Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Laying Down the Law - The Father's Plan
What is the Father’s ultimate thought in regard to mankind? We must answer this question if we are to perceive the Law’s role in the greater scheme of things. We can find the Father’s mind concerning man in the first chapter of the Bible.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
It was Yahweh’s vision to create a being that was His own image and likeness. This creature would be so conformed to His own character and being that He would call him “son,” and the creature would call Yahweh “Father.” Man was to be the exact likeness of the God who created him. We find this truth declared in the following passages of Scripture.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature...
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Combining the testimony of the above two passages of Scripture we receive the following revelation. Yahshua, the firstborn Son of God, is the exact representation of Yahweh’s nature. Yahshua declared this openly when He told Thomas, “How is it that you can say, ‘Show me the Father’? If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Furthermore, the Son of God stated, “I and the Father are One.”
The next passage of Scripture shared above reveals that it is the Father’s plan that mankind be conformed to the image of His Son. When this is accomplished, Yahshua will then stand as the firstborn among many brethren. This is the purpose of man’s creation and the whole thought of Yahweh regarding man. He desired sons in His own image and likeness. These sons are predestined to be perfect in their resemblance to His own holy and righteous character. They will one day share in His glory, the glory that is now the portion of Christ.
I John 3:2
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
It seems too fantastic to the minds of carnal men to embrace the truth of Yahweh’s plan for mankind. If Yahweh is the Holy God, then His seed must also be holy, and His seed must produce gods. Some would cry forth “blasphemy.” The religious did so when Christ made a similar statement, for Satan has worked tirelessly to steal from man the understanding of who God created man to be. Consider the following exchange between Yahshua and the Jewish religious leaders.
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Yahshua answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." Yahshua answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?”
One of the great difficulties in perceiving the purpose of Yahweh in creating man is that “it has not appeared as yet, what we will be.” Yahweh’s plan is one that is fulfilled over time. He has been carrying forth His master plan for the past 6,000 years since He first formed Adam in the Garden. God is at work in man to conform us to His own image, that same image observed in His Son. When His work is complete, there will stand with Christ many sons who are also the exact image and likeness of the Holy Creator God.
(For more on this subject I recommend the book Christ in You - The Hope of Glory. http://www.heart4god.ws/id660.htm)
The apostle Paul understood that this work of man coming into the full image and likeness of Christ, who is the exact representation of Yahweh, is a progressive work.
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you...
How much of Christ does the Father desire to be formed in mankind? Does He want us to resemble Christ only a little? Absolutely not!
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...
It is in failing to comprehend the truth of Yahweh’s plans for man to come forth as a perfect image and likeness of His own self that has caused such confusion regarding the Law. Yahweh does not need a Law to restrain Him. The Law is merely a reflection of His own innate holiness, justice and goodness. The Law was given to a chosen people who did not yet have His divine nature formed in them. None of those men, women and children who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai when the Law was given had yet been born of the Holy Spirit. They were living souls, but were not yet life-giving spirits. They were of the earth, earthy. They were not yet heavenly creatures in their innermost nature.
I Corinthians 15:45-49
So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
Paul acknowledges in these words once more that this conformity to the full stature of Christ is a progressive work. We become partakers of the divine nature when we are born of the Spirit, but we are not yet fully formed at that time.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Notice that John writes that when we receive Christ we are given the right “to become” children of God. The work is not complete when we receive the seed of Christ into our being. It is a work begun. A great transformation has occurred. Those who were formerly living souls have become spiritual beings. Those who were dead spiritually have been made alive. Those who were formerly slaves to the flesh and its sinful nature, were set free into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
From the moment of our spiritual birth we are to embark upon a transformation process. We are still as the caterpillar which is outwardly clothed in a fleshly body. There is a new nature inside, even that of the butterfly, yearning to be free and to be revealed as a heavenly being. Metamorphosis begins for the people of God at the moment they have implanted in them this new nature that must arise and come forth as a spiritual being.
II Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Consider now what the Scriptures testify concerning the role and purpose of the Law. When Yahweh chose for Himself a peculiar people from the earth to be His own, He had already determined that another 2,000 years would pass before this people would be given His Spirit to indwell them. As this people began to multiply and increase, He determined that something must be done in the interim. Until a Son should be sent who would impart His divine seed to mankind they needed a guardian and tutor to watch over them.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made...
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ...
