RU Essay 3: Romans 8

Greetings,

Romans neatly divides into two main halves that flow smoothly into each other. The first is most pertinent to my series, although the second is also very important. So I will focus on the one half, and merely sum up the second half.

First off, there are two very important words to notice in this passage: ‘after,’ and ‘in.’ These two prepositions are contrasted with each other, and the two options that each have are also contrasted (things seem to be going in pairs). We can walk after the flesh or the Spirit, and we can be in the flesh or the Spirit. These two options are very important. The first option has to do with sanctification, and the second has to do with salvation.

Romans 8:8-9 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Being in the flesh is being lost, and being in the Spirit is being saved. Period. That is the difference between these two options, but the difference between the other two is not so clear cut, or is it?

The difference between what in Romans 8 Paul calls being in the Spirit and walking after the Spirit is the same difference that he makes between living in the spirit and walking in the spirit in Galatians 5. The one is true of all believers, for it is salvation, but the other is not so consistently true. The one is an event that stays with you, while the other is a process that changes you. This latter is what I am going to be talking about.

Romans 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This condemnation is not the eternal judgment that awaits those who reject Christ’s salvation, but present guilt and punishment because of sinful acts. There is still condemnation of our sinful acts even as Christians, for they are offenses against our Holy and Just God. Just because they are forgiven does not mean that they are not longer sins! So our actions are approved by God if we do not follow our flesh, but instead follow the Spirit. This is what this article aims to present to you, as well as how we are to go about following the Spirit.

Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This teaches us something that 2 Cor. 3:6 also teaches us: the difference between the letter and the Spirit of the law of God. See, the letter of the law, that which Paul is referring to when he speaks of the law as not being over us anymore, has as its intent to kill and punish wrongdoing. The purpose and desire of the Spirit is to transform wrongdoers until they no longer commit wrong. The law does not itself change so much as its method of application changes (the law has, of course changed since the OT). Our goal is to walk after the Spirit so that it will work in us the fulfilling of the righteousness of the law. The law itself cannot bring us to any change, only the Spirit can do this.

Romans 8:5-7 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

This is the key of the whole matter. What do you set your mind upon? This word, ‘mind,’ is phroneo (Strongs: 5426), which means to exercise the mind; to be mentally disposed in a certain direction with earnestness; to interest oneself in something with concern and obedience. This is not an idle or casual interest, but a living, thriving, driving interest. This is a gearing of your thoughts, your heart, and your life in a certain direction. This is a focusing of your desires on one thing and being subjected to it. This word is used in a few other, telling places (like Mat. 16:23, Mark 8:33, Rom. 12:16, Phil. 2:5, etc.), but the most important one to this topic is Colossians 3:2.

Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

That phrase, ‘set your affection,’ is the word phroneo. This passage is clearly talking about the same thing as Romans 8: aligning all of your desires and interests in the direction of Christ and Godliness, subjecting yourself to them.

Romans 8:8-9 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

I already mentioned of this passage that it is referring to the difference between a saved and a lost person: a saved person has the Spirit of God living in him, and the lost person, because he does not, cannot please God in his life.

Romans 8:10-11 And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Here we get a clarification of how we ought to be living out those first few verses of Romans 6, which talked about being buried and risen with Christ through baptism. Thankfully we were not left with merely that passage to deal with sin, or some people who did not read the passage very carefully would mistake it to not only mean that baptism is the way to be sanctified, but that baptism is the way to be saved! (The Bible is very clear that neither of these are the case, but unfortunately most Bible versions other than the KJV omit and alter many if not most of the passages that teach this.)

Dying and being risen with Christ is not some mystical thing, but a very practical thing. The way that you work out being in Christ into your life is to walk after the Spirit, by setting your mind after His direction and desires. Baptism is simply a picture of what salvation is, and what sanctification is: it is a dedication of every part of yourself to God and His Ways.

Romans 8:12-17 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him,] that we may be also glorified together.

As Christians, we are not the servants of the flesh and sin: we are the adopted sons of God (as the next passage details). But if we submit ourselves to serve our flesh, then we are putting ourselves under the power of a usurper, and we will bring spiritual death upon ourselves. We must eradicate the strongholds of the flesh in our lives, and then we will truly live. This life transcends all circumstances in our life, and brings peace and joy into all our trials, troubles, and temptations. This is the main message of the remaining half of the chapter. Remember that this transcendent peace and worth comes only from yielding to the Spirit that is in us, and not to our flesh. Remember also that this is how we are to find righteousness and sanctification in our lives.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

RU Essay 2: Romans 6

Greetings,

Romans six has two main topics. I could, I suppose, have subverted the text to render the more traditional three topics, but I find the two to be the more natural and exegetical option. These two topics are the Motivation for Sanctification, and the Method of Sanctification.

