A Cheerful Giver

What are the biblical principles related to raising financial support for a Christian project or ministry? We see a wide variety of approaches, from George Mueller, who never told anyone about any particular need except God, praying for everything required to care for hundreds of orphans for years, to organized religions claiming they’ve replaced Israel in some way and have a right to demand a tenth of our income, to cult leaders promising God’s blessing and favor on generous donors. Where’s the biblical balance?

If we consider the example of Christ and the Twelve, we’ve no record they ever asked anyone for money. Given that the temple was still functioning, they couldn’t pretend to merit the priestly tithes and offerings like the Church does today, and it seems contrary to their spirit of dependence on God to be asking the public or each other for money. It seems our dear brother Mueller may have got it right.

However, we do have an example of the Apostle Paul taking up a collection for the poor saints which were at Jerusalem (1Co 16:1); though he didn’t specify an amount or percentage, he expected everyone to give something in accordance with how God was blessing. (vs 2) How do we integrate this with the example of Christ and the Twelve?

In this particular instance, Paul said it was a matter of spiritual duty for these particular people to give to this particular cause, and he derives this duty from the fact that Gentile believers were indebted to the Jerusalem saints for the blessings of the Gospel. (Ro 15:26-27)

If someone has a duty to donate to a particular cause, then it’s reasonable to ask them to give accordingly. Torah provides many examples of this kind of obligation, specific instances of how we’re to care for the poor and vulnerable. (De 15: 7-8, 12-14, 16:16-17, etc.)

But apart from formal obligation, the rule of common charity must apply. Do we appreciate being asked to give to a ministry we already know about, which we have not already purposed in our hearts before God to support? Does this edify and encourage us, or do we feel pressured to give when we’d prefer not to? Does it feel intrusive, as if someone is meddling in our personal affairs? If we decide not to give, do we feel obligated to justify ourselves? Do we ever decide to give just to make ourselves feel better, or to appear generous to others?

Once we’re aware of a need, directly asking us to donate tends to put most of us on the spot and make us uncomfortable. This should tell us what kind of behavior it is: uncharitable. Unless we’re already interested in donating, most of us feel a sense of pressure in this context, a requirement imposed on us to make an immediate decision: to either decline to give and justify ourselves (as if the ask implies an obligation), or to give so we’ll feel better and appear generous to others. In either case, we perceive the act of being asked as a form of manipulation, to get us to give when we wouldn’t otherwise. This isn’t giving from a cheerful heart; it’s something neither Paul nor Christ would promote, even if it happens to increase donations.

When we desire to support a particular cause that excites us and aligns with our goals and world view, sensing God’s pleasure that we do so, we give with cheerful hearts without being asked. This is the kind of giving God loves (2Co 9:7), and it’s the only kind we should be encouraging in others, outside formal obligation.

Making someone aware of an opportunity to give, informing them of a ministry, its mission and how it’s funded, is perfectly consistent with charity: it doesn’t directly pressure anyone. As we have opportunity to spread the word and inform others of a godly cause, we should leave the commitment between them and God, as they seek His will in the stewardship of their time, money and resources.

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Rent in Twain

When Christ died, the veil of the Jerusalem temple ripped into two pieces, from the top to the bottom. (Mt 27:51) From what we know of this veil*, it is evident that this was a supernatural event: God Himself tore this veil. What does this signify?

Most Christians claim this event signifies the abolishment of Torah, the Mosaic Law, or at least the sacrificial system and the ceremonial aspects of Torah, but Christ says the entire Torah will be relevant until Heaven and Earth pass away (Mt 5:18); last I checked, both are still here, so this event must signify something else.

The veil of the temple represents the physical body of Christ (He 10:20), so on one level the tearing of the veil might signify the death of Christ, the destruction of His earthly, mortal body: the veil was torn as Christ was crucified. The breaking of His body for us (1Co 11:24), His atoning death for our sin, provides a living Way, an eternal way to God, outside time and space, always new (He 10:19-20), the only way anyone has ever connected with God, or ever will. (Jn 14:6)

We might also observe that we aren’t told which temple veil was torn; there were two (He 9:3): the most visible veil, the one most people would be more familiar with, separated the outer court from the sanctuary. (He 9:2) A torn inner inner veil, separating the Holy of Holies from the sanctuary, could easily have been concealed by the priests and never verified. Perhaps both veils were symbolic of Christ in some way, but it is perhaps the outer veil that is the most relevant, for Christ is that essence of the Father Whom we can all see. (Jn 12:45)

God destroying this outer veil in a publicly visible manner may have been a declaration of His departure from the temple. (Mt 23:38) The temple had already been destroyed twice, abandoned by God in advance (Ez 10:4, 18-19a), and it was ready to vanish away again. (He 8:13) It makes sense that God would depart from the temple well prior to it’s being destroyed, and to make this known, giving the people a sign they should repent and seek Him in the context of pending divine judgment and immanent danger.

