"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Romans Part IV

If you want to start at the beginning of this series, click this.

In my last post, Honor The King, I was specifically focused on the problem of people using Romans 13 in two inappropriate ways.  First, to suggest that we have to show honor and deference to evil rulers, and second the idea that we have rulers in the United States. Darn it; I didn't use John the Baptist as an example either.  I need to go back and update that post.  John, cousin of the Messiah, very publicly condemned Herod for committing terrible sin.  Herod was illegitimate as a king over Israel, and everyone knew it.   Jerome Corsi has recently published a book that proves that the current usurper at Pennsylvania Avenue is just as illegitimate as president.

Call me a "birther" all you want to.  The real idiot is someone who can't distinguish truth from fiction.

The purpose of this post is to pick up from where I left off in the complete study of Paul's letter to the congregation in Rome, for the express purpose of seeing if he ever said that we don't need to keep Torah any more.  I had gotten through chapter eleven and all I can discern so far is that he was making it clear that the Law of Moses has a purpose and we have no reason to disregard either the Torah or Messiah's admonition that He never came to abolish the Torah, or the prophets.

Paul was explaining that the pattern holds from the earliest time.  First Adonai saves us through his mercy and grace.  Being a God of order and righteousness, He requires that restitution be made, but He makes it Himself.  However, he expects us to then live our lives according to His rules out of gratitude.  We establish that the law is true and good.

So we now pick up the study of Romans at chapter twelve.  Paul is urging the brethren at Rome to make their bodies a living sacrifice as a spiritual form of worship.  Why does he write this?  Because all good Jews know that God commanded that the only real physical sacrifices could be made at the Temple. God made it clear when he showed Moses the heavenly Tabernacle and told him to construct it on earth, that man would no longer be allowed to sacrifice on his own terms anywhere he wanted to.  Why is this important to Paul's discussion in the letter?

After the diaspora of 600 years previous, many Jews had not returned to the land of Israel, either because they couldn't or wouldn't, but they were still aware of the prohibition of not offering sacrifices on their own. The rabbinic teaching became that the closest thing they could do to sacrifice  would be to study Torah.  Quite sensible, since John's gospel begins by telling us that Yeshua and the Word are one and the same.  The rabbis alluded to this for centuries before John wrote his gospel.  The sages taught that Torah was eternal and that Adonai created the universe through His Torah.

While Jews living in Rome had long understood that they could not offer sacrifices outside of the Temple system in Jerusalem, Roman gentiles had been living under the old pagan way of offering sacrifices to any or many gods, whenever and wherever they chose.  Accepting this Jewish Messiah was a radical departure from what they were used to.  Paul wanted them to understand that even though they might not be able to sacrifice in the traditional way, either because they couldn't go to Jerusalem to the Temple or because even if they went there, if they weren't circumcised they couldn't enter the Temple proper, in order to offer sacrifices anyway.
Therefore, Paul gives them specific instruction on the kinds of things they can do that serve as spiritual sacrifice.  That is essentially all of chapter twelve.

Most of what I have to say about Romans chapter 13 is contained in my post, Honor The King.  Click on the title and go read it if you haven't done so.  As for the rest of the chapter, I've seen the summary of verses 8 through 10 get horribly abused in the church.  How so?  Because most Christians have this amorphous, undefined, laissez faire attitude about what it means to love their neighbor.  I've heard some of the worst gossip and backbiting go on in churches under the guise of praying for people. I've had Christians have me bid on jobs and then expect a huge discount below an already fair price.  That one gets me because it assumes that I would charge a lot more money to a non-believer, or that I charge too much for my services, period.

I see people who claim to be proud Christians doing things all the time because it is the "accepted" way of doing things as far as the world is concerned, but they never stop to ask if it meets God's standard of loving their neighbor.  This is why studying the Torah and applying the standards to our behavior is so important.  Even after we come to Messiah and repent, accepting salvation, we still have a fallen, fleshly, selfish nature that we have to struggle with every day.  It requires us to study and contemplate what God requires as the standard of love.  It's not about our feelings.  The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) might nudge us in the right direction, but the Bible is full of admonitions to study and learn the Word.  For whatever reasons of God's choosing, He doesn't just inject it into our heads or download it like an autoexec.bat file.

And the admonition is to study the WHOLE Bible.  You can't make a proper judgment of what a few isolated Scriptures mean and how they apply unless you have a real working knowledge of all the Bible.  And since there isn't a single human being walking the planet who can accomplish all that, we are admonished to gather and fellowship with other believers.  God created us to be social animals.  And while I can agree with temporary sabbaticals on occasion, I can find nothing in Scripture that approves of living a sheltered monastic lifestyle.

Maybe the next post will wrap up this study of Romans.

Shalom Y'all

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