Why I will not try to obey the OT Law

l1So you are not even going to try to obey God’s Law? Nope. Not even a little? No. Aren’t you afraid of backsliding? No. Don’t you fear God? Not anymore, no. Aren’t you afraid of drifting away from God? No. Don’t you miss fellowship with God’s people? Not really, no. Are you a Christian? Yes, I consider myself a Christ-follower. Don’t you want a faith community? Someday yes, but not now. Why aren’t you going to even try to obey God? Well let me explain some things I’ve learned as a Christian outsider.

I’ve come to the realization the past several years that following Christ and His teachings is far more about learning how to love than learning how to obey the commands found in the Old Testament. At first I felt guilty. Shouldn’t Christians be striving to obey the 10 Commandments? My answer now is an emphatic, guilt-free “no!”.  My “yes” is the gospel and my “no” is the Law. Here is why.

Seven teachings of Paul the Apostle

In the past four years or so I’ve done more actual study of the bible than I did for the prior 20+ years. I actually love the Holy Scriptures now. And I respect them deeply, striving to discern what the Scriptures are saying. I cannot say my current theology resembles what Spurgeon or Wright would approve. However, both Charles H. Spurgeon and N.T. Wright have deeply influenced what I’ve learned and how I approach Scripture.

Teaching #1 – Striving to obey the OT Law is a cursed way of life.

A full Galatians, Romans and Ephesians study is warranted here, which I did in my personal bible study a couple years ago. Galatians 3:10 expresses this teaching most clearly: “All 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.'”

Teaching #2 – The OT Law is no longer our supervisor for right and wrong

How do we know what is right and wrong without the Law? I’m not an anarchist, so I believe in laws in society. And I’m in favor of documented laws in churches. But in practice, as we live and how we determine those laws, those laws really should no longer be checked against the OT Law. They should be checked against love. Again, we must read and study all of Galatians and many more texts. But Galatians 3:25 and Galatians 4:21 express this clearly: “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” and “Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?”

Teaching #3 – The OT Law been nailed to the cross

A full study of Colossians is warranted here. This teaching is a point of contention, even among the greats, as to what “nailing to the cross” means. Still, Colossians 2:13-15 expresses this clearly: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Teaching #4 -The OT Law has been fulfilled

I found that I didn’t really understand the word “fulfillment”. And thus I was confused by Jesus’ words. The OT Law was not abolished, so it does exist today. And the Law was not nullified, so it has a purpose (Romans). My contention is that the resolution to the Law not being abolished and not nullified is the teaching from Jesus that He fulfilled the Law. I find that Matthew 5:17-20 has been greatly misunderstood and misapplied. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Teaching #5 – The OT Law has a purpose to teach us about Jesus

In Acts we read the story of Philip being led by the Spirit to Gaza where he meets an Ethiopian eunuch, who was reading Isaiah. Did Philip or the Holy Spirit want this Ethiopian to learn about obeying the OT Law? No. He was taught the good news about Jesus. Acts 8:34-35 “The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”

Teaching #6 – The OT Law is not for Gentiles to strive to obey

When the early church was confronted with what to teach to the Gentiles, what did they teach them? They shared only three (four) things. This was their letter:

Acts 15: 23-29  With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:

Greetings.

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell.

Teaching #7 – The OT Law is an all or nothing proposition

So suppose I decide to obey the OT Law. Which part of it? Many have tried to dissect the Law, breaking it up into manageable chunks. But always it is discovered that these chunks are not manageable at all. We cannot ignore any part of the OT Law. We must either obey all of it, or admit failure even for breaking the least of the commands. Again, Galatians says this best. Galatians 5:2-4 “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”

There are many other passages that teach the same thing: God’s Law is not binding nor unifying on Christians, but the Spirit of God is binding and unifying.

Two teachings of Jesus

Teaching #1 – Jesus’ standard is infinitely higher than the OT Law

Jesus turned the OT Law upside down in the Sermon on the Mount.  And after expounding brilliantly, what did He conclude with? Did he say “Now go and obey the OT Law?” For the Jewish leper he healed right after the Sermon, yes he did say that. But in the Sermon, the sermon He knew would be heard by millions of Gentiles, Jesus concludes with this “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-29

Teaching #2 – Jesus’ standard is love for others

Who will be in Heaven? Jesus simply asks a question: Did you visit Me? “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”  Matthew 25:31-46

Love is a full-time job

I am compelled to stop worrying about whether getting a tattoo is right or wrong. Loving your self, your neighbors, your friends, your family, your strangers and your enemies is a full-time job. There is so much to learn about how to love our fellow human beings, especially those closest to us.

What kind of world would this be if we all stopped worrying about what is right or wrong about other people and started to learn how to love?

I hear Jesus saying “Go and learn how to love. I’ve got your sins covered.” I’ve decided to do just that.

62 comments

  1. Hi Brian, thanks for your post. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Tim Keller’s explainer about why Christians today still follow some parts of the Old Testament law while ignoring other parts. I found this post extremely helpful in understanding why, for example, we are still called to be faithful to our spouses, for example but not sacrifice animals, for example:
    http://www.redeemer.com/redeemer-report/article/old_testament_law_and_the_charge_of_inconsistency

    “Paul makes it clear in places like Romans 13:8ff that the apostles understood the Old Testament moral law to still be binding on us. In short, the coming of Christ changed how we worship but not how we live. The moral law is an outline of God’s own character—his integrity, love, and faithfulness. And so all the Old Testament says about loving our neighbor, caring for the poor, generosity with our possessions, social relationships, and commitment to our family is still in force. The New Testament continues to forbid killing or committing adultery, and all the sex ethic of the Old Testament is re-stated throughout the New Testament (Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 1 Timothy 1:8-11.) If the New Testament has reaffirmed a commandment, then it is still in force for us today.

