Friday, September 22, 2017

Commentary: Sowing and Reaping

Commentary: Sowing and Reaping

What is sowing?  It is to plant seeds for growing, especially by scattering.  What is reaping?  It is to cut or clear with a scythe, sickle, or machine; to gather by or as if by cutting the harvest.  Another definition is a reward.  What is a harvest?  As a noun, it can be the mature crop or fruit of what was sown.  It can also be the act of gathering the crop.  It is also the season in which the crop is ready to be gathered. Also, it is the product or reward of effort.  As a verb, it is to gather in a crop, a synonym of reaping.  How do the concepts relate?  One is the cause and the other the effect.  The harvest is the product of what is sown.  So you reap or harvest what you have previously sowed.  If you plant wheat, you will harvest or reap wheat.  If you sow orange seeds, you will reap oranges.  Less we take it for granted: you cannot sow cherries and expect mangoes. 

Another thing is that there is a process for the seed to grow into what will be harvested; This implies that it needs time.  There is a season to sow and a season to reap.  Sow outside of that season, and your crop will be affected.  There are other considerations: type of soil, climate, moon phase, etc.  All of these will affect the harvest you get from what you sow. 

 The following illustration (found in our lesson study) reveals the relationship between sowing and reaping. Some potato farmers decided to save the biggest potatoes for themselves and to plant the smaller potatoes as seed. After a few disappointing harvests, they discovered that nature had reduced their potato crops to the size of marbles. Through this disaster, those farmers learned an important law of life.  They could not have the best things of life for themselves and use the leftovers for seed. The law of life decreed that the harvest would reflect the planting (sowing). Small potatoes will yield small (or even smaller) potatoes.  They reaped what they sowed.

There is an application to our life.  "In another sense, planting small potatoes is still common practice. We take the big things of life for ourselves and plant the leftovers. We expect that by some crazy twist of spiritual laws, our selfishness will be rewarded with unselfishness."—International Student Fellowship Newsletter, March 2007.

So let's consider this: whenever believers' lives are dominated by secular media—television, radio, Internet, and so on—how can they expect signifi­cant spiritual progress?  What if on the other hand, the believer spent time praying and studying the word of God?  There are higher chances of spiritual growth.

 Paul seems to understand this, and probably it is why he applies this principle in Galatians 6:1–10.  Spiritual attainments are proportionate with spiritual investments. Those who desire greater spiritual strength must engage in spiritual "exercise" and avoid spiritual "fast food." Little investment equals little advancement. Spiritual profitability arises from investing time in spiritual things. Now Paul's metaphor about sowing and reaping is not unique. It is a fact of life that appears in many ancient proverbial sayings. What is significant, however, is how Paul uses it to highlight his previous comments about the flesh and the Spirit.  Let us read Galatians 6:  7 - 9

 Galatians 6: 6-9 (NKJV)
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

 A modern colloquialism based on this concept is, "no pain, no gain."  Another similar one is, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."  James D. G. Dunn notes, "A modern equivalent is that we are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our choice."—Galatians, p. 330.  

Ellen White comments on this,

 "The Spirit of God keeps evil under the control of con­science. When man exalts himself above the influence of the Spirit, he reaps a harvest of iniquity. Over such a man the Spirit has less and less influence to restrain him from sowing seeds of disobedience. Warnings have less and less power over him. He gradually loses his fear of God. He sows to the flesh; he will reap corruption. The harvest of the seed that he himself has sown, is ripening. He has a contempt for God's holy commandments. His heart of flesh becomes a heart of stone. Resistance to truth confirms him in iniquity. It is because men sowed seeds of evil, that lawlessness, crime, and violence prevailed in the antediluvian world.

"All should be intelligent in regard to the agency by which the soul is destroyed. It is not because of any decree that God has sent out against man. He does not make man spiritually blind. God gives sufficient light and evidence to enable man to distinguish truth from error. But He does not force man to receive truth. He leaves him free to choose the good or to choose the evil. If man resists evidence that is sufficient to guide his judgment in the right direction, and chooses evil once, he will do this more readily the second time. The third time he will still more eagerly withdraw himself from God and choose to stand on the side of Satan. And in this course he will continue until he is confirmed in evil, and believes the lie he has cherished as truth. His resistance has produced its harvest (MS 126, 1901)."—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1112.

 So, as Paul says in Romans 1: 18 – 32 that God has to let those who refuse His grace go.  Not as punishment, but because they chose to leave.  So, in making their choice, they also choose the consequence.  It is not God who punishes them; they are suffering the unfortunate consequences of their own decisions.  Our eternal destiny will reveal the choice we made.  It will reveal what we sowed.  In the end, no one will be deceived.  

-- 
Raul Diaz
Raul Diaz

Friday, September 15, 2017

Light Bulbs



 
Light Bulbs
 
The light bulb is nothing without electricity. It was designed for illumination, but cannot, without energy, displace darkness. The light from a light bulb is a combination of three things: an incandescent filament that is part of an unbroken and uninterrupted electric circuit and of course, electricity. To ignite the light bulb several simple things must occur. The bulb must be properly connected to an electrical source (thus closing the circuit). The power switch must be turned on. And the filaments within the incandescent bulb or the gases within the fluorescent tube must be intact. Similarly, whenever Christians shine forth, there must be spiritual equivalents to the light bulb and spiritual equivalents to what makes the bulb work. 
 
Our spiritual filaments are broken beyond repair. The Holy Spirit brings a new filament to each believer and then also makes new electrical wiring and connections within them; our old circuitry is inadequate for His electrical system and therefore, needs replacing. Once the new equipment is in place, and the Christian is properly wired to the spiritual energy source (God), he or she shines.
 
