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What the Bible says about Law Breaking
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 18:10-13

What is the attraction of Halloween? Are people really into ghouls, spirits, devilry, and monsters? Are Americans really that attracted to the otherworldly theme of the holiday? No, probably not. Polls to the contrary, most Americans do not believe in demonic or even angelic spirits enough to think of Halloween as some kind of celebration of them. The answer lies in the donning of costumes and the consumption of alcohol: Halloween is the year's biggest escape from reality!

The ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (November 1), from which All Saints' Day and All Hallows Eve derive, was a kind of New Years holiday. Along with the days immediately before and after, it was special because the Celts believed that the boundary between this world and the spirit world relaxed or lifted, allowing spirits to cross between them more easily. As this idea terrified superstitious people, they mollified the spirits by leaving out food and treats so that they would not curse them. Some practiced various forms of divination to contact departed loved ones. Druids thought this to be the best time to seek guidance from the dead, and the bards sought otherworldly inspiration for their poetry and song.

Another interesting aspect of Samhain's celebration is that the Celts considered it to take place in "no-time," that is, neither in the old year nor the new. Since this "no-time" was a time to itself, normal laws, order, strictures, and customs were held in abeyance for these three days of merriment. People thus did whatever they pleased.

So, the fool held court as the wise man. The baseborn acted as the noble. The servant became the master. Women dressed as men and vice versa. Farmers turned out their cattle, pigs, and sheep from their pens and pastures, allowing them to roam free. Some entered houses through windows rather than doors. No work was done because it was a time of total abandon: of revelry, feasting, drinking, taking dares, disguising oneself, and pretending to be something one was not. Those three strange days were "chaos time."

Our modern version, Halloween, is a "tame" descendant of this Celtic celebration, and its popularity is rising steadily. Revelers use the holiday as an excuse to escape their mundane, banal, yet stressful lives and "take a walk on the wild side." Laws, customs, mores, and order cease for a short time, as participants indulge themselves in whatever they desire.

Probably most consider it "blowing off steam" or "having a good time," but self-indulgence is sin. Instead of releasing the pressure by coming out of a world conducting its affairs apart from God (Revelation 18:4), celebrants compound their troubles by adding on sin and its destructive consequences.

We have been called to a different life, one in which we "put off" our former corrupt, lustful conduct and "put on" new habits and behaviors that reflect the righteous and holy life of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:22-24). Paul concludes in Ephesians 5:8-12, 15-16:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. . . . See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Halloween Rising

Matthew 5:17-19

Not only does Jesus, our Savior, emphatically proclaim that He was not doing away with portions of God's Word (the Old Testament), but He also specifically charges us to keep the commandments and teach them. Yet, men ignore this and say that keeping the commandments is no longer necessary. Are we going to believe Jesus or those who contradict what He says?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is the Christian Required to Do Works? (Part One)

Matthew 16:6

The key to understanding the leaven of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6, 11-12) does not hinge on their zeal in keeping the law, but on their zeal in finding loopholes to twist it to their own ends. Their motto could have been, "How close can we get to the edge without going over?" We could refer to this practice as brinkmanship (pushing a situation to the limit to force a desired result) or marginalism (taking an extreme position on an issue).

A former homiletics teacher, also an avid skier, conveyed to his class an analogy of the Ten Commandments as the boundary markers along the ski trail. Every year, when contemplating the boundary markers at Vail or Aspen, he reflected that only an idiot would ski as close to the edge as he could. Yet this describes many practices of the scribes and Pharisees!

The legalist and the lawbreaker both have a morbid curiosity about those boundaries rather than concentrate upon the vast latitude of choices between those markers. This is reminiscent of our parents Adam and Eve developing a morbid curiosity about the one tree that God forbade, ignoring the thousands upon thousands of varieties that He did not forbid (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-6). This behavior dwells on the negative and ignores the positive.

These examples point out that the spirits of legalism and lawlessness are twin siblings. When we place the critical points of the law/grace and legalism/lawlessness issue in proper perspective, law and grace are powerful allies opposing legalism and lawlessness. They give Christians great freedom to do good for others while also doing what is right.

David F. Maas
Righteousness from Inside-Out

Luke 4:8

Jesus Christ kept the Ten Commandments (Luke 4:8; John 15:10), and taught others to do likewise (Matthew 19:17-19). He elaborated on keeping them in Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28. Jesus emphatically says, "If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments." Could anything be clearer? John writes, "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4). Paul instructs Timothy, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ [calls himself a Christian] depart from iniquity" (II Timothy 2:19).

Martin G. Collins
The Ten Commandments

John 8:2-11

Condemnation would have meant the death penalty because "the wages of sin is death." Jesus provides us an example of righteous judgment under the terms of the New Covenant. First, let us consider who He is, so that we can see His authority. He is Immanuel—"God with us." If anybody understood the application and administration of the law of God for the church under the New Covenant, it was Jesus of Nazareth. In addition, He is not only Immanuel, He is also the Head of the church.

Why does He make this judgment? Under the terms of the New Covenant, the church is not a civil entity, meaning that it has no civil authority to carry out the death penalty. But does this mean that the law of God is done away? No. Romans 6:23 still says, "The wages of sin is death." Death for sin is merely delayed under the New Covenant. The sin and the death penalty are still there, but the church is in a peculiar position in relation to law. The law of God is not administered by the church as it was by Israel when they made the Old Covenant with God. Both covenants have the same laws, but different administrations.

