The Apple Of God's Eye

March 2, 2011

Is God’s Law Abolished In The New Testament?

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“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law. Therefore we don’t have to keep the law — Christ kept it for us.” Or so goes a familiar — but erroneous — argument!

This false argument takes the form of many Sunday sermons that, unfortunately, lead many professing Christians away from the truth (Jeremiah 50:6).

Let’s examine the key Bible passage around which the whole question revolves, and see just what Paul meant.

What the Bible doesn’t say

The main verse in controversy is Galatians 3:13: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”

First, let’s notice what this verse does not say:

1) It does not say that if you keep the law you will be under some terrible curse. Just the opposite is true. Satan himself knows that those who keep God’s spiritual law will be richly blessed, and that breaking the law brings a curse upon mankind. Thus the archdeceiver of this world (Revelation 12:9) inspires deceived ministers (II Corinthians 11:13-15) to preach the diabolical lie that keeping God’s law brings a curse.

2) This verse does not say we don’t have to keep God’s spiritual law. The same Paul who wrote Galatians also wrote, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). Paul also said that it is not the hearers of the law who are just before God, but the doers of the law who shall be justified (Romans 2:13).

What, then, is the curse of the law? (more…)

April 25, 2010

How To Rule The Tongue

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True Christians have their citizenship in heaven and represent/speak on behalf of the Almighty God of the universe. So God wants to teach them to speak like Him.

Many true Christians make mistakes, and “if anyone makes no mistakes in what he says, he is a perfect man able to bridle the whole body also” (Jam. 3:2, RSV). We all make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean these should be our way of life. If each Christian is able to bridle his body, then Christ can rule over the entire spiritual body.

“Behold we put bits in the horses’ mouths that they may obey us: and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whitsoever the governor listeth” (Jam. 3:3-4).

That’s no mean feat. Ships can be guided through waves and storms with a little rudder. Our tongue expresses what is in our mind, and if we can just control our tongue, we can guide our whole being and demonstrate a great deal of character. (more…)

August 7, 2009

Does The Bible Forbid Christian Women From Wearing Jewelry?

Does the Bible forbid women from wearing jewelry? They have heard the teaching that God forbids Christians to wear any jewelry or wedding rings. This belief was the common teaching of the 19th Century, but it has been retained by only a few denominations today. This doctrine stemmed from the principle that because the wearing of jewelry, rings, and other adornments was abused by the world, then jewelry and adornments were sinful of themselves and should never be worn.

However, the Bible teaches that the material things are not sin, but it is the IMPROPER USE of them that is wrong. It is the ACT OF ABUSE, of MISUSE, that is a sin or violation of the spiritual intent of God’s law.

There are two texts in the New Testament relating to the use of adornments for Christians: I Timothy 2:9-10 and I Peter 3:3-5. Neither text specifically mentions wedding rings, and neither passage condemns the PROPER USE of jewelry, as some erroneously suppose.

The apostle Peter wrote that women should not adorn themselves with plaited or braided hair, which, among the Greeks, was a custom in which wreaths and costly jewelry were intertwined with the hair. The biblical prohibition of such a practice becomes plain when one considers that a woman’s hair was given her to be a glory and an honor (I Cor. 11:15). The addition of costly or distracting and unnaturally bulky adornments took away from the natural and intended beauty God imparted to women. However, there is no scriptural prohibition against the use of a flower or other MODEST adornment worn in the hair.

The wearing of gold ornaments and pearls in connection with costly array was forbidden by the apostles. Gold and pearls are not sin, for God sanctified the use of gold in the Temple. However, their great expense was not becoming to Christian women who were to put their treasures into spiritual traits of CHARACTER – which God views as of much greater worth.

The two verses mentioned before contain no prohibition on wearing a moderate amount of relatively inexpensive – but not “cheap” or poor quality – adornments. A string of inexpensive pearls would not violate the principles that the apostle set forth. However, for a woman to bedeck herself with cheap, gaudy objects for VANITY’S SAKE is just as wrong as putting her treasure in expensive jewelry.

The “putting on of apparel” mentioned by Peter is explained by the apostle Paul to include inappropriate or lavish clothing worn for VAIN GLORY. In these verses, the principle is always that women should be TEMPERATE in the expense and taste of their jewelry and adornments, and MODEST in their apparel. The fact that only specific, costly, or unnatural adornments are mentioned clearly implies that the apostles NEVER meant to forbid all jewelry. Since no word is said about wedding rings, although wearing them was a universal practice of that day, neither Peter nor Paul meant to outlaw them. Christians may rightfully wear them.

