 PM. Where? The temple? OH... Maybe if there was a way even a sinner like I could enter the Holy of Holies....
Only the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies and that once a year.
...Romans 13, as routinely mis-translated....
You misstated my (and God's) position as “Caesar is never wrong.” He says He has established all authorities and that we must obey them.
As for "burdens", read Matt. 23 (find a good translation from the ORIGINAL HEBREW!!! It's not easy, but WELL worth the effort). "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers."
Peter was not referring to the man-made regulations taught by the religious authorities of Christ's day, He was referring to the Law.

On a secondary note, you have ancient Hebrew manuscripts of Matthew that pre-date the Greek manuscripts?
...He DID say (again, Deut 30) that keeping His Torah "is not too hard for you...."
If you look at the context of the passage, you'll see that the “not too hard for you” is referring to the fact that the Law is given to them and not beyond their reach; several translations (including King James) renders that phrase as “hidden from you.”

If you are seriously arguing that you've kept all God's Laws then you're guilty of breaking one for sure—lying.
...and He repeats the point when He tells you that His yoke is easy and His burder light, and offers to take our burdens from us.
What is the burden He's taken from us? The requirement to fulfill the Law. He fulfilled it for us.
As for my calling Paul a "heretic" - how about calling Yeshua a liar?
You've done that too. He made all food clean, but you won't allow it.
Here's a quip you might appreciate, Am: "What time will you be offering the next cute colored egg died in the blood of a child sacrifice?"
That's absurd. Eggs have nothing to do with my Easter. Santa has nothing to do with my Christmas.
Gravity still in effect? Reaping what we sow, still in effect? Honest weights and measures?...Love your neighbor? Don't bear false witness? Sodomy? Adultery? Just what are you so anxious to go out and DO that He says not to?
As I have noted here previously, The Mosaic laws (ceremonial, dietary, sacrificial, civil) are no longer required of believers, since they were meant to foreshadow and teach us about Christ, He fulfilled them, and He says they are no longer in effect over us.

What does God say of the Law?

From Matthew 5:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished[“It is finished!”]....unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

...I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

...You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart....

...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.....Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We see that God's Law is perfect. He expects us not to fulfill just its letter, but also its spirit.

Most importantly for us sinners, Christ came to fulfill the Law.

Here we see that the Old Covenant (meant to prepare us for Christ) has been replaced by a new and better one (a concept that will be stated more explicitly soon):
...the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1).
More evidence that we cannot keep the Law:
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law (John 7).
Here we see that the Law condemns us:
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God (Romans 3).
Here again, the Law shows us our utter sinfulness:
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin (Romans 3).
Here we see that for one who has been baptized into Christ (that is, a Christian), he is “dead to the Law,” “released from the Law,” and not in the “old way of the written code”:
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7).
Here is Christ's fulfilling the Law for us:
...through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit (Romans 8).
Here again, Christ's freeing us from the burden of the Law and giving us His righteousness:
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the deep?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10).
Here again the purpose of the Law and the futility of the Christian trying to observe it:
Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

...All who rely on observing the law are under a curse,, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

...What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come,....

...Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law (Galatians 3).
And here we see that Christ has abolished “in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations”:
in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Ephesians 2).
And here Paul--who was faultless in observing the laws you say we will observe if we love Jesus-- considers that observance rubbish compared to having Christ:
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (Philippians 3).
Here again God's teaching that the Mosaic regulations only foreshadowed the Messiah; the reality is in Christ. Why would you teach as a command that which Jesus has fulfilled? Why do you worry about shadows?:
When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself

...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. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.

Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.'"

First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 9 and 10).
Here again Christ's fulfilling the Law and replacing the Old Covenant with a new and better one:
If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

...For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:

"You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

"The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever.'" Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever (Hebrews 7).
A warning:
...Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me (1 Timothy 1).
Another warning against teaching false doctrine:
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned (Titus 3).
And here's the deal breaker:
I'm not trying to tell you what YOU "must do". He already told you what you WOULD do, if you love Him.
Jesus says in His Gospel and Epistles that all food is now clean for His people. You are arguing that if I love Him, I won't eat pork.

Since Christ removed from His people the requirement of keeping the Mosaic law, to which commands was He referring? His commands as recorded by the Apostles, not the Mosaic regulations.

And keeping those commands is a fruit of saving faith.

A quick summary:
In the same way, brothers and sisters, you have died to the laws in Moses' Teachings through Christ's body. You belong to someone else, the one who was brought back to life. As a result, we can do what God wants (Romans 7).

If your spiritual nature is your guide, you are not subject to Moses' laws (Galatians 5).

But now we have died to those laws that bound us. God has broken their effect on us so that we are serving in a new spiritual way, not in an old way dictated by written words (Romans 7).

Christ is the fulfillment of Moses' Teachings, so that everyone who has faith may receive God's approval (Romans 10).

Before Christ came, Moses' laws served as our guardian. Christ came so that we could receive God's approval by faith. But now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the control of a guardian (Galatians 3).

He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses' Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non-Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself. So he made peace (Ephesians 2).
If we have “died to the laws in Moses' Teachings,” if “we are not subject to Moses' laws,” if we have “died to those laws,” if “God has broken their effect on us,” if Christ is “the fulfillment of Moses' Teachings,” if we are “no longer under the control of” “Moses' laws,” if “He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses' Teachings,” why do you make yourself a slave to it again, and why do you teach others to do the same?

A Christian will obey Christ--as a result of saving faith. The commands we will obey are found throughout the New Testament; they are not the Mosaic regulations.

Rather than put your confidence in your observing rules God says are no longer in effect over us, put your faith in Christ's work alone.

And if you want to refrain from pork and shellfish, go for it. But do not add to God's Word by saying that if we love Him, we too will do so. That is heresy.