Motivation for Sanctification

Paul deals twice with a misunderstanding of the nature of grace: a misunderstanding that leads to a misconception of how we ought to view sin. This misunderstanding is voiced in two questions, the first in verse 1, and the second in verse 15.

Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

This question comes as a response to Romans 5:20: “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The answer Paul gives helps to elaborate the misunderstanding and the ensuing difficulty: “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” See, sin is <i>conquered</i> by grace, not simply negated by grace (as the Catholics teach). Grace, as is explained in 5:21 (“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”), reigns over us instead of sin. Once we understand it in that light, then sinning because grace frees us from sin makes absolutely no sense! If we sin, then we are not under grace; if we are under grace, then we do not sin: it is simple as that. (Remember that this grace that I am referring to is not the grace that saves us from the eternal penalties of sin, it is the grace that provides us the strength to avoid the bondage of the acts of sin.)

Romans 6:15 “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?”

This second question came as a response to verse 14: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” It again stems from the same misconception of the nature of grace. Grace is not licentiousness, by any means: it is the righteous opposite. Grace is being under the power of God and His strength, and not under the power of your fleshly sins.

Method of Sanctification

Romans 6 clearly details that there are two types of death and two types of life because there are two parts to a Christian: the Spirit and the Flesh. These two are at war, and this chapter explains to us part of the nature of this war.

There is death of the flesh: “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.” (Romans 6:6)

There is death of the Spirit: “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death. ” (Romans 6:21)

There is life of the flesh (sin): “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. ” (Romans 6:12)

There is life of the Spirit: “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: ” (Romans 6:8)

These things always work together: If we are alive in the Spirit, then we are dead in the flesh; if we are alive in the flesh, then it works death in the Spirit.

Romans 6:21-23 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is all worked out by our relation to Christ: are we in Christ or not?

Romans 6:3-11 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
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.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As Christians we have accepted the death and resurrection of Christ in our lives, which saves us from the eternal penalties of sin. However, sanctification, the living out of that acceptance in our lives, is a process: and this is what Romans 6-8 is talking about. We need to kill the flesh, and feed the Spirit; we need to devote ourselves to Christ, and reject sin; and we need to set our minds on Heaven, not on this world. This is how we work out Romans 6’s lesson in our lives. There will be more on this in my next article, which will be on Romans 8.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

RU Essay 1: My Testimony

Greetings,

Reformer’s Unanimous is a faith-based addictions program. It does not focus on self-improvement, but on the vanquishing of self by yielding to the meekness of Christ. It does not focus on conformation to a behavior pattern, but on inner transformation into the image of Christ. It does not define addictions as an undesirable habit maintained by a disease, but as a bondage to sin. It is Christ-centered and Biblically-based. I have been going to their meetings for about a month now, and I have found it to be a source of renewed life into my spiritual walk with God. The accountability is good, and the challenges are well-designed. I am almost done with my second workbook, and eager to be on to the next.

Three of this workbook’s challenges were essay assignments. They were all 100 words or more, and they each had good subjects: my testimony, Romans 6, and Romans 8. I saw those and decided that they would make for a great blog post. But they ended up being longer than I expected (much longer than 100 words), and so they will come in three installments.

My Testimony

I thought for well over a decade that I got saved at age seven. But the honest truth of the matter is that I was very unsaved, just as unsaved as Gamaliel. A few months after my sixteenth birthday I made the biggest decision of my life up to that point: and it truly was very momentous. I decided that God might be right that seeking righteousness might actually be better in the long run than giving utterly over to sin. That was my biggest and most important decision of a spiritual nature that far in my life. It made this difference: I still struggled every once in a while against my sin, all the time by my own fleshly strength.

