Friday, August 28, 2009

Faith and the Spirit

Faith and the Spirit


I’ve often wondered how is was that Satan could have swayed a third of the angelic host to follow him, thereby finding themselves demons and fallen also.

A bit of this will be considered speculation, but I feel I am on the right track on this.

The sin of Satan; his rebellion, was the abandonment of faith in God where his faith turned inward, where he thought he could be like God, and indeed replace God. He placed his faith in himself.

As we should now understand, those who reject faith in God commit the ultimate sin, thereby resulting in separation from God. Satan and the fallen angels would have had God’s Spirit as a part of their mental makeup, and their collective sin would have resulted in the removal of God’s Spirit from them. The result, on that spiritual plane of existence, was spiritual beings now insane.

The name of the game for Satan since the creation of man has been one of separating man from God through the same methodology he used to get a third of the angels to be removed from God; get them to reject faith in God.

With Eve, it was simply a matter of convincing her that God didn’t reveal everything in regards to that tree and its fruit. He convinced her there was something to gain in eating the fruit. He appealed to her vanity. He appealed to her ego. He appealed to her intellect.

I can imagine now how Satan managed to sway those angels, for there was a similar situation that surfaced back in the old WCG. HWA gave an assignment to Dibar Apartian where, later in time, GTA gave him another assignment. HWA was furious with him, and reminded Dibar Apartian who his boss was and no one, not even GTA, had the authority to tell him to do something else other than the job HWA had given him.

We have gleaned from Scripture that this third of the angels were “under” Satan in regards to that first habitation that they abandoned, and it would have been a simple matter for Satan to have turned to this third of them and reminded them God had placed them under his authority, and proceeded to tell them what they were to do. If they were listening to him, and doing what he wanted, that was now contrary to the will of God, that’s all it would have taken. They were no longer faithful to God as a result. It would have been all so subtle, yet effective, and devastating.

We cannot afford to minimize this. Adam and Eve’s sin of faithlessness seems like such an innocent mistake in a way.

God removed Adam and Eve from His presence, accordingly, even as His presence was removed from Satan and those angels that sinned.

As a result, we are born with that Adamic nature that is devoid of contact with God and His Spirit. We were born with what Scripture refers to as that “stony heart.” We are born of Adam, and without being born of God, we are doomed to perish.

The story of Scripture is one of those who God worked with, developing their faith, and those God worked with who were devoid of faith. Noah was a preacher of righteousness. Noah believed God, and built an ark to save animals and his family as a result. The writer of Hebrews relates those deemed righteous throughout history as being righteous as a result of their faith. Modern deceivers redefine this righteousness as being a result of other things, such as law keeping or even racial purity when it came to Noah, as HWA insisted. Try reminding the followers of HWA today that Noah, according to HWA, was righteous because he was ethnically “pure.”

Abraham comes on the scene, and God starts working with him, promising him prosperity and an inheritance if he will but believe God. Abraham believes, but his faith isn’t always perfect or complete, yet by the time he is an old man, he is willing to comply with God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, knowing that God could and would have to resurrect him from that death in order to make good on God’s promise regarding his offspring being through Isaac (Heb 11:17-19).

Then comes the example of the Hebrews and the old covenant era. They were referred to as stiff-necked, rebellious, and faithless. They were given the old covenant law which they gave lip service to, but never truly kept. They are the example of faithlessness in Scripture.

From this perspective, we come to Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul is given God’s Spirit without the benefit of faith. The result? In the end, a king gone insane. Sound familiar?

Then we come to king David. Again, a man given God’s Spirit, and a man who had faith in God, and with the addition of being under the old covenant law. He too lauded that law, then violated it to a degree that we find incredulous today. What was he thinking?

In Paul’s writings, he points out that the law actually can, and does, incite a people to sin. From the viewpoint of psychology, we learn that the more a person thinks of himself, believing himself to be more than he is, and greater in his own eyes than other people, the more above other people he believes he is, and the more he believes himself to be above the rules that regulate the masses he has risen above.

Ramona Armstrong, before being wed to HWA, is reported to have expressed her concern to HWA in regards to their relationship. HWA replied that he was above the law; he was God’s apostle; he had special rights and privileges.

Did king David have the same attitude? We see in Scripture his love and faith in God, but not much love for his fellow man, including those who were close to him and served him faithfully, such as Uriah. David repaid his dedication by having him killed so that he could cover up his affair with Uriah’s wife.

What about us and the laws of the land? Do you ever fudge a bit, driving above the speed limit? If you do, why? So you can get to your destination a minute earlier? When you come to a stop sign, do you always come to a complete stop? No? Why?

We don’t like being subject to laws; slaves to laws. We don’t like being told what to do, any more than a little kid who constantly ignores his parent’s commands to comply with what they want.

Those who insist we keep the law do not keep the law themselves. They want to give the appearance of being faithful to the law. They want to have the satisfaction of believing they have convinced others to keep the law, as though this somehow offsets their lack of keeping that law!

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. — Galatians 6:12-13

They glory in your flesh means they glory in what they have gotten you to do physically; in this case, keeping the law. Notice the similar language here:

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? — Galatians 3:1-3

Are you made perfect now by what you do physically, in this case by keeping that law? Is the Spirit and faith not enough for you? Can you improve on the Spirit and faith through your own efforts?

Our era; our time, is a time of faith. It is a time of faith in God and His Christ only, without the encumbrance of that law that could only expose the Adamic sinful nature. We already should know and understand who and what we are independent of God’s Spirit; sinners – sinful, and incapable of producing our own righteousness through that law.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. — Romans 8:1-4

To walk after the flesh is to walk according to your own efforts, as we see from Paul’s writings in Galatians.

We are to live by being focused on the Spirit to the exclusion of all else. There is to be no distractions. There is to be nothing to shift our focus away from God and faith in Him.




************

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

Acts 17:11

************

Monday, August 24, 2009

A LOOK AT GALATIANS 3-5

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Old Covenant is a stumbling stone that alienates people from Christ. These three chapters must be in a zillion of the posts on this blog, but I will present them again, for those of you who are interested in a close examination. Keep in mind what I say at the end of every article – This is based on my current understanding. You must research thoroughly, on your own (you, your Bible and Jesus of course) because you cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. Let’s begin!

Galatians 3
Faith or Observance of the Law

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?

[Okay. Something has changed with the Galatians, and apparently they should know better (you foolish Galatians). What is it? Someone has tricked them about something.]

Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.

[Christ, by His death, brought in the NC, replacing the OC, which had fulfilled its purpose.]

2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

There it is! The subject! Law or Faith! This is the whole heart of this matter with the Galatians!

What is he asking here? He says they received the Spirit because they believed. Could it be that they have been observing the law AND believing, but forgot that they received the Spirit by believing and not by the observing, and Paul was merely reminding them which one it came by? Or that they observed the law, but didn't believe? That wouldn't even make sense, would it? So obviously, he's saying that there is either observing the law, or there is belief. One or the other. The Holy Spirit doesn't come by the OC law though, because observing the OC law alienates one from Christ. Thus, Paul is asking why they have turned back to the OC.]

3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

[Same thing here. By faith they had received the Spirit, but now they've turned back to the OC. Thinking that the OC was something they were still required to do.]

4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?

[They had suffered so much under the curse of the OC. But it was good, because it led them to Christ. But if they returned to the OC, then it was all for nothing because they hadn’t gained Christ.]

5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

[Again, he says the Spirit doesn't come by the law, but by belief. What's Paul doing here? Is he correcting a misunderstanding because they were keeping the law and having faith, but forgot that the Spirit came by the faith and not the law? Or did they simply return to observing the OC?]

6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,

[The Gentiles would be justified? How? By their Faith. Does it say they'd be justified because they kept the OC AND had faith? No. Simply by their faith.]

and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

[Those who keep the law? No. Those who have faith. The man of what? Law keeping? No. The man of faith.]

10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

[What could be so difficult to understand in that statement? Rely on observation of law=under a curse. Why/ Because you are cursed if you don’t do EVERYTHING in the Book of the Law… EVERYTHING. If you keep one part, you MUST keep it in it's entirety. Is the statement not clear?]

11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."

[why doesn't it say the righteous live by observance of the law AND faith? Because they are separate. They are oil and water. Just as Jesus said about the new cloth not being compatible with the old, or the new wine with the old wineskin. They are not compatible. You CANNOT put them together!]

12The law is not based on faith;

[So one is to keep a law which is NOT based on faith and combine it with faith?! How do you take that which IS NOT faith based and combined it with faith?]

on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."

[This means they are your whole life. You keep the whole thing!]

