Ichthys Acronym Image

Home             Site Links

Legalism, Past and Present III:
Sabbath observance, tithing, dietary regulations and other issues.

Word RTF

Question #1:

"But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless."
(Titus 3:9)

What are "foolish quarrels about the laws" referring to?

Response #1:

This is merely one of several passage wherein Paul makes a sharp distinction between proper and improper use of scripture (1Tim.1:4; 6:4; 2Tim.2:14; 2:23; Tit.3:9); everything written is for our spiritual benefit (Rom.15:4), but the Law is only of benefit if it is used properly:

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
1st Timothy 1:8-11 NKJV

In other words, the Law's purpose, especially now that all the aspects relating to foreshadowing the cross have been fulfilled, is to convict of sin so as to lead to salvation (Rom.7:7; Gal.3:24). Since we now have a New Covenant which has fulfilled the Old, and a new High Priest whose appointment necessitated this "change of law" (Heb.7:12), continuing with the dietary regulations of the Mosaic Law or other such issues, or worrying about them, or arguing about them, is spiritually debilitating – because these were only meant for the nation Israel as a community of faith separate from the world and anticipating the cross and the Messiah. Using the Law, its rites and regulations, for anything else, is out of line. And throughout this apostolic period there were Judaizers, either believers who were spiritually immature and on the edge, or unbelievers who were only pretending to be of the faith, who disturbed the early Christian communities by teaching, for example, that circumcision was necessary for salvation (e.g., Acts 15:1-6). That is certainly one such controversy, but anything having to do with Jewish vows, or diet or Gnosticism would also fall into this category (Gal.1:6-9; and cf. nearly the entire book of Hebrews). Paul is not specific in the passage you quote, no doubt because of the wide variety of abuses which this sort of practice was bringing into the churches at the time – even as legalism and "law-keeping" continue to do today.

See the links:

The Trinity and Messianic Legalism II

Apologetics, Legalism, Cults and Philosophy

The Law, Legalism, and Rome

Judaism and Legalism in the church-visible

The Trinity and Messianic Legalism

Believers in the World III: Prosperity Gospel, Tithing, Cults and Legalism

Legalism, Past and Present II

Legalism, Past and Present

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism IV: Unclean and Impure?

The Apostles, the Jerusalem Council, and Legalism then and now.

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism III

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism II

The Dangers of Messianic Legalism.

Combating Legalism VI

Combating Legalism V

Combating Legalism IV

Combating Legalism III

Combating Legalism II

Combating Legalism I

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi bro. Robert,

Greetings in Jesus! Thanks for thinking of me; you must have a jillion people who write you and to remember one of them like that is not only remarkable, but thoughtful! Thanks a bunch.

I do read your weekly postings of emails, depending on the subject. Some of it is over my head, but mostly I can get it. I am amazed at how you deal gently - but firmly - with some of the emails sent to you from individuals that are so off in left field they come back on the right side of the screen. Some of them drip legalism. I have learned that if any group says they are the only way or have the only way, to run from it like a stick of dynamite with a short, burning fuse. Such groups give me the heebies. Like Church of Christ, the UPC, Seventh Day, and that strange group that makes their women wear those funny little white caps; don't know what they are called.

Your teachings are very encouraging to me and helped me through the hell-gauntlet (I call it the Zambrano horror) I went through (and also wonderful support at the church fellowship I attend) ignited by reading Angelica Zambrano's supposed visit to heaven and hell, and the devil had his fingers in the middle of it as well. I am out of it now. But the battle continues just trusting Jesus Christ and not giving the enemy's lies and accusations the time of day. I believe Paul said in Galatians that he did not yield to the legalists "even for a moment." So I will not be bullied in regard to my hair. Serving the Lord should be out of a glad, willing heart, not as a result of servile "you better or else" mentality. Now, when it comes to sin that is different story. I avoid sin the way I avoid getting the Blob on my hand - a healthy respect and Godly fear to not toy with something that could consume me.

Thanks for letting me know about the new audio file option. I don't usually listen to tapes or radio much; any listening is usually instrumental music at work. Will give it a try when I get the chance; thank you.

I saw the items you posted that I had written; took a few sentences before I realized it was something I wrote...if it can be a help and blessing then go for it. That is what I desire.

God bless, brother and keep up His good work...I am praying for you.

In Jesus,

Response #2:

Thanks much for the update, my friend. I'm happy to hear that you are getting along well, particularly in your spiritual life.

Yes, legalism is a disaster. It's one of the false substitutes that appeals to some Christians who want to feel "holier than thou", but they are "smoke in God's nostrils" (Is.65:5). And the only way to accomplish any standard of perfection in this imperfect world and in these imperfect bodies is to make it up – adapting and limiting the definition of sin to a few things one doesn't have any problem giving up whether actually sinful or not.

Legalism is a good name for this too, because this pattern is precisely what the Pharisees did in picking and choosing a few things from the Law and ignoring its truly important "weightier matters" such as justice, mercy, and faith (Matt.23:23). It's bad enough to adopt for oneself a terribly false standard of what constitutes godly behavior; but applying it to others and judging others by that same false standard is downright evil, not to mention extremely spiritually hazardous.

Thanks much for your prayers, my friend! I'm keeping you in mine too day by day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Dr,

Can you please provide exegesis on the following passages:

1. Rom 3:30 - the difference between by and through.
2. Rom 5:13

As far as one of the bible teachers, he uses Rom 6 as one of the chapter as justification that we can conquer sin. That basically sinners cannot inherit eternal life, even believers who continue to sin. I don't think he understand the concept or heard of sin unto death and/diminish rewards.

