There is a casual attitude about sin among people who trust that the New Testament letters teaching that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) has exempted us from being held responsible for our actions.
This is a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be “saved from sin”. Keep reading the passage in scripture.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)
Even worse, many of us who were born into Christian church-going families take our spiritual privileges for granted and refuse to perform our Kingdom of God responsibilities.
- Now IF we be dead with Christ…Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him…
- Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
- Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
- but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
- For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
- What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
- Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
- For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:1-23)
Christianity is all too often treated as fire insurance after death. But allowing sin in its many guises to control us destroys us and those whose lives we touch in this life, as well as our option for life in the next plane of existence.
The means of salvation meets the objective of salvation – restoration of a relationship with a holy God.
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile…you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled…to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…” Colossians 1:20-22)
I am not proposing that we can “lose our salvation,” because John assures us that
“My sheep…shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Joh 10:27-28)
But John qualifies who are the Christ’s sheep!
“My sheep hear / respond to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life;” (John 10:27)
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (I Peter 2:24-25 from Isaiah 53)
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:” (I Pet 1:14-17 from Leviticus 20)
Paul tag teams once again with Peter backing up what we should be fearful of, whether we are the sheep of his pasture like David, whose family was destroyed, and likely for eternity at that, by his willful sin, or a nominal Christian who never was actually accepted into the sheepfold by the Shepherd of all souls.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation…He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said…The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)
When we consider the judgment that came on the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem who sinned willfully after receiving knowledge of the way, the truth and the life, we should take this warning very seriously.
John also sets really strict criteria for being a sheep that is granted eternal life.
“hereby we do know that we know / are one with him, IF we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…” (I John 2:3-6)
The Bible states categorically that, as with the foundational prophet Moses, God will put his words in the mouths of his successor prophets.
“the LORD said unto me…I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-18)
Although Christianity acknowledges that Jesus Christ is identified by his likeness to Moses, Christianity ignores the importance of Moses and his successors by downplaying their roles as being nothing more than just “types” of Christ. This results in an intrinsic “unhitching” of the significance of the Old Testament to the following New Testament, even by those who deplore the open “unhitching” of the Old from the New.
We are discarding our own identity in Christ if we consider that Moses and his immediate successor were just place holders until the ultimate Christ showed up over a thousand years later. Joshua and his successors were each a true Promised Deliverer at that time and in those circumstances by FOLLOWING THE COURSE SET BY MOSES.
“And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for THOU must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and THOU shalt cause them to inherit it.
And the LORD, he it is that doth go before THEE; he will be with THEE, he will not fail THEE, neither forsake THEE: fear not, neither be dismayed. ” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8)
“he hath said, I will never leave THEE, nor forsake THEE. So that WE may boldly say, The Lord is MY helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto ME.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
“the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee…
Only [human responsibility in this partnership] be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee?” (Joshua 1:1-9)
In another passage, mainstream Christianity treats an Old Testament prophecy as applying to the New Testament Church. because of the world-wide viewpoint. But instead of taking a blind flying leap forward into the future, serious students who continue to stick with the hermeneutical and historical approach will recognize the world-wide perspective of the entire Bible, Old and New Testaments.
“My people [which we have proven aforetime in the post Melchizedek Moses, at this point in time, are the Hebrews] went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause…they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed…
Therefore my people / the Hebrews shall know my name / attributes / famous acts: therefore they shall know IN THAT DAY that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I…”For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall HE be called [not Sennacherib].”(Isaiah 52:4-6, 54:5)
The passage is written to encourage people being oppressed at the time of writing to trust in the promised deliverer. For that objective to work, the promise must have been fulfilled in the past. Like unbiased archeologists, let’s sift through the levels to discover what it is, starting with the historical context in which Isaiah wrote these encouraging words.
“Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and took them. And the king of Assyria [predatory precursor to Nazi ideology and possibly even genetically to some Germans] sent…a great army…to Hezekiah, saying…Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed…?