It is because of this episode that I am most thankful for my parents’ and my own belief in the Bible’s teachings on Creation. It was my intellectual belief in God’s miraculous creation that saved me from deciding to utterly destroy my life. Even though my heart was not right in God’s Way, my mind was filled with His Truth. My heart was rebellious, but it was my head knowledge that saved me in the end. That is one of the reasons that I get mad when evangelists bash intellectual teachings on Biblical science, creation apologetics, and intellectually discussing your faith with the lost. God uses many ways to reach the lost: each way acts differently, each way affects lives differently, and each way reaches different people at different places in their lives. Some need to focus on reaping those already prepared in their hearts (like Ray Comfort), others need to focus on being godly examples (even without giving a four-point gospel presentation at every turn), and still others need to debate their faith logically and scientifically, showing and proving the reliability and solidity of our faith (like Answers in Genesis).

It was about a year after that that my secret sin was disclosed, and my facade of respectability crashed down. All my close family and most of my friends found out that I was a pervert and living in sin. I was crushed, and my life seemed doomed. The threat of the law was over me, ready to destroy my life utterly beyond human recall. I was crushed by worldly sorrow, but God in His everlasting mercy taught me to have godly sorrow, which works repentance. That repentance was salvation, true, full, and sweet.

I had decided (from good counsel) to redo my whole mindset. I began to erase my presuppositions and preferences. I tried to base my thinking off of the Bible utterly. I began to remember and embrace my parents’ teachings. I went to a boys home for troubled teens in Tennessee. They did a good job, and they had a great heart. I did well, but that was utterly because I had begun to focus on trying to learn and be submissive, based on my parent’s prior teaching. I had rejected their teaching before, and now the Lord was mercifully giving me the grace to remember them. I was a good encouragement to them, but in my baby faith, and in my inexperience in walking with God, I soon fell into pride and failure. Thus was proved 1 Tim. 3:6 in my life: “…not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” I began to sin more and more, until I found myself, after I left the school, back in bondage, though not as bad as before I was saved.

I sought the Lord, and He provided the opportunity to learn from Pure Life Ministries. They led me to the victory that is in Jesus Christ. I am now seeking Him more and more, and although I have thrown many roadblocks in my own path, God has helped me all the way. I am ever more thankful to Him for His mercy and grace. He continually shows me exactly what I need to lead me on to the next step in my walk.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

The Semantics of Risk

Greetings,

I am going to embark on a risky subject: a semantic quagmire. I hate semantic debates, for they always tend to disrupt any effort made towards efficient communication. I have yet to see a semantic delineation that was both elegant and clear, while at the same time as brutally practical as semantics need to be. But many times it is helpful to at least try to clear some of the muddy waters made by well-meaning people who know what they are talking about, but who end up mangling the main intent of language: practical communication.

In ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ John Piper spends an entire chapter discoursing on how he believes Christians should view risk and safety. His premises were sound, and his ambitions lofty and good, but his definitions were skewed. And because of this his views on these two very important subjects became obfuscated and cloaked behind an illusion of contradiction with the rest of his book. I will try to sort out his mistake and also to clarify exactly what the Christian’s view of risk and safety ought truly to be.

Piper begins by defining risk, which, as it is his primary term for that chapter, is a good thing. Unfortunately his definition was given too little thought (in my view) and so creates confusion. He defines risk as “any action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury.” Throughout the rest of the chapter he uses this to mean loss or injury of physical, temporal things. He goes on to prove that risk is right and good.

Security and safety are illusions, according to Piper, and this is true, so far as his definition of risk goes. We are never secure from death, destruction, or danger, and God does not promise this security to us. This is very ably proven by Piper’s admirable study. What he misses is that peace is a result of a belief of your safety. If safety is an illusion, then peace is an illusion (which is what many people affirm). The problem is that God promises peace to those who put their trust in Him. Material safety does not come from this, though: quite the opposite.

Let us then think of it this way: risk is an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury of what is precious to you. That last addition makes all the difference in the world. If God is most precious to you, then you should not make any risks at all. What this also means is that we can have peace through faith in God just like He promised. When our treasure is in heaven, then it is transcendent, and we have transcendent peace, rather than temporal peace. Thus it is best to make carnal risks (risking things that are carnal), and wrong to make heavenly risks.

Piper admits the difficulty that I have noted in his section entitled ‘Risking for the Wrong Reasons.’ He notes very truly that when you say that making carnal risks (my terms, not his) is good, then Christians begin to create persecution for themselves! It becomes very difficult to explain why this is wrong, until you redefine risk.

So it is that we can find safety, security, and peace in making God and His desires our treasure, our highest desire, and our aim. It is then that we can have transcendent peace, and risk all our carnal possessions and interests, while standing utterly risk-free in the center of God’s will.