We can see it may take the Holy Spirit some time to set everything in place. In reality, we limit how He can work through how much space we give Him. Once all is in place, it should work continually, unless we find ways to interrupt it. Interruptions (for example, switches) can stop the electric flow, meaning that the hearing of faith and the believing of the Word is interrupted. The smallest cracks in the fluorescent tube or the tiniest breaks of an incandescent filament can destroy the bulb's capacity for lighting. So can a break in the wiring. We should clarify that unlike our earthly electrical sources, The Holy Spirit never has an outage. Therefore, when our spiritual bulb ceases to shine, it is not His fault it is ours. 
 
In principle, this metaphor is very similar to the one Jesus used in John 15. Which we refer to as the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. Christ told His disciples,
 
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love."
 
What is the fruit? It is found in Galatians 5:22 – 23,
 
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,  peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
 
In the same chapter, Paul contrasted the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. These works of the flesh are the fruit that those refusing to be part of the Holy Spirit circuitry or, in other words, refusing to abide in Christ will produce. Let us read what they are from verses 19-21,
 
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
 
If we were to see this passage in the light of the Parable of the vine and branches these branches produce no fruit, and the works of the flesh are evident. The Father, who is the husbandman, cuts these branches away to make sure the vine or tree does not waste resources that the good branches could be using (John 15:1). These fruitless branches refer to those of which Christ says, "depart from me you workers of iniquity, I know you not" (Matthew 7: 23); Christ is speaking here to professed believers. They attended church; they participated in church activities and programs. They sang hymns, taught Sabbath School, returned tithes, even did evangelism. They were Sabbath School leaders, elders, deacons, etc. Christ says to them "I do not know you. Go away." They did not allow the daily indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable them to live a God-honoring life. Only the infusion to the vine allows the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in them. Only being supernaturally wired to the "electric circuit" enables the Spirit to shine the Light. How do we stay fused so the Holy Spirit can work through us? Through the hearing of faith (Galatians 3:1). 
 
~Raul Diaz
 RR
Raul Diaz

Monday, September 4, 2017

A List of Requirements

A List of Requirements

One day while in college I was perusing my school bulletin.  I saw that beside the description for some classes it had the word prerequisite.  Then it listed other class numbers.  I figured that it meant that I should take the listed classes before I take the class in question.  So, it seemed it was telling me what I had to do before taking the class in question.  But, that is not the definition of the word prerequisite.  Of course, the prefix pre- means before.  Requisite means requirement.  A requirement is something – as a condition or quality – needed.  I understood that what the bulletin was telling me is that I needed the knowledge and or skill set that I got from the previous classes to take the one.   But, requirements are not always about something I can achieve or acquire. 

Typically we talk about requirements in terms of fulfilling not doing.  To fulfill means to satisfy.  To satisfy is to meet the requirements.  If I wanted to join the army, I would have to be a certain weight in relation to my height.  So, to join the army, I would have to meet that requirement.  But, if I wanted to be a horse jockey, I would have to be small: short and thin.  Now, let's say I am overweight, I could lose the weight.  Let's say I am more than 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) then I probably cannot be a jockey.  The average weight for a jockey is around 115 lb (52 kg).  The average height is about 5 feet and 3 inches (1.6 meters).  In this case, I cannot meet the requirement, not because of something I cannot acquire or achieve; I cannot meet the requirement because of something I am not. 

Out of the twenty pilots selected to fly Vostok 1 (the first spaceship to orbit the earth), the final choices for the first launch were Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov.  Why?  Because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit, and both men were rather short.  Gagarin, the ultimate choice, was 1.57 meters (5 ft 2 in) tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok cockpit.  Gagarin's met the size requirement.  Not something he could acquire or achieve, but something he was by genetic inheritance. 

When it comes to the Law and the Commandments, Paul as well as Jesus, seem to refer to them as requirements.  Time and time again they speak of them as something to be fulfilled.  Here are some examples,

Romans 8:4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

 So, to Paul, there is a difference between the doing of the Law and the fulfilling of the law.  Paul intentionally uses each phrase to make an important distinction between two different ways of defining Christian behavior in relation to the law.  For example, it is significant that when Paul refers positively to Christian observance of the law, he never describes it as "doing the law." He reserves that phrase to refer solely to the misguided behavior of those who are living under the law and are trying to earn God's approval by "doing" what the law commands.

Paul's view is not to imply that those who have found salvation in Christ do not obey.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul says they "fulfill" the law.  He means that true Christian behavior is much more than the outward obedience of just "doing" the law; it "fulfills" the law.  Paul uses the word fulfill because it goes far beyond just "doing." This type of obedience is rooted in Jesus (see Matt. 5:17). It is not an abandonment of the law, nor is a reduction of the law only to love, but it is the way through which the believer could experience the real intent and meaning of the whole law!

Ellen White also sees the Law as a requirement.  And, she is clear on how we can fulfill that requirement. She says,

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:3-5). Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7). {1SM 367.1}

The inheritance is given to the heirs.  The heirs are sons and daughters of God.  Paul says in Galatians 3, 

Galatians 3: 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3: 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Galatians 3:  28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:  29And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Those who live by faith attain the righteousness required to become children who become heirs of God.  It is not something they can achieve or acquire on our own.  It is not something they receive by genetic inheritance.  It is something God gives to them by grace, and they receive it by faith. 
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, September 1, 2017

Two Covenants: A Fork in the Road

Two Covenants: A Fork in the Road

Driving Eastbound on I-94 in Chicago (it is southbound in Chicago) the road splits.  It is what some call a fork in the road.   I-94 continues to the left (eastbound), and I-57 continues to the South.  Signs are warning of a split in the road a mile or two ahead.   They also suggest possible destinations for each route will take.  Depending on where you are going you will go right or left.  There is no reason why anyone should go in the wrong direction.  But, some manage just that.  Taking one route means not taking the other.   The implication is that if you take the wrong route, you will gradually go farther off your intended destination.  The farther you go on the wrong road, it will probably be longer and harder to get back on track. 

