Grace, The Law & Tithing II
Last week we began talking about Grace, the law & Tithing. During that message I illustrated that the “curse” we have been redeemed from is not the Law, but the curse of being UNDER the LETTER of the Law for righteousness. Since then I was approached with the following question…
“What then IS the curse if it isn’t the Law itself”?
Good question! I actually addressed this last week, but if one person missed it, they are very likely not alone, so I will address it again.
Here is a brief answer before we continue on this week’s topic….
In the NKJV Gal. 3:10 reads,
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT CONTINUE IN ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO DO THEM.” “
The word “curse” is κατάρα katára; and it means to have evil evoked upon you.
So with this meaning being understood, the passage in Galatians would read something like this:
“whoever is a product of their own labors under the taskmaster of the Law have evil evoked upon them”
“whoever is born out of the labor of the Law have an evil declaration against them”
What does this mean?
Well, II Cor. 3:7,9 tells us that the Law was experienced as the covenant of death and condemnation. However, this is NOT because of any flaw in the Law. In fact, Paul said in another place that the was designed to minister LIFE, but that SUBJECTIVELY he (Paul) experienced death by the law due to the weakness of his flesh, which is consistent with everything else Paul teaches about the law.
“(9) Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life (10) and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. (11) For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.” ~ Rom 7:9-11
So is the law itself the curse? On the contrary Paul tells us that the Law IS the picture of perfection, it is the REQUIREMENTS for right behavior and standing before God – Rom. 8:4. It is holy, just and good – Rom. 7:12. Paul tells us that through the perfections of the Law it created, in fallen man, all manner of evil desire – Rom. 7:5-13.
By approaching mankind in a fallen state with sin, having entire lordship over his entire being – spirit , soul & body -the Law revealed to man that they “fell short” of godly perfection or of the “glory of God”. This created in man evil longings to either justify themselves by denying the relevance of God’s perfection to the way they lived their lives or by trying to better themselves, by trying harder to find a redemption outside of reliance upon the One who IS Perfection. This is the state of fallen man – the Law came so that sin might become evident even to sinners – Rom. 5:20.
There had to be a line drawn in the sand which demonstrated the goal of perfection – the same goal every Christian has today which is our great hope – the perfect state of “Christ in us” our expectation of glory. This is the very same glory that before coming to Christ we were falling short of but is now realized IN Christ as He lives His perfection through us as we habitually obey the inward guiding of the Holy Spirit. – Rom. 8:4
So the “curse” is the pronouncement of condemnation and death from living under and being a product of the letter of the Law NOT the law itself. The law CANNOT be holy, just, good, THE righteous requirement, a tutor which faithfully leads us to Christ AND be a curse at the same time!
Hopefully this answers the question of what the “curse” in Gal. 3:10 was, in reference to the Law of God.
As for this week, we are going to address the following question…
Did Jesus and the Apostles believe and teach that the New Covenant existed entirely independent from the Law or did they in fact use the law as the basis for New Testament doctrine?
Okay, it;s a big question, but one that is PARAMOUNT to our study!
To begin with I asked our church a probing question. The questions are in Red and the answers are in Green.
If we were to walk and talk and act like God who would that look like? Jesus
How did Jesus walk talk and act? Like His Father
If Jesus while under the Law, lived out the Law with perfection by the Spirit…what does that tell us? The Law is a picture of God’s character. It reveals how God would act if He were man.
John said that the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us as we beheld HIS GLORY, the glory as of the One born son of God FULL of GRACE and TRUTH!
Well, wait a minute – what “Word” became flesh? To John, the only inspired word in existence was the Old Testament!
Let’s look as a few scriptures lifted from Romans because the Roman Christians were predominately Gentiles and yet, Paul said that they “knew the Law” in Rom. 7:1.
In fact, this passage in Romans the 7th chapter is one which has been repetitively misunderstood, so this is where we will begin…
In Rom. 7:1-6
“Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 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.” ~ Rom. 7:1-6
He is saying here that at one time you were married to the law and therefore were “under” it’s authority even as a bride is under the authority of her husband (which is also a New Covenant truth – see Ephesians 5:24). After coming to faith in Christ however, you are now dead to that marital relationship to a list of rules (the law) which only told you ABOUT God. If you are in Christ, you are now actually married to God Himself! He also said that you were at one time a product of the law (using fruit as an analogy) but NOW you are married to God and through union with Him we bear fruit unto Him.