13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law

[How did He do that? Did He say, "the law is no longer a curse because previously you weren't allowed to have faith while observing it, and that made it a curse, but now I've given you permission to have faith with it so it won't be a curse any more."? Of course not. That doesn't even make sense, does it? God isn't a God of confusion. No, He did it by ending the old, which wasn’t faith based, and giving the new, which is faith based.]

by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

[By faith.. we might receive the promise of the Spirit.]

The Law and the Promise

15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.

[In what case? In the case of the Covenants. NO ONE can set aside or add to a human covenant, OR to God’s Covenant.. not even for lack of a Temple or even practicality! God’s Covenants CANNOT be altered or set aside. Not even God would do so, because He keeps His word. He didn’t alter anything. He simply implemented the New Covenant He had prepared to follow the previous one, once it had been completed.]

16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

[What's he talking about? It's about the fact that it was faith based with Abraham, and just because, 430 years later, He introduced a law-based covenant to Israel, doesn't mean that the faith-based covenant previously established by God is set aside or does away with the promise of a multitude of children – It was a temporary Covenant with an expiration date, set in place for a specific purpose, which had been fulfilled.]

18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise;

[If the inheritance depends on the law, then the promise was meaningless. It's one, or the other. They are oil and water. Not compatible.]

but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions

[Israel's.]

until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.

[It had an expiration date. The date of the death of Christ on the cross. At this point it would no longer be all about Israel, but the Gentiles, also, would be included in the inheritance.]

The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.

[That mediator was Moses.. the ‘go-between’ between God and the Israelites. God is one party.. Israel is the other party in this Covenant.]

21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!

[He's already said that the introduced temporary, law-based covenant would not set aside the faith-based covenant previously established with Abraham.]

For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

[Why? Because no law-based covenant can impart life. Why? Because the one observing it would have to be perfect. We know that's just not possible. Otherwise, we would be told that righteousness can come by a law.]

22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,

[Why?]

so that what was promised,

[eternal life]

being given through faith in Jesus Christ,

[not the law]

might be given to those who believe.

[Jew and Gentile, alike.]

23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law,

[held prisoners.. By what? The law.]

locked up until faith should be revealed.

[locked up.. For how long? Until faith should be revealed. Revealed in the New Covenant, telling us that salvation can only come by faith. Faith in Christ Jesus.]

24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ

[The purpose of the law was to lead us to Christ. How? If you were being held prisoner and were told that there was someone who could free you, would you not seek him out? By being cursed under the law and then having Jesus step in to free us from that curse (by ending the law-based covenant and presenting a faith-based covenant, again (as with Abraham. The man of faith.)) Why was the law temporarily put in charge to lead us to Christ?]

that we might be justified by faith.

[Since we can’t be justified by the law.]

25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

[What did that say? We are no longer under the supervision of the law. What does that mean, ‘We are no longer under the supervision of the law?’ We are no longer supervised by the law. The law has left the building, (sorry, couldn’t resist that one.) We are no longer under the rule of the law, because what the law was intended to do, had been done, had been fulfilled and Christ had given a New Covenant, a faith-based covenant.]

Sons of God

26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,

[Because the OC alienates us from Jesus, but the NC enables us to receive Jesus in us, and only in this way can we be sons of God.]

27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

[Baptized into Christ, not the law.]

28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

[Now that’s a powerful statement! Read it again… There is no longer ‘those who observe the law’ and ‘those who do not’, for we are all one in Christ by faith, through the NC.]

29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed,

[They go hand-in-hand; Christ and Abraham… FAITH. Abraham is the man of faith. Not the man of law. If you belong to Christ, then you have part in the promise.]

and heirs according to the promise.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Galatians 4

1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

[So, as a little boy, though you are heir to the throne, you do not sit on the throne, and you are still bossed around by those who teach and guide you. Just as Israel was by the OC.]

2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

[And what was that time set by the Father? The moment His Son would die on the cross. Thus ushering in the New Covenant. The one that would replace the Old, and now include even those who were not Israel… The Gentiles, that they too, might receive salvation by faith.]

3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

[So, they were slaves to sin, slaves to the law, for a period of time. Even Christ was subject to the law… up until the time set by the Father.]

5to redeem those under law,

[He exchanged His life for ours. He freed us from the law, from the curse of the law, from the death penalty.]

that we might receive the full rights of sons.

[Receiving this by faith. By this faith we become sons. Not by law, but by faith. And…]

6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

[Do we receive that Spirit by observance of law, or by faith? By faith. No longer a slave.. to sin, to the law.]

Paul's Concern for the Galatians

8Formerly, when you did not know God,

[Being Gentile, they did not know God.]

you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?

[Now that they know God because the NC includes them, how is it they turn back to the OC?

Let’s pause here a moment… Some may argue that they had not gone back to observing the OC, but to their pagan ways. I ask you this, then: Does that argument hold any water, whatsoever, if we look back at the beginning of Paul’s questions? Look at chapter 3 verse 2. If this is about a return to Pagan ways, then let’s replace some words to indicate so (in red), and see if it makes sense: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing pagan days or by believing what you heard?” Really? These guys thought they could receive the Holy Spirit from one God, while worshiping another god (idols)? That’s not a logical argument.

Let’s look at verse 3 the same way, replacing some words to indicate pagan observance: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are now trying to attain eternal life by returning to pagan worship?” These guys must have been REAL ignorant if they actually thought they could receive the gift of one God, from another god (idol).

And verse 5: “Does God give his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the pagan law, or because you believe what you heard?” Again, it doesn’t make sense, does it? He is asking if they received the Spirit by observing the OC or by their belief. That actually makes logical sense, doesn’t it? We will visit this issue again in verses 21-31, just a little further down the page.]

Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

[They had returned to OC observance.]

12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?

17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.

[There were Jews who were trying to convince them that they must be circumcised, avoid certain meats, observe certain days…]

18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,

[Wait. What did he mean by that? “…until Christ is formed in you.”? Because earlier, he was asking how they had received the Spirit… Is he saying they no longer have the Spirit in them and thus is in the pains of childbirth until Christ is again formed in them?]

20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

[And now comes the analogy that compares Hagar and Sarah with the OC and the NC:]

Hagar and Sarah

21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

[If you want to be under the OC, you should be aware of what the OC says, which is: Those under the OC will not inherit with those under the NC.]

22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.

[Note the use of the words ‘slave’, and ‘free’.]

23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way;

[Note the words ‘slave’ and ‘ordinary’.]

but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

[Note the words ‘free’ and ‘promise’.]

24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants.

[He says he’s making an analogy here, Hagar is one Covenant, and Sarah is the other Covenant:]

One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.

[So the Covenant given at Mount Sinai bears children who are slaves, represented by Hagar.]

25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.

[Meaning that the children of the OC, are slaves, and corresponds to the physical, the old, Jerusalem.]

26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.

[Meaning that the children of the NC are free, and corresponds to the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven in Rev. 21

27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,

[Who is the barren woman? How about the Gentiles? Because they had not been God’s people.]


who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband."

[Meaning that there will be far more children of God coming from the Gentiles than that of the Israelites, (she who has a husband).]

28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.

[Those who belong to Christ, are the children of Abraham, the children of promise.]

29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.

[Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, it is the same now, the Jew persecutes the Gentile.]

30But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son,

[Get rid of the OC and it’s children,]

for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."

[for the slave Covenant’s, (OC) children will never share in the inheritance with the free Covenant’s (NC) children.]

31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

[Therefore, we are not children of the OC (slaves), but of the NC (free).]

[Okay, back to the pagan days issue. Let’s see what he says to them about these pagan days in chapter 4:21-31.

Verse 21: “Tell me, you who want to be under the pagan law, are you not aware of what the pagan law says?”. 22 Abraham had two sons, one by the pagan woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the pagan woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.

24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent one pagan covenant and one covenant from God. One covenant is from the pagan gods and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for pagan stuff and corresponds to some pagan place, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who is a pagan."

See how badly this theory falls apart? You have to read the entire letter and and keep the subject matter in mind. You can’t take one sentence and say it means something that takes it out of context from the rest of the letter. How can Paul go on and on about the OC and the NC through this whole letter to the Gentiles, and yet in 4:9 be referring to pagan stuff? :/ It’s just like a simple English class assignment: Who? What? Where? When? Why? Remember those? ..Read the story, Who is speaking? Who’s he speaking to? What is it about? Where does it take place? When does he write the letter (after what, takes place), Why? etc. You can keep this experiment in mind as you read the next chapter as well. It’s all part of the letter to the Galatians.]

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Galatians 5
Freedom in Christ

1It 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.

