Exploring Christ's Spiritual Laws

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Titus 2:15 . . These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.
Let no one disregard you.

I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean that pastors should speak with a bullying,
imperialistic, intimidating tone of voice. Pastors, after all, are supposed to be
shepherds rather than a bull o' the woods bossing a logging crew; so to
speak.

The koiné Greek word for "disregard" is periphroneo (per-ee-fron-eh'-o)
which basically means to depreciate; viz: to marginalize. i.e. to consider
superfluous, expendable, and/or nonessential.
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Titus 3:1 . . Remind your people to submit to the government and its
officials. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.

Civil disobedience-- defined as the active, professed refusal of a citizen to
obey certain laws of the state, and/or demands, orders, and commands of a
government, or of an occupying international power; i.e. non compliance
with constituted law and order --is essentially criminal.

Henry David Thoreau insisted that individuals should not permit
governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a
duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make
them the agents of injustice.

At first glance, Thoreau's ideas makes good sense. However; it's important
to take into account that Thoreau was a secular humanist indifferent to the
dictates of a supreme being whose commandments, laws, rules, statutes,
and edicts trump all other forms of government. Thoreau's concept of civil
disobedience foments anarchy which, according to Rom 13:1-5 and 1Pet
2:13-15, is strictly forbidden for Christ's followers.

I highly recommend that Christ's followers NOT get themselves involved in
political activism; viz: movements and/or protests, demonstrations, and
marches, etc. You'll just get yourself in trouble with the law and in trouble
with God too.

A bad example is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's activism wherein he was
arrested upwards of thirty times. His civil disobedience was political, i.e.
patterned after Thoreau's philosophy with just enough religion thrown in to
give the impression that King was on a mission from God. If you get
arrested while following Thoreau's philosophy and/or King's example, you
will fully deserve jail time; and don't expect God to applaud. You'll be on
your own. (cf. John 15:1-10)
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Titus 3:2 . . malign no one, be non-contentious, gentle, showing every
consideration for all men.

The koiné Greek word for "malign" is blasphemeo (blas-fay-meh'-o) which
means: to vilify

Webster's defines vilify as: to lower in estimation or importance, and/or to
utter abusive statements against

Vilification is a clear violation of Phil 2:3, which reads: Do nothing out of
selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than
yourselves.

Should I consider Bernard "Bernie" Madoff as better than myself? (chuckle)
No. It isn't vilification to say the man is a crumb when he's been clearly
proven to be one. That's neither malignant nor malevolent. What we're
talking about here are innocent victims of mean-spirited, unwarranted
vilification rather than those fully deserving of it. And besides, pastors need
to be careful what they say about people because sometimes it seems the
walls themselves have ears.

"Curse not the king, even in your thought; curse not the rich, even in your
bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may
tell the matter." (Ecc 10:20)
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Titus 3:8 . .This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I
want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be
careful to engage in good deeds.

To "speak confidently" implies speaking with an assertive, "no buts"
attitude; viz: the things a preacher teaches his congregation should not be
open to debate and/or perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom
of anything.

The koiné Greek word for "deeds" is very common throughout the New
Testament; more often translated "works" than deeds. We're not talking
about Boy Scout kinds of deeds but just simply the spiritual morality of one's
day to day conduct; viz: a life that pleases God instead of one that irritates
Him to no end.

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the
day of redemption." (Eph 4:30)
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Titus 3:9 . . Shun foolish controversies, and genealogies, and strife, and
disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.

The "law" in question is the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with
God in the Old Testament. Disputes generally revolve around its
interpretation and its correct application. Yhvh stipulated the formation of a
panel of lawyers to interpret the law for those among His people who lacked
the wherewithal to do it for themselves (Deut 17:8-13).

But since Christians are outside the covenant's jurisdiction, then they can
get by without those lawyers to interpret it for them; and besides; when you
consider there are nine Justices on the US Supreme Court who seldom agree
unanimously on anything, how much chance do you reckon a panel of
seventy has of reaching a consensus?

One of the "foolish controversies and genealogies" I would highly
recommend that believers avoid is Rome's roster of so-called apostolic
successors. Don't even go there. It's unprofitable, futile, and pointless to
strive over something like that. Pick your battles, and make sure your
conflicts accomplish something truly useful for Christ. The Vatican has much
bigger problems within its walls and its dogmas than that one.
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Titus 3:10-11 . . A man that is an heretic after the first and second
admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth,
being condemned of himself.

The koiné Greek word for "heretic" is hairetikos (hahee-ret-ee-kos') which
means: a schismatic; which is someone in your very own church who causes
dissent, rebellion, division, discord, and disharmony.

Heretics are not outsiders; no, a true heretic goes to the same church you
go to and professes to believe and practice the very same religion that you
profess to believe and practice.

Webster's defines a heretic as: 1) a dissenter from established church
dogma; especially one who disavows a revealed truth, and 2) one who
dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine; viz: a nonconformist.