Since God hasn’t actually yet told us explicitly what the rending of the veil of the temple means, this isn’t something we need to know. What we do know is that the veil is not obsolete; it is essential to a functioning temple, so it will return with the rest of the earthly temple of God. (Re 11:1-2) Any reasonable speculation on this point, why God tore it during the crucifixion of His Son, must be consistent with the whole of scripture.

  • See comment below.

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Knowledge of Sin

How do we know what sin is? How do we know what’s right and what’s wrong? We all respond as if some actions are good and some are evil, but why do we respond the way we do? How do we know?

Because we’re all made in God’s image, we can’t help but react as if good and evil exist; this is built right into our DNA. And it’s perfectly natural to make up our own definitions, to decide for ourselves what’s right and wrong.

But deciding for ourselves what’s good or evil actually contradicts the very concept of good and evil. Claiming something is good or evil means it is so regardless what anyone else thinks about it; we know this instinctively, it’s rooted in the very claim. But if we can decide for ourselves what good and evil are, then everyone else can too, and then it is all just a matter of opinion, contradicting the very essence of what we know intrinsically to be true.

So if good and evil really do exist, then it isn’t a matter of opinion, yours or mine or anyone else’s; not even governments can define morality. If an action is truly good or evil, then it can only be so because some divine Being says so. There can be no other basis for morality.

This is why Scripture says we can’t know what sin is apart from God’s Law: Torah. (Ro 7:7) It’s only through Torah that we can correctly identify sin (Ro 3:20); and any alteration of Torah corrupts the divine standard of righteousness, and thus the very definition of sin. (De 4:2)

Our old man understands Torah as God’s eternal law and rejects it (Ro 8:7), departing from the light of Torah (Is 8:20), loving darkness instead. (Jn 3:19) Those breaking any of God’s laws violate Torah as a whole (Ja 2:10), and are the least in God’s kingdom. (Mt 5:19) But our new man delights in Torah (Ro 7:22); it lights our way (Ps 119:105), for Torah is light. (Pr 6:23)

Who dares presume the right to decide which of God’s laws are no longer relevant? (Ps 119:6) What standard would they use to judge God’s Law like this? (Ja 4:11) How can a finite being prove any of God’s Laws aren’t eternally good? (Ps 119:152) Torah is timeless. (Ps 119:160)

To sin is to break Torah (1Jn 3:4a), for sin is defined as breaking Torah. (4b) We hide Torah in our heart that we might not sin against God (Ps 119:11), for all who err from Torah as a manner of life will be trodden down, exposed as deceitful and false. (Ps 119:118) The nature of God’s children is that we keep His commands. (1Jn 2:3)

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The Carnal Mind

If we think of our mind as the engine through which the totality of our thoughts are produced, the source from which our willful contemplation springs, we understand this is a mysterious, marvelous thing. (Ps 139:14)

In the physical, our mind is evidently our brain, the organ or vessel through which our soul expresses and reveals itself in thoughts, ideas, and imaginations: an incredibly complex, biological machine comprising chemicals and electricity through which the metaphysical and physical interact; it’s how our souls engage the universe, at least for now.

As with any organ or vessel, it’s designed for a purpose (Mt 22:37), so there’s an ideal state which enables it to fulfill this purpose.

It follows then that a mind may be sound and healthy (2Ti 1:7), or it may be corrupt (1Ti 6:5), reprobate (Ro 1:28), broken and twisted such that it cannot rightly fulfill its purpose.

A mind may also be inconsistent, holding contrary beliefs and opinions, we might say double-minded, resulting in a pattern of instability and unpredictability (Jas 1:8); or a mind might be defiled (Tit 1:15), dirty and polluted with things that ought not to be within it. A mind might also be weak, feeble (1Th 5:14), untrained and incapable of strenuous activity, or simply blind (2Co 4:4), unable to rightly perceive reality at all.

