Don’t fence me in

Anyone remember that old song? It was actually the title song to a Roy Rogers movie from the 1940’s.

Basically, it tells of a man who doesn’t want to be restricted, a man who wants to be free to choose what he does and where he does it.

God is like that, too: He doesn’t want to be restricted into doing or being what others think He should be. Yet, we do that to Him- especially within many religions. Some teach only of His loving kindness and the salvation He provides, and that He is all about love. That’s true, God is love, but He is also justice, and He is demanding, and He is definitely willing and able to punish. If God will not punish the sinner as He promises He will, then His promises aren’t trustworthy. Yet, many religions don’t even like to mention that. They work on your emotional need to be unconditionally loved, and ignore the other aspects of God and (especially) His requirements for worship. Basically, they only want you to know the New Covenant writings and teach the Old Covenant is really just for the Jews.

Wrong!

Let’s be clear about what I mean when I say “punishing the sinner”: we all are sinners, who are sinful (meaning it is our nature to sin), but when those who truly fear the Lord sin, they are rueful and repentant. That is not the sinner who will be punished. A rueful and repentant person, one who goes before God with a contrite and humble heart and asks forgiveness, will be forgiven.

The sinners who will be punished are the ones who are unrepentant, the ones who reject God, willfully and obstinately, and who do whatever they want to do and justify doing so using worldly ethics and morals.

It seems funny using the words “ethic” and “moral” when talking about the world, doesn’t it?

So, sinners who will be punished are the ones who do what they want to do and reject God.

But, what is “rejecting God”? Is it simply to say He doesn’t exist? Is it to admit He may exist? Is it to worship Him and say you are a “Believer” but only do what you want to do and make excuses to ignore what you don’t want to do?

WHOAAAAHH, NELLIE!!!  Steve: are you implying that a Believer, someone who has accepted Messiah Yeshua as their personal Savior and fears the Lord, who goes to church every Sunday and tithes, and makes cakes for the fund-raisers, and doesn’t cheat at Bingo….are you saying this person, this godly, wonderful, angelic representative of the Almighty is rejecting God because he or she doesn’t do everything God says we should?

In a word…yes.

And to add to that, I also confess that I am one of those people. I don’t wear Tzit-Tzit, even though it is a commandment (Number 15: 38-40);often on Saturday I will do work around the house and I will spend money shopping or getting a haircut, and I also do other things I shouldn’t regarding speech and jokes and ….well, I could go on. I am sure everyone reading this could go on, as well. So I am not preaching to you as much as I am preaching to myself.

We are all guilty of not performing all the commandments God gave us, and that is why He needed to provide Yeshua (Jesus) as our “Get out of Hell” card so that when we do T’shuvah (repentance) and try (note I am saying try) to do better, I believe that God, in His mercy and compassion, sees our attempts to do better and our heartfelt desire to obey Him, as the next best thing to actually living a sinless life.

As I often say: we can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.

But what about religions that teach you don’t have to do what God commands? Religions that teach Torah is just for Jews and Christians have the Blood of Christ, and that is all they need. What about a religion that tells you you have to be totally abstinent if you want to be a spiritual leader? What about a religion that teaches you drinking and dancing are sins? What about a religion that tells you it is a sin to eat a cheeseburger? What about a religion that teaches you the Jewish people have been rejected forever by God and that Christians are now the Chosen people of God (Replacement Theology)?

Aren’t they rejecting God when they reject what He has said?  God gave the Torah to the Jewish people not for them exclusively, but for them to learn to live the way God wants us to live, and then teach the rest of the world by example. The fact that (in Acts) the Jewish Elders were amazed when God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) came to the Gentiles shows that they didn’t understand this, either. God gave the Torah to the Jews so that they could bring it to the world.

Which means that Torah is what God wants us to do, how He wants us to worship Him, and to teach us all that we need to know.

God has no religion. He has Torah, and His Torah took on flesh and lived among us to demonstrate what the Jewish people were supposed to be demonstrating all along. Jesus showed the Jews in Israel how to live as a God-fearing person. Not as a “Jew”, but as someone who wants to obey the Lord. He was obedient to the Father, and (as John describes Him in the Gospel of John), Jesus was the Word of God become flesh.

Well, what was the “Word of God” in the First Century? It was the Torah.

If you are being taught that the Torah is for Jews and you, as a Gentile, are not subject to it, you had better start stocking up on Coppertone. I mean it- you need to read the bible, you need to read my book, and you need to make up your own mind about what God wants you to do.

I can help here: God wants you to do as He says you should and the world wants you to do what it says you should. In the end, there will be a fight between God and the world (Satan’s realm), and only one wins.

I’ll give you three guesses to tell me who wins, and your first two guesses don’t count.

I would love to be able to do everything in the Torah that God tells us to do, but I can’t. And, yes, I confess (and ask forgiveness) for the things I am too weak to control and discipline myself to do, such as wearing Tzit-tzit and observing the Shabbat fully. In fact, today I am going to work and it is the first day of Sukkot- I should be celebrating a Sabbath rest. But I’m not doing that, by choice. I have no vacation or personal days left, and already have taken two days without pay for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I am sinning, I am rejecting God, and I know I am doing it. And, I really feel lower than whale poop. I pray God will forgive me, and strengthen me to do better in the future.

That’s the difference between who I was and who I am: I used to be a sinner that rationalized my sins, and now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.

Please read the word of God and let Him guide your understanding: don’t be lazy and just take what you are told as God’s truth. Religion is not for God, it is for itself, and teaches you what it wants you to do. Not all the time, and not all the commandments, but all religions teach something that is against what God wants. And when you face Him at Judgment Day, He will hold you responsible for what you have done or failed to do, and the reasons for it will be yours. That old cop-out, “But that’s what they told me to do!” won’t hold water with the Big Guy upstairs.

So, do what you do, don’t do what you don’t do, but (at least) know what the rules are before you decide what choice to make.

Because it is your choice to make, and you will be held accountable for making it. .

Comments welcomed (just be nice)