Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Laying Down the Law - Be Ye Perfect
If you did not read the previous post in this series, I encourage you to not permit the opportunity to pass you by. Go back and read it carefully, for there is contained in it such profound truth regarding the tragic consequences of seeking to be guided by Law, that all Christians are advised to consider carefully what is written. To return to the previous post click here:
The Law of Moses does not contain the full substance of the mind, character, and will of the Father. These things are comprehended only by the Spirit.
I Corinthians 2:10-12
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. .. Now we have received... the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
The Law was given by God to His people UNTIL that which is perfect should come. The Law was an interim measure that fulfilled the purposes of God. The Law revealed to men their lack of spiritual life. It showed men their need of a Savior. Through its types and shadows it pointed to the redemptive work of Christ. The Law was not the redemptive work itself. It was not a means to attain righteousness, and it did not fully disclose the will of the Father. The Law could not make men perfect.
For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
In the previous chapter I gave an example of one area of the Old Testament Law, revealing it to be a shadow of life in Christ. This area was tithing. The Law required that men give to Yahweh a tithe of all their increase. In Christ, men are brought to give to Yahweh EVERYTHING.
‘So, then, every one of you who doth not take leave of all that he himself hath, is not able to be my disciple.’
[Young’s Literal Translation]
I Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price...
For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Christ’s life, death and resurrection accomplished the desire of the Father. Through Christ, Yahweh obtained for Himself a people who would fully become His possession. This possession is not in part, as under the Law of Moses, but in whole. A man could be partaker of the Mosaic Covenant and give to God a tithe, but no man can be Christ’s disciple apart from giving up all he possesses.
Consider this pattern of shadow and substance in another Law, that of Sabbath rest. The Law of Moses required all of God’s people to rest one day of the week, and to perform no laborious work in it. The substance that the Christian is called to walk in is far more substantial. The substance of Sabbath rest is realized as a man ceases entirely from all works that arise from his soul.
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest...
This Sabbath rest was first revealed to the world through the life of Yahshua. No man prior to Christ ever walked in the substance of Sabbath rest. Yahshua demonstrated true Sabbath rest in the following words:
"I can do NOTHING on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
So Yahshua said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do NOTHING on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father instructed Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I ALWAYS do the things that are pleasing to Him."
Christ had entered so fully into the will of His Father that there was no action in His life that was initiated from within His own soul. He did not even speak a word of His own initiative. He only spoke those things the Father commanded Him to speak.
People of God, this is the difference between the shadow of the Law and the substance found in Christ. The Law truly made nothing perfect, but in Christ perfection is attained.
There are many believers today who have written to me to declare how very zealous they are for observing the shadow of the Sabbath as found in the Law. My heart is burdened for them, knowing that as long as they focus on shadows they will never attain to the perfect will of God. Indeed, keeping the shadow affords them a sense of self-righteousness as they measure themselves against what was commanded by Moses. Their self-satisfaction keeps them from any serious consideration that there is anything more Yahweh would require of them. They fall far short of giving to Yahweh their entire lives, seven days a week, while testifying that they are pleasing to Him as they observe the shadows found in the Old Covenant. Most who are Sabbath Keepers have not comprehended that the Laws pertaining to Sabbath were given to lead men to the substance that is found in Christ.
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
The Father desires that men and women enter into that fulness of rest found in the life of Messiah. He wants His people to come to an end of all works that arise from their own souls. Yahweh wants His people to be able to declare with Christ, “I never (Not on Sabbath only) do anything of My own initiative. I always do the will of the Father.” Only this constitutes perfection. Only this rises to the fulness of the stature of Christ.
To understand the substance of Sabbath rest to which the shadows of the Old Testament point, I recommend the book Sabbath that can be found here:
The Scriptures testify that God is at work in the saints to conform them to the image of Christ. We are to live as He lived. Yahshua’s testimony is to become our testimony. The apostle Paul comprehended this, and stated it plainly.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me...
