I know it sounds like a statement that is in a fight with itself. Holiness as a doctrine or teaching is meant to uphold God’s standards. Well, thank God for preachers and teachers who are doing just that and feeding the flock. This blog is actually about some so-called holiness teaching that many who drink from, consider strict and serious enough in the way it models the life of the hearers but are actually poor attempts that lower God’s standard. We are not talking here about some sort of holiness teaching, not even strict holiness teaching but some so-called very strict ones. Are they not making honest efforts to uphold and maintain God’s standards by really depriving themselves and being hard on themselves with no room for messing around. Well, come on this journey as we explore this in the light of the true Gospel. It is a pity many Christians are caught in the hook and they deprive christ his fruit in their lives. Yes, you heard it right, so-called ‘’holiness preaching’’ , the very strict ones might actually be lowering God’s standard to a level they consider hard but manageable.
There are times when young people make online orders for clothes, shoes and so on, only to find out they do not really fit in length. If they choose not to or are unable to return them, what would they do? Well, there are two options. Trim it down to fit or maybe wait till they grow up to the point when it can fit.
When it comes to the Gospel, especially when you begin to read the words of Jesus in red, especially the ones that seem to be too hard, what do people do, cut it down to fit and claim they are keeping it. And the problem with this is that the very essence or standard of the Gospel is lost.
The loving and caring Jesus made some statements that you wonder how they ever came from such a kind heart. Well, there is no need to be confused if you only put things in their right perspective.
Let us first lay a foundation of understanding. The book of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recorded events that are not really part of the new testament. You are wondering what do I mean? Please note that the words ‘’testament’’, ‘’covenant’’, or ‘’will’’ all mean the same in the original Greek rendering. You can simply check this out with a concordance. Well, the new “testament”, “covenant” or “will” did not start until Jesus shed his blood. How did I know that ? Let us read
Hebrews 9:17 KJV
For a testament is of force after men are dead: Otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Hebrews 9:17 (NLT)
The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.
Hebrews 9:17 ( Youngs Literal Translation)
for a covenant over dead victims is steadfast, since it is no force at all when the covenant-victim liveth,
Now, the point above makes a lot of difference. When the covenant victim lives, there is no covenant. I mentioned above that the Greek word for Testament is the same for ‘’will’’. It is obviously not possible for a lawyer to put a man’s will into effect and start sharing his things when the man is not dead. No way! The society does not accept that. In the same way, the testament of Jesus( new testament) did not start until he truly died. In the old testament, until the animal was killed and its bloodshed, God did not enter into covenant with them. Even in the case of the Abrahamic covenant, God did not enter into covenant with him until the death of the animals that were used ( Genesis 15: 8-18).
I hope that is sinking in. So, you would have to exclude the majority of the events of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as being out of the new covenant or testament. Another testimony to this effect is Galatians 4:4.
Galatians 4:4 (MSG)
But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage.
So, this says in order for him to deliver us who were subject to the Law, he himself was born under the conditions of the law. Are you seeing this? So, in conclusion, Hebrews 10:17 and Galatians 4:4 are both saying that Jesus in the flesh simply operated under the old contract. Check out those scriptures and meditate on them.
Now you are asking, why are you raising these issues?. Well, it is for you to know that Jesus ministered, taught and related with men under the old testament as well as he himself. You and I know that the old testament was not given for men to keep but to break. It was meant to show God’s standards that it would either take a self-deluded, proud and insane person to make claims that he can keep them. This is why Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrite as they tried to give the impression to people outwardly that they kept it. It is just like a case of me giving a mathematical equation that has no answer only for a student to claim they had an answer. So, that was the whole point of the law of Moses. Check
Romans 3:19 King James Bible
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
So, the law has not succeeded until you feel guilty or condemned so as to make you keep quiet about how you think you are or can meet God’s standards. That is why it says every mouth must be stopped. I don’t know about you but I have met people saved and unsaved still trying to make a case of how they think they have tried to meet up with God’s holiness standards. You see they are not yet closing their mouth. Let them just face up to God’s real standards not what they call God’s standards, they would quickly give up and say lord ‘ that is not possible’,
if you don’t make any other way, we would be doomed.
That is the point the law achieves its aim under the old testament. It was meant to be a cry for grace.
Read Galatians 4: 23-25
23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterwards be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Now ask yourself a question, how come some Christians after they have been brought to Christ at salvation are still showing symptoms of guilt, condemnation, despair, confusion etc. These are symptoms of the law at work. That means we stay with Christ for a while and then romance the law for another while. Read Romans 3:19 again, it says it is meant to make you guilty. But Galatians 4: 24-25 says the law was a tutor to bring us to Christ and now that we are in Christ we don’t need that tutor. Since, the new testament was not yet in effect in the greater part of the Gospels ( Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Jesus had to use the weapon of the law effectively for those whose mouth was not yet stopped. You know in the court of law, once someone admits they are guilty, that actually end up with less harsh punishment. If they would argue and open their mouth until the judge proves them guilty, they often get a more severe punishment.
That was how Jesus ministered under the law for a large part of his ministry.
We would look at some of the supposedly hard sayings of Jesus and what he intended to achieve with them. If you lose sight of Jesus’ reason for giving the sayings and respond accordingly, you might find yourself putting God’s coat according to your size just like most holiness preachers do today. Yes, you heard it right….so-called holiness preachers…the strict ones. See you in the next blog. —–Stay tuned.