New Covenant Ways – BT12
Yet legalistic Christians insist on having many commandments
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Legalistic Christians don’t think trusting-relying-faith in Christ’s unconditional-love is enough! They want to hold onto something of the old covenant, like maybe the 10 commandments or least the 2 greatest commandments of “loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul” and “loving your neighbor as yourself” for “the whole Law is fulfilled by this one logos message” (a) or “all the other commandments are summed up in this logos message” (b), and furthermore “on these 2 commandments rely ALL the Law and the Prophets” (c). However, Jesus only briefly acknowledged and commented on these in answer to a lawyer’s trick question (d). He never taught them to His disciples! You cannot take verses out of their context to create doctrines! <Notes> a) Galatians 5:14, b) Romans 13:9-10, c) Matthew 22:40, d) Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28.
Christ sure didn’t come to preach “the Law and the Prophets” as “the kingdom of God that is near,” but that’s what some say by taking verses like these and Matthew 7:12’s teaching about the Golden Rule of “doing unto others as you would have them do to you – for this IS the Law and the Prophets” out of context! Paul’s citation above of “the whole Law is fulfilled by this one logos message” was to exhort stubborn Jewish-Christians to not use their newfound freedom from the OT Law to be nasty to each other. Paul’s citation above of “all the other commandments are summed up in this logos message” was only to prove to stubborn Jewish-Christians to stay out of debt to avoid conflict with civilians and arbitrating governing authorities. We know from all of Paul’s other very negative comments about the Law – see Logos Word of God – BT8, he would never endorse following any part of it, even such an easy commandment like the seal of circumcision (a), for “it is evident that absolutely in fact no one is justified or made/declared righteous before God by the Law” (b), “but through trusting-relying-faith in Jesus Christ” (c). <Notes> a) Galatians 5:3, b) Galatians 3:11, c) Galatians 2:16.
It is true James reminds his Jewish-Christian readers in James 2:8 that “loving your neighbor as yourself” is the “royal Law kata down-from/according-to scripture” and that “if you really do pleroo fulfill-to-completion” this Law, “you are doing well.” But the reason he is arguing this is because they are showing “partiality, [and by doing so] they are committing sin and thus are convicted by the Law as transgressors” (a). He isn’t saying this to Gentile-Christians, because the whole book is written ONLY to “the 12 tribes in the dispersion” (b)! This audience still prided themselves in the Law, so he uses this to his advantage. However, he reminds them it’s “all or nothing” – “for whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in just one point has been guilty of all of it” (c), so now by showing partiality they are nothing by Lawbreakers! Was his point to guilt them into following the whole Law? No! But to remind them that since they were completely free from it, having been shown mercy, they were then to show mercy on those perceived as not following the Law simply because they were poor, for many Jews believed poverty and trials proved you were a sinner under God’s judgment, just as Job’s friends thought of Job! We also know that James was biased toward the Jews, even being hypocritical as Peter was, fearing the Circumcision Party (d). Paul called Peter out as a hypocrite (e) and had no regard for the Circumcision Party (f). Protestant Reformer Martin Luther had good reasons for not including the Book of James in the NT canon, but it does help us see the struggles of Jewish-Christians understanding the freedom from the Law that the gospel logos message declares. It wasn’t a smooth transition in the Church. <Notes> a) James 2:9, b) James 1:1, c) James 2:10, d) Galatians 2:12, e) Galatians 2:11-14, f) Titus 1:10.
Much of James is written against such judgment of others, as he says now in James 2:12-13, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under ‘the Law of freedom.’ For judgment is without mercy to [singular] person who has shown no mercy (a). Mercy triumphs over judgment.” So James understands from a different perspective than Paul’s that “The Law of Christ,” which Paul says is “outside the [Mosaic] Law of God” (b), which is no-strings-attached, unearned, unmerited, undeserved “unconditional-love” for your brethren (c) based on Christ’s completely-different-in-kind NEW commandment (d), doesn’t “judge or condemn others but shows mercy, just like it was shown to you,” and like Paul says: “bears with one another’s burdens” (e). So James and Paul eventually come to the same conclusions. <Notes> a) cf. Matthew 6:15, 18:35, b) 1 Corinthians 9:21, c) 1 John 4:21, d) John 13:34, 15:12; 1 John 3:23 – see Logos Word of God – BT16, e) Galatians 6:2.