Yahshua testified that the Law did not bring men to perfection. He stated that men must go beyond the Law to attain to the righteousness of His Father. We have observed this already in the tithe and in regard to Sabbath rest. Let us look now at some other Laws.
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.”
The command to not commit murder is found in the ten commandments. Has a man attained to the righteousness of God if he refrains from murdering another? Absolutely not. Yahweh judges the heart. Do you harbor unforgiveness, or secret hatred, or envy, or jealousy, toward a brother? If so, you have violated the righteousness of God.
Psalms 51:6, 10
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom... Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Christ demonstrated a harmony between the outward action and the inner heart condition. He was truly the Lamb without spot or blemish. He was and is altogether beautiful and without defect. His heart is pure. He desires that our inner life be perfect and that it accord with our outward actions. After revealing that the righteousness of God goes beyond the letter of the Law in its prohibition against murder, Christ passes on to other Laws.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
“Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
“You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.”
“You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven... THEREFORE YOU SHALL BE PERFECT, JUST AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT.”
Observe how Christ goes beyond the shadow of the Law in every instance. He reveals that the righteousness of God is much fuller, richer, and substantial. What is extremely revelatory is how Yahshua closes this subject. He declares that we are to be PERFECT as our heavenly Father is PERFECT.
In these words Yahshua reveals that keeping the letter of the Law will not make any man perfect. Man must go beyond the shadow of God’s righteousness contained in the Law, and enter into the fulness to be realized as we become partakers of the divine nature.
You who want to be under the Law, do you not perceive that the Law is an imperfect revelation of our heavenly Father? If it is the Law which guides you, you will fall short of attaining to the perfection found only in Christ.
Not only is the Law weak and deficient in revealing the righteousness of God, it is also inadequate to reveal the WILL of God for His people. The Law speaks in generalities, but the Spirit guides men with great specificity. The Law could not reveal to Christ that the Father would have Him begin His ministry by fasting for forty days in the wilderness, but the Spirit was quite adequate to do so. The Law could not disclose to Yahshua the twelve men who were to be His closest disciples, yet the Father had in mind specific individuals.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.”
Christ did not choose men of His own initiative to be His disciples. He looked to the Father to know who were the ones the Father had selected. Yahweh is the source and originator of all things. Christ’s head is God (I Corinthians 11). Yahshua was always careful to do that which He saw His Father doing.
The Law is inadequate as a guide to reveal to the saints the will of Yahweh. The Law was given as an imperfect, yet necessary, guide to men until the Spirit of God should be given to indwell them. Since that time all those who are “in Christ” have been called to be led of the Spirit to discover the will of the Father for them.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Those Christians who have adopted the Law, or some moral code specific to their church or denomination, as their guide for living will fail to look to the Spirit to guide their steps. The reality of life among the majority of Christians today is that they are guided by the moral code they have adopted. It is an exceptional event for them to be guided by the Spirit. Consequently, the body of Christ remains immature, fleshly, and nothing is brought to perfection.
Surrendering to be led of the Spirit is a frightening prospect to the soul of man. The Law permits men to maintain a degree of control over their lives. They may give to God a tithe of their time and money, but the rest is at their own disposal. Not so for those who walk after the pattern of Christ. They must go wherever the Spirit leads and do whatever the Spirit commands. Their lives are not their own. There will certainly be many experiences the Spirit leads them to that their soul would not have chosen.
In Gethsemane Christ stated, “My soul is crushed as unto death.” It was the Spirit, not the Law, that directed Yahshua to Gethsemane and the cross of Calvary. All who surrender to be led of the Spirit will be led to a cross. It is the ONLY pathway to the perfection Yahweh desires for His sons. Christ was perfected through suffering, and so too must we be perfected. This is why Christ told the rich young ruler, “If you would be perfect, take up your cross and follow Me.”
As Christ was led of the Spirit, so too must be His disciples. As He took up His cross at the direction of the Spirit of God, so too must we. Clinging to the Law, men are able to make a good showing in the flesh while avoiding the suffering of the cross. This may seem like a good bargain in this age, but in the age to come there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth among all who have fallen short of the perfect will of the Father.
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