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What Was to Become of Holiness?

11 Dec

If circumcising the gentiles, i.e. requiring that they become Jews, is not the answer for holiness within the Body of Christ, what is? As I claimed in my previous blog-post, what was at stake in the Jerusalem Council was “…nothing less than the superiority of Jesus Christ as our Mediator over of the Law.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize, that once the gentiles began believing in Jesus, what was once an exclusive Jewish movement/church would become a predominantly gentile body. The Jews looked to the Law to tell them what sinful behavior was, and thereby sinful activity could be reasonably held in check if not avoided. What do gentiles, coming out of an ungodly pagan tradition, have to help them recognize sin for what it is?

This was the concern of many Jewish believers at Jerusalem, and it was certainly the concern of the false brethren (and others of the same group tracing the steps of Paul in Cilicia, and Paul and Barnabas in Galatia) who came to Antioch and taught the believers there that gentiles ought to be circumcised (Acts 15:1-2; cp. Galatians 1:6-10). Josephus tells us that at least some in Judaism who preached to the gentiles taught that the outward act of circumcision could be omitted as long as the spiritual significance of the rite was realized; i.e. as long as the gentiles practiced Torah faithfully, addicting themselves to obedience to God (Antiquities 20.2.4), but this opinion was not shared by the majority of Judaism, for even a liberal such as Philo of Alexandria believed that the outward rite of circumcision was necessary for all Jews and proselytes (Migration of Abraham, chapter 16;  89-94).

Therefore, if the Law was removed from the obligation of a believer in Jesus, what would become of holiness, knowing that gentile believers, coming out of the pagan tradition, could not be expected to know what sinful behavior actually is? The answer, of course, is in Jesus’ two commandments of love. Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love everyone else as we love and care for our own person (Luke 10:27). This is what Paul taught (Romans 13:8, 10; Galatians 5:14; 1Corinthians 13:1-13), and James the brother of Jesus (James 2:8); it is what Peter taught (1Peter 1:22), and it is what John taught (1John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12).

The fact is, only God, working within his people, could ever make a Jew righteous; and only God could bring a gentile pagan, who is completely ignorant of God and what he expects, into his Kingdom of the righteous. The Law has failed in this regard. While it certainly can point one to righteous behavior, it could only condemn those who were not perfectly obedient. So, it is by God’s grace that we are saved and not through our behavior. Our behavior is a fruit of the grace of God and his Spirit working in the believer. We are not perfect, but Jesus, whose we are, is perfect. He is the Vine and we are the branches. We may have to be trimmed (read disciplined) that greater fruit could be born out in our lives, but if the fruit is good fruit, then the Vine and the branches of the Vine from which the good fruit comes must be good, as well. Therefore, if the Root is holy, so are the branches

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3 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Gospel, Holy Spirit

 

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3 responses to “What Was to Become of Holiness?

  1. Robert-preneur

    December 13, 2012 at 00:10

    Hi Eddie
    Your’s is one of the excellent blogs I’ve nominated for Blog of the Year. Please visit my site so you can see the other blogs and the rules for nomination. I appreciate your blog very much. God bless.

     
    • Eddie

      December 13, 2012 at 08:08

      Robert, greetings, and thank you so much for your encouraging remarks. From time to time I read others’ blogs, and have run across some really great looking blogs that also have something very interesting to say. I usually ‘like’ the blogs I read and comment on a few that have especially given me some new insight into a controversial matter or one that I thought I knew well enough before reading that person’s blog.

      I am always embarrassed, if I am singled out in a crowd for the purpose of appreciation. I especially don’t believe my blog should be considered as a ‘blog of the year’. I’ve seen much better looking blogs than mine. I use the free version with common templates etc. I am also an uneducated person. We have spoken about the public discussion boards in earlier comments. Folks with a really good education are always better at expressing themselves than I am. Though I put a lot of thought into both my comments and my blogging, I am easily outclassed by an educated person who takes issue with something I say. Even if I believe I am correct—and I don’t believe I am always correct as my comments will show—I often make a poor show of it, but this is especially apparent when discussing with an obviously educated person.

      I don’t mingle well with people, not because I don’t want to, but because I lack the gifts and social skills that I see in most people, and this is not an issue of education. It is just one of those things that is apparently lacking in my personality. I was very backward as a youth, and to this day I have few friends—not because I don’t like people (I do), but I just don’t know how to ‘mingle’. I see and admire the ease at which others do this, but I find it lacking in me. I am terrified of trying to change the status quo, probably because I hate being embarrassed and falling on my face while making the effort. That is probably cowardly, but it is as clear and as honest as I am able to describe myself and what I see as my limitations.

      I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your encouraging thoughts of me, but I don’t believe I can participate in the ‘blog of the year’ contest. I hope you understand.

      Lord bless you,

      Eddie

       
      • Robert-preneur

        December 13, 2012 at 17:26

        Eddie you are truly humble. But it’s not a contest. It’s just a way for bloggers to share special appreciation with each other for the impact they’ve made on each other’s lives. And I definitely appreciate you brother. God bless.

         

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