Non-Pauline NT References to Torah

The following are the rest of the (non-Pauline) verses in the New Testament which refer to “law” or “the law”; 5 out of 51 are evidently references to Torah. Adjective phrases are highlighted where relevant.

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.

O Wretched Man!

How do we respond to those struggling with immoral attractions and desires? Or who believe deep down they’re in the wrong body? Or who fantasize about unspeakable wickedness?

It does seem as if we’re not all deliberately choosing the feelings and tendencies with which we struggle; they’re evidently inherent in our nature, as if we’re born with them: and Christians are not immune from the fight. (Ro 7:7-8) How then can we condemn such behavior? Why resist it at all? (1Pe 5:9)

God gives us over to a reprobate mind, to harm ourselves and others, when we don’t keep Him central in our world view. (Ro 1:28) Yet many struggle with evil within while pursuing God (Ro 7:18-19); we may indeed be resisting quietly, doing our best to walk uprightly in spite of how wretched we feel, unable to figure out how we got here. (Ro 7:24) What hope do we have in such a struggle?

Perhaps our instincts, apart from our conscious will, spring from our sub-conscious, from beliefs and thinking patterns programmed into us from infancy through a variety of traumatic, social and cultural factors. How have these millions of signals, most of which we didn’t choose, impacted us?

It may also be that we inherit moral tendencies through ancestry (De 23:2), from our culture (3-4), and even from mankind in general (Ro 5:19), infected just being part of the vast, living human organism. (Ep 4:25)

We may not fully understand how we’re influenced by our own thoughts and actions, or those of others, either in the present or in the past, but one thing is clear: as we succumb to these immoral desires and begin to practice them they become much stronger, creating a bondage that deepens and strengthens over time. The more we engage and pursue them the more firmly their stranglehold on our hearts and minds becomes.

We also know that pursuing these immoral tendencies doesn’t tend to satisfy us, to enable us to live balanced, healthy, resilient, joyful, peaceful lives. Giving in to them makes us prisoners of war (2Ti 2:25-26), and most of us aren’t even aware we’re in a battle.

The only other obvious option is to continually resist these impulses, to struggle against them and deny ourselves the pleasures they promise. (Ep 4:22) While this is clearly better than giving ourselves over, the “Just say no” strategy tends to fail over time. Is there a better way?

God tells us knowing the truth makes us free (Jn 8:31-32), that acknowledging the truth delivers us from spiritual slavery and bondage. (1Ti 2:25-26) Truth is the weapon of our warfare here (2Co 10:4); there’s no bondage or instinct too strong for God to heal (Ep 3:20), if we’re willing to pursue and receive the truth. (1Pe 1:4)

Everyone experiences sinful tendencies and attractions which seem beyond our control; we can deny and resist them, but we can’t simply turn them off altogether and choose to feel differently. Rather than presuming “God made me this way” whenever we have an instinctive reaction that’s contrary to moral law, perhaps we should offer up these instincts to God and ask Him to help us re-program both our conscious and sub-conscious minds.

Consistently and prayerfully exposing our minds and hearts to truth, asking God to work it down into the deepest recesses of our being, this is the way to cleansing and freedom. (Ps 119:9) It may not be the quick fix, any more than our initial programming happened overnight; the web of lies may be extremely deep and complex. Our hope is that God knows us better than we know ourselves (Ps 139:1-4), and has given His very best to set us free. (Tit 2:14)

We may not understand exactly how we fell into bondage, but we can still be set free: ask and seek. (Mt 7:7-8) If we want to be healed and pursue God for it, He’s on our side and will be with us every step of the way. (He 13:5-6)

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Bitter Envying

Envy, a feeling of discontent or dissatisfaction due to another having more or better, is traditionally considered one of the worst sins. (Pr 27:4) It desires others to have less or worse, and is thus purely and uniquely destructive. It’s also grounded in the primal lie that God Himself does not satisfy (Ps 63:5), and that something else will.

Bitterness is resenting God for not treating us as well as we deserve (if we knew we deserved worse we’d be thankful; since God could improve our lot and hasn’t, our resentment must be toward Him). It presumes God’s not good, that He’s not ordering things rightly, that we could do it better. It’s born of pride; thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. (Ro 12:3)

So, bitter envying is quite the combination! a feeling of resentment toward God for others having more or better; it combines the destructiveness of envy with the arrogance and pride of bitterness. As we find this within we should admit the corruption and deceit it reveals, and turn ourselves back toward the truth. (Ja 1:14) The truth is we don’t deserve better, and what we’re after won’t satisfy us.