At Sinai, the Israelites came to a spiritual fork in the road (Exodus 19 and 20).  They had had to choose which spiritual road to take.  Their issue was not that they did not want to go where God intended to take them.  They thought they could get there by going on the road of their choosing and not God's intended way.  They sincerely thought their chosen road could take them there.  So, they deviated from God's way and took the other.

Abraham had a similar experience of a spiritual fork in the road.  Like the Israelites later, it was not that Abraham did not want what God promised him.  Abraham thought he could get there following a path of his choosing.  Abraham believed that he could fulfill God's promise to him, by performing methods not suggested nor approved by God.  Thus, Abraham conceived a child with Hagar (Genesis 16: 4).  Once Abraham went down that road, it would take years of hardship to get back on track.  God's idea and intention were that Abraham conceived with Sarah (Genesis 17: 16, 19). 

According to Paul, this event was symbolic of the Old covenant.  When Abraham finally conceived with Sarah, it was the new covenant.  Let us read Galatians 4:22-26,

Galatians 4: 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Galatians 4: 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Galatians 4: 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Galatians 4: 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Galatians 4: 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

In this verse, Paul ties Hagar with Sinai.  In other words, the Old Covenant that Abraham followed by conceiving with Hagar is what the Israelites followed in Sinai. A covenant the Jews continued to support even on to the day of Paul.  While, Abraham eventually, after years of hardship found God's road again, the majority of Israelites and Jews never found God's way again. 

What road have we taken: The Old Covenant or the New Covenant?  It is important to know that a misunderstanding of the Covenants can lead you to the wrong road.  Many Christians have what is called a dispensational view of the Covenants.  To them, the Old Covenant is a road that failed to take them to their destination, so then they tried another way, which is the new Covenant.  The Covenants to them is a matter of time, not a heart relationship with God.  To them from Sinai to Jesus people were saved by keeping the Law and the ceremonies of the Sanctuary.  According to this view, this method failed, so God then instituted the new method which is saved by grace.  Paul has argued successfully in Galatians that this is not true.  Paul's example of Abraham being under both covenants at different times in his life shows us that dispensation is wrong.  This is evident when we know what Abraham was going through at each of these stages.  Abraham's unbelief led to the Old Covenant.  When Abraham finally believed He was under the new covenant. 

Paul's argument also stands against Mainline Adventism view in the Covenants.  Adventists are not quite dispensational.  They believe that it is only one Covenant.  To them, the Covenant is one road, which at different points has different scenery and even a different name, but it is the same road, nonetheless.  From Sinai to Jesus the covenant was to be understood and practiced through the types, forms, and symbols of the ceremonial law; this is the old covenant.  The ceremonial law pointed to Jesus, so when He came, type met antitype, and thus Christ fulfills the ceremonial law.  The Old Covenant fulfilled its purpose of showing us the new Covenant, so it is no longer needed.  But, how can the Old Covenant be the Sanctuary and its services, if according to Paul 430 years before God enacted the sanctuary service Abraham was under the Old Covenant?  

Now, although the Adventist view is different from the dispensational, it is similar in that they both believe the Old Covenant is passed.  We need to reiterate, they are two different covenants.  And, each covenant is a different method of salvation.  Each covenant is a different attitude toward God and the Gospel.  As the author of the Lesson tells us, "The two covenants are not matters of time; instead, they are reflective of human attitudes."  One of my favorite authors states, "These two covenants exist today. The two covenants are not matters of time, but of condition. Let no one flatter himself that he cannot be bound under the old covenant, thinking that its time has passed"

These Covenants are based on a heart relationship with God.  The New Covenant is for God to fulfill His promises to us; we are just to receive them humbly and gratefully.  In the New Covenant God dwells in our hearts and writes His law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).  In the New Covenant, we abide in Christ and Christ in us (John 5).  In the New Covenant, He becomes our God, and we become His people (Ezekiel 37: 23, 27).  In the New Covenant, we become His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  In the New Covenant God bestows on us His inheritance:  eternal life in the new earth.   "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 3:1)!
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, August 18, 2017

Adoption in Christ

Adoption in Christ

A previous lesson stated that "Both the Old Testament and the New Testament offer hope set in real life stories." It adds that in this way, "God seeks to reclaim his Children;" this shows that God uses our reality to try to teach us His truth. He does this so that we can relate to His teachings so that we can understand Him. More specifically, He does this so that we can know how He feels about and for us, and also about Sin. 

What are some examples of our reality He uses? He uses the example of a lover. One good example is Jeremiah 3: 1 – 10. Let us read parts of that passage,

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jeremiah 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jeremiah 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

As said above, He also uses the example of a parent. Consider Jesus plea to the Jews in Matthew 23:37,

Matthew 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

When you, in fact, read Deuteronomy 30:15 – 16, the language comes across as very paternal. Let us read the passage,

Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Deuteronomy 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

He wants us to listen to Him. He has our best interest at heart. He loves us. He desires to spare us from the consequences of our bad choices. Paul talks about this Hebrews 12: 5 – 11,

Hebrews 12: 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
Hebrews 12: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Hebrews 12: 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Hebrews 12: 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Hebrews 12: 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Hebrews 12: 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Hebrews 12: 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

So, He chastens those He loves, as a father or mother would when we do not listen. It is not a desire to punish, but a willingness to correct and show the right way; a way that will bring us closer to Him, the Lover of our Souls. 

