Thursday, January 20, 2011
Laying Down the Law - A New Spirit
I will continue to lay a foundation of understanding, before proceeding to address specific arguments that advocate the continuance of the Law. Rightly dividing the word of God will be much easier for those who first have gained an understanding of the role of the Law in Yahweh’s plan of the ages.
Knowledge comes easily to those with understanding.
It has been Yahweh’s desire from the beginning of man’s creation to bring forth beings in His image and likeness. Yahweh desires to have mature sons who are partakers of the divine nature.
II Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
It was never the Father’s vision to perpetually restrain carnal, sinful men with an external Law. Even as the Biblical day begins in darkness and progresses to light, so too it has been the Father’s will for men, who were born in a spiritually darkened condition, to experience the dawning of His own divine nature within them.
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.
Christians, not understanding or reckoning on the radical changes that occur in a life when the Spirit of Christ causes a man or woman to be born again, often continue on as if they are still sinful creatures that must be restrained by Law. They are like a bankrupt pauper who is suddenly given a vast fortune. Not really believing he can draw on the wealth now held in bank accounts in his name, he continues to live in poverty. His life continues on as if nothing substantial has occurred.
In a similar way, many Christians do not reckon on the truth that Christ working in them has set them free from the power of sin. They continue to see themselves as sinners who need an external Law to guide and restrain them. The focus in a great many churches today is upon Christ’s atoning work. Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed with near exclusivity. That Christ has gone far beyond this and set men free from their slavery to sin, and has given them a new spirit and a new heart, is seldom proclaimed, or understood.
What God has done for man through Christ is revealed in type through the experiences of Israel under Moses. For centuries the descendants of Abraham had been slaves in Egypt. This stands as a type and shadow of mankind being slaves to sin while living in this world. The Israelites had over them cruel taskmasters. Similarly, sin is a cruel taskmaster. It drives men to actions that they would not otherwise do. Men who were created to be the image and likeness of God find themselves compelled to do the very things their conscience condemns.
For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do... For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me... I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Sin is a cruel taskmaster. Like Pharaoh, it enslaves men, refusing to let him go. As often as an Adamic man may tell sin to relinquish its hold and let him depart to go worship God, it will refuse. Sin’s power cannot be broken by any human effort. This leaves all men in that state of misery described of those Israelites who were in bondage in Egypt. They were groaning and crying out due to their harsh servitude. Similarly, the apostle Paul exclaims:
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
The answer comes in his very next words.
I thank God - (He has) - through Yahshua Christ our Lord!
This deliverance from sin’s slavery is signified in the historical account of Israel’s departure from Egypt. On the night they departed and gained their freedom, every household of Israel took the blood of a lamb and put it on the doorposts and lintel of their home. When the death angel came that night he “passed over” every home upon which the blood of the lamb was found. In every home in Egypt where the blood was not applied, the firstborn son died.
Sin’s power had been broken by the blood of the lamb. Pharaoh arose in the night, found his son and every other firstborn of Egypt dead, and gave permission to the children of Israel to depart at once. Christ has set man free. This freedom is difficult to comprehend by those who have only known slavery to sin all their lives. This too is patterned in the experience of Israel.
Departing from Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness until they came to the Red Sea. Pharaoh arose with all his army and pursued Israel, intending to take them back into captivity. Behold what occurred.
Exodus 14:13-14, 19-20
And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of Yahweh, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. Yahweh will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace..." And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
Hallelujah! Yahweh would not grant Pharaoh authority to take those set free by the blood of the lamb back into slavery. “He whom the Son sets free shall be free indeed!” (John 8:36).
Observe, however, the reaction of God’s people. They have not perceived, or fully embraced, the grace and power of Yahweh working on their behalf. They doubt the goodness of the One who delivered them, believing that they are powerless to resist a return to their former life.
And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to Yahweh. Then they said to Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness."
This same struggle is faced by all those who have been set free from sin’s bondage through the blood of the Lamb. Having known only unrelenting slavery to sin, having been cruelly treated by this dominant taskmaster, it is difficult to comprehend that sin no longer has any power over the child of God. By faith we must enter into the freedom that has been purchased for us. We must reckon those things true that God has declared accomplished through the blood of Christ.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Yahshua our Lord.
There is yet more to what God does in accomplishing for us this great salvation. Understanding the types and shadows of what the Israelites experienced will help us to perceive that which Christ has accomplished for us. The experience of Israel was given as a type of us, the saints of God in Christ.
