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The Persecuted Church


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The Flawed arguments of law keepers: a Plea to embrace grace

Law keepers always point to the New Testament telling believers in the new covenant to keep the commandments; they interpret the New Testament by the Old Covenant of Moses. Every time a law keeper sees the word commandment he is trained to think of the 10 commandments.

7th Day Adventists teach that the “commandments of God” in Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 14:12 are speaking about the Ten Commandments.  If you look at the Greek word for “commandments” it is the word “entolas” which means teachings, instructions or commands.  This word is used always in John's writings when He is referring to the instructions or teachings that came from Jesus Christ.  When John refers to the Ten Commandments in his writings he uses a different Greek word, “nomas.” John is making a distinction of the old covenant and the new in many places, but this eludes those who

As with anything, we must read it in context to get an accurate understanding of the meaning behind the words.

I Jn 2:7-8 “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.”

The word “commandment” is made to appear as support for the Old Testament commands by those who want to fit the Old Testament model into the New Covenant. This word when used by the apostles is NOT speaking of the commandments from the Mosaic Law. If we read this in context and go back to the preceding verses (and also read further on) we can understand this correctly.

I Jn. 2:3-5: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”

I Jn 3:24: Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

What commandments is he speaking of? The previous Verse 23 “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just He gave us commandment.” So this scripture has absolutely nothing to do with the Old Testament commandments. Furthermore, the term from the beginning means when they first heard Jesus teach, which also supports it is about the commands from Jesus. John 15:14, 17 “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

v.17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.”

Jn. 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Jn. 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Again supporting this point is what we began with I Jn. 2:7: “Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.”

John defines for us what the “commandments” of God are.  I Jn. 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments (Gr. entolas).  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments (entolas); and His commandments (entolae) are not burdensome.”

We aren't left to guess what these “commandments” are.  The context of I John 3:22-24: “believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded (entolaen) us.  The one who keeps His commandments (entolas) abides in Him.”

Jesus Sermon on the Mount is often used to prove one is still under the law. But Jesus is only explaining the true intent of the law in contrast to what the Pharisees taught (their law- tradition of the fathers). Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount by describing the way of living that distinguishes those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven and those who will not.

But then he said: Mt. 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Law keepers focus on Christs statement “have not come to abolish them,” while ignoring his summation of “to fulfill them.”  Then in the next verse, the focus is on “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law.”  Again, the point that Jesus is making -- “until everything is accomplished,” the law will be with us. Christ did not say: “I come to establish further or perpetuate the law,” but “to fulfill.” As he fulfilled prophetic scripture with the first coming (meaning it was completed) He will do so with the second coming. The word fulfill is used consistently like this throughout Matthews gospel.

Jesus explained “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” (Mt. 11:13). The law of Moses contained prophecy, not just the prophets (Ex: Deut.18:15: claimed to be fulfilled twice in Acts 3:32 and 7:37). Notice Jesus said the prophets and law prophesied until John came. John was the forerunner to announce Jesus ministry. The one he prophesied of came: “The law and the prophets were until John” (Lk. 16:16.) Rom. 3:21: “But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.” All that they spoke of his first coming was fulfilled.

In v. 17 Jesus said he had come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. How did he fulfill the prophets? The same way he fulfilled the law. In v. 18, Jesus explains nothing will disappear from the law until everything is accomplished, he was not speaking about the Prophets, but about the law.  Note how important this distinction is.  

He fulfilled the law and gave a new set of commands for us.  Paul called those rules the law of Christ.  Some of those were the same moral law God gave in the Old Testament.  Many were changed, but most of Old Testament law was not included at all in Christ’s law.  What happened to the Old Testament law? Paul told us that “Christ is the end of the law . . .” (Romans 10:4).  The “end” (telos) means a “termination,” or “goal,” “culmination,” or as Jesus stated “fulfillment” it is better to understand it in this sense, as fulfillment of the law. All that it required that man failed in; Jesus did not. If he did not fulfill the law completely then we are still under it and MUST keep it. BUT the Old Testament Law was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus and was put aside for the New Covenant believer that is in Christ.  It does not govern the life of the New Testament believer.  Paul explains, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Gal. 5:18). What law? The Old Testament law given to Moses.

What is the law (of Moses) – the Old Testament commandments had 613 commandments, including the 10. Paul writes of this law:

Rom. 7:8: “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.”

v.9” “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”

Here Paul uses both the law and the commandment interchangeably for the same thing sin, and then summarizes the thought, Rom. 7:10: “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to brought death.” DEATH!

The word commandment is “entole” the word “law” is “nomos.” These are the same words used throughout Pauls discourse on the commandments and law in the New Testament.

Rom 7:12-13: “Therefore the law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good” Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.”

As Paul says the commandment exaggerated his sin, increased it, made it evident so that it was noticeable and that he might seek life, which could only come from Jesus Christ.