In particular, our mind might be carnal, at enmity with God (Ro 8:7a), as opposed to a spiritual mind, rightly engaging and integrating metaphysical reality with the physical. (Ro 8:6) The difference between a carnal and a spiritual mind is exposed by attitudes or beliefs with respect to Torah, God’s Law: the carnal mind always resists some aspect of Torah; it cannot submit to the whole of Torah (Ro 8:7) — rather, it relentlessly insists on having its own way, in some way. This is the only means whereby we may reliably distinguish the carnal mind from the spiritual. (He 4:12)

Each time we willfully choose a path contrary to God’s definition of moral reality in Torah, we literally corrupt the physiological, neurological circuits of our own brains; we build in patterns of pathology into the very wiring of our own nervous systems, making it more and more difficult for us to reason and think clearly.* (Pr 5:22)

As with any notion of health, mental pathology is a matter of degree. So, no matter what state we find ourselves in, there’s something we can do to move to a better place — and we should. (Is 55:7)

God calls us to be renewed in the spirit of our minds (Ep 4:23-24), transformed by a continuous retraining of our thought patterns so that we might prove God’s will (Ro 12:2), such that we might have the mind of Christ (Php 2:5), to have His thought patterns flowing freely and regularly through ours. This happens as we hide God’s laws in our hearts, meditate on them, and take heed to our ways to ensure that every thought pattern aligns with Torah. (Ps 119:9-11) As we abide in Him like this we actually do have His mind at work within. (1Co 2:16)

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* See first comment below

Nothing Shall Offend Them

To be offended is to be resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult, injustice or impropriety. It often happens when we’re in denial about our own sin or unworthiness and someone exposes us. At it’s core, it’s an inability to reconcile ourselves with a moral demand, an unwillingness to accept it, an insistence that a moral standard be different than it is.

For example, when Christ came to His hometown of Nazareth and taught in the synagogue, revealing Himself to be the Messiah and providing evidence through His wisdom and miracles, His neighbors were astonished (Mt 13:54) and upset, as if it were somehow inappropriate for one they knew so well to be the Messiah.

When Christ explained how such a mentality had kept people from being healed and blessed in the days of the prophets (Lk 4:24-27), rather than admitting their error, they became so enraged they tried to murder Him. (28-29) They were offended in Him (Mt 13:57), as if they couldn’t bear the thought of having been so clueless that they’d missed their own Messiah while He grew up among them.

In a similar instance, as Christ explained to those He’d just miraculously fed that they were seeking the wrong kind of nourishment (Jn 6:26-27), and that He had come down from Heaven as their spiritual food (51), but that they couldn’t be fed because they didn’t believe in Him (36), the Jews complained (42) that His claim was absurd. (52) Even many of Christ’s own disciples found this so unreasonable they didn’t see how anyone could accept it. (60) Christ noted they were allowing themselves to become offended and He challenged them (61); they wouldn’t believe even if they saw Him ascend into Heaven (62) – only those God enables can follow Him. (65) As Christ exposed this hardness and unbelief, rather than repenting, many of His disciples abandoned Him. (66)

Similarly, when we try to live for God and do the right thing, and it doesn’t go our way, when trouble and persecution come instead of blessing and comfort, if we’re seeking God’s blessings instead of God Himself we’ll be offended, as if He’s not properly honoring our service, and turn back from following Him. (Mt 13:21) It’s a refusal to acknowledge the goodness of God when He doesn’t personally bless us in the moment.

When we aren’t being treated as we think we ought to be, we’re either right about it or we aren’t. If we’re right, and a broken person is treating us wrongly, we can only be offended if we contend with them as if they’re treating us rightly, rather than dismissing their behavior as deluded and pitying them (Ps 119:158), knowing it has nothing to do with us and that God’s our Shield and Defender. (Ps 119:114)

And if we actually are being treating rightly, then we should acknowledge this, repent, and not be offended. (2Ti 2:25) So, offences don’t come because of circumstances themselves, but due to our failure to properly interpret them, to align with reality as it actually is.

So, an offense is a kind of stumbling block that turns us away from the truth because we’re unwilling to receive the truth as we perceive it to be. It should come as no surprise then that God attributes the root cause of offenses to a lack of love for His Law: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps 119:165) When we love God’s Law and choose to align with it we can’t be misaligned with moral reality, because His Law defines this reality; we choose to love this expression reality, regardless what it looks like at first.

