48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt 5;48)
Those who have lived under the law such as do the Jews understand by way of their own history that there is a consequence to be paid for falling short of the demands of God. They have lost their land, and their lives, many times for such small infractions as picking up sticks on the wrong day. This is not too far removed from the reason the Jewish rulers wanted Jesus dead, because He broke their added rules called Traditions of the Elders, which to them, the traditions were just as important, if not more so, then was the law Moses gave them that they purported to live under.
The Jewish history is one of openly accepting God's rules (after they had been told the rules, the consequences for breaking those rules, and being informed as to the rewards for keeping those rules faithfully), then deciding they didn't like the rules, and they wanted to be like their corrupt neighbors. The Old Testament is a testimony to us, not only what God wants from us, what will happen if we go back on our contract, but also it is a record of the near impossibility of following those laws we vow to uphold.
Did I hear someone say they didn't make any vows, nor did they hear about the vows of chastity, purity, faithfulness, servitude, forsaking all to take up their cross and follow Jesus? You weren't told these things? You weren't told the consequences for going back on your word? Did someone goof do you think? I wonder who that might have been? And I wonder if the one who goofed will stand up and take the blame for your failure? Somehow I can't see that will happening.
16And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Mat 19:)
36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)
46And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: 48He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:)
38Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition ["Destruction, damnation, perish"]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb 10:)
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:)
If you had grown up under Judaism you would have known exactly what Jesus was saying, why He was saying it, where in the Old Testament He was quoting the words from, and that they meant you were to follow these words precisely. Those with a Gentile background, having been raised in front of a rectangular screen, would have no idea what Jesus was talking about, nor would they care to know.
John the Baptist said to the Pharisees:
The other side of the coin holds to those from the Gentile philosophies who declared that the spirit is separate from that of the flesh, so whatever the flesh does is ok as long as the spirit is in good order. This philosophy branches out in many directions, but they all essentially say the same thing: Do your own thing and hang the consequences (which they say there are none).
There is yet another philosophy that is becoming popular which is that of the Gnostics who believe the way to God is esoteric knowledge. They believe that to understand God, and thereby please and follow God, one must possess a secret understanding they only possess. There's a branch of this doctrine that leans toward the legal-minded Jews, who believe the way to greater knowledge is through the purifying of the soul, the doing away with the flesh, much like what is taught in the Bible. This concept is similar to some Eastern religions who also believe that self-control and doing right is the way to fulfilment and to God, whatever god might be to them.
A converted Jew (Often called a Messianic Jew), having been brought up under the law will be inclined to see the Bible in its entirety rather than as two separate books. They will have the understanding and the background with which to add to their new-found understanding, rather than see the two books in conflict. They will see where the New Testament is an explanation and a fulfillment of the Old Testament rather than a contradiction. They will have been brought up learning to use self control and discipline, striving to retrieve what Adam had lost, as a natural course because it is what his (or her) family expects of them, as does their society as a whole.
Gentiles (those of us brought up in the world of self-centeredness) on the other hand have had an entirely different upbringing (as a rule). A gentile has been brought up under a law of liberty, believing anything that feels good and brings us pleasure is ok. And in the churches this attitude is supported. Some churches may draw a line somewhere, usually at the very edge of the cliff that leads to destruction, but this line is usually drawn with erasable chalk whereby it can be moved when the whim should strike them (which it does, as can be seen in the history of any church or denomination).
The primary danger of this type of thinking is that it is not in our human nature to restrict ourself from something that we have not taught ourself to resist in the past. We've had a lifetime of avoiding having to use self discipline. Why should we think we can find what we haven't developed in times past? If nothing else, our New Year Resolutions that have fallen to the wayside should have taught us that we have no resolve in this area. We are doomed to fail.
When we're unable to remain on the safe side of the line we have drawn (or that society, or the church we attend has drawn), we redraw the line a little farther into the field of destruction. This approach to resolving a problem can be likened to loosening one's belt to relieve the pressure of overindulging rather than developing a habit of pushing one's self away from the table, and dieting to lose the excess bulge. The progressive steps to this method is that of buying a new wardrobe from the short and fat store and joining the "Fat is Beautiful" club rather than the local gym. Another area where this approach can be seen is our lawn that we used to enjoy keeping so pristine, the pride of the neighborhood, turning to weeds with a sign posted that says "Weeds are God's gift to the man of leisure." Meanwhile, it's very likely our once well maintained house becomes a shambles that we justify by declaring that a disordered house is a sign of an orderly mind. It's so much easier to justify and rationalize our problems than it is to do something about them and bring them into line with reason.