Yes, God hates Sin to the point of He would rather die, than to live with it. But, He does not hate us. We all have sinned (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Not one of us is righteous or just. We all fall short of the glory of God. However, God wants to remedy that. That is why He sent His Son. And, sending His Son - as stated in Galatians 4:1-7 - is the biggest proof that He loves us. Let us read,

Galatians 4:1-7
Galatians 4: 1Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Galatians 4: 2But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Galatians 4: 3Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
Galatians 4:4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Galatians 4:5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Galatians 4:6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Galatians 4:7Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Through Christ, God has not disowned us but adopted us; this is what the world needs to know.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic

Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic

The word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning 'against' and bios meaning 'life.'  Antibiotic is also known as antibacterial, and they are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria cause such illnesses as tuberculosis, salmonella, syphilis and some forms of meningitis.  Our immune system can usually destroy bacteria before they can multiply and cause symptoms. We have special white blood cells that attack harmful bacteria. Even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much, and our bodies need some help - from antibiotics. 

The first antibiotic was penicillin.  Penicillin-Related antibiotics are widely used today to treat a variety of infections - these antibiotics have been around for a long time. There are several different types of modern antibiotics and they are only available with a doctor's prescription in industrialized countries.

So, antibiotics target not only microorganisms such as bacteria but also fungi and parasites. However, they are not effective against viruses. Also, when antibiotics are misused there is a chance that the bacteria will become resistant - hence, the antibiotic becomes less effective. Most antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours.  

It is important to complete the whole course of the medication to prevent the disease from coming back, even if you are feeling better. If you do not complete the course, there is a higher chance the bacteria may become resistant to future treatments - because the ones that survive when you did not complete the course have had some exposure to the antibiotic and may consequently have built up a resistance to it. 

If Sin were a bacterial infection, then Jesus would be an antibiotic, of sorts (Jesus is not against life).  Why antibiotic and not vaccine?  First, vaccines are preventive, antibiotic remedial.  We are already sick with Sin (Romans 3:10 – 12; 5:12), we need a remedy.  Second, vaccines are typically a dead or weakened specimen of the same creature making you sick.  They are injected to make us immune to the disease; which is a different way of saying they are to boost our immune system to fight the disease, should we be infected.  Although Jesus became Sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), God's intention is not to make us stronger in case we fall in Sin.  Furthermore, it is not the Jesus that came in the likeness of Sinful flesh that enters in us and dwells in us, it is the glorified Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Again, we are already infected, and God's intention is to kill the sin in us.  God does not inject weak Sin in us to make us stronger. 

Jesus is an effective antibiotic.  He stops Sin from reproducing and also kills it.  When Jesus dwells in us, He changes the way we think.  Christ transforms us by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).  He writes the law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), thus getting rid of the self-centeredness of Sin; this is what He wanted to with the Israelites.  But, they refused (Exodus 19 and 20).  So, God gave them the Law, not as a way to heal them, but as a way to diagnose their illness (Exodus 20; Galatians 3:19).  The Law was akin to a list of symptoms.  When any of these symptoms are present, you need Jesus your antibiotic, to kill the bacteria of Sin or to make sure it does not keep reproducing.  It is then that either the symptoms will go away or will not bother you.  But, the Israelites thought that getting rid of the symptoms meant they were Ok.  However, the sin-bacteria were still alive in them creating havoc inside. 

The antibiotic is free to us (given by grace), we take it by faith.  It must take it for as long as we live in this world of Sin because as long as we are here, the bacteria always find a way to resurface unless the antibiotic course is completed.  The day when Christ returns (Galatians 3:23, 25; 1 Corinthians 15:52 - 54) the course will be completed, we will be healed.  Until then, we will need that diagnosis list – The Law – so it will let us know when we have a symptom (Galatians 3:23 -25).

Jesus is better than an antibiotic.  There is something cool about this Jesus antibiotic that the antibiotic does not have.  Jesus antibiotic not only kills the bacteria of sin but also gives life to the Host of the bacteria.  We read in 1 John 5:11-13

 1 John 5: 11 And this is the record: that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5: 12 He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.
1 John 5: 13 These things I have written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God.

Since eternal life is in Jesus, when He dwells in us, we have eternal life.  So, Jesus not only eradicates Sin, but He also gives us life.  Praise the Lord!
 RR
Raul Diaz

Thursday, August 3, 2017

INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017

INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017
.
THIRD QUARTER 2017 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"THE PRIORITY OF THE PROMISE"
AUGUST 5, 2017

Inheritance

A will is a legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to
make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after
his death. Years ago there was a distinction between a will and a
testament, but over time the distinction has disappeared in that a
will, can also be known as a "last will and testament." A will serves
a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his
heirs rather than allowing the state laws of descent and distribution
to choose the heirs, who, although among blood relatives, might be
people the testator deems as unfit or with whom he is unacquainted.
Therefore a will allows a person to decide which individual could best
serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property to the
beneficiaries while protecting their interests, rather than allowing a
court to appoint a stranger to serve as administrator. In addition, a
will also safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve
as guardian to raise his young children in the event of his death.
Thus, the testator bequeaths his property or estate to heirs of his
choosing. To the heirs, what is bequeathed to them is an inheritance.
The heirs typically receive the inheritance without having to work for
it; it is a gift.

Now, the word "covenant" today means contract, but in the Bible it can
be used in two ways. In the Greek, we have two separate words that
can be translated as the word "covenant" in English. The words are
'will' and 'contract'. As seen above, a will is made by one person but
may affect many. The word translated as covenant in relation to what
God gave to Abraham, is "will." A contract, however, is made between
two persons. For example, the giving of the law at Mount Sinai ended
up being like a contract, not because it was the Lord's intention, but
because of the response of the Hebrews. God gave the law and the
Hebrews responded with, "All that you have said we will do" (Exodus
24:3).

