Are Christians Required to Keep the Old Testament Law?
Are Christians Required to Keep the Old Testament Law?
Hello, I have been listening to and reading the verse-by-verse lessons from your web site. I have a question – when the New Testament says we do not have to do the law any longer, does that apply to the commandments?
Here is where I get tripped up – Pastor David makes perfect sense in his explanation of the keeping of the law as it relates to the 10 commandments but in John 14:15 Jesus says, If you love Me, keep My commandments, this is where I get confused. I love Jesus, and there is no commandment I want to break, except the sabbath sometimes when I need to hire someone like a plumber. I have had Christians call me legalistic because of this, but I don’t want to disobey God no matter what, and I even did a 3 day fast over this to try to understand it better.
Also, Romans 3:31 says Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. and I thought that Paul was saying we have to obey the law here as well. So these two scriptures really get me mixed up in trying to understand this matter.
If Pastor David could specifically address these two Scriptures in relationship to the keeping of the commandments, it would really help me to understand this in my heart.
The Ten Commandments – or the Mosaic Law in general – were never given with the thought that one might earn heaven by obeying them all perfectly or adequately. The covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai was much bigger than the law, though that was its first and perhaps most dramatic aspect.
Another aspect of the covenant was sacrifice, which was given because both God and Israel knew that it was impossible for them to keep this law perfectly, and they must depend on the sacrifice of an innocent victim as a substitute for the guilty law-breaker. In this sense, the Ten Commandments were like a mirror that showed Israel their need for sacrifice.
The Old Testament law can also be summarized as Jesus did in Matthew 22:35-40:
Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
This simplification doesn’t eliminate the Ten Commandments; it fulfills them, showing us the heart and desire of God for His people. The problem is that we haven’t kept the two commandments either, much less the ten.
More importantly, we know that Jesus Himself was the only one to ever keep the law perfectly – in the ten, in the two, or in the whole Law of Moses. He never needed to sacrifice for His own sin, so could be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Wonderfully, His obedience is credited to those who put their love and trust in Him.
Romans 8:2-3 puts it this way: For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. This is God’s amazing promise to those who repent and believe on Jesus.
This is why Paul could write this in Galatians 2:19-20:
For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
There is a real sense in which we died to the law as Paul explained. Paul also explains that the law is a schoolmaster to us (Galatians 3:22-25). Before God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ was fully evident, we were kept under guard by the law – both in the sense of being bound by the law, but also held in protective custody. The law, through its revelation of God’s character and its exposure of our sin, prepares us to come to Jesus – but after we have come, we no longer have to live under our tutor (though we remember the behavior he has taught us).
From the perspective of the entire Bible, we can say that the law of God has three great purposes and uses:
- It is a guardrail, keeping humanity on a moral path.
- It is a mirror, showing us our moral failure and need for a savior.
- It is a guide, showing us the heart and desire of God for His people.
Considering all this, we can say some things about the relationship that the believer has to the Old Testament law:
- For the believer, the obedience of Jesus Christ is credited to them, and Jesus fulfilled the law on their behalf (as in Romans 8:2-3).
- The ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the law are likewise fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and we are specifically told we are not under such law (Colossians 2:16-17).
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
- Remember that the law was a unified whole. If Christians are under the law in the same sense that Israel was, then we are also under the law of sacrifice, dietary laws, feast laws, ceremonial laws and such.
- In Christ, the Christian is no longer under the law – but they are concerned with obedience, because Jesus Christ – the perfectly obedient One – lives within them!
- Though we are no longer under the law as Israel was, the Old Testament law remains a valid expression of God’s heart and mind. Since we are concerned with obedience, we look to the law of God for its principles and guidance.
When Jesus said in John 14:15, If you love Me, keep My commandments – in the largest sense it does include the law of Moses as a guardrail, because the Law of Moses is the Law of God, and Jesus is God.
That’s true – but at the moment Jesus said those words, If you love Me, keep My commandments I don’t think He had in mind the 10 Commandments or the Law of Moses as a whole. He had in mind what He had just said to His disciples.
