Archive for the ‘justice’ Tag

Legalism and Justice [Part 3]   Leave a comment

hqdefault

In Part 1 and Part 2 of “Legalism and Justice”, we’ve seen what are some forms of legalism and what are the characteristics of the legalists. We’ve also read how harshly Jesus dealt with the legalists(Pharisees) and how Jesus used scripture to correct the wrong interpretation of verses used to support legalism. The devil has been twisting the scripture in an attempt to make Jesus fall (Mat 4) and this is what he still does through the legalists. We may discern forms of legalism when the motives behind the teachings are not Love, Mercy, Faithfulness and Justice. Discipline in the church is not a form of legalism when love is the motive.  God Himself discipline the one he loves (Heb. 12:10). However, when love is not the motive behind discipline then we may find ourselves participating in ‘stoning the adulterous woman’.

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?..They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” John 8:3-9

It would be unfair to the victim of the adultery(the spouse) not to receive justice. If this case was brought in our modern court with Moses law to be applied and you were to judge, what would you do?

The Greek words used in this phrase suggest the following interpretation  “Let the one among you who has never sinned similarly throw the first stone!

I would prefer not to participate in the judgment of a case in which I had myself made a similar offense. If I condemn others of an offense that I did myself but no one caught me yet, then I’m condemning myself along and acting like an hypocrite. If we consider for instance Jesus’ teachings about lust and adultery very few religious people would find themselves eligible to pass on a judgment. I spoke several times badly of liars without realizing that I have in the past lied.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mat. 5:28

What did Jesus say about judging others?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others.The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Mat. 7

Jesus in this verse is warning against judging others. It is not prohibited to judge others but it holds great responsibility. It is sinners like us who pronounce judgments in courts. Court judges simply apply what the law of the country say and they are themselves subject to be judged by others should they commit a similar offense. No one is above the law. If holiness was the prerequisite to judge, then the notorious criminals, drug traffickers and murderers would not be put to jail. The statement let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone” is a great reminder that the Holy One of heaven is looking down on us and that our judgement is not flawless since we’re ourselves sinners and thus offenders of that same system in a way or another.

Jesus made a call to the guilty conscience  of the Pharisees and this made all of them uneasy since it appears that all those people who brought this woman were not beyond reproach. The oldest left first as he probably was the greatest offender.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest” John 8:9

I guess that if there was indeed a man among the mob who never committed adultery, then he would be right to execute the stoning but there was none left! How hypocrite can religious people be! Only Jesus was left with that woman for only Him never committed such sin and only him could stone that woman. Remember that each time you judge someone, God is watching.

The world dictionary defines hypocrisy as “the sin of pretending to virtue or goodness“. It is pretending to be someone you’re not or having some qualities what you do not have. It is imitating like an actor whose virtue and goodness are seen only on stage but behind stage – at home he is a vilain. Hypocrisy consists of deceit, dissimulation and above all it is the absence of integrity for integrity means being one (in Mathematics integer), consistent and coherent.  So this was how Jesus qualified the Pharisees. In the scene of the adulterous woman, He unmasked their role and hypocrisy.

 Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

The accusers now dispersed, Jesus now recommends the woman to leave behind this sinful life and live in the righteous path.

 

Posted March 26, 2019 by Cedric in My writings (English)

Tagged with , , , , ,

Legalism and Justice [Part 2]   Leave a comment

hqdefault

They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them..” Matthew 23

Hypocrisy is usually a character of the legalist. At some point the legalist will tell to people what they should do but they themselves might not be doing what they say.  Severe to others but indulgent to themselves. They have a false humility i.e. they make as if they do not seek for glory, leadership position or privileges when this is what they are actually seeking. They may be soft spoken persons but in the inside they are wolves in sheep clothing. Their soft tone, humble way of clothing themselves or even the way they walk are deceits. This was how Jesus described the Pharisees who wore wide boxes (phylacteries) on their arms or forehead. These boxes contain scriptures and making them wide was probably a demonstration that they were well versed in the scripture. Boasting about one’s knowledge of the Scripture or the law is another characteristic of the legalists.  They loved to be greeted with respect when they walked in public places(market place) Jesus said. In other words, they sought for recognition. They might also feel insecure if someone aims to learn more about the law/scripture or wish to enter God’s kingdom without going through them.

This is what Jesus said about this: “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to

They want to be those who guide people to heaven but Jesus called them blind guides. In other words they want to be a mediator between God and man but there is only one Mediator – Jesus. This is why Jesus said never to call a man rabbi or father for there is only one Teacher – Jesus and only one Father – God.

