A New Kind of Modesty

Andromeda:  Textile Macro

Andromeda: Textile Macro by cobalt123, on Flickr

I walked down the high street of Cork, my head down, my ears dulled, and my heart aching. The atmosphere of the world washed over me like a warm wind laced with acid. I felt miserable. Every view my eyes beheld had an immodest diva as the centerpiece, framed by sensual suggestions. My stomach churned. I hate shopping. A strange glimmer of something caught the attention of the corner of my eye, and I glanced up. My eyes locked, and I smiled.

A girl. A real girl. Long hair. Long skirt. Subdued dress. Tastefully adorned. Probably homeschooled. Definitely Christian. Very pretty. At least to me she was. She might not be garishly redone and pimped like an android from Venus, but she was clean and wholesome. The sight of her refreshed me to no end as she walked through the teeming crowds of the world’s charms.

The winds of fleshly temptation blew about me unheeded; the heat of devilish suggestion beat upon me unnoticed. God had sent an angel to refreshen me in my battle, and even when she had gone, my heart was renewed, my eyes were alight with resolve, and my smile remained.

-a generic retelling of an all too infrequent occurrence in my life

Oooooh…! Jay is looking at girls!” I hear you say.

Yup. I do that.

Go ahead and gasp all you like; I am not apologizing. I want to talk about this. I want to encourage young ladies like the one described above (who I have never yet met, though I think I have seen the same one a few times here and there) in what they are doing. And to encourage those who aren’t, to start.

Please note what I saw in this girl: her outside features. All I could see was her clothing and her head. And yet I was inspired, encouraged, lifted, strengthened, and exhorted. How was that? The answer is pretty simple actually:

Clothing is a part of language.

Honestly, it is. It is a part of language just like body language or speech. This has been true as long as there have been clothes… in fact the first occurrence of clothes in the Bible (and in the world for that matter) emphasized this fact (Genesis 3:7-21). This quality of clothing is inescapable.

So what did this girl’s clothing say to me?

I am a Christian. I serve God with my heart and my body. I yield my personal desires to His requests. I seek to please Him in all I do. God is glorious, and worth serving. God has changed me. I am not beat down or trampled on: I am living joyously and full of life. I want to save myself for marriage, and I want to help you do the same. Live for God.”

Nice little sermon there, huh?  And that is why her appearance was like a drink of refreshing water straight from the fountain of life: she was glorifying God. She was pointing straight to Him. And His presence was there in that, blessing both her and me. And that was what gave me strength.

Of course I hear you saying, “But what if she doesn’t believe those things? What if she isn’t trying to say those things?” Well, the answer is rather obvious: there is a miscommunication. *grins*

But it doesn’t matter very much to me. See, if someone accidentally says they hate me, and I forgive them, it makes no difference to me than if they had really meant it and I forgave them. I react the same, and I am right to do so.

If someone gives out Bibles in an attempt to go undercover and subvert, destroy, and otherwise attack a church, those Bibles are not blocked from helping people. Lost may still become saved through his efforts, even if he didn’t mean it.

So it is with clothes. Whether you mean what they say or not, they still say it.

Therefore we all ought to take heed to what we wear to make sure we are saying the right thing.

Now, as with learning any language, there is a lot involved. Thankfully the Bible helps us out a ton in figuring this out (believe it or not, the vast majority of the language of clothing is not cultural, but built into us by God, and laid out in His Scripture). Unfortunately, there is also a ton of controversy on every single standard of communication that is in the Bible. Go figure. Lexicology is tough.

I want to focus on one particular part of this, though: adorning.

Leaving aside the standards of modesty, femininity, and cultural significance (assuming we are at least reasonably in agreement on those, though it would be surprising if we were), of course, because those would take a looooong time to go through.

I want to examine two passages in the Bible: 1 Timothy 2:8-10, and 1 Peter 3:1-5. This will be an exercise in hermeneutics, so hang with me. :)

Here is the first:

1 Timothy 2:8-10 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

And the second:

1 Peter 3:1-5 Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your
chaste conversation [coupled] with fear.
3
Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God,
adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

It is good to take these two in context with each other, since they are talking about the same topic, to a similar audience, in related contexts, and thus act as commentaries on each other.

There are two key words that tie these passages together (among other things of course): Conversation and Adorn.

Conversation means your way of life, plain and simple. 1 Peter actually mentions this word twice, and additionally uses the concept at least 3 times. 1 Timothy does not use the word, but uses the concepts around three times. The theme of these two passages is actually not really clothing, but your lifestyle in general.

This is what I was talking about just a bit ago: these passages are teaching us how to communicate godliness through our actions, including our dress.

Adorn is the important word. It is used in both passages, and provides the key to interpreting them.

ADORN’, v.t. [L. adorno, ad and orno, to deck, or beautify, to dress, set off, extol, furnish.
1. To deck or
decorate; to make beautiful; to add to beauty by dress; to deck with external ornaments.
A bride adorneth, herself with jewels. Isa 6.
To set off to
advantage; to add ornaments to; to embellish by any thing external or adventitious; as, to adorn a speech by appropriate action, sentiments with elegance of language, or a gallery with pictures.
3. To make
pleasing, or more pleasing; as, great abilities adorned by virtue or affability.
4. To display the
beauty or excellence of; as, to adorn the doctrine of God.

Webster's 1828, of course.

According to Strong's, every Greek and Hebrew word translated as 'adorn' in the Bible has the same definition presented here: to make beautiful by decorating.

With this definition, we are immediately presented with a logical problem.

1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

So, at first glance, this would say that women are not supposed to braid their hair or wear gold or… wear clothes?

Then you think, oh, right, it says ‘adorn’ not ‘wear.’ Therefore we aren’t supposed to decorate ourselves with those things.

Which means women are not permitted to put anything on them which would make them beautiful. Even worse, they are not allowed to put anything on them that will make them not ugly (otherwise it would adorn). In which case the Muslims got it right. :P

This view is untenable, not because of the Muslims, but because in other parts of Scripture, women are commanded to adorn themselves for their husbands… with jewels (which would defeat the purpose of this verse entirely, with this interpretation at least).

An example:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh [himself] with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth [herself] with her jewels.

Another interpretation is that they shouldn’t wear clothes at all, which is, ahem, obviously not the right one.

These are the interpretations you get if you look at only this verse. The only way to understand it correctly is to look at the context.

1 Peter 3:4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

The wearing of ornaments is not contrasted with drab apparel, but with a different adornment: good conversation. This is born out also in the sister passage in 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

And if you look at the example that Peter gives, it becomes even more clear (isn’t it great how the Bible interprets itself?):

1 Peter 3:5-6 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Notice how it didn’t praise Sara for dressing in a bland and ugly fashion, but by pointing out her beautiful spirit.