[Christ set us free from the OC, the curse of the OC. Stand firm then, and don’t let yourselves be burdened again by the slavery of the OC.]

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

[If you put yourself under the OC, because you believe it’s required, Christ will be of no value to you, in that He saves those under the NC.]

3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

[If you keep one part of the law, because you believe you are required to, you are obligated to obey the whole law.]

4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

[Simply stated, if you are keeping the law because you think it’s required, then you have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.]

5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

[So how do I understand all this? I understand it to mean that there is no issue in observing these things so long as you understand they’re NOT required. However, there is serious issue if you do it as if a requirement, or teach that it is so, to others. Because by this, one becomes separated from Christ Jesus, our Savior! How do we obtain salvation if we are separated from our Lord?

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

[It’s not from God, he says.]

9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."

[No need to comment here. Except that perhaps we derive a whole new meaning.]

10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

[And we, clearly, know what this means… And however convincing he may seem.]

11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?

[He says, clearly, that he is no longer preaching OC.. otherwise, why is he still being persecuted for preaching the NC?]

In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

[He sounds pretty upset about the Galatians being led astray from the true gospel, by these people.]

13You, my brothers, were called to be free.

[Called to be free.]

But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

[Just because you’re free from the OC doesn’t mean that love doesn’t guide your heart.]

14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

[And there it is: LOVE.]

15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Life by the Spirit

16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

[Because if you are led by the Spirit, it’s because you belong to Christ. If you belong to Christ, it’s because you believe/have faith. If you believe/have faith, then you have stepped away from a law that is NOT faith-based. Because the two are contrary to each other… one brings life, the other brings death. You cannot obligate yourself to that which brings death AND that which brings life. That’s just illogical. It’s also illogical to obligate yourself to that which brings death. So, that leaves life! Life comes by faith! Through Christ! And Christ alone!]

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

[You notice we don’t see a list that includes Sabbath breaking, eating unclean meats or not observing Holy Days. It’s because that Contract ran it’s course, making way for the New Contract.]

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

[Again, you notice we don’t see a list that includes Sabbath keeping, avoidance of unclean meats or observing Holy Days.]

24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

[And with that, God bless you in your quest for His Truth.]

Sunday, August 23, 2009

“Case Dismissed!”

I’m sure everyone has had this pass through their e-mail inbox, but I think it makes clear the simplicity of salvation that legalists have such difficulty grasping. Read it and see if you don’t agree:

After living what I felt was a 'decent' life, my time on earth came to the end.


The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house.


The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table.


As I looked around I saw the 'prosecutor.'


He was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.


I sat down and looked to my left and there sat My Attorney, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed so familiar to me, I felt I knew Him.


The corner door flew open and there appeared the Judge in full flowing robes.


He commanded an awesome presence as He moved across the room I couldn't take my eyes off of Him.


As He took His seat behind the bench, He said, 'Let us begin.'


The prosecutor rose and said,


'My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this woman belongs in hell.'


He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and In the past when I cheated others Satan told of other horrible Perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank.


I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own Attorney, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.


As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at My Attorney who sat there silently not Offering any form of defense at all.


I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life - couldn't that at least equal out part of the harm I'd done?


Satan finished with a fury and said, 'This woman belongs in hell, she is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise.'


When it was His turn, My Attorney first asked if He might approach the bench. The Judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned Him to come forward.


As He
got up and started walking, I was able to see Him in His full splendor and majesty.

I realized why He seemed so familiar; this was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior. He stopped at the bench and softly said to the Judge, 'Hi, Dad,' and then He turned to address the court.


'Satan was correct in saying that this woman had sinned, I won't deny any of these allegations. And, yes, the wage of sin is death, and this woman deserves to be punished.'


Jesus took a deep breath and turned to His Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, 'However, I died on the cross so that this person might have eternal life and she has accepted Me as her Savior, so she is Mine.'


My Lord continued with, 'Her name is written in the Book of Life, and no one can snatch her from Me.


Satan still does not understand yet. This woman is not to be given justice, but rather mercy.'


As Jesus sat down,


He quietly paused, looked at His Father and said, 'There is nothing else that needs to be done.'


'I've done it all.'


The Judge lifted His mighty hand and slammed the gavel down. The following words bellowed from His lips..


'This woman is free.'


The penalty for her sins has already been paid in full.


'Case dismissed.'


As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving, 'I won't give up, I will win the next one.' I asked Jesus as He gave me my instructions where to go next, 'Have you ever lost a case?'


Christ lovingly smiled and said,


'Everyone that has come to Me and asked Me to represent them has received the same verdict as you,


~Paid In Full~

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Anniversary

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!

On August 23rd, 2008 I was set free from Armstrongism. This weekend will mark my first anniversary. 1 year!!

(John 8: 31-32, 36) 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

I am free indeed!
The Newsboys "In the Hands of God" is sort of my new theme song.

It both feels like a lifetime ago, and a week ago.
I'm still recovering. Still got a ways to go. But I'm on my way. I'm a free man.

I feel a little like the blind man that Jesus healed at the Pool of Siloam (which means "sent"). Read the whole of John 9.
From as early as I can remember (as best as I can tell I was 5 years old) my father taught me Armstrongist principles. My eyes were blind. Last year, I washed in the water of the One who was sent. My eyes were opened, and I received sight. I have been questioned and opposed by some of my former peers. Most won't listen because they are too convinced that they need no one to teach them. I was not put out, but I had to leave all the same. At first I had trouble recognizing Christ. But He searched for me until He found me.

(JOHN 9: 38) Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

Lord, I believe!! And I worship Him! He is amazing! Worthy is the Lamb!

(REV. 5: 11-13) 11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Take a second or two with me to worship Him for the wonders He has done, won't you?


"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


************

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

Acts 17:11

************

Monday, August 17, 2009

Who Is The BEAST?

I would like to ask some tough questions about the understanding of the Roman Empire as it was taught to us by Herbert Armstrong. I do not have many answers, but I do have some questions. I was reviewing a post I wrote a while ago and found it to be incomplete. I would like to revisit this subject once more.

Could it be the description of Rome as the fourth beast of Daniel 7 (the seventh head of Rev. 13) was incorrect? Could it be that we were taught to WATCH intensely in one direction, but that direction isn’t the right one? (If we were staring off in the wrong direction, were we really watching?) Could it be that history doesn’t agree with the traditional COG interpretation of the prophetic beasts – and therefore we need to study our Bibles again on a subject we thought we already knew?

Let’s review some quotes from a booklet entitled “Who Is the BEAST?” by Herbert W. Armstrong (1960 edition).

The text says one of his HEADS was wounded to death.

Yes, ONE of his heads was wounded, NOT the entire beast! If the head was merely wounded, then why did the Western Roman Empire fall in its entirety? Think of that in terms of Greece. We know Greece had four divisions. If Greece is the third beast, and historically two of its four heads (Cassander and Lysimachus) were absorbed by a third (Seleucus) and the fourth (Ptolemy) was in constant battle with the third, then why didn’t the entire Greek beast die when TWO of its heads were lopped off and the other two fought bitterly? But we are to believe that the one head of the fourth beast is wounded, and that equals the downfall of Rome – the entire fourth Beast from Daniel’s perspective? Remember, we’re just talking about one head here. And why did the Eastern Empire remain in tact? Can half of a head die? Can half a beast die?

The BEAST INCLUDED THE SEVEN HEADS and the TEN HORNS.

Notice this as well, all ten horns are part of the Roman beast.

John sees the beast living in the days of its seventh head, the Roman Empire. And when that HEAD of the beast had its deadly wound, HIS -- the beast's -- deadly wound was healed. The horns now reign, one by one.

OK, note closely what is said here… the head gets a wound, and AFTER the wound is healed the ten horns begin to reign. This will also be turned around in the next paragraph.

The Roman empire in Northern Africa was overrun by the Vandals, who sacked Rome in 455.

But the Vandals were neither Roman, nor part of the Roman Empire, so they don’t count. They stole some territory but never took down the Western Empire. So they don't count. “Overrun” is a bit of an exaggeration, I’d say. This fact overruns what HWA just got done saying! The Vandals, who were not Roman, nor conquered Western Rome, both wounded the Roman Beast and were part of a Roman beast? I think not!

They, as the "first horn", weren’t the first to invade, either. The Visigoths (meaning Western Goths - not to be confused with the Vandals) invaded in 408-410. These Goths went on to remove Britain, Spain, and France from Roman control by 423. This is years before the Vandal invasion in 455. And this is completely ignored! In fact, it was the Visigoths that drove the Vandals down through Spain, out of Europe, and into North Africa in the first place. The Vandals then worked their way across Northern Africa and up onto the Italian peninsula. Why then aren’t the Visigoths counted as a horn? They did an awful lot more than the Vandals did. All of this is ignored. What else is ignored? Where is mention of the Angles, Saxons, Franks, Lombards, and Bergundians? Missing!