Continuing in the same letter Paul speaks of the commandments, Rom. 13:9: “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Whenever the ten commandments are repeated by the apostles in the New Testament (Mt. 19:18-19; Romans 13:9, etc.), the Sabbath commandment is NEVER included in the list, because it is NOT a moral law. The Pharises tried to make it as one but it was not. After Paul presents these to show man is guilty he sums up how we are to keep the law. v.10 “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

He repeats this encapsulation of the law to the church Gal. 5:13-14: “through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is what Paul expected from a new covenant believer to follow, the spirit, the intent of the law summed up in Christ.

All the law is consummated in loving your neighbor is drawn from the Law of Moses (Lev.19:18). This is the teaching of Jesus, where he spoke of the true intention of the law in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters 5-7.

He was asked (Mt. 22:36-40) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him,” 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' Jesus said to him,” 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'“ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus says one is NOT above the other, they are coupled, equal in importance, like bookends. Mark 12:31 says of this “There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Yet these two commands are NOT part of the 10 commandments written by God’s finger that law keepers INSIST we are obligated to keep. What I’m pointing out should free those under the law. That Jesus said these that these two commandments that were not part of the 10 but are the “first and great commandment, and the second is like it.” This first one is found in Deut.6:5 listed under the commandments and statutes and judgments and the 2nd one is from Lev.19:18 which is alongside the moral laws. Yet Jesus said the 2nd is like the first.

Therefore, according to Jesus, the 10 commandments don’t contain the two greatest commandments but the law of Moses does, and the law keepers never seem to mention these. These two commandments are ratified, amplified in the law of Christ. They sum up the intent of the law.

When the Gentiles were being saved they convened the first church council to decide on avoiding conflicts that were surfacing. Acts 15:5: But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” The law of Moses were the commands given THROUGH Moses, which includes the 10 on the tablets.

Acts 15:24 “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, `You must be circumcised and keep the law'-- to whom we gave NO such commandment.”

The apostles are teaching that they did not instruct the church to continue keeping the law of the Old Testament, Moses law.

But in Acts 15:28 the apostles decided that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:” They said this in reaction of their hearing troubling words, to keep the law that they considered a burden.

I Jn. 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.” V.3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” This teaching of not burdensome is directly linked to NOT keeping the law of the Old Testament.

Why did they not instruct the Gentiles to keep the law, (which includes the Sabbath) because of what Jesus taught them “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:30). You can NEVER say this about the law.

Gal.4:4 says “God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” He was born under the law, while it had reached it zenith and kept all the law perfectly. He could not violate even the smallest stroke of the pen or would have been disqualified to be the Messiah, the sinless sin bearer. Jesus was the only one who kept it perfectly, He is the only man fulfilled the intent of the law. So now we are under him, (not the law) the word that became flesh.

This is why as believers we do not operate under the law. Paul who once lived by the law and found grace explains Gal. 3:23-25:But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor (to lead us) to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

The tutor is the law- no more tutor means no more Old Testament law? What replaces law is faith; a life lived by the Spirit. Rom. 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Notice the two opposites lie vs. death. Which do you choose?

2 Cor. 3:7: “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away

In 2 Cor. 3:7, Paul speaks of the “ministry of death inscribed on stones.” What was engraved on stones the one which was done away in Christ, as the law keepers teach -- only the Ten Commandments were put on stone.

Yet they are called the ministry of death by Paul who once lived by the law but now in Christ lived by grace. This is coupled to the preceding statement, “We are...servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit, for the letter (the ministry of death) kills, but the spirit gives life.”

Life or death new or old covenant is a choice we are to make to live by. Paul taught those who brought themselves back under the law Gal. 2:20-21 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

The Law of Moses was a temporary covenant and system. God never intended it to be permanent. Other covenants that God made with Israel; the Abrahamic, Davidic, and Land covenants are all declared to be “everlasting” (Genesis 17:7; 2 Samuel 23:5; and Psalm 105:8-11). The Mosaic Law which consisted of 613 commandments is never called eternal in Scripture. In fact, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied that it would be replaced by a “new covenant,” that would be everlasting (Jer.32:40; Heb.13:20).

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers ... My covenant which they broke ...” (Jer. 31:31-32)

Heb. 8:7-12 mentions the new covenant God Promised to make, that released us from the old one. The writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 and states that the new covenant will not be like the one that he made when he took the Israelites by the hand to lead them out of, it. This old covenant which he referred had the ten commandments included (1 Kings 8:9, 21)

The Bible never speaks of portions of the Law being “carried over” into the New Covenant. As the Hebrew writer that is familiar with the law reminds us, the giving of the New Covenant “has made the first obsolete” But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Hebrews 8:13). The writer of Hebrews quotes Jer.31:31 which speaks of the new covenant, showing that as soon as the New was installed the old one became completely obsolete, put aside, useless for those who believe. It has no authority over the believers life who is lived in Christ. We have been delivered from the old covenant of law and now operate under the law of Christ. But if one insists they must keep the law, they are to keep it all, which then denies the new covenant benefits to them.

Acts 13:38-39:“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

Rom 7:6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Rom.6:14 We are under law or grace (Rom.7:4, Gal.5:18) Which gospel do you preach? The one that points out our sin (law) or saves from our sins (Jesus).

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