Etikettarkiv | law

Does the Bible teach that a raped woman must marry her rapist? Deut. 22:28-29

2 PetGod makes laws to secure the woman’s rights and protection  

The Hebrew laws in Deuteronomy no longer apply today, but back in the old days they did apply for the people of Israel who lived in a theocracy where God was the direct source of authority. God had certainly showed his divine powers to the Israelites during many occasions, and when the Israelites traveled through the desert to the land of Canaan during the Exodus, he manifested himself to them as a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire during the night in order to guide them and comfort them.

If the Bible is right (which I believe it is), the laws were truly from God the Creator himself and not from man, which means that the laws were both righteous and divine. This did not give the Israelites the right to force their laws on other people, but the Israelites themselves were bound by these laws for their own well-being. The laws were made for their own benefit in order to eliminate as much pain and sorrow as possible, but also to make the Israelites a blessed and special people suitable for being a role model to others. God was and is the God of all people and not just for the Israelites. This means that God would certainly not look away if people transgressed his laws, because this would signify the slippery slope of downplaying the wisdom of God altogether. Rather than being a role model for others, the other people would rather think that the Israelites were just as sinful as all others and their God (the true God of Israel) would be scoffed at.

Risks and consequences always arise if people deviate from God’s laws and plans. This is why he made laws in order to either 1) eliminate transgression of the laws in the first place – due to the severe punishment for the offender, OR 2) if the laws were still  transgressed, the weaker part would still be legally protected and the woman’s name would be free from defamation. In a culture where a woman’s marriage equated to her financial provision, God provided laws to ensure her future security.

The different cases of violation in Deuteronomy 22

Unlike the case in Deut. 23-27, Deut. 28-29 does not concern a situation of rape, but rather something consensual.

Firstly, the below case concerns a case where a man and a woman marry (with consent from their parents) and the man lies with his wife and later despises her. Can the man just walk away with no consequences, leaving the woman behind with an insecure future? How would the woman be able to support herself for the rest of her life, and possibly also a baby? Can the man just walk away and tell the whole community that the baby is not even his, and that the woman is both a liar and a whore? No, God provided a law to prevent such cases. The severe consequences were hopefully enough to prevent all (or most) of these types of scenarios.

Deut. 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

People might suggest that blood on a sheet is not a watertight proof of virginity, but not only would this be an expected outcome, and therefore good evidence, but what better evidence could possibly be provided during this time in our past? An innocent woman would be interested in being provided an opportunity to clear her name and reputation. Moreover, due to the severe law in itself, this type of scenario was likely almost unheard of in Israel. The case could be that the law in itself was enough for most men to not even consider doing something so shameful to her, to himself, to their families and to the community.

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

Another scenario would be if the young woman was not a virgin after all but instead was lying to an innocent man (maybe together with her parents) and ended up being married on false grounds. In Israel during this time, it would be a very serious offense which would affect two families and all of Israel. Hopefully this scenario was therefore almost unheard of, especially since the woman would also have to take into consideration that the man would find out about the truth during their very first night together, which means that the woman would not gain anything with such a deception. Such a lie would therefore not get her anywhere, but straight to the death penalty.

Below is yet another scenario concerning adultery. This does not concern a rape situation but something consensual between the man and the woman. Adultery requires the death penalty.

Deut. 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Below concerns a scenario close to adultery, but where the woman is not yet married but betrothed (engaged to be married). This means that someone else (the man she is engaged to) would be affected negatively if the woman would choose to be with another man. This scenario is equated with adultery (the woman belongs to someone else) and the punishment is the death penalty for both since both are guilty.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

But what if the woman was raped, which would make her totally innocent? We must go to v. 25-27 below to see this scenario. The situation below concerns rape, and this scenario includes a bethrothed woman (a woman belonging to someone else) as an example just like the previous verses. Here we find a focus on the place and her actions (screaming or not), in order to make a proper judgment of her case. Naturally a woman is totally innocent if she is raped, and it is only the rapist that must die. The question is if someone was there to hear her and save her. If she was out in the field, with no one around to possibly hear her, then she should not be charged. She must be declared  innocent until proven guilty.