I hope that I did not mangle that thought too much. I had a terrible time explaining myself. Again, semantics are not my favorite subject. Did I make sense? Can someone help clarify what I am trying to say?

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Update

Greetings,

I have not been posting nearly as much as I have been wanting to in this past week or so. It is not because I ran out of topics, far from it. I have a hugely long list of topics that need to be got to. Basically I just ran out of steam and spent my time programming. So I am going to try and focus on writing more this next week or so (while not neglecting the programming). So be looking for profound and not-so-profound articles emanating from my direction. 🙂

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

Loci Memory System

Greetings,

I have had a few curious questions regarding my “Loci” memory system that I use. I have mentioned it in a few places, and so I am thinking that it might be good to give a quick overview of what I do.

I learned my system from Ron White‘s course “Memory in a Month.” It did indeed take only a month to complete, and it did transform the way I memorized and remembered things in everyday life, homeschool, Scripture, and everywhere else. Mr. White’s methods do work, although they might not be for everyone (to a degree). They do not need extreme or even, really, above-average intelligence. All it is is a system that works.

Most people have an extremely hard time remembering even as short a list as ten or twenty objects. Now that might not seem short to you, but it will be when you understand how to work this system. To prove to you where you are in memory, ask a family member or a friend to secretly write down a list of about twenty objects (they are easiest). Then tell him to read them out to you slowly in order. Then when the person is done, try to repeat back to him the list in order. He should write them down as you go, not giving you any tips or hints or feedback until you are done. Then look at how much you got right. Five or six correct is really good.

For you to remember anything with Mr. White’s method that he developed from ancient techniques, you need three things: a code, a place, and an action. These can take various forms, and be used in various methods to memorize many different kinds of data. Let us take an example of memorizing a number. Lets do 1566307102, a ten digit number.

First you need to turn that number into a memorable set of images using a code. Then you are going to use a system of familiar places called files using memorable actions. Let me explain by demonstrating with one code, the Phonetic code, and one set of files, the Skeleton files. As you will see these two are very connected.

The Skeleton files consist of ten files, each with a unique name (these names are very important). They are: Top (the top of the head), Nose (that is rather self-explanatory), Mouth (that too), Ribs (the chest), Liver (your abdominal region, where your liver is located), Joint (where you bend, also known by non-memorizers as your hips), Cap (your patella, or your kneecap), Fibula (in your shin are two bones: your fibula and your tibia, the fibula is the important one for this), Ball (your foot has the ball of your foot, of course), and Sand (you are standing on it. Yes, it is not technically on your skeleton, but it makes ten, and it is important to do it this way. You will see why in a bit). If you will take the time to familiarize yourself with the Skeleton files, then you will be well on your way to being a memory whiz.

If you have familiarized yourself with those odd names of the Skeleton files, then you will have possibly noticed that each starts with a different sound. This is important, because that is the basis for the Phonetic code which is the greatest aid in memorizing numbers of any length (especially two-digit). Here is the code: 1 = T/D, 2 = N, 3 = M, 4 = R, 5 = L, 6 = J/SH/CH, 7 = K/G, 8 = F/V, 9 = B/P, 0 = S/Z. See the pattern? Each consonantal sound is directly connected to its equivalent Skeleton file! So familiarizing yourself with both ought to be really easy (and even if it isn’t, the effort pays off, trust me).

So now with these you can easily convert two-digit numbers into images this way: take the two-digit number (like the first two digits of our ten-digit number, 15) and think of a word whose consonants match the number’s correlating sounds. So 15 1,5 T,L Tail (or Tile, or Deal, etc.). Every two-digit number works like this, so it is easy to convert any number into a string of images based off of two-digit pairs. So here we go with our ten-digit number (1566307102): 15 = Tail, 66 = Judge, 30 = Mouse, 71 = Cat, 02 = Sun. now take those images and “file” them to your skeleton files with memorable action like this: Your hair turns into a bunch of scaly tails and wriggle all over the place; A judge gets so mad at you for defending your faith in the court that he throws his gavel at you and it hits you on the nose; You eat a mouse; A huge cat attacks you and scratches your chest really bad; You ate something that didn’t agree with your digestion and so it turns into a massive flaming ball like a sun in your stomach.

Now review those (if those particular ones are not very memorable for you, then you can recreate your own). Then go through them and undo them back into a ten-digit number. You should be able to now repeat that number backwards (just start at the end of the files and go backwards up to the top: it is just as easy that way as going forwards), forwards, and by number (what was the third pair? Mouse in Mouth = 30. The third number? The first number in the second pair: 6).

