Is it biblical to ban people from entry into a country?

There are people who claim that banning immigrants from groups of people who would harm the USA is unbiblical.

First realize that the president has not permanently banned anyone – but put a temporary pause (for 90 days) on immigration from certain countries where the governments do not have good records of their people and where the people have shown a dislike for our people and country.

But the main point of this post is to see whether it is biblical to ban people from entry into the country. We have an example of GOD saying to Israel to NOT allow people from nations/tribes who were hostile to the nation. Since a generation in the BIble is 40 years, then banning them from entry for ten generations is essentially forever.

The principle God has laid down is that when people have shown they hate your country, do not allow them in. But when it can be shown they embrace your country (as Ruth did), then they can be allowed in. Its the government’s job to determine which is which on a case by case basis – the purpose of vetting them.

Deuteronomy 23:3-6
3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. 6 You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

But please note that Ruth was allowed entry after she had rejected the religious practices of her people of origin and completely become part of her newly adopted homeland. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:17).

There are some who might complain that the text itself does not state that Ruth was accepted because of her statement to Naomi. But in Ruth 1:15-18, we see Naomi urging Ruth to return to her people and gods – but Ruth laid claim to Naomi’s people and God, and Naomi accepted it. Then in Ruth 1:22, we see they came to Bethlehem..

Ruth 1:15-18

15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.


Ruth 1:22
22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.


Then in Ruth 2:10-12, we see that Boaz told Ruth she had found favor with him because of what she had done for Naomi, and how she had left her family and the land of her birth go to a people not previously known to her, and he prayed a blessing of the God she had sought refuge with – all of this was evidence she was doing what she had promised – assimilation to the point where Naomi’s people were her people, and Naomi’s God her God. This would not have been the case for someone who was still following the gods of Moab, or had not made Naomi’s people her people. So while it was not explicitly stated, we see this is what happened and exactly why she was accepted.

Ruth 2:10-12

10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”

Of course, once someone is living among us, we are to treat them the same as if they were ourselves – do not show preference, but do not show prejudice either. If they can be trusted, then trust them. If they are thieves, then treat them like thieves. If they conspire to harm the USA or its citizens, then they should be treated as our government treats such people. If they follow the laws of the USA, then they should be treated accordingly.

Leviticus 19:34
34 The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

James 2:8-9
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Voting for the lesser of two evils

Well.. I am eating humble pie. I wrote an article entitled “A vote is a mark of approval”, where I  wrote about the need to not vote for the lesser of two evils (in reference to voting for either Clinton or Trump in the US Presidential 2016 elections). In it, I wrote, “So before we give our approval to someone, we ought to realize we are GOD’s children and must reflect the choice GOD would have us make. When did Christ compromise so the lesser of two evils would be the outcome? I don’t find a single example of that in scripture.”

So its safe to say that I have felt much like John Piper and Max Lucado – to not vote for the lesser evil. But then God showed me that everyone is evil – the apostle Paul was the chief of sinners. God chose David – knowing he would steal a man’s wife and have her husband murdered.

While we cannot know ahead of time what someone will do in any given situation, we can go on their history when making choices. We have anecdotal stories of nice things Trump has done over the decades. And we have similar anecdotes of things Hillary Clinton has done – few if any of them being nice.

I cant imagine voting for Clinton. She a liar, having been fired from the Watergate investigation for ethics problems. The same has haunted her all her life – to say nothing of the list of people who have died under mysterious circumstances around her and her husband. She has hurt people, lied, stolen, and ignored people under her protection who had begged for support and help and caused people to die.

I had almost as hard a time deciding between Donald Trump and Darrell Castle. Castle is a Conservative Christian. He holds to the constitution, without it being considered a living document that is open to changing interpretations. He seems to embody all my ideals in a presidential candidate. But he simply can not be elected.

Does this matter? I think in a race where one electable candidate is a liberal socialist, who is corrupt and unethical, who is wants to bring into the USA unvetted immigrants from groups of people and from places which have promised to kill Americans and destroy the USA, someone who who treats people poorly and the other electable candidate is some one who MIGHT be just as liberal and might treat people just as poorly, but claims to be a conservative and claims will select conservative judges and justices, then yes. It matters.

