Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Laying Down the Law - A Law For Stony Hearts
In the preceding chapter we looked at the unique environment Yahweh provided for the Law of Moses, an environment that no longer exists. In this post I want to look at a parallel theme. The Law of Moses was written for a specific type of man. Those who have been born again of the Spirit of Christ are no longer this type of man.
In the New Testament we find that there are two types of men who exist today. These are the natural man born of the first Adam, and the spiritual man born of the Last Adam.
I Corinthians 15:44-48
There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 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.
When the Law of Moses was delivered, there existed only one type of man on the earth. All men were earthy. Among the most common things that we find when we dig into the earth are stones. This is also what we find when we look inside the natural man. In the soil of his flesh there resides a stony heart.
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh...
When we study the Scriptures as a faithful workman, rightly dividing the Word of God, we discover that the Law of Moses was written for men with stony hearts.
I Timothy 1:8-10
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, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine...
Paul declares elsewhere that, although we all began our lives as slaves to sin, this is no longer our identity. It is altogether inappropriate to describe the new creature in Christ as lawless, insubordinate, ungodly, a sinner, unholy and profane. Such a description describes the life of all men before salvation in Christ, but not afterwards.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.
Before the creation was framed, or had fallen into corruption, Yahweh had a plan for the redemption of that creation. He determined that a span of 4,000 years would pass before He sent His Son to deliver men from their bondage to sin.
Until the Son of God should be sent forth as the Savior of the world, mankind would lack His Spirit and nature. Inwardly mankind would remain spiritually dead. They would be constantly going astray. Even men who were passionate for God, such as King David, would find their hearts leading them into great transgression. Until the day described as “the fulness of the time” arrived, Yahweh determined that these men of stony hearts should be placed under a guardian and instructor. This instructor was the Law.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ...
The Law that God delivered through His servant Moses to the children of Israel was perfectly suited for those to whom it was made. This is why David could declare the Law to be perfect.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul...
The Scriptures testify elsewhere that the Law of Moses was far from 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...
The Mosaic Law was perfectly suited for men of stony hearts, but it is altogether insufficient for spiritual men. It will lead no man to perfection. Because perfection was not the goal of the Mosaic Law, it could still be described as perfect within the parameters of the role for which it was created. The Law revealed to man his sinfulness, his spiritual deadness, and his need for a Savior. The Law led men with stony hearts to Christ that they might receive a new spirit and a new heart.
Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh...
It is Christ who makes men perfect.
Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Yahshua.
Christians who are returning to the Law as their guardian and instructor for living have failed to discern that the Law written for stony hearts is inadequate to lead them to perfection. A new Law is needed that will take men past childhood and on to spiritual maturity. It should come readily to mind that Christ has given His disciples a new Guide and Instructor to replace the old one. This Guide is the Holy Spirit.
It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment..., when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth...
Were these not the same functions the Law performed for men with stony hearts? The Hebrew word for Law is Torah. Torah means “Instruction.” Before men had the Spirit to dwell within them, they had to receive instruction from the Father from a source external to them. This was the Law written on tablets of stone.
What we have observed from a multitude of Scriptures, is that this external Law did not contain the fulness and substance of the mind of God. It only contained a shadow of His thoughts. There is One Who knows the complete mind of Yahweh. This is the Spirit.
I Corinthians 2:10-12
For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God...
Some Christians, in reading the words of the Old Testament prophets, conclude that, under the new covenant, Yahweh will take an exact copy of the Law delivered to Moses and write it on the hearts of men. This is great error. When Yahweh testifies that He will write His law on the hearts of men, He is speaking of that much fuller, richer, and substantial revelation of His being that can only be perceived through the Spirit.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Yahweh.
God is speaking here of placing His Spirit within man to serve as a Guide and Instructor. The Law communicated only a shadow of the mind of God, but the Spirit will reveal the substance. The apostle John refers to the passage above in one of his epistles.
I John 2:27
As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
The Spirit of Christ is the anointing. It is He that teaches us. The Spirit of Christ has become our Torah, Yahweh’s Instruction, written on our hearts.
Is the Old Testament still profitable for instruction? Of course it is! However, if we see only its shadows, and are content with them, the Old Testament will actually hinder the saint from advancing toward maturity in Christ.
This is a topic I have often raised with the people of God. We must move past the shadows of the Law to the substance found in Christ. One example I often give is found in the shadow of Sabbath rest found in the Old Testament. Many saints today declare themselves to be “Sabbath Keepers.” Yet they are doing nothing more than keeping the shadow. They have fallen short of entering into the substance of Sabbath rest. Yahweh will not be satisfied until His sons and daughters enter into the substance of Sabbath rest.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Christians can make a good showing in the flesh by not working one day a week, but they have not experienced Sabbath rest until they have ceased from their own works on a daily basis. The substance of Sabbath rest was observed in Christ. He testified repeatedly, “I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.”
People of God, please hear me! It is this SUBSTANCE of God’s will that He has now written on the hearts of men who have received the Spirit. God has not written the shadow of the Mosaic Law on man’s hearts. Why do men fail to perceive this? Because they are looking outwardly to the Law, rather than inwardly to the Spirit.
Consider also that there were things written in the Law of Moses that made concessions for man’s stony hearted condition. The Spirit, revealing the will of the Father in the hearts of the saints, makes no such concessions. The Spirit testifies as did Christ, “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What the Law of Moses permitted stony hearts to do, the Spirit will most definitely not lead the saint in Christ to do. Let me give you an example.
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."
These words of Christ reveal that the Law of Moses made allowances for men with stony hearts. Christ said that Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife “because of the hardness of your hearts.” Christ revealed that this ordinance contained in the Law does not constitute the perfect will of God. To arrive at the perfect will of Yahweh we have to go beyond the commandments of the Law.
Remember what the Scriptures declare. The Law made nothing perfect. God sent forth His Son so that men could be perfect. In the Sermon on the Mount, Yahshua repeatedly showed that the Law for stony hearts is insufficient to make men perfect. Christ, in delivering what has been called the Sermon on the Mount, said:
“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Just prior to this, He gave a list of commandments found in the Law of Moses, revealing how each one fell short of making men perfect. He then gave new instructions (Torah) that went beyond the shadow.
"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.”
"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.”
"Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all...”
"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...”
In some instances, Christ gave instructions that were diametrically opposed to the commandments found in the Law of Moses. The goal of Christ’s instruction is perfect men who bear the image of His Father. This was not the goal of the Law. I ask you then, “Is God going to write the Law of Moses on men’s hearts to make them perfect?” Absolutely not. There must be a change of Law.
For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.
In the next chapter we will look further at the distinctions between the old law, and the new.
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