What we see in Genesis is that the Lord promised an inheritance to
certain individuals. The Lord did this with Noah, his sons and all
the creatures alive after the flood (Genesis 9:9-11). Neither Noah,
his sons, nor the animals responded to God with what they would do,
they just received the promise.

A few chapters later, the promise of inheritance was also given to
Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3,

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and
from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will
shew thee:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and
make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless
them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee
shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Abraham responded by hearing and believing the word of God.
The Lord appeared to Abraham in chapter 15 and reiterated the promise.
Abraham asked the Lord who should be his heir and the Lord answered, I
will give you a son "that shall come forth out of thine own bowels"
(Genesis 15:4). The Lord then told Abraham to look at the sky and
count the stars. Abraham realized he could not, to which the Lord
said, "Your seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky" (Genesis
15:5). Then verse 6 gives us one of the most important thoughts in
the Bible: Abraham, "… believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him
for righteousness."

When Abraham asked for surety, the Lord had him prepare a sacrifice in
the way 'business deals' were confirmed in his time. Abraham slayed
the animals and laid them on the ground according to the custom. The
custom was for both parties involved in the deal to walk through the
sacrifice. However, in verse 17, we read only the Lord walked through
the sacrifice. This showed that God did not make a deal or contract
with Abraham. The Lord promised Abraham the inheritance and the Lord
would deliver it. Abraham (and his Seed) just accepted the
inheritance by faith.

Sadly, to the Jews this posed a problem. Why give the Law? What was
the purpose? (Wherefore the Law?) Paul answered, that it was added
(spoken) "because of transgression" (Galatians 3:19). The law was
added because of unbelief. Why did Moses permit divorce? Moses
allowed divorce, because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew
19:7-8). The law was spoken to show the children of Israel, and the
world, how sinful they were and how incapable they were of keeping the
law. It was spoken to make sin exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13). It
was spoken to make justification by faith desirable and was never
meant to be used as an instrument to achieve righteousness or to be a
method for salvation. The law is not an alternate. Therefore, it has
not disannulled justification by faith.

In Paul's time a Will or Testament could not be changed (by taking
away or adding anything) or disannulled after it was confirmed
(Galatians 3:15). Thus Paul is saying that the promises made to
Abraham and his Seed cannot be modified or disannulled, either
(Galatians 3:17). Just so, the giving of the Law did not change the
covenant, nor "make the promise of none effect" (Galatians 3:17).
Paul adds in verse 18, "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no
more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." And, Abraham
believed God. For this reason, the law was not spoken to Abraham
because he believed the promises of the inheritance. Had the children
of Israel believed as Abraham believed, there would have been no need
for the law and no need to write it on tablets of stone. The Lord
would have written the law in their hearts.

So what about today? Are we repeating the same mistake by
misperceiving the Promises of God as well as the law? Are we demanding
the Lord to be in a contract with us in regards to the law, and the
inheritance, in order to earn His favor? Or will we allow Him to write
the law in our hearts and minds, so that when He (the Lord) makes
promises, we'll respond with a heartfelt, "I believe, help Thou my
unbelief?"

~Raul Diaz


--



Raul Diaz
[image: https://]about.me/raul.diaz
<https://about.me/raul.diaz?promo=email_sig&utm_source=email_sig&utm_medium=email_sig&utm_campaign=external_links>

Friday, July 28, 2017

Christ our Substitute

Christ our Substitute

The dictionary defines the noun substitute as one that takes the place of another or replacement.  This definition implies the existence of particular requirements.   For example,

1.       The substitute should come from the same pool of person substituted.
2.       The Substitute should have similar if not equal training (same could be said of properties or characteristics).
3.      The substitute must be available to do substitute when necessary.
4.      The substitute should identify with the person being substituted.

A substitute teacher replaces the regular teacher if the latter is unavailable.  In some regions, the qualifications for substitute teaching may not be as strict as those for a regular teacher.  However, at a minimum, for mosts districts, a college degree is required.  Some districts require the successful completion of competency tests.   Other districts insist on full teaching qualifications.  Implied in these requirements is that the substitute teacher must be an adult.   In summation, schools are looking for people with similar academic preparation and work experience.  

In the game of basketball a substitute player is a member of the team, that plays as well or almost as well as the one substituted.  Also, as a member of the same team, the substitute has the same interest and goal as the player being substituted.  So, there is identification.  

When we say that Christ was our substitute, this must mean that He must have fulfilled the above requirements.  As God incarnate, He became one of us, so He came from our pool.  He grew up as we grew up.  He was trained as we were (or as we could be) trained.  He was touched with our infirmities and tempted in all things as we are (yet without Sin; Hebrews 4:15).  Many times the Bible says, that Christ was moved with compassion to serve others.  So, He identified with us.  Evidently, if He was doing the job, He was available. 

All of the above would qualify Jesus to be a substitute, but not our Savior.  To save us Jesus identification went beyond a mere sympathy.  Jesus became us.  The idea is that when Jesus came to this earth, we were all in Him, just as Levi was in Abraham when Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec.  We see this idea echoing in Romans 5 and 6 when Paul contrasts the two Adams.  In the following verses, Paul reveals the premise,

Rom5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Rom5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Rom5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Rom6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When Adam sinned, we all sinned.  We were all in Adam.  But, when Christ conquered Sin in the flesh, so did we.  We were in Christ, which is why we die and are buried with Him.  So, we have resurrected with Him also; which is why Paul says that in Christ we are in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  The above explains why Paul says in Galatians 3:13 that, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.'"  Jesus can do this because He is us.  Paul repeats the same concept in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Christ did not merely replace us.  He did not merely die our death.  His identity with us was complete.  He carried our Sin and us in Him.  So, He suffered the curse that we should suffer, but we suffered it with Him. And, since He was victorious, His victory is our victory.  But, do we believe it? 