I Corinthians 10:11
And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come...
[Young’s Literal Translation]
Consider the threefold manner in which salvation is revealed through the experience of Israel.
First comes faith. Only those who believed the testimony of Moses, that the blood of a lamb would deliver them from the power of death, were obedient to put the blood on their doorways. Similarly, we must believe that the blood of Christ will deliver us from the sentence of death incurred through sin. We must take His shed blood unto ourselves, believing that it has made atonement for our sin.
Secondly, the Israelites experienced baptism into Moses in the Red Sea.
I Corinthians 10:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea...
Moses in this instance is a type of Christ.
“This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, 'Yahweh your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.'”
The prophet like unto Moses referenced here is Christ. Moses instructed the people to place the blood of the lamb on their doorways. Similarly, Yahshua gives us His blood that we might be passed over by death. The people were baptized into Moses, the Law-giver, in the Red Sea. Similarly, we are to be baptized upon confessing faith in Christ to symbolize our union with the Son of God. Consider the richness of the following words of the apostle Paul and what they mean for those who are baptized into Christ.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Yahshua were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Yahshua our Lord.
When Moses led the children of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea, Yahweh was signifying that their old life of slavery had come to an end. The same waters that provided a path of escape to the people of God brought an end to Pharaoh and his armies. So too, when we are baptized into Christ, we have a path of escape from a life of bondage to sin opened up to us. At the same time, the power of sin to hold us captive is cut off.
However, we must not stop there. There is yet a third part to this work of salvation. We are delivered from the rule and authority of sin over our lives when we are united to Christ, but we must take Another to be our ruler and authority. We have been freed from one master who offered us only death in payment for our labors. We must be joined to another Master who will pay us with eternal life. If we stop short of coming under the rule of Yahweh after having been freed from sin, we are lawless.
This then is the third aspect of salvation that is signified in the life of Moses. Moses brought the people of God under the rule of Yahweh by establishing between the two parties the covenant of Law. We have a Savior today, a prophet like unto Moses, who also brings us under the rule of Yahweh. He does not accomplish this through a covenant of Law. He does it by the far surpassing means of joining us to the Father by the Spirit. Yahshua makes the rule of God in our lives an inner work.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
People of God, do not make the mistake of thinking that Yahshua fulfilled this prophecy of Ezekiel by inscribing the Laws delivered to Moses upon the heart of man. Many are teaching today, from these words of Ezekiel, or similar ones found in Jeremiah.
"But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares Yahweh, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
What is spoken here employs the shadow of the Law to reference that much fuller work accomplished in Christ. Every type and shadow we find in Moses has a much fuller, richer, more substantial fulfillment in Christ.
Yahshua does not bring us under the rule of Yahweh by taking a copy of the Law of Moses and placing it in our hearts. He does something profoundly greater. He takes the very heart and mind of the Father and reproduces them inside of those born of the Spirit. That new spirit part of our being that is received at the new birth yearns always, and only, to know the will of the Father and to do it. The mind and thoughts of God are communicated to us by means of the Spirit of God communicating with the spirit birthed in us.
I Corinthians 2:11-16
For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
The Law contains only a shadow of the good things to come. The fulfillment, the substance to which the Law points, is vastly fuller.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things...
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
It is a great mistake to believe that the substance realized in Christ is merely a copy of the shadow. When I stand outside in the sunlight, my body casts a shadow. Suppose I was to capture that shadow and give it to someone. They would be able to tell some things about me, but their knowledge of me would be incomplete.
Suppose then I was able to give the person my very own being. Imagine even that I was able to take my heart (passions, motives and desires) and my thoughts, and place them inside the individual. This is what Yahshua accomplished when He sent forth His Spirit to indwell man. Yahshua made it possible for mankind to be partakers of the divine nature, to know the thoughts of God, and to experience His heart.
The Law presented to man a shadow of God’s thoughts and heart. It could not disclose Him intimately. To truly know Yahweh we must become partakers of the same Spirit.
People of God, the shadow was given until the substance realized in Christ should come. The Law still holds benefit, for much wisdom can be gained by studying its shadows. However, it no longer functions in its role as guide and restrainer to those in Christ. The saints have received something far superior, even the living and abiding Spirit of Christ dwelling in their members.
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