This may well be one of the most important posts that I have written. It is about changing human perceptions and standards concerning God’s loving instruction, and realigning them with the text so that the text sits in authority over us, instead of it being the other way around and having us sitting in authority over the text.
To do this, we need to be speaking the same language and be understanding the same things . . .
- We have to understand that the purpose of the text is to teach us what a Holy God values and what He abhors. We are called to be Holy because He is Holy:
1 Peter 1:14-16 (CJB)
14 As people who obey God,
do not let yourselves be shaped
by the evil desires you used to have when you were still ignorant.
15 On the contrary, following the Holy One who called you,
become holy yourselves in your entire way of life;
16 since the Tanakh says,
“You are to be holy because I am holy.”
This is Kefa (Peter) quoting the ONLY text there was at the time – The Old Testament (The New covenant/testament had not been written yet). He is using the word συσχηματίζω suschēmatizō for shaped – guided by. Conformed would be the secular Greek (non-biblical Greek) understanding.
This term is related to the noun schēma (4828) which denotes outward appearance, form, or shape. The prepositional prefix sun (4713), “with,” assumes the “form” was patterned after someone or something else. In classical literature suschēmatizō means to form or mold after something and is translated “conformed to” and “guided by” (Bauer).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “4816. συσχηματίζω,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary
The word συσχηματίζω suschēmatizō is used twice in the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant) and both times it addresses “worldliness.”
Leviticus 11:44-45 (CJB)
44 For I am Adonai your God;
therefore, consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy;
and do not defile yourselves
with any kind of swarming creature that moves along the ground.
45 (Maftir) For I am Adonai,
who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God.
Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.
- We have to understand what Holy is and what worldly is – and to keep it simple, we will define is thus:Holy is the Godly standard, given by Him to us, in which, and by which, we are govern our lives, actions and thoughts.Worldly is the opposite of Holy. It is the human standard. It is governing our lives by man-made standards, actions and thoughts instead of by the godly ones he handed down.
1 Corinthians 3:3 (CJB)
3 For you are still worldly!
Isn’t it obvious from all the jealousy and quarreling among you
that you are worldly
and living by merely human standards?
The problem is that some believe their worldly standards are and in fact – godly standards . . .
How can we differentiate? After all, the text has been argued about for thousands of years . . .
I will give you a simple litmus test:
Is the standard that I am accepting . . . is the standard that I am governing my life by . . .
Are my actions and thoughts . . .
Holy unto God?
Like I said, “Simple.” And yet, many far reaching implications – so many, that the mind boggles at the very enormity of those implications.
So, with these to things in mind, there is a very appropriate cliché that states,
‘this is where the rubber meets the road.’
How so, you might ask? Well, since you asked . . . 😛
Let’s start to answer that question by asking a question . . .
What defines morality?
I am going to let you think about that for just a second. Seriously, I want you to think about it for more than a second and consider the question carefully. If you are unsure, let me ask another question to help clear it up:
What defined morality in biblical times?
Many or you are probably saying right about now, ‘that’s easy – the commandments!’
So let me ask you another question . . .
What were the commandments?
I am not trying to be purposely obtuse. Asking questions to answer a question requires us to think about the question we are asking. Yeshua (Jesus) used this type of teaching when a Torah scholar tried to trap him:
Luke 10:25-26 (CJB)
25 An expert in Torah stood up to try and trap him by asking,
“Rabbi, what should I do to obtain eternal life?”
26 But Yeshua said to him,
“What is written in the Torah?
How do you read it?”
It is a very effective way to get people to consider what is being taught in contrast to what they already believe. So again, let me ask the question again:
What were the commandments?
You are correct! They were laws. Laws define morality. Without laws, there can be no morality. Without morality, you can not be Holy. A Holy God gave us the command to be Holy because He is Holy. He gave us law so that we would know what was moral and what was immoral in HIS eyes – He gave us the text so that we could know what Holy was . . . and what Holy was NOT! He gave us the text so that we could learn to differentiate and know the difference between God’s morality and what man tries to pass off as moral.
