Random Blog Clay Feet: January 14, 2008
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Monday, January 14, 2008

What About Law?

(This post is in response to a comment on my previous thoughts also posted today. As can be seen, the answer got rather lengthy and I decided to simply put it out as another post instead of having it hid away behind the comments link. For context behind this writing it will be helpful to read the last post as well as the questions raised in the comments on it. I welcome and enjoy the discussion raised by these honest questions.)

Josh, you bring up some very good issues here that I too have struggled with and am not satisfied to accept simplistic answers to resolve. At the same time, many of these very issues are bothering us precisely because we have accepted far too many simplistic answers already, maybe not knowingly but as a culture and partly just because we are under the delusions from inheriting Adam's fall.

What is becoming much more clear to me very recently and is helping me to make sense of the issues you raise is the great need to delineate a clear difference between legal thinking that was invented by humans very early in the history of the world and natural law or more accurately the basic principles that undergird reality such as gravity and heat and physics etc. The commingling of these two very different constructs has brought about the stress and fear that we feel in trying to sort out much of our misunderstandings. It also greatly contributes to the serious misconceptions about God that distort our views of Him and prevent us from trusting Him more fully.

I understand that much of what I have been saying comes from recently learning a great deal more about the bigger picture behind how we arrived at our current state of culture. Much of the background information from which I am synthesizing many of my comments come from a researcher and professor who has spent years carefully immersing themself in very ancient near-east records of how people thought and lived back then and the cultures that arose through the beginnings of Babylon that gave rise to everything we see today. When we better understand our roots and the context in which much of the Bible was written it is much easier to understand more about our problems. In addition it also sheds a great deal of light onto what God's original design was for us that has become so eclipsed by thousands of years of obfuscation that it is now almost indiscernible.

What is helping me settle and feel comfortable about many of these things that have troubled me for most of my life is the separation and clear descriptions of each of these forms of “law” and the differences between them. As I see which side each element might belong to I then see how the mingling of these concepts has caused so much confusion in my mind and with everyone else. I see this very much also in some of your comments as well and I hope to be able to help maybe a little bit through our dialog to explore these together. I do not want to come across as dogmatic about these things but would like to have the freedom to look at life from different perspectives that may allow more of us to see things from a much more mature vantage point.

A couple days ago a friend told me that they had a discussion in their church about punishment and/or discipline. My friend asked the people what the difference was between the two and basically everyone there could not think of any; they believed that the two were pretty much the same thing. When he asked me the same question I immediately said there is a world of difference between the two. That is because I have been learning so much about the clear differences between these two systems of thought, these two views of reality that dramatically affect how we view God and His dealings with us.

Let me just present some basic foundational principles that must be in place before there can be any meaningful progress in one's understanding of this problem. First and foremost, we have to start with the absolute truth that Jesus put to the disciples that God the Father and Jesus were not any different in the slightest. Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (see John 14:7-11) This has been a tremendous help for me, an anchor and a key that helps unravel many of the mysteries and questions that are raised about God throughout the rest of the Bible. If there is a discrepancy between something we read about God elsewhere in the Bible and what we see demonstrated in the life of Jesus, then the example and words of Jesus must trump every other notion or conclusion that we may have come up with in the past. I cannot emphasize the importance of this principle enough in seeking to understand the real truth about God.

Beyond that, it is going to take time to unpack piece by piece the issues and questions that arise that we don't understand or don't have enough background information to explain. I am finding that the more context I learn about the much bigger picture of the Great War going on since Lucifer revolted in heaven and is conducting in great detail here on earth, the easier it is to see from a bird's eye view so to speak what God's real intentions are and what He is really trying to convey to us. God's motives and communications have often become very garbled because of the sad shape of our mental and emotional receivers over the centuries, but the revelation of God in Jesus and the glory of truth that is being felt in these last days as prophesied in Revelation 18 I believe is leading to an unveiling of many things that have long been misunderstood or repressed.

