THE FLESH BECOMES THE LAW
THE FLESH BECOMES THE LAW Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Jews center their worship around the Law, mainly around the Ten Commandments. We Christians center our worship around being forgiven and going to Heaven. This is because we do not understand the proper role of the law of God in the new covenant. It is time now for us to place the eternal law of God in the center of our service to God, just as do the Jewish people.
Table of Contents
THE FLESH BECOMES THE LAW
By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13NIV)
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10NIV)
The Jews center their worship around the Law, mainly around the Ten Commandments. We Christians center our worship around being forgiven and going to Heaven. This is because we do not understand the proper role of the law of God in the new covenant. It is time now for us to place the eternal law of God in the center of our service to God, just as the Jewish people do.
We find in the above passages that the Ten Commandments and the rest of the statutes of the Law of Moses are obsolete.
Then we discover rather than doing away with the Law of Moses, God is putting it into our mind so we will understand it, and into our heart so we will delight to do it.
Can you think of any aspect of Divine truth more in need of being taught today in the Christian churches? We have become lawless. We do not know what sin is because sin is the breaking of the eternal moral law of God; and we have interpreted the Apostle Paul to mean that since grace and truth have come by Jesus Christ we can forget about the moral laws of God.
The Ten Commandments reflect the eternal Character of God. Of course, under the Law of Moses they were written on tablets of stone and appeared in an abridged form.
Actually the Ten Commandments, which are the new covenant just as they were the old covenant, are now presented to our mind and heart in a marvelously expanded form. For example, the ninth commandment, that we must not bear false witness, means to us Christians that we are not to gossip about another person, slander him or her, or even criticize someone else. We may believe our negative comments to be true, but usually they are not and therefore are slanderous.
Slander is vigorously condemned in the New Testament:
For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. (II Corinthians 12:20NIV)
The Christian churches are filled with gossip, slander, and criticism. All such accusations come from Satan, the accuser of the brothers. The Ten Commandments are Gods judgment against Satan; in fact, they may represent the first time God has expressed Himself so clearly against Satan since the rebellion of the angels.
All aspects of human personality and conduct God deems essential for mankind are included in the ten great areas of moral behavior. No longer are they confined to stone and paper. They are being written in our mind and our heart until we can say with the Lord Jesus:
"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." (Psalms 40:8NIV)
Every item and activity of Christian worship, whether of the liturgical practices, church architecture, preaching and teaching, supernatural manifestations and so forth have as their supreme objective the writing of the law of God in our mind and heart. Our goal is not to go to Heaven as to a place. This is not scriptural, although Heaven is, of course, a place. Rather our goal is to have fellowship with God. Fellowship with God is possible only as we are being transformed into His moral image.
We like to think of Paradise, of joy, of peace, of love. These are important goals but they are secondary. The primary goal is transformation into the moral image of God, and all of our thinking and behavior must be directed toward this supreme end.
At one time there were three articles in the Ark of the Covenant. But when Solomon came to put the Ark in the Temple he had built, only the Ten Commandments remained. The dedication of Solomons Temple typifies the coming down from Heaven of the new Jerusalem, the eternal tabernacle of God.
There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. (I Kings 8:9NIV)
Previously the memorial jar of manna had been in the Ark, along with Aarons rod that budded and the tablets of stone. But when the Christian Church enters the fullness of Gods Person, the memorial jar of manna will no longer be present nor will Aarons rod that budded. But the eternal law of God will remain.
The manna represents the daily portion of grace given to us to overcome the evil of each day. This will come to an end when that which is perfect arrives, when we enter the promised inheritance which is the fullness of God and Christ.
The memorial jar of manna, and then Aarons rod that budded (speaking of the Divine election of the priesthood and also of the eternal life that comes forth as the members of the royal priesthood are crucified with Christ), have both served their purpose. They have transformed our flesh into the law of God.
The law is all-important. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the Word of Christ, the moral behavior that He exemplified and preached, shall never pass away.
The Ark of the Covenant was so named because it contained the Covenant, the Ten Commandments.
We must love God above all else.
We must not make idols and worship them.
We must revere Gods Name and not use it lightly.
We must serve God and not our own desires.
We must respect and obey authority.
We must live peaceably with people.
We must be scrupulously honest.
We must not embrace relationships not ordained of the Lord.
We must be truthful and compassionate concerning others.
We must be content with what God gives us, not comparing ourselves with others.
These are the ten great areas of moral behavior that are essential for fellowship with God. The Lord Jesus demonstrates them perfectly. Any transgression of them is sin. This is what sin is. Sin is the breaking of the eternal moral law of God.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. (I John 3:4NIV)
The Law and the Prophets are summed up as follows: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.
As you consider the above ten areas of moral behavior you will see that they all have to do with our relationship with God and with other people.