Raul Diaz

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sabbath School Insights: Commentary: Remission

Commentary: Remission

Remission 


I have met several patients of cancer in my life.  Some of them have gone through surgery or other kinds of therapy to get rid of the cancerous tissue.  On more than one occasions the treatment was successful.  But, the doctor's never said that the patients were cured.  The doctors always said that the patients were in remission.  I wondered what that meant.  And as I found out, I realized that remission from a disease is very similar to how God deals with Sin.  Let us talk a little about cancer and remission, and after this we will make the parallels between Sin and cancer, and being in remission from a disease and Sin.


Cancer refers to a class of diseases.  Therefore, it is unlikely that there will ever be a single "cure for cancer" any more than there will be a single treatment for all infectious diseases.  Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibody therapy or other methods. The choice of therapy depends upon the location and grade of the tumor and the stage of the disease, as well as the general state of the patient (performance status).  There are challenges inherent in some of the treatment that can limit its effectiveness.  The effectiveness of chemotherapy is often limited by toxicity to other tissues in the body. Radiation can also cause damage to normal tissue.  Complete removal of the cancer without damage to the rest of the body is the goal of treatment. Sometimes this can be accomplished by surgery, but the propensity of cancers to invade adjacent tissue or to spread to distant sites by microscopic metastasis often limits its effectiveness. 


That is why it is not said that a person is to be cured of cancer, but that the cancer is in remission.  A remission is a temporary end to the medical signs and symptoms of an incurable disease.  Remission is the state of absence of disease activity in patients known to have a chronic illness that cannot be cured. It is commonly used to refer to absence of active cancer or inflammatory bowel disease when these diseases are expected to manifest again in the future.  


Sin, this side of eternity, is like cancer in that it can be treated but it does not disappear.  As long as we live in this earth, those who live by faith can stop committing Sin; however their sinful nature is still alive.  As long as we live in this Earth, Sin is always a threat.  Just like cancer can show its ugly face when and where you least expect it, so can Sin when not held in check.  It is always present and always fighting for the upper hand.  But, as long as we subject ourselves to the Jesus treatment, Sin will be in remission.  This is what Peter talks about Jesus in Acts 10:43,


Acts 10:43 To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.


There is a similar expression in John 3:16, "…that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  The verb believeth in the Greek is in the continual present.  This means that it should read as such, "whosoever continually believes in Him …" Also, the Greek word for believe here is the same for faith.  So, "whosoever continually has faith – believes, trust, has confidence …" So, the remission of Sin comes through believing and so does righteousness.  We know this from Genesis 15:6,

Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.


Ellen White said that "The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain righteousness is through faith" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 367).  So, now we see that there is a relationship between remission of Sin, "not perishing, but having everlasting life," and being righteous.  Believing causes all three.  So, this means that those who are righteous by continually believing, experience remission of Sin, and eventually receive incorrupt and immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:53).  


The word righteous is a synonym for just.  So, the expression justification by faith means, made righteous by continually believing.  So, Paul tell the Galatians,


Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.


True justification by faith always produces law keeping Christians.  And, since the law is summed up (fulfilled) in Love (Romans 10:13), true justification by faith always produces people that love God above all things and their neighbor as themselves (Galatians 5:14).


https://sabbathschoolinsights.blogspot.com/2011/10/commentary-remission.html

Friday, July 14, 2017

Did Peter know he was wrong?

Did Peter know he was wrong?

One Sabbath School class was discussing the life of Peter. The class
gave Emphasis to Peter's life before conversion and after conversion.
Before conversion, although Peter was boisterous and short tempered,
he denied the Lord; After conversion, Peter was the opposite. After
this, they briefly discussed Paul confronting Peter about his
prejudice behavior as recorded in Galatians 1. The teacher then
asked the class, "With which Peter do you identify: the one before
conversion or the one after conversion?" There was murmuring in the
class. Tony, who was sitting in the back raised his hand and said, "I
identify with Peter." The teacher and some of the students turned
around and asked him to clarify, "which Peter, the one before
conversion or the one after?" The student referring to the event of
Paul confronting Peter, answered, "I identify with Peter in that even
though I know, as he knew, that the crowd is wrong, I see myself
following them." The class hushed for a few seconds, and then there
was murmuring again. Tony looked around and saw people nodding. The
teacher sighed but did not speak. A sister in front of Tony smiled
and nodded at him. Another sister, walking down the aisle, smiled and
touched his arm. It seemed that many agreed with him. They saw
themselves drifting the wrong way knowingly. Now, just because many
people do this does not make it right?

Paul found that this was wrong, which is why he confronted Peter. Did
Peter know He was wrong? Peter was present at the Jerusalem Council
when the Apostles declared that circumcision was not necessary to
salvation and (Acts 15:1-24). He had encountered this situation
before when God had clearly revealed to him that he was not to
consider any one class of people as "common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).
He had even declared that he understood "that God is no respecter of
persons: But in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh
righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34, 35). The Holy
Spirit bore a Clear testimony by the other apostles, and the corporate
church body that there was no distinction between Jew and Gentile and
that righteousness is by faith alone in Christ Jesus. In light of all
this, Peter and others withdrew themselves from the uncircumcised
Gentile believers. This discrimination was in effect saying, "Except
ye be circumcised... ye cannot be saved" (Acts 15:1). This action on
the part of Peter and the others was not only a denial of the gospel,
but it was a virtual denial of Christ. Based on the statements stated
above we can conclude that Peter knew better. But, he allowed himself
to be carried away by the influence of the other Jews, "fearing them
which were of the circumcision" (Galatians 2:12). Peter's attitude
grieved God. Ellen White says,

"Even the best of men, if left to themselves, will make grave
blunders. The more responsibilities placed upon the human agent, the
higher his position to dictate and control, the more mischief he is
sure to do in perverting minds and hearts if he does not carefully
follow the way of the Lord. At Antioch Peter failed in the principles
of integrity. Paul had to withstand his subverting influence face to
face; This is recorded that others may profit by it, and that the
lesson may be a solemn warning to the men in high places, that they
may not fail in integrity, but keep close to principle."—Ellen G.
White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1108.