As I have been shifting my own perceptions about this issue of the role of law lately, I also am starting to see much more clearly how many of the writers of the Bible were trying to convey this same message to us, especially in the New Testament. But because of our addiction to the legal model of thinking we were unable or unwilling to see these passages in this light and so missed the real intent of many of their writings. There are a number of texts that make this issue clear if we are willing to not skim over them lightly in favor of those that appear to support our traditional views.

Let me just mention a couple here. I know that this sounds very strange at first, but allow the Spirit of God to guide all of us as we allow our own minds to ponder things possibly new and strange and potentially more wonderful than we ever imagined.

For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you." Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward. (Jeremiah 7:22-24 NRSV)

It has been noted by this researcher that when God first brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt He did not want to take the route of bloody sacrifices which were the typical worship methods of all the nations around them. As is made clear in this text, God's original desire was for them to have a radically different relationship with this God quite opposite to the gods that the other cultures felt had to be appeased and placated. God did not want anyone to view Him as an angry, controlling god that considered his human subjects as his slaves to serve his every whim like many of the other imaginary gods were believed to want. Israel's God was exactly like what Jesus portrayed when He stooped to wash the feet of His betrayer just minutes before Judas sold his soul for a few pieces of silver. God desired a relationship of love, not of fear.

But what did the people do with God's offer? They refused it and turned around and built a golden calf representative of power, self-indulgence and oppression – the gods of their former Egyptian slave-masters. They rebelled and looked backward rather than forward and chose to view God through the lenses of appeasement rather than love and service. From that point on, God was forced to spell out what the nature of the sacrifices needed to look like as they choose to follow that model. God was not commanding them to offer sacrifices as is made clear in the above text but was obliged to at least give them directions concerning the sacrificial system that they insisted on following so that their sacrifices did not mimic the satanic views of God nearly so much as did all the other forms of sacrifices modeled by the surrounding cultures.

Let me offer another text from the New Testament. I realize that this is likely raising far more questions than it is answering, but at least it is a beginning of a study that I know can be very fruitful and enlightening if we are willing to follow on with it.

Examine chapter 10 of Hebrews very carefully in light of this new paradigm. It will be seen there that it is even more clear that God never desired the whole system of blood and sacrifices but all along wanted a relationship of love, trust and obedience. But as I was learning these new things myself one verse kept popping into my head that remained unanswered, one verse that I didn't bother to go read for myself in context or I might have seen much sooner the answer I was looking for. The phrase, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” kept coming into my mind and raising objections to all of these things I was learning. But on closer examination a very key phrase at the beginning of that verse explained it more clearly. What it really says is, And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)

God is having to deal with humanity's obsession with law. Because our thinking is so wrapped up in legal offenses and penalties, the only way that we would ever come to believe anything about the real truth of God's feelings toward us was to do things in such a way as to satisfy our demands for what we think is justice. I have not finished following this line of thought completely yet, but I am becoming very suspicious that much of what we impose onto God's image as Divine justice is really our own human demands for satisfaction of our prejudices and beliefs more than the realities of God's own heart. Quite possibly, the only way God could get through our legal mentality that would accept no alternative was to shed His own blood to satisfy our twisted views of justice, not God's. But if that is what it took, then God was willing to do it to turn us around and take a more serious look at the real truth about His unsurpassable love for us.

Because God has made it clear that He never originally desired the sacrificial system but accepted it as a secondary arrangement because of the stubbornness of their evil will,it can began to be seen that the whole system of thinking from a legal model, which is what the sacrificial system is totally based on, is also greatly suspect. Let me offer yet another text that further indicts the system of law as a supplanter of God's original desire for our relationship.

But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. (Romans 5:20 NRSV)

What is very interesting in this verse is that when you look at the original word that was translated “came in”, it denotes an air of stealth. It could be more accurately translated that “law sneaked in with the result that trespass multiplied”. The more that I study carefully the many passages on this matter both in the Old and New Testaments the more clear this issue is becoming with all sorts of very interesting implications.