When we feel an offense coming on, if we properly understand Torah and are submitting ourselves to it, we can check ourselves and realign with reality, and let the offense go rather than being overcome by it. In such a state, nothing offends us, and we can enjoy the amazing peace of God regardless of our circumstances. (Php 4:7)

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Women Keep Silence

Scriptures offending the progressive mindset challenge us profoundly; in receiving them we’re scorned — to align with the world we must corrupt the word and explain them away. Yet God is good, so His ways are eternally good (Ro 7:12); as we depart from them we grieve Him, harming ourselves and others.

One such command is that women keep silence in church. (1Co 14:34a, 35) We can dismiss this as cultural, for a distant time and place, yet within the command itself God affirms this as His timeless law, grounding it in Torah. (vs 34b)

God reinforces this in a separate context: women aren’t to teach men, or to be in authoritative roles over them; rather, they’re to learn in silence with all subjection. (1Ti 2:11-12) God grounds these principles in Creation itself, and also in the Fall (vs 13-14); it’s about transcendent reality, not local cultural trends.

In assigning different roles and responsibilities to each gender, God isn’t valuing one over the other: God values all human beings infinitely, and therefore equally; there are no gender-based value differences. (Ga 3:28) However, God has indeed designed the sexes differently, for different purposes in His kingdom, and assigned distinct responsibilities accordingly. (Ep 5:33)

God designed Woman as a perfect counterpart for Man (Ge 2:18) … physically  weaker and more vulnerable (1Pe 3:7), yet more intuitive, more subjective, and more emotionally aware. Female minds and souls process differently, giving them unique and precious perspective, but also rendering them more impulsive and emotional, so God provides for their protection through male authority. (Nu 30:13)

This design works as God intended when a man and woman are in a mutually interdependent relationship, husband and wife acting as one flesh rather than two (Mk 10:8), deferring to one another in love in matters of preference, yet where the male bears ultimate accountability for leadership (1Co 11:3), and the woman respects and honors this. (Ep 5:22-24) The man reasons through things, and the woman appeals when she’s concerned he might be overlooking something. Working together they have a powerful, resilient synergy. This is balance, and it is beautiful.

This isn’t to say women shouldn’t testify of their understanding of God’s revelation (Mt 28:5-7), or that they shouldn’t publicly exercise supernatural gifts (Ac 21:9), yet when it comes to public debate and problem solving, as men assemble for the purpose of deliberation (as in the Greek ecclesia), women should let the brothers hammer it out. Sisters should offer insights, concerns and questions privately and discretely with a husband or father, letting the men filter, frame and refine the public flow of ideas as they labor together to find unity. (1Co 1:10) This pattern isn’t new; it’s rooted in timeless precepts. (De 16:16)

As we pursue holiness, brothers and sisters meditating on these kinds of passages, it isn’t our place to correct those who’d rather not hear (Pr 23:9), imposing and enforcing our views on others. We must each obey our Lord as best we can: it’s before our own master we stand or fall. (Ro 14:4) Let’s each so run our own race, finishing our course, longing to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Mt 25:21)

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The Law

The Law of God reveals the nature of God; it’s His definition of both sin and holiness (1Pe 1:14-16), instructing us in the Way so we can walk in the light with a clean heart. The purpose and goal of the Law is to help us become more Christ-like. (1Ti 1:5)

Since the Law is spiritual (Ro 7:14), holy, just and good (Ro 7:12), and the nature of Christ in every believer delights in the law of God (Ro 7:22), the enemy’s doing his best to keep us in the dark about the role of God’s law in our lives.

One trick he uses is to substitute an arbitrary definition for the law as we read Scripture, spiritualizing it into some vague “law of love” (just be nice), so we never actually consider the details of God’s commands as we study.

But it’s dishonest to arbitrarily change definitions depending on context to make verses mean whatever we like; it’s corrupting the Word and handling it deceitfully. (2Co 4:2) We should rightly divide the Word, using consistent definitions whenever it makes sense.

To get a proper definition, we may easily look at all New Testament references to the law and understand the correct meaning from the various contexts. If there are texts in which the meaning is clear, where any other sense is inappropriate, then we may safely use this as our definition, so long we aren’t contradicting other scripture.