Someone might interject and suggest that it is not a huge difference between being attacked out in the field or in a city because there might not be anyone around to help irregardless of place,  and what if she was gang raped and what if she was mute, and what if this and that, etc. During the time of Moses the place of an attack would make all the difference in the world. Either you were at home and then you always had people around you (family members, relatives, servants, etc) or you were out in the field which is the only place where you might be alone. It cannot be compared with a situation today where a woman might live alone with her cat in an apartment on 4th floor in a building with lots of isolation in the walls. Moreover, remember that the Hebrew laws in themselves were often serious enough to make men refrain from transgressing them in the first place. There would not be a need to write four pages of details and exemptions to the rule if the law in itself was clear enough and hardly ever transgressed.

The Hebrew word for ”force” below is chazaq (Strong’s 2388) and therefore it holds the meaning of rape in this context. Another verb is used in v. 28 (see further down below).

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

In the scenario below it concerns a virgin, and not an engaged woman or married to someone else. The below verses therefore do not concern adultery (which requires the death penalty). The verb ”lay hold” below is a translation from Hebrew taphas (Strong’s 8610) and does not in and of itself infer assault. The word means “to hold” or ”to wield”  but not necessarily ”force” or “attack”. The case could be that the young woman was seduced, which would be the wrong conduct particularly for the man seducing her, but also to a lesser degree also for the woman giving into temptations. Still, the verse below places a higher burden on the man by the explanation that he lays hold on her (even if she might be a willing participant). This law would ensure that young women are not treated as temporary conquests just for pleasure, and also ensures that a baby will have a father who is responsible for its protection and well-being.

Unlike the two laws just before it, the verses 28-29 do not name a specific location to determine the woman’s consent, nor mentions her cries for help. The couple is described as having been found/caught in the act, and none of them will be sentenced to death since the case does not concern either rape or adultery (they have not hurt anyone else but themselves in their sin). This does not exclude the possibility that the woman was taken advantage of and/or dishonored, even if the matter concerned mutual consent.

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days

The Hebrew law was there to prevent a man from carelessly seduce or exploit women (regardless of consent) and walk away from the situation like nothing happened.
If he did so anyway, despite the severe law, he would be held accountable publicly and also be held responsible for her future well-being. Far from oppressing women, this law shows that men were accountable for their sexual behavior, because the law ensured that a young Israeli woman would not be objectified and discarded. The woman faced no punishments for being seduced, and she was not ostracized or shamed, whereas the man must fulfill all the marital duties that come with the rights to lye with a woman, and in so doing guarantee the security of the woman. She would not be forced to marry a rapist, but rather a man who she had accepted to sleep with (or accepted to be seduced by).

brudWomen seducing men

Taphas also appears in Gen, 39:12 when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. She did not rape or overpower him, but she certainly tried to tempt him and seduce him. Had Joseph not been such a righteous man she might have succeeded to ”lay hold” of him. In that case, both would have been guilty, and the crime would have been adultery (under Hebrew law) since she was already married.

Gen. 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Women can be guilty of seduction as well, even if force/rape would not be the case:

Prov. 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

If we inherited Adam’s sin and were born with a sinful nature, we have Bible contradictions

wonderfully madeThe non-Biblical sinful nature  

The Bible does not teach that man is born with a sinful nature (not in Romans 5, not in Ephesians 2, not in any psalms, not anywhere). This illogical idea (that babies are sinners) can be traced back to Augustine and even all the way back to the gnostics.

Neither does the Bible claim that man can get an injection of someone else’s righteousness and thus magically become righteous despite living in sin. Man himself is responsible for being faithful to Jesus and to live a righteous life. Do not let anyone tell you that being obedient to Jesus is about self-righteousness, and therefore a sinful works-based salvation.

If man would be born (or conceived) with a sinful nature, we end up with many contradictions.