As absolute proof that Christian women may wear jewelry, Peter says that his description aptly pictures “the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.” Yet, those women wore jewelry! (See Gen. 24:47, 53.) Moreover, Exodus 3:22 shows that God instructed the Israelites to take jewels from the Egyptians and to put these jewels of silver and gold on their sons and daughters. And in Ezekiel 16:9-14, God says that He figuratively bedecked Israel with earrings, bracelets, a crown, and other jewelry.

In summary, modest use of jewelry is not condemned in the Bible; only such use of jewelry as detracts from a woman’s modest character is rejected.

June 24, 2009

Evolutionists Versus Creationists: Who Has The Truth?

2Evolutionists and creationists are at it again! Each claims to have the answer to the puzzle of creation. But does either represent true science or true religion?

Evolutionary doctrine is deeply ensconced in today’s schools as a legitimate part of most science classes. It is no longer presented as an unproven idea or theory. It is presented as fact. When children go to school they are usually taught the theory of evolution as the only intelligent answer to existence. Virtually all science teachers speak about it as dogmatically as though they saw evolution happen. Class instruction is done so effectively that students generally are embarrassed to admit before their peers that they still believe in a Creator God.

But what if creation were taught in schools? Which version would be taught? Could creationists agree on the exact version to include in the school curriculum?

Liberals, calling themselves theistic evolutionists, consider the Genesis account symbolic or allegorical. They would insist that God brought about the creation through the process of evolution.

Fundamentalist groups, often called scientific creationists, are in the forefront of a crusade to free school children from the evolutionists’ firm grasp. They would teach that all creation, including the sun, moon and stars, took place very recently — hardly more than six or seven thousand years ago. They seek scientific evidence to show that the fossil beds and fossil bearing strata were nearly all laid down during a Flood in the historic past. They contend that life forms were separated and arranged into sequential layers by the water’s turbulent action.

The real beginning

However, the Bible teaches that creation took place anciently — “in the beginning.” That when the creation first appeared the angels were so enthralled with its magnificence they “sang together and … shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). That God placed an archangel on earth to administer God’s government in love and concern. He rebelled (Ezek. 28:15-16). Destruction came to the earth. Then God’s Spirit moved upon the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2) and God began to recreate today’s realm. This time he gave mankind (rather than the angels) dominion over the physical creation.

It is obvious that no single version of creation will satisfy this world’s differing religious groups. So, even if creationists were given equal forum with evolutionists, what version would be taught? Even if a compromise could be worked out, who could be trusted to teach it convincingly enough to compete successfully with evolutionary teachings?

Roles Reversed

The problem that we face in education today is just the reverse of that which men faced a few centuries ago. At that time the church sat above the government in matters of education. Few dared to teach anything contrary to the religious dogma because of its backing from the civil government! When discovery or experimentation uncovered facts that were contrary to traditional teachings, the church not uncommonly vigorously repressed them.

When men were finally freed from that oppression in the pursuit of truth, the liberated world assured itself that it would not again come under such bondage. Educational institutions that were once part of the church became a part of the state. It is under state control that most schools now carry out the mandate of teaching future generations what the adult society considers the ideals of life.

The doctrine of evolution, timidly suggested by Charles Darwin, came just at the right time. It was seized upon and promoted beyond Darwin’s wildest dreams. It became instantly popular and has continued to grow in influence simply because it was the nearest thing to a plausible explanation of creation without a creator.

Interpreting the will of the adult generation to be the desire to be free of hindrance from doing what they want to do, educators feel safe only in taking the evolutionary approach. By denying God’s role in creation, freedom to do as one pleases seemed complete. But, there remains a problem. How can one explain the evidence of God’s creation without the Creator?

This is why not all scientists are evolutionists. A significant number of scientists now acknowledge that the magnificent, intricate universe is so extremely well organized and complex that it requires a supreme designer and sustainer in order to exist. Some freely admit that the God of the Bible is the only intelligent answer. A few even worship him in truth.

The question then becomes, not whether to include religious views of creation in the classrooms, but whether evolution should continue to be taught as a scientific theory of origins. Evolutionists know that the question of origins lies outside of the scope of natural science.

You Must Choose!

If you believe evolution, you must believe that man has no ultimate purpose in the universe. But if you believe in creation, you have a unique choice. You can believe you were created to spend eternity in idleness and ease in heaven, or that you were created for a grand purpose — of becoming a son of God (Heb. 1:1-5, 2:6-10, Rom. 8:29). Most creationists thoughtlessly assume the former view. They do not know we humans were born to become sons of God and that our creation is not yet complete!