This system works best for memorizing numbers (which is in itself very useful), but the concept of images, places (Loci is Latin for places, so that is where the name comes from), and filing with action applies to everything. There are a lot of ways to do it, but what I have shown you can be used to experiment, practice with (it is Hard to practice, but who cares?), and expand. This system works really well for memorizing Scripture (especially if you are familiar with it) by the way.

I hope that that at least answers your questions, but if it doesn’t, feel free to ask more. But I do suggest that you get Ron White’s ‘Memory in a Month’ course. It is very helpful.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

Free, Very Important Lesson from Gracie University!

Greetings,

As many of you probably have noticed, I, my brother Patrick, and my father are all learning Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. We are learning it because it is the most effective and efficient martial arts system in the world. It is also geared for a mindset that is congruent with the principles that a Christian should be using in a real fight. It has been proven effective, and it is the one that you can receive the most benefit from for the amount of time and effort invested in mastering it. (It also has a very ancient and fascinating history, ask me about it if you are curious. Here’s a hint: Beowulf used a form of it.)

We have been learning it from the instructional videos for over a year now, but we were absolutely ecstatic when they came out with Gracie University: the website that teaches you Gracie Jiu-Jitsu better than private classes! It is amazing. but what is even more amazing is that you can view the first lesson absolutely free! The Trap & Roll Escape is the most important technique in the Gracie Arsenal for someone who knows only one: it can save your life. So they have provided it to the world for free, secure in the knowledge that when you see their incomparable teaching skills, you will continue to learn (which is actually very cheap).

Read this quote from the Gracie Insider (sign up here) to find out how to avail yourself of this offer:

The technique covered in lesson number one of the Gracie Combatives® system is called the Trap and Roll Escape. It’s the first technique we teach all our students, online, on DVD or in person here at the Gracie Academy for one simple reason – this technique alone can save the student’s life, and as a result, we don’t want them to live another day without it.

In order to ensure that you, your friends, and your family don’t go one more day without learning this life saving technique, we’ve decided to make the first lesson of the Gracie Combatives system available to the world – absolutely free. For instant access to this life saving technique, simply follow these steps:

Step 1: Go to www.GracieUniversity.com and scroll down to “Free Lessons” on the home page, and click on Gracie Combatives Lesson 1.

Step 2: You will be asked to log in to your Gracie University student profile, and if you’re a new member, you will be asked to create a profile (it’s free and takes about 60 seconds).

Step 3: Watch Lesson 1, and learn all 3 variations of the Trap and Roll Escape!

Once you’ve learned the Trap and Roll Escape, and you’ve experienced the detailed yet easy-to-follow instruction that makes Gracie Combatives so powerful, we invite you to try the complete system. Depending on your preferred method of learning, you can add the remaining 35 lessons to your Gracie University lesson library for unlimited online viewing (simply visit the ‘Curriculum’ section), or you can purchase the complete Gracie Combatives DVD collection (please note that the online lessons and the DVD lessons are exactly the same). The best part is, as you climb through the curriculum on DVD or online, if you have a question regarding any of the techniques, you can post it in the Gracie University Technique Forum, and we’ll help you find an answer.

I hope that I will see you in the University!

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

Thoughts, Clouds, and God

Greetings,

Something that the Lord has been blessing me with in the past two weeks is a growing awareness of the Spiritual side of things. It is so amazing to be thinking about one thing, and then suddenly it is connected with a spiritual principle, reminding you of who you are in Christ, and of where your focus should be. It makes having a heavenly perspective so much easier!

Go look at the clouds (if you have any). Many people hate clouds, and the weather they bring. But my family loves clouds, and the rain. And I love them even more now. One thing that the Lord showed me Sunday before last, and which has been a real blessing to me ever since, was the clouds. They have always inspired in me an awe of their grandeur and massive size, but then He connected it to this passage:

Isaiah 55:7-9 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:18: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” Out of our thoughts, our deepest seated desires and habits, comes our lifestyle. If your life is wicked and ungodly, then the Lord commands you to forsake your habits, lifestyle, and your thoughts, and to then turn to God in repentance, seeking His ways and thoughts. God is merciful when we repent, period.