And that is the point. This passage is exhorting women to make sure that their primary adornment is that of their spirit. If their clothes outshine their conversation, then that is not a good testimony.

They are saying the wrong thing.

Yes, women can wear gold, jewelry, braids, and even quality clothes fit for a princess of the King of kings; as long as their soul, their walk with God, their good works, their faith, their meekness, their sobriety, their shamefacedness, comes forth with yet greater splendor. In fact they must shine forth to such a degree that those are the things that people see first and talk about.

Ezekiel 16:8-14 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
10 I clothed thee also with
broidered work, and shod thee with badgers‘ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.
11 I decked thee also with
ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
12 And I put a
jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
13 Thus wast thou decked with
gold and silver; and thy raiment [was of] fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy
beauty: for it [was] perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.

This is the word picture that God used to describe His redeeming work in Israel’s life, and ultimately, in our lives. God would not have used this word picture, which describes in fascinatingly vivid detail putting costly array (and even gold) on a girl, if He disapproved of those very things.

The focus of these verses is to exhort women to make sure their conversation outshines their adornment, not to forbid women from wearing gold or braiding their hair (etcetera).

This true interpretation is born out in the definitions and usage of the words in the context of 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 2:9 …that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.

Shamefacedness is easy: it is the opposite of ‘bold’, very close to ‘shy’ or ‘bashful.’ They do not put themselves forward.

Sobriety does not exclusively refer to the absence of drunkenness: it means “Habitual freedom from enthusiasm, inordinate passion or overheated imagination; calmness; coolness; as the sobriety of riper years; the sobriety of age.” Again, reserved, not putting yourself forward.

Modest really doesn’t only refer to sexual chastity, that is actually not even the primary definition. Webster has practically a sermon in his two definitions on this subject (‘modest’ and ‘modesty’), and I wish I had the space to quote it all here, but I am sure you have noticed that this post is fast becoming a book. But here is a snippet:

Not bold or forward; as a modest maid. The word may be thus used without reference to chastity.

Almost enough said, but I can’t leave without quoting this gem (pun intended) found at the end of Webster’s definition of modesty:

In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.

He likes to wax eloquent, doesn’t he? :) But the point is made well.

God wants us to be beautiful for His glory, just like a flower, or a waterfall, or a sunset glowing over the horizon of the ocean.

But we have been given a great gift that God did not give to these things. Above and beyond this sort of beauty, God has given us the capacity to radiate His splendor through our actions and our spirits.

And that is the mark of a child of God, when we do that.

P.S. I want to link to another post on this subject by a good friend of mine, Mrs. Parunak, on her blog Pursuing Titus 2. We don’t disagree on much. :) But we do happen to disagree on this point, and her article, in fact, inspired me to write this one. Mine is a bit longer, though. :P I am not here to refute her at all (though I do welcome her to comment and let me know what she thinks, and if I missed anything). The only reason I am linking to her article, is because she does a great job presenting the contrary view.

http://pursuingtitus2.com/2010/09/07/you-might-need-to-take-a-deep-breath-for-this-one/

Rebellion and You

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
Image via Wikipedia

What is rebellion?

First, why do we care? That question is easily dealt with:

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

Proverbs 17:11 An evil [man] seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

Jeremiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.

Remember that both rebellion and witchcraft were punished by stoning in OT Israel. Ouch. So… what is rebellion then?

Of course you know where I am going to go to find out, don’t you? :)

Yup, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.

Open resistance to lawful authority.”

That is the short bit, and all we really need here, but the rest is very cool too, so check it out if you are interested. [http://1828.sorabji.com/1828/words/r/rebellion.html]

The only proper (meaning ‘approved by Jay’) shift of meaning that has transpired since Webster’s writing of this cogent definition is a variation of use which allows for rebellion to occur covertly, rather than openly. One may have a rebellious attitude that remains sequestered within your breast, and never sees the light of day, and yet remains truly rebellious in the sight of God.

(One could argue that this sense still retains the quality of openness, since all things are open to God. But if you take that into consideration you might as well strike it out of the definition anyways since all things are open and thus it ceases to be a defining factor.)

On to the next word.

What does it mean to resist?

To stand against; to withstand.”

To set yourself against something means that you are out from under it. You cannot be submissive and rebellious simultaneously. Thus rebellion is a rejection of authority.

Ah, but not just any authority.

Lawful authority.

I think that little word there, Lawful, is the most important word in that definition. I believe that is so because of this simple fact that it makes true:

You cannot rebel against unlawful authority. It simply cannot be done.

This ties directly into Romans 13:1-2.

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

The message of this passage is very clear and simple: Authority only comes from God. And so to resist lawful authority (rebellion) is indeed resisting God just as much as if you spit in His holy face or committed witchcraft.

Because of this powerful fact, we must be very careful. Why? People claim to have authority over us constantly, and by thereby demanding obedience of us they are claiming to be the ministers of God. Whether or not they think they are claiming this is irrelevant.

The Bible is very very clear that we are all equal, and equally at liberty from the control of others, except where God has specifically delineated an authority figure to perform a specific function.

These authority figures are defined and instituted by God for our good. That is His created order: for us to submit ourselves to these authority figures. I cannot go into all of the different ones here (that is a matter for many books), but I do want to point something out:

If an authority figure steps outside of his jurisdiction and exerts control that was not given him by God, he is sinning. And by definition, he is sinning against someone (or more than one someone). This does not mean that we ought to revolt (notice my word choice: we can’t rebel against him, since he isn’t exerting lawful authority, we can only revolt) against him, though. Generally we ought to merely yield (give up your cloak, turn the other cheek, etc.). There are very few situations in which the Bible commands us to revolt, resist, and overthrow unlawful authority. Most of the time we ought to pass it by.

Realize this though: your parents are your lawful authority, and their jurisdiction is far reaching. Their authority surpasses and supersedes the authority of every other ordination of God. That means that if your pastor tells you to do one thing, and your father tells you to do another, you obey your father. Period. Full stop. No questions, no buts, no hesitations, no qualms.

Realize also that even if your parents tell you to do something that you consider to be sin (like for example not going to church, or not wearing a headcovering, or going to public school, or reading a secular book on the ‘Sabbath’ day (I am looking at you Elsie Dinsmore)) in the vast majority of cases, you ought to obey. Even if they are not saved. (Especially if they are not saved, depending on how you look at it.) This passes the responsibility for that action onto them, and God will bless you in that deed.

Why do I say this? Wouldn’t God say that you aren’t rebelling since it isn’t their jurisdiction?

Because God commanded us to do it. Do a study of 1 Peter 3:1-6 and ask me about it in the comments if you don’t see it.

Controversial issue, I know. But those who know me know that I don’t shy from those. * smile * There are a lot of facets that I haven’t covered (such as when parental authority ceases to be binding), but I will save those for another time and another post.