  • The Bible is strangely silent about it and rather claims that man is guilty when he transgresses the law of God, which requires that he knows the law in the first place.
  • We would have the best excuse for sin there is – our nature made us do it.
  • All the church fathers the first 300 years AD would be wrong for claiming the opposite.
  • Jesus would have a HUGE advantage over us from the very start since he was not born with a sinful nature, which is something that makes the holder prone to sin. We would be able to say ”No wonder that Jesus could so easily refrain from sin! He was not born with a sinful nature like the rest of us!”
  • Sinning is apparently something that can be found in the DNA and be inherited from person to person, and not (always) something that a man DOES.
  • It is apparently a sin to have ”flesh”, since this is the starting point for our sins?  Jesus started to get flesh just like us during his conception, but his flesh was without those sin genes?
  • God turns out to be an unrighteous judge who charges all human beings for something they are innocent of and could not help.
  • The sinful nature has apparently prevented all human beings from being obedient to God from the very start, so God has either made us too weak to obey his laws, or he has made the laws too difficult for us to obey.
  • Sinning is described in the Bible as transgressing God’s law (1 John. 3:4) and something that offends him, but what exactly offends God about a person being born (or conceived)?
  • Babies (also newborn, and unborn babies) would be able to commit sin – even before they have hearts, despite that Matt. 15:18-19 and Mark 7:20-23 tell us that evil thoughts proceed from the heart.
  • Babies are apparently spiritually ”dead” already from conception when they are still tiny specks, which puts Eph. 2:1 in doubt since it claims that we are dead due to ”trespasses and sins”.
  • Romans 5:12 should not be saying that ”death passed upon all men FOR that all have sinned”, but rather that SIN passed upon all men because Adam sinned. (Btw, the Bible itself proves in many verses that ”all” does not always refer to all human beings.)
  • James would be wrong for claiming that man’s own lust and giving in for temptation is the cause of sin (James 1:14-15), when in reality all people are sinful long before they can have lust and before they even have functional body parts.
  • Is. 7:16 would be wrong for suggesting that a child does not know to refuse the evil and choose the good.   
  • etc

But … if we have no sinful nature, why do we sin? Answer: Why did Adam and Eve sin? Think about that for a moment.

But … if we have no sinful nature, then there could potentially be someone out there who could have been totally free of sin all his life. Answer: Yes.

But … if we have no sinful nature, why did Jesus have to die? Answer: Because we have sinned. We have transgressed the law of God.

We are sinners precisely because we could have chosen to obey God but chose to not do it. This makes us guilty rather than God. God is graceous and does not give us one single chance to live righteous, but if we mix sin and righteousness we have not truly repented and we are fooling ourselves.

Transferring blood to make us righteous?

imputed righteousness.jpg

”Impute” translated from the Greek verb λογίζομαι (logizomai, Strong’s 3049) = can also be translated to think, reckon, count and suppose. Note that it does not mean ”transfer” or ”inject”. 

When we repent we become totally cleansed from our past sins (certainly not any future sins) and we are totally forgiven even if our sins are numerous and severe. We are counted as righteous because sin can no longer be found in us when we are 100% free from all sin. It is therefore no divine lie that we are counted as righteous because the fact is that this is what we have truly become thanks to the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.

So how long does this righteous state of being last? It lasts as long as we remain righteous by walking in the light, which is OUR responsibility. WE are supposed to be led by the holy Spirit and be faithful to Jesus. Do not let anyone tell you that someone else will do it for you or instead of you. Jesus is ”our righteousness” in the sense that he died for us and removed our sins, but this does not mean that we can get his righteousness transferred into us. Many Christians misunderstand ”imputed” righteousness in Rom 4-5, because they erroneously believe it means ”transferred”. This is not true, since the word rather means to be reckoned, counted or regarded as righteous. Not because of a blood transfer, but because our sins have been removed. The Bible does not teach ”once righteous always righteous” (or ”once saved always saved”). If a prisoner gets out of jail, it does not mean that he is now free to commit further crimes since he has

There is no way that God would count us as righteous unless we truly were, and we can never fool God by suggesting that he does not see our sins but only the precious blood of Jesus. We can never be regarded as positionally righteous while still living in sin. Always remember Satan’s famous lie ”Ye shalt not surely die”. The idea that blood can be transferred into us and make us righteous (even if we sin), is an attempt from Satan’s side to trick us into feeling comfortable in our sin and to get the idea that we have a heavenly fire insurance. Even many pastors teach that it is normal for Christians to sin, and abnormal if they do not. They might even go further than that by suggesting that it is self-righteous to be completely faithful to Jesus, and that we should never believe that we can be victorious over sin. Satan could not be happier for this type of help, because it is totally backwards: ”Christian sinners” (an oxymoron) go to heaven, but righteous Christians go to hell (because of the sin of self-righteousness). This sounds like the greatest sin (and the only one that can make you lose your salvation?) is to teach and believe that you can be completely faithful to God. THAT angers God the most?

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO and TEACH THEM, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, YE SHALL IN NO CASE ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.  