But now think about the next couple of verses in Isaiah, and realize the depth of what is being said here. God is telling us to forsake our ways because they are not His ways. He is telling us to forsake our thoughts because they are not His thoughts. Our understanding is sin to Him; our accomplishments are mud to Him; our works are an offense to Him; our thoughts are presumptuous foolishness to Him.

Go look at those clouds. Marvel at their height, weight, and size. Be in awe at their color, at their beautiful shapes, and at their message. Compare them to a building, and see the difference. The tallest building in Ireland (OK, so it is shorter than the average office building in any major city in America, whatever) cannot even measure up to the height of the bottoms of those majestic clouds! And they go towering up higher than everything, full of tons and tons of water. That is a tiny picture of how awesome God’s ways are compared to ours. So now whenever I look at the clouds (and we have plenty of them in Ireland), I think of God and His standards, and of where my focus and dependence ought to be.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Tazhgü recipe

In Ämos Maracca, the capital of the Karnanian province of Tskarnor, there is an avenue of merchants that is adjacent ot the street of Almonds and Dates. All along it, by almost every stall, there are great braziers, wafting upwards a multitudinous variety of scents, albeit with a common theme: they are the Tazhgü dishes of the merchants. Each family has its own recipe, and each merchant competes to draw customers with his own mix. Here is the recipe that I made. (When I made it the first time for lunch for my family it never even made it to the table: it was eaten before it arrived. Y’all might not like it that much, but here goes.)

Tazhgü from Ämos Maracca

A dish to be eaten hot…

  • Saute on high in olive oil-
    • Small handfuls of the following nuts and seeds:
      • Cashews;
      • Sunflower seeds;
      • Almonds;
      • Pistachios.
    • Two small shallots,
    • The following spices:
      • Salt (liberal);
      • Basil;
      • Chili powder;
      • Pepper;
      • Oregano.
  • Turn on low (after the nuts are slightly browned on the sides and aroma is strong) and add a little water;
  • Steam with a lid on for a bit;
  • Serve warm after letting cool a bit (those nuts are really hot right after you take it off the stove).

I hope you enjoy: remember that it is subjective to your taste and preferences. Have fun!

With joy and peace in Christ,

Sir Emeth Mimetes aka Jay Lauser

The Definition of Crime

1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I am not declaring these definitions to be universally binding, only that this is how I will be using them in this study. I will be using words that normally have broad meanings, but I will be using them here in a narrower capacity. I will define below the narrower meanings that I will be using in this Bible study.

Government: the organization of the civil magistrates. Also called the State, Ruler, etc. Basically, the government which punishes crime in a nation (as opposed to the government of the church, family, etc.). The fourth definition in Webster’s 1828 definition of government: “The system of polity in a state; that form of fundamental rules and principles by which a nation or state is governed, or by which individual members of a body politic are to regulate their social actions; a constitution, either written or unwritten, by which the rights and duties of citizens and public officers are prescribed and defined; as a monarchial government, or a republican government.”

Vertical sin: a sin whose punishment is predicated on the fact of its being against God. A sin that has as its principal object God. Some have called these sins “spiritual.” It is contrasted with “horizontal” sins. Of course, all sins are inevitably against God, whether indirectly or directly. But a vertical sin is mainly, if not exclusively, against God and no other. The punishment of a vertical sin is not because it is against or involves another human, but because it is an offense to God.

Horizontal sin: a sin that is mostly against mankind and his temporal extensions (his property and etc.). A sin that has as its principal object another human rather than God directly. Some have called these sins “temporal.” It is contrasted with vertical sins. Horizontal sins are always sins against either another person’s life, their liberty, their property, or against a contract with a person. The punishment of a horizontal sin is based on the injury done to another human being, not on the offense it is to God.

Crime: a sin which is in the jurisdiction of the government to punish. The whole purpose of this Bible study is to define crime, so as it progresses, more delimiting factors will be added to this definition of crime. Some people call heinous sins “crimes” whether or not they have anything to do with government. In this Bible study a crime is limited to a sin punishable by government.

Two Covenants

On mount Sinai, and in revelations following, God made and established a covenant with a nation. This covenant changed the course of that nation’s history, and the course of the world. Within it was the wisdom of God, speaking of things greatly to our profit. It spoke of the nature of God, and so commanded the respect of the nations on all sides of that blessed nation whom God had called His own: Israel. This covenant also spoke of our inherent depraved nature, and our need for redemption. It did not provide the answer to the problem that it revealed, however, but foretold the answer. It told of a new covenant, one that would be perfect, and which would create a new kind of nation, a nation which would transcend the world. This new covenant would replace the old one and bring in a new age of Godly wisdom and insight onto the mysteries of God.