We have other bible teachers that are more scripturally sound so I don't think I will attend when he speak but want your take on it

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #3:

In Romans 3:30, the two words are used synonymously. Justification comes to Jews/gentiles alike by/through faith, the variation serving to parallel the variation of those who have faith. But just as there is a difference between Jew and gentile – but not in God's eyes when it comes to salvation – so there is no difference between by or through faith, as long as one has it and puts it in Jesus Christ.

On Romans 5:13, here is something I have written on this previously:

For [even] before the Law [was handed down], there was [indeed] sin in the world, but, when there was no Law, sin was not being taken into account [by us as it was after the Law].
Romans 5:13

The Mosaic Law, while by no means delineating all sinful activity in a comprehensive way (as the tenth commandment shows), exposed many aspects of human behavior as truly sinful which were not generally understood as such before its arrival on the scene. But, as the verse above makes clear, "sin was in the world" to the exact same degree before these divine revelations, even before it was being recognized as such. The same principle applies today. Ignorance of sin does not render a sinful action any less sinful.

On Romans 6, there is no indication in the actual text that sinless perfection is possible. In verse 19, Paul specifically mentions our human weaknesses – and these result in sin, after all. Further, the fact that we are being urged by Paul not to sin makes it very clear that we do sin and need to battle against it (otherwise this encouragement and teaching would not be necessary). Finally, anyone who claims it is possible not to sin is without a doubt also claiming that he/she is not sinning – and that is easy enough to disprove.

I will have more to say on this in answering the other email.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Thank you very much. I'm sorry if I'm being irritating, but I have a last question about idolatry. Do you think posters and similar things are idolatry?

Response #4:

It's always good to hear from you, my friend. I'm zealous for your spiritual growth in Jesus Christ.

It's what's in the heart that counts, not what's on the wall. It's how a person feels about a celebrity, a sports team, a fancy car, a false god that matters. Of course, putting a poster of a false god on the wall is something it would be odd (at the very least) for a believer to do (not to mention a very bad idea). Putting a sport's idol's poster on the wall is not the best sign of spiritual growth or being spiritually where the Lord wants us to be, but while it is a symptom it's not, in my opinion, a serious or particularly egregious sin – it all depends, as I say, on what is going on in a person's heart. And again, if there are external indications of a lack of spiritual maturity in a person's life, the way to "fix" this is not by treating the symptoms but by treating the disease. We can't whitewash our way into a good reward or spiritual maturity. That is legalism pure and simple, and it comes in many insidious forms. What a Christian needs is spiritual growth. Once a person is spiritually mature and moving forward, what they put on the wall years ago will probably mean nothing to them in their heart – and thus mean nothing in fact.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

In this, I may also be hung in the translation (KJV.) Jesus said, and I'm probably bolixing the quote, that of the two greatest commandments the first was to love God with all your heart and mind. The second was to love your neighbor as yourself. On this hangs all the rest of the law.

2 John 1:6 says:

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.


Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
John 6:46

Then it seems to me that the glory that sunburned Moses could be none other than Jesus. In which case, the 10 commandments He gave Moses which is or was stored in the arc would be "His commandments."

The other commandments recorded in the gospels seem to simply reinforce the two greatest commandments.

What have I misunderstood?

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #5:

If the question is "what is a commandment", the answer is that it is anything the Lord tells us to do or not do – and there are many more than "ten" such commands. The ten are unique in that they comprehend human behavior generally and direct everything we think and do into godly directions so that all may have a chance to use their lives to seek God (see the link: "the ten commandments"). Our Lord simplifies things even more – down to the two you list – which are really two sides of one coin, namely, love:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8 NIV

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:10 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,

The extent to which the civil sanctions in the Pentateuch should be reflected in the United States federal penal code is an interesting topic in my view. Why? If we say that “no, the penalties are not appropriate for the U.S.A.” and if we agree that God is just, then isn’t that tantamount to saying that justice is not appropriate for the U.S.A.?

The biggest problem, however, I have with the penal code in the Pentateuch is that it would be impossible for religious freedom to exist. Jews, for instance, living under a Christian interpretation of the Pentateuch, would be guilty of apostasy and have to be killed by civil punishment, and that seems to close to the pogroms of Russia and the Nazi Holocaust for comfort.

There is also a second problem: early modern history suggests that a Mosaic law implementation, at least as it is attempted to be put into place in the modern state, would be extremely unjust. Take the case of Thomas Aikenhead, the last person to be executed for blasphemy in the United Kingdom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aikenhead)

Far from being celebrated as a triumph of justice, the event was seen to be so sick and so wrong that it caused the government of the United Kingdom to permanently retire the death penalty for blasphemy. It is also somewhat ironic that a person named Thomas was charged for skepticism of Jesus’s claims.

Response #6:

Here is what I read in scripture:

Moreover I saw under the sun:
In the place of judgment,
Wickedness was there;
And in the place of righteousness,
Iniquity was there.
Ecclesiastes 3:16 NKJV

This rings true, so I don't think we're going to have be concerned about any such prospect – as if the rulers of this country were going to suddenly pursue righteous policies from a genuine concern from godliness anymore than the citizens of this country, for that matter. Also, for we believers to become concerned would be dabbling in politics, and that is always a grave mistake which inevitably results in legalism (if that is not already present as a motivator).

As long as we believers are not prevented from studying and teaching the Bible and doing the other basic things (such as praying) that Christians need to do, the rest of what happens in society need not concern us. And to the extent that it does, to that extent we are letting ourselves be unnecessarily distracted from "job #1". Much of that distraction, as I note the involvement or concern of others in politics, is intense emotional upheaval, and it's hard to focus on living for Jesus Christ if you're terribly upset about politics (or about anything else, for that matter).