God is speaking:

Gen. 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Deut. 30:11 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. —- 14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it. (NASB)

Read about Rom. 5 here.

”For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law”, Rom 2:12

works of the lawPeople can perform righteousness without having heard about the Bible content

The common question about the inhabitants in the jungle ”What about those who live in the jungle and who have never heard about the gospel?”

People are certainly not doomed due to the unfortunate circumstances of having been born in the jungle with no chance to hear about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 2 tells us:

Rom. 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a PURE HEART, and of a GOOD CONSCIENCE, and of faith unfeigned: 

Apparently people are able to naturally do the things contained in the law even though they do not have it written down for them. In this case it does not mean all the 613 Jewish laws containing many ceremonial aspects, but it does mean the law of love, or the law of God that has existed ever since the days of Adam and Eve. It has always been against nature to murder, steal, lie and commit adultery. On the question (from a young man) what one must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus did not say ”Just believe in me”, but he said:

Mark. 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

Other versions of the same story:

Matt. 19:17 — if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

Luke 10:26 — What is written in the law? how readest thou?27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

If you love God with all your heart, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself, then you automatically also follow the other detailed commandments, to not murder, steal, lie, commit adultery and dishonor your parents. Adam and Eve were not only expected to not eat of the tree of knowledge, but both prior to their sin and afterwards they were expected to stand with their Creator and by doing so obey the basic commandments. The promise for us today is ”Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). If we truly walk with God, we automatically obey his commandments. If we truly love God, we naturally obey him.

Also the people in the jungle know that there is a Creator (his divine attributes can clearly be seen in nature) and that it is wrong to treat others in a way that we would not like to be treated ourselves. To take another person’s life, or to steal, lie and cause someone to be jealous and sad, are things that our conscience will tell us are wrong. It is true that we can learn to make our conscience more flexible with time, but this does not change the fact that we are deviating from the law of love. Our upbringing, traditions and culture can affect our understanding and reasoning, but in the end we have all been given a conscience and God will judge us based on our thoughts and actions.

Rom. 1:18-32 makes it very clear that we have no excuse if we do not seek our Creator and do good:

Rom. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  —28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 2 and sinning without the lawfree will 2

It says in Rom. 2:1-3 that God will pay attention to how we judge others, and he will judge us accordingly – and most of all righteously. God can see the whole truth about our hearts. v. 5-8 continues to explain how God will judge us. If we want to escape his wrath on the day judgment (or the day of wrath), we must obey the truth and patiently do good. If we harden our hearts and do not obey the truth, we will be in big trouble unless we repent. This is about a spiritual life or death:

Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, ETERNAL LIFE:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and WRATH

Paul continues to explain that it is actually the doers of the law who will be justified. Also gentiles can ”do” the law (without having the law) and this includes also people in the jungle:

Rom. 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

The NKJV renders v. 15: ”who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)”. 

Paul made a clear distinction between the Jewish law and the law of love (which has always been in force):

1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, BUT KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.

Rom. 2 ends with Paul explaining to the Jews (who are the ones in focus in his letter since they are confused about the law) that gentiles can indeed fulfill the law – people who might not be circumcised but who do what the law says. It is the heart that counts (the inside) and not an outwardly circumcision.

Rom. 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?27 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?28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:29 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.

Jesus said (of course without suggesting that circumcision is a sin):

Matt. 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

So do we not need Jesus since we could be saved without him? Yes of course we do. There is no forgiveness without the blood, and Jesus shed his blood for us as a final sacrifice once and for all (more in Hebrews). We have no authority to forgive ourselves for our own sins. The gospel about Jesus Christ urges people to repent from their sin and live in the light. People need to hear about Jesus and what he did for humanity. They need to understand the love that God has for us. Jesus is the living bread!

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Naturally we cannot believe in Jesus Christ if we have not heard about him:

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

The law was the Jews’ schoolmaster to bring them to Christ, and when Christ came this detailed schoolmaster was no longer needed. Now our guide is rather the holy Spirit.

Gal. 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.—23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Rom. 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Ja. 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well

1 mos. 3Being saved prior to Jesus, in the Old Testament

People who lived prior to Jesus Christ made an entrance to earth as God in flesh could of course be saved without having heard about him. Naturally the people of Israel had heard about God their Creator, but Paul’s explanation in Romans 1-2 applies both for them and for the gentiles. Moreover, people who lived prior to Moses could of course be saved as well without having heard about the son of God. They too had laws to obey, despite the absence of commandments written on stone tablets. God said early about sin:

Gen. 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, SIN lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and THOU SHALT RULE OVER HIM.