Are adultery and lust (two sins involved in this episode) still sins under the New Covenant? Absolutely! So is the breaking of the other eight commandments. But the church, out of necessity, has to administer it differently. Forgiveness of this woman is implied, as Jesus, Immanuel, said that He did not condemn her. Even though it is not stated directly, He forgave her.

But did He say, "Go, and don't be concerned about committing adultery again"? Certainly not! As the Head of the church, He said, "Go, and don't break that law again!" He justified her in relation to this one law, and warned her, "Don't break it." His forgiveness did not do away with the law! It is ridiculous, on its face, to conclude that, when grace clears us and brings us into alignment with God and His laws, that it eliminates the law! Only when there is a clear statement or example in God's Word that a law has been put aside should we make such a determination.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Four)

Romans 2:25

In other words, even if one is circumcised, if he breaks the law, it becomes as if one were not circumcised.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Seven)

Romans 3:23

Every human being who has ever lived - except Christ - has broken God's laws. Therefore, everyone needs to be saved from sin's consequences.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: Salvation

Romans 4:15

If we take to its logical conclusion the statement that "justification by grace through faith does away with law," then there is no such thing as sin any longer, for the law defines what sin is (see also I John 3:4). If that is true, Christ died in vain.

In addition, it violently flies in the face of two clear facts: 1) Two thousand years after Christ shed His blood to pay the penalty for sin—providing the means for justification—we still must repent of sin to be forgiven. That has not changed, so sin must still exist and law still exists. Thus, the Ten Commandments still exist, as sin is the transgression of that law. How can this be if there is no law to transgress? 2) The New Testament record of Jesus Christ's and the apostles' exhortations to Christians not to sin, especially after one is forgiven.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Four)

Romans 13:1-2

Of course, God's spiritual law is of prime importance and takes precedence over all other law. As Peter said, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29) when a conflict between the two occurs. Though breaking man's laws may not always be sin, a rebellious attitude against what God appoints over us will in time lead to transgressing God's law. One who will not submit to law in one area will not submit to it in others.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Sin Is Spiritual!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Paul is paraphrasing what Jesus said: "Obey the laws of God. Don't steal. Don't lust. Don't covet. Don't be a drunkard - because you are justified."Paul gives justification as the very reason they should obey the law of God - because they had been justified. He says, "Choose life because you have been justified." Justification is given as the reason - indeed, the obligation - for voluntarily choosing life, for choosing not to sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Four)

1 Corinthians 7:19

Here the apostle Paul tells us that we are to keep the Ten Commandments under the New Covenant. It cannot be refuted. The Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant too. That part is not obsolete; we are still using it in the brand new model. The moral law is still in force and effect. To break the commandments is sin, while to do them is righteousness.

That includes all ten - not just nine. Remember Jesus' declaration that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law. If Jesus speaks the truth, how can people say that the fourth commandment is done away? They directly refute their Savior. It is really quite silly.

Most of the rest of the law, that is, part of the terms of the Old Covenant, still directly apply. How about tithing, part of the Old Covenant? We find that tithing supersedes the Old Covenant. What about the food laws, also is part of the Old Covenant? The New Testament records that they were still being kept by people who should have known better if they were done away. Many of those laws still directly apply.

Even those that may only indirectly apply are still applicable in their spirit, in their intent. Intent suggests "the stretching out." Those laws help to define sin and righteousness in specific situations. Their positive intent is always to bring us to holiness - to the image of God.

We need to discipline ourselves never to look at a law of God - whether it is civil or ceremonial - and assume it has no application for us, as if God just intended it for the Israelites back then. Far from it! God's law (and its intent) is always love and eternal, which is why Jesus says that none of it would pass until all is fulfilled.

Obedience to those laws can neither justify nor save us, but they are the wisdom and the love of God, given to guide us. We should be studying them to understand how to make our lives holier than ever before.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Nine)

Hebrews 10:26-27

Plainly, when this occurs, the sacrifice of Christ will not apply. These people, whoever they are, have put themselves into a carnal state again, and their enmity against God is exposed, as evidenced by their law-breaking.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Nine)

2 Peter 2:4

God is unbending in regard to His law. Peter shows this by illustrating that it does not matter who sins or when he sins. Before God ever created man, angels broke the law of God. God, being just and holy, could do only one thing. Because He cannot permit sin to abide in His Kingdom, He had to follow through with the punishment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Sixteen)

1 John 3:4

Although many ministers condemn sin vehemently, most do not understand what it is! In I John 3:4, God gives us a clear definition of sin: the attitude and practice of breaking God's laws. These laws, summarized in the Ten Commandments, define what is right and wrong, and the breaking of them constitutes sin.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: Salvation

Revelation 21:8

God's law will still be in effect once His Kingdom is established. Even after the Millennium, when New Jerusalem comes down, no lawbreaker will be allowed in the city. In Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, obedience to God's law is the central issue. This is very clear proof that the law of God, which reflects the holy conduct of the Almighty, will be the standard for all eternity!

Martin G. Collins
The Ten Commandments


 




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