Tag Archives: Law

Psalm 119:113-120 Samekh – Prop, Support

Psalm 119
113 I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.

Right >§§§> Left

I love your law but I hate double-minded people.  I have put my hope in your word; you are my refuge and my shield.  May the commands of my God keep me away from you evildoers.  According to your promise, I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.  Sustain me, my God. I will always have regard for your decrees.  Uphold me and I will be delivered.  Their delusions come to nothing.  You reject all who stray from your decrees.  I love your statutes, all the wicked of the earth you discard like dross.  I stand in awe of your laws, my flesh trembles in fear of you.

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Props and supports are for the crippled.  Sometimes things have been broken so badly only medical traction can help. “Medical traction is the use of a pulling force to treat muscle and skeleton disorders. Traction is usually applied to the arms and legs, the neck, the backbone, or the pelvis. It is used to treat fractures, dislocations, and long-duration muscle spasms, and to prevent or correct deformities.”

This prayer the Psalmist wrote centuries ago sounds way too familiar to the reality of life at this moment doesn’t it?  I’m looking for the “ס Samekh” he’s revealed that can support and prop us up against double-minded people, evildoers, dashed hopes, delusions and the wicked of the earth…today.  Right now our nation is badly crippled by political violence, racial unrest and a pandemic raging around the world.  In one small word, “ס Samekh,” the revelation of God has shown the Psalmist the law is more than a pair of crutches or a wheelchair.  God’s law is spiritual traction for a broken body.  

The Psalmist has told us the love of God’s law is a force that can pull the muscle of the heart back into order.  He’s recorded what God taught him through the law.  God is a refuge and shield that can correct the skeletal disorders of a body fractured, dislocated and having spasms that will surely lead to permanent deformity.  We are a body in need of spiritual traction.

God’s law is the spiritual traction necessary to sustain us and yet we are unable to set it up for ourself.  Jesus is the “promise” of God [v116] and the fulfillment of His law.   He is God’s “ס Samekh” that will provide the spiritual traction God has prescribed for the complete healing of His body in the midst of double-minded people, evildoers, dashed hopes, delusions and the wicked of the earth.  Amen

Likeness

Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. NASB

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This week an interesting discussion about the word “likeness” became the catalyst for fresh look at Romans 8 and part of a previous Advent post from 2015.  We all know what the “Law could not do.”  It couldn’t change us and even those first two people couldn’t manage to obey it.

“What a surprise to find myself in my favorite chapter from the whole Bible for my Advent reading today.  If you remove the “religiousity” factor of laws you have to admit we can’t live without them.  We need laws to create order and some level of security in our society.  I’ll bet I’m not the only one that’s broken some of them: ever rolled through a stop sign?  That’s an easier-to-swallow version of “weak as it was through the flesh” to own up to.  Now that our minds are in the right place maybe we can face the issue of “sinful flesh”…and “in us.”a   

Eden was where “weak as it was through the flesh” became a reality.  There was only one law but the bad choice to violate it was where the separation between man and God began.  [BTW that’s not unlike that stop sign.]  The amazing truth of Advent is God chose new birth to fulfill something that one “first” law was unable to accomplish.  

Advent is pretty dramatic evidence of the second time God created perfection for all mankind to experience.  The birth of Jesus revealed God’s determination to redeem and replace what had been lost in Eden.  This time perfection was a person, not a place.  That first Advent God chose a baby, His Son…God with us…Jesus, to restore His own “Image” within “the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.”  Advent is our annual reminder that Jesus is the reality of God’s promise to unite the likeness of our sinful flesh with His own Image “in us.”

a Click here to read that original post

The Third Chapter – Galatians

Galatians 3:23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.  24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. NLT

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“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law…until the way of faith was revealed.” Protective custody comes with a handy list of rules that are both restraint and relief.  Sometimes it’s a relief to have that list to check your spiritual position and at other times those rules only feel like a prison sentence.  

The way of faith has been revealed.  Restraint served it’s purpose and obeying rules did provide some relief and comfort, but…  We’ve been released!  Released from that protective custody for a greater purpose: to be “united with Christ,” and each other! 

Christ alone is our promise of blessing and redemption from a life sentence “under guard” to this sentence of life: “I have been crucified with Christ.a

a https://readandponder.com/2015/06/29/to-life-2/

Proof!