What do you think? How do you think you should change your life in light of this study? In particular, what do you think about how you are treating (and thinking about) your parents? Are you rebelling against them in your heart or in your actions by simply not yielding to them with all your heart?

Go Kill Yourself

I really hate myself.

I really do. I do stuff that is just plain evil. I seek after the wrong things. I do things that are utterly unpleasing to God. I am so far from God’s desire for me that it isn’t even funny. Every time I try to do right I don’t make it. It seems like everything I do is a waste a lot of the time because I simply am not doing it for God but for myself.

Bleach. Why don’t I just kill myself? I mean, that is what the Bible says, right? Paul said he ‘dies daily’ and that we are ‘dead to sin.’ The Bible also says that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, so why bother keeping it? Why not just go to heaven and cash in on that great and glorious body that doesn’t sin?

Yes, I do feel like that sometimes. I honestly do. Quite a bit actually.

But it is wrong. And you know it is wrong.

God loves us unconditionally, and He has a plan for us on this planet, even while we struggle daily with sin. That is clearly stated many times in the Bible, and we need to turn to those Scriptures when we feel down about our sin. We need to realize God’s glory in our lives.

But I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding underneath that attitude that is not commonly addressed as wrong, and which, I think, is actually commonly taught and promoted by godly pastors and teachers.

That is sad. And I want to address it here if possible.

The Bible talks extensively about the Old Man. It also talks about the New Man. It talks about our Flesh. It talks about the Holy Spirit. It talks about a lot of things. But how are these particular things connected?

Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him,] that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

So that is pretty clear, right? Our flesh is bad, really bad, and it needs to be as good as dead to us. Really dead. Seriously dead. As dead as we can make it. That means that anything that pleases our flesh ought to be completely cut out of our lives and treated as an abomination to God, right?

I mean, that is what the Bible says over in Romans 8:13 that “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” And then if you throw in 1 John 2:16 (“For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”) it becomes even more obvious. Our fleshly bodies are absolutely horrendous things, incapable of doing anything good or liking good things.

Actually not that simple.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Oh.

God wants… our fleshly bodies to be alive? And not only that, but somehow they are supposed to be holy and acceptable unto God! It almost sounds like we are talking about two different fleshes here.

That is because we are. We are talking about the Old Man and the New Man. Or, as we could also put it, the Old Flesh and the New Flesh.

To see this we are going to take a little trip through some parallel passages in Scripture.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We have seen that one already, but I want you to focus on the key phrases highlighted in bold, and keep them in your mind as we go on.

Ephesians 4:22-25 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Okay, I want you to notice the parallels between the mentions of renewing of your mind, and between the connection implied thereby between the Living Sacrifice and the New Man. And now we can continue this series with:

Colossians 3:8-12 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new [man,] which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

There is an obvious equivalence between the New Man and the Living Sacrifice, especially when you stack these passages up. And in connection with that is an equally obvious fact that the Old Man and the Flesh is the same thing.

So what does that mean?

It means that our flesh doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Think about it: God made us with bodies. He invented pleasure. He invented our flesh. He made its desires to be the way they are.

But He made them for a particular purpose: to be a Living Sacrifice. He designed us to live in submission to His Holy Spirit (which is the power that makes us able to obey His Word and become like His Son), so that the flesh does not serve itself only, but rather, Him.

A Living Sacrifice. We trade allegiances, and that makes our flesh into a New Man.

And suddenly passages like 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 make more sense:

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God wants our flesh to become like the flesh of Christ: wholly submitted to Him. So what does that mean for us, today? It means that we don’t just kill the Old Man, our flesh: we need to resurrect our flesh as the New Man by the power of Christ.

Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:

We can stop being miserable with our Old Flesh, and start living in victory with our New Flesh. Our ‘fleshly’ appetites are not our enemies… when submitted to Christ and His glory.

So, does that make sense? How do you see this affecting your daily walk?

Red and White Hearts

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Rebuke not an elder, but entreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

I was going to use the above verse to talk about how we ought, as young men, to treat our sisters in Christ. But when I began to examine it for my discussion, I noticed something that I had never before noticed, and which at first sight renders it unusable for my purpose (and for the purpose that most people quote it for).

Most of the time you hear the last bit quoted all by itself (not good practice). So we forget what we are supposed to be doing with the younger women in all purity. I always assumed it was everything, until I looked at the whole verse (Yes, I know, bad Jay for forgetting to read the whole verse until now).

The context is that of rebuke. We are not supposed to rebuke those we are not in authority over, but rather entreat them in various ways depending on who they are. Treat them all as family: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters…

But wait: there it is again. The other three types of people are just given a role to model your entreaty after, but the younger women get an extra instruction: “with all purity.”

Now, this is talking to Timothy, not to, say, some girl named Deborah or Ruth (or whatever), so I would assume that the reciprocal is also true: young women are to entreat young men as brothers in all purity. I see no reason to not assume that, so this would apply to both genders.

Now think about it: if we are to treat them with purity when we are entreating them to change their ways to conform more closely to the Bible, then how much more ought we to treat them with purity in every other form of interaction with them (or in our communications about them)? Truly, when you are entreating someone to change their ways, there are many pitfalls into which one can easily fall and hurt both you and the other person, and so this injunction is well placed. But I see it as also setting a standard which applies across the board in our interactions with our peers (age-wise) of the opposite sex.

So what does it mean to treat them as a sister (or brother) in all purity?

The word ‘purity’ there is hagneia, meaning the quality of cleanliness, especially chastity. It comes from hagnos, which means innocent, modest, perfect. So let us take the two key words here and turn to Webster’s 1828 (with unrelated definitions removed for the sake of brevity):

CHASTE, a.
1. Pure from all unlawful commerce of sexes. Applied to persons before marriage, it signifies pure from all sexual commerce, undefiled; applied to married persons, true to the marriage bed.
2. Free from obscenity.
While they behold your chaste conversation. 1 Pet 3.
3. In language, pure; genuine; uncorrupt; free from barbarous words and phrases, and from quaint, affected, extravagant expressions.

PU’RITY, n.

2. Cleanness; freedom from foulness or dirt; as the purity of a garment.
The purity of a linen vesture.
3. Freedom from guilt or the defilement of sin; innocence; as purity of heart or life.
4. Chastity; freedom from contamination by illicit sexual connection.
5. Freedom from any sinister or improper views; as the purity of motives or designs.

So we have here an absence of any sinful motive or action, and especially absence of any sexual connections.

These are pretty obvious, but in practice they can get pretty elusive. Both genders immediately start foaming at the mouth with questions about this situation and that situation, can I do this, or is that too far, etc. It makes your head spin.

But there are several things that are very simple that we can derive from this passage and these definitions, and then use those as principles to apply to our ‘sticky situations.’

One – We ought to treat people of the opposite gender differently.

