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October 29, 2013

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God's commands are not identical to everyone. He commands those mature in the faith to support those who are babes. He commanded the Israelites in the wilderness to dress the tabernacle in a particular way and follow the column of fire by day, and the column of smoke by night - but he did not require this of any other generation of Israelites. He commands us not to add or remove from the Bible, but he did not command Moses thus. But rebelling against what has commanded YOU is sin, and has always been sin, and always will be.

What an excellent question, worth much pondering, and I believe it is such a comprehensive issue that it will take a series of posts to flesh out an adequate response.

Here is my humble offering.

I propose that such a perception of "sin back then not sin later" arises from a tendency to see morals as a changing entity due to cultural pressures and conceptions. As God enters into human history, He honors such perceptions by not advocating total change to an absolute moral-set, but dealing with the cultural environment, effecting moral improvement in time. This infers that moral advancements would by natural causes would be degenerative, and God appears to initiate a long advancement towards true godliness.

In Abraham's time, His actions were promissory, setting aside one family to develop into a nation. In this era, God declares an ethic contrary to human estimation, destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for supreme wickedness. And, while I still hold that it remains a testing of Abraham's faith, God's request for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was His denunciation of a cultic practice that was soon on the rise in the region.

In Moses' time, God's purpose was legislative, establishing a system of ethical assertions mainly setting the standards that would keep them separate from the inferior moralities of the surrounding nations. Within this legislation is the Ten Commandments, cornerstone of all good ethos, along with the series of ceremonial and civil laws that would make distinctions between Israel and your typical Baalite, Molechite, or Chemoshite.

In Elijah's time, God's purpose was preservative, advancing through His prophet the emphasis of true religion, battling religion compromised by political goals and humanistic reckoning of popular feelings towards a "what feels good" faith.

In Jesus' time, God's purpose was cumulative through the fulfillment of promises. Thus Jesus' work of fulfilling the requirements of Law sought a restoration of Abraham's covenant, a sweeping in of Grace over Law. Thus morality is reduced to the workings of the Holy Spirit, Law being the guide, agape-love being the motivation.

In all these times, morality has fluctuated. Ideas as child sacrifice, slavery, oppression of the poor has waned, with every indication that with the right promptings of culture, they may return. We understand the law against the interweaving of different fabrics as a lesson in conforming to the cultures of our times. But even now I am wearing a blended shirt, most comfortable in this chilly weather we have. What historic conditions that afflicted Israel entering life in Canaan do not impact me. But the threat of becoming too much part of the world-beat and less of a child of God can never be avoided. Thus vigilance at all times.

Actually, the New Testament itself gives us the answer. By the way, this hits on a side-topic that I think is quickly becoming an issue in the church: the need to "rightly divide the word of truth." When Paul tells Timothy to "rightly divide" Scripture, the word literally means, "to cut sharply," and it has the idea of being surgically precise. The church in America is demonstrating a shocking failure to do just that, especially in light of questions such as these; if we aren't careful to answer this question correctly, we could end up going down a more Covenantal path, saying things such as the "moral" part of the law is still in effect today...

Back to the question. How can we know the answer? Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians. "The law was our tutor until Christ came." In other words, the reason God gave all these rules in the Old Testament was to highlight very emphatically that it was impossible for mankind to fulfill a set of rules and regulations and make themselves worthy of salvation. It was to highlight the fact that salvation is by faith alone and not by works. He does this by juxtaposing the Promises given to Abraham with the Law given to Moses.

When Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the Father's work on the cross, he fulfilled the law; both the legal requirements and the penalties of transgression. Therefore, the law is no longer binding; it no longer holds us as slaves to its impossible task of fulfilling it. This is THE argument Paul makes in both Galatians and Romans.

So, how can a sin in the OT not be a sin the NT? You first have to understand the purpose of stipulating the sinful actions in the OT, codified by the Law. Then, you have to understand especially Paul and the arguments he makes in his letters, particularly, Romans and Galatians. Finally, we use correct understanding of Scripture to see that the New Testament tells us which of those things "carry over." Examples of these include, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19, etc...

Well, I guess this challenge is like saying that air travelers are violating the law of gravity.

Was the law of gravity in universal effect until the Wright Brothers, but not so after?

Please don't confuse me with subtle 'technical' discussions. Explain to me what is going on without resorting to your usual tricks of talking about lift, thrust, drag and gravity. You and I both know that that's intellectually dishonest.

A speed limit law might protect drivers from being reckless. And as vehicle safety, air bag technology, and stopping distances improve it might be permissible to raise the speed limit and still have the value of human life respected on the roadways. The value of life is the unchanging eternal moral concern, the laws about the speed at which it is safe to travel is not eternal because it addresses how the principle is best respected.

The Law of Moses contained a number of laws. Most were moral in some way, but most also had some civil behavior that was required in the way that the moral aspect was to be expressed or punished.

Paul was clear that we who live by the Spirit are dead to the Law. Additionally, for those of us believers who are Gentiles we have even less requirements to follow the civil aspects of the Law. However, the moral aspects, stripped of most of the civil behaviors, were reiterated in the writings of the Apostles. Some general behaviors were still taught where a behavioral component is inextricable from the moral principle in any culture.

