Christianity 201

February 14, 2016

God’s Commands: More on The 613 Commandments

Today’s post by Russell Young is a response to the February 3rd post, The 613 Commandments.


ten_commandments

There seems to be a great deal of confusion over whether or not the believer needs to obey God’s commands. This should not be so because the Word is quite clear if it is examined.

The Lord said that He did not come “to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) Therefore, they still have relevance; HOWEVER, Christ came to fulfill them. It is the manner in which He fulfills them that has brought on so much confusion. He said, “Anyone who breaks the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

The manner in which the Lord accomplishes the Law and the Prophets is important. It is often accepted that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross provides one’s eternal salvation but this is not so. The writer of Hebrews has recorded: “For this reason [to cleanse our moral consciences from acts that lead to death] Christ became the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may [not will] receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he had died as a ransom to set the free from the sins that they had committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15, NIV) Accordingly, the sacrifice of Christ relieved the believer from the consequences of the sins that he had committed while under the first (Old) covenant and became the mediator of a new covenant.

The Lord’s “mediation” is not by words only, it is by His life. Paul wrote of a “mystery” that had been kept hidden and was now being revealed and that mystery is “Christ in you [the Holy Spirit], the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) The Christ who had lived a sinless life in the body that the Father had prepared for Him in the womb of Mary is the same Christ who is prepared, if obeyed, to live a sinless life in the body of the believer. The ONLY passage that references “eternal salvation” states that it comes through obedience. “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9, NIV) It is common to mistake the need for obedience as an issue of “works” while it is really faith in practice.

To further understand the means in which the Law and the Prophets are being fulfilled, Paul wrote: “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 8:3-4, NIV) That is, Christ is prepared to met the righteous requirements of the law in us. He was victorious in the flesh of Jesus and He will be victorious in the believer but it does demand obedience. His ministry must not be seen as having been completed; He is living personally and intimately in all of those who have confessed His lordship. (Romans 5:9-10)

Are we under the law? Absolutely NOT! We are now servants to Christ however, and are under His lordship. How does this satisfy the law? His convicting work though one’s conscience will lead him to avoid sin or to repent and confess it when sin occurs. What a wonderful Saviour! What a wonderful God! What personal love!

It is those who are led by the Spirit who are NOT under the law. (Galatians 5:18) It is those who are led by the Spirit who are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) And, it is those who are led by the Spirit who will reap eternal life. (Galatians 5:7) The Law and the Prophets must be fulfilled, but it will be accomplished by Christ in one. Paul taught that you are to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) and that he was given “the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:16)

Those who reject His leadership will suffer judgement for their rebellion and disobedience in light of His provision, starting with the household of God. The One who is in the believer will be his Judge.

The law must be completed but the Spirit enlightens, leads and empowers the obedient for its accomplishment. The believer need not walk around under the oppression of the law because Christ will satisfy it for the obedient. As Paul has recorded, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6, NIV)

Doesn’t this make your heart rejoice?

 

February 3, 2016

The 613 Commandments

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a wild ride today!

I always enjoy returning to K.W. Leslie’s blog, but this time around the blog has a new name, The Christ Almighty Blog, and a new location. Clicking the title below will take you to the site, and you’ll want to click through today because we’re only bringing you half of the article, the rest is a list of all 613 commandments!

What, you thought there were only 10 commandments?

ten_commandmentsGod’s 613 commands, and how Christians treat them.

Most Christians are familiar with the fact there are 10 commandments. Ex 20.1-17 Not so familiar with the actual 10 commands, but we do tend to know there are 10 of them, and it wouldn’t hurt to live by them. In fact the politically-minded among us think it’d be a good idea for the whole of the United States to live by them… although it’s a bit of a puzzler how we might simultaneously enforce “You’ll have no other gods before me” Ex 20.3 and “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Amendment 1

Some of us have also heard the idea there are 12 commandments. Where’d the extra two come from? Well, someone once asked Jesus his opinion on the greatest command.

Mark 12.28-31 KWL
28 One of the scribes was standing there listening to the discussion.
Recognizing how well Jesus answered the Sadducees, he asked him,
“Which command is first of all?” 29 Jesus gave this answer:
“First is, ‘Listen Israel: Our god is the Lord. The Lord is One.
30 You must love your Lord God with all your heart, life, purpose, and might.’ Dt 6.4-5
Second is, ‘Love your neighbor like yourself.’ Lv 19.18
No command is higher than these.”

Since these two commands aren’t among the 10, certain Christians tack ’em on at the end.

But there’s far from just 12 commands. There’s 613.

Technically there are even more than 613. But when you combine redundant commands—namely all the commands repeated in Deuteronomy, like the 10 commandments Dt 5.1-21 —you get 613 of them. Or at least that was the conclusion of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon of Spain (1135-1204, also called Maimonides by westerners, Rambam by Jews). Moshe listed them in his book Sefer Hamitzvot/“Book of Good Deeds.” He had slightly different priorities than Jesus, which is why he put loving God at 3 and 4 in his list, and loving neighbors at 13.