What is becoming more clear in my mind, especially in the light of the example of Jesus' life, is the unavoidable fact that God has a much better arrangement that He desires to operate His universe within that does not revolve around rules and dictates. This is made clear when we realize the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers. (1 Timothy 1:9) And the lawless and rebellious are soon going to be out of the picture in the near future after the final payment from sin is received. After that point there will be no need for imposed law whatsoever.

This may not clarify the differences between God's “laws” and man's invention of an arbitrary legal system, but it does help to begin to show that God's real purpose for creation did not revolve around a legal mentality and that is not the model He wished to have for His people. Through the glimpse we get into the heart of God through the life and attitudes of Jesus we can see that His real desire was to form bonds of loving relationships with His children and draw them into a life-giving intimacy with Himself.

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1) How much would you know about a tree if all you had ever seen of a tree was a shadow of one? And while it is admittedly necessary to have rules to restrain immature children from hurting themselves or others until they have learned by teaching and example how to live a healthy, inter-connected life within a community, that does not mean that the system of law is God's desire for the long-term. None of us wish for our children to remain immature and dependent on our restrictions for all of their life, that would be a travesty. In fact, healthy parents (where do you find those?) desire a relationship with their children from day one that would not require any restrictions if the child trusted the word and advice of the parents implicitly all along. And the same is true of God's desire for our lives. He wants us to grow up into the full maturity of Christ and no longer remain as children. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

I have not yet fully addressed the issue of punishment verses discipline but I want to do that before too long. Keep reminding me. It is a very important concept to see but must be viewed in the light of the bigger picture so that it makes more sense. I also know this does not really directly address all of the questions about the place of law or the confusion about God's wrath that you raised. But it does give some background and hopefully lay some foundation for further thoughts to be built upon. It is very important to start with the right foundations, otherwise if we put the wrong things at the bottom the other things we place on top may not make sense and will cause continued confusion.

Continue to listen and ponder what God is revealing to all of us as we learn together the wonderful truths about Him that have been hidden or distorted for so long. As we learn these things about God the results will become clear in the way we treat our children, our spouses and all those in our circle of relationships. Thanks for your input and I am still praying for you and your family.




The word that came to my mind this morning was “integrity”. It was in answer to thoughts about situations and rules and responses and values that were swirling around in my head.

There is always discussion generated whenever a Christian is faced with a dilemma of whether to obey laws or whether to act in violation of laws for the best interest of someone's safety and well-being or even for the honor of God's reputation. There is always a lot of argument over what criteria should be considered the correct measuring tool by which to determine the rightness or wrongness of such decisions.

I am not attempting to settle this age-old discussion by any means. However, these decisions in times of stress reveal the fundamental concepts of reality that have been nurtured and adopted by the person over their lifetime and show what they believe to be the most important things in their life. When circumstances force a person to make a very difficult life or death decision, especially when it involves the risk of other people's lives who are trusting them for protection, it is no time to begin to wonder and study and research what is the right thing to do. At that point it is simply the time when whatever has been put into the heart up to that point in life will come out without hypocrisy; it can accurately be called a day of judgment. For judgment really means the revelation or exposure of what is really on the inside.

It is in this context that the issue of integrity comes into focus. But integrity is not so easy to label or define as most people might think. Because integrity is a description or revelation of a heart condition before God and human beings are notorious for misreading the heart even when they are absolutely certain there is no possibility for error. That is what I am beginning to see when it comes to rules and relationships and motives.

I have noticed the tendency for most people to base the definition of morality or integrity on how closely a person keeps a list of rules. Those rules are usually man-inspired rules and regulations but the concept also extends to the rules assumed to be God-inspired. The main point is that we generally use rules and laws as the measuring device by which we are certain we can determine whether someone is right or they lack integrity.