We are created in the form and shape of God, but out of matter. We are not yet spirit. Before God will complete our creation and give us eternal, spiritual LIFE from his very own person, we must develop godly CHARACTER. Or we would not be fit to be his sons. This is what human life is all about! Evolution knows nothing of it. Most creationists are blinded by their false ideas of Christ and his message and have not understood it.

God cannot create righteous, godly character by fiat. This has been demonstrated by the creation of angels. God created angels as perfect spiritual beings, but some turned sour and chose to do evil (Ezek. 28:14-16, Rev. 12:3-4). Chief among them was the archangel Lucifer.

We humans were created as fleshly beings and given TEMPORARY physical life so that if we turn sour we will not live forever as evil beings. This physical life was made to ebb away and our bodies to grow old and die.

It is in this physical state of existence that God works in a chosen few, now, to build the type of character that is required of sons of God. We have our part, choosing God’s ways and his laws, striving against temptation and resisting the devil and the practices of this world. This, if you please, is the tree of life of Genesis 2:9 and 3:22 that Adam and Eve rejected.

Only those whom God now calls and works with can enter the process of further creation. When God calls us he sets before us the same choice as he set before Adam and Eve. He says to us just as clearly as he said to ancient Israel: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19).

You cannot create righteous character within yourself by yourself. God must do that in and through you by his Spirit, which is his very nature. You must become willingly and wholeheartedly oriented toward God, like clay in the hand of the Master Potter (Isa. 64:8, Jer. 18:1-6, Rom. 9:20-21). You must TRUST him to shape you into what he decides. You cannot start until the Potter singles you out and begins to deal with you.

Only then, if you become soft and pliable through the addition of God’s Holy Spirit, can you begin to be shaped into the CHARACTER of God. If you turn away, to remain lumpy and hard, he will cast you aside and work with other clay.
The ways of God are outlined broadly by the Ten Commandments and are enlarged upon throughout the rest of the Bible. The example of how to live by them successfully and perfectly was first demonstrated by Jesus Christ (I John 2:6), who blazed the trail for all who henceforth will live God’s spiritual way.

When This Truth Will Prevail

One day truth will be taught in all schools. It will be God’s truth as recorded in the Bible. Not false religions of men. It will be truly scientific. It will acknowledge not only the Creator but his laws and his authority. It will teach us all that there is to know about the creation around us; how and why it was put here, and what our role shall be according to God’s exciting plan and purpose.

In that day enlightenment will be so complete that it will make today’s knowledge explosion seem like the popping of corn by comparison! Here’s how it will be brought about:

When Christ returns to the earth to bring the whole world peace, he will come to set up the kingdom of God. It will be a world-ruling empire and Christ will be its “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:6, 16; 20:4). When forced to think about God’s perfect laws of love and happiness, people will become more enthralled with life than they have ever imagined that they could be.

Stubborn evolutionists, confused creationists — and all men alike — will be ashamed that they strove so hard to deny God’s way while they clung to their own folly. What a wonderful day that will be!

Source: The Plain Truth, February 1983

April 1, 2009

How Leaven Pictures Sin — An Important Reminder

The apostles were jolted! First, the sound of a violent windstorm filled the house where they were meeting. Then, almost before they had time to think, glowing flames of fire began leaping upon them. God’s Holy Spirit had entered them, and the power of that Spirit was far greater than the forces of nature they had witnessed.

To their amazement, they could now speak words they had not spoken before. Quickly the news spread — here were men who could speak many languages. Thousands speaking different languages eagerly gathered to hear the apostles. What they heard shocked them. Many were deeply convicted by their guilt in the death of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

A mighty urge to do something stirred within them, and they asked the apostles, “What shall we do?” The reply echoed loud and clear: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Those early Christian converts began something that God’s true Church still practices — baptism for the forgiveness of sin. But how, exactly, should a true Christian deal with sin, both before and after baptism? This question brings us to our subject, the Days of Unleavened Bread.

To understand this Festival and its meaning and application to our lives, let’s go back in history. These days are commanded Because of famine, the descendants of the patriarch Israel ended up in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. There they became slaves (Ex. 1:8-11). Through a series of miracles, God finally released the Israelites from bondage. Among the miracles was the death of the Egyptian firstborn. To protect their own firstborn, the Israelites were required to begin keeping the Festival called Passover (Ex. 12:3-14). For Christians today, this Festival pictures our acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.

Just after the Passover, God instituted another festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread (D.U.B.). This seven-day festival pictured the release of Israel from Egypt (verses 15-17). The D.U.B. were held yearly during Abib, which is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This month corresponds to the time of the Roman calendar months of March and April.