Jesus had just demonstrated His remarkable love to the disciples by washing their feet (John 13:1-5). He told them what their loving response should be; to keep His commandments.
- He commanded them to wash one another’s feet, after the example He just displayed (John 13:14-15).
- He commanded them to love one another after the pattern of His love to them (John 13:34).
- He commanded them to put their faith in God the Father and in Jesus Himself (John 14:1).
Keeping the commandments of Jesus does speak to our personal morality, yet His emphasis was on love for others and faith in Him as demonstrations of obedience to His commandments.
This is a fair measure of our love for Jesus. It is easy to think of loving Jesus in merely sentimental or emotional terms. It is wonderful when our love for Jesus has sentiment and passion, but it must always be connected to keeping His commandments – especially His commandments to love one another and to trust God – or it isn’t love at all.
Though the emphasis is on love, these words of Jesus also have general application to our Christian obedience. For the believer, disobedience is not only a failure of performance or a failure of strength. In some sense, it is also a failure of love. Those who love God most obey Him most joyfully and naturally. To say, “I really love Jesus. I just don’t want Him to tell me how to live my life” is a terrible misunderstanding of both Jesus and love to Him.
When we pray for change in our circumstance, are we partnering with God’s will or seeking our own outcome?
It seems God is going to do what He’s going to do. He is sovereign, and His will is perfect. When we pray for change in our circumstances, are we partnering with God’s will or seeking our own outcome?
You’re asking a very good question. It’s one of the tensions we have to recognize in the Christian life. God has a sovereign plan of the ages that He’s working out, from eternity past to the consummation of all things. God has an eternal plan that He’s going to work out, and nothing can stop that plan from being enacted. God will accomplish His will.
At the same time, by every sense that we have, we feel that we have real choice, and we are intended to feel that from God. The Bible treats us as real men and real women who have real choices to make in life. It does not treat us as robots at all. So, we hold both things in hand: that God is sovereign, and we have real choices. People wonder, how does that reconcile? I don’t know; God reconciles it.
Charles Spurgeon is a favorite figure of mine. I’ve gained so much by reading the sermons and books of Charles Spurgeon over the years. And make no mistake about it, Charles Spurgeon was a convinced Calvinist. He was a five-point Calvinist. He wanted to be very reformed in that aspect of his doctrine. But he was also a very sensible Calvinist. He said many things which seem to understand and accommodate both these seemingly paradoxical truths. I wouldn’t call these things contradictory, but paradoxical. I’ll never forget one sermon that I read by Spurgeon, “Both Sides of the Shield,” based on Exodus 17:8-9. In the sermon’s introduction, Spurgeon gives a beautiful declaration of how God’s unchanging sovereign will and the free choices and actions of mankind work together in beautiful concert. One of them does not contradict the other in any way.
When we pray, God wants us to pray as if our prayers truly matter, because I think they do. We might try to get our heads around, “Well, how do my prayers really matter? How do they coincide with God’s unchanging will?” I don’t know. I don’t know that we’re meant to know on this side of eternity. We’re just supposed to have confidence in God’s immutable, unchanging, wonderful plan and in the real choices that He gives us as human beings to make.
So, when we pray for a change in circumstances, are we partnering with God’s will or seeking our own outcome? Well, that really depends on the attitude of heart. I think it’s entirely valid for us to pray, “Lord, I pray that You would change my circumstances. But in every prayer that I pray, I yield to Your greater wisdom.” We could construct a hypothetical idea here. Say that someone’s in a job, but they feel the job is going poorly, so they feel they really need another job. They pray, “God, get me out of this job.” And they’re very discouraged because God doesn’t seem to be answering that prayer. So they say, “Lord, why don’t You answer my prayer?” And then something happens at their present job to make it a dream position; they get a new boss, they get much bigger pay, they get a new promotion, and they realize later, “God, thank You for not answering my prayer.”
