In This Blog…
- Uniting and Separating
- We have NOT Always Known What We Know Now
- The Call for Holiness
- What is Holiness?
- The Original Biblical Languages
- Holiness in Context of Relationship
- To Be Holy as YHWH Is Holy, Simplified
- To Whom, or to What Does YHWH Clearly UNITE Himself?
- From Whom or From What Does YHWH SEPARATE Himself?
- Failing to Make Holy Separations Is a Sin
- Being Overly Accepting of the Wrong Things Is Dangerous
- Overzealous Separating Is Also Wrong
- It’s a NARROW Path that Leads to Life
- My Food Conundrum
- How Can We Grow to Love our Enemies, If We Don’t even know how to love our friends Yet?
Uniting and Separating
The Premise: Covenant Believers in YHWH and in Messiah MUST be serious about making Holy Separations. At the same time, we must make every effort not to be so overzealous in separating from uncleanness, that we end up causing harm to legitimate members of the body of believers, in our necessary efforts to be holy. It truly is a NARROW path that leads to life.
We Have NOT Always Known What we Know Now
I would like to issue a challenge to those of us who are now being established in the Hebrew Roots/Whole Testament Theology. Today, YHWH has graciously opened our eyes, and we see the love and the benefits of Torah observance, but we didn’t always perceive observing Torah as the true blessing that it is. Many of us were once brought up to believe that observing Torah was supposedly bondage, but now we know that it is indeed a true blessing. The point is, we didn’t always know this truth. There are many of us in this movement who at one time or another had been brought up to believe that the Sabbath had somehow been changed from the Seventh day of the week, to the First day of the week. Many of us were brought up to believe that supposedly, so long as you love Yahweh and Messiah in your heart, then you could celebrate God and Jesus anyway you wanted to, and supposedly YHWH Almighty would bless that approach. Today, by YHWH’s Grace, many of us have come to understand that laying aside the Commandments of Yahweh, in order to maintain a tradition established by human religious leaders is VAIN Worship, and we should never do such things, (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Colos. 2:8), but in the beginning of our walk many of us did not fully understand these things, as we do today. Today many of us understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to truly love YHWH with all of our hearts; it is IMPOSSIBLE to truly love our neighbor as ourselves, (as YHWH defines the term), without progressively learning, and KEEPING the Heavenly Father’s Commandments; but we didn’t always know that in the same way that we do now. Many of us were brought up to think that if you have warm fuzzy feelings toward God and Jesus, and that you are not overtly working in hostile opposition to Him, then that must be what it means to love Him. By His Grace, YHWH our Heavenly Father opened our eyes, and today we understand that there are 18 times in the Whole Testament of Scripture where YHWH directly connects the Idea of Loving Him, with KEEPING His commandments. Today we see this, but there was a time for many of us where we were blind and we did not see this incredible truth.For me, there was a time when I passionately believed and thought of myself as a, “New Testament Christian,” and I thought that was enough. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was a passionate believer in becoming a DOER of the New Testament which I thought was valid. The parts I thought were valid, I did passionately believe that Christians should OBEY. However, at one time I was thoroughly deceived. I generally believed that the obligation to learn and obey the first five books, (the foundation of the whole Bible), was supposedly done away with at the cross of Messiah. I was WRONG, but that is what I believed.What strikes me though is that I still believed that the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Commandments of Messiah, and the instructions of the apostles were still completely valid for believers, and that we should DO them, and I would strive hard for it as a Christian. But I believed that the rest of the Bible supposedly didn’t really matter as much, because we were under grace, and all the rest of those obligations were allegedly nailed to the cross. I was clearly misunderstanding the Scriptures, but I didn’t realize that. I was blind.Here’s the thing. Even though I was clearly blind, and I did not understand; YHWH and Messiah still loved me. The Father still took care of me. He still met my needs. He still answered many of my prayers. He still worked with me and gradually taught me more and more of the Scriptures. He still forgave my sins when I confessed them (1 John 1:9), and Abba YHWH continued working with me, and working through me, even in the midst of my monumental ignorance. In those few areas where I was willing and able to obey Scripture correctly, Abba YHWH still thoroughly blessed me, and He continued working with me as I continued to grow in Grace and Knowledge, despite my many shortcomings then, and He continues to work with me, despite the many shortcomings that I still need to overcome, even today. Here is my challenge to Hebrew Roots/Whole Testament believers:Do not forget the ignorance from which you came, and do not forget the tender Fatherly love that Abba YHWH showed you, even though you have not always known and understood the crucial truths which you know now.I say this out of DEEP concern for the body of believers, and particularly Whole Testament Believers, (because since we supposedly know and study the Scriptures more intently than many traditional believers, then this should also mean that we know better, than many of us are behaving).I am gravely concerned because it seems that many Hebrew Roots/Whole Testament believers have conveniently forgotten how merciful Abba YAH has been to us, even when we have been ignorant and stupid.As I look at various blogs and social media such as Facebook, and as I witness some of the relentless arguments, vicious comments, debates