Trump is almost as despicable as Clinton. Plenty of people have come forward and said Trump has spoken of and treated women poorly. Its claimed he is racist. Maybe he is – I dont know him, but I know he has fought local city government to have an inclusive country club.
http://www.impulsetoday.com/donald-trump-fought-to-include…/

I know he has directed the party platform to be decidedly conservative and made political promises which seem to show a more conservative side of him. Who knows if he will keep his promises.

So we have to choose to do what will effect the most good that we possibly can.

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Every election has always been between choices of sinners. If God didnt use sinners, He would have nothing to work with. So we choose between sinners (for the lesser of two evils), as has always been the case.

Or you can choose not to vote and so remove your vote from consideration in this election – which could effectively put into office someone who would do more damage than the other. Plus, I think one of the responsibilities of a citizen of a country which uses elections to select leaders is to vote – just as we should pledge allegiance to the country.

Or you can choose to vote for third party candidate – which does both: votes for a sinner AND removes your vote from consideration between the only two candidates who have any chance of being elected, again effectively allowing your vote to not swing an election to the lesser of two evils.

Either way – vote as God directs you.

What about people who quit believing or keep living lives of sin?

So what about people who made a profession of faith, and maybe even were in ministry for a while, but then later leave Christianity?

Or those who claim to trust Christ but lie/cheat/steal/abuse/are sexually immoral/fill-in-your-habit-of-sin?

If there is no repentance or no lasting of the faith, then Jesus said He will tell them He didnt know them.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

Matthew 13:20-21
20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Jeremiah 9:3 “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the LORD

So what’s the solution?

Change. Believe God exists. Turn to God through faith in Christ.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him
Acts 26:20  but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

One of the coolest things happened yesterday…

As anyone who has been following me for any length of time knows, I post both here and on facebook. Sometimes I post a lot. Lately I have posted a few things on sexual sin.

I received a private message yesterday from a man who has been bringing his family to our church for a while now. They have been becoming friends with our church and family. We actually had lunch together a couple of Sundays ago, where I was able to open up a little about me and my family. He had seen that I had been posting stuff dealing with sex and wanted to know why I have posted so much lately on sexual sin and homosexuality. He wanted to know out of love and concern. He wanted to make sure everything was ok with me. He wanted to know if there was anything he could pray for me about. He was not judgemental (although he recoginzed the possiblity of sin in my life). He was not condemning. He was gracious and loving and encouraging.

This is the church in action. This is how Christians should act with one another.

We all have sins, which we must confess – we must agree with God that they are sins.

1 John 1:8-10

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

We must not stop gathering together – this provides the mechanism for building relationships, which is needed to encourage one another to become more like Christ.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

We must bear one another’s burdens, helping each other as we can, although we are each responsible for our own sins. We also have to make sure we dont fall into temptation.

Galatians 6:1-5

1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.

James tells us that we must confess our sins to one another, so we can pray for each other so we can be healed. Anyone who turns a sinner from his ways saves a soul.

James 5:13-20

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Part of the purpose of going to church is to encourage one another in difficult times – and this includes when we are sinning. Our brothers in Christ should have a good relationship with us so they can come to us when they see we are not acting as we should and help us get on the right path. they can not do that if we are not open with them, or we do not have a relationship with them, or if they are not part of our lives sufficiently so they can see when we are sinning.

Thankfully, I was able to reiterate what I had said last week. I was able to try to reassure him I was not in trouble, but mentioned to him specific things which he could choose to pray about or not.

So yeah… one of the coolest things happened yesterday. A brother in Christ came to me to ask if I was in trouble and if he could pray for me. His private message challenged me to walk right in case I was not, and it was done in a non-judgemental, loving, merciful, gracious manner. The church in action. I love it!

Even Demons believe… So what?

I have seen a lot of people who grew up in Christian churches of various denominations, some of them quite conservative in their doctrine. A lot of people who grew up in church end up seeing it as something that must be done. They might even believe the Bible is the word of God. Indeed, many of them most likely will be able to tell you that God sent Jesus to suffer and die on the cross to pay the price of our sins, that he was human, lived a sinless life, suffered and died for something he did not do, was buried, and rose again on the third day and walked and ate and touch and spoke with the dicsiples, and later ascended into heaven. These people believe they are saved. They believe their belief in the facts is enough to save them.

