A Regulator of Church Purity: The Ceremonial Law
Section #1: Introduction
Section #2: Old Testament Righteousness & Regeneration – ceremonially speaking
Section #3: Separation from Once-Born Imposters
Separation from Once-Born Imposters
“Every plant, which My Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:13-14)
Jesus Christ preached this with authority, persistence, and against great opposition! In the 1st century the Land of Israel was crawling with Israelites who were children of Abraham by flesh and the Devil by spirit, and Christ utterly shocked them with His fierce denouncement of their privilege of salvation by means of inheritance because they were children in the Abrahamic lineage! Jesus Christ addressed some of these very persons in John 8:31-47, just below. Note, they were Jews which were called “believers”, so to speak. Beginning in verse 31 the Lord Jesus addressed the Jews as those that “believed on Him”, but the Lord was dissatisfied with their “belief”. Did Jesus commend their faith? The Lord Jesus did to them what Abraham did to Ishmael: He denounced them from the family of Abraham, The Church, which was the Spiritual Family of God.
“As he spake these words, many believed. on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” - John 8:30-4
These Jews believed on Christ (v. 30) and yet were not free from the bondage of sin (vv. 31-32); therefore they did not savingly believe on Him, meaning that, in truth, they were once-born imposters to the true faith. They were utterly unable to understand the Lord Jesus because they had not the help of the Spirit of God (v. 33). They had an outward form of “the Gospel for the Jews”, and this alone (2 Tim. 3:5). In false pretense they clave to “the Gospel” as they understood it (a perverted faith in the coming Messiah). They understood that the Messiah would come through the seed of Abraham, so they openly professed, “we be Abraham’s seed” (v. 33), thinking this justified them. This affirmation was based upon the scriptural truth, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made” (Gal 3:16), but the Jews were disqualified from their claim… why? Jesus Christ knew that the Pharisees were Abraham’s seed according to the flesh (outwardly), but He showed them how they were not Abraham’s seed according to the Spirit (inwardly), therefore consequentially, according to Christ, these Jews were the spiritual children of Satan (vv. 36-47). In other words, they needed to be born again!
Jesus Christ declared that the truth makes men free (John 8:32), but the Pharisees were truth-less and carnal: once-born men who were under the yoke of slavery to sin; men who, by nature, could not receive the words of the Lord Jesus. Many religiously popular men forsook Christ because, the Lord said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). By this, Christ meant, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). The Pharisees professed to be the children of Abraham and children of God (John 8:33, 41), but Jesus Christ rebuked them, and said, “If God were your Father, ye would love me” (John 8:42). Again, He said, “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:43-44). Do you see the spiritual pattern?
The Lord Jesus has given us a spiritual pattern whereby we might judge all men - according to their deeds. A person’s deeds are a true indicator of what spiritual offspring they are of. Jesus said, “ye do the deeds of your father” (John 8:41). Deeds reveal the spiritual fatherhood and spiritual motherhood of all men! In the exact same methodology of judgment used by Christ in John chapter 8, Peter addressed God’s spiritual daughters. According to Peter, regenerate women must be “as daughters of Sarah” (1 Peter 3:6), which means that, by deed, if they “do well” as Sarah did, these women are worthy to be called daughters of Sarah. Like as in John 8, a spiritual son of Abraham is a son of God, even so in 1 Peter chapter 3, a spiritual daughter of Sarah is a daughter of God. As Jesus Christ said, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39), even so, likewise, it can be said, “if ye were Sarah’s children, ye would do the works of Sarah.”
Here Jesus Christ, in agreement with the spiritual purpose behind the implementation of the Mosaic Law, was enacting that which had been left neglected in His adulterous and backslidden generation in the 1st century. It was always the purpose of the Mosaic Law to bring the people of God into a salvific spiritual union with God, and so, being born again and regenerated, they were required to walk out “the righteousness of the Law” both inwardly and outwardly (Rom. 2:25-29). The Mosaic Law wrought salvific spiritual union with fallen and depraved humanity because, and only because, the eternal sufficiency of Christ was preached to them through the shadows and figures of the Gospel which were hidden in the Mosaic Law (a Gospel message which only those who had eyes to see could see), and they, believing in the Gospel-shadows, were accepted by faith apart from works because they believed in Christ who was preached to them!
Did you never read how that Christ was preached and effectually declared by “all the prophets” (Lk. 24:25)? Did you never read how, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets” (Lk. 24:27), the Lord Jesus Christ was able to be known by all? But not all believed, not all had eyes to see the hidden messages of the Gospel in shadows and figures, thus not all responded in saving faith; consequentially such men were rejected by God because it was as if they rejected the Gospel of Christ today - the manifest token of their rejection being, they were without saving spiritual union with God, without regeneration, without the second birth which granted power over sin, eyes to see God, and ears to obey Him! In such a condition, being once-born and unbelieving, the natural seed of Abraham and Israel would diligently observe and cleave to the outward form of the Law in a false hope for justification (“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”-Rom.10:2-3), a false hope the Lord Jesus decried and denounced with all authority.
“Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” – Matthew 3:12, Isaiah 41:21
The Lord Jesus is The Great Separator! He is, magisterially, a fuller manifestation of what was written of old by shadows, thus in the Mosaic Law, likewise, God desired a continual separation from the once-born and unregenerate seed of Israel. The Mosaic Law established edicts which were as a “fan in [God’s] hand”, and through them, in an Old Testament sense, the Lord intended to “thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12, Isa. 41:21). How and by what Laws was this separation accomplished? By the Laws of public execution, separation was enacted. Numbers 15:22-31 demanded the public execution of all once-born men because, naturally, they are wicked and ungodly men, “presumptuous sinners”, but let us make a careful note here: this Law was originally created to execute all twice-born backsliders who succumbed to presumptuous sin.
Old Testament Command
“And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the LORD hath spoken unto Moses, Even all that the LORD hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the LORD commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations; Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance: And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance. 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. Ye shall have one Law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them. 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 15:22-31
Err: Micah 3:5
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” – Heb. 10:26-29
Err: Heb. 3:10, Jas. 5:19-20, 1 John 2:6, 4:5-6, 2 Pet. 2:18-21, 3:17-18, 1 Tim. 6:10
In Numbers 15:22-31 we can see the disqualification of mercy through an atoning sacrifice (paralleled in the NT as the disqualification of the atoning mercy wrought by the sacrifice of Christ in Hebrews 10:26-29), and thus, of course, this meant there remained no opportunity for forgiveness! Upon such grounds of severe and merciless judgment – “dying without mercy” (Heb. 10:28) – God intended to shake the lazy heart awake, declaring, willful sin is soul-suicide! My reader, do you willingly sin and expect mercy from God? Do you know God’s will at any point, and yet, you go on doing what you know is wrong willingly? Then you are expecting mercy from God for a crime against which He declares merciless wrath, when it is committed with continuance. Oh, my fellow man, how miserable we are that we have been blinded from seeing so important a truth?
My reader, this Law in Numbers 15 was a means by which God governed and continued saving separation: the saved separated from the unsaved, the righteous separated from the wicked (whether once-born or twice-born backsliders), and likewise, the unwilling sinners were separated from the willful sinners, the ignorant sinners separated from the presumptuous sinners. This is a reasonable judgment, my reader, if you understand that, because regeneration empowered and transformed the Israelites to hate sin and love God, therefore when and if an Israelite man can be found as a willful and presumptuous sinner, he is, without question, a once-born man or a twice-born backslider, both of which were under the condemnation of God’s castaway-separation (“There is THERFORE now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who WALK NOT after the flesh, but after the Spirit”-Rom. 8:1). Likewise, also, if an Israelite man can be found unwillingly and ignorantly sinning – this is an impossibility except by the power of the Gospel! This man is a freeman! A man who was once in bondage to the devil, Pharaoh’s Egypt, under the misery of the devil’s tyranny – a slave – having been lifted up from the black-pits of human depravity! Thus, the man has a God-given heart that hates sin and loves God!
As an overview of two key points, let us remember,
1) “The Law of Circumcision” established with Abraham was the means of government by which God accomplished a continued separation amongst His chosen people’s coming posterity. The Mosaic Law, like Abraham’s Law of circumcision, represents spiritual realities which will be increasingly and then finally unveiled with all mystery disclosed, through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Every saint in every age is saved by and because of Jesus Christ, but some believed upon Him in the mystery of shadows while others behold Him in the open-face of real Person, all mystery disclosed!
2) Because these Laws are a representation of a saving, spiritual union with God, inward and outward righteousness is expected and demanded, and upon neglect, punishable by public execution, and thereby, with public execution faithfully upheld among the nation of Israel, God continued to maintain purity, holiness, and separation in The Church.
Through the Mosaic Law, God made sure the holy seed would separate from all once-born imposters. To keep the whole Church pure, holy, and clean, God instituted strict Laws of public execution for any Israelite who forsook the spiritual salvation of God, evidenced by keeping the righteousness of the Law (The Spirituality of the Law), by turning to a mere carnal expression of the carnal commandments, or a form of godliness denying the power of God to fulfill the righteousness of the Law (morally speaking). Therefore, anyone who sinned “presumptuously”, or willfully, would be “cut off from among his people” (Numbers 15:30-31), and this is just like Ishmael was cut off from Isaac, and Esau from Jacob, both of which do now serve as examples of this in the generations before the Mosaic Law was instituted. After the Mosaic Law was instituted, the Laws of public execution ensured that all who were forsaking a vitally real spiritual union with God – which is salvation – evidenced by men backsliding from heartfelt obedience into willful sinning (a failure to keep “the righteousness of the Law”-Rom. 8:2-4), were cut off from the congregation. By this means, twice-born backsliders and once-born imposters would be separated from the rest of the seed of Abraham (those who were the spiritual seed of Abraham indeed, spiritually speaking). The once-born seed of Abraham were and are the plants which the Heavenly Father did not plant, therefore they were, are, and must be uprooted (Matt. 15:13-14), and the twice-born backsliders receive the Divine indictment, “They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of His children: they are a perverse and crooked generation” (Deut. 32:5). So be it.