Why Strive For Bondage?

by Ed Stevens

Would we not say, Something is sadly wrong if a person chose to be imprisoned in a dark dungeon rather than to enjoy the liberty of life in the great outdoors? How strange, we might also say, that in the spiritual realm so many people choose, and, indeed, strive for, living under a 'ministration of death", of "condemnation", of "bondage", namely, the old covenant of the law of Moses. II Cor. 3:7, 9; Heb. 8:13. They choose this in preference to "standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free". Gal. 5:1. In Galatians 4:21-28 the apostle Paul speaks of those" that desire to he in bondage to the law" and compares the births of Ishmael and Isaac to "two covenants, the one from Sinai which gendereth to bondage", and the other to "Jerusalem which is above", which "is free" and is "the mother" of all saved people.

Correspondingly, in II Corinthians 3:6-16 Paul explained two "ministrations", or economies, one "the ministration of death written and engraven in stones" (the ten commandments), and the other "the ministration of righteousness", or "of the spirit", in contrast to "the letter, the law, which killeth", v. 6. Paul here said he was "an able ministry of the new covenant". He preached that new covenant to Israelites who alone had the "old covenant" (Deut. 5:3; Rom. 2:14), to whom was promised the making of "a new covenant with the house of Judah and with the house of Israel . . . after those days". Jer. 31:31-34, noting verses 10 and 23-30 here, we see that the words "after those days" refer to the accomplishment of Israel being regathered from their scattering among the nations ("the second time", Isa. 11:11), when Messiah "will watch over them to build and to plant". There is no evidence today of that future covenant having been already made and put into effect. Most Bible teachers say it was made after the cross, which is not true! When it will be made with Israel, not the church, their full restoration under Messiah's rule will be witnessed; God's law will be "written in their hearts"; they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me . . ." Also, the temple priesthood shall be restored. Jer. 31:10, 23-34; 32:37-44; 33:10-22; Heb. 8:10-13.

In II Corinthians 3 Paul explains that the same power of the Holy Spirit that will operate in the future new covenant yet to be made with Israel, is NOW operative in the presently established "ministration of righteousness". This ministration is said to "exceed in glory" more so than "the ministration of death written and engraven in stones [which] came in glory", vs. 7-9, Revised Version. The very important question here is, was both this "death" ministration and its glory "done away" or only the glory with which it came, and the glory on Moses' face? The TRUTH is: "If that which IS DONE AWAY [the law] was glorious [`was brought in with glory', Rotherham's trans.; 'was introduced with splendor', Williams' trans.; 'was attended with glory', 20th Century trans.] much more that which remaineth, is glorious", namely, "the ministration of righteousness" by which the sinner can become righteous before God "WITHOUT THE LAW" (Rom. 3:21, 22), through penitential faith in Christ, the Son of God. "For He hath made HIM to be sin for us [on the cross], who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God IN HIM." II Cor. 5:21. "For by WORKS of the law shall no flesh be justified", or declared righteous. See Gal. 2:16, 21; 3:21; Rom. 4:1-5.

So then, it is not a matter of merely "glory" being "done away", but the "handwriting of ordinances" "imposed on them" (Israel, Heb. 9:10), which were "blotted out" by Christ who "took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross". Col. 2:14. Please remember, the ten commandments and the ceremonial law are, according to Exodus 24:4, 7; Deut. 5:1-21; 30:10; 31:9-11, 24-26, said to be ONE LAW, "the law of Moses". When God's Word declares this "IS done away", the Saturday Sabbath, and the yearly Sabbaths also, are done away. This, of course, does not leave us without law. In this present dispensation of "the church which is Christ's body" (Eph. 1:22, 23; 3:1-10, the apostle Paul was chosen to be "THE minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles". Rom. 15:16. He wrote in I Cor. 14:37, 38. "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I WRITE unto you are the commandments of The Lord. But if any man be ignorant [willfully] let him be ignorant." Paul re-iterated in many admonitions and commands the substance of the ten commandments except the fourth, about Sabbath keeping. Why this exception? Please read Exodus 31:13, 16, 17; Ezek. 20:12, 20; Deut. 5:15 to see that the Sabbath was "a sign between God and the children of Israel," and that by it they were to "remember" their bondage in Egypt. The popular doctrine that the church today is so-called "spiritual Israel" is nowhere taught in the Bible. It is a very deplorable and confusing error!

Thus we are NOT in bondage to "keep days, and months, and times, and years", nor to let any man "judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath". Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16. Every day is the Christian's Sabbath, spiritually, for "there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God [a Sabbath-like rest]. For he that is entered into. HIS rest [salvation in Christ], he also hath ceased from his own works as God did from His. Let us give diligence [R.V.] therefore, to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief", as did Israel, who with "a vail upon their heart" (like many today) failed to discern and to believe the excelling glory of "the ministration of righteousness" — "the gospel of the GRACE of God" in the Person of Jesus Christ. Heb. 4:9-11; II Cor. 3:14-16; Acts 20:24. Let us "earnestly contend for [THIS] faith which was once delivered to the saints". Jude 3.

"Only by pride cometh contentions." Prov. 13:10. It is pride that makes people cling to false doctrine of faith plus works for salvation— that they can do something also, in addition to Christ's finished work to redeem lost souls. These should do as the publican mentioned in Luke 18:13, who "smote upon his breast and said, God be merciful to me, a sinner. This man went to his house justified"— saved by grace!

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