But this first, great covenant bore with it a great responsibility.

Exodus 34:10-14 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
14 For
thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God:

23-26 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, [or] the likeness of any [thing,] which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.
24 For the LORD thy God [is] a consuming fire, [even] a jealous God.
25 When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt [yourselves,] and make a graven image, [or] the likeness of any [thing,] and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong [your] days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 17:2-7 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant,
3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard [of it,] and inquired diligently, and, behold, [it be] true, [and] the thing certain, [that] such abomination is wrought in Israel:
5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, [even] that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
6 At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; [but] at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
7 The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.

The nation of Israel was promised great good if they hearkened to and obeyed the laws of God that He gave them through the covenant. But it was also required of them that they hold to no other God but the Lord. He gave them many laws that dealt with this. He also gave them laws that were shadows of the covenant that was to come: the covenant that would redeem them.

In this first covenant, the old covenant, God was intimately connected with its workings. He made the laws, organized the nation, commanded the order of the battles, guided the rulers, and in all respects was its King. Even during the monarchy He maintained this close connection, giving orders and judgments through His prophets. The entire Old Testament is full of accounts of His direct and visible working in the political realm of Israel. Although He ruled and reigned over all nations, and raised up and put down kings in other kingdoms, Israel was indubitably special.

Deuteronomy 4:5-9 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do [them;] for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation [is there so] great, who [hath] God [so] nigh unto them, as the LORD our God [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for?]
8 And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;

Deuteronomy 4:32-34 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and [ask] from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been [any such thing] as this great thing [is,] or hath been heard like it?
33 Did [ever] people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or
hath God assayed to go [and] take him a nation from the midst of [another] nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

Although this covenant was a magnificent and glorious testimony among the nations for God, despite Israel’s frequent rebellions, it has come to an end. The long awaited and long sought for new covenant came with the death of Christ. There is now a new covenant that is perfect and without flaw. There is a heavenly kingdom of which we can all be a part, regardless of earthly nationality and heritage. This new covenant does not destroy the old, but rather fulfills it, for the old was there to herald and speak of the coming of the new. Every word and piece of the old covenant has a message for us in the new covenant, even if it is not directly applicable, it is figurative of some aspect of the new relationship we have with God.

Hebrews 8:5-13 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of
a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this [is] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith,
A new [covenant,] he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.

So what is the nature of this new covenant? What differences lie between the new and the old? What changes are made in our responsibility?

Hebrews 7:11-12 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need [was there] that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Hebrews 9:9-10 Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them]
until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.

Colossians 1:17-22 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And
he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.
19 For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell;
20 And,
having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say,] whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

There has been a drastic change in the law. Not only in its effect on us, but in its nature. The day before Jesus’ death you were required to give sacrifices for your sins, the day after His death it was wrong to do so. This is only a case example: the differences were not limited to sacrifices and priests. The differences encompassed the very nature of God’s relation to government. His kingdom was not earthly, but heavenly. Because of these differences we cannot declare a sin to be a crime merely because it was a crime in the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Covenant is not binding, and so cannot be used to justify requirements on government: it has other purposes, mainly illustrative. Even the Pentateuchal text itself clearly states that its laws were only for Israel, and for the purpose of making Israel a separate nation.

New Testament Definition of Crime

Romans 13:1-6
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore [ye] must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

This is an obvious passage to study when we are looking to the New Testament for the definition of crime. It has much insight at first glance, but the deeper I probe into its meaning, the more startling and profound are its revelations. Notice first of all the use of the word “evil” in the 3rd and 4th verses. This is a key word, and yet it has a very broad definition. Even the Greek gives little help in narrowing the scope of this word.

But notice the qualifying words that are seen in each instance: works, do, and doeth. These denote action, ruling out heart sins. We know that God considers even evil thoughts and intents of the heart to be sin, but we see from this passage, as we see from other passages also, that government is to have nothing to do with these heart matters. It can only punish actions. This is clear in both the English and the Greek: they both talk about actions done outwardly and even towards others in the Greek.