    “Further, the New Testament explains another change between the Testaments. Sins continue to be sins—but the penalties change. In the Old Testament things like adultery or incest were punishable with civil sanctions like execution. This is because at that time God’s people existed in the form of a nation-state and so all sins had civil penalties.

    “But in the New Testament the people of God are an assembly of churches all over the world, living under many different governments. The church is not a civil government, and so sins are dealt with by exhortation and, at worst, exclusion from membership. This is how a case of incest in the Corinthian church is dealt with by Paul (1 Corinthians 5:1ff. and 2 Corinthians 2:7-11.) Why this change? Under Christ, the gospel is not confined to a single nation—it has been released to go into all cultures and peoples.

    “Once you grant the main premise of the Bible—about the surpassing significance of Christ and his salvation—then all the various parts of the Bible make sense. Because of Christ, the ceremonial law is repealed. Because of Christ the church is no longer a nation-state imposing civil penalties. It all falls into place. However, if you reject the idea of Christ as Son of God and Savior, then, of course, the Bible is at best a mish-mash containing some inspiration and wisdom, but most of it would have to be rejected as foolish or erroneous.

    “One way to respond to the charge of inconsistency may be to ask a counter-question—“Are you asking me to deny the very heart of my Christian beliefs?” If you are asked, “Why do you say that?” you could respond, “If I believe Jesus is the the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross. And so those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others.””

    • This is precisely the kind of thinking, from Keller, that helped guide my thoughts. I will share more but for now I’ll just ask this: Why should I be faithful to my wife? Is it more powerful to say I am faithful because I obey God’s law or because I love her? Do we trust that love is a stronger bond than obedience? If what Keller says is true, that we must break up God’s Law in the 3 codexes and obey the moral while dismissing the social and ceremonial, why has Christendom collapsed into a myriad of fractured pieces?

      And most importantly, how do we keep Keller’s position and reconcile the Scriptures I quoted, especially about keeping all of the Law? I don’t buy Keller’s thinking here.

    • Theologian J. Daniel Hays wrote a critique of the tripartite partitioning of the OT law that Keller and other Reformers advocate. (This tradition started with the great Reformer himself, John Calvin.) These are Hays’ objections to this method:

      1. The distinctions are arbitrary and without textual support (some other theologians have actually argued for five different categories)
      2. The legal material is embedded in narrative texts and must be interpreted accordingly (the partitioning approach either weakly acknowledges or outright ignores this context)
      3. The traditional approach overlooks the Law’s theological context (the Law is tightly intertwined as part of the Mosaic Covenant, a temporary hold-over until the dawn of the New Covenant, which heralded a entirely different paradigm and set of stipulations, e.g. in Christ the Law is fulfilled for us.)

      Still, he believes (as I do) that the OT law has embedded in it some basic, godly wisdom that a person from any culture can glean from. Thus, he proposes a method called principalism which is aimed at discerning and then extracting said universal wisdom/principles from the Law in order to apply it to modern-day situations. Hays’ method in a nutshell:

      1. Identify what the particular law meant to the initial audience
      2. Determine the differences between the initial audience and believers today
      3. Develop universal principles from the text
      4. Correlate the principle with NT teaching
      5. Apply the modified universal principle to life today

      I think that we do this instinctively, but I appreciate the logical cogency or Hays’ presentation. The full article is here: (https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/05-deuteronomy/text/articles/hays-applyinglaw-bs.pdf)

      If anyone has time (not me, oy) it would be nice to do a summary article on this.

  2. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Thanks for the article, Brian. I think it’s good that you specified OT Law and that the laws / commands given in the NT are the same or of the same as the OT. I think it’s helpful to make these kinds of proper demarcations, just as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 9:21.

    Reading those seven teachings, I think teaching #6 deserves much more attention than it is given generally. Gentiles were not required to become Jews. It reminds me that the OT Law was given under the terms of a covenant. But this covenant (or, testament) is old and Jesus made a new covenant that was not just for Jews but for all who believe in him. Many verses come to mind, such as Galatians 5:14 and Matthew 22:40. Maybe we are so far removed that forget Jews and Gentiles were/are actual things and we have assumed a kind of blended identity that conveniently pulls from both.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      **meant to say that OT law and NT laws are NOT the same, in the first paragraph.

  3. David, I think that many have advocated in one articulation or another, variations of Hay’s 5 points in regards to the OT Law.

    For instance, when I read Prov 25:15, I realized that gentleness basically works better than being harsh or angry.

    Though Prov 25:15 is not a command or an imperative, yet whenever I read it, I want to “obey” it as a command, “Be gentle.” I’m not saying that I succeed… Also, it does point me to see the gentleness of Christ, and the prudence for myself to willfully and willingly obey the “command” or the “law” to “be gentle.” This is also expressed often in the NT, for eg. Phil 4:5; Eph 4:2; Col 3:12; 1 Tim 3:3; Tit 3:2; Mt 11:29; Jas 3:17; 2 Cor 10:1; Gal 5:23; 6:1; etc.

    None of these verses explicitly commands Christians to be gentle. But when one reads it, one might instinctively want to “obey” the written word regarding gentleness and make many personal efforts to be gentle.

    I am obviously not doing this to be saved, or to be blessed, or to be rewarded, or to gain some browny points. (Maybe just so that my wife will be happy and not be upset or irritated at me!) But I want to live out the gospel by “obeying” Scripture verses that speak about gentleness.

  4. Dr. Ben, the Proverbs are a good example of practical, universal wisdom that everyone can benefit from. For sure, the perfect realization of this wisdom is personified in Christ. Perhaps we should say that anything in the OT which is embodied in the person and actions of Christ should be embraced and emulated by Christians throughout the ages.