Also ignored is the fact that the capital of the Western Empire at that time was Revenna, not Rome. So capturing Rome didn’t mean as much as it would have. Capturing Rome would be like capturing Philadelphia and declaring the capital of America has fallen. The Vandals then quickly withdrew from Italy, keeping only the island of Sicily. Horn plucks up itself?

Then in 476 Odoacer set up his government at Rome, called the HERULI.

This is incorrect. Odoacer (aka. Odovacar, aka Otto) of the Heruli set up his government at Ravenna, not Rome. The date 476 is generally accepted as the fall of the Western Roman Empire. If head = Western Rome, then head = dead. As a side note, he drove the Visigoths from Sicily. Horn plucks up horn?

But it did not heal the deadly wound, for this was a government IN Rome. It was not a ROMAN government, but one of foreign barbarians.

I hope you caught that. By his own criteria if you are not a Roman government then you are not a horn. His logic is overrun!

Now pay close attention. Odoacer voluntarily renounced any title of Emperor that he gained by defeating the West and made peace with Eastern Rome by recognizing the rule of Emperor Zeno. Odoacer submitted to Zeno to prevent trouble from the East. Zeno then made him Patrician of the Western Empire - in other words, Odoacer was an official of the Eastern Roman government. Thus HWA was again incorrect.

Then there was the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, 493-554, another outside foreign people who ruled in the territory. But they were driven out of Italy and disappeared.

How do we categorize Theodoric the Great, King of the Ostrogoths? He grew up in Constantinople, the capitol of the Eastern Roman Empire, he was favored by Emperors, was made master of their soldiers, and even rose to the rank of Consul. This was a Byzantine Roman indeed! But at age 31 he returned to his people and was made King. So, was he Roman or Barbarian? Here we have another group who were (uncomfortably) allied to Eastern Rome, and led by what was practically a Roman, now ruling in Italy.

In 493, Theodoric of the Ostrogoths (an ally of Constantinople) fought Odoacer of the Heruli (a viceroy of Constantinople) to a stalemate. They declared co-regency and held a banquet to celebrate. At that banquet, Theodoric killed Odoacer with his own hands and became sole ruler. Horn plucks up horn again?

These three kingdoms, sweeping into the Roman territory, filled the period known in history as the ‘transition age.’ (See Myers' Ancient History, page 571.) That is, a TRANSITION between the wound and the healing.

**CORRECTION**

They are part of what Myers calls “The Transition Age”, but they do not by any means fill that period. Myers lists the “Transition Age” as being from 476 - 800 AD! The Vandals came in 455 A.D. That is 99 years before the start of the “Transition Age”. They weren’t even in Italy at the start of this age. The Ostrogoths were conquered in 554 A.D. That is 246 years before the end of this age. That is longer than the time the United States has been a nation!

It was NOT a “transition” from wound to healing. This isn’t even remotely accurate. HWA actually misrepresents what Myers said! Why? Maybe it was because the word “transition” was too tempting to leave off. He figured none of us simpletons would check anyhow.

**END CORRECTION**

To my shame I did NOT check. No. Rather I had PRIDE in my own ignorance! A prideful fool! I condemned others for not holding to this “truth”! And I am ashamed.

In HWA’s mind, the Vandals, Heruli, and Ostrogoths were not Roman. But does that really matter? Allow me to remind you that the prophecy states the head was wounded, not the horns, and not BY the horns! One might reply "the head is the horns." But that's not what HWA says. Remember, “And when that HEAD of the beast had its deadly wound, HIS -- the beast's -- deadly wound was healed. The horns now reign, one by one.” Also, these “horns” ruled before HWA understood the wound to be healed. Since this is the case, according to HWA’s own qualifiers, they cannot count among his 10 horns of Rome!!

What’s more is HWA completely ignores the fact that the city of Rome was not the Roman capital at that time, Ravenna was. The capital was moved by Emperor Honorius in 402.

And he completely ignores that both Odoacer of the Heruli and Theodoric of the Ostrogoths were working for Eastern Rome.

The explanation - because it doesn’t fit the theory. Facts? BAH! This information does not fit the theory proposed by Alexander Hislop, so it is overlooked. Can we trust the historical interpretations of men who ignore such critical history as this?

Now Daniel saw a ‘little horn’ coming up AMONG these ten, before whom these first three were ‘plucked up by the roots.’

Let’s define two terms according to Herbert Armstrong’s understanding. “Little Horn” = the Pope. “First three” = Vandals, Heruli, & Ostrogoths.

With those definitions in mind, two things here are incredibly important. First, the little horn [Pope] comes up among the other 10 (not the first three only). The Pope as the Bishop of Rome preceded these people by a couple hundred years officially, and over two thousand years according to Alexander Hyslop’s teachings which HWA promoted as gospel. The Pope didn’t come up among the groups here mentioned, so he cannot be the little horn. Secondly The Vandals, Heruli, and Ostrogoths COULD NOT BE THE FIRST THREE HORNS!!! They aren’t horns to be plucked up! They don’t count!!

That leaves 7 horns to come.

NO!! It leaves 11 horns to come!! The little horn has not been identified, nor have his 10 companions.

And of the little horn, Daniel 7 says ‘his look was more stout than his fellows.’ The papacy dominated completely all the horns to follow.

No, it didn’t! Neither Odoacer the Arian, or Theodoric the Arian and supposed persecutor of Catholics, or Justinian – maker of Popes, nor Napoleon - who crowned himself, nor Hitler’s Third Reich (or, if you would like, Mussolini’s Italy) were dominated by the Pope.

Besides this fact, did anyone consider it WASN’T the papacy who plucked up the Vandals, the Herulii, or the Ostrogoths? But actually the Vandals plucked themselves up, the Herulii were plucked up by the Ostrogoths upon request by the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno, and the Ostrogoths were plucked up by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian – NOT THE POPE!!! The Pope wasn’t in the slightest bit involved!!! Besides, prophetically the little horn is not the Pope, it is in fact one of the horns – the 11th horn!

The Deadly Wound HEALED
It was the fourth kingdom (symbolized by the fourth horn),

But this is contrary to everything he said previous to this point!! According to what was said at the start, we can’t start counting off horns until after the wound is healed. So at best this is the first horn!

succeeding the fall of the Empire in 476, which really HEALED the deadly wound, and restored the EMPIRE.

Let’s ask… who felled the empire in 476? Why, it was none other than Odoacer of the Heruli, Byzantine Patrician in the West. Didn't that both fell and restore the empire? (I'm not arguing with historians, just asking questions.) He was the second horn and not the first. What was the qualification of the first horn then? Odoacer was followed by Theodoric, ally of the East, the third horn. What nonsense statement is that quote, then? Why was Emperor Justinian, the fourth horn, the healer of the Head and not these two men who worked on behalf of his empire? Yes, the Western Empire fell in 476 (not by the first horn), and yes another Roman Empire did come after that, but as stated that sentence makes no real sense. What did Justinian do that these two men did not do? And let’s not even get into the fact that Italy was conquered by the Lombards (yet another Germanic barbarian tribe) three short years after Justinian’s death. So the healing was not very well healed after all.

This brings us back to the wounding of the head. Why is the Byzantine Empire ignored by HWA? Is the West the fourth beast/seventh head, or is the East? How can only HALF of a head die? How can only half of a beast die? Why aren’t there TWO heads for the Roman beast? There are two emperors, and two separate but connected empires. They were linked through a common history before 395AD, but separate from one another after 395AD. But the East was clearly the greater. Why is only the West the beast? These are questions I don’t have the answer to. Except to say that looking at Rome for the Beast is most likely not correct at all.

In A.D. 554, Justinian, Emperor of the East, from Constantinople, set up his government through an Imperial Legate at Ravenna, Italy, and brought about what is known in history as the "Imperial Restoration" of the Empire.

It may have been an “imperial restoration”, but think about this detail – if the Western Roman Empire is the beast in question here then it is now not healed but conquered completely by the Eastern Roman Empire. Justinian ruled from Constantinople, not Rome. Legate or no, it was a vassal in no real way different than Odoacer or Theodoric. The western beast isn’t healed, the western beast is DEAD!

How did the beast move from Greece to Rome in the first place? Rome absorbed Greece. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the beast is now in the East (and had been since Odoacer’s time)? And according to one of his earliest statements, THIS is where the ten horns should BEGIN to reign one by one, “And when that HEAD of the beast had its deadly wound, HIS -- the beast's -- deadly wound was healed. The horns now reign, one by one.” So why do we look to the Holy Roman Empire as a continuation of the Beast? Why not to the Byzantine Empire?

