Obligation and Character

What exactly is the character that God is forming in us? Is it not the goal for Christ to be formed in us, (Galatians 4:19)?   Yeshua had a crisp view of what is great about the sacred texts, and that for Him and the early disciples was the Law.   The great thing about the Torah is not found in the Covenant Handwriting (the Decalogue).  It is obvious to us, as it was to the succeding generations of Hebrew people, that there had to be a break in the anxiety and fruitless labour cycle.  They could not keep claiming that the law is great and does wonders for the people who embrace it, while no exit appears.  This is where the search for the one thing to do begins.   If one violation  brings the sacred journey to a screeching halt, one has reason to think that there is one thing that can either end the cycle or put the traveller on the right path. If one’s character is defined by what one does not do, we have to admit that the character remains hidden, because one can actually do nothing that is good and just and holy and still claim to be obedient. People have a longing to be accepted as something they are not. The things God wants to produce in us are not inaction and condemnation.

Trying to debate one’s way into righteousness is still popular. Yeshua faced it regularly.

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Matthew 22:35-36

The answer to this question does more than state what is great in the law. It also shows two ideas as false. First that only the Decalogue is admissible as a moral guide. Neither total love for God nor love for one’s neighbour is found in the Decalogue. Second, the vast majority of Christians legitimately have no regard for dietary scruples, what to wear, or festivals of any kind. It is moot to mention the issues of uncleanness or rebellious children, two (of many) circumstances which can result in capital punishment.

Consider the injustices that would abound if people are being sentenced to death for sabbath violation anywhere on the planet today.. Who would be the executioners? If people are being cut off for coming into contact with unclean animals, other individuals or vessels anywhere on the planet today there would be no safe place anywhere. There would be all kinds of kangaroo courts and lynchings, but Christ does not allow condemnation.

If law is paramount then someone had better tell us who is responsible for our conduct and for seeing that the consequences apply. Christians who think they know the law and do everything to put it at the top of their list have removed themselves from any benefit of grace. The Law is not of faith: faith liberates and law imprisons. The Law was not introduced for righteous people; but some people do not believe that the saved are also justified, are just and holy and good. The Law was not introduced to create righteous people. That is why the evangelists wrote “The law was done when John showed up”. By the time Christ died on the cross the law was the husband of yesterday, the man we had no right to be in bed with.

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