    Interestingly some scholars have noted that Proverbs is more or less a conglomeration of ancient wisdom which was common to particular cultures (namely Egyptian) which Israel had close contact with. A collection of these sayings, which is startling similar to Proverbs, is The Wisdom of Amenhotep. I bring this up because many Christians will say that we exclusively lay claim to God’s timeless and matchless wisdom because we possess the OT text. But when we look at reality, not only did Proverbs draw from other cultures but also parts of the Mosaic Law are unmistakably predated by other cultures’ laws as well.

    What I see is a God who is being generous with his wisdom; he wants all people to benefit from his truth. So even as a Christian, I am open to learning wisdom from other cultures. Sometimes I am both surprised and convicted by what some “outside” of the church believe and practice. The one place where we do excel is that we can view all wisdom in a Christotelic fashion. And this is purely God’s grace to us.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      David, two things came to mind from mentioning Proverbs and principalism. (1) The wisdom writings, such as Proverbs, are separate from the Law and the covenant given to the Israelites, and separate from the Prophets. I think it should be kept in mind that these were not given as part of the covenant by which they had to obey. (2) I generally am suspicious about principles being taught from OT passages because I think they usually fall short of how those passages are realized in Christ and meant to be applied to believers. However, the apostles did this in a few important places, such as Paul’s message about getting support using the OT law, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” He used this twice (1 Corinthians 9:9, 1 Timothy 5:18). And then there are other passages that don’t need application for us, they just had to be fulfilled. For example, when the apostles chose a replacement for Judas in Acts 1, Peter quoted two seemingly contradicting passages from the psalms. Those verses were fulfilled in the days of the apostles. I don’t think we should make principles from them and make new teachings to bind believers by. I will check out that link to Hays. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Charles. For sure, I understand that Proverbs is not part of the Mosaic Law. I wanted to simply piggy-back off of Ben’s comment on how ultimately even wisdom itself finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ. Additionally, some have categorized the sayings found in that particular book as “truisms” and so, in terms of authority, are placed below binding laws.

      Also, though Proverbs is not part of the Law, it is lumped together with Psalms and Job in the authoritative OT canon called the Tanakh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanakh). And as you pointed out, when parts of these literature pieces are cited, it is more often pointing to Christ rather than placing some authoritative command upon the NT church.

      Speaking of being suspicious about modern-day church interpretations and applications stemming from the Mosaic Law, Justin Taylor wrote an interesting piece on 1 Cor 9:9 on The Gospel Coalition website. His analysis and subsequent argument pretty convincingly reveals that we (at least me, anyway) have largely misunderstood Paul’s use of this verse. The most likely reason is that we haven’t placed ourselves firmly in Paul’s shoes and don’t have a cultural background like his that would help us to understand some intuitive things about the text. Anyway, Justin’s argument is this:

      “Moses gave the command to provide for the ox, but ultimately to protect an Israelite from being unjustly treated at the hand of one who borrows or rents his ox. The one benefiting from the labor of an ox should not take economic advantage of the owner of the ox.” (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/08/28/do-not-muzzle-the-ox-does-paul-quote-moses-out-of-context/)

  5. Darren Gruett

    Since we are New Covenant believers, any command in the NT is binding on Christians, even if it restates an OT command. For example, stealing is forbidden in both the OT and NT (Ex 20:15; 1Co 6:10). We are not obligated to obey this because it is part of the OT law, but because it is in the NT. As a counter example, Sabbath-keeping is not commanded in the NT, and is therefore not something believers need to obey. And, as was already noted in the article, the NT standard is always much higher than the OT. We could say, “It’s not just, ‘Do not steal,’ but, ‘Work hard so you will not have to steal'” (see 2Th 3:6-15).

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Hi, Darren. Your comment brings up an important aspect of this discussion to be considered, which are understanding the terms of the covenants, old and new, and so the context in which the commands were given. Considering the terms of the covenants helps to put the commands given in the proper perspective and proper application. The terms between the two covenants are very different. Paul calls out this distinction in his writing about righteous. Interestingly, he quotes the same OT passage to make this point in both Romans 10:5-13 and Galatians 3:10-14, ““The person who does these things will live by them.” Yet in those same passages Paul points to faith in Jesus for righteousness apart from the Law. That is, the people were bound under the OT Law to keep the law. They had agreed to this at Sinai. But I do not see such binding to a law or laws under Jesus’ covenant. Rather, I do see commands given that apply the life and teachings of Jesus according to the people’s situations and in view of his coming kingdom.

      Actually, there is one command Jesus gave, and it was given at the same time he spoke about a new covenant: the command to love one another as he had loved his disciples (John 13:34). 1 John reiterates this as a command. And, as Jesus spoke about it, both new and old, for it is the summation of the Law and the Prophets.

      In another article DavidW mentioned the command for women to cover their heads. I think this persists simply because it looks like a command given in the NT. Is it right to continue enforcing this command today, simply because Paul commanded it then to the Corinthians? You mentioned one command that he had given in 1Co 6:10. Interestingly, he also gave suggestions apart from commands and made sure to say that it was from him and not the Lord. Yet we find it in the NT for our consideration (1Co 7:12). I find it very interesting that there was that kind of interaction between believers and the apostles.

      So, I see that we are bound to God in a completely different and new way from the old covenant and the Law, and think that we should keep that in mind so that we would keep Christ at the forefront.

  6. Thanks everyone, this is the most enjoyable discussion I’ve read yet here on ubfriends! I appreciate the thoughts very much and would tend to agree.

    My main point is that as Christ-followers we shouldn’t be caught up in figuring out what and how to obey, but focused and guided by love. If I ask “How can I love this person in a Christ-like way?” I am assured by Jesus that I will find the right way forward.

    I would expand this to say that if the bible says anything in any of its 73 books (yes I am delving into the 73 books of the Catholic canon) then a Christ-follower must at least consider what the text says. So I am NOT saying get rid of the OT books or the OT Law. I am emphasizing, in a rather dramatic way, that love, not law, is our guide.