They were the Law under the Mosaic covenant. They are the moral law under the new covenant. They never change in intent, only in the manner in which they are applied to us.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. As Christ is formed in us the Word, that is, the eternal moral law of God, transforms our personality, our "flesh" so to speak. Thus we are made in the image of Christ and become the word made flesh, or the flesh made the word, as you wish.
The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church. It is the highest expression of the eternal moral law of God. The saved nations of the earth shall walk for eternity in its light, its guidance.
To this point, the only righteousness we have known is that which has been imputed (assigned) to us because we have received the Lord Jesus Christ and now are following His Spirit. The righteousness that thus is ascribed to us is the righteousness that comes from keeping perfectly the Ten Commandments. Christ kept the commandments perfectly and it is His righteousness that is assigned to us, the righteousness resulting from perfect obedience to the Law of God.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4NIV)
The above verse does not mean because we have accepted Christ we are perfectly righteous and need make no other effort. It means, rather, that as we turn away from our sinful nature and live in the Spirit of God, learning each day to keep the commandments issued by Jesus Christ and His Apostles, we are regarded by the Lord as having the full righteousness of the Ten Commandments even though we are not as yet able to keep them fully.
We must keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles now, as the Spirit of God enables us. As we keep the New Testament commandments, Christ is being formed in us. When Christ has come to maturity in us we will walk as He walks. We shall keep the Divine commandments by means of our new nature.
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:6NIV)
This is the fulfillment of the new covenant and is our eternal life and righteousness.
Sin is sin, and is defined by the full application of the ten great commandments.
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 2:3NIV)
The primary emphasis of Pauls Epistles is righteous behaviornot imputed righteousness, but actual righteousness of behavior. Though written by Paul they actually are letters from Christ. They came forth from Pauls crucifixion with Christ.
We Christians are to be living letters. We are to reveal the commandments of Christ in our thinking, speaking, and behavior.
The commandments no longer are engraved in granite or written on parchment. They are written in our mind and heart.
They are written with the Spirit of God.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenantnot of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6NIV)
The ministry of the new covenant is not that of the written words of the New Testament but of the Spirit of God. Sometimes zealous Christians attempt to interpret and obey the letter of the New Testament apart from the Spirit of God. They proclaim a divorced person can never be remarried, or there can be only three messages in tongues in an assembling. They hold to these rigorously.
It is a good thing to seek to obey the Scriptures. But if we attempt to do so without prayer, without waiting on God to find out His thoughts, we develop a religious spirit that is not wholesome or edifying. We become hard to get along with because of our doctrinaire spirit. Have you ever known anyone like that?
We must hear from God! The Spirit of God tells us if and when a divorced person can remarry. The Spirit of God tells us if and when a woman can speak in the church. The Spirit of God tells us if and when there can be four messages in tongues in an assembly.
We are not ministers of the letter but of the Spirit of God.
Of course, the Spirit will never tell us to do anything that is actually contrary to the intent of the written Word. Never! Rather He reveals to us how to apply the Word so it is fruitful and brings peace and righteousness.
The Lord Jesus told us if someone sues us to give him what he asks for and add to it. We have to hear from the Lord when such a circumstance arises.
The Lord Jesus told us to turn the other cheek when someone strikes us. We have to hear from the Lord when such a circumstance arises.
We do not ignore what Christ or the Apostles commanded, rather we pray until we know how to apply the Word. Isnt this so?
There is a time to turn the other cheek. There is another time when we are not to turn the other cheek but to defend ourselves, but only as the Lord leads.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, (II Corinthians 3:7NIV)
The letter of the Word kills if it is not made alive by the Spirit of God. The Law given under the ministry of Moses brings death. It emphasizes sin but does not provide a means of deliverance from sin. Yet it was accompanied by stupendous Divine Glory when proclaimed from Sinai. How much more will the new covenant finally be accompanied by incomprehensible glory!
The first covenant defines sin and provides a means of forgiveness but not of deliverance.
The new covenant defines sin and provides the means both of forgiveness and of deliverance. The first covenant could not remove sin. The new covenant can remove, through the power of Jesus Christ, the compulsions of sin. The Christian salvation is preached today as being Gods means of forgiving sin. It is this, but primarily it is Gods means of removing sin. This is the main difference between the covenants.
The Ten Commandments told the Apostle Paul he was covetous but could not deliver him. So Paul died spiritually, so to speak.
The new covenant condemns covetousness, but provides the Holy Spirit, the born-again experience, and the body and blood of Jesus Christ so we can be delivered from covetousness. It never is Gods will that a Christian walk in known sin. We owe our flesh nothing that we should yield to its lusts and passions. Through the Spirit of God we can overcome our carnal nature each day.
