Sometimes, you can have so many things going on at the same time, you don't know which item to devote the most time to. Sometimes, I feel like the man who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions at once.
That said, what has fascinated me since my awakening and departure from the WCG, was in trying to discern what made one person leave, and another person stay, where both parties had access to the same or essentially similar information. One of my motivations in this regard was to be better equipped at helping people to “see” again, and how the Armstrong theology is so seriously flawed and downright abusive, if not outright satanic.
Of course, one still ensconced in Armstongism, or the SDA, would balk loudly at this notion, claiming that the law they live by is “God's law” and as such, hardly satanic. However, just as it is with just about everything in this world, there is the proper “use” of a thing, and the “abuse” of the same thing.
What then was the purpose of use of the law, from the perspective of God? What did the Israelites perceive as the purpose of the law?
Moses wrote that, should they keep the law, it would be their righteousness, and who doesn't want to be righteous in the sight of God?
Deuteronomy 6:24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
But Moses also wrote that the law served the purpose of being a witness against them:
Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.
27 For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?
Can we look at the cold hard facts here?
God calls them stiff-necked, rebellious, and faithless. How do these characteristics manifest themselves in every day life?
We have a number of other descriptive that go hand in hand with these “qualities.” Pride. Arrogance. Egocentric.
What does it mean to be stiff-necked? It is a condition of being resistant to outside influences. “I'll do it my way.” “Don't tell me I can't drive fast. I'm a highly skilled driver with the reflexes of a cat and the vision of an eagle.” The stiff-necked person refuses correction or direction. They know it all, and if you don't believe it, just ask them. With either religion or politics, their mind is made up. They are right, and you are wrong. They read an article on a particular subject, and now they are experts on the subject. They are not open to other ideas once their minds are made up.
What they didn't understand then, and what a lot of people don't understand today, is that God played into their egos and stiff-necked, rebellious attitude by saying in effect, “Fine then, go ahead and produce your own righteousness through the law. Show me and the world that you can do it yourself and I will even shower you with blessings and wealth you can't even imagine."
The stiff-necked, rebellious, faithless, wants to boast in himself. So God gave them something to boast in; a law. God said, “Here's what you can do to be like Me. Here's how you too can be like God is God. Knock yourselves out.
The Israelites never kept the law; not even close.
Then comes along Jesus. You would think by then, based on what had happened to them as a people, that they would have been ready to admit they couldn't do it; they couldn't keep the law; that they would be ready to try something else, like, live and walk in faith.
No. They were still in denial. Like Psalms 44 shows, they actually thought they were in compliance with the law, and couldn't understand why God was punishing them. They could not face the truth. They were still stiff-necked and rebellious, insistent that they could do it themselves.
Move forward another 1800 some years, and you have a religious movement within the ranks of the Church of England who insisted they could still do it themselves, also suffering from the same malady of those earlier Israelites when it came to ego, being stiff-necked, rebellious, and generally judgmental and obnoxious. From this grouping sprang the modern sabbatarian movements, and they are the children of their theological parents.
They all made a mistake in judgment. They looked at the Israelites of old and concluded, “Why, no wonder they didn't keep the law; they didn't have God's Holy Spirit in them to enable them to keep the law. They were doomed from the beginning. We Christians are so much wiser and righteous than they. We have Christ and the law! We have the missing piece of the puzzle. We can do all things through Christ in us.”
The overall problem is: If you seek righteousness through your own efforts, you end up with “self” righteousness, and it is not a pretty thing. You also end up with people no better than those Israelites of old, who were in denial over the law, for the modern sabbatarian legalist really doesn't keep the law either; not even close. But try to convince them of that!
Paul wrote that it isn't the hearers of the law who are justified, but the doers. It's one of the legalist's favorite proof texts. What the legalist refuses to see, being in denial, is that none of them are doers of the law. They are, like the Israelites before them, “lippers” of the law, giving it lip service only. Somehow, just acknowledging the law is sufficient. Just acknowledging the law is somehow keeping the law, just as Israel of old did.
To those who believe it is God's Spirit that enables you to keep the law, how is that working out for you then? If, after all, it was the function and purpose of God's Spirit to keep the law, then you would keep the law, would you not? But you don't, do you! And what little law you do keep, you keep in accordance of the dictates of men, and not Scripture. And even here you are in denial.
Most sabbatarians (I refrain from saying “sabbath keepers” since they don't really keep the sabbath) feel that just “knowing” the sabbath is just as valid as keeping it. Other religious sects or offshoots (dare I write it and use the word “cult”?) have their own distinctives also, where the whole embodiment of their movement is summed up on one practice or over-riding belief. Baptists comes to mind first in regards to “mainstream”.
Before we wander off too far. We need to stop and ask ourselves what sort of person is the opposite of the egocentric, stiff-necked and rebellious, faithless, person?
They are pliant. They have come to see and understand that they could never in a thousand lifetimes live up to that standard set by the law. They are not hung up on the self and glorying in the self. They see themselves in relation to God and Christ as just a mere man who is a sinner and humanly unable and incapable of making himself over into anything near like God. They, in turn, are willing to walk in faith, taking on Christ's righteousness. They truly seek God and His Righteousness, and not their own.
God can work with such people. They will trust Him; believe Him. They will place their faith in Him. They will truly BELIEVE Him instead of looking for rationalizations to circumvent truly believing God and truly having faith in God.
They truly believe Christ's sacrifice was complete and we are complete in Him. It isn't half Christ's sacrifice and half our efforts in “keeping” the law. We, as Christians, have nothing to brag about, including keeping the sabbath or knowing the “truth” about it. The “truth” about the sabbath is that it was a shadow of God's rest that He began on that seventh day of Creation Week that the BELIEVER; the FAITHFUL enter into through faith, and not because they knew to keep the shadow.
The law was, and is, a great venue for separating out the egocentric and the humble; the faithless and the faithful; the stiff-necked and the pliant.
In closing, I give you the sabbatarian version of the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor law keepers: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn over breaking law: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek law keepers: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after self righteousness through the law: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful law keepers: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the law keepers who are pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the law keeping peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those law keepers which are persecuted for self-righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye law keepers, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so the law keeping people persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Ye law keepers are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye law keepers are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works of the law, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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