That’s what I’m saying: we should always pray with an attitude of submission. It’s entirely fair for us to pray, “Lord, as much as I can see the situation, this is what I think would most glorify You. But Lord, You see the things I can’t see, and I trust Your will.” I have to say that I am not troubled by this at all. I find great glory in the power of God. He is able to reconcile His sovereign plan with our real choices in a glorious way.
Is everything that happens to us meaningful or significant to God and His plan for us?
Do you think that everything that happens to us (for example, a car wreck, a stubbed toe, burning dinner) is meaningful or useful to God in His plan for us? Is everything significant?
I can answer that very quickly. In the way God wants us to live our life, no, we should not regard everything that happens to us to have some great spiritual significance. You can just imagine the person who’s walking along, and they stub their toe. I stubbed my toe yesterday, and it hurt very badly for a few moments. Now, I think it would be very wrong and dishonoring to God, if I were to sit down and spend an hour contemplating the spiritual significance of that stubbed toe. “God, what is the meaning of that? How do You want to use this? How does the devil want to use this? Oh, God, give me guidance on this?” No, as a practical matter of wise Christian living, I don’t think that we should regard every event as being rich with spiritual significance.
Now, that doesn’t mean that every event doesn’t somehow fit into God’s plan. We believe that it does. We believe that God works all things together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. Like right now, you could say that my stubbed toe yesterday provided me the opportunity to use it as an illustration to you, and that’s God’s plan working out for good. Well, I didn’t know any of that yesterday, but I know it now.
We can know that God has some purpose and significance in the things that happen to us, but not in a way that we’re to regard in how we live our daily Christian life. God wants us to be wise in the way that we live. To consider that every small thing in our life has some great spiritual significance, I don’t think is wise living.
When doing acts of charity, should I tell others, so they follow my example, or keep it to myself, knowing that God sees?
Recently, I fed a homeless man. Should I tell others that I did this act of charity so others will follow my example? Or should I keep this to myself, knowing that God sees?
I would hold back on telling people, unless you felt there was a specific situation where it might do others good. What you’re really talking about is a matter of the heart. These are interesting things in the Christian life, are they not? Two Christians can do the very same thing. Two Christians could feed a homeless person, and they do the same action, but one does it out of a heart of love and compassion, and the other does it out of a heart of pride and arrogance. It’s the same action, but the heart behind it determines whether or not God is truly pleased with that action.
Let’s say you’re in a situation where you think that it would really be of benefit to somebody else. For example, you’re talking with somebody who says, “I’m really bothered by some of the homeless people I run into; I wonder what I should do?” And then you could say, “Let me tell you what I did the other day, and maybe this will help you.” Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to know our hearts. But if you’re just bringing it up in casual conversation, especially with a heart that desires attention and acclaim, then it’s a bad thing. This is truly a matter of the heart. Our motive needs to be to help other people, to give honor and glory to God, and not to lift ourselves up in front of others, to be the great benefactor of others. We don’t want to communicate, “Look at how holy I am; I even feed the homeless.”
But assuming that what you did was led of the Lord, and I have no reason to think otherwise, God bless you for doing that. God wants us to be charitable in our daily interactions with other people. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we give in every circumstance, because sometimes to give to a person is not to help them at all; it’s only to enable them in a bad manner of living. But I think in general, God wants us to be more generous, and generous more often, than we usually are.
Do we need to confess and repent like in 1 John 1:9?
In Romans 3:25, the Apostle Paul talks about declaring his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. Does that mean that our past sins up to that point are covered? Regarding everything we do afterwards, do we need to confess and repent, as in 1 John 1:9?
Romans 3:25 – Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His [Jesus’] blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.
What Paul is speaking about in Romans 3:25 does not concern so much the sins of the individual believer, but how God regarded sin before the finished work of Jesus on the cross. God was more generous in His mercy in forbearing sin before Jesus finished His work on the cross, simply because there was not the cross to point to as a place to be forgiven, and a place to hold mankind accountable to for the forgiveness of sins.
