Submit Yourselves

To submit is to put under, to place underneath. In a relational sense, we associate submission with our willingness to defer to others in community, to obey and/or align ourselves with them. Yet the primary community we must first learn to submit to is our future selves, the people we will be next hour, next day, next week, next month, next year … and ultimately our true eternal self (He 12:22-23), who we will be in eternity. This community comprises ourselves, and we must learn to submit to it.

The alternative to submitting to ourselves is to place no rules upon ourselves at all, to exercise no control over ourselves. Yet, the more we neglect to govern ourselves, the more we destroy our own ability to do so. (Pr 5:22) To be unable to control ourselves is certainly not good (Pr 25:28), unless all our natural impulses happen to be what we truly want for ourselves in the long run, which is generally not the case.

Before we can rightly submit ourselves to God (Ja 4:7), or to someone else (Ep 5:21), we must first be willing and able to submit to ourselves, to control ourselves, to make choices which our future selves will approve and appreciate.

In order to submit to ourselves we must be able to recognize when an impulse or desire isn’t what we truly want for ourselves, and we must be able and willing to deny any impulse when we perceive our future selves will not approve. We must learn to recognize the consequences our future selves will likely experience from our current choices and choose wisely, ordering our steps so our future selves will tend to prosper and succeed rather than suffer and fail. (Pr 22:3)

This is obviously on a spectrum; we may align many, or even most of our choices with our future selves, but we may consistently make certain types of choices which are misaligned with our future selves, which we know are not good for us, which we know most all of our future selves will regret.

For example, if we’re frustrated, embarrassed or depressed because we’re overweight or in poor health due to poor diet and/or lack of exercise, we’re very likely making short-term, impulse decisions in the moment which we ourselves don’t actually want, and the root cause is we’re unwilling to control and harness our own immediate appetites and desires and submit to ourselves, that community comprised of all our future selves who depend explicitly upon our current choices. To the degree we’re unwilling to submit to and care for our own selves we’re showing lack of respect, trust and love for ourselves.

If we don’t even respect and love ourselves, how can we love and respect God? (1Jn 4:20) or others? Loving, fearing and obeying God is where we begin to live life as we should, and we all need His mercy and grace to do so. (He 4:16) This leads us to loving and respecting ourselves because God loves and respects us (De 14:1-2), which then leads to loving and respecting others. (Le 19:18)

We call this self-control, temperance, personal discipline: the ability to govern ourselves. This is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. (Ga 5:23) which we should be adding to our faith regularly and with all diligence. (2Pe 1:5-7) As we face the daily choices in living our lives, we should be asking: What would my future selves want me to choose right now? (He 12:1) We live our best life by continually choosing what our best selves want. This is the life of no regret.

When there’s an area of our life where we’re consistently making poor choices, choices we eventually regret making, if we love ourselves, we must try to understand why we’re doing this. What beliefs do we hold about the consequences of our choices which our repeated life experience is telling us are lies? Find out what these lies are and seek help from God (Ps 119:29) and others to align ourselves with truth as well as we know it. (Ja 5:16)

To the degree we’re able to master ourselves (1Co 9:27) we can properly position ourselves to serve God and others. Our best self, the Christ life within us, wants what’s best for us (Ep 5:29), so we must be willing to submit to ourselves, and also to learn how to be good masters to ourselves. (Ep 6:9)

And for the child of God, the choices our eternal self approves, the one living in the infinite, glorious presence of God Himself, will indeed be those which God Himself approves. (1Jn 3:2)

articles    blog

Put Apart Seven Days

Certain commands in Torah relating to uncleanness appear cumbersome, inconvenient, and obsolete today, yet this concept of uncleanness is repeated in the New Testament as if it were eternally relevant. (Ep 5:3) As with many of God’s laws, the benefits of observing them are not easily understood.

As an example, laws regarding menstruation require a woman on her period be put apart for a week. (Le 15:19) If this is a quarantine, requiring the woman to be physically isolated and left alone whenever she’s on her monthly cycle, this may seem cruel, unnecessary, and terribly inconvenient for both the woman and the rest of her family.

However, the Hebrew word for apart is נדּה (niddâh), the same word for the menstrual fluid (Le 19:24), so the word itself evidently doesn’t require the woman be physically separated from others, simply identified as being on her period: set apart from others in this sense. This is actually helpful to the woman; others in the family understand she’s under additional physical and emotional stress and give her additional space and mercy.

Additionally, the law specifies that everything the woman sits or lies on during this time becomes unclean, tainted or polluted, and that anyone touching these objects must bathe and wash their clothes and is unclean the rest of the day.

Without access to recent advancements in feminine hygiene, from what we know scientifically, this practice of actually separating objects potentially contaminated with menstrual discharge seems very healthy for preventing disease, and providing a separate physical space for the woman during this time certainly helps contain the uncleanness.

Yet even with advanced hygiene it’s not generally an imposition for all in the home to bathe and/or shower daily and to wash the bedsheets and clothes as the cycle ends. Nothing here is terribly onerous, needlessly inconvenient or necessarily troublesome.