This is a gross mistake of the catholic priests who take the name of ‘father’. The pope for instance is a modern time Pharisee according to this verse and also do all his adherents/followers. Is it on same ground of super spirituality that the catholic priests are not allowed to marry(Peter was married) – for fear of being defiled with sexuality ? The leader among the disciples, Peter was married(1 Cor . 9:5) and it’s hard to understand how the Vatican came with this ascetic doctrine of forbidding man to marry – which has caused so many of them to become pedophile or rapists. These priests probably taught about holiness but they themselves lived in immorality. Asceticism is therefore another characteristic of the religious legalists.

Since the legalists think that they have the key to the knowledge of God or are an authority to God’s affairs, they allow themselves to add or remove to scripture. This is why many false doctrines emerged. For instance, the Pharisees twisted the scripture when they said: ” ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’”. To this teaching Jesus pointed out that their reasoning did not make sense.

As regards tithe, the Pharisees took it so seriously that they even gave a tenth of their spices—mint, dill and cumin. To this Jesus responded “you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness“.

One can be so absorbed in practicing the law that he forgets that the spirit behind the law is justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Tradition in the church is one of the common source of arguments. Traditions are man-made and many leaders consider them as similar to God’s Word. For instance, celebrating Christmas, Easter, Mother’s day are not commands in the bible but are traditions brought in the church. For the Pharisees, it was a tradition that hands should be washed before eating. Of course this is a healthy thing to do. There’s nothing wrong to wash our hands before eating or celebrating mother’s day to honor our mother or Easter/Christmas to remember Jesus’ coming, death and Resurrection. However, eating without washing one’s hands makes someone prone to diseases but not a sinner. Not celebrating Christmas, Easter or Mother’s day does not make one a sinner. This is what the Pharisees said:

Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’  they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” Mat. 15:2

Once again Jesus showed the Pharisees that their teachings were contradictory. The Pharisees probably taught that one should honor his father and mother and failing to do so was such a gross sin that it was subject to death penalty. However, the Pharisees in their hypocrisy reasoned that since they have already spared aside some gifts/money to God then they are unable to use that gift to help their needy parents. They considered that this gift set aside were already reserved/devoted for God and was therefore not right to use it otherwise. In modern time, this might also do to our commitments. For instance, if we reason that we have already committed ourselves to give 6 months of our time in mission and have to leave behind our sick and needy parents then we’re behaving like the pharisees. God does not need our money or sacrifice. Obedience, love, justice are better than sacrifice. Be careful in the way you deal with money in church affairs. If you feel confused in how to spend your time, money or resources in spiritual matters, think about the spirit behind the law: Love, justice, faithfulness and mercy.  What would Jesus do?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted March 22, 2019 by Cedric in My writings (English)

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Legalism and Justice [Part 1]   Leave a comment

hqdefault

Then Jesus went over to their synagogue, where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” (They were hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.)And he answered, “If you had a sheep that fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn’t you work to pull it out? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, the law permits a person to do good on the Sabbath.” Mat. 12:9-12

During the 3 years of ministry of Jesus, the people who considered themselves as teachers of God’s law challenged Jesus with many tricky questions in order to bring charges against Him. Even if the arguments brought by these Pharisees/teachers of the law were not held in court, they were sufficient to set a trap Jesus.

At many instances Jesus warned the people and his disciples against the fake righteousness of the Pharisees and drew a line between legalism and justice. Love was the chalk Jesus used to draw this line.  The spirit behind the law was to love people and love God until Jesus came. The first 4 commandments concerned our love, respect and devotion towards God and the remaining 6 had to do with respect and love of our family and neighbor. Paul described the law as:

Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. …. If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. .. Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed….Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.” Gal. 3:24-29

To put it imply, Paul said:

For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Rom. 13:9-10

It is true that the Mosaic law required that the Israelites shall consider the seventh day a special day and not work on it (Ex. 33:2). That command was so important that if one disobeyed it, death was the penalty. The Pharisees considered that Jesus was working when He healed people so they asked whether it was right to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus is the one who inspired the prophets to write the law and He explained the intent behind the law. Being also a divine Advocate, Jesus replied the Pharisees brilliantly.  It was common sense that a Jew would save his sheep if one fell into a well. What if that incident happened on the Sabbath day? Would you be so hard hearted that you would just watch that sheep drown without moving a finger for fear of doing work? In the book of Deuteronomy we read:

If you see your neighbor’s ox or sheep or goat wandering away, don’t ignore your responsibility.Take it back to its owner. If its owner does not live nearby or you don’t know who the owner is, take it to your place and keep it until the owner comes looking for it. Then you must return it. ” Deut. 22

What if the neighbor’s ox erred on a Sabbath day? That would put the legalist in a great dilemma! Would that be a conflict in the law? For love sake and pity, be careful of never allowing yourself reasoning like a legalist. For those who understand that the spirit behind the law of keeping your neighbor’s goat from wandering is love, it will not be difficult for him to make the right decision if the neighbor’s goat erred on the Sabbath. David’s companions were hungry and for love sake and compassion David broke the law when they entered the house of God and ate the reserved sacred bread (Mat. 12:4). In the worldly court, David would have been condemned but in the divine court, David was not found guilty.