Now, we know that God most certainly did judge sin before Jesus’ work on the cross. It just shows that there was, in some way, a more generous aspect. God had more forbearance, and He passed over sins that were previously committed. It’s not that He ignored them, but He was more generous towards them.
The cross holds humanity to a greater accountability. This is echoed in the letter that was written to the Hebrews, where it says, “Of how much more judgement will those be held liable when they reject an even greater salvation?” [see Hebrews 2:3]. That has been made evident to us on this side of the cross. Now, I don’t think that Romans 3:25 has much relevance to an individual’s relationship to God, speaking more about what God was doing in the big picture, but what you bring up has a lot of relevance to the individual Christian life. When a person comes to Jesus, repents of their sin, and truly puts their faith in Jesus – that is, they trust in, rely on and cling to Jesus as their hope in this life and in the next – their sins are forgiven. Their sin is put on Jesus, and the righteousness of Jesus is put upon them. That means that their sin problem is resolved: past, present, and future. However, it’s not just a matter of our sin problem being resolved. It’s also a matter of our fellowship with God.
When a Christian sins after their initial salvation, they don’t lose their salvation. Can you imagine how terrible that would be to lose your salvation: “I was saved, but I went out and I got drunk, and I lost my salvation.” No, that’s not how it works at all.
Now, it’s very difficult to describe how this might happen, or to what degree this might happen. This is all a matter of degrees, and it’s difficult to discern the degrees. But there’s a general truth here that’s very real. Our sin interrupts are fellowship with God. That’s what John is getting at in 1 John 1:9, where he talks about being cleansed: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is speaking about sin in the life of the believer, relevant to fellowship with God, and not so much salvation.
You can be a believer, and for a time – I’m not speaking about an ongoing condition of life – you can be walking in darkness. Paul addressed believers in the New Testament all the time who were in that state. He warned the Corinthian church and the Ephesian church about it. We need to walk in the light. Now again, if a person is comfortable in habitual sin and that’s a standing condition in a person’s life, we have right to question their salvation. But we’re never sinless until we pass from this life to the next. In our resurrection, our salvation is complete. Then we are free from not only the penalty of sin, not only are we free from the power of sin, as we can be right now, but we’re also free from the presence of sin.
At this present time, sin in the life of the believer doesn’t take away their salvation, but it can interrupt their fellowship with God. That is what’s being addressed. Confession and repentance are vital for the believer, first of all, as assurance that they really have a heart after God. But secondly, it’s essential for the life of the believer, so that they live in close fellowship with God. John was writing to believers in 1 John; he refers to brethren all the time in his letter. He says, “If we walk in darkness, we’re not walking in the light. We lie, and the truth of God is not in us.” The emphasis there is on fellowship, not salvation.
Do you believe in souls ties?
I’ll be honest with you; I don’t know exactly what you mean by that. I think I might know generally what you mean: that one person can be joined to another person on a non-material level. We easily understand what we mean if a person was joined to another person on a physical material level, like when two hands grasp. That’s a joining of people together. An arm is put around a shoulder in an embrace. That’s a joining of people together. But we know that people can also come together in non-material ways.
Sometimes the Bible uses the word soul simply to speak of that non-material aspect of a person. I am a person who has a physical aspect, and obviously a physical body. But there’s also a non-material aspect to me. My non-material aspect can truly have a connection with somebody else’s non-material aspect. That is certainly how it is with my beloved wife, Inga-Lill. We are joined together in soul. Maybe it’s a cliche, but there’s some truth to that phrase, soul mate.
It is possible for someone to be joined together in that non-material soul connection to someone that they have no business being joined together with. The Apostle Paul speaks of this in a way that’s sobering in 1 Corinthians. He speaks of when a person comes together with another person in sexual immorality. I think Paul use the figure of a prostitute. It’s not just a physical connection that they make, there’s also a connection of their non-material beings. And that is something grievous and sinful, which needs to be repented of.
