by Elmer A. Josephson, RIP
Editors note: My late husbands pen was so prolific that I can find manuscripts applicable to most any current news subject. Many of his writings would apply to the above title but we chose this one for this issue.
Read slowly and thoughtfully: "The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting [quieting] the soul. . .making wise the simple. . . rejoicing the heart. . .enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-9).
We tend to forget that we, in the final analysis, do not know right from wrong. Most try to judge by the conscience, but it is many times badly warped.
What is the touchstone, the criterion and true standard by which life on this planet is to be lived, measured and governed? Can mans ever-changing ideas compare to Gods wise and Holy Law?
Only the One who created the universe (and us) can rightly judge between good and evil. And He has done this in His wonderful Law. The Apostle Paul wrote, "I had not known sin [transgression] but by the law". And "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 7:7; and 3:20).
Most Biblically knowledgeable people are aware there is not one line in either Testament (taken in its context) that indicates personal eternal salvation is attained by keeping the Law. We are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world and redeemed by the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; Ephesians 1:4). But contrariwise, "They that forsake the Law praise the wicked; but such as keep the Law contend with them. . . He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be abomination [detested and abhorred of God]" - Proverbs 28:4,9. This brings us to the sad test of heresy, "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20).
Theres a marked difference between Gods eternal, unchangeable utterances in His moral Law and the ceremonial Law whose types depict the Messiah and His redemption for the restoration of mankind. Because of our transgressions of His Holy Law, there must be a perfect sinless sacrifice of blood to atone for sin.
This makes eternal salvation a totally free gift. Yet, it did not mean He purchased a license for us to transgress His Holy Law with impunity. We are not exempt from Law violation penalties. Jesus strictly advised the forgiven, "Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
Of our transgression of His laws we read, "And He said unto them, `Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer for our transgression of the law and to rise from the dead the third day. And that repentance [turning from transgression] and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47).
But the whole purpose of the Good News is: TO WRITE HIS LAW UPON HEARTS AND MINDS. He not only plants the desire to keep Gods Holy Law, but gives the power of His Spirit within to fulfill the Law through us. The divine intent is to make us an exhibit of His righteousness and accompanying blessings and graces which He fulfills according to His Word.
Please read Romans 8:1-4; Hebrews 8:10,11; 10:16; I John 2:1-6; 3:21-22; 5:2,3.
The Great Confusion
On the matter of placing Gods Law in its proper framework, the problem is this: we like to scrape the sweet frosting off the Lords spiritual cakes and then praise His Name for all His sweet mercies. We do not take time to bite into the real life-blessing, muscle-building, character-developing, success-producing, and sustenance-providing portion of the Bread of Life to find out what the true inner ingredients are. We let the pastor, evangelist and Bible teachers do this for us, which to a point is all right, but most believers have been spoon fed all their lives and swallow all they are given.
We are grateful for true ministers of `the whole counsel of God, but each believer should be as the Bereans in Greece who "received the Word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Much error is playing havoc in many lives because certain popular preachers preachments are taken as infallible, practically incapable of error. To be frank, some are just too spiritually lazy to check what the Lord is really saying.
For instance: many make no distinction between "the law of God" and "the law of sin and death." This has been the source of much error. The "law of sin and death" refers to our old adamic nature inherited through our natural birth.
Why did King David write, "In sin did my mother conceive me"? He did not mean the act of procreation was a transgression, rather that he came out of the womb with Adams `trappings - his fallen nature and tendencies, spoken of by rabbis as "the evil inclination". Your children dont have to go to a cheatin school to learn deceptive tricks. It is expressed in the old song, "Doin What Comes Naturally."
The divinely inspired Hebrew Prophet Jeremiah wrote, "The heart [seat of emotions and affections] is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). This is why the Scriptures state that every mouth is stopped and the whole world becomes guilty before God (Romans 3:9). Some retort, "I have never committed murder or any of the gross criminal sins".
I asked my congregation to raise their hands if they had never stolen anything in their whole life, not even a pencil or a cookie. Not a hand went up! Then I asked how many never told a lie, not even a fib or "a white lie" to clear yourself or someone else of suspicion and wrong doing. Again, not a hand went up. Then I said, "Looks like we all are a bunch of thieves and liars!" But in all seriousness, all have sinned. Paul writes, "Such were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (II Corinthians 6:11).
We must be intellectually and spiritually honest. We have all had a time or times in our lives when we could have wished someone out of the way cease to live if even only momentarily, that we might have our own way without any hindrance. This is murder! If we knew there were no God to judge us, we might run to some excess of riot to get something we wanted. This is why ALL are under the sentence of death, and why we ALL need the Redeemers mercy. The Redeemer did not only atone for our individual sins, but for all the potential for evil in our sinful natures. The purpose of redemption is final restoration.
Two Kinds of Law Within
Paul called this inherited adamic nature that humiliates and embarrasses us, "the law of sin and death" the "old man". And admonishes, "That ye put off concerning the former conduct the old man which is corrupt according to its deceitful lusts" (Eph. 4:22).