That the Holy Roman Empire is the ten toes seems very unlikely. It doesn’t fit the pattern of the Bible. Justinian “restored the Roman Empire” in 554. However, the Holy Roman Empire (it’s full name is the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nation) was not begun until four centuries later in 962 by Otto I. What happened in the mean time? The Germanic empires, some very small and rather insignificant to the world, were neither Roman, nor a continuation of Rome, nor significant to the area of Judea. The Bible focuses on that area mainly. Focusing on the Hapsburg dynasty isn’t typical. Similar to that would be focusing on the Mongol invasion of Europe. It doesn’t add up.

There were more than just seven “restorations” of the Holy Roman Empire. There were dozens, perhaps even hundreds of restorations. It was always a difficult point to make that a highly select group of five or seven or ten of these “empires” were the right ones. And not a single one of those entities remains today. The Holy Roman Empire ended in 1806. There is no prophecy of the horns or toes being “wounded”. If the Head of the Beast was “wounded” in it’s downfall of less than 100 years, then what of the horns who have been wiped from the Earth now for multiple generations of men?

What complicated this even further is that we have seen there aren’t merely seven horns left in HWA’s reckoning, there are ten, and one little horn, totaling eleven, and a restored head, which brings the count up to 12 entities. Many things have to be overlooked in order to fit this in, and that just isn’t right. I’m not even going to get into the details of how HWA proclaimed that Mussolini was the Beast in 1930’s, only to drop that story and claim Hitler was the Beast, only to drop that story and claim Hitler was not killed but was hiding out and waiting to restore his kingdom in the 1950’s.

If you really REALLY want to complicate matters, read Daniel 2. In the statue dream, all ten toes exist at the same time and they are all smashed by the returning Christ. Jesus didn’t return at the end of each restoration of the Roman Empire. Now read Revelation 13: 11-14, and Revelation 17: 9-13, & 16-17 -- this clearly states the final beast (which is the little horn and the King of the North) and the ten horns all exist contemporaneously. This matches Daniel 7: 24 which states the little horn will come up while the other ten are there. Speaking of Daniel 7, verses 11-12 states the fourth beast was destroyed, but the other three remained for a season and a time. Put those together and we cannot have a little horn coming up separate from and thousands of years before the other ten.

I believe that Herbert Armstrong’s interpretation of the beasts was flawed by a very charismatic interpretation of the Bible found in Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons. I believe that HWA was sincere in wanting to understand. The fact of the matter is that it simply wasn’t time for God to reveal the meanings of the prophecies back then. Never the less, HWA’s description simply does not fit the account of the fourth beast of Dan. 7, or the beast of Rev. 13. The area of the Western Roman Empire may yet be the area of the fourth beast of Dan. 7 and the seventh head of Rev. 13. But maybe it isn’t! Has anyone checked to see if other nations or empires fit better? THEN WE HAVE NOT WATCHED! We have not PROVED! We have speculated and theorized, observed and opined, overlooked and rearranged, debated and accepted – but like a politician, we are long on words and short on real action. How can this please God?

I don’t have all the answers, my only viable alternative is more speculation about how the nature of the Beast closely resembles the plans of the certain Muslim nations. Even the United States from time to time looks like it could fit. But there’s no denying the traditional description is flawed. And I believe it to be fatally flawed because WE tried to fit history to the theory put forth in the book The Two Babylons when WE should have been fitting our beliefs to the Bible.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Quick Primer on the Rules of Evidence


When it comes to truth versus deception, there are methods one can employ for recognizing the two. There is “hard” evidence such as a “thus saith the Lord” and other plain statements in Scripture that make an unmistakable statement.

Then there is “weak” evidence that often relies on the methods of deception such as assumption, rationalization, and inference.

If one goes back and examines the writings of HWA, they would discover his use of the methods of deception on a regular basis.

Allow me to provide an example.

In the old sabbath booklet, he stated, in relation to the sabbath and law, that if the law indeed were done away, people would be free to go about committing murder, theft, adultery, etc. on a wholesale basis.

How would you categorize this claim of his, that has been repeated like a broken record by both Armstrongites and Seventh Day Adventists?

Do we have any statement in Scripture that backs up this claim? I’ve never seen one.

Let’s ask some critical thinking questions here, and see what develops.

If you, you being a Christian with the very spirit of God in you who believes you have to “keep” that law (regardless of whether we define it as the “whole” law or just the ten commandments), discovered that you truly were not required to keep the conditions of that old covenant law that was between God and Israel as so stated in Scripture (hard evidence), would you, as a result, now go about committing these acts? No? Why not? After all, HWA insists you would!

To word this another way from a critical thinking view, is the law the only thing that keeps you from committing these acts? If the law truly was set aside, you are now going to indulge the flesh, right?

Please note HWA’s claim is based in an accusation. This is not so much evidence as much as it is a form of persecution wrapped in an accusation. He is implying that Christians, without the restraint of the law, will go about living a sinful lifestyle. To HWA, the spirit of the law was no law at all. He accuses Christianity without the law as those who believe they have a license to sin.

So he gave a claim that had no evidence in support of it. What other ways is this claim lacking?

Do Christians sin? Yes. I ask, did king David have God’s spirit? Yes, he did, and he was guilty of committing a number of sins, and here’s part the point: He had that law! Yet he committed those sins after all. So, does the law prevent people from sinning? No! What then does the law do? It convicts the sinner of his sin, and condemns the sinner for his sin, and rightly and justly so.

Now what changed in regards to Christians and their relationship to that law? They were removed from the law, and this was made possible by putting an end to that covenant law. The Christian is defined as dead to the law and dead to sin. One who has died can no longer be held to a covenant they were previously a party to (from the Jewish perspective), such as a marriage covenant.

This is “hard” evidence of Scripture. There is no way around it, and many have tried. You cannot be legally held to the conditions of a covenant you are not a party to, and a covenant that ended. The most common rationale (and rationales are not hard evidence) is that the institution of marriage continues, therefore the law continues. This rationalization is not relevant, for a dead person cannot enter into, or be a party to, a marriage covenant. The institution of marriage has no bearing on a dead person. Critical thinking would have us understand, if this were true and relevant, that dead people are still, somehow, bound to the mate they left behind, and that in the kingdom of God, people will still be married, contrary to the teachings of Christ. And finally, the institution of marriage can exist while single people exist. Single people are not held to a marriage covenant; the institution of the marriage covenant has no bearing on a single person.

This then is but one example of flawed logic, or the use of a logical fallacy, which is another of the methods of deception.

What you see being used by those who insist we are to keep the law, and especially the sabbath, are all the methods of deception in an attempt to overcome the hard evidence about the law and its relationship to Christians and Christianity. Yet all the rationalizations, assumptions, and inferences in the world cannot overthrow the hard evidence. In other words, 5 rationalizations do not overthrow 1 hard piece of evidence, and yet this is exactly the kind of practice you find among those who insist we are to keep the law and sabbath. Imagine if you will, these same people on trial for their lives, and the prosecuting attorney brings forth the sort of flimsy and weak evidence they use to try and prove we are all to keep the sabbath! They would be screaming foul at the top of their lungs.

Let’s now look at more of the claims commonly used by those who insist we are to keep that law.

“The law was written with the finger of God, thereby demonstrating it’s importance to God and all mankind.”

Here then I will list out the criteria regarding evidence:

1. Does the claim resort to the use of inference, assumption, or rationalization? What we have is a premise followed by a drawn out conclusion based in assumption, rationalization, and inference.

2. Is there comprehensive evidence to support the claim? No. Nowhere do we find any declaration in Scripture that we should be keeping the law because it was written by the finger of God.

3. Is there evidence to the contrary, and does the one making the claim address this evidence in order to demonstrate said evidence does not conflict or contradict the claim? There is evidence to the contrary, and rarely do you find them addressing evidence to the contrary using the proper methods of scholarship. I could have said you never see them doing this, but I have not read every scrap of what has been written by sabbatarians.

Not all mankind was party to that covenant, and a fact of covenants is that, if you are not a party to a covenant, you cannot be held to the conditions of that covenant. God does not do things illegally.

4. Is the claim logical? No. There is no distinct connection between the premise and the conclusion.

Another example: The law was written in stone, thus showing the permanence of that law.

1. Does the claim resort to the use of inference, assumption, or rationalization? Yes. Without the premise, the conclusion can be shown to be false citing Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:9.

2. Is there comprehensive evidence to support the claim? No. There is no declaration in Scripture that equates the “permanence” of stone with the permanence of that law.