Bitterness and envy cripple, trapping us in brokenness; they don’t move us to healthy living. Thankfulness and worship are the healthy counterparts, setting us free to become all God has designed us to be, to live in the fullness (Ep 3:19) and adventure to which He’s called us, a life of ultimate pleasure and goodness. (1Pe 3:10-11)

Truth is, we deserve to be burning in Hell forever; no one suffers eternal Hell who doesn’t fully deserve it, and we’re as bad or worse when left to ourselves. (Php 2:3) Anything else is mercy, God restraining us and giving us repentance (2Ti 2:25), for which we should be exceedingly thankful.

Also, we’re designed to enjoy God supremely; pursuing anything apart from God (as opposed to pursuing it in God, for God and with God) is to try to replace Him with part of His creation. (Ro 1:25) This is based on the primal lie and it will always fail; be sure of it.

We may know these things academically, but when we’re bitter and unthankful, envious and wanton, we reveal another belief system in opposition to God operating within our sub-conscious, our core selves. We did not learn this in Christ. (Ep 4:20) Rather than dismissing this as natural, confess it as a work of the devil, reckon ourselves dead to it (Ro 6:11), ask God to destroy it (1Jn 3:8b), and consistently expose the sub-conscious mind to truth with a prayerful intensity that takes no prisoners. (Mt 5:29-30)

Christ in us, living in and through us, always believes unto joyful obedience. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. (Ep 3:20)

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Bury Him

Cremation is certainly a convenient alternative to burial today; it’s generally cheaper and provides more flexibility in scheduling the funeral. Yet it may be inappropriate, especially for followers of Christ.

While there’s no direct command forbidding cremation, it is interesting to note that even the dead bodies of the cursed are to be respected by burial (De 21:23), that burning is not given in Torah as a way to either punish or dispose of a human body, and that there’s no indication anywhere in scripture that cremation might be an acceptable alternative to burial.

In fact, Abraham went to great effort and expense to obtain property just so he could have a place to bury Sarah properly (Ge 23:4); Isaac and Rebecca were interred there with similar concern; Jacob went out of his way to bury Leah there, and his last act was to insist that his children go to great expense and trouble to bury his own body there. (Ge 49:29-31) Joseph even insisted that his body be preserved and his bones brought out of Egypt along with Israel when they were delivered from slavery several centuries later. (Ge 50:25) If cremation were arbitrarily equivalent to burial, it’s difficult to explain the preoccupation of the godly with where and how their bodies should be kept in death.

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron, Israel

The burial of Moses is perhaps the most significant and unusual example in this regard; as far as we know, it’s the only body God Himself buried, and (not coincidently) also the only body the devil sought to exploit. (Jud 9) Since God Himself chose to bury Moses’ body in a secret location (De 34:5-6), evidently even stationing a high-ranking angel at the tomb to resist Satan’s attempt to take it, when cremation would have solved the problem more conveniently, we have compelling evidence that burial is the only godly choice, and that cremation is problematic.

It’s clear that cremation doesn’t prevent God from resurrecting anyone (He 11:19), so this cannot be the concern. It’s also clear in scripture that the bodies of animals were routinely burned (He 13:11); this method of disposal was commonly used for sanitation but never recommended for humans.

Perhaps it’s related to the fact that we’re all made in the image of God (Ge 1:27), and that this bodily image is to be respected. It’s clear from scripture that our physical body is of interest to God; He tells us to treat it with dignity (De 14:1) and respect (Le 19:28), chooses to dwell within it (1Co 6:19) and intends to redeem it. (Ro 8:23)

In fact, God has identified so intimately with our physicality that He treats our earthly bodies as members of Christ Himself (1Co 6:15), and the physical body of Christ might just be the holiest object in existence anywhere, holier than the holiest of all within the temple itself. So, if our bodies are part of Him, as they evidently are (Ep 5:30), it’s very important how we treat them while we live, as well as when we die.