Consider, “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law.” (Ro 2:17-18) This implies the law is the Torah, the body of laws in the Old Testament preserved for us by the Jews. They’ve been studying this law for millennia; they’ve never known any other divine law. No other meaning is reasonable here.

How about, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Ro 3:19) This implies God’s law is clearly stated and available to us. Torah is the only detailed body of law which claims to be inspired of God; there is no other.

Finally consider, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Ro 3:31Paul has just spent two chapters explaining the relationship of Torah to the believer, yet it is Torah itself that Paul was accused of making void. (Ac 21:20-21) He answers the accusation in no uncertain terms: through the principle of justification by faith we establish Torah, we don’t make any part of it obsolete.

90% of New Testament verses about the law are like this, clear references to Torah. The remaining 10% refer to principles identified distinctly by an added adjective phrase, such as, for example, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and the law of sin and death (Ro 8:2), describing spiritual forces at work in us to either respect or break Torah, and the law of Christ (Ga 6:2), referring to Christ’s new commandment that we love one another as He loved us. (Jn 13:34)

Throughout the New Testament, whenever something other than Torah is clearly intended, we always find an adjective phrase within the context identifying a specific principle (or law); in no verse does the law appear by itself where it is inappropriate to read it as Torah. This is therefore the most reasonable way to consistently interpret this phrase in scripture.

If we’re not zealous of the law like Christ and the Twelve, serving the law like the Apostle Paul (Ro 7:25), it’s easy to deceive ourselves about what God expects of us in this life of faith. But as we look carefully at the words of Christ Himself, He is unmistakably clear:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19)

It’s hard to imagine how He might be any more direct about the importance of all of us obeying Torah.

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Far From the Wicked

Some people are far away from the kingdom of God (Ps 73:27), and some are not. (Mk 12:34) What’s the difference?

Salvation is far from the wicked, because they’re not seeking God’s statutes. (Ps 119:155) They’re at enmity with God because they aren’t subject to His Law (Ro 8:7); their very nature opposes it. (Je 13:23)

Thinking we’re saved, or that we even want to be saved while we’re committed to sin is a contradiction; salvation is from sin (Mt 1:21), not in sin. (Ro 6:1-2) If we intend to sin and are unconcerned about it, we don’t want to be saved from sin at all — just from the consequences.

Coming to God implies wanting to obey Him, desiring to be aligned with Him, to live in intimate fellowship with Him (Jn 14:21); there’s no salvation apart from this. (He 12:14) Regenerate souls delight in God’s Law (Ro 7:22); we keep it as well as we can (Ps 119:94), and ask God to quicken us so we can obey the rest. (Ps 119:35-37)

Spiritual life produces obedience (1Pe 1:2) in those who are God’s workmanship (Ep 2:10); those who hope in God’s salvation do His commandments  (Ps 119:166), obeying unto the transformation of their souls. (Ps 19:7) This is how we identify the children of God. (1Jn 3:10)

Let no one deceive us here (1Jn 3:7-8): unless we repent and turn away from our sin to God we perish. (Lk 13:3) Those who are willfully disobeying or neglecting any part of God’s Law as a manner of life, who know better, have no hope of eternal life (1Jn 3:6); they’re self-deceived (Ja 1:22) and will be trodden down by God. (Ps 119:118) Those who are neglecting Torah wouldn’t seek God even if someone came back from the dead to persuade them. (Lk 16:31)

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Remember the Sabbath Day

One of the Ten Commandments is: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex 20:8) God’s telling us to remember a specific day of the week and set it apart, keep it special, dedicated for His intended purpose: this day is for rest. (Ex 20:11)

Noting the correct day is where we must begin; God sets apart the seventh day, Saturday, and calls it the sabbath day. (Ex 20:10) So, working on Saturday breaks the command; it’s inappropriate except under extenuating circumstances, where basic necessities, health or safety are at risk. (Mt 12:12) But God is calling us beyond simply resting on Sabbath: He tells us to remember it.

Remembering the sabbath is being systematic, intentional and deliberate about setting it apart; God’s telling us to think about it, anticipate it, prepare for it (Mk 15:42), plan for a complete change of pace. This is where the spirit of the command is critical: God hasn’t formally defined work, and this is no accident; what’s work for one soul isn’t for another.