But their lives are without power. They have bad fruit, or at best have no good fruit. They live lives of worry. They live lives of sin. There is no conviction in them to change their lives. There is no conviction to leave sin. There is no conviction to do the will of God. There is no desire to change their lives to live for Christ. Their hearts are not God’s. They may say the right words, but their actions do not show the power of God.

2 Timothy 3:2-8

2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.

Matthew 13:23

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Colossians 1:9-15

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. 13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

Click here to listen to this story from Unshackled! and you will hear an example of someone who grew up in the church, in a very conservative family, who was affected by sin while a child. He became addicted to porn and had an inappropriate relationship with someone. He ended up in jail – believing he was saved. He found out he was not.

The demons know the truth. They shudder at the knowledge of God. But this does not mean they will avoid the lake of fire.

James 2:18-26

18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Revelation 20:10

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever
Revelation 20:12-15
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Unless people repent and turn to God, they WILL die and go into the lake of fire.
Luke 13:1-5
1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Have YOU what is needed to avoid perishing?
Do you have repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth?
2 Timothy 2:24-26
24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
Have you felt the sorrow that produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation?
2 Corinthians 7:10

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Repentance leads to eternal life.
Acts 11:18

When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”
People must believe in Christ. If we believe in Christ, if we repent, then we will be saved and we will do things that are in keeping with repentance.
Acts 26:20

but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.
A belief in facts does not save us. We must REPENT. We must turn to God in faith in Christ. Without that, we’re just going through the motions, denying the power of God. In that case, we are headed to hell.

Are you free from your sin?

I have heard many people claim to know Christ, and yet be addicted to some secret sin.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

A lot of men, and these days a lot of women, deal with an addiction to porn. It may have started out accidently, or innocently (maybe from seeing ads or movie trailers or walking in on a show you shouldnt have watched as a child, or who knows). But it has turned into an addiction to sex and to porn.

Some people lose their careers because of such an addiction. Some go to jail. Most never know the true freedom found in Christ.

Matthew 5:27-29

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

God gives people over to their shameful lusts.

Romans 1:25-27

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

People end up darkened in their hearts. Their understanding is darkened, and they are separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. They have lost all sensitivity (to God and what is right), and they indulge in ever kind of impurity – constantly lusting for more.

Ephesians 4:17-19

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

We see that people who trust God must not give in to sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips, and lying. Instead, we must actively put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.  Christians must  clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another

Colossians 3:5-17

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The one who trusts in Christ must avoid sexual immorality, learn to control your body.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Its not uncommon for Christians to be made fun of because they leave a life they used live. But that is who you WERE, not who you are.

1 Peter 4:2-4

2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

Do not be someone who has known the power of God for a purpose and has returned to a life of sin.

2 Peter 2:18-22

18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

Instead, be someone defined as someone who obeys God. This does not mean follow the Law, but be led by the Spirit of God.

1 John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

How does that happen?

Its so easy to fall into a trap of trying to follow a set of rules, a list of do’s and dont’s. But this is a trap from the nemy. We need instead to be transformed by GOD. WEe need to be made a new creation. THEN we will have the mind and power of GOD. THEN we wil be able to be led by the Spirit and not indulge the fleshly nature.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Galatians 6:15-16

15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

And how do we do that?

Acts 20:21

I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
John 3:36

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

Once we believe, once we trust in Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are a new creation. We now have the power of God in us. we now can resist the urge to sin.

Romans 6:11-14

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

2 Peter 1:3

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Since we have the power of God, we can be led by the Spirit.

Romans 8:13-15

13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

By being led by the Spirit, we have freedom and dont have to sin.

Are you filled by the Spirit? Are you led by the Spirit? Do you have the power of the Spirit?

Acts 15:21

These seems to be some question as to what Acts 15:21 means. But first we have to look at why the meeting was held with the apostles and elders of the church of Jerusalem.

Acts 15:1-5

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And when Paul and Barnabas hadgreat dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue.Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to allthe brethren. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

The sect of the Pharisees believed that Gentile believers had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses. Today, some say you have to follow the Law to be saved. Others say you dont need to follow the Law to be saved, but to STAY saved, you must follow the Law. When you look at the logic, there is very little difference between the two statements. IF one needs to follow the Law to be saved, obviously one needs to follow the Law to stay saved. IF one needs to follow the Law to stay saved, then it is a requirement to be saved as well. Others will say you need to follow the Law (or as much of it as you can follow) to please God. We will look at these statements later.