Our whole life revolves around the strictures of rules. The problem with this however, starts to become a little more obvious when it is seen how quickly and easily people can change and tweak their system of rules to accommodate their own desires or even whims. It does not take a very intelligent mind to observe the way our country's legislators primarily work to pass laws that are designed to serve their selfish interests with little regard to what is really right or with a view to principles higher than their own greed for power and control. In fact, what we are observing over the past few decades is a broad process of reverse maturing as it becomes more and more evident that the political system favors less and less mature people in positions of power. I have come to believe that the desire for power and control over other people's lives is diametrically opposed to the consideration of the need for mature people to lead wisely and look out for the lives of others.

Consequently we are quickly filling up the public offices of trust with people who have a hunger more for control and advantage-seeking than for anything else. They are easily bought and sold behind the scenes with bribes or threats that are more and more legitimatized by the ever-changing accommodation of shifting rules. As a result of this reverse maturing we can see that we have put power-hungry adults with child-level maturity at best into positions of rulership over people who are often more mature than those in leadership. The end result of this process is certain ruin and the disintegration of all that has been built up since the founding of our society.

There is a great need for the presence of real integrity in the midst of all this confusion. But a problem arises when integrity is defined as one who perfectly obeys the law. Because our notion of law is so contaminated by the selfish and immature nature of lawmakers who constantly use manipulation of laws to arbitrarily control the lives of millions for their own selfish advantage, we also become confused about the nature of God's “laws”. It is very easy for most people to mistake the motivations of God because of the abusive nature of the activities of human lawmakers.

When God presents “laws” throughout history, He is simply revealing principles of reality that we must be in harmony with to live a thriving life, not arbitrary rules by which to control our lives. There is a distinct difference between the principles of reality in the universe, which are often referred to as God's laws, and the arbitrary nature of the artificial impositions and punishments thought up by men to control the lives of those around them. But the blurring of this distinction has created great confusion and darkness in understanding the nature of real integrity.

As I said previously, most people assume that honesty and integrity means that a person keeps the rules and should be honored for doing so. This is very much in line with a childish level of maturity that pervades nearly all of society today. And the problem is that a person is incapable of understanding or grasping broader concepts that govern the lives of people who have grown to a much higher level of maturity. A child is simply incapable of grasping the complex decisions and considerations that must be grappled with by a very mature parent, and even more so a true elder. The issues and inner guidelines and principles that go into the decisions of a wise elder are completely foreign and baffling to most people at best and often come under much suspicion. There are so few true elders among us that they might properly be added to the endangered species list.

But true elders do not live in the pettiness of rule-based thinking and logic like most people living in far less maturity levels are bound by. This makes sense if one simply looks at the normal family and how young children need many more rules at times to protect them until they develop internal integrity and self-discipline and can be trusted to live beyond those rules. The whole notion of our need for laws to control and govern us presupposes that we are all infant or child-level maturity. The greater problem arises when you have child-maturity people in charge of government who cannot imagine a society operating anywhere past their own level of maturity. They have not the capacity to envision such a world, and those who do have the capacity to craft such a society are not allowed to take their role as leaders because they do not service well the selfish interests of those more hungry for power and control.

In this kind of world, a person who dares to grow past the ruling classes level of maturity risks being labeled as an outlaw and a rebel. Man-made rules are generally designed to service the selfish interests of the ruling group and anyone who thinks differently is considered a serious threat. Thus is put in place a very strong incentive for people not to mature but to simply maneuver for advantage and power.

But real integrity involves seeing that man-made laws are by nature arbitrary and thereby inherently faulty by nature at best, particularly when produced by people who are infant and child-level maturity. But even beyond that, the very concept of living under the dictates of rules altogether is to insist that a person cannot be allowed to live at higher levels of maturity as they could in a true family model. In effect, society is coming to the place where we are denying the very existence of higher levels of maturity simply because we may not believe they exist. We generally do this because those who do progress to higher levels than we are currently do not pander easily to our selfish desires for control and pride. So the easiest way to avoid the exposure of our own immaturity is to refuse to accept our need to grow any further and deny those who have more maturity any part of our government.