If our thought is that our bodes don’t really matter, we’re missing a significant part of God’s precious design in us (Php 3:21), part of what He values in and about us. Yet, if in the end we’re blown to bits in an accident, burned at the stake or beheaded as martyrs, dismembered and cast into smoldering trash heaps (He 11:37), God certainly won’t be set back by this. (Ps 116:15) As in so many other things, this is about our hearts and motives (1Co 4:5), not God’s ability to redeem. (Mk 10:27)

We’re stewards of our bodies; how we handle them in both life and death is a matter of stewardship, respect and dignity, treating something precious made in the image of God, the very temple of God, with the honor it deserves. (1Pe 2:17)

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The Avenger

God tells us very plainly not to avenge ourselves (Ro 12:19), yet He also makes provision in His Law for His people to avenge the death of a loved one, and He evidently wants us to do this. (De 19:12) Thus, while it’s true that vengeance belongs to God alone and not to us, there are evidently times when He chooses us to be the instrument of His vengeance and to deliver it on His behalf.

Predator C Avenger

As we exact revenge on our own, we seldom do so with the right heart; our wrath doesn’t work the righteousness of God (Ja 1:20); righteous anger is indeed a rare thing. Yet when God sets the boundaries on when and how we’re allowed to take revenge, He is keeping us within His standards and ordering our steps in His ways.

After all, as warped as our desire to get even generally is, it is based on a desire for justice, and justice is generally a good thing; it’s a deterrent to evil and places the ultimate cost of malevolence on the perpetrator rather than the victim. When a legal system aligns with God and allows us to take proper revenge, this is holiness.

What God forbids is taking matters into our own hands; He sets the stage for revenge in the context of impartial community which agrees on the legitimacy,  method, timing, and degree of our response. Apart from such a legal system, we must leave restitution entirely in God’s hands.

USS Avenger Minesweeper

Even so, though we’re not allowed to avenge ourselves per current legal standards, we may certainly desire justice (Re 6:10), even rejoice when it’s carried out, and this might indeed be righteous. (Re 19:1-2) When justice is sought so God Himself might be vindicated, for He is the one primarily and mostly wronged in every offense (Ps 51:4), our interest in justice may then be upright. (Ps 119:84)

Yet how do we integrate love for mercy into our love for justice? How are we to do justly as well as love mercy? (Mi 6:8) We do it by loving our neighbor, desiring what’s best for him, which is to be reconciled to God and to walk in His ways.

When repentance is already present (Ex 20:6), or if we have evidence that mercy will further reveal the goodness of God and encourage repentance (Ro 2:4), then mercy is very likely appropriate. (Mt 18:33) Otherwise, justice is likely best, for offender, victim, and all within society. (De 19:20)

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Resist Not Evil

The fact of evil in the world may comprise the greatest proof of God’s existence; we recognize people doing wrong and we’re moved by moral instinct to condemn and resist evil behavior. Yet without God there can be no such thing as evil.

Recognizing and responding to evil is fundamental to our both spiritual nature and our entire legal code, so we must be very careful when Christ says, “Resist not evil.” (Mt 5:39a) Taking this out of context sets us up for failure.

The context is a legal dispute: an eye for an eye, where we have a moral obligation to endure inconvenience or punishment in resolving an injustice. (38)

This is not about someone taking out their frustrations on us, or persecuting us for our faith, or even about random acts of violence, but a civil context where we’re found guilty of harming another and justice requires similar harm be imposed on us, the offender. (De 19:18-21) In such cases, mere justice is insufficient for the follower of Christ: we must go beyond the letter of the law in making things right. (Php 2:15)

This is most clearly seen in Christ’s second example, in the immediate context of how we’re to voluntarily offer to suffer more than we already have: we’ve been sued in court and found guilty, and the penalty is that our coat is being taken from us and awarded to the plaintiff. (40) When our community has found us guilty (implying we resisted resolving the offense out of court (Mt 5:25), and the offended party had to take us to court to find justice), it’s certainly appropriate for children of light (Ep 5:8-10) to go above and beyond what the law requires and voluntarily offer more if our adversary wants it. (1Co 6:7b) In other words, we’re to go out of our way to make things right once we’re shown by due process to be in the wrong. (Mt 5:16)

Christ’s third example is similar; one is compelling us to carry their burden a mile. (41) In other words, we have a moral obligation to comply with their request, as when Roman soldiers conscripted subjects into short-term manual labor to assist with military duties. (Mt 27:32) When one with such authority lawfully engages us to do something most people would resent, we show our integrity by willingly and cheerfully going well beyond what is required.

There’s a sense of resolving injustice even in Christ’s first example: someone strikes us on our right cheek. (39b) This would typically be done with the left hand, and would therefore be a formal insult. Presuming it is deserved, and lawfully dealt, Christ is telling us to submit to more harm than required to ensure any and all wrong on our part is fully resolved.