    I feel as if my soul and my life is unfreezing now, after spending 20+ years with my head in the bible trying to figure out what and how to obey and mainly focused on keeping myself morally pure.

    If there is anything I was trying to say with this article it is this: I reject any lifestyle where my focus is on keeping myself morally pure. Instead, I want to swim and jump in the muck and mire of the world as a beacon of love and light!

    • Brian, I really appreciate articles like this. It’s inportant for us to delve into this topic regularly because, imho, many churches misunderstand the connection between the OT and NT resulting in confusion, errant ministerial practices and obfuscation of the gospel message.

      And I don’t have any problem exploring apocryphal literature; it may provide us with greater insight into the context of which Jesus and Paul spoke. I would love to write something on Peter Enns’ two cents in this regard because he has some illuminating things to say seeing as how his dissertation work largely focused on the apocrypha and it’s connection to canonical literature. When time permits I suppose.

      Also, your point about following the guidance of love is well-taken. Many times, we get bogged down in regulations, which are not inherently bad, and lose sight of how these actually promote living a life of love. Both Jesus and Paul said that the trajectory of the law points to such a love-filled existence. However the Law is still confusing to me on many fronts. I think that I misspoke somewhat when I said that the Law mainly contains basic human wisdom. If Christ is the fulfillment of said law then it’s much more than that. So I don’t want to minimize its importance. All this is to say that I want to make pursuing the understanding of the nexus between the Law and Christ a life-long, thrilling study and experience. This discussion you initiated provides an opportunity to do just that.

    • Thanks David, and yes good thoughts here. Surely the OT Law contains much human wisdom, and as you point out, is much more than that. If Jesus is correct, and all the Law and the Prophets speak about Him, then we do indeed have a lifelong pursuit! And an amazing journey at that.

      If we treat the OT Law as merely a rulebook (as I once did for so long), we miss the grandeur of what God intended. And such disrespect for the the cosmic plan of God is hardly what Christ died for!

      I hope you (and our readers) can check out my virtual friend Joe Machuta’s blog: A Paradigm Shift For Thoughtful Evangelicals.

      JoeM. published an article here on ubfriends, but it didn’t get any traction. I hope we can re-visit his thoughts. I’ve only talked to him on the phone and exchanged thoughts online but it’s clear to both of us the same Holy Spirit is working. Maybe that’s one reason we both have been called heretics… :)

  7. Great post Brian. I actually served a message on Galatians 3 today and I subtitled it, “How I learned to stop worrying and love the Law.” If you’ve seen Dr. Strangelove, you might get the humor.

    The main revelation to me in Galatians 3:23-25 is that the Law served to reveal the sin problem, and more importantly, that the Law was a schoolteacher or tutor. In Paul’s time, children were supervised at home by a person who was often a slave, who was responsible for them and who was responsible to teach them. Basically, like a public education system, those under the Law lose various aspects of their freedom because they need to learn. However, when you get out of school, your old teacher can’t keep you in detention and it wouldn’t even matter anyways.

    This really helped me to see the beauty of the Law. I met myself in the Law, and I died. Thankfully, this revealed my need for a savior. Still, I think it’s important for every Christian to be well acquainted with the Law. It exposes the problem of sin, and we can repent and pray for God to give us the right thing in our hearts, and he remolds us.

    I will however do my best to keep the old testament laws regarding idolatry, blood and sexual immorality, based on Acts 15. Still, grace reigns over us when we are clothed with Christ.

    • Matt, I tend to agree on your comments about the beauty of the Law. The longest chapter in the bible, Psalms 119, makes it clear that there is indeed beauty in the OT Law.

      One reason I marvel at the beauty of the OT Law is how it can be both a stumbling block that leads to enslavement and a mirror to freedom.

      I’m confused by your last statement though:
      “I will however do my best to keep the old testament laws regarding idolatry, blood and sexual immorality, based on Acts 15.”

      I don’t see Acts 15 instructing anyone in any age to go back to the OT Law to get the requirements for the few things mentioned there. There is just not enough support for it in any other passage.

      Instead, I see Acts 15 and many, many other passages (even in the OT :) that point believers to look to the Holy Spirit and to look to love in order to navigate those and other requirements as we interact with our fellow humans living on this planet.

      I agree with what Charles commented above: “I generally am suspicious about principles being taught from OT passages because I think they usually fall short of how those passages are realized in Christ and meant to be applied to believers.”

      I have not read much of J. Daniel Hays’ critique of the tripartite partitioning of the OT law that Keller and other Reformers advocate, but I plan to prepare at least one article on it:

      APPLYING THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW TODAY

    • Brian, Joe M. makes some very good points. We have to keep in mind that our Christian lives are to be lived in and through Christ. He is not some external law but rather a real person in whom we move and have our being, as Paul would say. Furthermore, since scripture is a divinely inspired document, it necessarily points us to Him; in other words, he is the end of the Law (and I would argue NT imperatives as well).

      The value I see in imperatives are that because again, they are inspired, they tell us something about the character of Christ. I often ask myself, what does love look like in such and such situation? Well, the imperatives in the NT (as well as OT) spell out, in so many ways, what practical love is. Without these, we might forever be in ignorance of what true and edifying love is. Of course we have to contextualize love and discuss amongst ourselves what the best way to love is, but still we have a potent blueprint in the Bible. Furthermore, it gives us wisdom as to how to love in certain situations, such as in helping to restore someone who has strayed from God (gal 6:1).