That should be obvious to all of you. If it isn’t, and this comes as a shock, go read those verses again, as well as the first few chapters of Genesis, and if you still don’t get it, come talk to me.

How are we to treat them differently?

Therein lies the rub. The answer to this question used to be almost as obvious as the fact that girls and boys are different. But culture has blurred the lines so much, and the church has followed suit so ably, that everyone is very confused. It is very hard now to find a mentor who is able to tell you the right answers to your situations. But they are worth finding, and worth the effort. So my answer here is mainly: Go get a good mentor. Other than that, just hold on and be patient– I might drum up some advice for you before this article is over. :)

Two – We ought to be unselfish in our interactions with people of the opposite gender.

Again, this should come as no surprise (all these principles really ought not to surprise any of you actually). But again what this means in practical life becomes blurred because of our worldly culture. A lot of guys go and ‘unselfishly’ lay their heart at a girl’s feet (or vice versa) and then wonder later (after both their hearts get hurt or broken) why I say they were selfish (amendment: disgustingly selfish).

Three – We ought to be devoid of sexual… everything in our interactions with people of the opposite gender (or any gender :P ).

That includes our thoughts and our communications with others about people of the opposite gender (we already knew that too).

Now here is where I can start giving advice (I love giving advice… I wonder why?). :)

Nowadays, love is so mixed up that people cannot separate it from everything sexual. This is opposite to the Bible’s way of thinking. You are supposed to love your sisters and brothers very closely, without any tinge of the presence of any sort of sexual connotations. And everyone else too (one of these days I need to post a rant on homophobia…).

And here is where the title of this post comes in: White and Red Hearts.

This is how I separate these two kinds of love. Now, when you get married, you are commanded to have both hearts involved: red and white. Before you get married, you are commanded to have the white heart, the heart of purity, for everyone.

They are both hearts, but one is fired with sexual and possessive passion, the other only with unselfishness. When you can separate these two, life gets simpler… until things get confusing again. :)

What are your thoughts? Did that make sense? How do these two hearts look in real life?

What is the Gospel?

A lot of people normally go to 1 Corinthians 1-4 to find out what the Gospel is.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

And it seems like a good place to go: it says that Paul is declaring the Gospel here.

But what they seem to not notice is that the passage does not end there: it ends in a colon. And the passage continues for two more sentences after that:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Now, there is the Gospel. And if you do not include that specific order of appearances you are not preaching the true Gospel, and are in danger of heresy.

Ah… no. :)

This passage is telling a condensed history of the crucial things that Jesus did. It is also giving evidence to prove to the hearer’s mind that what he is saying is indeed true.

So what is the Gospel?

Well we can turn to another passage that purports to answer that question.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

What is the Gospel: it is the power by which God saves those who believe in it…

Jesus.

That is really the only thing in common between this passage and the other: Jesus. So now I can tell you what the Gospel is in one word: Jesus.

That also means that by yielding to Christ in us, conforming to His image, and doing as He would do, we are proclaiming the Gospel.

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Our ‘good works’ are the fruit of faith and of the Spirit: Christ shining in us.

And in that sense, every Christian ought to proclaim the Gospel from midnight to midnight, from noon to noon, from rising to rising, from setting to setting, from birth to death, to everyone and everything that we have any influence on, with no fear, with no compunction, with no vicissitude, with no compromise.

Heretical Lexicology

Greetings,

“Thou believest a falsity! An heresy in truth!!”

“Thou art a heretic!”

Them thar are fightin’ words for most folks, but ought people to get so durned tied up aboot ‘em?

I want to talk about the two above phrases from a lexicological point of view. To do this, let me first present to you a scenario:

Jenny tells you that google changed its name to topeka.

You find out that google did not change its name to topeka.

Did Jenny lie to you?

There are a few possibilities.

  1. She was knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  2. She was told the truth but misunderstood it.
  3. She was told the falsehood by someone who knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  4. She was told the falsehood by someone who was told the truth but misunderstood it.

So she was either lying, or she was mistaken (in her information or her sources), pretty much.

A heresy is something that disagrees with what God says in His Holy, inspired Word. Simple.

Webster’s 1828:

HER’ESY, n. [Gr. to take, to hold; L. haeresis.]
1. A fundamental error in religion, or an error of opinion respecting some fundamental doctrine of religion. But in countries where there is an established church, an opinion is deemed heresy, when it differs from that of the church. The Scriptures being the standard of faith, any opinion that is repugnant to its doctrines, is heresy; but as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of christians, may be deemed orthodox by another. In Scripture and primitive usage, heresy meant merely sect, party, or the doctrines of a sect, as we now use denomination or persuasion, implying no reproach.
2. Heresy, in law, is an offense against christianity, consisting in a denial of some of its essential doctrines, publicly avowed and obstinately maintained.

There is quite a wide range of definitions there, but you will see how I have gleaned my simple definition (for this context) from it.

Now, it should be obvious by now that the two original statements are by no means equivalent.

If I say that you believe in a heresy, that does not mean that you are a heretic: A heretic is someone who teaches heresy. Just like a liar is someone who propagates lies. The difference is that a heretic can be a heretic mistakenly, whereas a liar cannot.

A heresy is an error. A mistake. (Most of the time.)

A lie is not an error: it is a deliberate falsifying of truth.

A heresy can be a lie, but it is not always a lie.

Another key point to point out is that you cannot be outside a group, and be a heretic of that group.

In other words, you cannot be a pagan, and a heretic at the same time. This is the only way that the word makes lexicological sense. If you remove the word ‘heretic’ from its current definition, making it equivalent to ‘pagan,’ there is nothing to replace it.

Also, ‘heretic’ is not insulting in the least. And saying that you believe in a heresy is even less so. It is merely a statement of disagreement over doctrine.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

An Examination of the Lexicology of Theocracy

Me: “I believe that the Bible should be our foundation for discerning how we ought to influence government.”

Someone-else: “You are advocating a theocratic utopia!”

Me: “Ummmm… No.”

The above exchange is all too common, unfortunately, to be more than slightly humorous to me. I get that response all the time, and it is, to be honest, rather aggravating. :P

Many people have evinced a desire to understand what a theocracy really is, and as I am tired of trying to say the same thing over and over again, I thought it would be handy to answer the above response once and for all. (And put the debates all in one handy location. ;) )

But that is rather hard to do, because it really isn’t a response at all, but a knee-jerk reaction. However, the word Theocracy has a lot of varying connotations, and as they all have a profound lexicological bearing on Godly government, I believe it is worthwhile to discuss them.

As with any word that you want to find the best definition for, I will of course turn to Webster’s 1828 for a Biblical definition:

THEOC’RACY, n. [Gr. God, and power; to hold.] Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed. Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example. The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.