Both the 15th and 21st of Abib, the first and last days of the Feast, are “holy convocations” — days of rest and worship (Lev. 23:6-8). These days are still kept by true Christians today, and will also be kept after Jesus Christ’s Second Coming (Ezek. 43:2, 7, 45:21). This year (2009) they fall on April 9 and 15.

Leaven symbolizes sin During this Festival, all leaven and leavened foods are to be put out of the home and off the property (Ex. 12:15, 13:7). This includes yeast, baking soda, baking powder — all leavening agents, substances that produce fermentation and cause dough to rise.

The products of leaven are bread, cake, some crackers, certain cookies and some prepared cereals and pies. A few candies and other foods also use leavening agents. Of course, there is nothing sinful about these products themselves. Removing them from our homes is merely a symbolic enactment of removing sin from our lives.

Instead of eating these leavened foods, replace them with unleavened products (Ex. 12:15, 19-20, Lev. 23:6). These include matzos, hardtack and a number of flatbreads. But beware: Some foods that are sold as “kosher for Passover” contain leavening agents. If you are in doubt about whether a product is leavened, check the list of ingredients on the wrapper. If you are still unsure, ask someone experienced or don’t eat it. Remember: “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Whenever you eat bread during these days, it should be unleavened.

Far beyond the physical uses of leaven are the significant spiritual meanings. After being jeered at and tempted by the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus said to His own disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). The disciples didn’t know what He meant. Do you? The disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical bread, but He wasn’t. He was talking about the doctrine of the religious authorities, which led people into sin (Matt. 16:11-12, 23:13).

By way of analogy, this leaven of false doctrine has spread through the whole world as a tool of Satan’s deception (Rev. 12:9)! The apostle Paul also used leaven as a symbol for sin. A certain Church member was committing a serious sin and making no progress toward repentance. Paul said this person was like a little leaven that would affect the whole lump — other Church members — with his sinful way of life. The person was put out of the Church. Since Paul wrote to the brethren during the Days of Unleavened Bread, they would have already put out the physical leavening from their homes. Now he encouraged them to put out the leaven of malice and wickedness — sin. He told them to eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth — righteousness (I Cor. 5:1-8).

Sin versus righteousness

When you consider the nature of both leavened and unleavened bread, you can see several spiritual comparisons with sin and righteousness. Let’s notice them:

  • Living in sin is easy; being righteous is hard. Because of its soft texture, leavened bread is easier to eat than unleavened bread. Likewise, going the way of sin is easier than living righteously (Matt. 7:13-14). Obeying God is difficult even for a Christian, because you still have a carnal nature that wants to sin (Rom. 7:14-25). 
  • Sin exalts the self, righteousness builds humility. Leaven puffs bread up. The same is true of sin. It puffs up the sinner — his desire is to exalt himself rather than allow God to rule him (Ps. 10:3). When you choose to live God’s righteous way of life, you abase selfish desires. 
  • Sin’s pleasures are temporary; the benefits of righteousness endure. Leavened bread left out soon becomes hard and moldy. Unleavened bread lasts much longer. Spiritually, the pleasures of sin soon pass away (Job 20:12-16). The end result is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Righteousness, in contrast, brings both temporal and eternal blessings (Deut. 28:1-13, Ps. 15). 
  • Sin spreads easily; righteousness is built slowly. It doesn’t take long for leaven to spread throughout a loaf of bread. This is the way sin is — it spreads rapidly (Gal. 5:9), whereas building right character takes a lifetime. 
  • Sin is based on deceit; truth is the basis for righteousness. What you see is not what you get with a loaf of leavened bread. Air pockets give the impression that there’s more in the loaf than there really is. Sin also appears to be something it isn’t, deceiving the sinner into thinking he is getting something worthwhile when he is only earning the death penalty (Heb. 3:13). With righteousness there is no deceit, only truth (Ps. 119:151, 172).
  • Sin is more prevalent than righteousness. Most people prefer leavened bread because they find its tastes more desirable. Is it really better? Not necessarily — just more common. People are accustomed to it. Spiritually, the same is true. Most people prefer to live in sin. But you must reject sin, and choose to live a righteous life (Deut. 30:19).
  • Sin builds a false image; righteousness builds true character. As you have seen, leavened bread gives a false impression. So does the sinner. He may appear impressive on the outside, but is he? Read Matthew 23:27. True character is based on much more than outward appearance. It involves righteous living based on obedience to God’s Word (I John 2:5). Grow in righteousness 

What God is showing us through the analogy of leaven and sin, particularly at this time of the Days of Unleavened Bread, is clear: He wants you to escape the clutches of sin and lead a righteous life. But how can you eliminate sin and grow in righteousness? The following “three Rs” — recognize, resist and repent — can help.

