In the United States of America “Separation of Church and State” is the great unwritten rule. First used by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to describe the spirit of the First Amendment to the US Constitution; it has been used by the US Supreme Court, activists, statesmen, sinners, and saints to establish the standard in which we operate. Because of this, many Christians today have a very hard time correlating religion and government as one in the same. But that is what it was originally intended to be by The Creator.
In Israel’s First Covenant Era, God ruled the people through the use of righteous men which he set apart for himself to oversee the people. First there was Moses, then Joshua, and on through the times it was this way, men selected by God, until Israel faltered and wanted to establish a mortal kingly rule over them. This removed the direct calling and training from the Most High on the leadership of Israel but God allowed it and Saul was anointed the first king. Some kings were good (David, Solomon, Hezekiah) and most others bad, but none compared to what Israel would have been if they would have only had complete faith in God.
Before this and after this there was the Torah, which all the laws would revolve around. Over time, however, the Torah was designated a religious or spiritual law and thus it was separated from the physical law that ruled the lands. It still had power in the land but it was not the all in all that it was intended to be. With many invasions, foreign rulers, and false gods the Torah was separated from the state.
Now we move to, what I will call, The New Covenant Era and we see that Christ and his chosen messengers enforced Torah observance and a reunification of Torah and State. Many modern Christians believe that Christ taught subservience to the State and its Rule of Law and a removal of the Laws outlined in the Torah. God’s People couldn’t be more confused.
First, there was a huge difference in the state in which they preached. The state which was to be unified with the Torah was the spiritual Kingdom of Heaven. Unlike the physical kingdoms of this world that can affect you first physically and then spiritually this was a spiritual kingdom that would affect you first spiritually and then physically. From the beginning and all throughout the Bible we see that only one kingdom is worthy of our servitude and that is the Kingdom of Heaven in which Christ is the King.
Second, we were only meant to participate in physical kingdoms as much as we needed to live our lives, no more then what was necessary. Other than this, our complete focus should be the Kingdom of Heaven. Because we are citizens of this marvelous kingdom we should follow its law; which is now fully revealed in the entirety of the Bible with and through Jesus the Christ.
So what sort of society should we being living?
The Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, or as we are known on this planet, Spiritual Israel, are living in and operating under a Biblical Republic. Let’s dive deeper…
The government of the United States of America is a Constitutional Republic. Contrary to what many believe today we are not a full Democracy. We utilize aspects of democracy in the selection of our representatives, some laws and ordinances, and our government caretakers but overall we, as a nation, can only operate within the constraints of the Constitution of the United States. For instance, the people of the United States, no manner if it be a majority or minority of people, cannot take away any of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution. This can happen only by entering the lengthy process of amending the Constitution itself.
Likewise, in Spiritual Israel, AKA The Church, we cannot simply make void any portion of the Law of God spoken of in the Torah simply because a majority of people do not want to adhere to the law. No matter what we want or do, we cannot amend the Law of God. As Christ alluded to, not one letter of the Law of God will pass away as long as Heaven and Earth exist. Amendments to the Law of God can only be done by the Law Giver and this is what was done through Christ fulfilling the Law. Christ amended parts of the law by becoming a sacrifice for our sins.
Just as violation of the Constitution of the United States is anti-American, violation of the Law of God is anti-Christian.
This doesn’t stop many today from teaching that we do not need to obey the Law of God. When you teach or believe that we do not need the law you are displaying lawlessness. Lawlessness is the transgression of the Law of God. Transgression of the Law of God is sin. Don’t believe me? Look at the New Testament verse that was written after Christ ascended into Heaven. That verse is 1 John 3:4 and it says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” That is from the King James Version. What about other translations? English Standard Version: “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” New International Version: “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” Need another? How about from the Interlinear which has the direct Greek translation: “Everyone who practices sin also lawlessness practices.”
I find it interesting that people say that God is love and that we don’t have to follow the law, or that we are free from the law because love does not equal law. I find that interesting because Jesus, our Lord and Savior, says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (KJV) Do I need to do the multiple translations? How about just the direct Greek: “If you love me commandments my keep.”
So, do you still think we do not have law as Spiritual Israel? What about that verse in Colossians where Paul says it was all nailed to the cross? This is probably the most used verse in saying that we do not have to follow The Law; even though there are more verses saying otherwise they choose to build a doctrine off of one verse. Let’s look at that now.
The verse in question is Colossians 2:14, it says, “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (ESV) People say, “SEE! Jesus canceled the record of debt that stood against us with those legal demands! Legal that means the Law!” To use just this one verse, out of context, is comical. Allow us to look at it in context of the verses that came before.
Colossians 2:8-15 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
This section starts with Paul telling us that we should NOT bow to philosophy and deceit according to human tradition. In other words, do not allow yourselves to be swayed by what man says, but what Christ, the Logos, says. We already covered what Christ said in John 14:15. Next we will focus on the words, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh…” What are the trespasses he is talking about? A trespass of the law, as we already covered that is sin. Then let’s look at the next part of the sentence, “…God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” So we move into the main verse we are talking about. First, God made us, you and I, alive together with him by forgiving us of our sins. Next, how did he do this? By canceling the record of debt that stood against us; that being Justification. Justification is the canceling of the record of debt, forgiveness of sin, giving us a way to be righteous in his sight, really declaring us righteous. That is how we are saved.
Now, what about the legal demands? This goes as alluded to in what is the next sentence in the ESV. It says, “This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Okay, so we have legal demands nailed to the cross for forgiveness of sins. What were the legal demands under The Law that hung over the head of all who needed redemption from sin? That is the sacrificial system and that sacrificial system is what was eliminated by the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. Jesus was the final sacrifice. It is also the legal punishments under the Law, such as stoning and other such punishments. Christ amended The Law. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” He took away the power of the religious authority and rulers of those days that said forgiveness of sins came through the sacrifice or actions.
Now, do you still think he was talking about The Law? A matter of fact everything in the Bible supports obeying God in love. Anything less is lawlessness. To think that God has no laws is ridiculous. God has laws for everything. Without God’s implemented laws our very Universe could not exist because the very laws of the universe keep our planet in orbit, it keeps the sun shining, the stars and constellations in their place, and keeps us on the earth instead of floating off into space.
One last verse, 1 John 2:3-6 says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (NIV)
Today in our country we think that because we have a majority of people that want to do something that it should be done. We believe that we are a democracy. We are not a democracy; we only use an aspect of democracy as previously stated. The ways of the world are inching into our church and the church is starting to apply the philosophy of man instead of the Word of God. Just as we need to realize in our country that we have laws and rules that are established by the Constitution of the United States of America, and those are not up for discussion, we also need to realize that as a church we have laws and rules that are established in the Word of God. Those are not up for discussion either.
We may be a Biblical Republic now but soon our Lord and Savior will be coming in the clouds and he will establish a Biblical Theocracy and that will be the only kingdom that will truly last forever. Don’t be found lawless when the creator of the law comes to gather us all together.
By Donnie Elswick