Also, I think you've hit the nail on the head with the major "workability" problem: the Law is meant for an all-believer population of a special nation created and governed personally by the Lord. No other nation can become ancient Israel (which fell far short of its mandate at all times, by the way) any more than the Roman Catholic church can become a new Levitical priesthood (and what they have produced gives you a pretty good idea of what would happen if a nation tried something comparable). It is just "one problem", but then that is like saying that the only thing that keeps us from levitating is a little thing called gravity.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

What do you think of this verse?

"Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don't apply to them.”
(Hosea 8:12)

Response #7:

A good verse to show what I've often said, namely, that while people imagine an Israel in Old Testament times where the Law was followed, in fact it never ever even came close to being followed. This verse dates to the time when paganism was preferred; after the exile falsely treating the Law with legalism was preferred; but never was there anything close to a community consisting almost exclusively of believers who zealously kept the actual Law.

In Jesus Christ our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

If you’re wondering what’s inspiring this feeling of civics and the Biblical law, it’s because I just finished reading a 300 or so page Master’s thesis from Regent University dealing with it. Just for light reading. Here’s the link. The following statement appears in the Epilogue:

One might object and argue that since we no longer are required to make animal sacrifices and obey the dietary laws, then we can’t really know for sure that this text upholds the Bible’s civil code either. But the only way to non-arbitrarily interpret the text is to assume all scriptures are binding except those that the Bible itself abrogates. (And the Bible abrogates the sacrificial system and the dietary laws, but not the civil code.) Otherwise, everyone could arbitrarily decide for themselves what “all Scripture” means by picking and choosing those laws in the Bible that they desire to obey. Such a reading would destroy any objective meaning of the text.

However, a clean partition of “civil code” from “ceremonial laws” is not possible, because civil code often was mixed up with ceremonial laws, as the adultery test in Numbers 5 shows (a civil offense—suspected adultery— is taken to the priesthood) or the inclusion of the Sabbath in the 10 Commandments. I was surprised when I was reading this that the author devoted an entire section to instituting the death penalty for Sabbath breaking, and yet not one instance of Paul is quoted in Colossians where he says that Sabbaths are not binding. I am not sure whether the author is even aware of the content of Colossians.

Response #8:

That's right:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
James 2:10 NIV

The Law is all or nothing. If it's not all, it's not the Law. A good point for legalists to learn and keep in mind, because all legalism today is very selective: everyone who is a legalist is therefore really making up their own "law".

In Jesus who died to remove us from the curse of the Law.

Bob L.

Question #9:

Thank you,

And what about mixing two breeds of animals? Is it sin?

Response #9:

There are many prohibitions in the Mosaic Law which were designed to demonstrate the separateness and therefore to symbolize the holiness of God's special nation, Israel. As with the other ritual injunctions of the Law, these do not apply today because we are not a special nation (Israel) governed by the Lord Himself (not that Israel ever actually followed the Law to any great degree).

Question #10:

Are scriptures like De.22:5 (and certain other 'moral law' scriptures like it) binding on all Christians today (albeit not with respect to any specific physical punishments for violation that may be attached thereto)?

Response #10:

Love sums up the Law which was fulfilled in Christ. That said, there is plenty in the New Testament given to us which is specific guidance about Christian behavior beyond the basic virtue of love (although of course completely consistent with it). There are reasons for that, and there is a reason for everything in the Law.

It would be unwise to claim that everything in the Law is still in effect for Christians today – that is patently not true (indeed, participating in animal sacrifice for Paul's contemporaries in Jerusalem was "crucifying the Son of God afresh" and not only not necessary but an actual offense against Christ).

It would also be unwise to claim that nothing written in the Law and the Old Testament now has any effect for Christians today – nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament at one point or another in one way or another. Since even Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit was unwilling to rule dietary restrictions in or out – urging the application of love in virtuous flexibility – it would not be my place to give a blanket yes or no. And I am convinced by years of study that this would be a mistake. If we are really interested in pleasing Jesus Christ, we will do what He really desires, namely, grow through hearing and believing the truth, progress in passing the tests that come our way through applying the truth, and help others do likewise through the ministries to which we are called. That is the way to victory and to winning the three crowns of eternal reward.

When it comes to "disputable matters", as Paul terms them (Rom.14:1), the correct course is clear: don't judge a weak believer if you have another opinion (even if you are right); don't do yourself what is not of faith (Rom.14:23); and stay away from anything you even think might be wrong (1Thess.5:22). If we are looking at things the right way, we will not be using the Law (or any scripture) either as a justification for our own actions, an escape clause for allowing us to do what we really want to do irrespective of scripture, or a club to bash other people with whose conduct we don't agree. This life is all about our own choices, and if we are genuinely making them in love, in the fear of God, and out of a desire to please Jesus Christ with a view towards a good report when we stand before Him on that great day, we will be well-served in such choices – for there is no law against any of that.

Question #11:

Finally (re this email), are you willing to agree that I Cor.11:5-6,10,13 require that whenever spiritually Israelite (i.e. Christian or Messianic) women pray or prophesy, they are have their head hair covered? And, in view of the NT command to "pray without ceasing" (I Th.5:17), do you agree that it is a reasonable application of these scriptures to require that such women continuously cover their head hair when in public? If not (with regard to these questions), why?

Response #11:

On 1st Corinthians 11:5ff., Paul is talking about hair, not hats (or literal veils), though this passage is often misunderstood.
With regard to hair, self-produced "baldness" is what women should avoid (a problem in Corinth of that day resulting both from pagan mourning rituals and also from misapplying the Law in making vows). Where women are concerned, such "baldness" is a mark of judgment and dishonor (cf. Is.3:17; 3:24), so definitely not something women should aspire to. Avoiding this reproach doesn't require a hat; it merely requires not tearing out (in mourning) or shaving off (in making a vow) one's hair.

Here are few links on that:

1st Corinthians 11: Hats or Hair?

Are women required to wear hats or veils in church?

More on veils and hats in church.

What length of hair is considered long?