Toward the end of the immediate context, comprising similar laws relating to bodily discharges, we see the ultimate and primary application: when we’re interacting with the physical presence of God in the earthly temple, this kind of uncleanness can be lethal. (Le 15:31)

We may infer from this what we will, but the implication seems to be that we all become unacceptably unclean in just living life in this filthy world and are in constant need of purification. To followers of Christ, this is no surprise: we’re in continual need of cleansing and forgiveness. (1Jn 1:8-9) Perhaps these kinds of laws are given partly as a cyclical physical reminder of God’s holiness (Is 64:6) and of our innate uncleanness apart from Him. (Is 6:5)

Apart from the earthly temple, the impact of uncleanness evidently vanishes in the ceremonial context; what remains is simply physical hygiene, the spiritual lessons we might infer from this, and respecting God’s commands as well as we can because we love Him and delight in His laws. (Ro 7:22)

Becoming ceremonially unclean isn’t sinful; after all, the human body is simply functioning according to God’s perfect design. What is sinful is neglecting to take appropriate steps to manage the uncleanness and limit its impact in our family and community, thereby promoting unnecessary uncleanness and exposing others to harm. (Ep 5:5) This violates the law of Love. (Ro 13:10)

All of God’s laws are faithful (Ps 119:86), truth (151), and righteousness (172); in keeping them as intended there is great reward. (Ps 19:11)

articles    blog

Cleave Unto His Wife

The first, and perhaps most important human relationship described in scripture is marriage; it’s introduced immediately after Man and Woman are created and it’s oriented in the husband’s responsibility to “cleave unto his wife”. (Ge 2:24) What does this mean?

The prerequisite for cleaving is that the man “leave his father and his mother”: separate himself from his birth family.

This leaving is evidently inherently both physical and spiritual; physical in the sense that each man is to have his own house, a dwelling where he cares for and protects himself and his family. (De 22:2) To do so effectively he must first learn to care for and provide for himself:  have an occupation, a means of generating value, and become productive and proficient in his work. (Pr 24:27)

This leaving is also spiritual in the sense that the man is to be recognized by other men, particularly by his own father, as a man, received and understood by others to be an independently functioning, responsible member of society. In many cultures this is marked by a special ceremony where a boy, having demonstrated the necessary skills to provide for himself, participates in a ritual, after which his father acknowledges his manhood and receives him as an equal among other men.

Once a man leaves his parents and takes a wife, one given him by God as a suitable helper (Ge 2:18) in pursuing a unique destiny together (Ge 2:28), he becomes one flesh with her; husband and wife experience a metaphysical union and become part of a single human organism, permanently interconnected, members one of another. (1Co 6:16) It is in this context that the husband is to — cleave unto his wife.

The immediate context then informs us that this cleaving relates to an orientation in the man which initiates, encourages, facilitates and promotes an ongoing pattern of interaction with his wife which enables them to seamlessly live and work together to overcome the challenges they will inevitably face in pursuing their mutual destiny. It is a joining of his mind, soul and heart with his wife such that the two of them are thinking and acting together more and more as one; in the same way the two have become one flesh, the goal is to be of one heart, one mind, and one soul. (Ac 4:32)

This marital union is intended to produce a single metaphysical being capable of achieving what neither of the two could ever accomplish on their own, and the man is to lead and manage their interactions so as to produce this type of unity in his marriage.

God has called Man to this most complex and difficult task of cleaving to Woman, a unique and separate individual bearing the image of God, and necessarily very much unlike himself. Their differences, their unique orientations, inclinations and capabilities, are an intrinsic part of this design, enabling and strengthening the union they are to produce together. This mysterious process is, in itself, the work of God, the shadow of an eternal, heavenly marriage between God and Man. (Ep 5:31-32)

articles    blog

Non-Pauline NT References to the Law

The following are all of the non-Pauline verses which refer to “law” or “the law”; 5 of 56, or about 9%, are evidently references to Torah. Adjective phrases are highlighted where relevant.

Click here for Pauline references to the law.

Verse Non-Pauline uses of “the law” or “law” Not Referring to Torah
Mt 05:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
Mt 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Lk 12:53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Jn 18:13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
Ac 19:38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.

 

Verse Non-Pauline uses of “the law” or “law” Referring to Torah
Mt 05:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Mt 05:18 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.
Mt 07:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Mt 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
Mt 12:05 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
Mt 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Mt 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Mt 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Lk 02:22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Lk 02:23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
Lk 02:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
Lk 02:27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Lk 02:39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
Lk 05:17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
Lk 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
Lk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Lk 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Lk 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
Jn 01:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Jn 01:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Jn 07:19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?
Jn 07:23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?
Jn 07:49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.
Jn 07:51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?
Jn 08:05 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
Jn 08:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
Jn 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
Jn 12:34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
Jn 15:25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
Jn 18:31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
Jn 19:07 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
Ac 05:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Ac 06:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Ac 07:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Ac 13:15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
Ac 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Ac 15:05 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Ac 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
Ac 18:13 Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
Ac 18:15 But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters.
Ac 21:20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
Ac 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
Ac 21:28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.
Ac 22:03 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.
Ac 22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
Ac 23:03 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
Ac 23:29 Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
Ac 24:06 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
Ac 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
Ac 25:08 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
Ac 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Ja 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Ja 2:08 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Ja 2:09 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
Ja 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Ja 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
Ja 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Ja 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
1Jn 3:04 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.