I am a former Catholic turned Protestant. However, I don't fit the definition
of a heretic. I'm what's known in Christian circles as an apostate; viz: a
defector; which Webster's defines as a person who forsakes one's cause,
party, or nation for another often because of a change in ideology.

Heretics don't usually defect; but remain inside to foster insurrection: to
undermine hierarchy, to bring about reform, to weaken, and to cause
division. Every church has its fair share of heretics and they can be very
disruptive in a Sunday school class.

The koiné Greek word for "reject" is paraiteomai (par-ahee-teh'-om-ahee)
which means: to beg off; viz: deprecate, decline, and shun. In other words,
don't give heretics the time of day, nor be seen with them attending church.

Some religions, e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses, practice total shunning; viz: not
only in church, but outside too; even in homes and families. That's pretty
extreme and I really don't think Paul means we should go that far with it.
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Titus 3:14 . . And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary
uses, that they be not unfruitful.

"good works for necessary uses" suggests necessities; e.g. food, water,
shelter, companionship, assistance, etc.

The pronoun "ours" obviously excludes the heretics. They don't need to
maintain good works since they're essentially tares rather than wheat and
nothing they do in Christ's name is merit-worthy.

"Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Master, have we not prophesied in
thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done
many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them : I never knew
you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity." (Matt 7:22-23)
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Titus 3:15 . . Greet them that love us in the faith.

Heretics are of course excluded from the group that Paul labeled "them that
love us in the faith". It would be a sin to require believers to say hello to
them for Paul; since his orders are to shun heretics. He didn't want to know
them anymore. They were not his favorite kinds of Christians.

You know what that says to me? It says to me that heretics are even less
acceptable than a stranger because Christ instructed his disciples to greet
strangers.

"And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do
not even the publicans do so?" (Matt 5:47)

So heresy is pretty serious.
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In the little communiqué to his friend Philemon, Paul went to bat for a
runaway slave named Onesimus. By all rights, Philemon could legally, under
Roman law, put Onesimus to death; but as Onesimus' fellow believer, and
his sibling around the table in God's home, Philemon was bound by a higher
sense of duty and association.

Onesimus ran away prior to his conversion to Christianity. Had he been a
Christian, he would have been mindful of Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22-25, 1Tim 6:1-
2, and Titus 2:9-10a and not run away.

Now that Onesimus was a fellow believer, Philemon was obligated to comply
with Eph 6:9a, and Col 4:1.

You know, I keep using words like "obligated" but though that word is
appropriate, it shouldn't have to be emphasized because Christianity is
supposed to be a religion of devotion rather than obligation to duty.

"By love serve one another." (Gal 5:13)

Israel's covenanted law requires people to love others as themselves; but
Jesus commands believers to love their fellow believers with the same
degree of love with which he himself loves them.

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12)

That being the case, it must have been very easy for Philemon to let
bygones be bygones and welcome Onesimus back into his home.

When Onesimus became Philemon's fellow believer, the nature of their
association took on a whole other dimension; viz: every one of the
commands that I've posted up till now, in regards to believers associating
with one another, came into play at the moment of Onesimus' conversion.

He and Philemon would never again relate to one another the same as
before Onesimus' conversion. Where once Onesimus and Philemon were
merely fellow men; in Christ they became siblings, and both will one day sit
side by side, shoulder to shoulder as equals around the table in God's home.

Philem 1:15-16 . . For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that
thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a slave, but above a slave,
a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in
the flesh, and in The Lord?

As a conscientious Christian, Onesimus no doubt became a real asset
because it wouldn't be necessary for Philemon to ever again beat an honest
day's work out of him.

"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy
of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.
Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them
because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better,
because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to
them." (1Tim 6:1-2)
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Heb 2:1-4 . .We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we
have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by
angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just
punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This
salvation, which was first announced by The Lord, was confirmed to us by
those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various
miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.

NOTE: The pronoun "we" probably refers specifically to Jews because, in
essence, that's to whom and for whom the letter was penned. (Heb 1:1-2)

I don't think the words "drift away" imply apostasy; not in this case anyway.
No; it's more like a curious crowd that gathers around a soap box speaker,
and little by little, man by man, boredom sets in-- the audience begins
dispersing and people move on to find something else to do. That would be
akin to attending a Billy Graham crusade for its entertainment, and a month
later totally forgetting everything he talked about.
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Heb 3:1 . .Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
consider the apostle and High Priest whom we acknowledge: Christ Jesus

The "holy brethren" are Moses' people as per Deut 14:2 and Ps 135:4; and
the "heavenly calling" very likely refers to the nation that God promised to
make of Abraham as per Gen 12:1-2, Gen 13:14-16, and Gen 22:16-18.

The koiné Greek word for "consider" is katanoeo (kat-an-o-eh'-o) which
means: to observe fully; viz: to study; to examine.