3. Is there evidence to the contrary? Yes, as cited above.

4. Is the claim logical? No, for we could ask the question, “If the stone demonstrates their permanence, then were are the stones today? We could just as easily claim that, seeing as they are no more, therefore that law is no more.

One of the favorites of the pro-sabbath crowd is to use the statement about Jesus being Lord of the sabbath. They do not recognize the fact that they are lifting the passage out of context and treating it eisegetically, which is yet another of the methods of deception. The claim goes like this:

The sabbath was made for man (Gr. anthropos; mankind) and Jesus is Lord of the sabbath, therefore all mankind is required to keep it.

1. Does the claim resort to the use of inference, assumption, or rationalization? Yes, it rationalizes and assumes, and infers that man here means all men of all time.

2. Is there comprehensive evidence to support the claim? No. Nowhere do we find a commandment in Scripture where all mankind was commanded to keep the sabbath.

3. Is there evidence to the contrary? Yes. There are a number of references to Gentiles not being under the law, and the law includes the sabbath commandment. There are also the references to the Christian collective not being under the law. Also there is the evidence of the sabbath being the sign of the old covenant between God and Israel. If all mankind were commanded to keep the sabbath, it could not have been that sign.

Also, the Greek word anthropos can have a wide scope of understanding, whereas the sabbath keeper seeks to narrow its definition and application so that it must mean all mankind as opposed to the man to whom it was given, as is supported by the context and overall Scripture.

4. Is the claim logical? On the surface, out of context, the claim appears to be logical. We can demonstrate the flaw in the logic by citing a similar example where the flawed logic is more apparent.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. - Matthew 10:22

Jesus said that a Christian would be hated by “all” and “all” would include all other Christians, therefore Christians will be hated even by other Christians. All means all inclusive, without exception.

I can even demonstrate “comprehensive” evidence, seeing as the citation is found three times in Scripture by Christ, who is the end authority. What comes out of His mouth must override all else!

Is it logical? No! Is there evidence to the contrary? Yes! Does it resort to inference, assumption, or rationalization? Yes! I would hope that people today understand the flaw in Clintonian semantics (“It all depends on what “is” is”).

I need to point out that a claim can pass some of these criteria, and yet still be false. Some can even fail the criteria and be true. The issue is, the more a claim passes these tests, the more likely it is true. Claims that have a premise, when it comes to religion, are more likely to be suspect. Premises can easily be false or based in a logical fallacy.

The most common false claims use inference, assumption, and rationalization instead of a “thus saith the Lord” or a plain statement of biblical “fact”. Another common deceptive claim is the use of trying to prove a negative. Examples:

Jesus never said not to keep the law. Jesus never said not to keep the sabbath.

Well, Jesus never said not to play the accordion either!

You cannot logically prove a negative. All such claims are useless when it comes to determining truth.

Once you get used to looking for arguments and claims that use the methods of deception, the easier it is to recognize them for what they are. But like anything else, it takes practice and a willingness to be honest with yourself when it comes to examining your own beliefs.

The one fact of Scripture that stands supreme is the gospel; salvation through faith in Christ alone. Any claim or argument that is put forth, stating anything else is required or necessary in relation to one’s salvation is a false claim. And yet, such claims abound.

Scripture claims salvation through faith, and it is this gospel we are to believe; it is Christ in whom we place our faith. Everything else must be judged in relation to this. Where then does that leave the claim we are required to keep the sabbath? It leaves it in contradiction to the gospel. It is a claim that contradicts the hard evidence. It is a claim that resorts to the methods of deception.

I have given the criteria above in regards to how one evaluates a claim. One criteria I have not mentioned yet is what is called the falsifiability test, where a claim must be of such a nature that one can imagine evidence to the contrary. Rarely do you see such claims, but they do exist, and most such claims fall when examined through the other methods one uses to determine the truth of a claim. An example of a claim that fails this test would be a person who claims direct contact with God; that God spoke to him (or her) directly or through an another, such as an angel or prophet. You cannot produce evidence that proves the claim as false. You might be tempted to say you should accept the person’s claim based on reverse logic (he speaks the truth, therefore God speaks to Him) or faith, but from a critical thinking viewpoint, we have to ask ourselves if this is how God deals with mankind today, through a method that is easily faked.

Another example would be a religious leader who claims to be infallible. Note please that most today will deny infallibility, but demand adherence to what they teach, and will not tolerate anyone questioning them and what they teach! They may claim direct inspiration from God (as above) and therefore what they turn around and impart to you is, indeed infallible while distancing themselves in the process. It is a word game with them.

The most common form of a claim that is unfalsifiable in a false belief system would be a claim where all evidence to the contrary is dismissed due to the nature of the claim. For example:

All true Christians keep the sabbath.

If you counter claim that there are Christians who do not keep the sabbath, it is dismissed because of the nature of the claim. If someone who does not keep the sabbath claims to be a Christian, they are declared to be non-Christian, and indeed, anti-Christ. One’s faith is dismissed, and one’s faith is seen as less important than keeping a physical old covenant requirement. The claim, as stated, cannot be proven false simply because of the nature of the claim.


Here then is a list of commonly used methods of deception and disinformation.

The use of inference, rationalization, and assumption.

The use of eisegesis; taking a passage of scripture out of context and drawing a conclusion not supported by the context, and not supported by the rest of Scripture.

The use of logical fallacies. There are several websites on the internet where these can be studied in detail.

Transference. Taking that which God commanded one person or group and applying it to another person or group. The most common example of this is teaching Christians they have to keep the old covenant law that they were never a party to, despite the weight of Scripture that forbids doing so.

Redefining words and terms. This is common with false systems of belief. You will often see an appeal to a regular dictionary when it is more appropriate to use a Bible dictionary.

Examples in the sabbatarian world would include their claim that the old covenant law is eternal, or at least the ten commandments. What is not realized is that they have elevated the ten commandments to the status of God. It is God who is eternal. A form of transference is at play here in order to bolster the law. The sabbatarian unwittingly now serves the law as though it were a god, and this is contrary to the point Jesus was trying to make when He pointed out that He was “also” Lord of the sabbath. The sabbath’s intent was to serve the man, and not the man to serve the sabbath. The sabbatarain ends up serving the sabbath after all. Just look at the debates within the sabbatarian community as to what one can and cannot do on the sabbath. The most entertaining of these is the never ending soap opera over whether one can eat out at a restaurant on the sabbath. The Pharisees of old are nothing compared to today’s sabbatarians.

Another example of this sort of thing is the sabbatarian appeal to I John 3:4 and the translation there that has gone beyond translation into interpretation as found in the KJV where sin is defined as “the transgression of the law” – an impossible translation given the definition of anomia in relation to the time and place; the “Situation in Life” as commented on below. Only the KJV makes this interpretive translation, but no matter; it serves the purpose of the sabbatarian, and all other translations and the evidence of our understanding of Greek and its usage at that time and place is ignored out of hand.

Black and white thinking. This is a form of rigid thinking where a claim is made in such a way as to force an opposite and extreme result should the claim be rejected. It is an “either - or” approach that leaves no other possibilities. HWA was a master at this sort of fallacy. Notice the title of the old sabbath booklet he wrote: “Which day is the Christian Sabbath?” As you read the booklet, you find that the argument is redefined as one of, “either Saturday is the sabbath, or Sunday. In the book he states he will examine whether a sabbath is to be kept, but then never does. The issue is redefined as an “either - or” with the possibility that no day being required conveniently lost in the booklet. By setting up Sunday as a straw-man, he knocks it down, leaving Saturday as the only thing left.

I have elsewhere shown that Friday can be the sabbath; a fact that drives sabbatarians nuts. Go east from Israel, paying attention to sunsets, and your sabbath, should you continue to the USA, will begin anywhere from 13 to 15 hours earlier than it does in Israel, seeing as the sun will set for you that much earlier, and this brings you to Thursday at sunset.

As mentioned before, HWA made the claim that, if the law were no longer in force, people would be free to sin with impunity knowing there is no longer any punishment for sin. No other possibilities are entertained. This is also a logical fallacy, and indeed many of the methods of deception I could list here are also logical fallacies. There is much overlap.

Negation of person. This is also known as an “Ad Hominem” where a person is attacked in order to reject what he or she has to say on a particular subject. The evidence they put forth is rejected out of hand because the one providing the evidence is not seen as being a true or worthy person. There is a logical fallacy that is the opposite of this, where one appeals to an authority figure in relation to the subject under discussion. They may know more about a topic, but their being an expert in the field does not make them invulnerable to error in that field.