What does that say about our relationship to the Law – is it over or just different?
In verse 4 Paul says we have become dead to the law THAT you might be married to another. This verse is so often taken out of immediate and greater context of what Paul was saying. The death was a metaphorical death indicating a severance in the TYPE of relationship one has with the Law. Most people, even those labeled as “anti-law” will usually admit that “killing” or “stealing” are still wrong – therefore our entire relationship to the law as not severed, just the nature of our relationship has changed!
In fact, 2x’s in Romans alone Paul tells us that what we died to was NOT the Law but the LETTER of the Law – Rom. 2:29 & 7:6.
Another key passage is found in the very next chapter.
(3) For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
- Note that is was not the Law that was weak – it was my flesh that was weak.
- Note also that it was NOT the law that was condemned, but sin in the flesh – THE VERY SIN we would not even know was there if it were not for the law. – Rom. 7:7
(4) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- Notice that the Law is THE Righteous requirement not A righteous requirement but THE!
- Notice that the Righteous requirement is fulfill IN me NOT FOR ME and ONLY if I walk after the influence of the Holy Spirit.
- Another way of saying this is that once I am in Christ, the Holy Spirit will influence me to live the Law NOT FOR Righteousness, but because I HAVE righteousness!
(5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
(6) For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
- Notice that to think outside of the Holy Spirit’s influence is to thing and live carnally.
- To have a mind filled with the Spirit’s influence IS LIFE AND PEACE.
What is life and peace?
Life is defined by Christ Himself – John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.“
The word Peace is ειρήνη (eirēnē) and means two things which were at odds against each other brought into a state of agreement resulting in tranquility of soul.
If we are living carnal lives due to our minds being set on things other than the Holy Spirit, then we are in disagreement with God which results in being at odds with one another or as the next verse says it – enmity with Him.
(7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to THE law of God, nor indeed can be.
The word enmity means violent hostility. Our failure to submit to the Holy Spirit is seen by God as acting violently hostile against Him. A simple word search in James 4:5 tells us that the Holy Spirit craves possession of us and desires to control us. If we desire to control our own lives in any way we are acting with violent hostility against His purposes in our hearts and lives. However, IF we will submit to His inner promptings and loving guidance, we will find ourselves agreeing with Him and His Law and fulfilling all His good pleasure resulting in a soul peace we never dreamed was possible!
(8) So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
If we resist that influence we cannot please Him. One of the primary things with which God is pleased is trust (Heb. 11:6) – total reliance upon Him because we know Him intimately and trust what we know of Him. If we are seeking to fulfill our own good pleasure then we are demonstrating that we do NOT know Him for “every good gift and every perfect gift is from Him” and it never fails to “come down from the Father of Lights…etc.” If we really knew this and trusted it we would not resist. Perhaps this is better stated from the negative – to the degree that we seek our own fulfillment and identity apart from Him we do not know or really trust Him.
Another is in the next chapter…
(30-31) “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. ButIsrael, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.”
Are there two standards for righteousness? NO!
They were both aiming at the same goal, they were just seeking to obtain it by different means.
The LAW is the ONLY standard for righteousness. Let us be clear here – by righteousness we are not only talking about the condition or state of in our spirits, but our actions as well! Over and over and over the New Testament tells us that if a person IS righteous THEY WILL ACT THAT WAY. Works of righteousness are ALWAYS the fruit produced from Righteous people!
Let me be really bold and clear here – If you claim to BE righteous and yet consistently live in a manner that is contrary to God’s word, you are either deceived or a liar! IF YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS YOU WILL LIVE THAT WAY!!!!
Example: If a man and a woman claim to be right with God and yet decide to live together, engage in sexual intercourse and yet are NOT married they are living a lie!