If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (II Corinthians 3:9NIV)
The goal of the new covenant is to create righteous behavior in people.
The new-covenant ministry brings righteousness to us, first imputed and then wrought out in our behavior until we become a new creation in Christ. It is the new creation that is the Kingdom of God.
We initially are given imputed righteousness so we can embark on the program of moral transformation. Imputed righteousness is not the Kingdom of God. Neither is it Gods plan or desire that His creatures continue in sin while He judges them to be righteous by imputation.
If we are not on the path of moral transformation, then the work of salvation has been aborted and we no longer are judged to be righteous by imputation. Here is one of the tremendous errors in Christian thinking, an error that has destroyed the moral character of the members of the churches.
The new-covenant ministry brings righteousnessactual righteousness of thought, speech, and behavior. Thus it is infinitely superior to the old covenant, which merely emphasized sin and then provided an endless sacrificing of animals so the believer could continue to have fellowship with God.
The new covenant takes away sin. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. The Son of God has been revealed in order to destroy the works of the devil, not just forgive them.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18NIV)
The above verse is one of the clearest expressions of the manner in which the new covenant operates. We can see at a glance how superior it is to the Mosaic covenant.
We have no veil on our faces as did Moses. We reflect the Lords glory openly as we live, move, and have our being in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are being transformed into His likeness. This transformation is what salvation is. We think of salvation as being eternal residence in Heaven. Salvation is not eternal residence in Heaven. Salvation is transformation into the moral image of Christ until we delight to do His will and His law is in our mind and heart. Salvation is deliverance from all that is of Satan and the possession of all that is of God. This definition needs to be widely circulated in our day; for if we make going to Heaven our goal we may not understand the daily process of transformation into the image of Christ, supposing our troubles are coming from Satan rather than God.
The transformation which is the Christian salvation is simply expressed but exceedingly difficult to work out in daily life. The transformation is the crucifixion of our first, adamic nature and the coming forth of a new creation. The new creation is of the Nature of Jesus Christ. The new creation keeps every aspect of the eternal moral law of God.
The difficulty of the program of salvation arises from the fact that the adamic nature resists crucifixion. We simply cannot understand why we suffer as we do. Has God forgotten us?
No, God has not forgotten us. He is bringing us down to death that His Life may come forth. Such dying and living does not occur all at once but on a daily basis. Each day we die and each day we live. It is line upon line, command upon command, word upon word, understanding upon understanding, here a little and there a little, until we are broken and captured by the Lord.
Perhaps you are experiencing such death right now. Hopefully my words will provide some understanding so you can perceive what God is doing, and then cooperate with the Spirit instead of resisting God at every turn.
God is converting your personality into a revelation of His law. Isnt that the most marvelous thing you have ever heard? You are becoming the witness of His Person, will, and way to all the nations of the earth.
The Ten Commandments were the old covenant. The body and blood of Christ are the new covenant.
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28NIV)
We have said the new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind so we can understand it and in our heart so we delight to do it. How then are the body and blood of Jesus Christ the new covenant?
Each day we are assigned a portion of evil and a portion of grace to overcome that evil.
Let us say that someone in the church wounds us in some manner. This is the evil that was given to us on the particular day. But grace to forgive the individual also has been provided.
We know from what the Lord Jesus said we absolutely must forgive those who sin against us.
Now we must make a decision. Either we go to God so we can lay hold on the grace given to us, or we can choose to hold a grudge.
If we choose to hold a grudge, not forgiving the person, our adamic nature is strengthened in revenge and bitterness. This is spiritual death. God will not have fellowship with this attitude even though we have confessed Christ as our Savior.
If instead we choose to go to God and lay hold on the grace that has been given, praying until we can forgive the individual, we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of Christ. The body and blood of Jesus Christ are our eternal life and our resurrection from the dead.
There is Virtue in the body and blood of Christ that is powerful enough to overcome the deepest, most powerful urge to seek revenge. By His body and blood we can overcome the spiritual death that is seeking to overpower us.
The Word of God written in our mind and heart is the new covenant. The body and blood of Jesus Christ are the new covenant.
It is as the body and blood are applied to our mind and heart that the eternal moral law of God is written in our mind and heart. This is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. The Word of God is in His body and blood. When we eat His flesh and drink His blood we eat and drink the Word of God, the eternal moral law of God. This is the new covenant.
If we are faithful in eating His flesh and drinking His blood each day until we are living by Him as He lives by the Father, then, when He appears, we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. Those who live by feeding on the slain Lamb will be caught up to the Lamb when He appears.
This is how the Lord Jesus Christ becomes our life. This is what it means to have Christ formed in us. When Christ is being formed in us the eternal moral law of God is being formed in us. This is the goal of the Christian plan of salvation, and we must work it out with fear and trembling.