Of course, this is all very subtle and in the public will be vehemently denied. And this is not to say that no one in government is mature at this point. But what I am pointing out is the trend that has been taking place over a long period of time and that is now coming to a crisis point. There is increasing pressure at nearly all levels of government to slowly push out those who have true wisdom and maturity and have them replaced with pliable characters who are more interested in placating our cravings for power and greed than in living by true principle.

We are increasingly becoming a very divided society with distorted ideas about the intrinsic value of those in power and demeaning the value of those who are not in power. This is the essence of the concept called Kingship. We pretend to serve the idea of honesty and integrity on the surface but at the heart level there is little left but deceitfulness and selfishness. The false trinity of power is coming to a climax that was begun many centuries ago and we are about to see its final collapse. That false trinity is what makes up the foundations of what we consider civilization: Economics, Kingship and Law.

It is at this approaching point of meltdown that we will discover the elements of true integrity coming to the light in contrast to the darkness of man-created civilization. Of course it will be decried as the opposite by those who know little about integrity themselves. But true integrity has nothing to do with keeping artificial laws and trying to appease men's selfishness. Real integrity has to do with real maturity and will be in stark contrast to the general absence of maturity that now swallowed up most of the world. Real integrity is inspired by much deeper motivations and considerations than keeping an artificial list of requirements, even if those are promoted by the most religious people around. Real maturity means that one is no longer under the rule of law or confined to a legal way of thinking but has grown beyond that to live in harmony with the true principles of reality as defined by the One who created all of it to start with.

God's “laws” are not really laws as we have the concept of law. The reason that God uses the term laws and statutes is not because He endorses our immature concept of life but because He has been forced to “dumb down” His terminology and the means He uses to communicate reality to us because of our language and concept restrictions. He has been forced to relate to us using infant and child-level methods with a view to help us move past those levels and grow up into mature sons and daughters of royalty. A most important part of that transition from childhood to adulthood is the transformation from living blindly under the idea of controlling rules in our life – conformity – to living with higher priorities in selfless relationships where we discover the real joy of continuous service in community with the rest of God's perfect creation.

Real life is described more accurately as primarily thriving in close relationships with others, receiving and giving life in a perfect circle of unselfish love, gratitude and praise. This is what we are designed for and this is the future of all who are willing to rise beyond the dark confines of selfishness, desire for control and the abusive nature of arbitrary law. It is not enough to just strive to make ourselves obedient to all of God's (or man's) rules and statutes; that is the mindset of the system of Babylon the Great, the mighty counterfeit of God's government. We need a radical transformation of thinking that comes from a complete renewal of our mind and a separation from Babylon and its ways (come out of her My people).

Real integrity is not found in keeping rules but is revealed in the lives of those who have the internal principles of God's character imprinted in their hearts and who have a spirit that is reflective of the true Spirit of God. Law-keeping is by nature external and immature. A character full of integrity and real love no longer takes note of petty and artificial rules. Real maturity operates from the real “law”, the character that has been brought into sympathetic harmony with God's creation. It is living from the heart given to us by God and may at times produce external actions or decisions that appear to be in conflict with our perception of law-abiding.

Integrity is not in conflict with true “law” but may often be found to be in tension with our Babylonian legal-based way of thinking. The reason I refer to it as Babylonian is because it was from the earliest roots of ancient Babylon that all of these foundations of counterfeit thinking began. They are now almost completely matured to fulfillment in what we call civilization and the book of Revelation prophecies that this whole system of operation will collapse when the true glory of God is revealed to the world. But God is not going to use force to overcome the false system – that is the weapons of His enemies. He is going to simply undermine the false concepts that keep that false system in operation by revealing the real truth about Himself and about reality. The Bible refers to this as the glory of God.

When the false system of force, fear and phoniness is exposed – the system we so highly esteem as modern civilization – then those who have received the renewal of their minds instead of being conformed to this world's mentality of rules and force, (see Romans 12:1) will be not only seen to have made the right choice but will become transfigured quite literally as was Jesus who prefigured this event on the Mount of Transfiguration. It will then be seen that the bonds of love are far superior than the bonds of fear and force. And right now the choice is still up to us as to which system we will live under.