But Pastor Mark, we love one another and we are engaged to BE married. Let me explain this to you – “Going to be married” is EXACTLY the same thing as NOT BEING MARRIED so it is SIN, plain and simple!
Consider the following passages:
Luke 6:43-44 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit…”
1Jn. 2:29 “If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of Him.”
1Jn. 3:7 “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.”
Rev 19:8 “it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
Back to Romans 9…
(32) “Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;”
- The Jew sought after righteousness by the works of the Law.
- The Gentile received the righteousness of the Law by faith.
(33) “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.”
- Trust – 100% total reliance upon Him, His finished work on the cross and through the grave and His completing that which He has BEGUN in us!
The last one we will look at in some detail is I Cor. 9:20-21,
(20) “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.”
- Paul came to those unbelieving Jews as though he were under the Law, even though he knew that in Christ he was no longer UNDER anything but grace!
(21) “To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.”
- Here Paul says that to the Gentiles (or those who were initially strangers to the law and therefore without or outside of the Law) he came as one without the Law.
The key here is that in both cases his coming to them was acting as IF something were true which was clearly NOT TRUE. This was not done in order to deceive, but to avoid an offense large enough to “block their ears from hearing” his words. I have no question that if asked, undoubtedly Paul would have told them where he stood on these subjects and in fact he eventually did just that. In any case, Paul is here saying that he is NOT under the Law, but neither is he OUTSIDE or WITHOUT the Law.
What is the Old Testament?
First let me clarify that there is a difference between the Old Testament and the Old Covenant. Christians are IN FACT no longer under the Old Covenant which was a method of obtaining a limited righteousness with God by and through animal sacrifice. The Old Testament was the entire account of God, Creation, His special people the Jews, the giving of the Law, the establishment of the Old Covenant with it’s provisions & requirements, and stories, stories & more stories of people’s lived the righteous requirements outlined in the 10 commandments and who lived under the Old Covenant. This is a foundational and easily misunderstood issue! We are free from the Old Covenant but NOT the Old Testament!
Now, the first record of the words “Old” and “New” in relation to the scriptures was by Melito of Sardis in the late second century (recorded in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 4.26.14). In his listing of the books of the Hebrew Scriptures, the first such list, he called the group of writings the “Old Covenant” (Greek: palaia diatheke). The Greek word for “covenant” (diatheke) was translated by Jerome in the fifth century into the Latin Vulgate astestamentum. Thus we have the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament written during and about the times when Israel was under the Old Covenant and is a collection of 39 writings which give expression to the entire gambit of literary styles in one way or another…
- historical narratives
- prophetic words and warnings
- songs & hymns
- personal memoirs
- parables (fiction)
- proverbs (wise sayings).
The New Testament claim of Paul concerning the Old Testament scriptures, is that it is inspired by God. This essentially means that the Old Testament is an accurate representation of the facts which God saw as necessary for man’s instruction in what God was like and what godliness looked like if lived out practically in one’s life.
2 Tim. 3:14-17
(14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
(15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
(17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The central point of morality finds its focus in the 10 commandments. This is so true that the rest of the scriptures (including those portions which were written about the time prior to the Law) are recorded in order to provide real life stories of these guiding principles…in action! Many Jewish scholars are in “general” agreement on the notion that the body of the Old Testament demonstrates, through the various literary styles listed above, 613 ways in which the 10 commandments are realized in every day life and in extraordinary circumstances*.
Free from the Old Testament Law!?
So, when the typical religiously Christian “liberal” talks about the Old Testament as the Law from which we were supposedly freed, what are they talking about?
Let’s take a look (this is a generality of most – not a stereo-type into which every liberal Christian fits):
- They rightly believe that we are free from obtaining Righteousness , Justification (Acts 13:39) & the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law. Therefore there is no need for animal sacrifice, ritualistic cleansings, ceremonies of purity or circumcision.
- They rightly believe that we are free from all types & shadows of the Old Covenant – New Moons, Feast days, Kosher foods, Sabbaths (though this is nearly always misunderstood because they do not know enough about the Old Testament to realize that when Paul mentioned our freedom from “Sabbaths” he was not talking about THE SABBATH which God sanctified as Holy on the 7th day of creation and therefore was not instituted by the Law but only mentioned in it. Paul was actually mentioning various occasions in the Jewish calendar which revolved around the Sabboth. These were called “special sabboths” and were associated with special Jewish holidays.)