If you look up everything the NT says about “the Law of commandments” you will find that ALL of them have already been: “pleroo filled to completion, teleo fulfilled, accomplished, completed, finished, telos ended, violently put to death, nailed to the cross, katargeo nullified, abolished, set aside, done away with, parerchomai passed away, are no longer kurieuo inding-ruling-over, so we are no longer under the dominion of it, and freed from it, palaios/palaioo/palaiotes not just old, dated, or ancient in time, but also worn out by use, worse for wear, and obsolete, and aphanismos eminently to disappear/vanish.” The NT uses many words to say the same thing! There are absolutely NO old commandments left for any of us to DO!
However, legalistic Christians try to turn the New Covenant into hundreds of more entole official, universally binding commandments. For example, Christians Assemblies International lists 1050 NT commandments, Biblical Research Reports list 684, Patheos.com lists 800, and Stanmurrel.org lists 855. This is just crazy-like bondage! Paul would be screaming! They are guilty of “distorting the gospel logos message of Christ” (a), “proclaiming another Jesus . . . a different Spirit . . . a different gospel logos message” (b). Paul would scream: “Didn’t anybody really read what I wrote?” <Notes> a) Galatians 1:7, b) 2 Corinthians 11:4.
So many of Paul’s letters warn Jewish-Christians about being “taken captive by philosophy and empty deceit, kata down-from/according-to human traditions, kata down-from/according-to stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals, and not kata down-from/according-to Christ . . . enslaved to those things that by nature are not God . . . turning back to asthenes weak-worthless-beggarly-poor and/coupled ptochos beggarly-helpless-destitute stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals to be enslaved again – observing days, months, seasons, years, festivals, moons, Sabbaths, and regulations of foods, drink, etc. These are a shadow (a) of the things that were to come, but the substance/reality belongs to Christ. If with Christ you died to the stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals of the world, then why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations – ‘Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch’ – . . . human precepts and teaching? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom . . . but they are absolutely in fact of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (b). <Notes> a) skia: shade cast backward from an object, cf. Hebrews 8:5, 10:1, b) Colossians 2:8, 11, 14, 16-17, 20-23.
Paul isn’t talking to Gentile pagans, but to Jewish-Christians about spiritual “circumcision” (a) and the Law’s “record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands being cancelled, set aside by God by nailing it to Christ’s cross (b). The “food, drink, festival, new moon, and Sabbath” issues concerned Jewish-Christians being “judged” by Jews for not doing them anymore, because they are simply OT prophetic “shadows of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (c). Paul’s argument is that Christ, His logos gospel message, and His Spirit’s ministry are absolutely not part of anything that was already “in the world,” and that includes OT graphe scripture and the Jew’s expansion of it in the Oral Law or Traditions of the Elders. The “stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals of the world” including its Jewish religion are “a mere shadow of the reality of Christ that was to come!” Why in the world would Jewish-Christians want to go back to the shadows when they have the reality of Christ? Why in the world would Gentile-Christians today want to get involved with the shadows in the first place? <Notes> a) Colossians 2:11, b) v. 2:14, c) vv. 2:16-17.
Paul reminds Jewish-Christians in Galatians 4:1-2 that when they (he includes himself) were just Jews “under the Law,” they were then: “under epitropos household-guardians (a) and/coupled oikonomos household-managers (b) UNTIL the date set by the father (c).” <Notes> a) epitropos: household managers, esp. of minor children, b) oikonomos: household managers, overseers of finances and minor children – cf. paidagogos: ‘minor children school-escort guardian’ of Galatians 3:24, 25; 1 Corinthians 4:15, c) to receive their inheritance as mature sons.
“In the same way, we also, when we were [still] children, were enslaved to the stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals of the world. . . But NOW that you [as Jewish-Christians] have come to experientially, relationally ginosko know God . . . , how can you turn back again to the asthenes weak-worthless-beggarly-poor and/coupled ptochos beggarly-helpless-destitute stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals of the world (a) . . . whose slaves you want to be once more (a)?” (b). But remember, this guardianship was only supposed to be UNTIL the “children receive their inheritance as rightful heirs” and that before then, they are “still children no different from a slave/hired servant” (c). <Notes> a) again, he is including the Jewish religion they were “turning back to . . . to be once more slaves”, b) Galatians 4:2-9, c) Galatians 4:1, 5; Colossians 3:24.
The audience and context of these passages is NOT Gentile with their Gentile philosophies but particularly Jewish with their Jewish adherence to the OT commandments, even to their Oral Torah or Traditions of the Elders. Paul wrote this in 53-54 AD, long before the Jewish Wars dispersed the Jews. Paul had not yet turned to the Gentiles but was mostly preaching to Jews. This has to be true because Paul includes himself as once one of these “children” that needed to “grow up” from being “milk-fed” by the prophetic scriptures to become mature “sons in order to receive Christ’s inheritance” (a) – see also Logos Word of God – BT6. <Notes> a) Galatians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 3:2.