In Numbers 28:9, the priests did not feel guilty of breaking the fourth commandment when they had to work on the Sabbath. If it ever happens that you find a conflict in God’s word, think about the love spirit behind God’s word. There will always be some Pharisees throwing some bible verses to condemn you or others but think about this: “What would Jesus do?”

Here is an example: Jesus’ disciples were hungry and the Pharisees brought charges against them saying they were harvesting/working on the Sabbath. Jesus did not rebuke His disciples but rather justified them through scripture.

But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.

Posted March 9, 2019 by Cedric in My writings (English)

Tagged with , , , ,

Passivity, lukewarmness and negligence   2 comments

boil-the-frog

boil-the-frog

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1

The Greek word used to describe “more careful attention” is perissoterōs which means “more superabundantly”. While studying the Epistle to the Hebrews, I started to realise that Christians drift away because they are not disciplined, take things for granted and neglect their salvation.

Why such a great warning from the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews?

These Jews have heard and saw so many things. We heard hundreds of sermons, read thousands of verses is not it? But many Christians do not take seriously the teachings they received. They are like the Hebrews in the wilderness who forgot all the miracles God did in Egypt and murmured against God. Their hearts became hardened and they are bored with sermons, they start to criticise and the devil gave them logical arguments to stop going to church.

The devil will not tell a christian to leave the church, that would unveil his strategy. What he does is to send little by little his venom in the heart of Christians until the Spirit is no longer the Master.

A frog will jump out of boiling water but will remain in if the water’s temperature is increased little by little. Without realizing it, this frog is being cooked and it will be too late.

This is what James 1 says:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it they will be blessed in what they do.

Merely listening to Word is to deceive oneself. Merely listening to the Word is this: You listen to the same sermon a second time and realise that you have to take an action. Why did not you take action the first time you heard it? So consider it a grace that God reminds again. Lukewarmness is when you read these verses in James 1 and it does not really mean something to you.

Israel forgot what God said. This remembers me the thousands of verses where God blamed Israel for being unfaithful, disobeying Him and turning to other gods. It’s so easy to look back and point a finger to these Jews. If a book was to be added in the bible, I’m quite certain that the Christian’s story would be similar to them. Rebellion, disobedience, unfaithfulness would be common characteristics.

Why do many want to be blessed in what they do without doing what God wants? James says: “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it they will be blessed in what they do.”

What James said is so clear.

The verse that made me want to share about all these things above is :

The people of Israel say,”What should we bring with us when we go to worship the Lord? What should we offer the God of heaven when we bow down to him? Should we take burnt offerings to him? Should we sacrifice calves that are a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? Will he take delight in 10,000 rivers of olive oil? Should we offer our oldest sons for the wrong things we’ve done? Should we sacrifice our own children to pay for our sins?” The Lord has shown you what is good.He has told you what he requires of you. You must treat people fairly.You must love others faithfully.And you must be very careful to live the way your God wants you to. ” Micah 6:6-8

What does God expect of you? What can you offer Him? How to serve Him? He has already told you what He wants in His Word. He wants you to love people, be fair with people, do what you know is good, be humble…

Micah

Micah

Epistle to the Hebrews (1:10-12)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

He also says,“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,and the heavens are the work of your hands.They will perish, but you remain;they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same,and your years will never end.” .” (Hebrews 1:10-12)

God again speaks to the Son and declares that this Son is the Creator.
The author is now reinforcing his arguments by iterating the Son’s work in the creation (as mentioned in v2).

Is not it the Son who told Job :

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations,and who laid its cornerstone” Job 38

On Judgement day, the earth and heavens will flee before Him. It’s difficult to imagine how spectacular this will be! Ah how limited is my human mind to comprehend His Greatness! Before the Son of God,this big earth is just a speck of dust which is looking for a place to hide! Yet this speck of dust is the work of His hands.

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.” Revelation 20:11

In the beginning the Word already existed.The Word was with God,and the Word was God.He existed in the beginning with God.God created everything through him,and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,and his life brought light to everyone.”

His Kingdom endures forever and does not decay because righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. God the One and only does not change. He is faithful, righteous and perfect. Only Him can be trusted 100%. My soul and mind cannot trust any mortal being with such assurance. But this Son of God deserves my trust. I’m convinced that what He asks me to do is the best and only thing to do. I love and trust His counsels. Man has weaknesses and are imperfect but not Him. With time people change attitude and convictions but not Jesus Christ.

His years never end because He is existence. For in Him we live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). We live by time but not God. When a new heaven will be made, time will cease to exist because eternity cannot be measured.

Posted November 2, 2011 by Cedric in Theology

Tagged with , , , , , , , , ,