We are not alone in our struggle to avoid the line of non-acceptance. We live in a society that is enduring the same pressures. And those in our society are dealing with their struggle in the same manner as we ourselves are; in other words, they're not. They too are striving to ignore the problem and hope it will go away.
Undealt with problems do not go away. That unwashed car is not going to clean itself. We have to buckle down and deal with the problem ourselves or the problem will undo us.
Society does not deal with problems that go against its (and our) nature. It, like you and I, pushes the boundary farther away from itself in order to not feel the pressure. We have seen the result of this mentality in the schools, the government, the media, and even in the churches. All aspects of civilization is taking a nosedive into corruption in its search for "Personal freedom," another word for satisfying one's lusts and Hedonistic nature. The Church is supposed to be a symbol of purity. It is to be a refuge where we go to find the means and the support by which to avoid the pitfalls that the world and our nature continually draws us further in to. But this has changed, and the church is now merely another segment of the world, that acts like the world, and supports the world and its ungodly behavior. The Church is to be a place we go to have our problems dealt with, where we can confess our problems and garner support for our ridding ourself of the problem we pile on ourself. But instead the church will very likely tell us our problem is ok, and that there will be no consequences to pay for giving into our problem.
[As a side note, when I was enduring therapy I was informed by the "Experts" in the field of human behavior that my (our) problem was not that I had a problem discerning right from wrong, but rather that I had been discovered. I now, nearly 40 years later, am finding my church telling me essentially the same thing. I didn't accept this line of reasoning from the "good doctors," and I certainly do not accept it from the church. I hope you don't either.]
To do so will merely cause a longer period of time until we've redrawn the line at the inevitable pit's edge.
Consider this approach:
What if we draw the line at the beginning of the field of non-acceptance? What if we live a godly life from the get-go and continually add to our life those elements that feed the Spirit rather than the flesh? What if we do away with everything in our life, and in our house, that hints of worldliness and instead create an environment that Jesus would feel perfectly comfortable in? What if we filled our house with Christian music? What if we had the Bible on CD going in every room instead of the garbage on TV that bends our mind and our will to that of the world?
What if we tried to push our line as far toward Godliness as we possibly can rather than try to avoid the edge of the pit that we know we're destined for? What if we read the Bible to our children instead of sitting them in front of the boob-tube or sending them off to play video games where they learn to perform witchcraft, kill, steal and maim? What if we spend some family time together, listening to one another, showing our concern for one another, and sharing our joys, our griefs and our problems?
What if we had a church that followed such a pattern?
What if we had a society that conducted themselves in this manner?
Is this a dream? Is it possible? Isn't this similar to what we see of those families before modern times? Isn't this the image we have of our great grandparents? Isn't this much like what used to be portrayed on the radio , the movies, and the television?
Why has it all changed? What happened to those "Good old days"?
You wanted to feel the slack in your belt. I wanted to do what I felt like doing rather than what I should be doing, and doing it without feeling guilty or condemned. We wanted a society that believes in "Do your own thing." We got what we wanted, and what we thought would bring us happiness is choking us to death.
How can we change things back to what they used to be? Who can make the difference?
You can. I can. We can change the world for the good just like we changed it to the bad.
But we won't. We've learned to like the things that are bad for us, and that will lead us to hell instead of the Heaven we've been promised.
So just sit back and enjoy the ride, it's a long way down.
13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (2Tim 3:)
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:)
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:)
13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal 5:)
23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:)
8If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:)
16As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. (1Peter 2:)
18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, ["licentiousness, disregarding the rules of conduct, permissiveness"] those that were clean escaped from them who live in error ["Stray from piety, deceived, delusion"]. 19While they promise them liberty ["Freedom (licentious or legitimate)"], they themselves are the servants of corruption ["Decay, destroy, perish"]: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. (2Peter 2:)
When something has been in place for a long time, regardless of how destructive that thing might be, it becomes almost impossible to dislodge and over time it becomes accepted as the norm. This is never more true than with the corrupted doctrines of the churches. We're told to resist these deceptions and to preach, to exhort against them. But in actuality the only control each of us has is over our own lives and our own actions, not that of others.]
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