So, we are not under the Law, but we are admonished to follow the moral principles.

The way I see it, the Law forbade our doing certain things. If however you invert the "thou shalt nots", turning them into positive commands, it points the way for what we should be doing instead of sinning. For instants, if you invert "Thou shalt not steal", you arrive at "you shall give or not withhold." Thou shalt not kill or murder suggests promoting or bettering someone's life instead, and so on. Not stealing suggests giving instead. I believe much of the Sermon on the Mount and the rest of New Testament ethics are an inversion of the Law.

The Shorter Catechism contains much of this thought.

How? The same way taking money from a cash register is a sin one day, but not the next day. It's called context.

One has to examine which law is being viewed. I dont know that there are any moral laws that were restriced in OT Israel that were then permitted in the NT. OT Israel, was recapitulation of the covenant with Adam. Within Israel, [the garden], certain laws were in place because the nation was to be what Adam was supposed to be...prophet, priest, king of the land. The land was to be kept holy because God inhabited the land. They were continually under the curse for failure when the land spat them out...often by warring neighbors success while God dropped His hedge of protection. Ceremonial laws, cleanliness laws, washings etc...were done away with when the real Second Adam completed.

I'd be curious to know what law in particular was in view that prompted the question in the first place.

The question is, it seems..... perhaps... more about applying Genesis 6:6 as an isolated fragment and defining Definition on such an application than it is about any specific Law. Does the Unchanging God change. If not, then Good never changes. In other words, does Immutable Love's necessarily triune landscape ever change, and so on. In Numbers 22:12 Love reaches into hell, into love-less-ness, as Love’s E Pluribus Unum defines it in the opening pages of Genesis, and declares a law to a man. The man then motions further into hell. Love, being love, follows man into his hell in Numbers 22:20. And numbers 22:20 cannot change 22:12, thus Numbers 22:22 must be paid in full, in some vector somewhere, whether man in hell beholds it or not. Love reaches into hell in all sorts of ways, but hell is still hell and Numbers 23:19 finds Love's Unchanging necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum as but the Whole, the shape of which gives even the Outside such shape as it has. Ultimately, Love stops reaching into hell. Ultimately, Love walks into hell and undoes it. Love becomes sin. The Amalgamation of Timelessness-Time, of Seed’s Seed, described in Genesis 3:15 undoes the love-less-ness of hell on earth described in Genesis 3:16.

How odd a vantage point mind must perceive when Immutability reaches into the Mutable, when the Actual reaches into the Actualiz-ing.

Love Himself, Who is Love, becomes sin and we find some part of something in us screaming ”Foul!”, for, we mistakenly think, Love cannot be sin, and thus the fallen mind declares of Love an incoherency. Love is sin? Something in us says no way. Yet it is so. It seems that too often we do not understand what hell is, nor what Love is, nor what Love does within hell, within love-less-ness. What is love-less-ness in either shape or in definition but for the geography of the Whole that just is Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum? When Man motions further into hell’s geography, will Love go after the lost and reach from Numbers 22:12 yet further into hell to Numbers 22:20? What then of 22:12?

“From the highest to the lowest, self exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes the more truly self, to be thereupon yet the more abdicated, and so forever. This is not a heavenly law which we can escape by remaining earthly, nor an earthly law which we can escape by being saved. What is outside the system of self-giving is not earth, nor nature, nor 'ordinary life', but simply and solely hell. Yet even hell derives from this law such reality as it has. That fierce imprisonment in the self is but the obverse of the self-giving which is absolute reality; the negative shape which the outer darkness takes by surrounding and defining the shape of the real, or which the real imposes on the darkness by having a shape and positive nature of its own.” (C.S. Lewis)


I would need more clarification from the accuser before attempting to answer this challenge. What do you mean by "Sin" and how has "Morality" changed? The OT has many ceremonial and civil laws, but the morality behind the laws did not change in the NT.

Universalism is incoherent. It destroys Love’s necessary topography, on definition given what we observe within Love’s necessarily present motions within Uncreated Love’s triune interior landscape of Self / Other / Us and thus necessarily present in Man’s Image, on Power’s Will.


With that disclaimer, there is a sense (this seems to be somehow applicable to the question at hand) where we find no justification in the use of Justice as it applies to the necessity of Hell, whether we hold that such a condition (Hell’s isolation of the Self void of Love’s I-You that just is love-less-ness, that just is God-Less-Ness) is temporal ending in annihilation or whether we hold that such a condition is the full and final actualization of Time’s motions in Timelessness such that all our temporal I-Will-To’s become immutable I-Can’s as In-Sufficiency finds itself swallowed up by, filled up with, His All-Sufficiency, or, such that all our temporal I-Will-Not’s become immutable I-Can-Not’s. We are all Enoch. We are all Pharaoh. Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self outreaches, as all of God outreaches, Time.

That lack of justification in the use of “Hell is so that there be Justice!” is because of this: my sin.


My sin.


OT? NT?