      However I would disagree with Joe on his characterization of NT imperatives. He calls them “reasonable service requests”, but I think that they carry a much heavier weight than this. I don’t want to sound like a fear monger, but the NT is clear in that there is grave danger in rejecting these directives. Hebrews intimates that we do not “become” the people of God through our obedience but rather we “show or reveal” ourselves to be His when we, by faith, constantly entrust our lives to him. If we willfully reject surrendering to grace, quenching the Spirit, etc. as a lifestyle then we show ourselves to be those who are not truly in Christ. To be sure, we cannot be “unborn” again or lose our salvation, however our faith in Him should bear good fruit, namely that of love as well as godly actions which stem from our trust in Him.

      So I wholeheartedly (though not always eagerly or joyfully) believe that obeying the NT imperatives are not optional, however I will not approach living these out as if they are legal-constitutional stipulations. Rather I will engage them with faith in Christ as well as with an understanding that when they are applied, conform me to his image. But to be sure, the top imperative is to believe or trust in Him and His work; everything else flows from this.

    • Whoops, replied to the wrong comment thread and dang my comments are way too long. Brevity is not my strong suit.

    • Great thoughts David. I often appreciate longer replies and more complete thoughts.

      This is precisely why, I think, some people are so afraid of me and so terrified for my soul:

      “the NT is clear in that there is grave danger in rejecting these directives…”

      However, I am more happy, more content, more at peace in this regard than ever. I can only say to people who “fear for me”: Keep your hands off my soul. I’ll be fine.

    • Brian, I’m not sure that I understand the gist of your comment. Why do people for your eternal well being?

    • Why do some people fear for my eternal well-being? Well mainly due to my “celebrate” position when it comes to women and LGBTQ people. I believe gays can and should be able to marry in both the church and the state and can and should be able to serve in any capacity in the church. The same goes with women in leadership. I am an egalitarian in that regard.

      Because of these things, I have been told in various conversations (not related to ubf at all) that I don’t “show or reveal” myself to be His because my beliefs contradict what some believe the OT Law is saying.

      Anyway, those people have left me alone (thank God), supposedly leaving me to die in my own filth. But their conscience is clean because they quoted a bible verse before ending the conversation or de-friending me on facebook :) That already happened here on ubfriends twice… so be wary of that BK dude…

    • Thanks, Brian for warning me about BK; he sounds scary and dangerous ;)

      In all honesty, though I lean toward a conservative stance on this issue, I’m not going to demonize those who espouse full acceptance of LGBTQs (I swear that acronym gets longer every year). And I am questioning the traditional stance against this demographic asking just how reasonable is it to exclude them on so many fronts. Anyway, the route with this is the same as any other issue: open, honest and level-headed dialogue.

    • And that I can live with, my friend! Thanks for the further reading on facebook too. I call myself a “bible learner” now, so I am constantly seeking to learn and correct my theology.

    • ditto, Brian :) Here’s to more mutually edifying and enlightening discussions.

  8. This gospel transformation from looking to the OT Law for right/wrong and from the whole blessing/curse binary paradigm reminds me of the “up is down” scene from one of the Pirates movies. Often, as an outlaw preacher of grace, I feel like Jack Sparrow :)

  9. Just for reference, here is the article Joe M. shared here: Finding the Key to Real Transformation

    Christianity is not conformational but transformational. Are your leaders guiding you into conformance or giving you space to be led by the Spirit into transformation?

  10. Speaking of Acts 15…what does the text say?

    Acts 15:6-11

    more thoughts…

  11. This short video commentary by Fr. Robert Barron illustrates how some evangelical leaders present faith as a suspension of intellect that plays into the hands of those, like Bill Maher, who love to ridicule faith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGDDKlXl488

  12. Maybe we can look at the OT and its teaching in another way. One of the main lessons that I’ve learned from the OT is that God is faithful to his cause despite people’s unfaithfulness. This is not to say that unbelief or being unfaithful on our part is okay; actually the lesson of Hebrews 3 is that New Covenant people should not be unbelieving like the Israelites, who fell away from God’s promises and perished in the desert. But if I can somehow capture, more clearly, God’s redemptive narrative which spans the two testaments (as well as the inter-testamental period) then I think that I will learn much more about the Christian life than if I mainly strive to obey a list of commands. Perhaps this is the narrative arc that the Pharisees missed; they distilled the Law or Torah down to a set of rules, thus breaking away from the larger narrative, and missed what God was really saying in that particular historical period. But maybe there is more to why they parsed out the Law in this way. Still thinking about it.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      I think what you said is represented in Jesus’ words to the Pharisees that though they studied the Scriptures, they didn’t have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42). Interestingly, in that passage, Jesus also says that they did not believe Moses, although they were trying to obey what Moses wrote.

  13. In Zech 7:9, God Himself says, “Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another” (Zech 7:9, NLT). If we Christians are going to take this to heart, would it not require “obeying God”?

    When rebuking the religious leaders, Jesus says something quite similar, “For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things” (Mt 23:23, NLT). Though “justice, mercy, and faith” is more subjective than tithing, Jesus too calls for obedience (both to tithing as well as to practicing justice and mercy), does he not?

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Jesus too calls for obedience (both to tithing as well as to practicing justice and mercy), does he not? – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/07/30/why-i-will-not-try-to-obey-the-ot-law/#sthash.zcO8VH1J.dpuf

      My answer would be, “No, he does not.” If he did, then wouldn’t he would be presenting the law as something that was on-going and should keep being obeyed perfectly, rather than as something that he fulfilled or accomplished (Matthew 5:18)? If he did call for obedience to tithing, as a part of the law, then wouldn’t all of the other commands of the law also be required, including such things as dietary laws? He seems to be responding in kind to them regarding their view of righteousness, thereby exposing their hypocrisy. Yet he was still fulfilling the requirements of the law in himself.

    • Dr. Ben, in my previous comment, what I meant was that I will gain much more from living by faith (which should result in acts of obedience) rather than striving to live as the Pharisees did.