We see then by repeated examples in the immediate context that Christ is not teaching us to be passive in the face of wanton malevolence, but to voluntarily accept additional suffering (evil) as needed to fully resolve our offenses and fulfill our civic duties. He is calling us to live above reproach. (Tit 2:8)

It’s important then to consider how others might abuse this concept and teach us that it’s inappropriate to resist evil people, to defend ourselves and others, that we’re never to confront and challenge those who would wrongfully and maliciously harm us.

Yet Christ Himself does not do this, passively stand by as others harm Him contrary to the Law; He does not turn the other check when He is slapped; He publicly resists such abuse by pointing it out as unlawful and challenging it. (Jn 18:22-23) The Apostle Paul acts similarly, even cursing his perpetrator. (Ac 23:3)

So, when scholars corrupt Christ’s teaching here, as very many do (2Co 2:17), saying we ought to voluntarily submit to the arbitrary malice of evil people (NASB, NIV, RSV, ASV, ESV), thereby deliberately and unnecessarily forcing the language of scripture to specify the source of the harm as moral wickedness, and thereby claiming it’s un-Christlike to stand up to malevolence in general (as if the translator’s only concern is grammatical possibility, without regard to context, with no intent to actually obey what they offer as scripture), we should carefully observe a carelessness, a thoughtlessness, and a dangerous presumption with God’s Word, evidence we ought to hold such translations in overall suspicion, and distrust them as spiritual authority.

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Lord of the Sabbath

When Christ says the sabbath was made for Man, and not Man for the sabbath (Mk 2:27), we might conclude the same about the rest of Torah, that it was made for us: we weren’t made for it. We might also conclude there might be times when it’s OK to break certain parts of God’s law, as when we’re in danger or have an emergency.

The immediate context is about harvesting on sabbath when we’re famished: the disciples were plucking grain (23) and the Pharisees accused them of breaking Sabbath. (24)

Christ counters with David eating bread he wasn’t allowed to eat; David and his men were famished and there weren’t any good options. (25-26) Christ seems to be saying there are times when God mercifully overlooks certain kinds of Torah violations: it isn’t that they aren’t violations; God just doesn’t call them out or hold us accountable for them in the same way.

What shall we say of god-fearing people who lied during the Holocaust to save innocent lives? Do we really see ourselves standing up on Judgment day condemning them? (Mt 12:41) We might be quite alone if we do; while God doesn’t officially approve of this kind of behavior, neither does He explicitly call it out as evil (Ex 1:19); He does seem to overlook it. (20-21)

The fact that plucking grain on sabbath actually doesn’t violate Torah at all, just Jewish tradition, may then not be the point; perhaps the point is that God is free to mercifully overlook certain kinds of sin without being unjust. (Ge 19:21) Perhaps it’s also about us being overly scrupulous in evaluating others’ behavior, especially in difficult, unusual or trying circumstances.

In reminding us He’s Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 2:28), Christ wasn’t telling us it’s OK to violate sabbath, or any part of Torah (Mt 5:19), but that He knows best when and how to show mercy when we break it.

It’s one thing to appreciate the mercy of God (Ps 136:1), yet it’s another matter altogether to presume He will be merciful when we deliberately choose to break Torah for our own welfare and comfort. (He 10:28-31) When obeying God will bring suffering and difficulty, how committed should we be to honoring and respecting God’s Law? Should we break sabbath to keep a job? Or lie to save a loved one? Would we rather starve than eat unclean food?

Every one of us will give account of himself to God, and we’re all at different stages of maturity; some have faith to suffer for minor Torah violations, while others may not yet be grounded, becoming bitter and resentful in premature sacrifice. We should not create burdens for ourselves and others (Ac 15:10) which we’re unable to gladly bear. (He 10:34) Sorting this out is no small matter.

Whether God will slam us to the mat if we happen to break His Law under duress may not be the right question. Would Jesus break God’s Law to convenience Himself? or to accommodate someone He loves? Even to spare His own life? He never did sin like this (1Pe 2:22) and we’re to follow His steps. (21)

A better question might be, What kind of Resurrection do we want? (He 12:35b) What kind of testimony? (Re 12:11)

It’s a matter of faith to trust God to work out the details when we’re in a bind, to give us the strength to walk in joy, honoring Him as we suffer. Staying alive isn’t the ultimate priority (Php 1:21-22); neither is comfort or pleasure – ours or anyone else’s. We’ve not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (He 12:4) The goal of God’s love is holiness: it makes no room for sin.

