The Apple Of God's Eye

August 6, 2009

Is "Independence Day" Of Pagan Origin?

Independence_Day1Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th in the United States, is not fundamentally religious in character. It is a secular holiday of comparatively recent origin. The holidays that Christians should not keep are those that are pagan in origin; but there is nothing inherently pagan about the 4th of July.

As a patriotic American citizen, there is certainly nothing wrong with observing a day that celebrates the freedoms bestowed upon this great nation by Almighty God. Patriotism becomes a sin only when it supersedes the worship of God!

What Constitutes Idolatry, As Outlined In The Second Commandment?

The Second Commandment reads, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord [Eternal] thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:4-6).

Man is continually looking for a physical means of worshipping God. That is exactly what this scripture forbids. Worship of God is spiritual. God continually forbade Israel to use any form of idol or image in worship.

Of course, God does not condemn art or sculpture. We are, however, not “to bow down” or “serve them.” In other words, objects should not be used for the purpose of worship. This includes crucifixes, sculptures, etc.

Clearly, this command also forbids pictures and images depicting Jesus Christ. If God’s Holy Spirit is leading you, you should not need a picture of either your Father God or Jesus Christ to properly connect with your Father in prayer. Aside from that, the modern conception of Christ as an effeminate, longhaired hippie is not based in reality. Jesus looked like the typical Jew of His day.

Of course, these things are only physical applications of this Commandment. In fact, anything that you allow to come between you and God can become an idol. Most men place themselves above God, which is a form of self-idolatry. Anytime you allow something to become more important than obeying God’s law of love, that has become an idol to you, and is a direct violation of the Second Commandment.

Should Christians Use Wine Or Grape Juice At Passover?

Should Christians use wine or grape juice at Passover? This question can get somewhat controversial if people don’t properly look to the Bible for their explanation. The ‘fruit of the vine’ Jesus gave His disciples was fermented wine, not grape juice. Grape juice could be made only in the autumn, and could not be preserved until spring. It was either fermented into wine, or else made into a heavy syrup that was used as a sweetener. This definitely was not grape juice or syrup! In Jesus’ day, the Jews used only fermented wine at the Passover.

The Bible nowhere condemns the drinking of alcoholic beverages — only their abuse. If we obey Jesus’ command – ‘This do…in remembrance of me’ (I Cor. 11:25) –we will drink a very small amount of wine once each year at the Passover service in remembrance of Christ’s shed blood.

The Law Of Ordinances Versus God's Spiritual Law

Does Ephesians 2:14-15 do away with God’s Spiritual Law? Definitely not! It is not the law of God that has separated us from God.  It is the violation of that law – sin – that separated us.  That is the meaning of Ephesians 2:14 – “and hath broken down the middle wall of partition”

Notice that the words “between us” have been added and are in italics.  Granted that there was a physical wall in the temple which separated the Jews who were “near” to God from the Gentiles who were “far off,” but merely reconciling Jew with Gentile would not reconcile us with God.  It is our relationship to God that counts!  The only wall referred to in Scripture is the wall that separates man from God.

Notice Ezekiel 43:8. Because of idolatry — sin, God says, “there was a wall between Me and them” (margin).  That wall of sin – the natural ENMITY in the human heart and in society is broken down. Christ paid for it by sacrificing His own life for ours – “having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY” — having paid for sin and making possible the receipt of the Holy Spirit to conquer the carnality of man, the carnal opposition of society with its ways.

Jesus said, “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Through the power of the Spirit in our lives, we, too, can overcome the world, its customs, its false teachings, its heathen dogmas masquerading in the name of Christ, the dictates of society! That is what Christ abolished — “Having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY, even the law of commandments in ordinances”.  Notice it!

The enmity against God is expressed by commands in the form of “ordinances” — “dogmasin,” in the Greek — the very commandments of men, human tradition, heathen customs, the dictates of society, which Paul condemned in Colossians.  That is what Christ abolished through His sacrifice.  The Gentile Ephesians did not know the law of God — they never practiced the law of Moses.  It was their frightful sins which separated them from God.

Now they were reconciled to God, forgiven of their past sin. They had the Spirit of God to overcome themselves and to overcome the world around them, with its human traditions, its human dogmas, its human commandments which were in opposition to God and to His law!  There is certainly not one word here about the law of Moses or the Ten Commandments being annulled.

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