This gives me a very good place to start my study. The modern dictionaries and common usage has watered and perverted this definition until it is practically unrecognizable, and lexicologically useless (except to throw at someone to annoy them). Getting back to the above definition would be a major improvement in the current state of our language, and also a major help in discerning God’s will for the formation and influence of government.

There are two rival definitions that are prevalent in usage today (other than the correct one).

One is used by a group of eminent (but with whom I passionately disagree with on several vital and foundational issues other than that of the definition of theocracy) scholars who call themselves theonomists for the most part.

The other is merely a ‘label.’ A word used for attack, rather than refutation. This form is so perverted and weakened that it carries just about as much weight as the ridiculous word ‘speciesist,’ which term is used to label someone who thinks that humans are (oh horror!) better than any other species of animal. In other words: pointless, useless, and meaningless. This is the term used in my opening exchange, and which really merits little more than what I am saying right here: ignore it. :)

There are, in fact, three groups of people who use the word Theocracy (other than the group that is right, of which I am a proud member, hehe).

The first are those people who use the word Theocracy correctly, and assume that I want to institute a nation in replica of OT Israel, complete with stonings for idolatry, adultery, and cursing your parents (with the possible exclusion of the ceremonial laws, whichever ones those might be).

The second is a group of people who believe that we shouldn’t use the Bible at all in government (on various grounds, all of which are wrong and heretical, and I will mainly point these people to 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The third are the theonomists, who at first with me that we should use the Bible to determine government, assuming that I intend to do what the first group fears I will (although they call it by a different name). In other words: these people want me to institute a nation in replica of OT Israel, complete with stonings for idolatry, adultery, and cursing your parents (with the possible exclusion of the ceremonial laws, whichever ones those might be).

I am now going to refute all of the above at once by explaining why I believe that we definitely should not try to replicate the OT government (whether or not you exclude the ceremonial laws). My reason is very simple:

Israel was not only a theocracy, it was the only true theocracy that ever has existed, and ever can or will exist (outside of heaven, but that is a different topic).

The theonomists (from what I can tell) claim that every nation is a theocracy, if any is, and deny that Israel was any exception to the rule. They point to such verses as Daniel 2:21 (“he removeth kings, and setteth up kings”) and other similar verses to show that God has sovereign rule over every nation equally, and that to assert that He has more rule over Israel than over any other nation is lessening His sovereign power. Needless to say, theonomists are for the most part Calvinist, which makes it hard to debate them on this issue.

They are in part right (every lie has a bit of truth). God does remove kings, He does set up kings, He does guide the course of the nations, He does punish nations that give themselves over to abominations (every major nation that has accepted homosexuality, abortion, and like sins have ceased to exist within a few generations from that point).

But God did not orchestrate and lead Hitler to slaughter his millions. He did not order terrorists to attack the World Trade Center. It was not His will for any of these things to happen, any more than it is His will for any person to go to hell (although they do), or for the deaths of hurricane Katrina (although they still died), or for the thousands of innocent orphans of Haiti to have the troubles they are having (although they are).

All these things are our fault, because of our rebellion, our sin. Our world is cursed by sin. (For more info on that, see Answers In Genesis.)

But.

God did rule directly over the OT nation of Israel before the Monarchy.

Look at Webster’s definition (that he got from the Bible): whatever Israel was before the monarchy, and was not afterwards, that is what a theocracy is.

Theocracy is a state of government like a democracy, a monarchy, a republic, or even socialism.

The word is from two Greek words: Theos and Cratos: God Rules. Democracy is where the people rule (also aptly called mobocracy by the American founding fathers and me). A monarchy is where a king rules (there are elected monarchies, hereditary monarchies, etc.). Theocracy is where God rules.

That was what Israel was. It was the first and last true theocracy.

Judges 8:22-23 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

God instituted a unique system of government for Israel. There was a hierarchy of officers, captains, princes, and elders, and above all those was one man: the judge (there were of course other judges, but this was the judge). So far it looks like a monarchy (rule by one man). But that is not what God thought. And neither did the Israelites.

1 Samuel 8:4-5 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

They wanted a king so that they would be like the other nations (in direct defiance of God’s covenant with them for them to be unique and separate, which we will get to).

1 Samuel 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

They were not merely requesting a change of human leadership (“they have not rejected thee”) but a change from God’s theocratic system of government for a monarchy (“they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them”).

So how did the theocracy work?

Deuteronomy 17:8-10 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, [being] matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment:
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:

If your local judges and Levites are unable to decide a controversy (not matters of doctrine, but matters of judicial law), the parties involved go to the temple, to Jerusalem, the seat of the government and of God. There they bring it before the judge and the priests. What do they do? They use the holy oracles of God to get the answer straight from Him who sees all, is the law, and who is perfectly just. That is why…

Deuteronomy 17:12-13 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

Disobedience is punished by death (even if the original matter was small). That is because it is flagrant and direct defiance of God’s Word spoken to you directly. That is unique to Israel, and cannot be implemented with impunity in a NT government situation. True, we are commanded by God to obey the government (true government), but we are even more strongly commanded to obey our parents (in our youth). You aren’t committing a capital crime if you disobey your father just once (even under the OT law). This is just one of the many instances where Israel’s unique, theocratic situation deeply affects its criminal law.

Now, why was Israel a theocracy, and how did it become one?

Very important question, glad I asked it for you.

Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that [are] upon the face of the earth.
7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:
8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

There is the ‘why,’ plain and simple.

Deuteronomy 7:12-13 And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only [ye heard] a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, [even] ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

This is explained in several parts of the law, that the ten commandments were the core of the covenant between God and Israel. They bound themselves to obey them on pain of death. Several, were of course, already a part of the role of government (thou shalt not steal, etc.). Others were already sins (thou shalt not covet, etc.) Yet others were rather new (remember the Sabbath to keep it holy). But this law became assimilated into the government system of Israel (punishing covenants is part of the role of government), and therefrom sprang laws making actions that are abominations to God capital crimes.

This is why we cannot merely extract the ceremonial laws and implement the rest. We cannot replicate that covenant: it was initiated by God, and relied on the oracles that are now gone by.

We can do a few other things to learn about government from OT Israel though (you can learn tons of other things from it as well, of course). Such as, because we know that God kept the laws of Israel based off of the normal, unchanging, role of government (with some additions), we know that if a law wasn’t in OT Israel, we definitely shouldn’t implement it nowadays (a law in principle, not the exact application).

There are lots of verses that could be added, supporting my above conclusions, but I will spare you the necessary repetition. I will, however, conclude with a series of passages conclusively setting the OT Israel in its unique and unreproducible status.

Exodus 34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do [them;] for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation [is there so] great, who [hath] God [so] nigh unto them, as the LORD our God [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for?]
8 And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

(Notice that the other nations did not say “Why don’t we do that too?”!)

