Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laying Down the Law - Toward a Perfect Man

Matthew 5:48
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Colossians 1:28
[Christ] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Yahshua.

Hebrews 7:18-19
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...

Both Christ and His apostles stated that the goal of their labor was to present men perfect before Yahweh. The time had arrived for man to move past childhood into maturity. In pursuit of this goal, a new, far more capable, instrument needed to be employed. The Law could make no man perfect. At its best, it contained only a shadow of the righteousness of God and His plan for mankind. The Law needed to be replaced by that which was perfect, and which had the power to present man perfect.

Christ appeared at a time when the people of God had experienced only an imperfect revelation of the Father. They had never seen God in the flesh. They had only the shadow of the Law, and it was subject to misinterpretation. When Christ appeared, mankind had revealed before them for the first time a perfect representation of God.

Hebrews 1:3
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

The Law did not contain “the exact representation of [God’s] nature.” Neither did the Law contain the power to make men perfect. The Law was weak. It was necessary for Yahweh to replace the Law with that which was perfect and powerful, for the time had come for men to progress past childhood to perfection.

Romans 7:4
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

God the Father was looking for the mature fruit of sons in His own image and likeness. The Law could not produce this fruit. Therefore, at the precise moment ordained by God, mankind was joined to the One who could make men perfect.

Christ, in His person, is the perfect image of the Father. Because Yahshua is an “an exact representation of [God’s] nature,” He is able to show the Father’s nature fully, and perfectly to man. When Christ sent forth His Spirit to indwell man, the power to become perfect was given to men. The Spirit of Christ residing in man provides the power to accomplish God’s purpose.

Romans 8:11
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yahshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Yahweh’s purpose is to have mature, perfected sons. His instrument to produce these sons is the Spirit of Christ. That which was weak and a mere shadow, has been replaced by that which is powerful and an exact representation of God’s nature.

In their infancy, the people of God were given a tutor and schoolmaster to guide them. The tutor was not capable of making men perfect. It could only guard men during their infancy until the time came to deliver them into the hands of the One who could make them perfect.

Galatians 4:4-5
But when the fulness 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.

“The adoption as sons” is a reference to being judged as mature, having the character of the Father formed in the child. When the Father’s character is observed to be replicated in the child, the child is adopted. He rises from the rank of a child under tutors, to a son who is given authority and liberty.

Paul is declaring that “when the fulness of the time came,” for mature sons of Yahweh to be manifested, He sent forth His Son. Yahshua was “born of a woman, born under the Law” which signifies that He is the transitional point. He arose among those who were children, but He progressed onto maturity that He might lead others to this same maturity. Christ had to learn obedience and be perfected as a son (Hebrews 5:8). He grew up among a people who were disobedient and forever stuck in adolescence. Yahshua was the first to receive the commendation from Yahweh that He was a well pleasing son.

Matthew 3:17
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Throughout the course of His ministry on earth Yahshua never did any work, or spoke any word, of His own initiative. He was a perfect Son, with a perfect heart. He was always observing the Father and doing precisely what He saw the Father doing.

John 5:19-20
Then Yahshua answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does...”

If mankind is to also walk perfectly before the Father, he must have the same guide that Yahshua had. The Law cannot reveal to us what the Father’s will is for every action and word, but the Spirit can. It was the Spirit of God that guided Christ, and all who would be perfect must be guided by the same Spirit.

From the moment of Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, we read that He was led of the Spirit.

Luke 4:1
Then Yahshua, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit...

Luke 4:14
Then Yahshua returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee...

The Spirit both guided and empowered Christ, and He is given to perform the same functions for all those who are “in Christ.”

John 16:7-13
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. 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... I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth...

In these words, Yahshua discloses that the Spirit will perform the role of communicator and guide. Although Christ disclosed many things to His disciples during His ministry years, there was much they were not yet prepared to receive. The Spirit to be sent would disclose to them every thought of God at the appropriate time. Rather than having the Law as their guide, with priests, scribes and legions of lawyers as its administrators, Christ’s disciples would be taught directly by God through the Spirit.

I John 2:27
But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

In this role of communicator of the mind of God, the Spirit and the Law are seen in parallel roles. Indeed, what was seen in type and shadow in Moses and the Law is fulfilled in antitype and substance in Christ and the Spirit. Consider the following parallels.

During the ministry of Moses, when the Israelites wanted to know the mind of Yahweh, they would come and inquire of Moses.

