Instructions from God

Part of a series of articles on living in covenant with God

The translated word law in the bible actually is the word torah and means instruction.
The law was given only to the jewish people who were in a covenant-relationship with God.
This doesn’t mean that God’s laws don’t apply to all people.
(anyone could join the Jews btw)
Many other nations received judgements from God throughout history because of grave sin but He only gave his written instructions to the people of Israel.
This showes me that the laws God gave were actually a sign of his involvement with people.
It was not about a God that wants to subdue us with sheer power.
He could do that without giving us commandments by just overpowering our will and turning us into robots. Puppets on a string that have no will of their own.
He did not have to give us laws anxiously hoping we would obey them. Like tyrants might do.
He doesn’t gain a sense of selfworth and power by our obedience.
He already is all powerful and does not need our submission to be reminded of that.

So what are these laws about?
I believe it’s all about relationship.
God’s laws are actually his instructions on how to live in love, peace and harmony with each other.
They are spiritual principles that teach us about cause and effect.
They are given to enhance our lives and not to oppress us and to limit our joy but rather to increase it and to protect us from hurt.

When God made a covenant with the jewish people He was all in.
Fully intending to protect them and give them the instructions they needed for their well-being.
The same goes for us today.
Many of the laws God gave to the Jews don’t apply to us because many were symbolical and were fulfilled when Jesus came to the earth. Yet they still have meaning to us if we look at them closely at the background of the gospel. Then we can see the meaning of them and even can get a clearer understanding of it.
Other laws God gave them were timeless though.
They still apply to us today.
We need to study the bible and ask the Holy Spirit for understanding to discern which laws still apply and which were symbolic and don’t need to be literal carried out anymore.
However many jewish people still perform some of those rituals which can be a powerful reminder of what they stand for.
But it’s not a mandatory commandment anymore to obey them.
Also without having accepted Jesus these commandments (laws) have little meaning and become empty rituals.
The laws that you can be assured of to still count are the ten commandments but there are more.
It’s basicly the laws about moral living that still apply to us today.
(So not the laws about sacrifices, food and clothing.)

There is one huge difference though between the old covenant the Jews had with God and the new covenant we now have with him.
You see to for the Jews it was mandatory to strictly fulfill every law in detail in order to be in right standing with God.
In a sense this hasn’t changed. (keep reading to the end)
Righteousness still needs to be done fully in order for us to be accepted by God.

Read “Justice and forgiveness” about why this is important.

However just as the Jews were not able to obey them all neither are we.
Not because the laws were difficult or unreasonable but because it’s not possible to walk in God’s ways, to obey his instructions, without having him living inside of you.
He is our ability to do good, to be just.
We were not made with the ability to be righteous without him.
Thankfully God now considers all righteousness to be done through the death of Jesus.

The covenant the Jews had with God was based on 2 things: laws and blood.
Because God knew the people were not able to fulfill all his commandments (laws) He provided a solution to atone for their sins.
Now the blood may offend people but life is in the blood.
Therefore blood had to flow in order for their sin to be atoned for and forgiven.
Yet the blood of animals could never atone for the life of men.
That’s why Jesus, who became a man, had to die.
The sacrifice of animals was a foreshadowing of the life that Jesus would give for them.
In a sense all God’s instructions had to be done for them to be in rightstanding with God because the sacrifices were part of those instructions.
But as you can see that means that the covenant was still based upon the mercy of God.
It was not possible to become righteous through obeying laws.
You can only obey all God’s laws if you ARE righteous.
Now that’s where the difference between the old and the new covenant comes in.
When we accept Jesus sacrifice for us, his death in our place, God not only forgives us our sin based on the atonement through Jesus’ blood, but He also gives us his Holy Spirit inside of our spirit.

“ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26

The blood of animals could never make us clean.
We could never become the abiding place of the Spirit of God without being thouroughly cleansed first.
That’s what the blood of Jesus did.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

John 1:29

When we accept Jesus sacrifice and accept him as Lord over our lives we become so clean through Jesus’ blood that the Holy Spirit now attaches himself to our spirit and we become a whole new person.
Our spirit, which is the core of our being, our essence, is now made righteous through unity with God himself.
We can’t become holy (righteous) through striving hard to do everything right.
We become holy through unity with God.
And that enables us to live righteous and obey his instructions.
We still have to make the choice daily to obey him.
We still have the ability to sin.
We still have free choice.
But now that choice is truly free.
Because now we are not slaves of sin anymore.
Now we are able to live righteous if we live from a place of being connected to God.
Holy living is still not something we can do on our own.
It comes through living in daily relationship with God.

We have to choose to believe that we are now righteous indeed in order to apply this gift of righteousness God gave us.
The bible calles this “putting Jesus on”. Like clothing.
You don’t automatically stop sinning when you become a believer.
You have to intentionally put your trust in Jesus as your righteousness and not only as the One that forgave your sin. That’s only half (or less) of the gospel (good news).

Many believers never have gotten any further than receiving God’s forgiveness.
However the good news of the gospel is not just that we are forgiven of our sin, but that we are delivered from it.
Since sin always leads to destruction and is like a sickness that prevents us from living life fully the way God intended it for us to be.
Sin actually makes you a slave because it’s addictive and it takes away your free will to choose the way you want to live. When you start doing it you’re not able to stop doing it anymore.
Unless…unless Jesus sets you free.
That’s exaclty what the gospel is about.
Jesus did not come to limit our fun by giving some more instructions.
Because that’s what He did.
He actually gave us even more instructions than the laws the Jews already had.
However He showed us that it’s not about doing rituals on the outside but about loving from the heart.
And that’s what the whole law is about.
About how to live in love.
When God gives you a new heart you don’t have to anxiously strive the rest of your life not to break his instructions.
With the new heart comes a new desire and we’ll actually WANT to obey him.
Living righteous becomes our new nature. It’s flows from who we now are.
It’s the fruit of our faith. Not the requisite.

To be continued

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