There are quite a number of examples in Scripture where Jesus was treated with ad hominems. His critics said he had a demon, for example. You wouldn’t listen to what a demon has to say.

Likewise, the sabbatarian resorts to ad hominems in order to negate the person and what they offer as evidence that conflicts with the sabbatarians belief system. The person is perceived, if they used to be a member of their group, as never really having been a part of the group to begin with, and that their leaving was to abandon the truth, and by extension, abandoning God.

HWA indoctrinated the members to shun and not listen to those who left, they having learned he was a fraud. If one left and made a lot of noise, they were “marked” and you would be in big trouble if you so much as said hello to that person. Gerald Flurry has commanded his followers to totally withdraw even from family members who have left Armstrongism in order to shield them from the mounting numbers of people who have left and also learned what a fraud he is.

If you are one who left the teachings of Armstrong, and tried to discuss what you have learned, you have probably been hit with such an ad hominem that is a conditioned response:

“You just hate God’s law.” “You just refuse to abide in the truth.” “You have fallen under the sway of the devil.” “Your mind has been corrupted.” “You have itching ears.” “You do not have any love, proving you are wrong.” “I don't need to waste my time discussing this with someone who refuses to obey God's law.”

Trying to discuss the teachings of Armstrong with them is seen as an attack on them and their beliefs, and such attacks are seen as not based in love.

One last method is difficult to categorize, but it is a very common practice among deceptive groups. They examine all the evidence brought forth that is critical of their beliefs, and look for one point; one argument that they feel comfortable in rejecting, thus justifying dismissal of everything. But when it comes to refuting their evidence that supports their beliefs, they insist you answer every single argument they put forth, and then it is not enough; not as long as they can come up with just one more argument in support of their beliefs, and in this never ending circle of debate, they conveniently forget all the arguments for their beliefs you showed to be false. Hypocrisy is the mainstay of a false religious system.

Some of the proper methods of Biblical understanding are listed above, and there are a few other major methods to consider:

Who is speaking, and who is being spoken to? Sabbatarians are notorious for ignoring this basic rule of understanding, taking that which was commanded of Israelites and assigning it to Christians in order to bolster their belief in the sabbath and the rest of the law, regardless of how they interpret what laws apply and which do not.

The “Situation in Life” is where you take into consideration the use of language and the culture of the time and place. As touched on above, the Greek word, “anomia” had a meaning in the Greek speaking world of that time that conflicts with the “translation” given to it by the translators of the Church of England in the seventeenth century due to the heavy influence of the legalistic Puritan sect within the church. These are the same translators who translated the Greek word for “Passover” as “Easter.” The temptation here is to ask ourselves, if they are going to accept their translation of “anomia” into the five word English phrase, “the transgression of the law” then why don’t they accept their translation of Passover into Easter? It is all arbitrary; it is “pick and choose” theology.

Exegesis; is the process of understanding a passage in context. Like trying to understand anything else written in any book one must base their understanding on a passage in relation to the immediate context, as well as the rest of the book. An example here is found in Matthew 5:17-19, where “the law or the prophets” are interpreted by sabbatarians to be the legalities of the law.

The context refers to the law and prophets. Are there laws written and codified in the prophets? No. How then can you destroy or fulfill in the prophets laws that are not found in the prophets? You cannot. Also, the passage relates that, whatever it is that is the topic, it is not altered down to jots and tittles. Again, the sabbatarian concludes it is the law; the legalities of the law that do not change down to these strokes of the letters of the words that make up the law. However, the context in the same chapter later on has Jesus altering points of that law way beyond jots and tittles! Either Jesus was lying here, or the sabbatarians have this all wrong!

Notice I just made a claim. Is there any evidence in Scripture that reveals Jesus to be a liar? I could also be using black and white thinking here; an “either - or” statement where other possibilities may exist, but given the context, I don’t think so. What exists in the law and prophets with the potential to be fulfilled or destroyed? Prophesies. But this too is dismissed out of hand, quoting verse 18 and pointing out that the heavens and earth are still here, therefore Jesus did not fulfill all prophesies; therefore the law remains. That Jesus might be making a statement regarding his fulfilling prophesies now, and the rest of what is found in “the law” will too be fulfilled “according to the book” up to the time heaven and earth pass is also summarily dismissed without any proper exegesis. What is ignored by the legalist sabbatarian is the consequences of their interpretation with the context.

If it is the legalities of the law that are the subject, then what happens with the passing of heaven and earth? The legalities of the law pass also! So, this law said by them to be “eternal” ends up in the intergalactic trash can once it has been filled up to the full! Yep, great piece of exegesis on the part of sabbatarians...

Ambassador’s theology classes gave lip service to some of the methods of proper scholarship, then taught what they wanted you to believe anyway. Even still, there were a number of students and instructors, trained by Der Fuhrer Armstrong, who came to the realization the theology of Armstrong was seriously flawed. One such instructor I know of taught fourth year Bible and was perhaps one of the top ten men in “the work.” Others have quietly left. Some not so quietly. The point is, there are lots of men trained by Armstrong who, upon further education in the field of religion and Christianity, came to see that it was all a house built on sand. It was those who had a limited understanding of the Bible and the proper methods of scholarship who remained in the teachings of Armstrong. The same holds true today.

The quickest way to turn an Armstrongite into an ex-Armstrongite is to have them undergo intensive Bible study with a knowledge of the proper methods of recognizing truth and the proper understanding of how deceptions work while doing so without the colored lenses of Armstrongism before their eyes.

Easier said than done. Even as those of Jesus’ time who were big on the law were said to be dull of hearing and seeing, so too the modern legalist. I have had many such people declare to me as though they were bragging; “I’ve proven it all to myself. I have examined all the evidence. I don’t have to do it again.” If ever there was a statement reflecting that dullness of hearing, seeing and learning, that’s it.


************

It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

Acts 17:11

************

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Covenant and the Testimony

The Covenant, Tablets of the Covenant, Tables of Testimony, Tablets of the Testimony – these are some of the names for the two stones on which were written the Ten Commandments.

Find for me if you can any other thing that is more dear to the hearts of the Armstrongist churches than the 4th Commandment. Why? Because they feel these 10 are the unalterable and eternal moral law of God, binding on all men for all time... except that they feel Jesus Christ has magnified [altered] them… all but the 4th one, that is. Now, ask any Armstrongist and they will tell that the Old Covenant is in fact gone.

But many people, including the Armstrongists, insist that the 10 Commandments are just as binding today as they were in Moses’ day. We were never taught just what the 10 Commandments actually are. Most do not understand that they ARE the heart of the Old Covenant. They refuse to accept it. Read for yourself what the very heart of the Old covenant was:

(EXO. 34: 28) So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

(DEU. 4: 13) So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.

(DEU. 9: 9) When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.

(DEU. 9: 11) And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.

(DEU. 9: 15) So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire; and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands.

And now let’s turn our attention to the Ark of the Covenant. Why do you suppose they called it the Ark of the Covenant? Because it was the Ark (box, repository) of the Covenant (Ten Commandments).

(I KIN. 8: 9, 21) 9 Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. 21 And there I have made a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD which He made with our fathers, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.

There are 45 verses in the KJV where the phrase “Ark of the Covenant” can be found.

(NUM. 10: 33; 14: 44; DEU. 10: 8; 31: 9, 25, 26; JOS. 3: 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17; 4: 7, 9, 18; 6: 6, 8; 8: 33; JDG. 20: 27; I SAM. 4: 3-5; II SAM. 15: 24; I KIN. 3: 15; 6: 19; 8: 1, 6, 9, 21; I CHR. 15: 25-29; 16: 6, 37; 17: 1; 22: 19; 28: 2, 18; II CHR. 5: 2, 7, 10; 6: 11; JER. 3: 16; HEB. 9: 4)

Anyone who insists the Decalogue is not the Old Covenant, I'm very sorry, but the overwhelming weight of this evidence stands against your interpretation.

Let's look at another angle. The Ark is also known as the Ark of the Testimony and the tablets the Teblets of the Testimony.

(EXO. 31: 18) And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

(PSA. 32: 12) If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I shall teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore

(EXO. 32: 15) And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written.

Testimony means “witness”, as in a witness in a court hearing. These two tablets were the Tablets of the Testimony. A witness between Israel and God that the Covenant was agreed to, and it bore witness both to blessings for keeping the covenant and curses for not keeping the covenant.

This is just like Paul said.. the law says “do” (ROM. 10: 5-6; GAL. 3: 10-12). However, that way is not faith. That way is not of the New Covenant. The New, glorious Covenant is not like the Old (JER. 31: 31-32). The Old was passing away in Paul’s time. In fact Paul says it was passing away as Moses descended the mountain (II COR. 3: 7, 13). In 70 AD it passed away completely.