In Ezekiel we can find a good explanation how we can be saved. By believing in God and do good (just like in the New Testament):

Ez. 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, 8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, saith the Lord God.13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

You can see the same story in Ez. 33.

Which laws / commandments must we obey according to Jesus / New Testament?

law

We are not supposed to live in lawlessness

There have always been commandments to obey:

  • Between the time – from Adam and Moses
  • Between the time – from Moses to Jesus (the Jewish law)
  • Between the time – from Jesus to present

The moral laws which applied from the very beginning still apply – maybe apart from the commandment to not eat of the forbidden fruit, something we cannot even do due to no access. Nevertheless, numerous Christians tend to believe we are somehow free from the burden of having to obey God because Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, and because of the idea that he ”took our sins on himself” and died instead of us. The Bible however tells us that we are slaves to the one we obey, so if we obey sin we are slaves to sin and not free at all. We are still risking God’s wrath.

What does Jesus say?

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus lists the following things which we must do to get eternal life:

  1. not murder
  2. not commit adultery
  3. not steal
  4. not bear false witness 
  5. honour your father and mother
  6. love your neighbour as yourself

Matt. 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

In the gospel of Mark he has a slightly different order, and he adds ”defraud not”, and skips ”love your neighbour as yourself”.  This of course does not mean that the authors are in disagreement even if they highlight different things. To love God and our neighbor as ourselves is self-evident and the foundation of the Jewish faith. In the gospel of Luke, we can again see the same five commandments (similar as in Matthew and Mark), but also Luke seems to assume that loving God and our neighbor is self-evident for a Jew and this foundation does not even need to be mentioned.

We also know from the rest of the story that the young man continued talking to Jesus, and claimed he had kept all those commandments from youth (true or false?). What else did he lack? Well, Jesus said that if he wanted to be ”perfect”, then he should sell all that he had and give to the poor, which would give him a treasure in heaven. He also said to the young man to follow him. We cannot be sure what sort of ”perfect” Jesus is talking about here. In Matt. 5:48 we are requested to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, but it is also possible to be perfect in other ways, such as physically perfect (which evidently Matt. 5:48 does not refer to). If the young ruler would accomplish the perfection that Jesus was talking about here, he could expect ”a treasure in heaven”. Is obeying the mentioned commandments necessary to ”get eternal life” while getting rid of the other obstacle (selling possessions which distract from God) necessary if we want to be perfect and get an extra treasure in heaven? Jesus does indicate that it is very hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of God, so if possessions hinder us to focus on God then they might also hinder us to get eternal life. It is safe to assume that Jesus could not have meant that the young man must get rid of 100% of all his belongings, because not even Jesus and his disciples accomplished that. We know of great many people in the Bible who also had many possessions, but who were also fully committed to God. Jesus probably sensed that this young man had many possessions enticing him, and therefore phrased himself the way he did. For this man the many possessions seemed to be holding him back, and he likely placed his possessions before God.

In the gospel of Mark the story is similar, but it adds the information that Jesus loved this young man. Jesus felt that this young man lacked one thing, and again it was the many possessions which were in the way. Jesus did not say it was impossible for the young man to be saved, but for many rich people it seems a lot harder.

Mark. 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

According to Luke (assuming it is the same young man), we get the information that he is a ruler (ἄρχων, Strong’s 758)

Luke 18:18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

Some might say Jesus mentioned the above commandments while the Mosaic law (as per the old testament) still applied since he had not yet died on the cross and resurrected, but again the moral laws still apply. Sin will continue to separate us from God, and Satan will always be wrong for suggesting the opposite (that sin will not lead to death).

One commandment covers all of the commandments

Jesus of course mentions other examples of things we must ”do” to get eternal life, but those things can all be wrapped up in ”Love God before everything else, and love one another”. If we obey this one commandment, we automatically obey all the rest.

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

Matt. 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38 This is the first and great commandment.39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Mark. 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Rom. 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Ja. 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well

Jesus specifically tells his disciples (and all of us) to go out and teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded them. 