      I think that the Pharisees’ actions were born of a kind of faith which said that if we are the people of God, then we should adhere to God’s rules as stipulated in the Torah. However, this was not gospel faith and thus they missed the bigger picture.

  14. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Reading through 2 Chronicles lately has got me thinking about this article and the comments a lot. There are many passages that speak about the benefits of trusting in and seeking God. For example, 2 Chronicles 17:3-4 say, “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the ways of his father David before him. He did not consult the Baals but sought the God of his father and followed his commands rather than the practices of Israel.” We can read a passage like this and conclude that God is with those who seek him and obey his commands. But this conclusion can be reached without Christ. It would just be God, his commands and me. How would Christ fit into a proper understanding and application of a reading of this passage then? I’m trying more to think about how these words are fulfilled in him and what that means for me as a believer in him.

    • Charles, I’ve asked myself similar questions as of late. Perhaps it would be helpful to view a passage like this in a Christo-telic fashion (meaning that Scripture, namely the OT, is on a trajectory pointing toward Christ, cf. Luke 24:44 and John 5:39).

      It would be a real treat to dive into this text in a contextual fashion and follow the christo-telic thread from this point to the NT, but what I’ll say for now is that the God of the fathers of Jehoshaphat is the trinitarian God that we now know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Peter reads the Psalms christo-telically and indicates that David was looking forward to the coming of Christ (Acts 2:25-28). In the times of David and Jehoshaphat, knowledge of Christ was not required for salvation; it was an Abrahamic type of obedience to God by faith. But as the writer of Hebrews indicates, Christ is the full and final revelation and messenger of God (Heb 1:1-3) and as such we are obligated to listen to him.

      So for us today, we would be remiss if we did not listen to the voice of Christ, for it is revealed that he is the very culmination of what was spoken to David and Jehoshaphat and upon His second coming, this Jesus will be Lord of all. The fact that Jehoshaphat could come to the conclusion that God is with him is because the trinitarian God made it known to him.

    • Also, the type of faith that Abraham had looked toward the coming of Christ (John 8:56-58).

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      David, good point. We ought to keep in mind that the God in the OT is the same Triune God. In Hebrews 11-12, we find the same teachings of the faith of certain OT people that was really looking forward to Christ. It’s surprising how direct the author of Hebrews was able to say that their faith was looking forward to Christ. On the other hand, I guess that passage from 2 Chronicles 17 stuck out to me because it was so easy to come up with this good sounding principle and encouragement of faith that could be formed without looking ahead to Christ. And I suppose I want to make sure to not quickly jump to those kinds of teachings without considering the bigger picture of the fulfillment in Christ

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      In the cases of Peter speaking about David and Jesus speaking about Abraham, which you mentioned above, they also spoke directly of their faith looking toward Jesus. But too often I hear teachings that don’t do that. I’m just starting to realize this and am giving it more thought. It’s also why I mentioned previously that I have become generally suspicious about teachings and principles coming out of the OT without a NT reference.

  15. “In the times of David and Jehoshaphat, knowledge of Christ was not required for salvation; it was an Abrahamic type of obedience to God by faith. But as the writer of Hebrews indicates, Christ is the full and final revelation and messenger of God (Heb 1:1-3) and as such we are obligated to listen to him.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/07/30/why-i-will-not-try-to-obey-the-ot-law/#comment-14734

    David, your words remind me of Romans 11 and Hebrews 10. I don’t have the answers to this mystery but these thoughts are at the heart of my faith journey the past few years.

    My personal study of Romans and Hebrews uncovered some amazing gems that are relevant to this discussion. In regard to Israel and what you call “an Abrahamic type of obedience to God”, this part of Scripture comes to mind:

    “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” This is Romans 11:28-32.

    I no longer see salvation as being based on obedience in the OT and based on personal knowledge of Christ in the NT. Rather, Scripture seems to me to indicate that salvation is and always has been ONLY the mercy of God. The OT expressions of obedience and sacrifice served as a temporary divine guide to show us the Messiah. When the Messiah came, He pointed us to the eternal guide of love.

    “First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” This is from Hebrews 10:8-10.

    Have we stopped to ponder the massive, cosmic, earth-changing impact of these statements?

    Once for all. One sacrifice.

    And later in verse 18, the mind-blowing conclusion is: “And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”

    It is no longer necessary to sacrifice for sin. I wasted so many years sacrificing, driven by the thought that I wasn’t good enough, didn’t pray enough, didn’t obey God well enough. That was until I got to know Him.

    The new wine is waiting on the other side of the epic surrender to grace.

    • Have we stopped to ponder the massive, cosmic, earth-changing impact of these statements? – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/07/30/why-i-will-not-try-to-obey-the-ot-law/#comment-14736

      Brian, I think that I understand and sympathize with your sentiment here. We’ve both come from (though in differing degrees) a faith tradition that is heavily works-centric. Due to this, and the fact that I am a sinner, my understanding of the connection between faith and godly works/obedience may sometimes be put forth in arguments a bit sloppily (hence some of my statements above).

      To be absolutely certain, God does not offer salvation to us based on our works or level of obedience. If I could restate what I said about Abraham and Jehoshaphat, I’d rather emphasize much more heavily their faith. In the OT, whether one was under the old covenant or no covenant at all, any obedience which would have been accepted by God would have stemmed from their faith in God’s promises. Abraham accepted the covenant of circumcision well after God’s proclamation of his righteousness due to his faith (gen 15). Likewise, any good that Jehoshaphat did under the old covenant was a product of his faith alone in God’s promises for Israel. Much more can be said about the overlapping and interconnecting nature of the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants, but I don’t want to digress.

      Under the new covenant, to be sure, our walk with Christ is initiated, sustained and completed by faith in him, his salvific work and his future promises for the church and all of creation.