We know that the government is not to punish all evil actions. So we must determine what type of evil it is referring to from the context. Let us look at the preceding passage in Romans 12:

Romans 12:17-21
17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is clearly a “horizontal” relationship passage, discussing how we ought to deal with our neighbors’ hurting us. We are not to avenge ourselves against wrongs done to us. This is clear. We are not to avenge ourselves against wrongs done to us because that is God’s job. We are to leave that to Him. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” But notice chapter 13:4 “he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Verse 19 directly pertains to our passage 13:1-6. Verse 17’s word “evil” is the same word used in chapter 13:3-4. This passage gives us a clear definition for the type of evil actions government is to punish with its sword: evil towards others. The civil magistrate is God’s delegated servant to execute punishment on what you would otherwise have executed vengeance on: wrongs done to you.

1 Peter 2:13-14
13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

A smaller passage, but just as meaningful. This clearly outlines the purpose of the civil magistrate: to punish evil-doers and praise well-doers. Notice the word “evildoers.” It specifically means (in the Greek) injurious. Its roots and other forms also mean injurious. It also refers to injury to others. So we have again what we had in Romans 12 & 13: crime (sins punishable by government) is an action that is injurious to other people.

1 Thess. 4:3-6
3 For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6 That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

This passage’s context is discussing specifically our behavior toward God and our walk of holiness and sanctification before Him. Then it contrasts this with a result of what happens if you fail to keep yourself pure. Notice where this happens in verse 6, “That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such.” Notice the word “avenger” is the same as in Romans 13, where we learned that the civil magistrate is God’s agent in carrying out just punishment on crime (avenge). This verse defines crime! “That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such” So what does it mean to “go beyond” and “defraud”? Just what it says. The Greek also includes the important concept that an attack on a person’s exclusive jurisdiction (private property, liberty, etc.) is an attack on him. So we have the extension of crime to a person’s liberty and property at least. Also again we have a separation between sin against God and crime against Man.

Because of the importance of the New Testament’s definition of crime, I will iterate here what we have learned, and what we can draw from that. I will use some of the Old Testament laws as examples to illustrate some obvious deductions, which is the proper use of those laws.

  1. Crimes are done, not thought. They are not necessarily acted, as a deliberate or careless refusal to act has the same denotations and consequences as an actual action.
  2. The punishments for crimes are based on the fact that they are towards other people, not towards animals or God. All sins are against God, but the punishment of the government is limited to that part of a sin that is against mankind. This is the principle of restitution, as separate from the principle of guilt towards God. If you sinned against another in the Mosaic Law, you had to pay restitution, and give an offering to God. The one was for the offense to man, the other for the offense to God. Government can only exact the former, the offense to man. Government only deals in restitution in the New Testament.
  3. Crimes are against another person. They are injurious to him in some way. An attempt at an injurious act is also a crime because although it might have been thwarted, it was against the other person. In the Old Testament we see and example of this deduction with the law of false witness. The false witness is not merely punished for the limiting of the accused liberty because of the trial, but for the accusation, what he had intended to do to the accused party. So restitution is required even if the attempt fails, though maybe not always in the full amount.
  4. Crimes are not limited to a person himself, but extends to his properties and liberties. A person has exclusive jurisdiction over his property, and to violate that exclusive right, is to violate himself. This extends to his liberty as well, as is required by logic and indicated by many laws in the Old Testament, including the kidnapping laws. Because of this, we can also add contract law, as that is a necessary extension of both property and liberty. To break a contract is to commit a crime against the other parties.
  5. It is not a crime to punish crime if you are delegated to punish crime. It is the government’s responsibility to punish crime, and to do so they must exact punishment, which itself falls into the category of actions that defines a crime. Criminal type actions can only be done by delegated government officials in punishment of proven crime. If a criminal type action is done without due process of law (however that is defined) then that action is a crime and needs to be punished as such.

So from this we may conclude the following definition of crime (keep in mind that government in the New Testament is limited to punishing crime and praising righteousness): a crime is a breach of contract with fellow men or a sin against a fellow man, which includes violations of his life, liberty, and property without due process of law.

We will need to continue our studies to discern whether things like adultery, divorce, striking/cursing/rebelling against your parents, usury, murder, immigration, threats, and etc. are crimes by this Biblical definition. We will also need to determine which crimes must always be in the government’s jurisdiction, which ones may be excluded from it by the decision of the offended parties, and etc. These must follow the hermeneutic principles outlined in this study of they are to be useful, however. We must study the Old Testament law to discern what punishments were given for what reasons, and then conclude how we ought to view these laws in light of the New Testament that we live in.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser