The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law. Jeremy Bentham
Imagine a person from a country outside of America. This person began sharing why he believed America was not what it claimed. This person would say that, in America, it is illegal to sell a firearm to American citizens and references 18 U.S.C. 922(d)(1) as proof. Imagine this person also saying that according to 18 U.S.C. 922(g), American citizens are not even allowed to be in possession of firearms.
He goes on to say that even the states contradict the freedoms claimed by America. He quotes section 2001(b) of the California Election Code and claims that in California, American citizens are not allowed to participate in elections. Imagine how many American citizens in California would be confused by this statement since they both own firearms and vote. Would this person be lying? In fact, these are very real laws. So, the question we have to ask is, “How do we reconcile what we know to be our American rights with these laws that this person cited?”
“How can you claim to be a free country if you are not allowed to own a gun or even vote?” asks the skeptic.
We’ll get back to his in a bit.
I often hear people make similar accusations of Christianity. They ask why Christians pick and choose certain laws to keep, and certain laws to ignore. They will often cite Old Testament passages and ask why we don’t stone a couple for pre-marital sex as prescribed in Deuteronomy 22:23-24, or why Christians eat pork when it is condemned in Leviticus 11:7-8. It seems, to these people, that Christians are either commanded to keep unreasonable laws or they are hypocrites for not following them. In either case, their argument is that true Christianity is not what it claims.
To be fair, I think that many Christians find themselves wondering the same thing.
The laws brought up by the first individual are as real as the laws found in the Bible. They do exist. The problem lies in trying to apply them to the wrong people. You see, the federal and state laws, mentioned above, are real, but they are specific to those with a felony conviction. They do not apply to every American citizen. They apply only to those people who are under censure for breaking the law.
The same goes for the laws found within the Old Testament. Most of them are not for Christians, but rather, are for those who are under censure; and just as a pardon removes the yoke of these federal and state laws, so the pardon that is given by Jesus removes the yoke of the Mosaic laws. Paul wrote:
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:5-6 NASB)
The fact is, it is false to believe that the Bible commands any Christian to keep the Mosaic Laws literally. The very essence of Christianity is that we are under grace, and thus free from the law. Confusion about this is caused, ironically, by our ignorance of the scriptures and Spirit behind the law—the motives of God. It is further exasperated by our incessant need to pursue legalism over purpose. Jesus makes it clear that purpose is, really, all that matters:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)
Sometimes Christians fall back toward legalism and the commands become all that matters. So, they begin chanting them, enforcing them, and even pressing for them to become secular laws as well. Legalism causes us to forget what grace is; even to miss the love of God, from which that grace was born. When we forget the purpose, we cannot understand how to apply the laws found in the Old Testament. What is worst, is that when this happens, it becomes obvious to the non-Christian, who then begins the process of improperly citing Old and New Testament laws to prove that Christianity is not what it claims.
It is the responsibility of the Christian to know how to properly apply the messages found in the Bible. For this to happen, the Christian must read the Bible. More than that, the Christian must study its words in humility, proper context, and with honest consideration. The Christian must understand the importance of loving God and neighbor before applying the law. Only when we do this will we be able to enlighten the confused unbeliever—or the confused Christian. 😊
What are you doing to ensure that you properly apply the commands of the Bible and give clear witness to others?
Grafted by His Grace,
Pastor Raul Granillo