The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe
"Old Testament and New"
Part 1 - Diagnose and Cure
The average unbeliever who knows anything about the Bible likely perceives it as a book of rules and regulations whereby human beings attempt to relate to God and people in terms of high standards and the frequent failure to fulfill them. Indeed, this was clearly the story of much of the Old Testament.
"Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people" (Exodus 19:5).
God gave a law of commandments to Israel that would seem confirm the above notion. However, those who perceive the message of Scripture in such terms fail to understand the reason God called His earthly people Israel to seek Him by code and commandment:
"The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24).
The most blessed people on the planet could not keep the law of Moses. Israel had every advantage, but failed to fulfill even the simplest terms of the "if-then" covenant to which the Lord called it (Romans 3:1-9). Within days of having promised, "All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do," Israel demanded that Aaron mold a golden calf to denote worship of pagan gods (Exodus 19:8; 32:1). Such failure and idolatry revealed a problem deeper than the inability to keep commandments, a spiritual and moral condition shared by every human being born into the world.
"What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:2-4).
Our problem is that since Adam, all human beings are born of the flesh rather than the Spirit. We do not possess the faculties for faith and faithfulness to God until His Spirit enters our heart when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6). Grace must change who and what we are in order to empower true devotion and obedience to God. The law was given to diagnose the real issue with fallen humanity, namely, hearts apart from the indwelling Spirit of Christ. "Ye must be born again" declared the Lord Jesus (John 3:5). Thereby we become spiritual in the innermost temple of our being, and thus able to relate to the God who "is spirit." "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 4:24; 3:5-7).
Only the believer possesses the capacity to rightly understand the intent and content of the Bible. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14). The Holy Spirit enables us to "rightly divide the Word of truth" (I Timothy 2:15). We realize that God gave the rules and regulations of the Old Testament to diagnose rather than cure the real problem of humanity, namely, a heart void of Christ and thus dominated by sin. We also rejoice that the New Testament begins, continues, and culminates with the freely given, heart-changing grace and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Old Testament emphasis focused on servitude and service as the path to rightness with God. Conversely, the New Testament emphasis offers freely given relationship with God as His sons and daughters, which leads to serving Him as enabled by the indwelling Christ. We still obey commands, but from a different motivation and with a dynamic source of power, the power of God, from within. "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
"The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Tomorrow: Part 2 - Grace, Law, Grace
Weekly Memory Verse
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14).