The Hebrew prophet Jeremiah writes, "The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Our own thoughts sometimes shock us. This is why we are urged to put on the "new man" the "born from above" nature manifested and exemplified in the Redeemer.
However, though we have received a new nature, we all still have `the old man (our bodies weaknesses and downward tendencies) to deal with and battle, as long as this natural life lasts. This is true of the most godly saint amongst us. This is what the Holy Scriptures calls, "the law of sin and death (Romans 7:21-8:1-3).
Life is a moral and spiritual battle. No one can ignore, lightly esteem or transgress the least of any of Gods laws without serious consequences and judgments resulting. That is why Paul wrote Ephesians 6:10-18. Please read and memorize it.
Were Still in School!
Christ spoke of the Law of God as "the Word from Gods mouth" His divine utterances when He said, "The Scriptures [the Law] cannot be broken." In violation we only break ourselves over the Law of God. Again as Paul by inspiration wrote, "By the Law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). We need to remind one another of this. "The Law is our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" for cleansing (Galatians 3:24).
No wonder that few are really coming to the proper knowledge of Christ and who he really is. We have kicked out the schoolmaster (Gods Law) and trained our "conscience" to ignore Gods fire of conviction. The Law alone can make the transgressions of Gods Law burn conviction in hearts, which drives and draws us unto the Lord of life and forgiveness.
There is a terrible heresy in the institutional church that treats Gods Holy Law as a menstrual cloth. Instead, it is transgressions of the Law that is an abomination in Gods sight, and that is to be discarded and abandoned, because it is filthy abomination. It is Gods Holy Law that makes sin by the commandment become exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13). Where Gods law is not declared, `there is no fear of God before their eyes (Psalm 36:1; Romans 3:18).
"Wherefore, the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. . . for we know the Law [of God] is spiritual: [The rub is:] I am carnal [fleshlike] sold under [given to] sin" (Romans 7:12-14).
What IS the Answer?
In closing this study, we must clearly bear in our mind that God does not change HIS mind. I AM the LORD, I change not" (Malachi 3:6). Consider: great segments of our society today count themselves knowledgeably sound and God-fearing, yet believe that God actually changed His mind toward Israel, that His Law and His plan of redemption changed somehow, between the Old and New Testament periods. If God changed His everlasting Abrahamic Covenant made with Israel, what solid assurance do we former pagan Gentiles have that He will not change His promises made to us through Christ?
When we wrongly interpret Pauls writings (which Peter said were hard to understand) to believe we can violate Gods Holy Laws with impunity, the chastening comes and we wonder why! And some never learn until its too late.
Two Flocks of Redemption
The Almighty gave His laws and commandments and precepts to Israel by which they would be known in the sight of the nations who shall hear all these statues and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people" (Deut. 4:65).
Israel was ordained of God, first to teach the heathen Gentiles morality through Gods Laws, also later to give the message of redemption to the nations. For his cause God bound Israel eternally to Himself through the everlasting Abrahamic covenant given in Genesis 12:1-3; the ratification and the ramifications given clearly in Genesis 17 where the Almighty emphasizes three times that this is "an everlasting covenant". To Abraham the Almighty declared, "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). To Moses, "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests" to the nations (Exodus 19:6). Jesus said, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).
At the birth of the church age, God had one people Israel. All the world was pagan. Who else knew anything of God? He had to establish the first church in Israel.
The Gospel to the nations was a simple plan: "That if thou wilt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
It was to Nicodemus, a true believer, the message of the new birth was given. It is recorded for all nations to hear. He expands salvation from Israel to the whole world and uses the term `whosoever for the first time a totally new concept which must have staggered Nicodemus. (John 3:14-16)
Then in the sovereignty of God, Israel was separated from the mostly Gentile church lest they become swallowed up of the Gentiles, making His Word invalid by destruction of Israel through intermarriage. (This has been true for 2,000 years.)
In order to protect Israel from assimilation by inter-marriage among the pagans, God said, if the name of a strange god passed their lips they were to be stoned. It carried the death penalty. Israels demise would make God a liar. There could never be the fulfillment of any Messianic promises.
This is why Paul, the churchs greatest evangelist, was sent to the Gentiles and it was the thing that got him in trouble with the Jews. They were not against Jesus. They just knew they could not fraternize with pagan Gentiles lest Israel be destroyed through intermarriage and the whole of Gods plan collapse if Israel disappeared from the earth. (Read Jeremiah 31:35-37.)
This present ingathering of the twelve tribes is the clear harbinger of Israels return to Gods favor and Messiahs appearance to bring to pass the yet unfulfilled promises of what the Messiah will do. Messiah will reign over all the earth with all the Law of God which were eternally given to govern all peoples.
This is how there will be such a restoration of all things. Even human life will be prolonged as in the beginning. Sabbath year farming will be observed, making burning up of crops by chemical fertilizers and spraying of pesticides polluting land and air, a thing of the past. The God ordained union of husband and wife will be restored to the lasting joy and happiness it was meant to be.
"Then cometh the end [of all sin and its results] when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all [rebellious] rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Corinthians 15:24-26).