Work varies by context, so we must careful and prayerful to get this right. For example, a consultant should intentionally forget about work on sabbath; going for a swim or a run, taking a hike or gardening a bit might be quite restful for a working mind on sabbath, but a manual laborer should focus more on physical rest. One who seldom cooks might enjoy making breakfast on sabbath, but a homemaker might prepare sabbath meals ahead to improve her sabbath rest.

While we must not be careless with the sabbath, treating it like any other day and doing whatever we like (Is 58:13), we also need to be careful not to make sabbath a burden, as did the Pharisees of old. (Mt 23:4) Becoming preoccupied, rigid and judgmental about what can and can’t be done on sabbath can destroy its spirit and purpose. Specifics are generally going to be a matter of individual conscience, and this is by design; we should each be careful to please our own master here. When the sabbath is no longer a delight, a true day of rest and peace unto our spirits and souls, we’re missing the whole point.

As a general rule or precept, we should stop laboring, pushing ourselves, doing what we normally do to provide for ourselves and those under our care. The daily grind, the routine, mundane chores and demands of life — these should be off-limits — so long as we aren’t violating the law of love: keeping sabbath shouldn’t cause us to neglect those in need. (Lk 13:15) Whatever facilitates rest and comfort for our selves, families and communities is within the spirit of sabbath.

Creatively obeying from the heart is how we find God’s heart in sabbath; He’s for our total health and well-being, and that’s why He made it. (Mk 2:27)

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For Conscience Sake

Christian liberty is God encouraging us to determine for ourselves how best to follow Him: we each stand or fall before our own Master. (Ro 14:4-5) He isn’t encouraging us to sin (Ro 6:15), to break His law (1Jn 3:4), but to apply His precepts in extra-biblical matters in ways we believe most pleases Him. It’s something He calls us to do from the heart as we follow Him, rather than blindly conforming to man-made tradition.

A very challenging scenario for early Christians was whether to eat food that might have been sacrificed to idols. (1Co 10:28-29) It wasn’t technically sinful, but many weaker souls didn’t understand, so extra-biblical discernment was required in each particular situation. When one was offered food in a public context, either in the open markets or at a particular feast, one couldn’t be sure if it had been sacrificed to an idol or not, and how others might view this.

For mature believers, knowing rituals can’t contaminate our food (1Co 8:4), Paul resolves this with a don’t ask policy (25); it isn’t actually a matter of sin since no food belongs to an idol. (26) But if someone points out that some food’s been dedicated to an idol, then abstain to avoid causing others with a weak conscience to stumble. (28) Love limits freedom for conscience sake, not for ourselves but for others.

Taken out of context, this principle might be abused to claim that God doesn’t care what we eat now; no matter what kind of food’s available – don’t worry about whether it’s God’s design for food, biblically clean, or not. After all, Paul does say in the same context, “All things are lawful for me.” (1Co 10:23)

Yet taking such principles literally in isolation produces absurdity. If “all things are lawful for me,” then murder, sodomy and blasphemy are fine now? Of course not! And even if we limit this to food, is cannibalism OK now? Or poisonous frogs, cockroaches and flies? Not at all.  Contextually, it’s clear that Paul is saying every creature God has sanctified as food for us in His Word is lawful and good (1Ti 4:4-5), regardless what ritual has been performed over it.

When wrestling with passages like this, trying to understand the relevance of Torah in our lives, particularly dietary law, we must divide the word honestly, rightly harmonizing each text with the whole of scripture. It’s true that Paul doesn’t explicitly delineate how every single law in Torah is still relevant for both Jew and gentile, yet he shouldn’t have to: Jesus does, as clearly as it can be done – it’s all relevant for everyone for all time. (Mt 5:17-18) Saints are classified by our mind towards it (19), and all who break it as a manner of life are guilty without excuse. (Ro 3:19)

Paul never says Gentiles don’t have to obey certain parts of Torah, breaking God’s Law up into pieces, some of which are irrelevant. This can’t rightly be done (Ja 2:10); we get this mindset from those who’ve corrupted the Word. (2Co 2:17) Instead, Paul asserts that faith establishes Torah (Ro 3:31), and that it’s all good when used as God intended (1Ti 1:8), pointing out that our old man hates it (Ro 8:7) and our new man delights in it. (Ro 7:22) Once we’re aligned with Paul, serving Torah (Ro 7:25), we won’t be asking which laws we must obey, but which ones we’re allowed to.

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