There is a subtle difference between the Hebrew understanding of law (Torah)
and the Greek understanding of law (nomos). Just because it is subtle, does NOT make it small or inconsequential . . . it is in fact, even though subtle, a HUGE difference!
Let’s explore that subtle difference that is so huge!
In the Greek, νόμος nomos is simply law. It is not based on the precepts in the text because they did NOT believe in the text. The word νόμος nomos was not created by Greek society to describe morality as it pertains to a Holy God, it was created by Greek society to describe the morality and is pertained to the Greeks . . . to man. Don’t take my word for it:
Nomos was an essential ingredient for the unity and success of the Greek city-state (polis ). In the Fifth Century B.C. Greeks began to document and codify their laws. Soon nomos came to represent the law(s) enacted by the city-state governing body. It was administered by the judicial system. The idea of nomos as “custom” disappeared; ethos (1478), “custom,” came to depict the commonly held, unwritten laws of society (see Esser, “Law,” Colin Brown, 2:439).
Because laws were instituted through the actions of city government as a result of the political process, nomos was regarded principally from a human perspective. This human-centeredness contrasted the initial idea of nomos as a religious enactment. Nomos was linked to the divine, as is indicated by Greek philosophy which maintained this relationship.
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “3414. νόμος,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary
On the other hand, the Hebrew word for law תּוֹרָה tôrāh does not simply mean law. It also means instruction. But even more than that, it is the following:
Although the word is most often translated as “law,” its origin makes it clear that the Law was more than a mere code of regulations;
it was the expression of God’s will, instructing his people in the proper way to live.
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “8784,” in The Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary
This subtle distinction is HUGE!!!
If you don’t see the subtle distinction between νόμος nomos and תּוֹרָה tôrāh, then let me make it easier to see . . .
νόμος nomos is the expression of MAN’S will
תּוֹרָה tôrāh is the expression of GOD’S will
Not so subtle now, is it?
If you are with me to this point, the final part of this post is going to give many of you understanding and insight into how this world has ended up in the state that it is now in – how the churches and the shuls have ended up in the state they are in now.
When the Puritans came to America to “separate” from the Church of England, they brought with them a strict sense of morality based upon God’s Holy standards. Yes, the Puritans were called “separatists.” Yes, just like the Pharisees (also called separatists), they felt that the modern day religion had made too many man made concessions and they separated from them to follow God’s word as best that they could. In a few words, the reformation didn’t reform enough.
Their morality was based upon the expression of God’s will – the Torah. The laws governing their society and their lives, actions and thoughts were biblical. The founding of this nation was based upon the laws set forth in the Old and New Testaments. This nation, and the morality that it embraced, was the morality set forth in commands and ordinances of the Creator of all things through His Holy Writ – the Bible.
And a nation was born in July of 1776. It was predominately a Christian people that founded this nation – and as a Christian people, they founded it on the Holy standards set forth in the text as an expression of God’s will and instruction for his people to govern their lives, actions and thoughts. The laws that it made to govern itself were based on the same laws that God had given in His word. In doing so, the United States of America established a morality for its citizens based upon the commands and commandments of the Almighty God. To put it succinctly, the word of God sat in authority over this nation in its inception and dictated the laws that it made as it struggled to enter the narrow gate and the hard road.
However, men being men, the Holy standard has been assaulted since its first use in this nation and gradually replaced with the worldly standard. The assault has gained so much momentum that the word of God no longer sits in authority over this nation. This nation has chosen a different path . . . a broad road with a wide gate. This nation and its governing bodies have grown more and more brazen and decided that they know better than God, and as a result, have established laws and governance where they sit in authority over the word of God – if they even accept the word of God at all.
Would you like an example?
Let’s look at one of the most hot button topics in America today – homosexuality. To do this, let’s begin by looking at sodomy and the laws that were in effect by the 13 colonies at the founding of this nation concerning sodomy.