Deuteronomy 4:31-38 (For the LORD thy God [is] a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and [ask] from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been [any such thing] as this great thing [is,] or hath been heard like it?
33 Did [ever] people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go [and] take him a nation from the midst of [another] nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he [is] God; [there is] none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he showed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou [art,] to bring thee in, to give thee their land [for] an inheritance, as [it is] this day.

(Notice that the purpose of Israel was not to convert other nations to its form of government, but to drive them out and destroy and decimate them.)

Deuteronomy 5:3-4 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, [even] us, who [are] all of us here alive this day.
4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,

This theocratic covenant was even unique to a particular time period in Israel’s history. It started at Moses, and ended at Christ (isn’t that interesting?).

This is only one plank out of 8 foundational principles of theonomocracy.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Gifts Differing: A Very Dangerous Topic

Greetings,

I am going to be studying two parallel passages with you. The goal is to explain how God gives gifts to people, and also about a specific calling that He gives to some people.

The two passages are Romans 12:3-8 and 1 Corinthians 12 (1 Corinthians 13 and 14 are considered as well). The calling is the one of evangelism.

1 Corinthians 12 begins by specifying a topic and a purpose: to help us to understand spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts,] brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

For the sake of time, I will start at verse 4 (although there is much that is fascinating in 2-3).

1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-14 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

God gives different places, roles, and skills to His different servants and people. He has different things that He needs them to do, and He has different ways for them to do them. One person might be doing the same thing as someone else, but he may need to do it a different way than that other person. This is good and right.

Notice that I am not saying that God puts arguments, strifes, differences of doctrines, and variant beliefs in His body. No, He is against these things (2 Corinthians 13:11, Philippians 1:27, Philippians 2:2, 1 Peter 3:8). I strongly believe in absolute truth, and I believe that people are wrong about a lot of things (including myself). We are to resolve these differences in love, without compromising God’s Word and Doctrine.

But we do have different tasks, different ways of going about those tasks, and different priorities. Different skills, different callings. This is ordained by God, and for His good pleasure.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

1 Corinthians 12:15-27 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing? If the whole [were] hearing, where [were] the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where [were] the body?
20 But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:
23 And those [members] of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness.
24 For our comely [parts] have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that [part] which lacked:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but [that] the members should have the same care one for another.
26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

We ought to never seek to elevate our own position, calling, or task above those of others. Period. We need every one of us, each doing exactly what we are each supposed to do. There are a couple key words in the above passages: ‘particular’ and ‘severally.’ These both have a similar meaning, that is, “to each his own,” private, separate. We each have our own task, and our own goals, and if we each seek God, we can each find exactly what God wants us each to do.

Now, that seems all rather obvious, doesn’t it? Very plain, very forthright. I believe God did it that way on purpose, because He knew how much trouble we would have with it. :)

Why is it that we still tend to connect the concept of following God’s calling with going into full time supported ministry in the church or in a mission field or something like that? Pastors continually extol the virtues of ‘going into the ministry’ and how it is the best job anyone could ever have.

…not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think…

…the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee…

Why do we not rejoice as much over someone learning that God wants him to go into web design (or whatever), as when we find out that he has been called to become a full-time pastor?

Pastors and missionaries live off of the offerings of the rest of the people of God. As such, that class of people cannot possibly make up much more than about a tenth of the total Christian population. So are the other nine parts destitute, and unable to give full glory to God?

If the whole body [were] an eye, where [were] the hearing?

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.

Realize that I am not bashing ‘the’ ministry at all. I am merely pointing out that it is not the only way to serve God, and not everyone needs to be in it.

So now we come to the hard part of my article, the one that will make a lot of people very mad at me (I expect it to, but I hope it won’t).

Evangelism.

Yes, I am going to say that there is more than one way to evangelize. There are tons of ways to do it right. There are some ways that are definitely wrong, and it is very easy to do it wrong, and actually mess up people’s understanding of the gospel so much that they are desensitized to it. This is very possible, and it happens on a massive scale all over the place. But there are also lots of ways to do it right: you just need to learn how. (For the record, most tracts do it the wrong way, which is why we rarely use tracts in our family, because we can’t agree with or promote what is in them.)

But that isn’t really the main point I am getting at.

Not everyone is an evangelist.

Not everyone is called to give the gospel.

Now watch and listen and put that steam back inside your ears: you might get a concussion carrying on that way! :)

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“But what about the great commission?” you say. Here it is:

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world.

Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

So, Jesus sent His apostles into all the world to preach the gospel, teach, and baptize them. He also calls many other people to do this. Some people say that because Jesus obviously wasn’t talking to just those particular people, He therefore must have been talking to everyone, but this is a blatant logical fallacy. Just because a group is not one set in a larger group, does not mean that group must therefore be the whole group: it could very well be a different set.

And notice this: the great commission includes the order to baptize. And yet…

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

This is Paul, the same one who said:

1 Corinthians 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

Even the great commission itself has different parts for different people! And it doesn’t apply to everyone in the first place, but merely to those who are called to those particular tasks.

The sad thing is that many people try to make others guilty if they do not hand out gospel tracts frequently, or if they do not share the gospel actively. They say that you must not care about people going to hell if you don’t share the gospel with them.

The answer is no. We do care. We care very much. But that doesn’t mean that we feel that it is incumbent upon us to step outside of God’s calling for us to do someone else’s job (although we do it sometimes, we don’t set aside our own calling to do so). Besides, the fact is that every Christian who lives a holy life is, in a very powerful way, sharing the gospel. He is showing forth and being a witness for the glory of God. And living that way can get God’s glory into many places that no other method will. It is very effective, and a very necessary part of the body of Christ, despite what some people try to say against lifestyle evangelism.

Romans 12:6-8 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

Pray Without Ceasing… Really?

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray(4336) without ceasing(89).

[Is this saying that we ought to be praying every moment, or that we ought never to stop praying regularly and consistently?]

Strongs Greek 4336
proseuchomai — pros-yoo’-khom-ahee — from 4314 and 2172; to pray to God, i.e. supplicate, worship: — pray (X earnestly, for), make prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray(4336) ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

[First of all, this is a broad sense of the word 'prayer.' It includes both supplication and worship. Thus, it would be possible to 'pray' in a sense by your every action that is dedicated to God. However, it is never used in this sense, and, when you can tell, it always seems to refer to an actual speaking to God.]

Strongs Greek 89
adialeiptos — ad-ee-al-ipe’-toce — adverb from 88; uninteruptedly, i.e. without omission (on an appropriate occasion): — without ceasing.

[Notice the phrase 'without omission.' The explanatory parenthesis also gives the impression that this is talking about consistent meeting with God, and not every-moment-of-every-day.]

