Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Spiritual Formation and The Law (pt. 1 Introduction)

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But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible, Galatians 5:18)

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Ibid. Matthew 5:17-19)

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. (Ibid. James 2:10)

            Spiritual Formation is intentional engagement with practices such as reading scriptures, prayer and others, to renew our minds and be transformed (Rom. 12:2) from the habits and patterns of fallen man.  It has as its goal, Christ being formed in us (Gal. 4:19), so for example, our attitudes being formed into the same attitude that was in Jesus (Phil 2:5).  What then is the relationship between the Old Testament (OT) Law and this New Testament (NT) concept of formation?

            Before we answer that question, perhaps we should answer a few other questions first.  What is the relationship between the OT Law and the NT Christian?  Are Christians obligated to follow some of the OT Laws, but not all?  Can the OT Law be broken into different categories and we are obligated to follow some of those categories but not others?  Is a Christian following the Law and keeping the 4th commandment by going to Church on Sunday?  If so, then is the opposite true, if you miss Church, you’re breaking the 4th commandment? 

A lot of Christians know that tattoos[1] are forbidden in Leviticus, but do they realize the verse prior says not to shave your sideburns (19:27-28)?  Is it then sinful to get a tattoo, but ok to shave your sideburns?  Along the same lines, many Christians know, the NT does away with the OT Law’s dietary codes (Lev. 11, Mk. 7:19, Acts 10:9-15).  Also, the NT does away with the religious rite of circumcision (Gen. 17, Lev. 12:3, Acts 15, 1 Cor. 7:19).  Moreover, the NT does away with the OT sacrificial system for forgiveness (Lev. 4, Heb. 10).  What about a law like in the year of Jubilee, returning to your land and land being returned to a family (Lev. 25:10)?  Does that only apply to some, but not to others?  Does this mean the whole OT law is done away with?  Does it mean only parts of the OT Law are obsolete, but laws not explicitly repealed by the NT are still obligatory?

It should be clear, this is a complicated subject.  Therefore, we are going to take some time and examined this topic.  Please join us. (Click here for Part 2)

Written by Pastor Ozzy

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Works Cited

1995. Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible. LaHabra: The Lockman Foundation.

[1] Is our modern tattoo the best translation of the Hebrew, kĕthobeth in Lev. 19:28?  There were some forms of body lacerations in the cults of the Canaanites (1 Ki. 18:28) and the verse specificities some sort of mourning practice [Strongs 3793, Goodrick/Kohlemberger4182]

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