More on hats and hair length

What does the Bible say about hair length for men and women? (see Q/A #10-11)

Symbol of authority

Question #12:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Hope all is well. Things are moving along just fine for us. I'm receiving lots of love from my family and close friends, as well as reassurance and guidance from the Lord.

I went to your website to find your take on tithing. I have been tithing consistently for the last couple of months because I thought the Lord wanted me to based on different scriptures in Malachi and then another scripture in the new testament when Jesus tells the Pharisees (I believe it was them) that they should have tithed but not left the other important things undone. Sorry I can't remember details right now. I should have looked up the scripture before I sent the email. I did tithe this week but I see that doing so has put me in a financial bind. I want to be obedient. But I don't want to get myself into a mess.

On your site you mentioned that tithing was part of Jewish law. I used this same idea to question my Pastor years ago and he brought to my attention Abraham giving a tenth to Melchizedek before the law was given. I am just confused about the whole thing and I want to hear what you would say to that point about Abraham?

I want to be obedient and be a good steward of the income God is providing for me. I know we are to be cheerful givers. I don't have a problem giving when the Lord calls me too. Tithing is just one of those things I'm not sure about. As I mentioned I did read a couple of your posts on the subject and thought I would mention Abraham tithing to hear your take on it.

I know you are busy so there is no rush. This is just something I am conflicted about.


Response #12:

Good to hear from you. I'm delighted to hear your good report!

As to tithing, let me assure you that it is not required for believers today. It's not prohibited. It's not prohibited to give everything, let alone 10% – but that would be incredibly foolish for most people in most circumstances. As Paul says very clearly, "the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have" (2Cor.8:12). If a person has nothing to give, then nothing can be given. And if a person takes food out of their family's mouth (as opposed to easily disposable income), that verges on being "worse than an infidel" (1Tim.5:8). Even for those who have, like the Corinthians, more than enough income to give comfortably and who have, like the Corinthians, already pledged some of that money, Paul tells them to "set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income" week by week – no one is expected to cut into the flesh and bone of their budget to the detriment of their family's needs.

Tithing for believers today is not a biblical requirement. As I say, it's not wrong to do it – unless a person assumes that there is some magic in the 10% figure and that this will bring magical blessing from God. Helping our brothers and sisters in Christ who are genuinely in need is a wonderful thing. Giving to some organization or church is not necessarily giving to the Lord in this way, however, because organizations and churches do not necessarily (and in my experience, rarely) channel that money to people in need. For the most part, as I have observed it, tithing as it is practiced today is a gimmick to get people in need like yourself to give much more than they can or should to organizations and churches which have no real need of it and who are not using it in a particularly godly way in any case.

It's not wrong to tithe, but it is wrong to assume that one is following a biblical mandate in doing so (there is no such mandate for believers today and what obtained in ancient Israel is different from what passes for "tithing" today). Abraham gave ten percent of the spoils from the victory he won to Melchizedek, that is true. But there are couple of things to notice about that. First, if Abraham had not given the 10% he would have been no richer and no poorer, because he gave everything else (apart from the share that fell to his allies) back to the king of Sodom "so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich" (Gen.14:23). So Abraham, a very rich man who would not have missed the 10% of this windfall even if he had decided to keep it, was going to give it all back anyway. In other words, while returning everything to the king of Sodom may possibly be seen as a sacrifice of sorts (though Abraham was already very rich – by God's hand, the very thing he was unwilling to have compromised), giving the 10% did not represent even a small gift from what was actually his since it all went back anyway. It was a recognition that the victory was God's, not his (cf. Gen.14:10), but it was hardly the sort of "tithing" that is recommended by organizations and churches today. I would also note that there is no indication that Abraham ever gave 10% of his personal income to anyone ever at any time (let alone every week/month/year). This was a "one shot" special situation. Not exactly "tithing" the way most churches and organizations represent it. I suppose if a person got a huge sum of money as a windfall, a one time donation of 10% would be somewhat similar to what Abraham did – but only if said person for some reason was not planning to keep any of it anyway.

When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
Deuteronomy 26:12 NIV

The above verse tells anyone who is wondering about tithing today everything they need to know. First, tithing has to do with "produce" (hence the "mint, dill and cumin" of the Pharisees in Matt.23:23), not money. Second, it only happens every third year, not every year, let alone every month or week. Third, it is to be given to Levites, foreigners, orphans widows, not to some organization or church. Fourth, the purpose is to feed the needy, not to support some organization or church's staff or building projects. Fifth, there is nothing here about some special blessing for tithing in this way, rather it was part of the Law in the same way that income tax in our country is part of the law. Sixth, it was obligatory for the entire population of the country, not optional or meant only for a small part of that population belonging to some organization or church. Seventh, there was no "middleman" between the tither and the recipient, but today organizations and churches want the money to come directly to them. In other words, there is no connection between the tithing of the Law and what people generally call "tithing" today.

So why do people tithe? Most people tithe because they are made to feel guilty if they do not and are told (or it is subtly suggested to them) that they will be blessed if they do. For any Christian with a good heart, that is a very powerful combination punch, especially seeing as how it usually comes from an organization or church they trust and probably belong to.

So why do churches and organizations promote tithing for Christians today if it's not biblical to do so (and it is NOT biblical to do so)? I'd like to be charitable here, but I'm afraid in my experience and observation I have to say that it is all about the money. Churches and organizations have found out or at least suspect that if their members only gave when they actually had the means to do so and only if they felt good about doing so, they would give far, far less than would be the case with a system like "tithing". For that reason, to be as charitable as I can possibly be, many churches and organizations have rationalized this issue and talked themselves into believing (by twisting scripture) that it is biblical, whereas anyone with a Bible can easily see that it is not – there is nothing whatsoever in the New Testament even suggesting tithing, and it is not even mentioned therein except in connection with the Jewish state (that is the context of Matt.23:23, after all). If we are to tithe, why are we not sacrificing lambs, goats and bullocks and offering incense on some altar every time we sin? That's in the Law too (among very many other things that these same organizations and churches would not touch with a ten foot pole).