Strongs Greek 88
adialeiptos — ad-ee-al’-ipe-tos — from 1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of a compound of 1223 and 3007; unintermitted, i.e. permanent: — without ceasing, continual.

[Intermittent (by Webster's 1828) means to 'utterly cease at intervals' (paraphrased). Therefore, this still maintains the possibility that we ought to be regular and continually consistent in our prayers, but not necessarily every moment. One can go farther, and the etymology bears this out, but going too far back puts you on shaky ground in hermeneutics.]

Romans 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing(89) I make mention of you always in my prayers;

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering without ceasing(89) your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing(89), because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

[Notice that all these passages point to a consistent remembering to do something, not doing it every moment. Paul is saying that he has not given up these things.]

CEASE, v.i.
1. To stop moving, acting or speaking; to leave of; to give over; followed by from before a noun.
It is an honor for a man to cease from strife. Prov 20.
2. To fail; to be wanting.
The poor shall never cease out of the land. Deu 15.
3. To stop; to be at an end; as, the wonder ceases; the storm has ceased.
4. To be forgotten.
I would make the remembrance of them to cease. Deu 32.
5. To abstain; as, cease from anger. Psa 37.
To cease from labor, is to rest; to cease from strife, is to be quiet; but in such phrases, the sense of cease is not varied.
CEASE, v.t. To put a stop to; to put an end to. Cease this impious rage. [But in this use the phrase is generally elliptical,]
CEASE, n. Extinction.

[Webster's 1828 dictionary clearly defines 'ceasing' to be a complete cessation, not a pausing.]

Realize that I am not going back on my avowed extremism. Many people (including myself, before I did this study) hold to the idea that we ought to be praying every moment of every day. They hold to this, not because there is lexicological support for that view, but because it seems more godly and devout. This is not to say that they are wrong to want to be godly and devout: it is very good to be godly and devout. We just need to do it God’s way, and not our way. We need to be extremely diligent and consistent in our prayers: they are a vital part of our life line. We need to dedicate each and every action and thought to God (‘bringing into captivity every thought’ 2 Cor. 10:5).

But then, there is the question of how often are we to pray? To me, the question is academic: in practical life we simply pray as much as we can, as well as we can. There is a lot to pray for, and little time to do it in. We can pray as we read our Bibles, we can pray as we walk down the street (we need to do that), we can pray when we wake at night. David prayed seven times a day. From what I can tell, he did it when he arose, when he ate each of his three meals, at midday, at evening, and at midnight (but that is just speculation on my part). Seven.

But remember: prayer is talking to God, and the way we get an answer is by reading His Word. We need to allow God to speak to us too, so read, study, and meditate on the Bible as much as you can. These two things are our food and our drink. We do not dare to let our spirit starve.

What are your thoughts on this Bible study? How often do you pray? How often would you like to?

The Definition of Crime

1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I am not declaring these definitions to be universally binding, only that this is how I will be using them in this study. I will be using words that normally have broad meanings, but I will be using them here in a narrower capacity. I will define below the narrower meanings that I will be using in this Bible study.

Government: the organization of the civil magistrates. Also called the State, Ruler, etc. Basically, the government which punishes crime in a nation (as opposed to the government of the church, family, etc.). The fourth definition in Webster’s 1828 definition of government: “The system of polity in a state; that form of fundamental rules and principles by which a nation or state is governed, or by which individual members of a body politic are to regulate their social actions; a constitution, either written or unwritten, by which the rights and duties of citizens and public officers are prescribed and defined; as a monarchial government, or a republican government.”

Vertical sin: a sin whose punishment is predicated on the fact of its being against God. A sin that has as its principal object God. Some have called these sins “spiritual.” It is contrasted with “horizontal” sins. Of course, all sins are inevitably against God, whether indirectly or directly. But a vertical sin is mainly, if not exclusively, against God and no other. The punishment of a vertical sin is not because it is against or involves another human, but because it is an offense to God.

Horizontal sin: a sin that is mostly against mankind and his temporal extensions (his property and etc.). A sin that has as its principal object another human rather than God directly. Some have called these sins “temporal.” It is contrasted with vertical sins. Horizontal sins are always sins against either another person’s life, their liberty, their property, or against a contract with a person. The punishment of a horizontal sin is based on the injury done to another human being, not on the offense it is to God.

Crime: a sin which is in the jurisdiction of the government to punish. The whole purpose of this Bible study is to define crime, so as it progresses, more delimiting factors will be added to this definition of crime. Some people call heinous sins “crimes” whether or not they have anything to do with government. In this Bible study a crime is limited to a sin punishable by government.

Two Covenants

On mount Sinai, and in revelations following, God made and established a covenant with a nation. This covenant changed the course of that nation’s history, and the course of the world. Within it was the wisdom of God, speaking of things greatly to our profit. It spoke of the nature of God, and so commanded the respect of the nations on all sides of that blessed nation whom God had called His own: Israel. This covenant also spoke of our inherent depraved nature, and our need for redemption. It did not provide the answer to the problem that it revealed, however, but foretold the answer. It told of a new covenant, one that would be perfect, and which would create a new kind of nation, a nation which would transcend the world. This new covenant would replace the old one and bring in a new age of Godly wisdom and insight onto the mysteries of God.

But this first, great covenant bore with it a great responsibility.

Exodus 34:10-14 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
14 For
thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God:

23-26 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, [or] the likeness of any [thing,] which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the LORD thy God [is] a consuming fire, [even] a jealous God.
25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt [yourselves,] and make a graven image, [or] the likeness of any [thing,] and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong [your] days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 17:2-7 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant,
3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard [of it,] and inquired diligently, and, behold, [it be] true, [and] the thing certain, [that] such abomination is wrought in Israel:
5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, [even] that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; [but] at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

The nation of Israel was promised great good if they hearkened to and obeyed the laws of God that He gave them through the covenant. But it was also required of them that they hold to no other God but the Lord. He gave them many laws that dealt with this. He also gave them laws that were shadows of the covenant that was to come: the covenant that would redeem them.

In this first covenant, the old covenant, God was intimately connected with its workings. He made the laws, organized the nation, commanded the order of the battles, guided the rulers, and in all respects was its King. Even during the monarchy He maintained this close connection, giving orders and judgments through His prophets. The entire Old Testament is full of accounts of His direct and visible working in the political realm of Israel. Although He ruled and reigned over all nations, and raised up and put down kings in other kingdoms, Israel was indubitably special.