Matt. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

James advice about which laws gentiles should obeylaw of God

Below we can read that James does not feel that they should trouble the gentiles when it comes to which laws which should apply for them when it comes to the Jewish law, except that they should abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. ”Immorality” (πορνείας/porneias, Strong’s 4202) can also have the meaning of ”fornication”. (According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon πορνεία can be used metaphorically referring to the worship of idols and/or the defilement of idolatry as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols).

Clearly James, Paul and the other disciples did not claim that gentiles are exempted from obeying any commandments at all. They are specifically talking about the Jewish law in relation to new gentile Christians. Apart from the moral law (the commandments which have always applied ever since Adam, and which Jesus repeats above), James proposes that the only Mosaic laws which they should also obey are to abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication (probably with the meaning as per the Greek lexicon above). They do not list murder, adultery, theft, etc, because they are included in the moral commandments and it is self-evident that Jews and gentiles alike must continue to avoid such things until the end of times.

Acts 15:13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;I will rebuild its ruins,And I will set it up;17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things.’18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.19 Therefore I judge that we should NOT TROUBLE those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality*, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (NKJV)

Acts 21:18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. — 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law; 21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.—   24 Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, EXCEPT that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (NKJV)

Jesus is our ADVOCATE, so we do not have to worry about punishment for SIN?

1-john-2The idea that we can take cover behind Jesus and hide our sin from God the Father

Some Christians not only believe that we sin daily ”in thoughts, words and deeds”, but also that we do not have to worry about the consequences for our sins since Jesus is our permanent advocate who always walks behind us to sweep up and erase our sins as soon as we commit them. With other words, these people are convinced that we can have our sins and our salvation too, and that the cross we must carry is light as a feather since we are always walking under a cloud of forgiveness. However, I am not saying that Christians with this view automatically take the chance to sin just because they can. They might just be deceived into believing they could get away with it if they only wanted, but still choose to obey the holy Spirit and therefore avoid sinning. It is never too late for Christians who are deceived to overcome their deception and see things clearly.

An ”advocate” is not the same as a ”judge” though, since an advocate is someone who pleads another one’s cause before a judge. An advocate might be one who presents his client’s interest in court by trying to highlight the advantages and extenuating circumstances for the crimes committed. An advocate is also expected to sympathize with the client. In a worldly court, a person cannot be sure of a favorable verdict just because he has an advocate. In the Biblical sense, the word is usually translated as ”Comforter” rather than advocate, and this Comforter is the holy Spirit. Having the holy Spirit in our lives does not mean that we are forever exempted from guilty verdicts no matter how we live. It is true though, that a person with the holy Spirit has previously gone through a major spiritual transformation and is therefore well equipped to obey the commandments of God. This does not happen automatically but certainly IF we are led by the holy Spirit. In order to get the holy Spirit in the first place we must first meet the conditions – first we must believe, repent and obey. IF we are led by the Spirit (if we obey him), we are not under the law and therefore free. Here is where the ”advocate” part comes in! We would be totally lost if Jesus had not not have died for us, and sealed us (marked us) with the holy Spirit.

Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Gal. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. —18 But IF ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The word advocate is a translation from the Greek noun παράκλητος (paraklētos, Strong’s 3875) and is usually translated as Comforter in the KJV. It can also mean an intercessor, a consoler, a helper and someone who pleads our cause before someone with authority. Here are the five cases where the word is used:

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, THAT YE SIN NOT. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

So John writes in 1 John 2:1 to the recipients of the letter in order that they ”sin NOT”. If no one can avoid sinning for an extended period of time, then John would be in error for believing that his words could make a difference. He continues his letter by saying ”IF any man sin…” (not ”when” he sins) we have an advocate with the Father”, etc. This does not mean our sins are therefore always excused and that we always have a right standing before God no matter how we live. He is only saying we have an advocate/comforter, provided that we have confessed our sins, truly repented and turned away from them! How do we know that? Because of John’s own words. He is very clear about that we cannot be saved sinners, and also that we will be cut off the vine if we do not show any fruit. We know that we know him IF we keep his commandments:

1 John 2:3 And HEREBY WE DO KNOW THAT WE KNOW HIM, IF WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked

What else did John say?

