The Apple Of God's Eye

March 2, 2011

The Death Penalty Versus Euthanasia: One Is Condoned, The Other Condemned

stephenhicks.org

Euthanasia is a hot topic today, and realistically, it is a by-product of 20th century medical success. People who would have died in past times are now kept alive by advanced medical treatments.

Alongside the decision to prolong life, we have come up with  slogans like “the right to die,” “choosing not to suffer,” “death with dignity,” and “doctor-assisted suicide.” These are nothing less than softened expressions which take our mind off what we are really accomplishing! The time-honoured Hippocratic oath upon which the healing medical profession was founded and which in part reads  “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect,” is slowly being discarded in favour of killing people.

What I find highly hypocritical is that the same people who advocate euthanasia will bend over backwards to keep convicted killers alive. Now I know the two issues are separate in people’s minds, as they’ll say one prevents suffering and the other prevents injustice. However, let’s look at the commonality between the two – death at the hand of fellow man.

The Death Penalty Commanded

God, through the Old Testament of the Bible speaks with perfect plainness on the issue of capital punishment: “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Exod. 21:12).

Genesis 9:6 and Leviticus 24:17 also give full authority to those sitting in judgment to execute a murderer. Deuteronomy 19:11-13 commands unsparing punishment for such a killer: “…deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.”

The subject has now been taken up in force by the overwhelmingly anti-death-penalty news media. In the growing national debate, death-penalty advocates are being made to look heartless and uncompassionate.

Let’s ask this fundamental question: Is the God of the Old Testament heartless and uncompassionate? The Bible says that God is a God of love (I John 4:8). So how could a loving God actually command putting someone to death?

Actually, when the death penalty is understood from God’s vantage point, it is one of the greatest acts of love there can be toward society—and the condemned criminal. (more…)

March 25, 2010

The True Meaning Of The Passover

The Passover is perhaps the most important occasion of the year for true Christians, and this is why there is a dire need to understand its true meaning. If our observance of that memorial is off, it can affect the entire holy day season and the entire year.

Many assume that this first service of the Holy Day season (one of the most powerfully symbolic ceremonies in all of God’s plan), represents the forgiveness of our sins, washing our slate clean. But is this really what Passover is all about?  Do we go to the Passover to have our sins forgiven? No we don’t, as the Passover is a MEMORIAL of the crucifixion of Christ. All of our attention should be on the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us and who paid the penalty for our sins (John 1:29). We have to get our minds on our own difficulties, inadequacies, sins and limitations and focus on the price that was paid for those sins. If we do that right, we will realize how vile those sins are, that they costs the life of our Creator.

The symbol of the broken unleavened bread during Passover (I Cor. 11:23-24) reveals that Christ’s  body was broken for us so that we can be healed and raised to eternal life, as well as having our physical bodies healed in this degenerate world. He would take those physical penalties Himself so that we can have life more abundantly. So He gave His body to be broken and smashed. We have to focus on what the Lamb went through, so that we can be healed.

All in this world have earned only the death penalty. As Christians, we cannot bring these sins into the family of God. He cannot have the dross of bad character – self-will, impatience, self-trust – in His family. Christ made it possible to put those evils to death, so that we can live. If we break the law, we can have the opportunity to repent. So Christ died for us. (more…)

December 21, 2009

Do Christians Become Dead To The Law By The Body Of Christ?

What did Paul mean in Romans 7:4, when he said, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God”?

Notice carefully what Paul said. He did not say, “The law is dead.” He clearly said, “Ye … are become dead.” The law of God did not perish. But the people became dead to the law by the body of Christ.

Verse 5 helps explain it. “For when we were in the flesh” — that is, before we were converted, and while we were living according to the pulls of the flesh — “the motions of sins, which were [manifest, revealed for what they were] by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.” Thus, when we were yet sinners, we were worthy of death in God’s sight, having transgressed His holy law.

“But now,” Paul explains in verse 6, “we are delivered from the law” — that is, from the inexorable death penalty of the law. Christ paid it for us — in our stead. The law of God no longer claims our lives, “that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

While sinners, we were worthy of execution. But, now, Paul says, we are dead to the law — that is, the penalty of death has been paid by another, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us. So far as the law is concerned, the penalty is paid — we are dead, in Christ — and there is no further date with death for us, if we continue to live in Christ.

This verse in no way says the law is done away. It merely shows that Christ paid the penalty of the law for us. He died for us. We are dead with him (Rom. 6:3-4). No longer does condemnation await us (Rom. 8:1), because we are also made spiritually alive with Him through His resurrection (Rom. 6:4-5, 11).

No longer, then, are we in a sense married to sin, the way of the flesh, but we are to be “married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead [in newness of life], that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4).

So rather than doing away with the law of God, Rom. 7:4 actually magnifies the effect of the law on the life of the Christian.

March 17, 2009

Is The Law Of God Abolished In The New Testament?

Do the scriptures of Col. 2:14 and Eph. 2:15 describe the law of God being done away with, as so many believe?

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col. 2:14)

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph. 2:15).

First, it should be understood that the word “ordinances” in these passages does not refer to God’s laws. It is translated from the Greek word “dogma” and refers to HUMAN LAWS AND DECREES — the “commandments and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22).

These human ordinances included both the restrictive pharisaical decrees burdening the Jews and the ascetic, oppressive ordinances of “touch not, taste not” bound on the gentiles of Colossae.

Both sets of human ordinances contributed to feelings of prejudice, animosity, suspicion, and separation between the Jews and gentiles who were being called into God’s Church. These ordinances acted as a “middle wall of partition.” But, Jesus abolished that barrier through His supreme sacrifice: “For he [Christ] is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14).

In Paul’s day, many newly-begotten Christians continued to suffer from the burden of their former teachings. For example, at the Temple there was a literal wall which separated the court of the gentiles from that of the Jews. Death was the penalty for any gentile who dared pass it. Some converted Jews found it difficult to forget and change that deeply-ingrained part of their lives. It affected even Peter. See Galatians 2:11-12.

On the other hand, the gentiles were under the sway and influence of pagan philosophers, with their restrictive rules. Colossae was known for its ascetic society. The pagans judged their Christian neighbors for their freedom in eating the various meats ordained by God, for drinking wine, and for keeping the weekly and annual Sabbaths in the joyous manner prescribed by God. Ascetics were taught that they could receive release from their guilt by doing penance — through abstinence, fasting, and even self-inflicted punishment.

All such practices had no spiritual power or benefit, and Paul spoke out against these human standards and judgments: “Beware lest any man spoil you through [human] philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). Christ came to pay the penalty for all our sins — to release us from the penalty of death incurred through sin and to cleanse our conscience from all guilt.

Christ abolished the ascetic ordinances of the gentile philosophers as well as the Talmudic traditions, which all were yokes of bondage. He did not do away with any part of God’s law. In fact, He made it possible for both Jew and gentile to become spiritual Israelites, the children of God (Gal. 3:26-29), so they might live together in freedom WITHIN His perfect law (Jas. 1:25). He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17).

Yes, to fulfill, to observe, to keep — to set us a perfect example as to how we ought to live. We are to “walk, even as he [Jesus] walked” (I John 2:6). The apostle Peter wrote that Christ left “an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:21).

God’s law is good and for our benefit: “Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever” (Deut. 4:40).

Jesus Christ did indeed do away with the ordinances of men, but the law of God is binding on us more than ever. We are to keep it in the spirit as well as the letter. Jesus said, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17).

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