Saturday, March 06, 2010

Three Points of Law and the Manner in Which We as New-Testament Believers Fulfill Them

Just a further comment about the way in which we DO fulfill all of the particular points of Law singled-out in the above article. We don't, as the article says, accept only part of the Law as inspired and authoritative while shrugging off another part of it. That's not what God's grace taught us to do. As we walk in the Spirit - walk in love - we fulfill the ethics that formed the basis of every single point of the Law. We may express some of those ethics through a different vehicle now that we are under a New Covenant - but the underlying moral ethic is unchangeable, and by God's grace we as New Testament believers have been graciously enabled to fulfill all of those ethics to the full.

The article cited the death penalty for male homosexuality. It's not that we shrug-off the Law's punishment for homosexuality as being "uninspired" or outdated - rather, we see mercy as having triumphed over judgment - the righteousness of the Law was fulfilled without altering the demand of the Law, through Christ's substitutionary death on the cross. We still consider homosexuality to be a sin ethically worthy of death, but we see the punishment of the Law as having been carried for us substitutionally by Christ. Thus, the whole ethic of the Law - including its punishment - is completely fulfilled by us. Our sins are forgiven. (That doesn't necessarily mean however that the crime of homosexuality, or any other crime, should no longer be punishable by a civil court.)

The article also cited the Law's death penalty for juvenile rebellion, as another alleged example of our inconsistency. First of all, that point of Law actually prevented the very thing which it is often misconstrued as condoning. Prior to Moses' day, honour-killings by family members were taking place in almost pandemic proportions across the Gentile nations - and it still occurs even today in some cultures. That particular point of Law prevented incidences of honour-killings from ever taking place in Israel. The parents were instead restricted to presenting the juvenile to the Elders, and a public statement had to be made. Obviously the statement included the inference that attempts at rehabilitation had failed. They would bring their son to the Elders knowing full well what the ramifications would be for their son. Obviously no parent would go to all that trouble lightly. It therefore prevented sudden, irrational, angry, proud killings by family members against their own. It guaranteed that only the most serious, worthy cases ever made it to the Courts. In fact, there is no recorded case in the Old Testament of this procedure ever being carried-out. It encouraged family-members to work it out at home. The intent of the Law was therefore merciful, rather than harsh. As for the death penalty - again, it's not that we as New Testament believers now see that particular point of Law as an injustice. We still see it as justtice - however we consider the ethic of punishment to have been fulfilled through Christ's substitutionary death on Calvary. We therefore uphold the ethic and the moral of the Law. Thus our sins are forgiven, without having to pick-and-choose which part of the Law we want to keep. (But again, that doesn't necessarily mean that juvenile crime, and other crimes, should no longer be punishable by a Civil court.) ... See More

Finally, the article mentions the Law's prohibition against wearing mixed-fabrics, and states that since modern Christians don't abide by that particular point of Law, homosexuality also is therefore justifiable. But actually, we do fulfill the ethic that was behind that point of Law also. There are many points in the Law which were not in themselves a moral ethic, but which served to illustrate a deeper, unchanging moral ethic.

(For example, circumcision. There was nothing moral or immoral about circumcision itself. It's significance, under the Old Testament, was COVENANTAL and symbolic. Under the New Covenant, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision makes any covenantal difference. The ethic that was symbolized through the Old Covenant practice of circumcision is fulfilled in us through baptism and through sanctification of the flesh and spirit.

Another example of this is the point of Law which said, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth the corn". Paul's comment about this verse was that God didn't give Israel that point of Law because He cared for oxen alone. Moses wrote it to illustrate their ethical responsibility to pay their labourers. Paul then applied this Law which seemed to be about oxen to a New Testament setting and used it in support of his assertion that preachers of the Gospel have the right to earn a living from the ministry.

The Laws of blood-sacrifices are in the same category. We fulfill the true intent of those Law, not through continuing to bring blood-offerings, but through our acknowledgment of that one great sacrifice which they were meant to foreshadow.)

The Law against mixed-fabrics is probably in the same category. It isn't morally wrong that we now wear mixed fabrics, that we do or don't get circumcized, and that we don't bring blood-sacrifiices - because we fulfill the true ethic that was inherent in each of those Laws, in another way. The point behind prohibiting mixed-fabrics in Israel was to serve as an illustration of moral and ethical DISTINCTION, similar to the way in which circumcision did. There was an unchanging distinction between right and wrong. There was an unchanging distinction between holy and profane. Through the prohibitions against wearing mixed-fabrics, God gave them a symbol of the importance of that truth.

Wearing mixed-fabrics was not as simple in those days as going down to the shop and buying an item of clothing as we do, often without taking too much notice about the makeup of the fabric. In those days, the effort it took to manufacture mixed fabrics very often would have in itself been loaded with other intent. Like cutting the corners of one's beard, it was in itself, in those days, somewhat symbolic of an ethical statement. It spoke of mixed-allegiances; of twisted, mixed morals. That's the type of social and religious disorder which Moses was giving Israel a symbolic reminder of through this particular point of Law.

Now that we are under a New Covenant, we embrace that same truth - but through a different vehicle. We express it through our appreciation of the cross, where God made a distinction by judging sin on the cross in the body of His Son so that we could be justified by His resurrection from the dead by the spirit of holiness. We fulfill this Law by praising God for having sanctified us as a peculiar, distinct people, as a holy, distinct priesthood. We fulfill it through doing good, holy works and by not practising, teaching or condoning sin as if it wasn't distinguished from holiness. In this way, we as New Testament believers do fulfill the ethic, the moral, of that particular point of Law (against mixed-fabrics). In fact - we ARE the fulfillment of that particular point of Law. (But that doesn't mean there might not also be some physical advantages of one fabric over another's).

By God's grace, through the efficacy of the cross, we DO fulfill all of the Law in every way. The above article is therefore wrong in its conclusion that the Laws prohibiting homosexuality are either uninspired, unauthoritative, or non-applicable in modern society. Like every part of the Law, Jesus didn't come to destroy it, but to fulfill it. The ethic of heterosexuality carries through into the writings of the New Testament. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and all uncleanness are taught in the New Testament as being sins.

God's grace didn't change the definition of sin - God's grace gave us power over sin, freely through Jesus Christ.

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