So I'm afraid I have to conclude that on this issue money has corrupted principles – as it often does (1Tim.6:10). And it is not a far step from tithing to the prosperity gospel: "Want to be blessed even more by God? Give even more? We take credit cards!" God does bless legitimate giving done by godly people in a godly way . . . in godly causes. But to me that is the greatest irony of "tithing" as it is practiced today. God does bless us for godly acts done in a godly way . . . but NOT for things done out of guilt ("You must tithe!") or out of greed ("God will bless you!"). So it is a pity that so many people who feel they are being godly by doing this are only wasting their money and, worse to tell, compromising themselves spiritually – so that they are worse off for tithing than if they had refrained (and poorer too).

And along with the "why" we are doing it, it also does matter "to whom" we are giving. If we give to an individual whom we know and whom we know is in true need, that is relatively pure. If we give to an organization or a church which is likely not to use most (or any) of the money on the truly needy, and whose actual connection to the Lord and to His Word is tenuous at best, do we really expect that not to affect negatively the value of our gift?

Finally on this point, one other problem with tithing is that it tends to cement the loyalty of those who tithe to the organizations and churches who demand it. "In for a penny, in for a pound", the saying goes, and it is true that it is human nature to throw good money after bad, very literally in this case – and for a very bad cause too, because, again in my observation and experience, I've never seen or heard of an organization or church that demanded tithes which was actually doing the Lord's work they way they should be doing it to any significant degree: you're very unlikely to receive the sort of teaching of the Word capable of leading you to spiritual maturity from any place that asks for tithes.

Here are some more links on all this in case you missed something at the site:

The prosperity gospel and tithing (see especially Q/A #4)

Tithing and church polity


Tithing and the Book of Life

Is Tithing Net or just 'Gross'?

Tithing as income tax

More on tithing

Christian giving


Charity and beggars

Jobs, Money, Finances and Giving: What does the Bible say?

Do feel free to write me back about any of the above.

Keeping you and your family in my prayers day by day.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Wow! Thank you so much for answering my question and providing so many other links to reference. I will go over them all.

I have just had a hard time with the tithing question because I think I'm giving out of guilt. Meaning if I don't give I am not honoring God with what He has provided for me. Money is not a hang up for me but I still struggle to know if tithing is/was something God commands me to do. I have been asking Him for guidance in this area. I truly appreciate your detailed response Dr. Luginbill. Thank you so much for sending this. I just read it and I'm about to click on some of the links to read more. I love that this is available to me.

I asked about Ichthys yesterday because even though ___ has been referencing and studying on your site for quite a while I never knew much about it. I have just now started typing in topics and reading your posts. What a great resource!

Thank you Dr. Luginbill,

Response #13:

You're most welcome.

Thanks for your good words of encouragement (Ps.115:1)!

Do feel free to write me any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Living flesh (’d btr bnpšw) and blood (dm), which emblems this condition of life, are both excluded from human diet. This restriction excludes from human diet meat that is still alive, such as swallowing goldfish and first kill celebrations where the animal begins to be devoured while still alive. Letting 1 Samuel 2:15 inform this Genesis 9:4 statement of life would likely identify whole sushi and similar raw uncooked meat as “alive” (npš) and thus inappropriate for one’s diet on the basis of the Noahic Covenant as well.

Before you say that "well, the law is done away with," notice what James, Jesus's brother says about the Noahide covenant:

"Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood." (Acts 15:20)

Response #14:

Here's what I read in scripture:

“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Mark 7:18-23 NIV

I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.
Romans 14:14 NIV

Blood has no magical properties. Its importance resides in its symbolism: it symbolizes life and also death, when shed, so that its most important symbolism in its representation of Christ's work in dying for the sins of the world (see the link: "the Blood of Christ").

That is why animal blood is important and why animals were not to be eaten "with the blood". Fish are never used in sacrifice (not even in the pagan regime), so the strictures on blood don't apply to them. Now fish do have blood, I understand, but now we are in the realm of the literal, not the symbolic. In literal terms, all the blood could never be removed from any animal meat either.

So I wouldn't worry about it. I'm not a sushi fan. I only had it a few times very many years ago. It tasted OK, but I couldn't abide the palpable arrogance of the sushi chefs – you would think they were admirals in the Russian navy or something. Honestly.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Thank you. I had one more question. I'm not sure if you read it.

I want to ask what is the meaning of Acts 21:25?

I thought that we can eat everything.

Response #15:

Apologies for the delay. I was out of town at a family wedding and I am behind in answering emails.

As to Acts 21:25, this decision of the Jerusalem council was an application rather than a scriptural pronouncement. The book of Acts relates what Christians (and others) did historically, and is an accurate account. But it is not really possible to build doctrine on what happened in Acts (see the link) because 1) sometimes mistakes were made, even by Christians, 2) some things relate entirely to the transitional period between Israel and the Church Age (which is now long past), and 3) some things are applications which are not necessarily directive in nature. The passage you ask about is a combination of #2 and #3. This was a concession to Jewish believers in the Church at that time – of which there were many, still by far the majority in the Church at this early period. This letter counsels gentile Christians to stay away from a small list of things which were particularly offensive to Jews but prevalent in the pagan culture of that time (not today). Of course, "sexual immorality" is sinful and terrible dangerous, spiritually and otherwise, at all times, but like blood and strangulation of animals this refers to the cult-prostitution which was a part of the pagan worship and temple cults of that time and not thought – by non-Christians – to be any problem at all. We can eat anything (Mk.7:19), but sometimes certain actions give others offense and out of love we ought not to do things in their presence which might be a spiritual stumbling block to them (Romans 14 and 1st Corinthians 10 gives more detail on this topic).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Thank you. Paul also says he is law keeper (in Acts 21). Maybe I misunderstood something.