We too can fail in integrity and violate the principles laid out by
the Gospel. Even so, Peter should still be an example to us in that
he was humble. The fact that Peter died a martyr for Christ tells us
that Peter repented. In that sense, we should be like Peter after
conversion.
--
Raul Diaz
www.wolfsoath.com
RR
Raul Diaz
https://about.me/raul.diaz
Posted by Ulee at 3/31/2017 07:29:00 PM

--



Raul Diaz
[image: https://]about.me/raul.diaz
<https://about.me/raul.diaz?promo=email_sig&utm_source=email_sig&utm_medium=email_sig&utm_campaign=external_links>

Friday, July 7, 2017

What exactly IS righteousness by faith?


What exactly IS righteousness by faith?


This article from Advent Review and Sabbath Herald is an excellent foundation for this quarter's lessons.  



"Studies in Galatians"

What exactly IS righteousness by faith? -- 

Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 76, 37 , pp. 588, 589.
IT was "certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed" who had caused all the trouble in the churches in Galatia, and called forth a letter to the Galatians. It was these also who had troubled the brethren at Antioch, and raised there the controversy abroad on the council Jerusalem.  It was these who, even after the council, had caused Peter to swerve, at Antioch, from the truth of the Gospel, which, in turn, forced Paul to withstand him to the face. It was these of the sect of the Pharisees who spread a false gospel against the true, and subverted souls who were even already saved—as at Antioch and in Galatia. In a study of the Book of Galatians, it is, therefore, essential to know just what the sect of the Pharisees did hold.

When Jesus would give an illustration of "certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others," he chose "a Pharisee." And this Pharisee, even in praying, first thanked God that he was not like other men; and then presented himself to the Lord for approval upon what he had done. Luke 18:9-12. It is therefore perfectly plain that the one great peculiarity of the sect of the Pharisees was self-righteousness—claiming righteousness upon what they have done.

Consequently everything that a Pharisee did, was done that he might obtain righteousness by the doing. And if there was anything that he was not inclined to do, he must force himself to do it, by a direct vow, and then still claim the merit of righteousness in the doing.

And it was the very righteousness of God that was claimed as the merit and the result of the doing; because it was the word of God that was followed, it was the command of the Lord that was obeyed, in the doing.

The word "Pharisee" is from "parash," which signifies "separated," or "set apart." The Pharisees were those who were separated, set apart, from the rest of the people by their superior righteousness, which was because they had done more than any others; and they were separated, set apart, unto God because it was in the doing of the law of God that their righteousness consisted.  Everything that God had commanded, required, or directed, must be done in order that righteousness may be obtained in the doing.  And to be perfectly certain that they could rightfully claim the righteousness when the thing was done, it was essential that every obligation must be performed so exactly right that there could be no question. And in order that this might be so, every requirement in the word of God was drawn out in divisions and subdivisions to the smallest minutiae, even to each particular letter of each word, each one to be scrupulously and ceremoniously performed. "The very raison d'etre of the Pharisees was to create 'hedges' of oral tradition about the law."—Farrar's "Life of Christ," Excursus 9, par. 1. These "hedges" were of course to protect the law from violation. They were assurances to the doer of them that in the doing of them he was preserved from violating the law, and that so he was a doer of the law.

This led to an utter perversion not only of every commandment and ordinance of the Lord, but of the very idea of every commandment and ordinance.

God had given the ten commandments, not as a means of obtaining righteousness by the doing of them, but (1) to give the true knowledge of sin, that forgiveness and salvation might be found by faith; and (2) to witness to the righteousness obtained by (that) faith.

This was shown (a) in the service that was commanded, and (b) in the very terms used in speaking of the tables of the law. (a) In the service commanded it was plainly said that when they had done anything against the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and were guilty, they were to bring a sacrifice of a young bullock, and confess the sin, and with the blood the priest should make atonement for them, and it should be forgiven them. Lev. 4:13-21. Here were the ten commandments to give the knowledge of sin, and of the guilt; here was forgiveness and at-one-ment with God without the doing of the law, but solely through faith. (b) The term used in speaking of the was "the tables of the testimony;" the ark, in which was the law, was called the "ark of the testament;" and the tabernacle, in which was the ark, was called the "tabernacle of the testimony." Now testimony is the evidence borne by a witness; and that this is the meaning of the word here is certain by the fact that the tabernacle was plainly called "the tabernacle of witness." Num. 17:7, 8; 18:2; 2 Chron. 24:6. The tables of the testimony were the tables of witness, which in itself testified that the law was intended, not to be a means of the righteousness of God obtained by it, but to be witness to the righteousness of God obtained without it.

God had given the ordinances of sacrifice and offering and burnt offering and offering for sin, not as a means of obtaining righteousness by them, but as expressions of the faith that obtained the righteousness of God without them—faith that obtained the righteousness of God through a sacrifice and offering already made by God, and promised to be sent in due time.

God had given circumcision, not as a means of obtaining righteousness by it, but as a sign of the righteousness of God obtained by faith and held by faith before circumcision was performed.

