Sep 12 2021 - Did Jesus Abolish the Law?
12th September 2021
We are in Ephesians 2 – we have this story of the Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians and how Paul resolves these problems.
Ephesians 2:11 11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision " by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands--
What Paul does – He focuses on the causes of the hostility, division, and animosity between these two groups. He mentions – You Gentiles, who are called uncircumcision… - for a Jewish Christian to call a Gentil Christian “uncircumcised” is complete disrespect and a major put-down.
So what Paul does – he can get snarky – by the ‘so-called’ circumcision – and then he says these words, which might be a more severe cut – “Performed in the flesh by human hands” –When the Bible speaks of human hands - it is speaking of human hands that make idols – so in effect, they are making circumcision as an idol – a way of placing themselves superior to the Gentile Christians. We do that too, but probably don’t use circumcision! I doubt many of us think about that! Your circumcision is of no value in your standing with God – there is nothing to feel superior about! We don’t turn circumcision into an idol. Humans turn good things – religious and spiritual things – into idols.
We don’t turn bad things into idols. We turn good things.
Think of food. We wouldn’t last long without it.
Sex – sex is a good thing God gave us – Can it become an idol?
Prosperity – God told us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth – can that be an idol? Yes.
Our style of worship, our church practices, our theology – each of thses things can be an idol.
What is an idol? Anything that takes our affection from God.
Family – is family a good thing? Yes. God established family – should it be a priority? Of course. But Jesus made it clear that family can rise about Him.
Work is a good thing. Here in the west, we have this ‘protestant work ethic’ – but workaholism has turned work into an idol
It is an idol if it creates an attitude of superiority and contempt toward others. In American Christianity – this is a huge problem.
Third – it is an idol if it divides Christians and causes strife.
Proverbs – He who causes strife is an abomination to the Lord! Think about that! Have you ever read about the abominations to the Lord? You don’t want to do that!
Fourth – an idol is when we trust in our activity or work to change and accomplish things more than we are trusting in God.
Last week – by the grace of God I am what I am – but I worked harder than anyone – not I – but the grace of God in me.
He worked like a dog in ministry – but never trusted in his own work.
Confession time – Pastors – not just me, but every pastor – can turn preaching teaching, sermoning into idolatry – and it is a struggle for every one who preaches and teaches.
It is easy to love the impact it has on people and place that before the doing of God’s service.
Also – it can become an idol – and all pastors do this – when we use it to put people in their place – as a weapon of manipulation.
For me – pretty much every week I sit down – and say – NOPE! NOT THAT! Because that can easily be me trying to get my way – and it comes out – and I put a line through it.
There is a very fine line for Christian leaders between leading and manipulating – and it is razor thin – and any Christian leader who doesn’t believe that is deceived. That is why there are such problems with spiritual abuse in churches.
And it is an idol when we trust in our preparation more than God.
Every week – I have to stop at some point! Is preparation a good thing? Is bringing about change a good thing? Of course. But it is those good things that turn into idols. I have to ask – is this about me? I have to put an end to that – it can not be about me and this great thought I got!
12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ (he describes our bleak condition), excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
Peace between Jew and Gentile is only found in Christ. For us, peace in our world – will only be found in Christ – Black and white, men and women, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. – Will only be found in Chist.
We think peace is found in uniformity. We don’t achieve peace in that. From the beginning – to the end – peace is in diversity.
John – people from every tribe, tongue, race, nation – all in unity worshiping God.
We have one example in the Bible – one horrific example of unity through sameness – and its results were horrible – the Tower of Babel – Genesis 11. – they try to build this tower to try to dethrone God.
What does He do? Creates diversity! SO that at the end, people from every tongue will worship Christ.
… and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
Here is the hostility between Jews and Gentiles – he alludes to the Temple – there was a wall built around the court of Israel – and Gentiles have to stay out.
Jesus did not kick down the wall when He rose from the dead, literally… - we see what this means next:
15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
He has abolished the law – the Torah – the dividing wall is not this physical structure, but Torah itself.
In Torah, there are 613 commands and ordinances. We think of the Ten commandments? Those are 10. There are 603 more.
You’ve probably been asked this – the 613 don’t apply to us? The answer? Wrong question!
Paul would say – what are you talking about? This is totally different.
When Moses came down from the mountain with Torah – the Book of the Covenant – it is NOT a law book or law code or building code. A covenant is not that – it is not a contract – it is a relationship book! Torah is given as a book of relationship. Does it have laws and codes? Yes! Even building codes! But that is not what it is. It defines Israel’s relationship with God – identifying Israel as God’s chosen people. The nations were not the chosen people. Israel was. Do we see why there is this superiority?
Second – it is given to commit a love relationship between God and Israel.
Imagine you stand before a judge, and the judge is your mom? What happens? She has to recuse herself. This is because she is in a love relationship with you.
Last – it is given as a source of life and blessing. The gift of the Torah was given so that Israel would be separate from the nations – for the purpose of engaging with the nations in order to bring God’s peace and blessings to the nations.
They were to bring every nation under God - and Israel did the opposite of that - they used it for superiority and made the nations their enemies and conformed to the nations.
The solution is the cross.
Romans 7:4 4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God
Tim Mackie – “The actual narrative of the Torah isn’t trying to tell the reader to follow a set of laws in order to earn God’s approval. Rather, the point is a narrative exposing all of humanity’s, even the elect people’s, inability to be God’s faithful covenant partners.”
Something else is needed - and this is Jesus.
Abolish - to strip of power - Jesus stripped the Torah or its power.
When Jesus stripped the Torah or its power
You died to the Torah - the Law - Exodus through Deuteronomy - why? SO that you could be joined to another.
If we don't die to the Torah, we cannot be in Christ.
. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
Torah aroused - brought up - created - sinful desires.
6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.
released = abolished
Released from the power, authority and control.
The Torah controlled us and we died to that -
The book of the covenant - and the new covenant in Christ.
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin?
Is the Law sin? No! We think he is mad at the Law here...
Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, "Do not covet."
The Law tells us we are sinners and arouses sin within us.
There are two aspects of sin - the sin you and I do. But it is not just the things we do - it is a power - a dark force of the world - and he is speaking of that right now.
Sin seized the opportunity that the commandment gave.
The powers of evil have hijacked people and used it to enslave people. – Gattis
8 But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead. 9 And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive 10 and I died. So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!
Both Paul and Jesus would agree on this - the commandments do not stop us from sinning - they have no capability to stop people from sinning.
Jesus said - the Law says - do not commit adultery -
Some sitting there would say - I don't commit adultery - becaus eof the Law - Jesus - knowing what they were thinking - everyone who has lusted has committed adultery.
The Law is unhelpful.
The Law says do not murder. And they are thinking - most don't murder - but Jesus says - if you have been angry with your brother or sister, you have committed murder in your heart.
Should we obey the Ten Commandments - and Paul's answer would be yes! ANd no!
Paul talks about how he doesn't want to sin, but does - WHY DO I KEEP DONIG THIS? I know I'm not supposed to, but I do anyway.
Wretched man that I am - hopeless.
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
No condemnation - none.
Well - some condemnation is good, right? No. A little bit can't hurt? No. None.
There is a new Torah - the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the old Torah of sin and death.
Ephesians 2: 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
If we live under the Ten Commandments - you WILL commit adultery - you will murder - it will not stop you - so NO, we do not live the Ten commandments - HOWEVER - as we live the life under the Spirit - we are transformed in our hearts to be people who do not commit adultery - even in our hearts. We do not commit murder - even in our hearts.
That transformation - like we have been saying all along in Ephesians - Already, and not yet.
It is an ever growing transformation.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.