“Nowhere does this self-identification of the Puritans,
in legal matters,with the Jews of the Old Testament
show more clearly than in the opening lines of the preamble to Connecticut’s Laws of 1672, which declared that:
“the Serious Consideration of the Necessity of the Establishment
of wholesome LAWES, for the Regulating of each Body Politik;
Hath enclined (sic) us mainly in Obedience unto JEHOVAH the Great Law-giver:
Who hath been pleased to set down a Divine Platforme,
not only of the Morall, but also of Judicial lawes,
suitable for the people of Israel” (Brinley, 1865).
The first American “code,” if it can be called that, was a simple list of “Capitall offences lyable to death” drawn up in Plymouth Colony in 1936 (sic). These included treason, murder, witchcraft, arson, sodomy, rape, buggery (here denoting bestiality), and adultery.”
From Homosexuals and the Death Penalty in Colonial America by Louis Crompton PhD
Yes, sodomy was a capital offense in the beginning of this nation. In other words, the death penalty. In fact, all of the 13 colonies considered sodomy a capital offense.
In George Painter’s article on sodomy laws “The Sensibilities of Our Forefathers: The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States” he states:
The Quaker colony established by William Penn adopted a code in 1682 that reworded the sodomy law to read that:
if any person shall be Legally Convicted of the unnatural sin of Sodomy or joining with beasts, Such persons shall be whipt, and forfeit one third of his or her estate, and work six months in the house of Correction, at hard labour, and for the Second offense, imprisonment, as aforesaid, during life.
This was the only non-capital sodomy law to exist during the colonial era in what now is the United States, but it was not destined to last forever.
Does death seem a little harsh by today’s standards? Was this even a biblical stance they were taking? Since we know that the law set forth in the text was the guiding principle by which the laws of this nation were formed, where did they get this idea that sodomy (homosexuality) should be punished by death?
Leviticus 20:13 (CJB)
13 If a man goes to bed with a man
as with a woman,
both of them have committed an abomination;
they must be put to death;
their blood is on them.
Context is important to understanding the morality laid out in laws such as this in the text. The following is what was written in the text prior to the text above. It is the reasoning for the law above from the Creator who created the law – who created man – who gave man the ability to reason:
Leviticus 18:22-30 (CJB)
22 “‘You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman;
it is an abomination.
23 “‘You are not to have sexual relations with any kind of animal
and thus become unclean with it;
nor is any woman to present herself to an animal
to have sexual relations with it; it is perversion.
24 “‘Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things,
because all the nations which I am expelling ahead of you are defiled with them.
25 The land has become unclean,
and this is why I am punishing it —
the land itself will vomit out its inhabitants.
26 But you are to keep my laws and rulings
and not engage in any of these disgusting practices,
neither the citizen nor the foreigner living with you;
27 for the people of the land have committed all these abominations,
and the land is now defiled.
28 If you make the land unclean, it will vomit you out too,
just as it is vomiting out the nation that was there before you.
29 For those who engage in any of these disgusting practices,
whoever they may be, will be cut off from their people.
30 So keep my charge not to follow any of these abominable customs
that others before you have followed
and thus defile yourselves by doing them.
I am Adonai your God.’”
Today, the morality of this nation is different than the morality of this nation when it was formed. It is different than the morality established in the text. The morality of this nation is even different than it was in 1962 when sodomy was still illegal in every single state in the United States. In fact, sodomy was a felony in every state in the United States less than 60 years ago.
What was once punished by the government as a capital offense in this nation, has become something that the government now protects. In fact, our nation today would call what our nation did then – a hate crime. Common sense tells us that it will not be long before the Bible and the words it contains will be called hate crime propaganda . . . when and if that happens, the bible will be against the law.
In other words,
The law will be against the law
The reason for all of this is simple . . . Let’s go back to our original question at the beginning of this post and see if we can answer it more thoroughly now:
What defines morality?
Laws define morality.
Now we get to perhaps the more important question,
Who defines the law?
If you will remember, we discussed earlier in this post the difference between two words, in two different languages, in two very different cultures. We discussed the word “law” from both a Greek mindset and understanding and from a Hebrew mindset and understanding.
νόμος nomos is the expression of MAN’S will
תּוֹרָה tôrāh is the expression of GOD’S will
If we add a little bit more detail to these definitions, we can see exactly how morality is created.