- Most believe that the Ten Commandments are still righteous behaviors. They recognize that “killing”, “lying”, “stealing”…etc. are NOT acceptable behavior for one claiming intimacy with God.
- They wrongly believe that the rest of the Old Testament which contains the 613 ways in which the 10 commandments are realized and lived out in day to day life are not applicable.
Christian liberals, do not realize that to reject the rest of the Old Testament is to reject how to live the 10 commandments. This even applies to money and tithe. If God does not change and He told Israel that to fail to give 10% IS to steal from Him, then why would we believe we are free to steal from God if “killing, lying and stealing” are still wrong? In order to remove this from our list of “righteous requirements” which Christ seeks to fulfill IN us by being led by the Holy Spirit, we need a specific example of Paul telling us that we are freed from it – even as he so faithfully did with all the other freedoms listed above. Quite to the contrary however, in I Cor. 9:13,14, we see Paul not refuting this practice but pointing to it as THE COMMAND of the Lord to continue in under the New Covenant for the support of His full-time ministers.
Let’s put the Law in the New Testament to the Test!
Let me begin with one of my favorite passages as an overall statement to this question –
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” ~ Acts 17:10-11
The question is – what scriptures were the Berean believers searching to prove whether the word’s Paul preached under the New Covenant were true or not? The only scriptures they had – the Old Testament!
Jesus and the Apostles quoted extensively from the Old Testament. They used it’s illustrations in their teachings and gave validity to their doctrine by quoting from the Law.
Matt. 5:18 – The Old Testament will last as long as the heavens and the earth.
John 5:46-47 – Jesus said, If you do not believe the writings of Moses How could you believe in Me?
Acts 7:51-53 – Stephen inferred that not keeping the law was a failure for those Jews who afterwards stoned him. This is NOT a plea for Gentiles to be under the law for keeping ritualistic cleansings, feasts, types and shadows of Christ or offerings for sin, but the moral standards for righteous behavior.
Acts 21:24 – Paul kept the Law.
Acts 22:3 – Paul mentions his training in the Law as a reason to listen to and heed him.
Acts 22:12 – A devout man is defined by the Law.
Acts 24:14 – Paul believed all the things written in the Law.
Acts 25:8 – Paul lived in compliance with the Law.
Acts 28:17-23 – Use the Law to bring the lost to Christ.
Rom.2:12-15 – Gentile Christians showed the work of Law the written in their hearts and influencing how they lived their lives.
Rom.2:18 – The instruction of the Law tells us things which are excellent.
Rom.2:20-23 – The truth of the Law is affirmed. Breaking the Law is equated with dishonoring God.
Rom.2:26 – The uncircumcised Gentiles KEPT the righteousness of the Law.
Rom.3:31 – Faith does not make the Law VOID – it establishes it!
Rom.7:1 – the early Gentile believers KNEW THE LAW.
Rom.7:7 – Refers to transgression as breaking the Law of God.
Rom.7:14 – The Law is Spiritual.
Rom.7:16 – The Law is Good.
Rom.8:4 – It is the requirement for being right with God.
Rom.8:7 – A carnal mind is defined as a mind not subject to God’s law.
Rom.9:15,16 – Paul quotes Moses concerning a New Covenant doctrine.
Rom. 13:8,10 – Love is in agreement with the Law. If one lives a life of love for God and his brother he would find himself fulfilling the entire law. (Also Gal. 5:14)
I Cor. 7:39 – New Covenant laws concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage are taken from the Law. (The ESV does a terrible job with this verse.) The νόμος (nómos) is used in this verse connected with the English word “bound” and it is representative of the Law of Moses. [Matt. 19:8]
I Cor. 9:8-11 – Paul points to the Law as the support for his teaching on giving to full-time ministers.
I Cor. 10:11 – Everything in the Old was written for our admonition and instruction.