Deuteronomy 4:5-9 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do [them;] for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation [is there so] great, who [hath] God [so] nigh unto them, as the LORD our God [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for?]
8 And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;

Deuteronomy 4:32-34 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and [ask] from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been [any such thing] as this great thing [is,] or hath been heard like it?
33 Did [ever] people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or
hath God assayed to go [and] take him a nation from the midst of [another] nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

Although this covenant was a magnificent and glorious testimony among the nations for God, despite Israel’s frequent rebellions, it has come to an end. The long awaited and long sought for new covenant came with the death of Christ. There is now a new covenant that is perfect and without flaw. There is a heavenly kingdom of which we can all be a part, regardless of earthly nationality and heritage. This new covenant does not destroy the old, but rather fulfills it, for the old was there to herald and speak of the coming of the new. Every word and piece of the old covenant has a message for us in the new covenant, even if it is not directly applicable, it is figurative of some aspect of the new relationship we have with God.

Hebrews 8:5-13 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of
a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith,
A new [covenant,] he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.

So what is the nature of this new covenant? What differences lie between the new and the old? What changes are made in our responsibility?

Hebrews 7:11-12 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need [was there] that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hebrews 9:9-10 Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them]
until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.

Colossians 1:17-22 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And
he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And,
having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say,] whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

There has been a drastic change in the law. Not only in its effect on us, but in its nature. The day before Jesus’ death you were required to give sacrifices for your sins, the day after His death it was wrong to do so. This is only a case example: the differences were not limited to sacrifices and priests. The differences encompassed the very nature of God’s relation to government. His kingdom was not earthly, but heavenly. Because of these differences we cannot declare a sin to be a crime merely because it was a crime in the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Covenant is not binding, and so cannot be used to justify requirements on government: it has other purposes, mainly illustrative. Even the Pentateuchal text itself clearly states that its laws were only for Israel, and for the purpose of making Israel a separate nation.

New Testament Definition of Crime

Romans 13:1-6
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

This is an obvious passage to study when we are looking to the New Testament for the definition of crime. It has much insight at first glance, but the deeper I probe into its meaning, the more startling and profound are its revelations. Notice first of all the use of the word “evil” in the 3rd and 4th verses. This is a key word, and yet it has a very broad definition. Even the Greek gives little help in narrowing the scope of this word.

But notice the qualifying words that are seen in each instance: works, do, and doeth. These denote action, ruling out heart sins. We know that God considers even evil thoughts and intents of the heart to be sin, but we see from this passage, as we see from other passages also, that government is to have nothing to do with these heart matters. It can only punish actions. This is clear in both the English and the Greek: they both talk about actions done outwardly and even towards others in the Greek.

We know that the government is not to punish all evil actions. So we must determine what type of evil it is referring to from the context. Let us look at the preceding passage in Romans 12:

Romans 12:17-21
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is clearly a “horizontal” relationship passage, discussing how we ought to deal with our neighbors’ hurting us. We are not to avenge ourselves against wrongs done to us. This is clear. We are not to avenge ourselves against wrongs done to us because that is God’s job. We are to leave that to Him. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” But notice chapter 13:4 “he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Verse 19 directly pertains to our passage 13:1-6. Verse 17′s word “evil” is the same word used in chapter 13:3-4. This passage gives us a clear definition for the type of evil actions government is to punish with its sword: evil towards others. The civil magistrate is God’s delegated servant to execute punishment on what you would otherwise have executed vengeance on: wrongs done to you.

1 Peter 2:13-14
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

A smaller passage, but just as meaningful. This clearly outlines the purpose of the civil magistrate: to punish evil-doers and praise well-doers. Notice the word “evildoers.” It specifically means (in the Greek) injurious. Its roots and other forms also mean injurious. It also refers to injury to others. So we have again what we had in Romans 12 & 13: crime (sins punishable by government) is an action that is injurious to other people.

1 Thess. 4:3-6
3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

This passage’s context is discussing specifically our behavior toward God and our walk of holiness and sanctification before Him. Then it contrasts this with a result of what happens if you fail to keep yourself pure. Notice where this happens in verse 6, “That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such.” Notice the word “avenger” is the same as in Romans 13, where we learned that the civil magistrate is God’s agent in carrying out just punishment on crime (avenge). This verse defines crime! “That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such” So what does it mean to “go beyond” and “defraud”? Just what it says. The Greek also includes the important concept that an attack on a person’s exclusive jurisdiction (private property, liberty, etc.) is an attack on him. So we have the extension of crime to a person’s liberty and property at least. Also again we have a separation between sin against God and crime against Man.

Because of the importance of the New Testament’s definition of crime, I will iterate here what we have learned, and what we can draw from that. I will use some of the Old Testament laws as examples to illustrate some obvious deductions, which is the proper use of those laws.

  1. Crimes are done, not thought. They are not necessarily acted, as a deliberate or careless refusal to act has the same denotations and consequences as an actual action.
  2. The punishments for crimes are based on the fact that they are towards other people, not towards animals or God. All sins are against God, but the punishment of the government is limited to that part of a sin that is against mankind. This is the principle of restitution, as separate from the principle of guilt towards God. If you sinned against another in the Mosaic Law, you had to pay restitution, and give an offering to God. The one was for the offense to man, the other for the offense to God. Government can only exact the former, the offense to man. Government only deals in restitution in the New Testament.
  3. Crimes are against another person. They are injurious to him in some way. An attempt at an injurious act is also a crime because although it might have been thwarted, it was against the other person. In the Old Testament we see and example of this deduction with the law of false witness. The false witness is not merely punished for the limiting of the accused liberty because of the trial, but for the accusation, what he had intended to do to the accused party. So restitution is required even if the attempt fails, though maybe not always in the full amount.
  4. Crimes are not limited to a person himself, but extends to his properties and liberties. A person has exclusive jurisdiction over his property, and to violate that exclusive right, is to violate himself. This extends to his liberty as well, as is required by logic and indicated by many laws in the Old Testament, including the kidnapping laws. Because of this, we can also add contract law, as that is a necessary extension of both property and liberty. To break a contract is to commit a crime against the other parties.
  5. It is not a crime to punish crime if you are delegated to punish crime. It is the government’s responsibility to punish crime, and to do so they must exact punishment, which itself falls into the category of actions that defines a crime. Criminal type actions can only be done by delegated government officials in punishment of proven crime. If a criminal type action is done without due process of law (however that is defined) then that action is a crime and needs to be punished as such.

So from this we may conclude the following definition of crime (keep in mind that government in the New Testament is limited to punishing crime and praising righteousness): a crime is a breach of contract with fellow men or a sin against a fellow man, which includes violations of his life, liberty, and property without due process of law.

We will need to continue our studies to discern whether things like adultery, divorce, striking/cursing/rebelling against your parents, usury, murder, immigration, threats, and etc. are crimes by this Biblical definition. We will also need to determine which crimes must always be in the government’s jurisdiction, which ones may be excluded from it by the decision of the offended parties, and etc. These must follow the hermeneutic principles outlined in this study of they are to be useful, however. We must study the Old Testament law to discern what punishments were given for what reasons, and then conclude how we ought to view these laws in light of the New Testament that we live in.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

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