1 John 3:Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.Little children, let no man deceive you: he that DOETH righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: WHOSOEVER DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, neither he that loveth not his brother.—22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.23 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.24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John. 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

2 John. 1:6 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.

3 John 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. HE THAT DOETH GOOD IS OF GOD: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.23 Jesus answered and said unto him, IF A MAN LOVE ME, HE WILL KEEP MY WORDS: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.—If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.10 IF YE KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS, YE SHALL ABIDE IN MY LOVE; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Do read about the holy Spirit raising us up from the dead in this blog article.

Paul said that he counted old ”things” loss for Christ, and rubbish or dung – Phil. 3:7-8

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What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ – for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as RUBBISH / Phil. 3:7-8, KJV

In order to understand which ”things” he was talking about, we must of course read the context. The subject of this chapter concerns the issue of Jewish circumcision which is an example of a ceremonial law within the Law of Moses. The Bible tells us that the Law of Moses started with the time of Moses and it lasted until the time of Jesus (Gal. 3:19). Before and after this period man on earth was certainly not supposed to be lawless, and even today we are expected to live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. Paul tells us in Romans 6 and 8 that if we live according to the flesh we will die and if we live according to the Spirit we will live. That is a condition for salvation – that we must make sure to abide in Christ.

In Phil. 3 Paul is giving serious instructions to the Philippians. He also explains that those who are the ”circumcision” (being circumcised in heart) are those who worship God in the Spirit. (I’ve chosen NKJV here in order to use a more simple language.):

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, (NKJV)

Paul further explains that he himself has a background as a Jew under the law, and he thoroughly believed in the idea of circumcision in order to be obedient to the Law of Moses. He is talking about the circumcision which is in the flesh, rather than in the heart. When it comes to the law of Moses, Paul considered himself blameless – as in doing everything to keep all the multiple regulations down to the smallest detail and MORE.

4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

However, Jesus explained that the problem with the pharisees was that they were hypocrites and that they did NOT have a clean INSIDE despite their zeal to be obedient to their scriptures. In fact, they lived in lawlessness because they had unclean hearts! We are not under the law if we are led by the Spirit:

Matt. 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

Matt. 23:3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.—13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.—  —25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Paul compares the status he had as a pharisee under the law of Moses, and which often included works ”to be seen by men”, with the new life in Christ which is not about being seen by men at all but about having a pure heart and by loving our neighbor as yourself. (We are not able to have a pure heart if we still sin. ) Paul gave up his own esteemed life (in the eyes of men) in order to be a servant of Christ, and that means that he also gave up earthly power and instead became an often despised christian. He thought his new life as a christian was well worth it, and he compared his old life – as a highly regarded pharisee – as nothing but dung. ”Loss of all things” could also include other worldly things, which amount to nothing in comparison with the pearl he found in Jesus:

7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Naturally it was not the Law of Moses that was considered rubbish because God wouldn’t make any bad laws for us during any time. Being obedient to God is never considered rubbish! As a pharisee, Paul didn’t realize that the Law of Moses would pass away, to be replaced with an era where the Holy Spirit is our ruler and Jesus Christ the King. Paul discovered that the new life in Christ was not about obeying the ceremonial Jewish laws any more (as before) but about having faith in Jesus! The righteousness which is from God includes the possibility to be cleansed from our sins in the blood of Jesus who died for our sins, and that happens upon our repentance and our FAITH in Jesus Christ. Repentance means that we confess our sins and make a decision to be servants of Jesus, leading to our new birth. Paul is clear that we are not able to serve two masters and still be saved. The Law of Moses is in our past, but this doesn’t mean that we have no laws to follow. It’s still a sin to murder, steal, commit adultery and lie. It’s still a sin to deny Jesus, to refuse to forgive a brother and to take the mark of the beast. We still risk the wrath of God if we combine obedience with disobedience and refuse to repent. :

 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

The subject concerns the resurrection from the death, and that is what Paul has in mind when he says that he is not already ”perfected”. Not even Jesus Christ was ”perfected” until after his glorification. We are able to live morally perfect here on earth, but the truth is of course that we have often chosen to be disobedient to God. Paul presses forward in holiness to reach the prize.