So, to put it just in those terms, I do believe that we can connect with people in non-material ways. And I think that we need to be careful with whom and how we connect with other people emotionally, spiritually, and soulishly. It’s important for us to be careful in this and to bring this under the obedience of Jesus Christ in the way that we live.
Was the centurion with the sick servant in Luke 7 a believer?
It depends how you want to define believer. Did he believe in Jesus? Yes. Did he have genuine faith in Jesus? Yes – so much so that Jesus praised him for his great faith. But commonly, we use the term believer to refer to someone who is a Christian, that is someone who has come to Jesus in light of who He is, and what He did for us, especially what He did for us in His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
Now, since Jesus had not yet died on the cross or risen from the dead when he interacted with that centurion, there’s a sense in which that centurion was a believer, but not yet a Christian. I think we have good reason to believe that later, when Jesus did die on the cross and rise again, that the centurion did put his faith in Jesus in that true New Covenant sense. There’s a sense in which it depends on how you define a believer. I have no problem saying that he was a believer, just as long as we understand that we’re not talking about it in the sense of a believer in who Jesus is and what He accomplished, according to the terms of the New Covenant that had yet to happen.
Did sacrifices for sin stop when the second Temple was destroyed? And what was done for remission of sins afterwards in Israel?
Yes, sacrifice stopped when the second Temple was destroyed. Nor was it practiced by Israel afterwards for sacrifice for sin, except by some very fringe groups. In normative Judaism, or in any significant sect of Judaism, they did not continue to practice the sacrificial system after the second Temple was destroyed. The carrying out of the sacrificial system ended as a practical matter. At first it was because they could not, because there was no place for sacrifice. Later on, it became simply established in their theology that God was no longer concerned with sacrifice.
Now, as Christians, we would probably disagree with that. If a Jewish person was to be consistent, they must continue on the making of sacrifices, though we would not applaud them for doing that. We would tell them to look to God’s finished, perfect sacrifice of what Jesus performed on the cross in His perfect offering. But we would say that the need for sacrifice has not ended since the days of the Bible. It’s simply fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
To my knowledge, there was no normal practice of sacrifice in Judaism, after the destruction of that second Temple in approximately A.D. 70.
So, what was done for remission of sins afterwards in Israel? After the destruction of the second Temple, remission of sins was thought to be accomplished by doing good works in obedience, and by afflicting oneself on the Day of Atonement. That’s really basically it. They believe salvation is essentially earned by doing your good works, and by afflicting your soul by a fast on the Day of Atonement. I think that’s basically the path to salvation in Judaism since the destruction of the Temple and the end of the sacrificial system.
Does marriage come from the providence of God, or does it come from us?
Does marriage come from the providence of God, or does it come from us? Some people say that it’s God who gives you a mate, and some people say that you need to make a marriage happen.
Marriage, as an institution, comes from God. It’s not the invention of human beings. So as an institution, marriage definitely comes from God. However, when it comes to the individual that someone is to marry, I believe it does happen by the providence of God. But the providence of God can work in a very natural way in an individual.
I think many people over spiritualize the search for a mate, for a husband or wife. They kind of wait for God to send down a beam of sunlight from heaven that will identify “The One.” They want to meet somebody, and instantly God will tell them both, “You’re the people for each other,” and that’s how it will work.
I believe that God has a providential plan in bringing together a husband and wife. I know that God providentially brought together myself and my wife, Inga-Lill. Listen, I know it was of God, because it was a miracle. It was a miracle that her parents allowed it to happen. Because if I was looking at it from their eyes, we were both pretty young when we got married – in our very young twenties. I look at who I was then, and I don’t know how much I had going for me. But her parents trusted God and trusted their daughter enough to say this can work. And praise the Lord, it has. Coming up in just a few months, we’re going to have our 40th anniversary. It was the providence of God.
Yet at the same time, God works through very natural things. It’s just simple attraction. “Hey, I like this person. There’s something desirable to me about that person.” Now, hopefully, you’re not only desiring their appearance, and that’s not the only thing they’re desiring about you. That’s a very superficial thing. I’m not saying it’s irrelevant, but it’s not the most important thing in a marriage by any means. We say,
“I like this person. I like being with them. I like being around them. There’s something about that person that attracts me to them.” That’s a very natural way and God can work providentially through those very natural things.