  • Recognize sin. Can you recognize sin? Many cannot. Why? Most people overlook God’s simple, clear definition for sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4, Authorized Version). 

Discerning sin is a matter of applying God’s law. At the basis of God’s law are the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:6-21). Do you know what the Ten Commandments are? If not, how can you possibly expect to overcome and put sin — spiritual leaven — out of your life? God’s laws are real, working forces that guarantee good results when you are in harmony with them. They were given to be lived and acted upon, not ignored or outrightly rejected!

Beyond the basic commandments, God requires obedience to biblical principles referring to one’s conduct. While some things are not written in the form of a direct command, the underlying principle or spirit of the law is nonetheless just as binding (Matt. 5:17-48, Rom. 13:9)!

Under this category fall aspects of God’s civil laws and statements made by His apostles and patriarchs. Examine yourself, as II Corinthians 13:5 commands, and see how God’s laws expose the “leaven” in your character. Are you REALLY putting God first in EVERYTHING? Are you humbly submitting to His authority? Can you admit when you’re wrong?

  • Resist sin. We have already seen through the analogy of leaven that sin spreads quickly and easily. Therefore you must resist temptation before it turns into sin (Jas. 1:13-15). 

Doing this requires self-control — actively resisting wrong thoughts and replacing them with right thoughts (II Cor.10:4-5): In struggling against sin you may reach a point when you grow so battle weary that darts of self-pity and injustice pierce you. At such times it’s easy to think you’ve done all you can. Don’t be fooled. You can do more (Heb.12:4).

Throughout the Bible we see the number 7 used as a symbol of completeness (Gen. 2:2, Josh. 6:16, Rev. 16:17). In relationship to the Days of Unleavened Bread, the number 7 pictures the complete elimination of sin. You should earnestly strive to eliminate sin from your life (II Tim. 2:19).

  • Repent of sin. Even when you recognize sin and resist it, you will still find yourself falling into sin (I John 1:8). When this happens, what should you do? Strive not to sin, but when you do, seek God’s forgiveness. Upon real repentance — abandoning the wrong way and beginning to live the right way — God promises to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

Some would say not to try so hard — to just rely on grace. But what does God say? “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2). Will you overcome all sins all at once? Absolutely not! Some sins are so deeply and habitually rooted that they may take years to totally overcome. Don’t use that as an excuse to continue, but don’t dismay either. Ask yourself, Am I sinning as often as I once did? Does this sin have as much control over me as it once did? If the answer is no, you’re growing — making progress.

Today the world is in misery because of sin. Yet humanity rejects the very Festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread — that pictures the process that would lead them out of their sins. What about you? Are you going to keep these special days as God has instructed His people to? Will you be learning the many important lessons that the Days of Unleavened Bread are meant to teach you’? If you do work at ridding your life of sin, you will be greatly blessed, now and in the future as a member of God’s Family: “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death” (Prov. 12:28).

 

Source:  The Good News, March 1984, By George M. Kackos

February 22, 2009

Is The Wearing Of Jewelry Forbidden In The Bible?

Some wrongly apply 1 Timothy 2:9-10 to mean that women are not allowed to wear jewelry. But that is not what the scripture implies. Please note:

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” I Peter 3:3 also discusses “plaiting the hair.”

These scriptures refer to a Greek custom of intertwining gold strands through the hair. Today, this could be applied to many of the outlandish hairstyle we see. It has nothing to do with women normally braiding their hair.

Further, neither do these scriptures forbid the use of jewelry. Paul is merely condemning the wrong use of clothes and jewelry, not the items themselves. A woman who places her primary emphasis on her physical attire, while neglecting her spiritual character, fails to grow in humbleness.

Many scriptures such as Exodus 3:22 show that God allowed the use of jewelry, where He instructed the Israelites to take away jewels of gold and silver from the Egyptians and to put them on their sons and daughters. In Ezekiel 16:11-13, God says that He figuratively bedecked Israel with earrings, bracelets, a crown and other jewelry.

So, modest use of jewelry is not condemned in the Bible; only such use of jewelry as detracts from a woman’s character should be rejected. Real beauty is in the heart, and radiates outward in modesty, with proper clothing and jewelry of good taste and quality. This is right and proper in God’s sight and reflects the real jewel, which is a humble spirit, a contrite heart and virtuous character.

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