11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected (”perfect”, KJV); but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul refers to ”us, as many as are perfect”, and he encourages the Philippians to walk by the same rule and being of the same mind.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature (”perfect”, KJV), have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Paul also said:

Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

and Paul made it very clear to the Galatians that it was nothing but wrong to suggest that circumcision (or other ceremonial laws) is a requirement for salvation. Paul was certainly not angry at the Galatians because they continued to teach the importance of avoiding murder, adultery, theft and lies, but about reverting back to the Law of Moses with the ceremonial laws. Being obedient to God by treating our neighbors as we would like to be treated ourselves, is not a sin and nothing to be mad about. If the Galatians were under the impression that circumcision still applied, then also the rest of the 613 still applied. If that is the case, Jesus Christ died in vain. We are saved by faith and not by the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was to apply until the seed would come which is Jesus, but this doesn’t mean that we have no sets of laws to follow today. We are expected to live according to the Spirit, and if we believe in Jesus Christ, we love him and obey him.

Gal. 3:1  O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.—7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.— 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Was Paul not yet morally perfect according to Phil. 3:12?

goalPhil. 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already PERFECT: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 

The context for this verse is the RESURRECTION of our bodies, and that’s important to keep in mind. If we don’t understand that it’s about the resurrection, there is a risk we might misunderstand Paul and believe that he is talking about a moral perfection and that he has failed to live morally upright here on earth. Paul doesn’t talk about moral perfection but about a bodily perfection, because as long as we remain in our earthly bodies we must accept that we are not physically perfect but actually rather weak and fragile. Our goal is to one day enter the kingdom of God, and get new glorified bodies. Jesus asked us to be perfect (which you can read more about here), and naturally Paul wouldn’t argue against his Master.

Phil. 3:2 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 

Those who are the circumcision (of the heart) are those who worship God in spirit, and that is in contrast to those who obey their flesh. Only those who worship God in spirit will one day inherit the kingdom of God, so this is a condition for salvation.

Phil. 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, BLAMELESS (”found blameless”, NASB). 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

The problem with the pharisees was that they were not clean on the inside but only on the outside, and Paul counted himself as a pharisee who was eager to obey God and his laws (as he understood them).  Even if Paul was a learned man with a good reputation, he feels that  such worldly glory isn’t worth anything in comparison to what he has found in Jesus Christ. We are told to not love the world or anything in it, but we are supposed to live our lives for Christ and his kingdom. Naturally Paul doesn’t suggest that it’s now less important to be faithful to God compared with before.

Phil. 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Paul’s aim is to win Christ and be found in him, and that means that he has to move forward and leave the   Jewish ceremonial laws behind him and put his faith in Jesus Christ. The eternal life that Jesus offers is by faith   (evidenced by obedience from the heart) and one is not saved only because he is born a jew and circumcised. Paul says again, in Phil. 3:2, that those are circumcised who worship God in spirit, and who rejoice in him. If we have sinned (and we have), we are not able to be cleansed and righteous in ourselves but we rely on righteous blood shed for our sake. We can be righteous if we confess our sins and repent, because then we become cleansed from our sins in the precious blood of Jesus. Paul makes a difference between works of the law (the entire Torah with its 613 laws) and obedience to God.

Phil. 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Above is the direct context to v. 12. It’s about the resurrection of the dead, which is the goal for Paul, and when he writes to the Philippians he hasn’t reached this goal yet. Paul presses forward towards the prize, but he still calls himself PERFECT, and shows that he isn’t the only one being perfect.

Phil. 3:15 Let us therefore, AS MANY AS BE PERFECT, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Paul isn’t physically perfect, but he is morally and spiritually perfect.  He asks us to walk by the same rule, based on  perfection.

Phil. 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.(NASB)18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Paul – who calls himself holy, righteous and blameless  – asks others to follow his example. If he would be mixing good deeds with bad deeds (sin), he wouldn’t be a very good example for us, but he would be a big hypocrite and someone to stay away from.  Paul weeps about those who are not walking with him on the narrow path to God, and he calls them enemies of Christ. Their end is destruction! That’s because they have their mind on earthly things instead of focusing on God.

Phil. 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Paul continues to talk about the resurrection in heaven, and the new glorified bodies. He doesn’t say that he isn’t able to fight his flesh successfully unless he first gets a new glorified body. We don’t have to wait until we die before we can be faithful to God, but we can live holy lives here and now. Not even Jesus was ”perfected” until the third day in his resurrection, so it’s about the physical body.

Luke. 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

Paul about himself:

1 Thess 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:—12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

1 Cor. 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (NIV)

Rom. 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.–12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.—16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 

1 Cor. 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.