In the OT we find Law’s Ministry of Death. Nothing there is meant to cure Mankind of his Isolation, his Death. On the Day we motioned out of Other, out of God, and into Self, we, Mankind, died. Man is left with God, with Power, present, yet he finds himself void of Man-God, God-Man, void of that singularity of Unity of Love’s I-You, of Love’s Self-Other that just is that third distinct of Us, of Man-In-God, God-In-Man, Love’s necessarily triune I-You-We. Instead Man finds Power, God, present, yet, Man finds a vacuum, a void of Love’s E Pluribus Unum where Man-God is concerned. Power’s necessary motions present and yet void of Love’s motions that just are e pluribus unum leaves Man fated to the ugliness of Genesis 3:16. The hell on earth which followed has no cure, finds no relief offered, but for the promise of Genesis 3:15 actualized within Time.


We find in the OT this: Sin.


There is no Non-Justice in that wasteland void of Love.


There is only Sin and Justice.


Then the promise of our cure in Seed’s Seed, in the amalgamation of Uncreated-Created, of Timelessness-Time, of Word-Flesh, of God-In-Man, Man-In-God, finally comes and we find the following there in the business of Man’s non-enmity with Power: without Hell, all the injustice I have written, all the harms and self-serving and so on which I have ever done never will face the Court’s Justice should I be found in Christ. Not ever.


No Justice.


The reason: There is no sin, by the Court’s Decree. Thus we find that in fact Divine Command Theory does hold true, and thus, here, in the reverse direction, Divine Command Theory is necessarily true as well, for we find that what is true from the bottom-up is also true from the top-down.


Well, there is sin, only, we find Justice of another sort. The only sort which a man can ever hope to offer to the Court’s Timeless landscape. And that is Christ, Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self. God is His Own Means to His Own Ends, which is Love’s necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum fully, finally, actualized. While we find in this Image no Changing, no Discovering, within Him, the Ever-Actual, we do find radical changing, radical discovering, in the Created, the Actualizing.


Sin here finds non-entity ultimately. We say ultimately so as to point to that Timelessness over there up ahead rather than here in Time where our sin has quite a present entity.


Hell becomes unnecessary where Justice is concerned. If Hell is necessary in order for “My sins to face, ultimately, Justice that the books be cosmically balanced” then Christ is of no effect, at least where my sins are concerned. I say “my sins” because I take it to be the case that I never shall pay for my sins in that sense. There was a Ransom paid by another. There is Sin, just as there is Justice, only, Hell is not the mechanism for Justice. Love’s Ransom is. That is to say, the solution to a vacuum is not another vacuum (only atheists think of vacuums as magically non-contingent) but rather, the solution for Love’s Void is for Love to spread His arms wide, and pour Himself out, and into, that vacuum and fill it with Himself. Love must here offer, not simple decree, but must offer, instead, Love’s Unchanging motion.


Hell being non-necessary, we find this question: what has become of sin in the New Covenant? Well, I am full of it. Only, the Law’s Ministry of Death and Ransom’s Ministry of Grace make of very real sin quite non-identical actualities.


It is interesting. We are given by God various modes of imaging by which to perceive Truths about Him. While He is Unchanging, those varied vectors by which we spy out His curves and contours are, necessarily, ever changing. At least for now. Perhaps forever. Time is an odd thing. Actual and Actualiz-ing are nearly as odd. As He nears us, as we near Him, Love’s E Pluribus Unum becomes the more Actual, and so on. “…….this will not….. happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship.” (C.S. Lewis) We call the Eternally Sacrificed Self, that Dying that just is part of Love’s Unchanging Motions, “the Son”, and so on. And of course He is precisely that. Though, we may add this in some nuance: Within Love's necessarily triune E Pluribus Unum, amid and among those Three Perfect Distinct-s, the Great I-AM, Love’s singularity of unity that just is I-You-We, we always do find a Self in Sacrifice. We call such "the Son", though, in distances we cannot see to the end of, the Dying God, the Dying Self, can be said to be True also of the Father, of the Son, of the Spirit, ad infinitum, for Love forever shouts out, delights in, that motion of, in, toward Other and not Self, and the Father thus honors the Son, and the Son the Father, and the Spirit the Son, and the Spirit the Father, and the Son the Spirit, ad infinitum. Love forever Pours-Out. Unchangingly. Love forever Fills-Up. Unchangingly. Within Love's necessarily Triune E Pluribus Unum there is, Unchangingly, Love's Eternally Sacrificed Self. We cannot find any nuance of thirst in such Water as that, though we always do find Love’s Dying, Love’s Resurrecting, Love’s Glorifying of Other, Love’s Pouring-Out, not in gesture or jest, but Actually, Love’s Filling-Up, not in gesture or jest, but Actually.

I think this challenge may be nothing more than question-begging.

Before you could begin to answer this challenge, you'd need to be provided with examples of things that were a "sin" in the OT, but not in the NT.

We could then explore whether those items actually were sins, or in what sense they were sins (mixing 2 kinds of fabric, for example. What was the context in which that command was given?)

After that we could discuss the overall purpose of the the Law and its primary uses (particularly the "mirror" use).

This, of course, to be followed up with the antidote to the Law, the Good News of Christ for us, on the Cross.

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