Wednesday, 6 February 2013

'Walk just as He walked'

In last week's Blog, I suggested Step 1 in 'working out our Salvation with fear and trembling'.....and the beginning of the walk out of our prison.  Step 1 begins with forgiveness...and a forgiveness that includes God and ourselves, as well as all those who have damaged, hurt, and acted against us intentionally and unintentionally.

Step 2 is to begin to learn how to change the way that we that we can experience the reality of forgiveness.  We cannot, and must not, continue to behave as we behaved when we were in our prison of guilt, bitterness, resentment, anxiety, fear, and stress. 

The Apostle John gives us 5 points of clear advice in 1John 2.3-6:

1.  By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments. 
The problem with this advice is to determine what His Commandments are.  Are they the Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai....or are they the Commandments in the Gospels, which are usually called the 'Law of Christ'......given by Jesus, and expanded on by Paul.  

The answer is that His Commandments are those given to Moses on Mount Sinai, and explained and understood correctly by Jesus in the Gospels, and by Paul in his Letters. 

To try to suggest that His Commandments given to Moses were abrogated, changed, abandoned, or rewritten, is an attempt to make His Commandments in the Gospels fit into a socially acceptable way of behaviour. 

The solution to the problem of His Commandments given to Moses is NOT to abandon them, but to understand them!

2. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His Commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him.  
Once we have established point 1, it is logical that he who rejects His Commandments is a liar if he says, 'I know Him'.   Embarrassing....but accurate!

3. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. 
To keep His Word, and to keep His Commandments are synonymous....and the result of so doing is to experience the love of God being perfected, or made mature, in us.

The love of God is commonly understood to be a sort of amiable weakness, a good natured indulgence, and it is generally reduced to a cloying sentiment patterned after human emotion.  

The result of this is that most people believe in a 'God of love', who operates according to their definition of love, which is:

1. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection. 
2. A virtue expressing all of human kindness and compassion. 
3. The unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of another. 
4. Compassionate actions towards other humans, one's self, or animals.

The confirmation of this 4 point definition is claimed to be from the following references:
Leviticus 19:18  You shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD.
Matthew 22:39  ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
Galatians 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled ..even in this: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'

James 2:8  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself,' you do well;   

If this is the sum total of 'the love of God', we can find it expressed in the mission statement of the Social Services Department of the local Council. 

Therefore, if we behave with unselfish, loyal, and benevolent concern for the good of others, and carry out, or pay the Council to carry out, compassionate actions towards other humans, one's self, or animals......that will be enough?

Is that it? Not according to the Apostle John:
1John 5.3: This is the love of God, that we keep His Commandments.  

This definition of the love of God requires us to do much more than 'loving our neighbour as ourself' with compassionate actions towards other humans, one's self, and animals.  

When we read His Commandments that He gave to Moses, it seems that, at the very least, we are required to change our lifestyle, our behaviour, and what we do, if we are to experience, and show, the love of God.

4. By this we know that we are in Him. 
It seems that by this John means that there should be visible evidence in our lives that the love of God is perfected in us.

What is the visible evidence that John refers to, as does James in James 2.17-24: 

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  
Therefore, unless our trust in God is expressed in our actions, in keeping His Commandments, our trust has no basis, it is dead. Now that is a real problem!!

But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
This is an unanswerable challenge from the LORD's half brother, the leader of the early believers, and a man of such influence that he was murdered in 62CE for his faith, expressed in his works of keeping His Commandments.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!
But the difference is that the demons do NOT keep His Commandments!

But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?...Here are some examples: 
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 
Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' 
And he was called the friend of God.....which is a strong recommendation!

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

5. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

How did He practical, observable, visible, ways?  
How did He keep His practical, observable, visible, ways? 
How was the love of God perfected in practical, observable, visible, ways? 
How did He show us His faith by His practical, observable, visible, ways? 

To begin with, there are 3 obvious, clear, observable, visible, and practical actions with which He  showed us His faith by His works:

1.  He kept the Sabbath.....the seventh day of the week, Saturday, from sunset to sunset.  

2.  He kept the Biblical Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Succot, and Shemini Atzeret. 

3. He kept the Biblical instructions on food in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  Therefore, He ate no pork or shellfish, or any meat or fish of carnivores or omnivores.    

Here is a suggestion that will make your change of lifestyle less dramatic. You do NOT need to give up your Sunday worship, or your celebrations at Christmas and Easter.  To do so may, and probably will, result in alienation from your family, your children, and your friends.  

I do not believe that God wants us to be alienated from family and friends.  He requires us to live in a different way....BUT not to be alienated. There is a big difference between separation and alienation.  

So, there is no reason why you should not continue to worship on Sunday, but also to keep the Sabbath on Saturday.  There is no reason why you should not keep the Passover and subsequently celebrate Easter, and similarly, Succot and Christmas. 

The LORD in the Bible is 'into relationships'...relationships between us and Him, and between us and each other. Relationships are more important than strict observance of His Commandments....when strict observance will result in alienation and broken relationships.

Do you have friends or family members who are vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian....or who are fanatical about football support, running for miles, swimming for hours, watching motor racing, or....??

Do you indulge, cope with, live with, and make allowances for their interests, which are time consuming and inconvenient for you?  Of course you do, because you have a relationship with them which is more important to maintain than to break off because of their inconvenient brehaviour.  

So, enjoy and experience working out your Salvation with fear and trembling by keeping His Commandments on the Sabbath, His Feasts, and His instructions on food....and keep your relationships with your family and friends!! 

Until next week....and Step 3 of working out your Salvation with fear and trembling.


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