These commands are mostly for everyone. There are many priest-specific commands, which don’t apply to the general population. (Although Pharisees customarily practiced ’em anyway, figuring all Jews ought to be as ritually clean as priests.) There are also many gender-specific commands, which apply to men and not women, or women and not men.

And let’s be honest: There is a double standard in the Law. Women and men may be equal in Christ, Ga 3.28 but not under Law. Fr’instance there’s a test for a wife’s faithfulness, Nu 5.11-30 but no such thing for husbands. ’Cause under patriarchy, men could have sex with any woman in their household. The Law abolished many of patriarchy’s customs—no they couldn’t have sex with just anyone they wished. But though abolishing patriarchy was God’s goal—with men in leadership or service practicing monogamy 1Ti 3.2, 12 and loving their wives like Christ loves his church Ep 5.25 —he didn’t do it outright in his Law. Though certainly the test of a wife’s faithfulness under the Law is considerably better than the previous patriarchal custom: Kills her without any trial. Ge 38.24

How Christians see the Law.

Christians are of three minds when it comes to following the Law. And some of us are of multiple minds: Sometimes we follow one of these practices, and sometimes another, depending on when it’s convenient or advantageous.

  1. Fulfilled. The most common belief you’ll find among Christian theologians is there are three types of commands:
    1. Moral, defining right and wrong. They always apply.
    2. Ritual, defining the religious practices of ancient Israel and ritual cleanliness. In his self-sacrifice, Jesus rendered them irrelevant: We don’t need to sacrifice animals and grain anymore, or practice ritual cleanliness. (In fact, doing so indicates we don’t really believe in what Jesus did for us.)
    3. Judicial, defining the civic society of ancient Israel. They apply to Israelis, not gentiles. Gentile Christians should study them, since they describe God’s will and justice, and adopt their principles in our cultures. But obedience isn’t mandatory; just recommended.
  2. Abolished. The most common belief you’ll find among Christian non-theologians (i.e. everybody else) is every command, of every sort, has been abolished altogether. Except maybe the 12 commandments, and the commands against homosexual stuff, and anything else we’d kinda like to apply. But in general Jesus wiped out sin, freed us from the Law, and we’re no longer under it. We’re totally, absolutely free, to do what we want, any old time. (Scholars call these folks antinomians. Jesus just calls ’em lawless. Mt 23.28)
  3. Advisory. Certain Christian libertarians agree with the antinomians: Every command was abolished, and we needn’t do them. But same as with the judicial commands, the Law still describes God’s will and justice, and they’re a good guideline, a good set of principles to live by. In that spirit, we should adopt those principles as our lifestyle. (But not enforce them on others. ’Cause grace.)
  4. Applicable. Jesus, because he’s the LORD who handed down the Law in the first place—it’s his Law—didn’t abolish any of it. He simply affirmed some issues in the Law are more important, and some issues are less important. Use your head, but follow the Law.
  5. Semi-applicable. Among certain Christian legalists, you’ll find the position that Jesus fulfilled the ritual commands, which no longer apply; but all the others do apply. (They’ll even include some of the cleanliness rules.) Further, these laws ought to become the law of the land.
  6. Applicable to Jews. If you’re a Jew, the Law still applies, ’cause God’s covenant with Israel is an everlasting one. If you’re gentile (like me), we’re not obligated to follow any commands other than the ones God applies to all humanity, as told to Noah:
Genesis 9.1-7 KWL
1 God blessed Noah and his sons.
He told them, “Bear fruit. Be many. Fill the earth.
2 Respect for you, and terror of you, is upon every beast of the earth, bird of the skies;
upon everything which crawls in the dirt, every fish in the sea. They’re put in your hand.
3 Every moving, living thing is for you,
for food like the plants I gave you. All for you.
4 Only don’t eat living meat, or blood.
5 I only demand from your hand your blood, your lives.
I demand it of every living thing; I demand it of humanity.
I demand the life of humanity from your and your brother’s hand.
6 One who spills human blood: Their blood will be spilled by humanity.
For God made humanity in God’s image.
7 And you: Bear fruit. Be many.
Swarm the earth. Be many in it.”

From this, they extrapolate “seven Noahide commands”: Don’t deny God, blaspheme God, murder, have illicit sex, steal, eat live animals; and create a justice system to ensure people follow the above. If gentiles do this, they’re fine with God. This is also called a dual-covenant system, and appears to be what the early Christians endorsed. Ac 15.19-21

My own view? The historic fulfilled view: Moral commands count, judicial commands ought to be taken seriously, and ritual commands are moot.

But the danger of all commands is when we try to follow them without taking God’s character into mind—without his love, grace, patience, and forgiveness. When people sin against you, forgive. Lk 17.3-4 Too many Christians “forgive,” but try to exact penalties from people for sinning, and obligate people to earn back their good graces. That may be fine for civic authorities, but wholly inappropriate for Christians.

>>Click here and scroll down to read all 613 commands.