I Cor. 11:1-12 – Male/female relationships, purposes and obligations are defined based upon Genesis…
- vs. 3 = Gen. 3:16
- vs. 7 = Gen. 1:26,27
- vs. 8 = Gen. 2:21-23
- vs. 9 = Gen. 2:18
I Cor. 14:21 – Paul quotes Old Testament concerning tongues IN THE CHURCH.
I Cor. 14:34 – Paul references the Law concerning women speaking in the assemblies. – Notice this was not a cultural issue it was a scriptural issue. Paul was against the traditions of the Judaizers and so this was not a reference to their man-made laws, but was the same reference he mentioned in I Timothy concerning women teaching or having authority over a man. Many egalitarians will point out that this text does not appear in some manuscripts and they are correct, it is not present for about 400 years in the Latin copies of the originals, but it DOES appear in all the originals. Admittedly the text has appeared earlier in the chapter in some texts and at the end of the chapter in others, because Paul seems to have written it as an additional important thought next to the text as an “insert” but that Paul wrote it in his original letter is in no way in dispute. In fact, the very fact that Paul clearly read his letter, saw this missing and thought it important enough to add makes it clear that it is all the more important!
Heb. 4:12,13 – Old Testament is living, powerful and able to divide between souls and spirit and can discern the thoughts and intense of the heart. All the words here are in the present tense, proving that the Old Testament is STILL doing it’s work today!
James 2:8,9 – The royal law of the Old Testament was to love and it still is!
James 4:11 – Keeping the Law (not the rituals or offerings for righteousness) is esteemed as doing right.
II Peter 1:18,19 – Peter tells us that the prophetic word was more reliable and preferred above even his own eye-witness testimony which are part of the writings of the New Testament!
II Peter 1:16-2:9 – Almost everything in these verses are entirely drawn from the Old Testament.
I Jn. 3:4 – All sin is to live as though there is no Law.
The very definition for Love itself in the New Covenant was taken from the Old Testament in these verses:
- Matt. 22:35-40
- I Jn. 5:2-3
The very definition for sin itself is taken from the Old Testament and is mentioned in the New. The meaning of the general word for sin is to “miss the mark”. The name given to the Old Testament scriptures was the Torah. Torah means – “the mark”. So sin is to miss the goal of living according to the Torah! This is what Peter meant when he said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness for to sin is to live as if there is no law.” – IJn. 3:4.
- A very conservative count of at least 295 separate references to the Old Testament appear in the New Testament. These occupy some 352 verses of the New Testament, or more than 4.4 per cent. Therefore one verse in 22.5 of the New Testament is a quotation.
- 233 are listed – here. This list I lifted from the following website – http://www.kalvesmaki.com/LXX/NTCHART.HTM
- For a more comprehensive look see – The Old in the New in Detail.
- If we limit ourselves to the specific quotations and direct allusions which form the basis of our previous reckoning, we will note that 278 different Old Testament verses are cited in the New Testament: 94 from the Pentateuch, 99 from the Prophets, and 85 from the other Writings.
- Out of the 22 books in the Hebrew reckoning of the Canon only six (Judges-Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezra-Nehemlah, Chronicles) are not explicitly referred to. – See http://www.bible-researcher.com/nicole.html
- Some of Paul’s references to Old Testament passages, are as follows:
- 1 Corinthians (26)
- 2 Corinthians (18)
- Galatians (14)
- Ephesians (12)
- Philippians (6)
- Colossians (3)
- 1 Thessalonians (1)
- 2 Thessalonians (7)
- 1 Timothy (4)
- 2 Timothy (9) [See this list as stated at – http://www.ucg.ca/booklets/nc/authority.asp. Though I do not entirely agree with the UCG in all points of theology, the list seemed good to reference]
- Only Paul’s two shortest epistles, Titus and Philemon, contain no quotes from the Old Testament.
- Moses is referred to 80 times
- Sabbaths are mentioned 60 times (context determines whether it was “the Sabbath” or one of the many ritualistic sabbaths in the Jewish calendar).
This is a terrific article which addresses this issue with dignity – The Old Testament in the New Testament by Scott Ashley
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to study the scriptures for yourself and ultimately to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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