God keeps a copy of the Testimony in His temple, much the same way as a bank keeps a copy of loan forms.

(REV. 11: 19) Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.

These things Moses had were merely copies of the things in Heaven (HEB. 8: 4-5; 9: 23). What need do we have of the wooden box or the stone tablets? Even the food laws, Feast Days, Sabbaths, and New Moons were mere shadows (COL. 2: 16-17). The entire Old Covenant was temporary. The eternal substance, the reality is Christ! He is our rest (MATT. 11: 28; JER. 31: 2). (Thus we see even the 4th Commandment was magnified.) Jesus is the High Priest (HEB. 8: 1-2). Jesus is the sacrifice (EPH. 5: 2). Jesus is the redemption (ROM. 3: 24; EPH. 1: 7; COL. 1: 14).

And again the Old is not like the New. Three times every year all the males had to travel to the tabernacle (temporary dwelling) where this box sat and testified against them (EXO. 23: 14, 24; DEU. 16: 16). When they arrived, they were not allowed in. There was a veil that prevented anyone from even seeing the earthly copy of the Ark of the Covenant (EXO. 26: 33; 40: 3). If someone were to accidentally come into contact with the Ark, they would die (II SAM. 6: 6-7; I CHR. 13: 9-10). One day each year, on the Day of Atonement, only the High Priest was allowed to pass beyond the veil, and only after an elaborate sacrificial ritual (LEV. 16). So very many things were set in place to show that the people were set apart from God. All of that was fulfilled and changed in the New Covenant when Jesus’ blood atoned for the sins of mankind. The breach between man and God that had existed since Adam was now healed. That veil was torn in two when Jesus died (MATT. 27: 51; EPH. 2: 14). Today we have access directly to the throne of God. That is not to say that we have access to the Mercy Seat that was on the Ark of the Covenant that was kept behind the veil – no, we obtain mercy directly from the real throne of grace! We are not worthy, but Christ is.

(HEB. 4: 14-16) 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Having reviewed some differences between the Old and New Covenants, let’s look now at how the New treats these tablets.

(II COR. 3: 4-11) 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 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, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

Why was the Old called a “ministry of death” and “ministry of condemnation”? Isn’t the law good and holy (ROM. 7: 12)? Yes, it is. The problem was with men (HEB. 8: 8). We were not able to live up to it. And this is important! The point was that we should come to see how very sinful we are (ROM. 7: 13) and know how we cannot be perfect of our own effort, so that grace is an undeserved gift from God (EPH. 2: 8-9). This is not to say that we cannot be "good" people apart from Christianity. Mankind has a natural sense of morality, and we can discover moral truths by trial and error, but we will miss the bullseye. Even with the law in front of us we still miss the mark. Sin is not only a wholesale lawless abandonment of righteousness (I JOHN 3: 4), it can also be as simple as missing the mark. “Missing the mark” is probably the most basic definition of sin. The law no doubt about it is superior to going it alone, but even the law cannot bring God’s standard of righteousness to mankind, or else it would have done so (GAL. 3: 21). It cannot because it is external to us and it depends on our effort. It can guide us to being better than we otherwise would have been, but it cannot affect real change in our hearts. Here is a list of things that do not come by the law:
Justification (GAL. 2: 16)
Righteousness (GAL. 2: 21)
The Spirit (GAL. 3: 2)
Perfection (GAL. 3: 3)
Miracles (GAL. 3: 4)
Inheritance (GAL. 3: 18)
Life (GAL. 3: 21)
Grace (GAL. 5: 4)

Being fatally flawed because of the nature of men, and never having been meant to be eternal in the first place, the Old Covenant is gone (HEB. 8: 7-13). The Old is obsolete! Vanished away! We ask “what was the Old Covenant?” And the Bible itself tells us what the Old Covenant was (see above).

The idea that the Old is now written on our hearts and is still binding in practice stands directly at odds with the words of the Bible. Yet we see that murder, adultery, idolatry, blasphemy, theft, covetousness, etc are still against the eternal moral principles – which is summed up in one word, “love”. Is the difference merely academic? No. Why would Jesus die for an academic argument? Let’s get into that difference.

We’ve seen several times so far that the tablets were a testimony. A testimony of what? Of how wonderful and just and loyal and perfect mankind is? It should have been, but no. The law most often is an effective witness AGAINST us. The Old Covenant had blessings and curses. Read Psalms 50. It speaks of God’s love for the righteous and rebuke to the wicked. Herbert Armstrong spoke of a list of accusations against us. HWA used a certain verse as his reference point to this idea.

(COL. 2: 13-14) 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

We were taught in Armstrongism that this thing which was nailed to the cross was not the 10 Commandments but rather was a list of our sins. This list would be a serious testamony against us. We ask “what was the testimony?” The Bible itself tells us (see above). It was written on two Tablets of the Testimony and kept in the Ark of the Testimony. The very 10 Commandments are the testimony that was contrary to us!

How is this so??

(ROM. 7: 8-11) 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.

This is how!

Now, read again Bill Hohmann’s statement from his post “The Function of the Law”

“This then reveals a purpose of the law as being a witness against the Israelites [bolding mine]. They were, by nature, rebellious and stiff-necked. Elsewhere they are described as being faithless. They did not have the heart to follow God, even after the grand display where God spoke the ten commandments and the people heard God. This law exposed their collective hearts. This law prevented their denial in regards to their hearts.”

The law, which is unbendingly holy and just and good, accuses us of our sin and witnesses against us to our deaths. Our conscience bears witnesses that the testimony of the law against us is true. Note that the law has no provision for our forgiveness. If you mess up so much as one time, you are guilty. No amount of animal sacrifices could take away sin (HEB. 10: 11). This is why a Savior had to come. Not to rescue us from morality and deliver us to lustful anarchy, but to rescue us from our own earned condemnation and translate us through oneness with Christ into grace and the promise God swore upon Himself to Abraham (GAL. 3: 14, 18, 29).

The witnesses against us are the very ordinances written and engraved in stone … which those who teach the law do not understand (I TIM. 1: 7).

You see, it is not about us; it is about Christ. Our effort gets us nowhere at all. If we do nothing good, we will have a terribly hard time in the judgment. If we follow the law perfectly, erring only one time, we deserve no better. Saul was, legalistically speaking, blameless (PHP. 3: 6). Even so, Paul counted all of his legalistic accomplishments as dung for no less of a reason than God does not want our own righteousness through the law, He wants His own righteousness in us by faith (PHP. 3-11; ROM. 3: 28). If God is in us we will be growing and changing and learning to do good works. Then, do we really work at all? No. It is Christ that works in us. So, even if you do good, it is not you that does good, but Christ in you. It is no longer us who live (GAL. 2: 20). It is by faith from first to last (ROM. 1: 17). Never earned. We know the law is not faith (GAL. 3: 12). Faith in what or whom? Christ! It is not about us.

Loved dearly by God, are you offended at this? Why? Because you keep and teach and make your boast in the Old law? Those who love to teach the law do not themselves keep the law (GAL. 6: 13). Do you not know the Old law? That it enslaves us (GAL. 4: 21-31). That we fall from grace if we seek to be justified by the law (GAL. 5: 1-4). That it tests God (ACTS 15: 10). Or is it because you love to be condemned? Or to condemn others? I don't believe that.

Is it righteousness you are concerned with? Don't turn backwards to the Old Covenant. So many people have posed the false dilemma to me that if the Old Covenant law is removed then the only alternative is lawlessness. The Old is obsolete. That’s the Bible truth! In its place is the better covenant with better promises (HEB. 7: 22; 8: 6; 12: 24). If the perfect Spirit of the righteous God is in you, how do you suppose you should conduct yourself (I PET. 1: 15; II PET. 3: 11)? In the New Covenant we do not need to look back at the Old law that was against us and was a yoke no man could bear. Christ's yoke is light (MATT. 11: 29-30). We look forward to the New law, which is not new but is the first principle - love. God is love (I JOHN 4: 8). Love fulfills the law (MATT. 5: 17; ROM. 2: 27; 8: 4; 13: 8, 10; GAL. 5: 14; 6: 2; JAS. 2: 8).

Do we need the external Decalogue, which IS the Old Covenant (see above)? No. Are those who follow it condemned? I wouldn’t think so. Be fully convinced in your own mind. Following it personally and preaching that a seventh-day sabbath is a requirement on all Christians are two separate matters. The law is good if used rightly (I TIM. 1: 8).

Rather repent, believe, hold fast, endure temptation, be changed in your heart, love, and walk according to the Spirit!