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him…Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel…Because thy rage against me…I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” (Isaiah 36-37)
The next level to analyze is the historic circumstances equivalent to those currently being experienced c. 700 by people “howling under oppression.” This is what provides valid encouragement to have faith in the same previous experience of deliverance. For example, the basis for faith in being delivered by God from their enemies by the individuals Isaac, then Jacob, then Joseph, then ultimately by a horde of Hebrews was knowledge of past miraculous deliverances of their ancient fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This is the only basis for faith in ANYTHING – Sennacherib’s promise of leniency for those who surrender or utter destruction for those who resist, a COVID vaccine, the utterly contradictory self-evolution of selfish humanity into self-sacrificing Superman able to save a world clearly set on self-destruct – despite the bedrock basis of eugenics in evolution as “the survival of the fittest”, a presidential candidate…
Even God himself.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“ (Romans 10:17)
So, placing the meaning of this message in proper historical context, especially with the significant words, we find that this is not a prophecy of a future new religion of Christianity at all, but solidly establishes our saving faith in events that occurred, and relationships that were established, before the world began. This passage can then apply to future believers, just as the relationship between God and the Adams, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, etc. applies also to us. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it is only about us. It is about all mankind from the beginning of time.
- Maker – foundational relationship of God towards humanity. “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion.” (Genesis 1:26)
- Husband – Partner in a union where two become one. And the LORD God…took one of his ribs…and made he a woman…And Adam said…she shall be called Wo-man, because she was taken out of Man…they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-23)
- LORD of hosts / armies – Dominion requires defense against enemies. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.“ (Genesis 2:1)
- Redeemer / kinsman Since the champion of his people represents all his nation / family he must be “one flesh” with them. “The LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this…her seed…shall bruise / crush thy head.” (Genesis 3:14-15) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them…“ (Hebrews 2:14-15)
- Holy / consecrated, set apart one of Isra / He who struggles with – not against – El / God. The perennially popular movie The Karate Kid exemplifies this nicely. In both Jacob and Daniel’s cases, persistence in submitting to the sensei’s / master’s instructions and methods, through crippling difficulties, results in character transformation and reflexive modeling of the master’s behavior, turning oppression to victory. According to Hosea, the title Isra-El applied to Jacob before God officially bestowed it on him.
- “Jacob…took his brother by the heel in the womb and by his strength he had power with God.” Are you catching that? We could rephrase “by his strength he had power with God” as “He who struggles with God.” Even in the womb infants respond to God’s Spirit, and Jacob was one of them, fighting to make God’s plan come to pass.
- “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed.” Again, do you catch the figure of two matched wrestlers? Like David’s choice of Joab and his mighty men, God chooses dogged fighters who are willing to give their lives for the cause. So much for Calvinism.
- “he found him in Bethel…Even the LORD God of hosts/armies”…every time Jacob needed supernatural power.
- when fleeing from Esau where he bargains with God
- when oppressed by Laban
- when returning to face Esau’s wrath
- when fleeing from the Canaanites revenging the massacre at Shechem.
- And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel [functioning as God’s Fighter although not yet officially designated as such] served for a wife [since Isaac did not give him a bride price like Abraham had given, but Jacob clung determinedly to faith in God’s promise to his inheritance]…
- And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved...Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment and wait on thy God continually.” (Hosea 12)
- Don’t miss the point Hosea is making! Like Isaiah, Hosea encourages his audience to follow Jacob’s example of trust in God’s promises during their times of conflict: This title of Isra-El / God’s Fighter does not apply only to Jacob son of Isaac as a name. Like a Medal of Honor, is an award given in recognition of a character trait, developed through years of faithfulness despite adversity, and proven through exemplary behavior, designating anyone who God chooses to set apart as a partner in his service.
- “The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” This is a battle plan, not an afterthought, and it was not put into place on the Day of Pentecost with Christianity. It was the gauntlet thrown down in challenge to Nimrod’s 70 nations at Babel with the single Hebrew nation .
- “Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD.
- Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt?
- and the Philistines from Caphtor,
- and the [As]Syrians from Kir?
- I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, to serve their purpose of witnessing of God!
- “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore…the Gentiles are turned to God: For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:18-21)
- In that day will I raise up the tabernacle / destructible building of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.” (Amos 9:7-12)
Do we really believe Paul’s statement that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:16)? Not if we ignore and toss aside the Old Testament, despite the fact as laid out above that the Jesus of Christianity has absolutely no validity without the Old Testament.