God has a providential plan that He’s working out. But I don’t think God wants us to sit on the sidelines, in general, and wait for Him to work out that providential plan. God wants us to pursue Him, and God wants us to use sanctified common sense in the way that we live our lives. And we will see God’s providential plan as it works out. God’s providential plan is more accurately seen in the past, than it is in the present, or especially in the future.
I would advise anybody, if you would like to get married, don’t wait for the beam of light from heaven. Use sanctified common sense in approaching people and putting yourself in the company of people that you might be attracted to, and they might be attracted to you, and see what God might do with that.
Why did the father of the prodigal son fulfill the son’s request for his inheritance? Couldn’t he have withheld it and kept the son with him?
That’s a great question. I’m happy to answer it the best I can. But let me give a word of caution before I do. We need to be careful that we don’t build elaborate systems of theology about the Parables. I think this is especially a danger with the parable of the prodigal son. In general, parables are meant to teach one significant truth. Interestingly, the significant truth taught in what we call the parable of the prodigal son really probably has more to do with the elder brother than it does with the one we call the prodigal son.
Here’s what I think if we want to relate this parable to our relationship with God. Sometimes God will give things to us – things that He knows aren’t good for us. First, that’s because in some measure, as it will fit in His great sovereign plan, God will give us things that we asked for, even though He knows that in the short term, it will do us harm. At least in some sense, God honors our real choices. Sometimes a parent will say, “You want this? I know it’s going to turn out bad for you. But I’ll respect your choice, and maybe you’ll learn from it.”
But I think in the story of the prodigal son, there’s another aspect to it. Hypothetically, if the father would have refused the son, we can imagine the son growing very bitter towards the father, because he had these great dreams, and the father would never let him fulfill those dreams. Now, we know that the son’s dreams would only end in ruin and destruction, but the son didn’t know that. And the son wouldn’t know it until he attempted to live out those foolish dreams and suffered greatly because of it.
I think there’s really something to that. The father knew that if he wanted his son to truly love him, and to receive the father’s love, he had to let him go off and find the ruin that his son wanted, and then he’d get his son back. That’s what he was hoping for all along.
What do you think about deathbed repentance?
Well, I praise the Lord for deathbed repentance. It’s real, it happens. But here’s the thing. No one should presume upon deathbed repentance. I want to speak very seriously to anybody listening to me right now. Anybody who would be foolish enough to think, “I don’t need to get right with God today, because I can always repent on my deathbed,” you’re being a fool. Because first of all, you don’t even know if you’ll have a deathbed. Maybe you’re going to die suddenly, unexpectedly, and have no ability to repent. You’re presuming merely on the fact that you’ll have a deathbed. Secondly, every day you push away Jesus Christ, your heart becomes more calloused. You may be on your deathbed with such a hard heart that at that moment you don’t even want to repent. It is a foolish thing to presume upon a deathbed repentance.
Now, having said that, it’s real. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen people repent on their deathbed, and I know that those people are going to heaven. Here’s how I like to express it. As far as I know, there is one deathbed repentance in the Bible. I would say that’s the thief on the cross. Remember him? “Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.” Friends, that was a true deathbed repentance. That man was dying, he knew he was about to die, and he said, “Before I die, I want to settle up things with my King.” And he did. Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
That was a deathbed repentance. And I’m telling you, that thief on the cross did not go to a second-class heaven; he went to the same heaven that the person who’s lived for Jesus Christ for 100 years is going to go to. There is one deathbed repentance in the Bible, to assure us that it’s real. But there is only one deathbed repentance in the Bible, to warn us that we should never presume upon it.
What advice do you have for someone who trusts in Christ as their Savior, but often fears they’re not truly saved due to sin struggles in their life?