      Still, I have to grapple with the fact that Jesus calls for obedience (John 13:34,35) and Paul explicitly says that we are called to obedience that comes from faith (Rom 1:5). In these proclamations, I see parallels between the OT model of salvation and that of the NT; salvation comes by faith and obedience to God is a result of this belief.

      I can see some very logical and beneficial reasons as to why faith and obedience are coupled and conversely I see that when they are decoupled some deleterious effects logically and understandably ensue.

      But as you pointed out, I don’t think that the church has pondered the fascinating mysteries of God’s revelation deeply and regularly enough (or at least I haven’t). If and when we begin to make this a central focus of our communities and worship services, robust and transformational gospel obedience will naturally follow.

  16. Pondering these fascinating mysteries is indeed highly edifying! For example, you mentioned Genesis 15 and Abram’s covenant there. The last event in that passage, where the covenant was sealed, always puzzled me. So I always just ignored it.

    But looking closer at this passage, we find another mind-blowing fact: Only God ratified the covenant.

    “When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi[e] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Genesis 15:17-21

    Abram was sleeping. He did not pass through the cut pieces of animal. Only God passed through, and in fact God is represent by 2 things: a firepot and a torch. That means God took the responsibility for both sides of the covenant.

    So while I accept there is/may be a causal relationship whereby faith produces work, I don’t see a tight coupling of faith and obedience in regard to any of the covenants (but maybe I just don’t see something?) I do see a one way relationship in that faith produces work.

    Paul summarizes Christianity as “faith, hope and love” four times in Scripture. Faith, hope and love produce, prompt and inspire.

    1 Thessalonians 1:3 “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    1 Thessalonians 5:8 “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

    Colossians 1:3-6 “3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”

    1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

    • Brian, I love the verses you quoted; they denote the importance of faith and how faith produces palpable hope and love within is. This is a much more natural, gospel way of believing and bearing fruit rather than rushing to perform some kind of work or action out of a vague idea that we should obey God. The former kind of obedience is what I was advocating above; when we ponder the deep mysteries of God he inspires and produces certain godly urges within is. When we act out of this kind of inspiration it’s as if we are returning love to God.

      To me, it appears that the various covenants always have some kind of action or obedience attached to them. you mentioned the Abrahamic covenant. We see a bit later that in Genesis 17, the covenant is indeed contingent upon an action, namely that of becoming circumcised. I don’t think that Abraham obeyed this blindly (although he might have blindfolded himself during the process, ba-dum tss). Rather his action stemmed from his faith which had been developing for years. The robust nature of his faith is explained in Hebrews 11, which indicates that he accepted sacrificing Isaac because he reasoned that God would bring him back to life. And we see this kind of forward thinking in all of the examples of faith in that chapter.

      So when we get to the new covenant, we find that, in an explicit sense, salvation is by faith alone (or at least my protestant lenses tell me so). But this faith is expected to produce obedience within us (John 14:15, 21, 23) . As I said before, because of the faith tradition that we come from, we might understandably be jaded by the concept of obedience. But as you pointed out before, in Christ, there is no onus on us to obey and carry out arbitrary and bizzare commands by “faith”. Rather we have the full revelation of who God is in Christ and thus he makes things vastly clearer for us. What are we to obey? Love God, your neighbor, one another and your enemies. It’s as simple and yet as open-ended as loving all people. Furthermore, we are given all of the creative freedom that we can handle in carrying this out. As John says, these kinds of commands are not burdensome for we can overcome any opposition to do so by our faith in an infinitely powerful and capable God (1 John 5:2-4).

      And we find true life by obeying God’s command to love; we deepen our communion with him as we participate with him in his actions of loving and saving the world. Also we grow in the image of Christ as we grow in love. This is the positive light that I would like to view the concept of obedience in; it is biblically grounded and there is an amazing upshot when we do obey. But it is a detriment to only superficially acknowledge the role of faith in all of this, as we are often wont to do.

    • I would also add that the Abrahamic covenant looks forward to a more profound reality, which is circumcision of the heart, rather than merely of the flesh (Deut 30:6 and Rom 2:29). Jesus makes a similar point about the Law of Moses in that it can be summed up as “love God and love your neighbor as yourself” and that furthermore he literally fulfills this Law (but notice how the New Covenant goes further in that it stipulates loving one’s enemy, which Jesus certainly did and even now does; thus it shows itself superior to the Old Covenant).

      It seems then that the covenants prior to the New one are representatives or shadows of what is to come. We know that the new covenant ethic is love so anything we glean from prior covenants need to be placed within the context of our covenant in Christ. Using this methodology will, in my opinion, help us to avoid pulling bizzare teachings out of the OT Law and also positively aid us in formulating some valid and edifying concepts and practices which will be buttressed by true faith and love.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      The mention of the Abrahamic covenant here reminded me of Luke 1:68-75. In talking about Christ and his work to be done, Zechariah weaves together the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants to present this long-awaited and powerful king and savior who has come to fulfill them. Reading this passage recently excites in me the things you mentioned, faith, hope and love, in view of the saving work of Christ.

    • I really like that line of thinking, Charles. The bible text really takes on a refreshing and exciting dimension once we begin to make those kinds of big picture connections (rather than chopping it up and making it a manual of sorts). Jesus made these kinds of connections, which contrasted with the Pharisees views, and is probably why his teaching was captivating and carried a kind of self-evident weight and authority.

  17. “It seems then that the covenants prior to the New one are representatives or shadows of what is to come. We know that the new covenant ethic is love so anything we glean from prior covenants need to be placed within the context of our covenant in Christ.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/07/30/why-i-will-not-try-to-obey-the-ot-law/#comment-14798

    Well put, David. We seem to be on the same page. So when we speak of obedience or showing obedience now in the New covenant, we must land on love.

