Should we being following the Law?

Ralph, first off I wanted to compliment you on how well your blog has made me think and has given good insight into some very interesting subjects. I've been struggling with a subject lately and since it seems like you know the word very well and love the lord i thought you might be able to help lead me in the right direction. Lately I've been thinking about God's law. If God made a covenant with Isreal and gave commandments for Isreal to follow, and Paul says gentiles are grafted into the nation of Isreal, and "He is a jew who is one inwardly" Romans 2:29. Then when gentiles are grafted in do the same laws apply to them?

Matthew 5:17 says "Do not think I came to destroy the law or the Prophets. I did not destroy but to fulfill. For assuredy, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass ways, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled. Whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."John says "This is how we know that we know Him, if we keep his commandments." 1 John 2:3.

Proverbs 28:9 says "He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination." Well i certainly don't want my prayers to be an abomination. Furthermore I don't understand how many churches teach that Christ fulfilled the law and therefore it is dead; Christ himself says "Whoever breaks the least of these commandments and teaches men to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven"

It is interesting in your post that you said "Now if I truly love God, I will try to follow His commandments, which tell me not to kill anyone" Well do you believe in following his commandments, which tell you not to kill anyone? Then how can you follow Thou shall not kill, but not follow Thou shall not eat pork. I understand this is a very complex issue but i was just interested in your opinion and wondering if you get give some insight.

My response is in Green:

This is a very deep subject. I agree with people who say we are not under the Law and I will show you way, starting with this:

Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. [17] For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. [19] Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, [21] envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [24] Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Romans 6:12-15 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, [13] and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. [14] For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
    [15] What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
So as you see we are not under the Law, but what does that mean? You have to understand what the Law was to understand what it means that we are no longer under the Law.

Romans 5:18-21 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. [19] For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. [20] The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, [21] so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

See the Law was to show us how sinful we were and our need for a savior. That is why Jesus said He was the fulfillment of the Law. Just as Jesus said He didn't do away with the Law, but he fulfilled it, because we never could on our own, we needed Him. He also said that anyone who didn't keep all the commandments or taught someone else to break them was wrong, but what did He mean? Did He mean all the Law, meaning you can't eat pork? Or you couldn't mow the lawn on Sunday? Well let's look at what Jesus said about the commandments and what they are:

Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" [37] And He said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' [38] "This is the great and foremost commandment. [39] "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' [40] "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

Does that make sense? Sure it does, if you love God you won't sin, if you love your neighbor you won't lie to him, you don't steal from him, you won't lust after his wife, you won't do any harm to him, etc… See we still have to live a righteous life, but it isn't about rules it is about our hearts. If we love God and we then love those around us, we will live a life that is honoring to God and benefits others. But there is more:

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

See if we love one another we are fulfilling the law, not by following a bunch of rules that were put in place to show  us how sinful we really are, but my allowing God to change our hearts.

Romans 13:9 For this, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Notice Paul stops there; murder, stealing and coveting, and then says like Jesus did that if we love we naturally won't do anything else that would violate the law, because it would be harmful to others. He didn't say 'not eating pork' or anything like that. So what are we to think of those things? First we need to understand why these things were in the Law to start with. There were several reasons.

For one God was showing the Israelites the difference between clean and unclean, between holy and unholy. So He made some things clean for them and some not clean for them and they had to follow these rules. For example they were not allowed to touch a dead body or they would become unclean. Death is a result of sin, so dead things are unclean. They were learning that sin has consequences. But it certainly caused a problem; if your parent died in the house, what do you do? You have to bury them, you have to touch them, but that makes you unclean. Again, it was to show them that they couldn't go through this life and keep clean, sometimes it was beyond their control. So He made provisions, with washings, etc… But again these were to show them a lesson, but many times they took the lesson wrong. Let me show you what I mean. God commanded them not to eat without washing. I will get back to this later, because there is a second reason for this that has to do with hygiene but for now, I want to just deal with the lesson. Now look at this:

Matthew 15:1-9 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, [2] "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"
    [3] Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? [4] For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' [5] But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' [6] he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. [7] You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
 
    [8] " 'These people honor me with their lips,
        but their hearts are far from me.
    [9] They worship me in vain;
        their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"

Now let me quote from a little further where He explains this to the disciples:

Matthew 15:12-20 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"
    [13] He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. [14] Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."
    [15] Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."
    [16] "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. [17] "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? [18] But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' [19] For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. [20] These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.' "

See yes they were to follow the Law about washing, but they missed the point, it wasn't about physically washing it was a spiritual thing. So now today, we are to understand the real meaning, that what we watch, what we put into our hearts and minds and what comes out of our mouth and heart and mind is what is important. Again it show the fulfillment of the Law, not just following rules. The rules were important because they were to lead us (mankind) to Christ, but they were never meant to be the end, just the beginning.

Now let me get back to the second reason for some of these laws. Washing the hands is a good practice for hygiene, so was bathing. The Israelites would have had much less disease than other peoples because they took to heart what God told them. Have you been to a restaurant lately that servers seafood? If so you probably saw the notes on the menu that say eating raw or under cooked seafood can be hazardous to your health. Hey, God already knew that, He made things unclean like crab, and shell fish, which we know today are very dangerous if not refrigerated correctly and cooked correctly. The Israelites didn't have to worry about it because they couldn't eat it anyway, they weren't to even touch it. The same with pork, it can be very dangerous if not cooked and treated correctly. So you see some of the Laws were also about food safety.

God told the Israelites it was an abomination for a man to have sex with his wife while she was having her period. Again, it is a health issue! But let me for a moment go back to the Law on food. Let's see if we still have to live by that. The Gentiles (anyone who isn't a Jew) didn't have the Law, so when they came to Christ, they needed to know what to do. The Church leaders (all Jews at the time) got together and decided to tell them this:

Acts 21:25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality."

Notice again, they didn't tell them to quit eating bacon, or not to eat shellfish, they gave them very few instructions. Now look what Paul says:

Romans 14:14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.

Now Paul was a Pharisee before coming to Christ, so he knew full well what the Law said was unclean; yet he says here he believes nothing is unclean, why? Because we are no longer under the Law. We now understand what the Law was pointing out, so it isn't about following rules that are to point us to Jesus, we already follow Jesus. One more and I will quit, because this is getting very long:

Acts 10:9-16 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. [10] He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. [11] He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. [12] It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. [13] Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
    [14] "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
    [15] The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
    [16] This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Now we know that this too was a lesson for Peter, so that he would go with the Gentiles. He was to go give the gospel to Cornelius and his family and they were Gentiles. The Law said that a Jew was not to enter a Gentiles' home or to even eat with them. So God was showing Peter that the Law no longer applied, because through Jesus God had made all things clean including the Gentiles. But it also does show that the dietary laws were done away with too.

Okay, I am sorry this has gotten to be so long, this is a deep subject and hard to deal with in a short space. I hope that helps.

Ralph

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