Shall we be so delighted in God’s ways that as the pressures of life mount up and threaten us (Ps 119:61), closing in about us until our very life hangs in the balance (109), we’ll not neglect or forsake His precepts? (87) Clinging to them as unto Him? (31) If we’ve yielded our body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God (Ro 12:1), we’ve already decided.

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Number Our Days

Time is arguably our most precious asset; our days on Earth are limited, and wisdom asks God to teach us to number them (Ps 90:12), or to quantify and manage them; we should be using every bit of this most precious resource to glorify God as well as we can — redeeming the time (Ep 5:16): treat every moment as if it’s priceless and we’d buy it back if we could.

So, one helpful way to look at this might be to examine how we’re spending our “free” time: what’s left after we’ve done our duty, fulfilled our responsibilities. We should know how much free time we have and maximize it in pursuit of God’s kingdom and righteousness. (Mt 6:33) Most of us have no idea how much free time we have, how many hours are slipping away unnoticed every day, underutilized, and the related opportunity cost.

Here’s an idea: fill out a 12X12 grid where each square is 10 minutes (2 hrs per row) and block out how you think you’re spending your time; when multi-tasking identify the focus activity.

Here’s my typical weekday, optional activity up top and more dutiful time beneath. “Free” time (purple/red/pink) is 5+ hrs, which I mostly spend working out — for general health / stress relief while memorizing / meditating on scripture and praying.

How we manage our time reflects our priorities, what we value — or worship. This is especially true of “free” time, what we do beyond duty, when we have a practical choice. The decisions we consistently make here tell us where our heart is and define who we are. (Mt 7:20)

The realty check is we actually are spending our time according to our priorities: we live according to our most deeply held values. This is how God renders to us all according to our deeds (Ro 2:6) even though salvation is by faith: our actions spring from our hearts and reflect our true beliefs. (Php 3:18-19)

Our entire life is composed of these tiny little 10-minute blocks, and we all have 144 every day: no one has any more or less. How many do we have in total, in our entire life? Only God knows, but once we choose to spend one a certain way, we never get a re-do; it’s gone forever and we can’t get it back.

What does God intend for us to do with each block? (Ps 119:97) What would our lives be like if we spent each one for Him? (Col 3:17) That’s the opportunity cost of making other choices; it will all be revealed on Judgement Day (Mt 12:36), and will reverberate eternally. (Mt 7:26-27)

If we’re misaligned with God’s values we can ask Him to show us where (Php 3:15); if we’re uncomfortable giving God an account of how we’re living it’s never too late; there’s no time like the present to acknowledge reality and ask Him for help. (He 4:16) He already knows. (Ps 139:2)

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Works of the Devil

When we observe inconsistencies between our rational minds and our emotions we discover our subconscious: underlying beliefs controlling us which are contrary to our intellect. What we actually believe and who we are is a composite of all these beliefs, and it’s a bit mysterious.

Many fight intense negative emotion, fear and anxiety, when they’re in no danger; others, a critical voice relentlessly discouraging and crippling them; still others wrestle with a debilitating sense of shame and worthlessness they can’t shake off. We all have spiritual wounds keeping us from functioning according to God’s design.

A girl, having done her best, hears, “Why don’t you do better? You’ll never amount to anything!” Satan whispers, “Something’s wrong with you; you’re unloved, worthless, unimportant, unnecessary.” As an adult she’s working herself to the bone serving others, but she’s constantly anxious, restless, no satisfaction or peace.

A boy is sexually violated and hears the insidious whisper, “If God loved you He wouldn’t have let this happen to you; you’re dirty, flawed, worthless.” As an adult he’s filled with fear and shame, hiding in rebellion and perversion.

We might frame all of this up in terms of lies and truth: when we’re acting inconsistently with reality we’re believing a lie. We might call the resulting damage to our souls works of the devil, the consequence of believing Satan’s lies about our lived experience (Jn 8:44b), and see Jesus Christ, the Truth (Jn 14:6), as our Deliverer: He destroys the works of the devil. (1Jn 3:8b)

The Passion of the Christ

Whenever we experience trauma, Satan is at hand to feed us the lie: “God isn’t good; you’re the problem.” But it’s just a lie, and there’s no reason to believe it. Yet we do tend to believe it, and this is the problem.