Peter exclaimed that the righteous are saved with difficulty. Peter meant that the transformation from the adamic nature to the Nature of Jesus Christ requires much patience as we are brought through the fires sent to burn out of us the carnal nature.
And really, to a certain extent, the process of salvation from sin is as difficult as we make it. If we resist God at every turn, grumbling and complaining every time the Lord deals with us, we prolong the process needlessly. If instead we patiently endure the sufferings of the cross, realizing that as God slays our adamic nature He is removing from us that which always will bring sorrow at the end, we find we can cheerfully bear our cross year after year until the Lord determines the work has been completed.
There is an end! Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our salvation.
We are pressing toward perfection, toward the rest of God where we delight to do His will. Many witnesses surround us in the spirit realm as well as in the present world. Let us straighten up our back and walk as sons and daughters of God. There will come an end to the program of transformation, and we shall be exceedingly glad that we endured the cross and did not choose to remain in our untransformed state.
The Law! How the Orthodox love the Law, sometimes carrying the scroll around the synagogue on their shoulders.
Because of a misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul, as he sought to persuade the Jews to look up from the scroll of the Law and see their Christ, we have created a religion, the Christian religion, that is not true to the New Testament.
We emphasize dying and going to Heaven, a "rapture" to Heaven to deliver us from trouble, sometimes such extreme ideas as "prosperity" or "faith in faith."
In America, at least, the Gospel is kept "positive." The believers are told God loves them so much they need have no fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The churches outdo each other in making the "services" happy times in which everyone is welcomed and promised joy in the present world as well as the next.
God is pictured as a kindly old gentleman in the sky who overlooks our unscriptural behavior and who rushes to assure us he never could be really angry with us.
Actually, the picture we have is more of Santa Claus than it is of God.
The preachers stand in line to tell us how much God loves us. But the Spirit of God is warning that unless the American Christians begin to keep Gods commandments our nation will be punished severely.
One would look far and wide to find an assembly of Christians that pointed to the eternal moral law of God as being the object of salvation.
In this we are unscriptural. We of the royal priesthood have been predestined to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus. This means we are to become the eternal moral law of God revealed in a human being.
I think the previous two thousand years of the Church Age have been occupied largely with the pouring of the foundation of the Church, the Kingdom of God. Now that the foundation has been firmly established, it is time to build the Church without spot, wrinkle, or blemish of any sort.
For the Church to be without blemish, which is the scriptural promise, means the Church is keeping Gods laws perfectly. Once this is true, the Church will be established on the earth and the saved nations of the earth will come to the Church to learn how God desires that their citizens behave.
In the last days the mountain of the LORDs temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2,3NIV)
The current doctrines have not helped our understanding of the Bible when they point to a Jewish kingdom on the earth and a Gentile kingdom in Heaven. We should know better than this. Paul taught clearly about the one olive tree, the one Seed of Abraham, the removing in Christ of the distinction between Jew and Gentile, the one new Man.
We should know better, and yet we turn away from the Bible and cling to our unscriptural traditions and teachings.
Today God is speaking to whoever will do so to come out of the current confusion. The concept of a "state of grace" in which untransformed Gentiles go to Heaven to live in mansions is not only unscriptural but absurd. Such an idea is about as far removed from the Kingdom of God as one could get.
The law is always the same because it comes from Gods unchanging character. The law was present in the Garden of Eden in the form of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The law was present in the conscience of Enoch and Noah such that God regarded them as righteous.
The law was present in the conscience of Abraham so God could say to him, "Walk before me and be perfect," that is, perfect according to the moral law of God which is in every person until it is perverted by continued sin or unscriptural religious teaching.
The truth seems to be that the only group of people in the world who do not know what sin is are the Christians. Their teaching goes against conscience and causes them to believe a lie.
It is time now to return to the doctrines concerning righteousness that are found in the New Testament. We have been commanded to take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Jesus wherever He goes. As we do this, putting away our carnal nature by the power of the Spirit, Christ, the Law and Word of God, is formed in us.
When Christ has been formed in us we are prepared to descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God on the earth so the saved nations will have a moral light to guide them.
None of the numerous roles of the Kingdom of God, such as being part of the eternal Temple of God, a member of the Bride of the Lamb, a judge of men and angels, can be performed except as we are keeping the commandments of God to love Him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
Righteousness is the scepter of Christs Kingdom, and all His fellow kings and rulers will be righteous in personality by the righteousness that has been created in them as Christ has been formed in them.
Let the eternal moral law of God now take its rightful place as the main consideration of every assembly of Christians. As we emphasize righteous behavior, God will give us His Holy Spirit (He always gives the Spirit to those who obey Him), and sinners will be converted to the Lord.