This same logos message was given to lapsing Jewish-Christians abound 63-64 AD right before the Jewish Wars dispersion who needed to “leave the stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals about the Messiah and go onto maturity” (a) contained in the OT prophetic scriptures (b), who were still “being un-skilled in the logos gospel message of [Christ’s] righteousness, since they are still a little child” (c). The book of Hebrews is full of one OT prophetic passage after another, likely the same ones that they were once converted as Jews by, because the writer is desperately trying to convince these Jewish-Christians to stick with Christ. Hebrews 6:1-2 details some of these specific stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamental doctrines: 1) turning from the dead-lifeless-useless works of the Law and instead trusting God (d), 2) the uselessness of ceremonial washings (e), 3) priesthood ordination by the laying on of hands (f), 4) the resurrection of the dead (g), which the Pharisees believed in but the Sadducees didn’t, and 5) the judgement of God which will now be by Christ. I’ve heard so many pastors bastardize this scripture because they don’t know the audience nor read things in context! Thus they try to apply these to Gentile-Christians. <Notes> a) Hebrews 6:1, b) “oracles of God”: Romans 3:2; Acts 7:38; 1 Peter 4:11, c) Hebrews 5:12-13, d) His plan through Christ, e) to cleanse them, now that they have Christ’s cleansing, f) useless now that they have Christ as their High Priest, g) Christ’s resurrection being the basis of our “blessed hope.”
Why are so many Christians so eager for more “milk” of the OT prophetic scriptures designed for Jewish conversion to Christ, when most Christians now are Gentiles? Why will they not move onto the “solid food for the grown-ups, for those who have had their sense-perception exercised-trained by constant practice to distinguish (a) good from evil” (b)? – see Least Among You – BT8. Why, like very young children do so many Christians need everything in black and white, learning by rote, even having their “chores” written down for them? That’s what scripture was! But the NT writers are saying, “Time to grow up!” The Lord told my wife: “Compared to hearing from Him prophetic-rhema words directly, using scripture to learn was like relying on a tricycle when He gave us the ability to fly!” <Notes> a) diakrisis: ‘judge through’ or discern, b) Hebrew 5:14.
As Christian musicians, do we want to be called a “legalistic Christian” because we hold onto any of the 613 commandments of the OT or create 100s or 1000s of more from the teachings of the NT, when the NT makes it crystal clear that there are NOW only 2 commandments of “definitively/wholly having trusting-relying-faith in the Son whom the Father has sent and/coupled ongoingly having unconditional-love for one another, just as Christ gave us this singular commandment” per 1 John 3:23 and so many other verses? The gospel logos message doesn’t include anything of this world’s religions, especially the OT one. By definition the New Covenant is completely-different-in-kind and superior, including NOTHING from before it. Everything part of the old covenant has been finished, nailed to the cross, abolished, and made obsolete. NOTHING carries forward. Christians are to be set completely free from the entire old covenant or Law, which makes up 97.4% of the OT – see Logos Word of God – BT5a, so “the scripture imprisons everything under sin.”
Only 2.6% of the prophetic ‘portion’ of scripture was used to convert Jews and once they were, they were to move past this “milk” to the “solid food of the discernment of the Holy Spirit” to then “determine good and evil” – the OT scriptures had then completely fulfilled their purpose for these Jews. The early Church didn’t even use these 600 verses for Gentiles because they had the Holy Spirit to teach them everything, “so they had absolutely in fact no need for any man teach them.” This “milk” and “abc fundamentals” were ONLY UNTIL Christ came and they could receive their inheritance of the Holy Spirit “One Teacher.” To go back to “the shadows, copies, figures, symbols, types, antitypes” that the OT was when you had “the substance and reality” was childish, foolish, and threatened to enslave them once again in the Law. No Gentile should even read the OT – it was designed for 1 purpose for the Jews and it was finished. Gentiles have absolutely NO need to be confused and brought into slavery of the Law, the very power of sin that multiplies sin. They have everything they need IN Christ and His Spirit.
Lord, thank You so much for freeing us as Gentiles from all graphe scripture. I know that You still use these 600 verses to convert Jews, but also You are winning them and so many Gentile by the Gospel logos message accompanied with demonstrable-proofs of signs, wonders, miracles, healings, and prophetic knowledge by the dynamite-enabling-power of the Holy Spirit. Thank You that through the blood of Christ and His Holy Spirit we have everything we need for righteousness, holiness, and godliness. We are free from gramma writings to learn about You, because NOW under the completely-different-in-kind NEW Covenant we are learning from You directly through eido mentally ‘seen’ to perceive knowledge just as You promised in Jeremiah 31:34.