    Someone expressed it this way: The bible could be chopped up into tiny mosaic pieces. With these pieces we can make all kinds of pictures. No matter what picture we make, the picture must be one of love.

  18. This is why I check all “biblical teachings” or sermons or studies against the following.

    1. Does this teaching express one or more of the 5 explicit “gospel of” statements in Scripture: grace, peace, glory, salvation, kingdom?

    2. Does this teaching express goodness in some way?

    3. Does this teaching express love for all humanity?

  19. Brian, I like the mosaic example as well as your gospel guidelines. Would you also say that the concept of “warning” or persuading one of the dangers of veering away from faith in God would be warranted in such a list? I ask because this seems to be a key feature of NT exhortation.

    • Ben, I have not yet incorporated the warnings of the bible into my belief system. All I know right now is that I’m no longer afraid of the “if” passages and I’m no longer afraid of doubt, backsliding or losing faith.

      My one theological thought is that many of the warnings might not have been meant to be taken individually, but corporately as a community.

      My belief system right now is that all of us will be in Heaven, and so we had better start learning to love each other.

    • Brian, that was me that asked that question, btw. You said:

      “…and so we had better start learning to love each other.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/07/30/why-i-will-not-try-to-obey-the-ot-law/#comment-14815

      But let me ask, what is my incentive in doing so if I’m going to ultimately be saved anyway? Why shouldn’t I just live it up here and worry about love later on in heaven? Also, how then do we make sense of Jesus’ or Paul’s warnings?

    • Sorry about that David! I guess that question sounded a lot like the questions Ben asks :)

      Your question is valid. What restraint is there if I no longer fear the warnings? My answer: A vastly greater restraint exists; a restraint far more powerful than fear. That restraint is the Holy Spirit. Fearing the warnings is a form of godliness, to be sure, but one that lacks real power to overcome sin and sin’s effects.

      I would say, go ahead and try to “live it up”. Might be good for your soul. If the Spirit is living in you, you won’t get very far. Once you have seen the majestic beauty of our Savoir and feel the amazing joy of Him living in you, it is REALLY difficult to “live it up” or to harm other people.

      I think we should examine some of these warnings, now that I think about it.

      How about Jesus’ warning in Luke 12:1 “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees,” he said. “They just pretend to be godly.”

      I see a lot of the bible’s warnings as being against religious abuse and avoiding hard-core obedience to rules and regulations. Those are the things that entrap our soul.

  20. Also you asked “what is my incentive?” Well the Holy Spirit’s push and pull is a tremendous incentive, and one that I cannot avoid.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      I lean toward an emphasis on the work of the Spirit and the grace of God as well. Such passages as Titus 2:11-14, and Galatians 5:16-18. From these are a positive encouragement to holy living and a reminder and acknowledge of the powerful help from Christ.

  21. Brian and Charles, I agree that we can derive perseverance and strength from positive exhortation and yes the Spirit will rein us in. But I also see negative warnings such as in Hebrews 3 and in 1 Corinthians 10, which use Israel’s sordid history as a reference point. Additionally there is the reality of ignoring the Spirit’s work so that we effectively quench his sanctifying work in us. I don’t like these kinds of negative warnings because they elicit fear. But they are there and I have to make sense of them. Is there a way that we can look at these in a positive or reassuring manner?

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      David, when I read Hebrews 3 and 1 Corinthians 10, I still see positive exhortations to faith, doing good to others and avoiding idols, that follow the warnings from Israel’s history. These passages to me just don’t carry the fear of disobedience and turning away that was put on the Israelites initially.

      However, I do accept that such warnings are not given in vain and shows the reality of the possibility to fall. I think that that possibility existing is also one of key significance that such passages highlight. Yet what’s reassuring to me is that still these warnings point us to faith Christ who loved us first and to love one another as he has commanded, encouraging each other and seeking to do good for others. 1 John 5:21 also comes to mind. It have found it interesting that after all the talk of faith and love and overcoming the world that it comes back to staying away from idols. As John wrote, his commands are not burdensome. And as the author of Hebrews wrote, there is help from him. If I think about myself, I become afraid; if I think about Jesus, I become hopeful–if that makes sense.

    • Good points David. I think specific examples are useful.

      I just read 1 Corinthians 10:1-33. Nothing there invokes anything remotely like fear in me. Paul’s question invokes much peace, for example: “why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?” (v29) I do recall much fear from several verses in this passage however. 1 Corinthians 10:31 was OFTEN quoted by ubf Koreans. Fear was stirred in me because “do all to the glory of God” became twisted up with “go fishing” and “attend Friday sharing meeting”. If I don’t “go fishing”, the implication was that I wasn’t giving glory to God. So fear built up in me. But this is an irrational fear implanted by a manipulative belief system (KOPAHN).

      I also read Hebrews 3:1-19 again. My personal study on Hebrews comes in very handy. What does Hebrews say about Moses and all the Israelites? It says they were full of unbelief, sin and rebelliousness and as such they could not enter the promised land. Recalling the events, Moses was not allowed in. Why? Because he struck a rock! Just that one event prevented him from entering (Numbers 20:10-13).

      But, what do we know about Moses? He IS in Heaven, Luke 9:28-31. So Moses did not enter the promised land, and that became an example of life on earth. But he is in Heaven. Hebrews 3 then invokes amazing joy!

  22. One other thought: Sometimes you just have to accept that you (or parts of your life) are simply an example of what not to do.

  23. Great comments, Brian and Charles. When I re-read those passages I do notice the overwhelmingly positive messages in them as well. Perhaps my pessimistic slant colors my view of scripture in such a way that I need to hear more optimistic views such as you all’s. I’m not completely sold, but I will consider that perhaps the warnings are more so for those who have a self-centered and self-reliant view of life, rather than a humble confidence in God’s abilities. Good food for thought.