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
Until the time appointed for man to become a partaker of the divine nature through the Spirit birth, God gave them the Law. Because man did not have the divine nature internally to produce in him the desire and the power to fulfill the Father’s desires, he needed something external to guide and restrain him.
When people do not accept divine guidance, they cast off restraint. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
Yahweh foresaw the day when He would place His Spirit in man. This Spirit would radically alter the very character of all who received Him. Those who were formerly slaves to the flesh with its passions and desires, would receive a new, holy, and more powerful part of their nature as the Spirit of Christ took up residence within them.
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
In placing His Spirit in man, those so transformed would find that a new life was now resident within them. It was a divine life. This life is produced by the holy, incorruptible seed of God. It is growing up into the full image and likeness of the Father.
This divine life resident in man would produce in Him the desire (to will) and the power (to do) the Father’s good and perfect pleasure. Such a man is truly a new creation. He has no need of an outward Law to restrain him, for the Spirit within ever yearns to do the will and pleasure of the Father.
It was necessary, until the Spirit was given, for those men who were devoid of spiritual life to be kept under the guardian of the Law. It would be chaos if such men were left unrestrained, for the sin nature would lead them to all manner of abominations. Therefore, Yahweh gave to Moses His Law.
The Law was given not only as a restraint upon men who lacked an inner conformity to Yahweh, it was given to expose this lack. The history of Israel under the Law reveals clearly that those ordinances delivered to Moses were incapable of transforming the nature of the men to whom they were given.
If a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
The best among the people fell woefully short of the righteousness of God. David was a man after God’s heart, but he committed adultery and murder. The Law presented a standard of righteousness that fallen man could not attain to. Paul testified to this aspect of the Law.
For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Paul writes here in the past tense. He is writing of his former experience before receiving the Spirit of Christ. This is evident by his describing himself as “carnal” and introducing the passage with the words “when we were in the flesh...” Those who are born of the Spirit are no longer carnal (flesh dominated) men, they are spiritual. God gave the law to unrighteous, carnal men, to reveal to them their inward condition. He wanted His people to understand that they lacked the inner image and likeness of God. They may desire to do well, but the power to perform it was not in them.
Yahweh wanted His people to understand that if they were to be judged according to their words and actions, they all stood condemned. They must all die.
For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one."
The wages of sin is death, for the word of God states “the soul that sins must die.” All men sin. If we say we have no sin we lie and the truth is not in us. All are therefore under the sentence of death. Yahweh wanted men to perceive this truth. Man desperately needed a Savior.
The church today focuses almost exclusively on one aspect of the work of the Savior; atonement. The church loves to speak of how sins have been forgiven through the sacrificial offering of Yahshua on the cross. Forgiveness and atonement are truly awesome works of grace, but they do not complete the work of salvation. Christ did not come merely to provide forgiveness for man’s sin. He came to set man free from the bondage of sin.
Yahshua answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
What the Scriptures testify is that the Law was given until the time appointed for man to receive the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Those who have received the Holy Spirit are new creations. They are born of righteous seed. The Law was not made for such as these.
I Timothy 1:8-9
But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane...
Do the words lawless, insubordinate, ungodly, sinners, unholy and profane describe Christ and His seed? No. The apostle states elsewhere:
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived... And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Yahshua and by the Spirit of our God.
The Law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person. Those who would place Christians under the dominion of the Law are employing the Law in an unlawful manner. They have failed to comprehend that truly radical transformation Yahshua has wrought in them. They still see themselves as carnal men who need a law to restrain them. They are not reckoning on the fact of their being a new creation in Christ.
A focus upon an external Law will lead men away from the discovery of Christ in them. Those who perceive Christ in them, those who are focused upon the divine life in their members which is producing the will and power to do the pleasure of the Father, need no external law. These are ruled by the Spirit, and gladly so. Such ones are not antinomian. They are not lawless. They are submitted freely to the rule of God through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
Special Note: Please pray for a brother and sister in Christ, Randy and Kathy Furman. They live in the Arizona desert and have water trucked into their property from a well. They have both experienced sickness this past year, and the Father recently revealed that it is due to arsenic in the ground water. This is not uncommon in the Southwest U.S.. They have another source for water that is filtered. Please pray for their recovery and the Father's grace in their lives
Also, my daughter Kristin is much better today. She slept for ten hours last night and returned to work today. She said she is feeling well, but a little tired from the ordeal. I imagine with the nausea she had that she has depleted the nutrients in her body and will need some time to build back up. Thank you for everyone who has lifted her up in prayer.
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