Thus the Pharisees perverted into works and righteousness by works, all that God had given to be of faith. All that God had given to be a blessing and a delight they turned into a burden and a yoke of bondage. And when it did not give peace to the straining and toiling workers, as it could not, to the many fine-spun distinctions drawn upon the plain word of God they yet further added a multitude of exactions of their own. To the Sabbath commandment alone there were added four hundred and one requirements. A whole treatise was devoted to hand-washings (Mark 7:1-5); another whole treatise was occupied with the proper method of killing a fowl. "The letter of the law thus lost its comparative simplicity in bound-less complications, until the Talmud tells us how Akibba was seen in a vision by the astonished Moses, drawing from every horn of every letter whole bushels of decisions."—Farrar.

Another evil was wrapped up in this: The facility of interpretation that was developed in drawing out the infinite variety of distinctions in sentences, in words, and even in letters, in order to discover the exact degree of obedience required to attain to righteousness, was readily employed in evading any obligation of the law of God that the covetous heart might desire. Mark 7:9-13; Matt. 23:14-28. "We know the minute and intense scrupulosity of Sabbath observance wasting itself in all those abhoth and toldoth,—those primary and derivative rules and prohibitions, and inferences from rules and prohibitions, and combinations of inferences from rules and prohibitions, and cases of casuistry and conscience arising out of the infinite possible variety of circumstances to which those combinations of inference might apply,—which had degraded the Sabbath from 'a delight, holy of the Lord, honorable,' partly into an anxious and pitiless burden, and partly into a network of contrivances hypocritically designed, as it were, in the lowest spirit of heathenism, to cheat the Deity with the mere semblance of accurate observance. . . .

"Teachers who were on the high road to a casuistry which could construct 'rules' out of every superfluous particle, had found it easy to win credit for ingenuity by elaborating prescriptions, to which Moses would have listened in mute astonishment. If there be one thing more definitely laid down in the law than another, it is the uncleanness of creeping things; yet the Talmud assures us that 'no one is appointed and member of the Sanhedrin who does not possess sufficient ingenuity to prove from the written law that a creeping thing is ceremonially cleaned,' and that there is an unimpeachable disciple, at Jabne, who could produce one hundred and fifty arguments in favor of the ceremonial cleanness of creeping things.  Sophistry like this was at work even in the days when the young student at Tarsus set at the feet of Gamaliel."—Ib., "Life and Work of Paul," chap. 4, par. 2-6.

Thus the Pharisees in their exactions and ceremonialism had developed to perfection the self-love of self-righteousness in the merit of their own doings. A perfect illustration is found in what Rabbi Simeon, the son of Jochai, said: "If there were only thirty righteous persons in the world, I and my son should make two of them; and if there were but twenty, I and my son would be of the number; and if there were but ten, and I and my son would be of the number; and if there were but five, and I and my son would be of the five; and if there were but two, I and my son would be those two; and if there were but one, MYSELF should be that one.:—Emphatic Diaglott, at Luke 18:11.

"They had received unsanctified and confused interpretations of the law given them by Moses: they had added tradition to tradition; they had restricted freedom of thought and action until the commandments, ordinances, and services of God were lost in a ceaseless round of meaning less rights and ceremonies. Their religion was a yoke of bondage." "The views of the people were so narrow that they had become slaves to their own useless regulations." "This confidence in themselves and their own regulations, with its attendant prejudices against all other nations, caused them to resist the Spirit of God, which would have corrected their errors." "Thus, in their earthliness, separated from God in Spirit, while professedly serving him, they were doing just the work that Satan wanted them to do—taking a course to impeach the character of God, and cause the people to view him as a tyrant. In presenting their sacrificial offerings in the temple, they were as actors in a play. The rabbis, the priests and rulers, had ceased to look beyond the symbol of the truth that was signified by their outward ceremonies." They expected to derive righteousness acceptable to God from the performance of the ceremony of offering a symbol which, to them, was meaningless for any other purpose than as a means of gaining righteousness in the performance of the ceremony. The beginning and end, the all in all of the religion of the Pharisees, whether it related to the moral law, to the God-given ceremonial law, or to their own traditions, was ceremonialism, and ceremonialism alone. And Paul had been one of these Pharisees, of "the most straitest sect."

And this is what those "certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed" thought to drag over and fasten upon Christianity. They wished to force even the divine faith of Christ into their low, narrow human ceremonialism. Oh, yes! it is well enough to believe in Jesus; but that is not enough: "except ye be circumcised and keep the law [their whole boneless system of interpretations of the law, moral and ceremonial, there whole mass of ceremonialism], ye cannot be saved." And that even when they had done all that the system of the Pharisees supply and demand it, they could not be saved, was confessed in the despairing cry of the rabbis: "If but one person could only for one day keep whole law, and not offended one point,—nay, if but one person could but keep that one point of the law which affects the due observance of the Sabbath,—then the troubles of Israel would be ended, and the Messiah at last would come."—Id., par. 3. And from every really conscientious heart it forced that other despairing cry, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Rom. 7:24.

But in his great mercy and his divine goodness, without requiring all the burdens and toil of the Pharisaic ceremonialism, and in answer to the longing cry of every burdened heart, the Messiah came, and brought to all men the free gift of the righteousness of God, and of his full salvation. This righteousness and this full salvation, Saul the Pharisee found, and it made him forever Paul the Christian, nevermore desire in the "righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." And then, having in Christ perfect righteousness, full salvation, and the power of an endless life; having found in Christ the living gospel instead of the dead form of law; because he would never more admit the multitudinous exactions, the vain strivings, the hollow self-righteousness, and the false gospel of the Pharisees, he was persecuted, and his work in the gospel of Christ was opposed, till the day of his death, by "the Pharisees which believed," as well as by all the Jews, who did not believe, by false brethren as well as by open enemies.

And this it was that called forth the book of Galatians. 
 RR
Raul Diaz