You know, giving Christ a cursory glance as if he were a curiosity or a brief
distraction leads nowhere. His purpose and his mission are just too
extensive for that sort of once-over approach.
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Heb 4:14 . . Since then we have a great high priest who has passed
through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us cling to what we
acknowledge

Prior to Christ, the closest proximity that Moses' people had to God was their
Aaonic priest. But even he was earth-bound and his own closest proximity to
the actual person of God was the holy place in either the tabernacle or the
Temple.

One of the advantages of Christ's priesthood is his immortality; in other
words: The Lord continues as a priest forever because he rose from the dead
impervious to death. Aaron and his sons were not so lucky.

Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has
dominion over Him." (Rom 6:9)

"Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from
continuing. But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable
priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who
come to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for
them." (Heb 7:23-25)
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Heb 4:15-16

When I was a little boy, just about every night at bedtime I recited the
classic Lay Me Down To Sleep children's prayer. In my opinion; a rote prayer
like that one is okay for getting children started communicating with God.

Jesus' disciples were full-grown men physically. But they were just babies
spiritually. A prayer like the Our Father is a good place for spiritually
immature Christians like Jesus' disciples to begin, but it's not a good place
for them to stay.

"When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a
child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things." (1Cor 13:11)

Now let's take Jesus for example. There is no record of him ever even once
praying the Our Father. In point of fact, when examining Jesus' prayers, it's
readily apparent that he typically prayed in a conversational style instead of
reciting rote. Two good examples of his style are located at Matt 11:25-26
and John 17:1-26. Jesus' style is the style that mature Christians are
supposed to follow as their role model.

"We should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ" (Eph 4:15)

"And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists,
others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of
ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of
faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of
the full stature of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13)

When people have been Christians for some time, and still reciting rote
prayers, I'd have to say that their spiritual growth has been stunted, i.e.
they're not developing properly because they haven't been getting adequate
nourishment.

Christians who've attained "mature manhood" are supposed to pray in
accord with the instructions given at Heb 4:15-16 which reads thus:

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet
without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of
grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of
need."

The Greek word for "confidence" is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah) which
means all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, and/or candor.

Reciting the scripted lines of prayers like Lay Me Down To Sleep, the Hail
Mary, and/or the Our Father is not what I call forthright, nor blunt, nor out
spoken, nor candid. It's actually not much different than one of those Hindu
mystics chanting mantras, or a Jew stuffing pieces of paper in the stone
chinks of the so-called Wailing Wall while rocking back and forth like a
plastic bobble toy and reciting rote prayers from a siddur.

Does anyone speak to their friends, their associates, their spouse, their
domestic partner, their significant other, their doctor, dentist, supermarket
cashiers, or the cops with rote chanting? Of course not. They would write us
off as one in desperate need of therapy if we did. Then why would anyone
speak to God with rote chanting?

Don't you think He looks upon rote chanters as mental cases when they do
that? Of course He does; who wouldn't? How would you like it if everybody
spoke to you like that? Well, He doesn't like it either. God has a higher IQ
than anybody you could possibly name and rote chanters are treating Him
like a totem pole. The Bible's God is a king who deserves far more respect
than a US President yet people are speaking to Him like a tape recorder
rather than the ultimate Sovereign that He is.

Christianity's God is a sentient, sensible person; and we all need to show
some respect for His intelligence.
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Heb 6:1-3 . .Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on
to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that
lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on
of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God
permitting, we will do so.

At this point in the letter to Hebrews, the author talks to Jews about a high
priest named Melchizedek who lived in Abraham's day. Mel is largely ignored
on internet forums; which is really a shame because his priesthood, and its
constituents, are above the Ten Commandments and thoroughly immune to
prosecution for breaking them; which is just the ticket for Jews because they
have no immunity from prosecution for even the tiniest infraction.

"Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying
them out." (Deut 27:26)

"Truly; until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke
shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matt 5:18)

"Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of
breaking all of it." (Jas 2:10)
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Heb 10:21-22 . . Since we have a high priest over the house of God, let us
draw near to God with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, having our
hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience

Sprinkling was a common ritual in the Old Testament-- sometimes with
water, sometimes with oil, and sometimes with blood --for example: Ex
29:16, Ex 29:21, Lev 14:7, Lev 14 16, and Num 8:7, et al.

Sprinkling typically serves to de-contaminate someone or some thing in
order to make it suitable for God's purposes. Well, in point of fact; none of
the Old Testament's sprinklings served to cleanse people's conscience once
and for all time. They had to keep bringing one sacrifice after another in a
perpetual stream of sacrifices because each sacrifice cleansed their
conscience just that one time instead of for all time.

"We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after
time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but he, having
offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,
waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for His
feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are
sanctified." (Heb 10:10-14)

Christ sat down at the right hand of God; which is something the covenant
that Moses' people agreed upon with God does not allow for its high priest,
He dare not linger with God in the holy of holies behind the veil primarily
because the blood of a beast that the priest sprinkles on the mercy seat
doesn't suffice to permanently sanitize either himself or the people.
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