Here’s my advice. First of all, I would want to give that person a word of assurance. You are not saved by your performance. At the core, your Christian life is not about what you do for Jesus. That’s an aspect, but it’s not the core. The core of the Christian life is what Jesus Christ has done for you. Always remember that. Take assurance in that.
Secondly, I would tell that person to not feel guilty over their overactive conscience. God bless the person with an overactive conscience. The reason I say that is, even though that person lives in some state of torment, it’s just so refreshing to meet people who are actually concerned about sin. That seems to be so rare in the present age. So many people seem completely unconcerned with their sin. I’ve got to say, I’m always a little bit encouraged when I meet somebody who has an overactive conscience.
Now, I want to assure them. I want them to tell them not to feel guilty about their overactive conscience, but to realize that their salvation is centered in who Jesus is, not in what they do. They’ve put their faith in Jesus, they’ve repented of their sin. It’s wonderful that they have a tender conscience before God, but they need to get their eyes more on Jesus, and less on themselves, and make sure that they’re living a Jesus-centered Christian life and not a Christian life that is centered upon self. That can be a trap, can it not?
I would encourage those dear brothers and sisters, and tell them to keep walking forward. They are beloved of God. And again, I want to congratulate them on swimming against the current tide. In an age when it seems that nobody cares about sin, at least they care about it.
Please help me understand, who were the “sons of God and daughters of men” in Genesis 6 and where did they really come from?
This is a matter of significant controversy among Bible students and Bible scholars. I don’t want you to think that what I say about this is the only word or the last word on it, but I’m happy to give you my take on it.
The dominant interpretation of it through Christian history has been that the sons of God were the godly descendants of Seth, and the daughters of men were the ungodly descendants of Cain. This view explains that this was intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly. That has been the dominant interpretation through church history.
I find that to be an inadequate explanation on several levels. First of all, Genesis 6 tells us that in some way, the offspring from these unions was unnatural. Now listen, I understand that marriage between believers and unbelievers can be rough, but it doesn’t produce unnatural offspring. Secondly, there’s a very interesting passage in Jude, which speaks of the sin of the angels in the days of Noah, when they went after unnatural flesh, like Sodom and Gomorrah. Putting that passage in Jude together with what happened in Genesis leads us to believe that “the sons of God and the daughters of men” was some kind of unnatural union between the human (the daughters of men), and the demonic (the sons of God).
The other thing that is not explained by the more common interpretation of simply the godly marrying the ungodly is this. Why would God carry out such a severe judgment of the world? Because we have to admit, the judgment that God visited upon the world in the days of Noah was horrific. How can we explain that, apart from a need to cleanse the earth in a radical way, because of some kind of genetic corruption?
Now, the interpretation that I’ve given you here, it’s not easy. There are problems with it, I’ll freely admit. How can the demonic and the human produce offspring? I don’t know. I can’t say for sure. The way I would suggest, which makes at least a little bit of sense to me, is that what you’re actually talking about here was a unique form of demonic possession. That it was humans having relations with humans, but those representing the sons of God were corrupted by a unique form of demonic possession, and thus produced some kind of corrupt offspring. Again, I understand this is difficult. There are problems with the interpretation on both sides. But I think that the problems are more significant on the side who say that it was simply believers marrying unbelievers. That’s how I would explain it.
Who or what is the book about on your shelf called “Story of My Life”?
I’ve been waiting for somebody to ask that question. I’m going to take that book off and show you. This is an amazing book. Maybe sometime in the future, we’ll have a giveaway of this book. This book is called The Story of My Life, by William Taylor, Bishop of Africa. William Taylor was an amazing evangelist of the 1800s, going into the 20th century, I believe. He seemed to go all over the world, but he did the majority of his work in Africa.
He was a Methodist Bishop back in the days when the Methodists were on the forefront of preaching and spreading the gospel all around the world. It is an amazing story. It’s a beautiful book. Sometime, I’d like to talk to you about the beginning of this book. What he writes on this dedication page is amazing, and we’ll share it with you sometime.