The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee before being converted on the road to Damascus. He was one who knew very well the letter of the Law. He never thought twice about persecuting or even killing those of the Sect of the Nazarenes. What was it though, that was different about this specific group of people who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ? Why were they all so upset, to the extremity of putting someone to death for being a follower of the Way?
Let us begin by looking at a parable of the Messiah. We can take His words, and His message, and compare it to the understanding that Paul had obtained by walking in newness of Spirit, and not in oldness of Letter. We will be looking at Mark 7:14-23, using the KJV Bible. “And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” – Mark 7:14-16
Before we continue, as some may begin to think that they know what Jesus is speaking about, let me ask you a question. Is he only talking about your mouth? What about your heart? What about both? What if there was even more here that most of us aren’t even aware of? Let us continue. “And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable. And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.” – Mark 7:17-20. These verses, very few would even dispute over what is being said. But, what about what Jesus says next?
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” – Mark 7:21-23. Why does He mention fornications? Why does He mention covetousness? Why does he mention lasciviousness? Why are they sperate from adulteries? Are they not one in the same? Couldn’t it just be summed up with that one word? The answer is no. Paul was taught by the Spirit of All Truth, and not after the tradition of men. He already knew the Law. After his conversion, he was teaching the new covenant, or what we all know as the New Testament. Were you aware that there was another law, a higher law? Have you taken the time to read the Book of Romans? What about Hebrews? Does some of it sound like gibberish? Have you glossed over a lot of it? I know that I used to. The majority of it presented itself to me in much of the same way prior to my own conversion. Now, I understand all that I ask the Father about, with perfect clarity. At least I can say, with the amount of His Word, which has now become the greater part of me.
Paul tells us in Romans 7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Wait… What? Stop for a minute. Think and consider. When we are lusting, we are coveting? What about our spouse? Sex is ok with our spouse right? What is it that Paul just told us? What did Jesus say in Mark 7? Why did the Messiah say elsewhere? “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23. The answer is no. Sex is not ok. Not at all. We are to be married to another. We are to be the wise virgins. We are to walk, even as He walked. We are to forsake everything. The sect of the Nazarenes must of been a sight to behold back then, I would imagine. “They that are in the flesh, cannot please God.”
Let us now take, what some of you may be highly upset about, and use Paul’s understanding to solidify the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who were followers of The Way. Before doing so, I will add to the Old Testament, and the New. Within the Old Testament, we have the Law, or what most of us would call the ten commandments. Although, the New Testament translated, literally means, the new covenant. There are two separate laws. There is the natural man, and there is a spiritual man. There is a carnal mind, and a spiritual mind. There is a Levitical priesthood, and a Melchizedek priesthood. There is a natural law, and a spiritual law. Paul tells us in Galatians, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
Romans 8 begins as such, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Let us now backtrack to Romans 7, and build further upon, what we all have just gazed at. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” The Old Testament, and the New. The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, and the law of sin and death.
“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.” – Luke 5:37-39.
“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Jesus Christ gave us the Way. He is the Way. He taught us how each of us need to walk, in order to please God. He taught us not to live under the Law, but to live even better. He taught us about abstinence. It is necessary for our eternal salvation, and for our own conversion.
Jesus gave us the Way, the Truth, and the Life within the Gospels. If you don’t know the Messiah’s words, you can’t fully understand the epistles. Jesus Christ is the whole foundation of the church, and we live or die off of what he said. Not our understanding of only one or two verses elsewhere. Especially if we don’t know what is being said. The epistles of Paul are given as an example to different churches in their own conversion process, and with their own level of understanding. Once you read all of 1 Corinthians 7, and understand the “folly” of the carnally minded church in 2 Corinthians, you see how Paul even says this towards the end when speaking upon sex, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” He says more than once in the chapter that he is speaking and not the Lord, and not as an authority of the subject. The Apostles even say this when Jesus is teaching about the most misunderstood word, “fornication,” in this final Biblical age, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” Yet, here is the real punch in the gut when you know this. “But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”
“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive.”
Jonathan Heller – Lift Up A Banner