Exodus 18:15-16
And Moses said to his father-in-law, "The people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws."

This same Moses, could not remain forever with the people in this role. Yahweh had Moses ascend Mount Sinai to meet with Him. Moses brought the Law down the mountain, leaving it with the people to serve as their instructor and guide for the next 1,500 years.

A parallel fulfillment is observed in the life of Christ. When Yahshua walked the earth, His disciples looked to Him much as the Israelites looked to Moses. Christ’s disciples approached Him that He might declare to them the mind of God and serve as their instructor.

Matthew 13:36
Then Yahshua sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

Matthew 15:15
Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Explain this parable to us."

Mark 4:10
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.

Christ also could not remain with His disciples in this role forever. It was better that He go away. So, even as Moses ascended the mountain and brought back the Law, Christ ascended to the Father and sent back the Spirit.

We have already seen the parallels and contrasts between these two events. When Moses brought back the Law 3,000 men died. When the Spirit was received on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 men were saved. In every way, the Spirit which has been given to indwell man is superior to the Law that Moses brought down from the mountain. The former work points to the latter which is far more substantial, able to make men perfect.

The Spirit of Christ goes far beyond instruction. The Spirit does more than serving as the voice of God to the saints. He is the source of all power. By virtue of the Spirit of Christ residing in man, the power that is needed to obey the Father and live a life as a pleasing son is finally realized.

Luke 24:49
Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."

Ephesians 3:20
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us...

People of God, it was necessary that the Law be instituted for a time until that perfect Tutor and Helper should come. We must be released from the former to be joined to the latter. The teacher and guide of man’s childhood must give way to the One who can present all men perfect in Christ.

The Law was given to restrain men who were slaves to sin and to point them to their Redeemer and Savior. Those who have been born of the Spirit of Christ are no longer slaves to sin. They were formerly dead spiritually, but in Christ they have been made alive. It is inappropriate for a spiritual man to be ruled by the tutor to the carnal man. The spiritual man needs a Helper that can bring him to perfection. The Law makes nothing perfect.

Having begun your life as a son of God by the Spirit, it is folly to believe that a return to a Law of fleshly ordinances will make one perfect.

Galatians 3:3
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Hebrews 9:9-10
For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies - physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
[New Living Translation]

The King James Bible calls the physical regulations of the Law “carnal ordinances.” The New King James and New American Standard describe them as “fleshly ordinances.” It is these regulations of the Law that Paul is referring to when he asks, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Paul declares that these fleshly ordinances were in effect, only “until a better system could be established.”

The King James speaks of these carnal ordinances being in effect until the “time of reformation.” The Darby Bible describes this time as “the time of setting things right.” The Douay-Rheims Bible similarly describes this occasion as “the time of correction.”

When Christ came, He set things right between God and man. He removed the enmity that existed between them, “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us...,having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). Christ brought “re-formation” to man by giving him a new heart and a new spirit. Men who experience the spirit birth truly become “new creatures” in Christ. Thus, the period of man’s probation under the Law is brought to a close, and a new era of life in the Spirit is initiated.

Although every member of Christ’s flock has the ability to hear His voice, and John has testified that the anointing (the Holy Spirit) teaches them all things, Yahshua has given ministers to the flock to help shepherd them.

Ephesians 4:11-14
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...

If the ministers are not equipping and edifying the saints, leading them “to a perfect man,” then they are not fulfilling their calling. Ministers who are leading people back to the Law are unwittingly leading them away from the Spirit who alone can make them perfect. A minister should emphasize the need of every saint to hear the voice of God themselves. He must impress upon those who are partakers of the Spirit their daily need to be surrendered to the direction of the Spirit in all their actions and words.

Romans 8:14
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

The tragic effect of embracing the Law as one’s guide and instructor to know what the Father would have men to do, is that the saints fail to seek the mind of the Spirit. Believing the mind of God can be ascertained in the Law, they see no need to look for it elsewhere. Those who look to the Law as their guide will remain in perpetual childhood. If we would be perfect, we must walk as Christ walked.

Matthew 19:21
Yahshua said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

There is no other path to perfection as a son of God than to be led and empowered by the Spirit of Christ. The saints must accept no substitute for the Spirit led life. Moses and the Law could make no man perfect. Being led by one’s soul will not lead to the Father’s will. Only a Spirit led life can bring the saint to the fulness of the stature that belongs to Christ.

All who would be perfect must lay aside the Law and be joined to another, even to He who was raised from the dead.

Romans 7:6
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.

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