John15:25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ [ESV]

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The reference to “is written in their Law” without a footnoted citation left me searching commentaries to unravel the obscurity of that phrase.  Here are some notes I made searching for clarity that became my food for thought.
• Jesus as command-giver vs mankind as command-keepers
• fulfilling the law through merit or mercy
• divine destiny
• finally this quote from an obscure commentary by Philip Schaff “The very law of which the Jews boasted, and into which, from imagined reverence for it, they were continually searching,—in that very law they might see themselves. In such a connection of thought might it not he [Jesus] be called ‘their law’?”

√ The first note I checked off without question was, of course, the divine destiny of Jesus.  That is a foundational tenet of our faith as Christians.
√ Then I went on to considering the difficulty of yielding to a command-giver when you’re a command-keeper living in a highly merit-based system.  That is a foundational dilemma of human nature.
√ Finally the quote from Schaff reminded me of this foundational truth from Jesus himself in Matthew 5:17
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” [NLT]
Proof: ‘They hated [Jesus] without a cause.’

aPhilip Schaff (January 1, 1819 – October 20, 1893) a Swiss-born, German-educated Protestant theologian and a Church historian who spent most of his adult life teaching in America.  He also served as president of the committee that translated the American Standard Version of the Bible, though he died before it was published in 1901

The Firsts: I Timothy 1 – Victory

MSG 8-11 It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, lif, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.

This is probably the toughest “first” chapter so far for me.  I struggle with the use of the law.  I want to understand the law as a standard for correction that results in the victory of restoration not a cattle-prod of control but when push comes to shove that’s pretty hard to live out. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “hate the sin but love the sinner.”  That’s the ideal.  That’s easy to believe but that’s also where all the confusion about the use of the law comes into play.   

I found this quote in a commentary: “The demands of the law exceed our ability, and the knowledge of our sin that comes from these demands leads us to repentance.”  That quote revealed some truth to me about my use of the law.  My limited ability to understand the use of the law is as big an issue for me as it is for that sinner.  The reality is the sin the law reveals in someone else has an impact on me.  My response to the law and that sinner makes their sin my issue.  God has planned for the law to correct the sinner, but wait…there’s more.  The revelation of their sin that’s meant to lead their sinful heart to repentance and the use of “that moral guidance and counsel needed” that  “exceeds” my ability…is meant to change my heart too.  The law is not “us versus them.”  Repentance for the inability of my heart to empathize with the needs of another heart is the victory God desires from His law.  Lord, work that victory out in me too please.

Customer Service Agent

NLT [New Living Translation] Romans 7:9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, 10 and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. 11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

I bet you’ve had the experience of speaking with a customer service agent at some point. Hopefully you weren’t speaking to me all those years ago when I was supposed to be a helpful assistant to a frustrated caller. The law is like a good customer service agent. That’s what came to my mind when I read this passage from Romans 7. There’s help available whose purpose is to supposed to solve a problem but a successful outcome depends on who you talk to.

My story is a perfect example of v11 “Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me.” I answered the phone, I obeyed the rules of the job, I was concise and I was accurate in what I said. The end result having done everything that was required of me was I hung up from that call proud I had so politely put that caller in his place. “So I discovered [and so did that poor caller] that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.”

The law is a really good customer service agent.  The right agent who gives concise and accurate help that’s all explained in the user manual [the Bible] can solve a lot of frustrating issues about operating a life in obedience to Christ.

Obedience of the Heart

Romans 2:13 Hearing the law does not make people right with God. It is those who obey the law who will be right with him. 14 (Those who are not Jews do not have the law, but when they freely do what the law commands, they are the law for themselves. This is true even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences. Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong, and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.)

It was only when I pasted these three verses into my digital journal that I noticed the close parenthesis at the end and realized the enclosed explanation was twice as long as the sentence it was clarifying. That simple fact seemed like a Biblical object lesson for me to think about.

Being right with God is more complicated than just knowing what the law is. Obeying the law isn’t a matter of separating the have’s from the have not’s at all.  Instead, God makes a connection to what he’s written in the heart. “They [those who do not have the law] show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands.”

The object lesson: “Right with God” is the complicated relationship between being obedient to what the brain knows about the law and the obedience of the heart desiring to freely respond to it.