These lies are often buried so deeply within our subconscious we don’t even know what’s happened to us, or where to begin in dealing with them. So, how do we get free? (Ro 7:24)

We get into spiritual bondage in stages, gradually, starting in childhood and believing more and more lies as we go through life. So, it should come as no surprise that we generally get free the same way, over time, in many small steps, believing more and more truth (Jn 8:32) as we pursue God (Mt 7:7-8) and He teaches us His Way. (1Jn 2:27)

The only path to freedom is going back the way we came: realigning our mind with reality, believing differently; it’s called repentance, and it’s the gift of God. (2Ti 2:25-26)

Freedom comes as we internalize three primal truths: [1] God is good; [2] God is sovereign; and [3] He created each of us for a unique purpose. Like a three-legged stool, remove any of these fundamental principles and we have an unstable foundation.

We must know deep down that God loves us and that He’s ultimately benevolent towards us. (Ps 27:13) We must also know He’s in charge of everything: nothing ever happens without His permission. (Ro 11:36) And we must be confident that He has a unique design and purpose in creating us (Re 2:17b), and that all He has ever allowed to happen to us, or ever will allow, is ultimately for good. (Ro 8:28)

God calls us to pursue His purpose for us (2Ti 2:17), and He will help us as we turn to Him and follow after Him. (He 4:16)

The more deeply we know these things the more we align with reality and deliver ourselves from Satan’s devices.

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Pleasure in Them

Recently I’ve been convicted of enjoying others as they violate God’s ways. Granted, it’s fiction that I’m enjoying, but I don’t really see the difference: how is enjoying sin in a fictional character any different than enjoying it in real life?

While I might not be so bold as to actually do what they do, when I take any pleasure in their disobedience, don’t I reveal my own heart to be aligned with their sin in some way? (Ro 1:32)

For example, I enjoyed watching a navy seal avenge himself (Terminal List), I was sympathetic with fornicators (Titanic), rooted for thieves (Ocean’s 13) and took pleasure in insubordination. (Top Gun: Maverick) What are all the ways I take pleasure in sin, and how is this not itself a sin?

Similarly, twinges of envy and bitterness reflect unbelief in the goodness of God; it’s blaming God for making mistakes, distrusting Him, claiming I know better, positioning myself as God and putting myself on the throne. This is not fully believing in God; it’s failing to submit to Him and honor Him. (Ro 1:21)

By God’s grace I’d never actually do such things against God deliberately with my words and will, of course, but when my emotional impulses and tendencies reveal an inconsistency with what I think I believe, I should soberly address it. (Ro 7:21-24)

I’m being double-minded (Ja 1:7) when my emotions are inconsistent with my intellect, misaligned with what I claim to believe. Like claiming God is my delight without joy (1Pe 1:8), or believing God is good without thanksgiving. (Col 2:7)

This is all driven by inconsistent, contradictory conscious beliefs (formal double-mindedness = not loving truth), and/or by subconscious beliefs of which I may be entirely unaware. In either case, it’s definitely an opportunity to grow more into the likeness of Christ (1Jn 3:4): Jesus Christ has no such inconsistency. (Ps 45:7)

In diagnosing this I notice the root cause of my behavior to be lies embedded within my conscience, the part of me approving what’s good and rejecting evil; my conscience is telling me sin is good, desirable, acceptable, even tolerable … when it’s not, so my conscience needs to be cleansed and healed. (He 10:22)

So, what should I do about this? Systematically search my conscious understanding and root out all inconsistency as well as I’m able, hiding God’s Word in my heart and meditating on it, comparing my beliefs, attitudes and actions with what God says and praying through any verses which rub me the wrong way. God has commanded me to do this very thing for this very reason (1Ti 1:5), so He can heal me of the lies to which I’m still clinging and set me free.

I can also continue to observe my emotions for inconsistencies with the Word and lift them up to the Light, asking God to show me the lies I’m still harboring way deep down, and heal me. He is in the business of purging my conscience from dead works with the blood of Christ that I might serve Him more completely and fully. (He 9:14) Wherever I’m not aligned with His Way He will reveal this to me when He’s ready to deal with it in me, in the perfect time and in the perfect way. (Php 3:15)

This is the sobering journey of sanctification, and I’m to work it out with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), knowing God is working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (13) As I hunger and thirst after righteousness, He has promised to fill me (Mt 5:6) that I might partake of the divine nature. (2Pe 1:4)

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