Robert Wurtz II
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:2–4 NKJV)
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18 NKJV)
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:10–13 NKJV)
I have chosen these three passages of Scripture in order to bring to mind the fact that the Old Covenant is passed away and the New Covenant has come. The Old Covenant was spiritual, but it was weak because of the sinful nature (flesh). It was “tailored” to fit the Israelites who, like the rest of us, were born in Adam by first birth. In other words, it was designed to deal with man in his/her sinful condition. It was a series of institutional laws that sought to reign in man’s constitutional sin nature — while simultaneously exposing man’s rebellion. The Law was good and holy, but for people born with a rebellious nature, it was merely a long list of things man could do to express their rebellion. It was an expression of the personality of God — but it was powerless to make that imprint on the hearts of men. God’s solution? For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
I sometimes wish I could purchase tens of millions of stickers in every language that I could affix to the plain white paper that separates the Old Covenant from the New Covenant in everyones bible. The sticker would simply read, “STOP! You Are Now Entering the New Covenant.” Perhaps this would cause the reader to pause and realize that he/she has passed out of the Old Covenant and is now reading the New Covenant. You might say, “Why would you do that? It’s common sense that there are two covenants represented in the Bible.” Not so fast. You may be surprised at how often I respond to questions related to the covenants.
Muddying the Waters
What complicates the issue is that many teachers and preachers present certain Old Covenant laws as being applicable to Christians. This “selective legislation” creates tremendous confusion among believers. For example, in Galatians 1 Paul rebukes the Galatians for entertaining the notion that Christian men should be circumcised as a means of perfecting their Christian experience. If was the hot-button issue of the day. He asked them, “Having begun in the Spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh?” In other words, having truly received the Holy Spirit — they were to be led by the Spirit in all areas of their lives. This was God’s way of manifesting His personality in the lives of Christians. Christ in you… the hope of glory. What did Paul say, “(…) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” This is the key thing. A person who walks in the Spirit does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. They walk in the law of love against which there is no law.
The challenge we have is that many Christians have never received the Holy Spirit or they are not being led by the Spirit. As ministers and teachers, our temptation is to take matters into our own hands and begin legislating do’s and don’ts to the offenders (and non-offenders unfortunately). Nevertheless, we must never reach back into the Old Covenant and attempt to enforce those laws on Christians. Why? Because the solution for bad behavior is not more law it is more Spirit. When people get cold in the Lord and are not being filled with the Spirit their behavior reflects this. However, to inject law into the situation is like filling a dead carcass with embalming fluid. The person may appear to be preserved — but they are just as dead and lifeless as ever. The law can never take the place of personal revival (a fresh refilling and ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit). The only possible thing adding law could do is to give a “show” of Christianity. Anyone can learn when to say “amen” or “praise God” at the right times. They may even learn to do and not do certain things that give the appearance that they are spiritual. This is not Christianity. This is play acting. People who have the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit do not need laws to keep them on track. What did Paul say? For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 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). (Romans 2:14–15 NKJV)
As ministers of the Gospel (who have a God ordained right to live financially of the Gospel) we need to ask ourselves some questions. Do I trust God? Do I trust God to lay it on the hearts of people to make sure that my needs are met? Or do I take matters into my own hands and reach up and steady the Ark (so to speak)? When ministers get desperate (or greedy unfortunately) they may teach things they ought not for filthy lucre sake. Some even argue that practices such as circumcision and tithing both predate the Mosaic Law — so they should still be performed today. Really? Technically speaking, circumcision was mandatory and tithing was strictly voluntary and sporadic (at best). However, Paul told the Galatians that if anyone came preaching the necessity of circumcision that they are accursed. Why? Because they have added something to the New Covenant that God does not want there — even things that predate the Old Covenant. What happens? People begin trying to please God by the works of the Law rather than walking in the Spirit. What happens? Rather than trusting God (our Paymaster) to deal with people through the Holy Spirit, a “law” is preached in His place to get the people to support financially. Beloved, this ought not so to be.
Show me a minister that preaches people under the Mosaic Law (Old Covenant) and I will show you a ministry where there is little or no fruit. Oh, what needless pains we bear. Oh, the resources and time that is wasted preaching people under the Mosaic Law in the name of Christianity! If a person wants to be circumcised or circumcises their infant boys that is their prerogative. If a person wants to give a tithe of their income (the hot-button issue of our times) to a local church or ministry that is their prerogative, too. However, the moment that either of these practices is made “the law” we have crossed the line and are inviting anathema upon our heads. There is no other way to read Paul in Galatians. No matter how desperately a ministry needs funding, we should never, under any circumstances, resort to telling the people they are “cursed” if they don’t tithe. The fact is, it’s the minister who is in danger of being cursed — not the people. If you doubt this, I challenge you to follow Paul’s logic in the matter of circumcision in Galatians and then ask if it should also apply to tithing. You will find that there is no way to dodge the truth that it is as dangerous (if not more so) to preach tithing (as a law) as it is circumcision (as a law). Selah.
If we are going to live in the New Covenant lets do it or let’s get out altogether. Why should we go back to a covenant that has decayed, waxed old, and vanished away? We will either walk in the Spirit or we won’t. We will either be led by the Spirit or we will walk in the flesh. There is no middle ground. When Saints fail to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law — the solution is personal revival. Our preaching should be along the lines of getting people led of the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. It either works or it doesn’t. When churches struggle for support (financially or in any other way) the answer is to look to God — the Lord of the harvest. Why should I bring myself under a curse by telling Christians that they are cursed for non-support? I cannot do with law what only can be done through the Spirit Filled life. If we would dare to believe God and what He has done in the New Covenant we would have His unbridled blessing and we would see Him do things we can’t imagine. But so long as we labor under the beggarly elements of the Mosaic Law we will never know the full potential of the Church.