A Regulator of Church Purity: The Moral Law
Old Testament Righteousness & Regeneration – morally speaking
Let us note, first and foremost, saving separation is a sin separation, and if Israel returns back to sin then they will forfeit their identity and benefit as The Church. Israel was called out of Egypt to dwell in separation and holiness from the Egyptians (from their ways and persons), because the Egyptians were walking in “the way of sinners” (Ps. 1:1), according to scripture. Likewise, also, God forewarned of “the Land of Canaan” in the same manner as He spoke of Egypt (see the comparison below).
“For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the Land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” – Lev. 11:45
“After the doings of the Land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the Land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.” – Lev. 18:3
God was not a racist. God was a sin-hating God, not a race-hating God. Holiness was not doing “after the doings of the Land” of “Egypt” or “Canaan”, their ordinances or their ways. I repeat, this was because the Egyptians and the Canaanites were ungodly, scornful, sinners! Of such, God forewarned, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1). But, my reader, what if these Israelites – “called out” and blessed by God! – turned back in their hearts to what God has forbidden so that, at last, their saintliness is turned into sinfulness? Like Esau and the Exodus Generation exemplified, the end result would be reprobation; this is for sure, but what would it look like when saints turn into sinners?
Laws were put in place to execute “The Death Penalty” upon all the criminals of Israelite Civilization which, in truth, were saints-turned-sinners, but how was this characterization judged? One fundamental and general way to discover all the sinners of Israel was, in the language of Numbers 15:27-28 & 30-31,
“And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. And the Priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.” – Numbers 15:27-28
“But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” – Numbers 15:30-31
For an Israelite to turn Egyptian or Canaanite was, in other words, a saint-turned-sinner. A saint-turned-sinner could be called, in the language used in Numbers 15, an ignorant sinner turned into a presumptuous sinner. This is because, according to scripture, there are two separate categories of lifestyle which do characterize all mankind: Ignorant Sinners and Willful Sinners. With certainty, therefore, those who live a lifestyle free from the continuance of “willful sin” do so by the enablement of the Holy Ghost (Heb. 10:26-29). This lifestyle is impossible without regeneration. Therefore we can understand that these two categories of human lifestyle do contrast in equal proportion to their differing heart-conditions. In other words, what is displayed outside of the man is representative of what is inside of the man, as Paul argued,
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” – Romans 2:28-29
It is easy for some people to consider “the Law” as a yoke of mere ceremonies and rituals, something kept-up by carnal men without the empowerment of the Holy Ghost. This is impossible! Even so, likewise, it is impossible to keep the Moral Law without the empowerment of the Holy Ghost. Yes, my reader, we must “KEEP” the Moral Law otherwise we are not being kept within the ruling power of saving grace (experientially speaking)! For this reason, it was written,
“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the Law: but if thou be a breaker of the Law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the Law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the Law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” – Romans 2:25-29
The contextual foreground of Romans 2:28-29 does specifically identify the accomplishment of inward salvation which is “of the heart” and “in the Spirit”, and what is it? Verses 25-27 declares it very plainly: Inward salvation is identified by those who do “by nature fulfill the Law”, which means that they do “keep the righteousness of the Law”. This is the expressed meaning of what it means to be a Jew inwardly. It means to keep the Law inwardly. Salvation exists in the New Testament for the same accomplishment, “that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4, 2:13, 6:12, 6:16, 13:8, 15:18, Gal. 5:7, 24, 6:7-9; for more information see Legalism: Law, Grace, and Works).
Furthermore, those who are able to keep the ceremonies of the Law by faith (i.e. believing in the Gospel), as God did originally intend, are thereby enabled to “keep” the Moral Law by faith (through the empowerment of the Holy Ghost). The OT Moral Law was and is a standard of morality which was impossible to “fulfill” without the Holy Ghost (Rom. 8:2-4). If this were not so, and Old Testament saints did not have the Holy Ghost… then, indeed, no one ever fulfilled the Law and inward Jews have never existed until the New Testament dispensation. Albeit, because this is so, the scripture spoke of many a man who found favor in the LORD’s sight. For example, Noah was a “just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). Abraham “believed in the LORD; and HE counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Abraham walked before God (Gen. 17:1-2) and feared God (Gen. 22:12). He was even called “the friend of God” for good reason (Gen. 18:17-19, James 2:23)! Abraham was a man who was obedient to God’s voice (Gen. 22:16-18). The Lord Jesus understood that Isaac and Jacob followed in Abraham’s footsteps. Signifying this, the Lord said, “many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 8:11). Furthermore, Job was a “man that was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1). According to scripture, Job was the most righteous man in all the earth during his time (Job 1:8, 2:3)! He was a man full of the Holy Ghost, yes, and thus he lived a lifestyle of utter obedience to God’s commandments (see the Christ-like description of Job’s life before he fell into sin during the trial of his faith: Job chapter 29). A host of other witnesses could be mentioned (see Hebrews 11, for example) but the point is clear. All these men, like Zacharias and Elisabeth, were “righteous before God, walking in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6).
My reader, that which was morally acceptable to God should be morally exemplary to us. The men of God in the Old Testament (those who walked with God in vital reality through saving faith) were not disdained by the inspired writers of the New Testament. Rather, they were set forth as an example of faith to imitate (see Hebrews 11). Their inferiority to saints in the New Covenant was not a moral inferiority. They are inferior in reference to revelation, knowledge, Divine-light, and Covenantal calling, but they are not inferior morally. By faith (according to what they knew of God and the Gospel) they were exemplary! Those men who were heroes of the faith are displayed in the Hall of Fame as clouds of witnesses to inspire our faith, that we might walk in their steps (Heb. 12:1-2, Rom. 4:12). God is not ashamed to esteem the saints of the Old Covenant, but why are we? As for most of us, it is because we don’t understand the Law ceremonially speaking or morally speaking.
Thus far, we have seen how the Law existed to regulate the population of Israel (The Church) ceremonially speaking, forbidding the abiding presence of all once-born imposters or twice-born backsliders. In addition to this, we must understand how the population is regulated morally speaking. Numbers 15:22-31 has been referenced already to signify this regulative principle in The Church of the Old Testament, morally speaking, but do we understand this Law? Can you comprehend its significance in regards to Church Purity? You may acknowledge that, according to scripture, he “doeth ought presumptuously” is the same as he which commits “sin wilfully”, according to Numbers 15:22-31 and Hebrews 10:26-29, but do you see the miraculous significance of a lifestyle that is without willful sin? If not, the regulative method of Church Purity which this Law exists to perform will not be evident to you.