νόμος nomos is the expression of MAN’S will concerning morality which is the human standard
תּוֹרָה tôrāh is the expression of GOD’S will concerning morality which is the Godly standard
The standard that we accept (worldly or Holy), and the laws that we make as a result of the standard we accept, define our morality – as individuals – as a people – as a nation. I want you to pay REAL CLOSE ATTENTION to the following question(s) . . .
Who determines the law(s) in this country?
For those of you that do not know, then it is time for a short history lesson. For those of you that may have forgotten, this will be a good refresher for you.
Laws for this nation are made by the Legislative branch of government which is known as Congress. Congress is divided into 2 parts:
- Senate – 100 senators (2 from each of the 50 states)
- House of Representatives – 435 of them (some states have just 2 while others have up to 40)
While Congress does in fact make the laws, they are not the only part of the law process. There is another branch of government that interpret the laws – they are called the Judicial branch of government. The Supreme Court and its 9 justices as well as the lower courts in each state make up this branch.
A 3rd and final part of the law process is the enforcement process. This is done by the Executive branch of government. The person that administers that branch is the President of the United States. The President is responsible for enforcing the laws that Congress makes.
Now comes the question that this whole post points to . . . If morality if defined by the law, and the law is defined by Congress, then
Who defines what is moral and what is not moral in this country?
That’s right! A bunch of lawyers on Capitol Hill!
In the beginning of this nation, those lawyers defined morality using the Godly standard which is called Holiness as it was defined in the biblical text. The word of God sat in authority over the lawmakers of this nation in its infancy in the laws that they made, in the interpretation of those laws and in the enforcement of those laws.
That is not the case any longer. The lawyers writing the laws of today use the human standard which is called worldliness.
The word of God does NOT sit in authority over these lawmakers,
these lawmakers sit in authority over the word of God!
This can easily be seen in the very laws that they make today, the laws they do away with, in the way that they choose to interpret the former laws such as the Constitution of the United States, and in the enforcement all of the laws – both former and later.
We are no longer “One nation under God,” we are one nation under man.
Understand this – the separation of church and state was not in its infancy, what it has become today. In its infancy, it was an assurance from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of the State of Connecticut that the government would NOT establish a national church like had been done in England. He gave them this assurance because they wanted affirmation and assurances that they would not have any government interference in their manner of worship. The Bill of Rights written by James Madison affirms this when it states among other amendments:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Specifically, the Bill of Rights had one overriding objective:
To place specific limits on the powers of the Federal Government,
and to keep those powers not given to the Federal government in the Constitution
in the hands of the individual and the individual states.
Madison wanted to change the Constitution to include the content of the Bill of Rights but it was argued successfully that Congress had no authority (even though it made the laws) to change the Constitution and/or its wording. This is why the Bill of Rights was established. And yes, the very first part of it addresses government interference in the individual’s and the state’s manner of worship.
The following is the letter that the Danbury Baptist Association of the State of Connecticut wrote to President Thomas Jefferson when they assembled in October 7, 1801:
To Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States of America
Sir, Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your inauguration, to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the United States. And though the mode of expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe, that none is more sincere.
Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter, together with the laws made coincident therewith, were adapted as the basis of our government at the time of our revolution. And such has been our laws and usages, and such still are, [so] that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. And these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore, if those who seek after power and gain, under the pretense of government and Religion, should reproach their fellow men, [or] should reproach their Chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dares not, assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.
Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States—and all the world—until hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and goodwill shining forth in a course of more than thirty years, we have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you—to sustain and support you and your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.
And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.
Signed in behalf of the Association,
Eph’m Robbins The Committee
Stephen S. Nelson
The following is the response that President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association of the State of Connecticut in regards to their letter to him:
Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, and Stephen s. Nelson
A Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the State of Connecticut.
Washington, January 1, 1802
Gentlemen,–The affectionate sentiment of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature would “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurances of my high respect and esteem.