Response #16:

Here is what I read in scripture:

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
1st Corinthians 9:20-21 NIV

It is true that in Acts 21 James says:

"Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law."
Acts 21:24

But Paul said nothing in response. Going up to Jerusalem was a mistake. The Holy Spirit had told Paul not to do so (Acts 21:3-3; cf. Acts 20:22-23; 21:10-14; 22:17-18; see the link: "Paul's Jerusalem Error" for the details), but Paul was acting out of sentiment for his people, wanting to bring the financial offering of the gentiles to Jerusalem in person and zealous for the salvation and spiritual growth of his people. And what was the result of this mistake? Years of captivity. Like the others, Paul too had a learning curve, and we see him here not at his best. I hasten to add that most of us would be happy to have our greatest post-salvation mistake be a misplaced zeal for the salvation of others leading to compromise. Nevertheless, Paul was given and of course developed (through attention to the Spirit) the best understanding of grace and the best understanding of the fact that the Church Age meant new things (specifically, the cessation of following the Law), greater than that of any other apostle – and with great understanding comes great responsibility.

As I mentioned before, Acts records what happened, the good, the bad and the ugly . . . the mistakes as well as the victories (see the link in the prior email). By the time Paul wrote the book of Hebrews to these very Jewish believers in Jerusalem, he was willing to make the point (of cessation of the Law) crystal clear, and without compromise. There is a lesson here. If we want to win people over for Christ or lead them to the truth and spiritual growth, we will never do so by compromising the truth. We can accommodate on any other non-essential thing, but not on the truth.

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
Galatians 2:11-16 NIV

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.
Hebrews 7:11-12 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

So we can eat meat with blood? By the bible, life is in blood. Why did God forbid it?

Response #17:

I certainly wouldn't recommend it! In any case, that would probably require effort on your part – in a very dubious cause – because most butchering in the west is done according to Kosher principles. Blood was forbidden because in the animal sacrifice of the Old Testament it represented the Blood of Christ (i.e., it was a symbol of His spiritual death; see the link). There is no legitimate animal sacrifice at present (but there will be again during the Millennium).

So when you say "so we can eat meat with blood?", I don't know of anyone who is doing that, so while it is perhaps an interesting academic question it's not very important to one's spiritual growth. That is what we are here to accomplish after salvation, after all, to win rewards that glorify Christ – and what we eat is of negligible consequence in this regard.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi I found this: https://www.jesuswordsonly.com/books/699-bible-study-on-eating-meat-with-the-blood-in-it.html

I'm not sure what is the truth.

Response #18:

Do you make a habit of eating meat with the blood still in it? That is very unusual. I don't know about your country, but in most western countries all meat is prepared in a kosher way. So you would not be "giving offense" to Jewish Christians by simply eating what is normally available for sale. So in practical terms this would be a non-issue and one not worth much investment of time or spiritually energy.

For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17 NKJV

We are here after salvation to grow spiritually, make progress in our Christian walk in passing the tests that come our way through applying the truth we have believed, and then to help others grow through the gifts and ministries we have been given. What we eat and drink is of no spiritual consequence (unless we give others offense).

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Colossians 2:20-23 NKJV

The article you reference says – incredibly – that Peter's vision about food in Acts chapter 10 is not about food (!?). Whenever something you are looking at makes a ridiculous claim that is so obviously false on the face of it, it is wise to ignore it altogether.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Thank you,

So why did God forbid it (eating blood) and now its again allowed? It's because that law was only for Israel and that must be avoided to be pure?

Also I found article about ___ which I believe is truth.

Response #19:

Eating meat with the blood it in was prohibited before there ever was an Israel (Gen.9:4); that is because blood symbolically represented "life" and the blood shed in sacrifices (even before the Mosaic Law) represented our Lord giving up His life to save ours eternally by dying for our sins. When the Jerusalem council wrote to the gentiles in Antioch that they had no need of following the Law, they did require the gentiles to keep to this provision of the Law as something particular offensive to Jewish believers (Acts 15:20; cf. Rom.14:1ff.). So eating blood has never been approved. Eating rare/red meat (your previous email) from an animal which has been slaughtered in a way that drains the blood is not eating blood (it would be physically impossible to remove all vestiges of blood cells from a piece of meat, after all).

In any case, to reiterate, the important point is that the blood of sacrificed animals (and there is no more animal sacrifice taking place today) is meant to symbolize "the blood of Christ" – which was not Christ's literal blood being shed but the much more important and difficult death He died for us in bearing our sins on the cross, a spiritual death wherein He was judged and suffered for every single human sin that we might be saved through faith in Him (1Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:24; see the link: "The Blood of Christ"). Let's no lose sight of what is really important here. The Law itself only has any validity in that it represents this greater truth.

As to the link, I'm not going to look at this link. That is something everyone knows in their heart of hearts is wrong, so there's no reason even to debate the matter (1Cor.6:18).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:


I don't know much about this subject, so I want to ask why God in OT forbade eating pork etc.

And why people must cut their necks before they die?

Response #20:

To take these in reverse order, if you're talking about draining out the blood, that was because the physical blood of animals was dedicated by God to the altar so that it might represent the spiritual death of Jesus Christ (see the link). That sacrifice of our Lord for our sins was the most important thing in the history of the world, after all, so the symbol representing it (before the cross) was to be treated with appropriate sanctity.

