FREEDOM IN CHRIST

Not long ago the sound of fireworks started splitting the air. At all hours of the day and night you can hear fire crackers and rockets. It reminds us that Independence Day is coming soon. We will celebrate two-hundred and forty-two years of Independence. Many of our ancestors came to this country because they wanted to experience freedom to worship God the way they felt led. They wanted to break away from the forced religious practices of Europe only to establish colonies that were just as religiously oppressive and legalistic as in Europe. Although free from European religion, their colonies were not free. You were free to worship if it fit within the religious framework of that colony.

Christ brought freedom from the religious legalism of the Pharisees of His day. His was the sacrifice that did away with the sacrificial system of the Torah. Galatians is the Apostle Paul’s treatise against the Judaizers who followed him and wanted the Gentile Christians to follow all the Mosaic law before becoming Christians. Paul preached freedom in Christ. Speaking to the Galatians who had been “bewitched” (3:1) by the Judaizers, he wrote, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). That yoke of bondage referred to the covenant of Mount Sinai in Galatians 4:21-31.

Today there is a movement of Judaizing among Christians. A website I have seen recently is New2Torah.com. They teach that real Christians are discovering and returning to the Torah and becoming better Christians. Referring to the rite of circumcision that the Judaizers wanted to impose upon Gentiles, Paul wrote, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (5:3). If anyone wants to keep a part of the Law, Paul says he or she is obligated to keep all the law. “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). The Jews couldn’t keep the Torah. Neither can Christians.

No one can keep all the Torah. You cannot pick and choose what parts you want to keep such as Sabbath worship or dietary laws. To keep the Torah, you must keep the required sacrifices of the Torah. Take this passage referring to making a sacrifice to God in Leviticus 3:1-2 from the Torah: “And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord (Yahweh). And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.” Aaron is no longer alive, and if you tried to perform this today you would be arrested for cruelty to animals. What’s more, there is no place to offer such a sacrifice as the Roman Army destroyed the Temple in AD 70. Further, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). There is no forgiveness in the sacrificial system, only a reminder of sin (Hebrews 10:3).

Hebrews 10:1, “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” The substance is of Christ (Colossians 2:17).

The problem with Judaizers like those of New2Torah is that they accuse of lawlessness anyone who does not fall back into their system. That is a false dichotomy. Being free from the law does not mean freedom to sin as Judaizers misinterpret it. Paul dealt with this charge as well. He recognized that Christians are no longer under the law, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15). Peter echoed in 1 Peter 1:16, “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.”

Galatians 3:10-12a, “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law to do them.’ But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.  And the law is not of faith’” If you go back to the Law, you are cursed. The purpose of the law was to point to the need of a Savior. No one can keep the Torah. The law is like a mirror that a person looks into and sees himself or herself. (James 1:22-25) The perfect law of the Spirit gives freedom, but the letter of the law kills. (He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6) Paul also wrote, “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”(Galatians 2:21).

For more about the Hebrew Roots movement, see: https://www.watchman.org/staff/jwalker/ProfileHebrewRoots.pdf

 

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ONLY TWO RELIGIONS—Part 2

Having gone back and reviewed my article from several years ago, I realized that I had focused on only one part of the three distinctions between the two religions. To refresh your memory, I wrote all religions fall into one of two categories. All religions except biblical Christianity hold these three teachings: 1) Jesus Christ is not God in the flesh, 2) adherents must do some type of works to be saved, 3) the Bible alone is insufficient for salvation. In that article I focused more on religions that had added books and other writings, from the Quran, to the Book of Mormon, and the Watchtower. You can review that post on mikemcg58.wordpress.com/2009/08/. Or you can purchase my books and find it there.

Today I want to focus on the second part. What types of works must we do to be saved? Acts 16 tells the story of Paul and Silas in Philippi. They found themselves in jail after having been beaten for casting a demon out of a slave girl. While they were singing praises to God at midnight, an earthquake came and released them from their chains. The prison doors swung open. They were free to go. The Gentile jailer knew if they all left, he would be put to death. Paul called out for him not to hurt himself. The jailer brought in a light and fell trembling at their feet asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Notice their answer. They did NOT say, “First of all, you have to be circumcised. Then you have to go to church on Saturdays. You have to keep all the Jewish laws, special feasts, and dietary restrictions. You have to wear purple tassels on your clothing. In fact, you have to become Jewish first.” They actually said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). It is quite simple really.

Adding all those rules is a human-made religion. This controversy caused the first Church Council at Jerusalem in Acts 15. The question of how Gentiles were to be saved caused a division in the church after the conversion of Cornelius, an Italian Centurion. Peter explained what had happened in Acts 10. Then he said, “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they” (Acts 15:10-11).

This was called Judaizing. Dictionary.com defines Judaizing as “to bring into conformity with Judaism.” Such people followed the Apostle Paul around causing all kinds of problems for him. They demanded that the Gentiles first be circumcised before being accepted. Here is what Paul wrote in Galatians 3:10-12, “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.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” In Philippians 3:2, he called circumcision “the mutilation” (NKJV).

Notice what Paul wrote. Those who try to keep the law are under a curse. You are cursed if you do not keep all the law. I know of no one who still wears purple tassels on their clothing. (See Numbers 15:37-38. This was a commandment to be throughout their generations.) I know of no group who keeps the Sabbath by working six days a week. No, they all take a two-day weekend. Only Orthodox Jews wear Phylacteries on their forearms and foreheads in conformity with Exodus 13:9, 16 (See Matthew 23:5).

Galatians 2:21 says, “for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” He later wrote in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christians are to live a life of freedom, not under the burdens of Judaism, but Paul further warned in Galatians 5:13, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.”

Read more about this in my books inked below

Embracing Faith Vol. 1

Embracing Faith Vol. 2