Th Jefferson Jan. 1. 1802
Simply put, the separation of church and state is about a guarantee, specifically to the Danbury Baptists, but to others as well, that there will be no NATIONAL CHURCH like there was in England – it is NOT about keeping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob out of our laws or lawmaking process. Our very morality as a nation and the laws that we made as a result of that morality were based upon the biblical text, period.
Now here is the main reason this post is so important to understand:
The law makers of this country, just like the law makers in Israel at the time of Yeshua (Jesus),
have strayed from God’s standard and definition of morality which is Holiness as they were set down in ordinances, commands and commandments through His laws in the biblical text,
and have instead chosen to sit in authority over God’s word and make laws concerning their own standard – the human standard – in a word, worldliness.
The disturbing thing is that people are accepting, and even preferring, the human standard (which is worldliness) OVER the Godly standard (which is Holiness).
The MORE DISTURBING thing is that churches and shuls are accepting the man-made standards (the worldly standards) as acceptable, and even preferable, in the very churches that they proclaim to follow God from. And when they do this, when they follow the human standard which is worldliness, when they ordain homosexual pastors and things like this which are clearly against the text, they sit in authority over the word of God. They decide in this very action, and actions like it, that the laws He established, the laws that He gave and are
the expression of God’s will, instructing his people in the proper way to live
are WRONG, and they, in all of their enlightened intellectual superiority over the Almighty God, are RIGHT! The text tells us something different:
1 Corinthians 1:17-31 (CJB)
17 For the Messiah did not send me to immerse but to proclaim the Good News —
and to do it without relying on “wisdom” that consists of mere rhetoric,
so as not to rob the Messiah’s execution-stake of its power.
18 For the message about the execution-stake is nonsense
to those in the process of being destroyed,
but to us in the process of being saved it is the power of God.
19 Indeed, the Tanakh says,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent.”
20 Where does that leave the philosopher, the Torah-teacher,
or any of today’s thinkers?
Hasn’t God made this world’s wisdom look pretty foolish?
21 For God’s wisdom ordained that the world, using its own wisdom,
would not come to know him.
Therefore God decided to use the “nonsense”
of what we proclaim as his means of saving those who come to trust in it.
22 Precisely because Jews ask for signs
and Greeks try to find wisdom,
23 we go on proclaiming a Messiah executed on a stake as a criminal!
To Jews this is an obstacle,
and to Greeks it is nonsense;
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,
this same Messiah is God’s power and God’s wisdom!
25 For God’s “nonsense” is wiser than humanity’s “wisdom.”
And God’s “weakness” is stronger than humanity’s “strength.”
26 Just look at yourselves, brothers —
look at those whom God has called!
Not many of you are wise by the world’s standards,
not many wield power or boast noble birth.
27 But God chose what the world considers nonsense
in order to shame the wise;
God chose what the world considers weak
in order to shame the strong;
28 and God chose what the world looks down on
as common or regards as nothing
in order to bring to nothing what the world considers important;
29 so that no one should boast before God.
30 It is his doing that you are united with the Messiah Yeshua.
He has become wisdom for us from God,
and righteousness and holiness and redemption as well!
31 Therefore — as the Tanakh says —
“Let anyone who wants to boast, boast about Adonai.”
Again, there are two roads.
One road is broad and many will travel it. It is the road paved with the laws of man. It is paved with a morality based upon human standards – it is the road of worldliness.
There is a second road. It is narrow and hard to find. Not many will find it or even search for it. Of the few that find it or search for it, many that do find it will not want to travel it when they find it because it will be too hard. It is a road paved with a morality based upon Godly standards – it is the road of Holiness.
Morality is based upon laws . . .
Laws are constructed and written based upon 2 very different standards (human or Godly) . . .
The human standard is wordiness – the Godly standard is Holiness . . .
Our nation is defining morality from a human standard instead of a Godly one . . .
Our Congress is writing laws from a human standard instead of a Godly one . . .
Our churches and shuls are beginning to accept human standards as the preferable morality . . .
Which standard will you choose in both your words and your deeds?
Which morality will you adhere to?
A lot to think about, huh?
Be blessed brothers and sisters and and may the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) guide you and your actions in fear and reverence of a very worthy and Holy God!