As to pork and all of the other dietary restrictions of the Mosaic Law, they have in common that they were to mark out Israel as a people apart, a people who stayed away from the physically profane as a way to symbolize their spiritual separation. As with circumcision, where we are told many times in the Bible that it is the circumcision of the heart by faith that counts really rather then physical circumcision, so also with the dietary regulations it is the sanctification of oneself from sin and evil which these rules represented that really counted, not the eating or refraining from one food or another. Now that the Law has been fulfilled by the cross of Christ, there is no further spiritual purpose to be served by following these dietary rules (or the other non-spiritual parts of the Law). Please see the link: "Should Christians Eat Pork?".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Robert,

I think God gave laws about not eating pig (pork) because of health problems in it's consumption.

With today's science this is confirmed by the fact that pork not properly cooked has minute worms or the like which can migrate to the brain and cause serious illness. This law was only for the people of Israel? And not gentiles. Do you have any articles on this?

Best regards in the love of Jesus

Response #21:

Good to hear from you as always.

Your observations are certainly correct. When I was a boy, I had a Sunday school teacher who had been an observant Jew before coming to the Lord. He would point out that the Law and Jewish traditions which stem from it made good sense from precisely this practical point of view. And I think that any objective observer would be able to come to the same conclusion. That is not actually the purpose of the Law, but the fact of the fairly clear distinction between clean and unclean that anyone might be able to observe in many of the dietary restrictions highlights the point that Israel was to separate from the nations, to be spiritually "clean" as opposed to being far removed from the Lord's holiness as the gentiles were – physically but more importantly spiritual.

In practical terms today, however, we know that there is nothing wrong with eating anything that is actually edible (cf. Acts chapter 10 and also especially Mark 7:19). Some foods are trickier to prepare than others. I would never dare to eat wild mushrooms again, for example, after hearing of what happened to some folks in Michigan who were more experienced in differentiating good Morels from poison look-a-likes and perished as a result. And even foods which are "clean" according to the Law can go bad or cause trouble if not properly prepared. But the bottom line is that for us today there is nothing spiritually wrong with eating anything that can be eaten (common sense in preparation and selection, and prudence in dietary choices still being factors we might want to consider for personal health reasons).

Here are two particular links on the "pork" question: "Should Christians Eat Pork?" and "More about pork" (see Q/A #2).

After all, eating and drinking are given to us as symbols of the cross. Christ gave us His body and blood for us to eat and drink and live as a result of His death. The food represents His perfect Person, the drink His blood, His work on the cross, and by eating and drinking we express our faith in Him and delight in our salvation through Him – when we remember Him in so doing as we should (see the link: "Communion").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

I'm afraid of one thing, and that's not keeping sabbath. I'm not sure if we need to observe sabbath. I read some articles about col 2 and romans and there was written that we must still keep sabbath and these verses don't speak about any end of keeping sabbath, but about food in sabbath etc.

Response #22:

First of all, in Colossians chapter two I find this:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17 NIV

This passage "says what it says", namely, that judging someone else who does not celebrate festivals or Sabbaths is wrong – and how could it be wrong if there was a requirement for Christians to observe the Mosaic Law's ordinances regarding the Sabbath? Also note the word "or": this passage is not talking about what is eaten on the Sabbath, obviously enough for anyone who can read.

The fourth commandment is never repeated in the New Testament as something believers need to observe – and it is the only one of the ten of which that is true. The reason is that we are now to observe a moment by moment rest of faith in the Lord (Hebrews chapters three and four; see the link).

For those who are troubling you about this, you might ask them what day of the week the Sabbath is. The vast majority of groups which teach Sabbath observance honor Sunday – but the true Sabbath is Saturday.

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:4 NIV

Believers have "died to the Law" – which means it no longer has any authority over us. Abraham did not observe the Sabbath and neither do we . . . Christians who are serving in the Spirit and not the letter (2Cor.3:6), that is.

For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.
Hebrews 7:12 NIV

Our Lord is the new High Priest, so we have had a change of priesthood and necessarily a change of law – from letter to Spirit.

Anything that goes backward to the Law is going to impede spiritual growth (at a minimum), and since most who want to "follow the Law" really have no idea of its underlying symbolism, even worse outcomes are easily possible.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Thank you but sabbath keepers saying that grammar in this verses are incorrect.

Jesus says to keep commandments. I'm confused

Response #23:

People who want to follow their own ways regardless of what the Bible says always disregard the Bible. Pretending it says something different from what it actually says (through whatever means), is the same thing.

There are many commandments which foreshadowed the coming of the Son and His sacrifice on the cross, many of which rites and regulations it is not even possible to accomplish today – such as all the commandments to keep festival at the temple in Jerusalem which no longer exists. But love is the greatest commandment, love for Jesus Christ and for our brethren in His Church. And Love fulfills the law.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1st John 3:23 KJV

Question #24:

Thank you but Jesus also said that he didn't come to cancel law.

Response #24:

Jesus came to fulfill the Law . . . and so He did.

For Christ is the fulfillment (lit., “end”) of the Law, resulting in righteousness for everyone who believes [in Him].
Romans 10:4

So now we are not under the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law) but under the New Covenant (Heb.9:15), because of Christ's victory on the cross which nullified the written code.

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Colossians 2:14 KJV

We serve in the new way of the Spirit, the way of life (Rom.7:6). But the old way of the Law results only in death because no one can keep the Law (Rom.7:7-13). The Law's purpose is thus to lead us to faith:

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Galatians 3:24-25 NKJV

Now that you have come to faith and been freed from sin and death by the blood of Christ (Rom.6:17-18), why do you wish to become enslaved all over again?

But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:9 NIV

You have been freed from the curse of the Law, a burden no one was ever able to bear even when the temple was standing (Acts 15:10), and which is impossible to carry out now except selectively – but violating the Law in one part is the same as violating it an any part (Jas.2:10). You are under grace. Do not fall from grace through turning back to Old when you are a son of the New (Gal.4:21ff.).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Galatians 5:1-4 NKJV

Legalism is one of the most deceptive and spiritually enervating curses under which the present day church-visible labors; it cannot justify anyone (Gal.2:16). It accomplishes nothing positive but has been the spiritual shipwreck of many (even as it keeps the rest in the darkness of spiritual infancy). Ask yourself this: does keeping the Law really demonstrate the love of God or respond to it?

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:10 NKJV

Keep the Sabbath in the new way explained in the book of Hebrews: walking moment by moment in peace and rest with Jesus Christ (Heb.4:9-11; and see the link). That requires more commitment on your part than the ritual observances of the past, but it is also infinitely more rewarding and pleasing to Jesus Christ.

In our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Well. So final question about this. Matt 5:18-19. It saying that nobody can abolish one of commandments? Thank you very much for your time. God bless

Response #25:

When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
Deuteronomy 26:12 NIV

I don't know of any person or group that does this precisely according to the regulations listed here – and it is a commandment of the Law. It may be objected that it is impossible to fulfill, but it's not – though it would clearly be extremely difficult to do; or they may say that we fulfill the spirit of the commandment today when we give charitably to our fellow believers in need. With the second part I would certainly agree – just as love fulfills the Law spiritually and obviates the need for it entirely.

What I want to know is why such people as are plaguing you think they can pick and choose which commandments are to be fulfilled in spirit and which are to be fulfilled literally? If they say they are following scriptural guidance on this point of the Sabbath, that is definitely not the case. As I pointed out to you before, 1) uniquely of the ten commandments, there is no repetition of the fourth, Sabbath observance, at any time following the cross and the resurrection; 2) groups which practice it anyway do so on the wrong day of the week for the most part (Sunday instead of Saturday), and even those who observe Saturday do not observe all of the other Sabbaths of the Law (i.e., the new moon and all of the other festivals of the Law which likewise commanded rest); 3) most important is the fact that such groups/teachers conveniently ignore what Paul has to say on the subject, particularly in the book of Hebrews about the day by day Sabbath-rest that we believers are supposed to now be observing at all times (Heb.4:9; see the link).

This third point above is of the utmost importance because it specifically and scripturally addresses the question of the transformation of the fourth commandment into something else, something better, something actually spiritual instead of physical and merely representing the spiritual. That is the essence of the change between the covenants too, from the Old to the New. So that anyone who is intent on Sabbath observance in a literal sense is actually pointing those foolish enough to be persuaded backwards to the time before the cross. In other words, as in the case of water-baptism, Sabbath observance is subtly (and blasphemously) implying that Christ has not yet come and that therefore we are still under the shadows of the Law.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Romans 6:14 NIV

For Christ is the fulfillment (lit., “end”) of the Law, resulting in righteousness for everyone who believes [in Him].
Romans 10:4

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:8-10 NIV

For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.
Hebrews 7:12 NIV

The Law has been terminated/changed/ended/fulfilled by the coming of Christ and His victory at the cross (Rom.10:4 and Heb.7:12 above). As a result, we are no longer under the Law but under grace (Rom.6:14 above). And on top of that when we believers, in the Spirit, are truly walking in love we are fulfilling the essence of the Law (Rom.13:9-10 above); and that is clearly superior to fulfilling the letter of the Law, because "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2Cor.3:6) – and of course no one CAN or ever HAS fulfilled the Law . . . except Jesus Christ whose sacrifice on the cross put an end to it.

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Matthew 5:18 NIV

But "everything" now HAS "been accomplished" – Christ now HAS fulfilled, completed, ended, terminated the Law – as He said on the cross after He had been judged for our sins: tetelestai, "it has been fulfilled"  (Jn.19:30; see the link). As part of the written Word, the Law does still exist, of course, and it is beneficial when spiritually considered (Rom.15:4). But if we are walking in love, we are not under the Law any longer.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Galatians 5:18 NASB

One of the practical problems with Sabbath observance, spiritually speaking, is that it necessarily replaces the true spiritual import of the fourth commandment, namely, believers resting in the Lord, relying on the Lord, trusting in the Lord completely so as to put aside all worry and care, with a 24 hour ritual whose symbolic significance has been lost – otherwise the people who insist on this would be doing things the right way in the first place. It is ironic and tragic that such individuals, now that we have the Holy Spirit, now that we have the entire truth, now that we can actually rest in Jesus Christ at all times (with growth, progress and practice) have decided instead to "turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again" (Gal.4:9).

Finally, just to drive this all home, if Matthew 5:19 ("Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven" NASB) were to apply to Sabbath observance, it would surely also have to apply to every other "jot and tittle" of the entire Law – as in the third year tithe given to the Levites et al. with which I began my response. And if a person is not carrying out every single part of the Law, then that person is not following the Law at all, because doing one thing does not make up for failing to do another:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
James 2:10-11 NIV

James of course goes on in the next verse to emphasize what I have been telling you here: we are under the "perfect Law of freedom" now, not the Law of Moses. That is not a license to sin (God forbid! Rom.6:1-2); that is a license to put the spiritual reality over mere material symbolism and ritual, a license to walk in love (rather than worrying about specific symbolic strictures), a license to trust the Lord at all times and rest in Him completely (rather than observing religious ritualistic rote and ceremony one day a week).

Here are some links if you wish to pursue this further:

Combating Legalism III

Is Sabbath Observance Legitimate for Christians?

Explaining Matthew 5:18

Sabbath observance

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Thank you but I ask mainly for Matt.5:19. Why is it that nobody can't stop keeping and teaching commandments.

Response #26:

The point is that we believers who are walking in faith and trusting in Christ are following the fourth commandment, fulfilling it in it's full spiritual sense, when we are resting, "having a Sabbath" in Jesus Christ at all times (Heb.4:1-11; see previous links).


Ichthys Home