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THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS

The Believer & “The Law”

Help Wanted:

Seeking the lost, subjugated, addicted, wretched, and most sinful people of society. Prostitutes, illegal immigrants, and all people rejected welcome. Must be willing to suffer humiliation and disgrace by mainstream society affluent socialites, hypocrites, elitist, bigots, and the lovers of money need not apply. For one cannot serve two masters –Jesus!

 

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Yet, it is evident that he indeed did change The Law by is teaching as we are no longer obligated to live as slaves of wrath of sin under the penalty of death. Paul states, “So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Rom. 7: 4-6 NIV).” Moo states Paul intent of these verses are, “The era of the law has come to an end with the redemptive work of Christ. To be “under the law” then, means to be in that old era and to deny that Christ has come.  This is the purpose for which we are freed from the law and joined to Christ is so that we may “bear fruit to God.” Practical works of service should flow from our new relationship[1].”

Furthermore, Jesus in his Greatest Commandment states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matt. 22: 36-40 NIV).

A final consideration what Jesus said on matters of exclusion, hypocrisy and lack of humility and false ambition to the Pharisees “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean (Matt. 23:23-25).”  This is Jesus warning that one cannot earn the favor of God by work or deed alone. Additionally, one must practice a life of obedience of faith and in a manner of living, which glorifies God in all things. Paul uses the same argument for Christian living and the need for transformation in Romans 12-15:3 and builds the need for justification by faith alone for righteousness by the grace and mercy of the Atonement of Christ in Romans 1-8. While for Paul transformation of the mind can only result after one has the indwelling and aid of the Holy Spirit,  For many second century Jews and even some Christians today and even non believers God instills certain moral characteristics within all humanity and one can argue even all creation ( Psalms 148,150)[2].

Although the Epistle of Romans depicts all humanity under a generational curse and a wretched state of sin and despite our best intentions unable to live up to acts of God will or fulfill the Law. The book of acts and even Jesus allude to the power of God and the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of non believers before a profession of faith in Christ or repentance of sin. Additionally, there are few absolute truths or laws in the universe. However on certainty is there is only one God and God often first reveals himself via creation and general revelation. However, a more profound truth one cannot enter Heaven and restored to the Eikōn of Christ that was robbed from us by the first sin unless one accepts that Jesus paid the price of the sins of all creation and justified all creation. We all with the aid of the Holy Spirit must practice the disciplines of Christian Living that lead to the Fruit of the Spirit[3] during the process of sanctification in the race of live and  gracious and suffering living until all creations rejoices in the Eternal Kingdom under the reign of our Savior King Jesus Christ.

What is the purpose of the Mosaic Law and secular law to a believer and follower of Christ? This question has been a troubling debate since the dawn of Christianity and has led to the collapse of empires, the foundation of nations, wars, the separation of church and states and even the schism with in the body of Christ itself. While Jesus himself did not give us but seven basic commands during his earthly ministry, George Patterson outlines theses as follows:

  1. Repent and Belief ( Mark 1:15)
  2. Baptism and Sanctification, Continuity of New Life, ( Matt. 28: 18-20; act 2:38; Rom. 6:11)
  3. Love of God & Others ( Matt. 22: 37:40)
  4. Communion ( Luke 22: 17-20)
  5. Pray ( Matt. 6: 5-15)
  6. Give ( Matt. 6: 19-21; Luke 6:38)
  7. Evangelize (Matt. 28: 18-20).[4]

Jesus did state during the Sermon on the Mount of Olivet “That he did not come to change that Law or any of the words of the prophets rather all will be fulfilled in him Matt. 5).”   As Moo states throughout his commentary obligation to live by the Law was ended by Christ dying as an atoning sacrifice and is replaced with The Law serving as a guide and awareness of our sins. This is also, what Paul has in mind in Romans when speaking of the Law being written to the heart of the believer as well. Moo views this mainly as 10 Commandments and some of the religious guidelines in the Mosaic Law.[5]

However, I conclude this applies to secular law as well. Peter calls Aliens and Strangers in 1 Peter 11-12 NASB “Who should keep are conduct in a manner that glorifies God, thus we should walk and imitate Christ in all areas as this serves as one of the main functions of evangelism for us as ambassadors and champions of the faith.” Peter continues by providing insight that we must never allow the ways of foreign customs compromise our righteousness or our belief of obedience to live by faith.

Paul reminds us In Romans 12 to pursue peace in all arguments under most circumstances and in Romans 13 we are told God appoints every government and every official and thus we are told to pay are taxes, debts and show kindness, love and respect to every citizen in the land where we live under most circumstances.

Exceptions may occur and are documented in the Bible and history under and in such cases; the need for advocacy, activism or even rebellion may be needed. Such a circumstance in Jerusalem around 40-50 A.D. Gamaliel’s defense on the persecution of the Apostles for inciting a rebellion as recorded in The Book of Acts by Luke (Acts 5:33-36) may be paraphrased as “if this is for the benefit of God it will succeed.  But if these actions or any actions performed are in the interest or intent of men they will fail (Acts 5:39).” I myself believe peace is always best and words should sought before any form of violence However am fully willing to stand up and fight any war against forces whether spiritual or physical or Spiritual in the name of Christ. The question always is what one is willing to sacrifice and die for.

 

In God, Christ & Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

Bibliography

McFarland, Orrey. “Philo of Alexandria and Romans 9:1-29: Grace, Mercy, and Reason.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston, 115-120. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

 

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

Patterson, George. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winer, & Hawthorne Steven C., 639. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

 

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014.

 

 

[1]  Douglas J. Moo, Romans, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[2] Orrey McFarland, “Philo of Alexandria and Romans 9:1-29: Grace, Mercy, and Reason.” In Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism, edited by Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, & Jason Maston ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 115-120.

 

[3]Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2014).

 

[4] George, Patterson. “The Spontaneous Multiplication of Churches.” In Perspectives On The World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorne Steven C, (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 639.

 

[5]  Douglas J. Moo, Romans, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000)

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