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Christian Do Do

By:  David Deschesne

Editor, Fort Fairfield Journal, August 2, 2006, p. 11

    Some Christians today have unfortunately condensed Christianity down to a list of “Do-Dos” and “Don’t-Dos” in order to obtain salvation and everlasting life in Heaven.

   Some Christians have perfected their behavior according to their own or their church congregation’s checklist, and some marvel at their ability to keep most of God’s law - though only one person in human history ever has completely kept it.

   As part of the Torah (the Law) the 10 Commandments were given to Moses by God and are rules we should all aspire to. However, most Christians who want to follow the Law as their method to salvation aren’t aware that there are many more rules dictated than those infamous ten.  “According to Jewish tradition, the Torah contains 613 commandments altogether, consisting of 248 positive and 365 negative rules.”1

   Some Christian groups in the past have taken moral rules and dictates to the extreme.  Members of the Pentecostal Fire-Baptized Holiness Church, formed in 1911, are forbidden to buy or sell, or to engage in any labor or business for which they may receive pecuniary remuneration.  They are also forbidden “filthiness” of speech, foolish talking or jesting, slang, attendance at fairs, swimming pools, or shows of any kind, the use of jewelry, gold, feathers, flowers, costly apparel or neckties.2

   Many of these self-prescribed Christian Do-Dos aren’t even found in the Bible, while others only through a huge stretch of some select verses out of context.

     The Law of the Old Testament was a contract given to us by God.  Keep it, you live; don’t keep it, you die.  God knew our human nature was such that there was no way we could possibly keep all 613 mandates from birth to death, and used it to show us our hopeless condition under sin, which is why Paul referred to it as a “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ.3  We have to come to Christ for our Salvation, because we find by trying to keep the Law, we can’t ever hope to be saved.

   Societies adopt many subjective rules regarding what each deems  “appropriate” behavior.  From what clothes to wear, the length hair for men or women, to the degree or severity of what it terms “foul” language and how one should act in public, a restaurant, amongst friends, etc. are what anthropologists call “norms.”  Other things like eating with knives and forks or with chopsticks, having a chaperone on a date, and not cheating on exams are called “folkways.”  Finally, much stronger than norms or folkways are prohibitions against stealing, murder, vandalism, etc.  These, anthropologists refer to as “mores” (pronounced ‘mor-ays’).

   Christians have adopted many of these societal norms, folkways and mores in their doctrine on what one must do to be saved from sin.  However, as societies differ, so do their ideologies - hence, what is deemed unacceptable in one society (for example, nudity in public) would be considered normal, appropriate, even expected in another.  Such a loose, subjective variation in societal norms, then can not be used to light the path to true salvation.

    The one act that does cross societal lines, regardless of their norms, folkways or mores is Faith in the Heavenly Father.  Regardless of what one society or another deems as acceptable behavior amongst its inhabitants, Faith transcends those boundaries and allows each - clothed or unclothed; smoking or non-smoking; vegetarian or meat eater - equal access to salvation via a personal, trusting, faithing relationship with the Heavenly Father.  

      Now, cussing will not get you into Heaven; but not cussing won’t get you into Heaven, either.  Drinking alcohol will not get you into Heaven; but not drinking alcohol won’t get you into Heaven, either.  Smoking won’t get you into Heaven; but, not smoking won’t get you into Heaven, either.  Are you beginning to get the picture?  It’s not your works, your “Do-Dos” and “Didn’t-Dos” that get you in.

   The Law is still a valid set of rules, keeping the 10 commandments will make you a good neighbor.  I would much rather live beside a neighbor who has good morals and ethics than one who doesn’t.  But, keeping good morals and ethics is not what gets you into Heaven.

   Jesus expounded on the 10 commandments by stating essentially: the thought is as bad as the deed.  For example, while adultery is condemned, Jesus taught that the mere act of fantasizing about sexual relations with another woman while married, is the exact same thing.4  This thought vs. deed parallel was designed to show people that in their sinful, fallen nature, there is no way they can keep the Law and obtain salvation.  A miss, after all is as good as a mile.

   Luckily, God saw this fault in our frail human condition and utilized Jesus as the failsafe plan to save us.   Jesus was God who “struck a tent in human flesh”5 to become one of us as our kin.  Since He was God, He was perfect, since He was in the flesh of a man, He was prone to all of the temptations and potential shortfalls we all have.  Being God, he was able to be tempted and overcome the shortfalls of man and keep the Law none of us could. 

   When Jesus died as the sacrifice for our sins, the Law of the Old Testament passed away with Him and a new Law, a new Torah, a New Testament was given to us - a Law of Faith.

   Under this new contract - the Law of Faith - we are no longer subjected to the Old Law.  But that does not give us license to break it.

   In Old Testament days, the Law was on the outside of the man, pushing in.  Pushing him down, telling him what he must or mustn’t do.  Today, under the Law of Faith, as one acts upon his trusting relationship with our Heavenly Father, through the Faith of His son, Jesus as the template to model his own Faith upon, God’s spirit enters in and changes him into a new person - a new creation in Christ.

     The position of God’s will relative to Christians is thus inside, pushing out; rather than outside, pushing in.  We Christians do what God wants because we want to, not because we are forced to, and are guided by Him literally living within us to that end.

   The Apostle Paul tried to illustrate the separation of the old Law of works from the new Law of Faith in Romans 3:28: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”  In that verse, the word “without” is translated from the Greek χωρις (choris), which pictorially means “chasms” or like a wide, deep chasm. The Law of faith, then is “chasms apart” from the Law of works.

   When Satan rebelled and took a third of Heaven with Him, a void was left.  God is looking to fill that void with people who aren’t necessarily perfect, but trust Him.  While we move toward perfection as God’s willing servants here in the physical realm, He will refine our Faith through testing and He will do the full perfecting of us “over there” when we finally meet with Him in Heaven.  Those who choose not to place their faith in God don’t have to.  He doesn’t, nor can He, coerce love and trust.  He gave us free will to choose to Faith in Him or not; to choose Heaven or Hell.  Choose wisely.

 

Notes

1. The Torah: A Modern Commentary, ©1981 Union of American Hebrew Congregations, p. 544.

2.  Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 5th ed., Frank S. Mead, ©1970 Abingdon Press, p. 164.

3.  Galations 3:24

4. Matthew 5:28

5. phrase borrowed from Dr. Gene Scott, Ph.D.