Peter made it clear that God made no distinction between those who had the Law (Jews) and those who did not have the Law (Gentiles) – that God had cleansed the hearts of both by faith, that they were both saved through faith. Peter was clear that the Jews should not try to put on the Gentiles that which the Jews could not handle.

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

Finally, James said, that the Gentile believers should abstain from things which were common to pagan religions: “things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.”

19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

The question is what did James mean in verse 21, “For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”?

Some people believe that James meant that the prohibitions were a starting point for the Gentile believers, and they were to attend synagogue for the reading of Moses’ teaching to learn the Law and follow it. But this makes no sense since James is clear that they should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God. It also was made clear that Jew and Gentiles were both cleansed by faith – apart from the Law.

This is made more clear in the letter the church sent out. They realized that some had disturbed them, unsettling their souls. They were all in agreement (including Paul and the Holy Spirit) to only burden the Gentile believers with ESSENTIALS – that is, nothing else was required.

24 “Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, 25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 “Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication;if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”

The four prohibitions were all associated with idolatry  (following other gods). As long as the Gentiles kept from doing those things, they were doing alright. But again, is that a starting point or is that all they need to worry about?

It can not be that the Gentile believers were to attend synagogue and learn and follow the Law, because:

1. The Gentiles who HAD a background with synagogue would have been following the teaching of Moses before having become a believer in Christ.

2. There were Gentiles who had no background with a synagogue (Acts 11:20).

3. There were churches where no synagogue existed (the Gentile towns of Lycaonia,Lystra, Derbe, Pisidia, Pamphylia mentioned in Acts 14).

We see in Galatians 3 that the Law was to lead us to Christ and teach us of our need for Christ. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the Law.

Galatians 3:2-26

 24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

In fact, we see in Galatians 4 that we are not to follow the feasts and festivals.

8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.

9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 

11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.

Paul is clear that His efforts at teaching salvation by faith was in vain if they were trying to return to weak and worthless things like special holidays.

In Galatians 5, we see that we were freed from slavery, but to be circumcised is to be enslaved again, being put under the obligation to be keep the whole Law.

1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free ; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law ; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. 7 You were running well ; who hindered you from obeying the truth ?

Paul was clear that If you are led by the Spirit, then you are not under the Law.

17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh ; for these are in opposition to oneanother, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Since believers are not under the Law,  Acts 15:21 could not have been given to show that Gentiles a starting point of what they should obey from the Law.

It couldn’t have been for the Gentile believers to learn and follow the Law, because often Paul would go into the synagogue and preach about Christ, but that usually would eventually upset the Jews and then Paul taught apart from the synagogues (which we see in Acts 9:19-25, 13:44-46, 14:1-7, 17:1-9, 18:1-11, 19:8-10). So most of the Jewish believers and Gentiles would rarely be in the synagogues learning the Law of Moses.

So then what other possible reason would that verse have been given?

Acts 15:21 was given to emphasize the fact that the Jews had been learning the Law since practically forever and that would influence them to believe the Gentile believers must follow the Law to be saved. Because of this, and to ensure the Gentiles were NOT encouraged to follow the Law, the letter was written.

The prohibitions would separate the Gentile believers from the pagan religions they HAD been following and show the Jews that they did not follow a strange God. Additionally, two of the prohibitions reflect back to Genesis 9:4, when everything was given as food, but the people were to abstain from meat with blood in it. But the letter would also make it clear the Law was not intended for Gentile believers.

This is reiterated in Acts 21:17-26

17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.18 And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and allthe elders were present. 19 After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.22 What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

There was rumor that Paul was teaching that Jews did not have to follow the Law (circumcising their children, etc.). So to appease the believers who were zealous for the Law, James and the elders of the church in Jerusalem wanted Paul to undergo a purification ritual with four other men. This does not state that Paul was or was not following the Law, but that he under went a purification ritual to appease the Jewish believers who were zealous for the Law.

But besides that, we see exactly what Gentile believers were required to do:  “they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.

So no, the verse was not put there to show the believing Gentiles had to learn and follow the Law. It was put there to show the need for the letter the apostles and elders wrote, since the Jews heard the teachings of Moses weekly, the Jews would likely think the Gentile believers needed to follow the Law, but in fact they did not need to do so.

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