and broken relationships that come up in fellowships because of disagreement over issues such as flat earth versus round earth? Do you pronounce YHWH’s Sacred Name in this way, or in that other way? Do we honor birthdays were not? Do you start the biblical months on the sliver, the full moon, or the conjunction? I’ve even heard of a brother who walked out of fellowship because someone used the word, “Talmudeem,” (which in Hebrew means taught one), or disciple, but all that this poor soul heard was the word, “Talmud,” so he got it in his head based on misunderstanding that single word that the group he was with must be teaching Talmudic tradition of men, so he stormed out and broke fellowship on that basis.In another instance, I heard of a brother who got angry during the feast of Tabernacles because one of the camps had gourds and pumpkins, (not carved) as table decorations, he thought it was too pagan, he got angry, and broke fellowship, and complained to others of his household about it. Never mind that the Scriptures tell us to decorate with the fruit of the land, and in our land pumpkins and gourds are basic fall decorations.In another instance, someone got upset because one of the PowerPoint slides during the song service portrayed a star of David, (or seal of Solomon). They walked out of fellowship on that basis.The point is that some of the vicious comments, the name-calling, the belittling of others, the breaking of fellowships, and the hurting of fellow believers with nastiness against other believers, who are legitimately trying to OBEY the Scriptures, but may not be exactly on the same page when it comes to one topic or another is getting RIDICULOUS. I honestly fear that we are becoming a reproach to outsiders, based on the way that we treat one another, and especially in public forums.Let’s say for the sake of argument that YHWH Almighty was just beginning to open my eyes to the fact that the Torah is valid for believers today, but I was still thoroughly steeped in the Babylonian Christian traditions in which I had been raised, but I was questioning my traditional upbringing because of things I was seeing in Scripture. I might go looking around at various blogs and Facebook pages to see if other people were thinking along the same lines that I was, (because I might be concerned, am I the only one who feels this way)? Based on some of the nastiness in the blogs and Facebook comments and some midrashes that I have seen; if that was my first impression, I might not give this movement a second look. I might assume that the Hebrew Roots/Whole Testament Theology movements were WRONG, simply by looking at the way that these fellow believers treat each other in public forums. After all, I might think to myself, if these believers are so spiritually and biblically advanced, then should not their spiritual maturity be evident?Yes!! The doctrine is true. I’ve done the research. I know it’s true. At the same time, Messiah did NOT say that the world of outsiders will know that you are my disciples, by the fact that your doctrine is PERFECT and UNASSAILABLE, but Messiah DID say, they will know that you are My disciples, by your LOVE for one another. Too often, we are forgetting to love one another, John 13:35). While we are passionately discussing the finite points of one topic or another within Torah, we are often neglecting the weightier matters of the Torah.As it is written: If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NASB95)No matter what Revelation we have received from the Scriptures, (regardless of how true it is), then our newly found knowledge makes us into NOTHING, if we forget how to walk in love.
The Call for Holiness
The call to holiness truly is a high calling. Those who come to saving faith in YHWH and in Messiah, are truly called to be a HOLY people, (1 Peter 2:9-12).
What is Holiness?
Essentially to be holy means to be SET APART, or “SEPARATED OUT.” From a spiritual or a religious standpoint to be holy means to live one’s life SET APART FROM sin, and then to live one’s life SET APART UNTO the Almighty Creator. In a sense, to live holy as a constant exercise in making righteous separations. It’s a gradual and constant practice of separating AWAY from what YHWH Almighty considers to be wicked, sinful, wrong or unclean, and then purposely UNITING ourselves to what YHWH Almighty considers to be good, righteous, Blessed or clean. To be holy is a constant exercise in learning how to DIVIDE oneself AWAY from the WRONG things, and then we must be just as eager to UNITE ourselves INTO the RIGHT things. That is the essence of holiness.
The Original Biblical Languages
Hebrew: Hebrew strong #6918 (QAEDOSH) literally to be set apart; to separate out for the most noble use.In the ancient Hebrew word picture, it conveys the idea of having the best and most useful part of the wheat after everything else is separated out or left behind after everything is separated away from the chaff, whatever is best whatever is most useful whatever is most productive after all the chaff is removed or separated out; that is holy.Greek: Greek Strong #40 (HAGIOS) literally to be set apart; to separate out for the most noble use.Literally to be set apart as sacred; to be physically pure and morally blameless. Also, to be religiously and ceremonially separated out or consecrated for special use, or for special purpose.
Holiness in Context of Relationship
Notice the phrase, “As OBEDIENT children.” Our attempts to be holy and separate things out must be based on two primary concerns. It needs to be based in the context of a Father-son or Father daughter relationship to YHWH. Our attempts to be holy and to separate things out MUST be based on our trying to be a truly OBEDIENT child of YHWH.So by this, we must understand that if I am trying to separate things out, (a.k.a. be holy), but in the process I have failed to walk in love and faith, then I have actually DISOBEYED the love Commandment in an attempt to be holy. One cannot rightly justify BREAKING the love Commandment, to KEEP a holiness command. One cannot rightly disregard the holiness Commandments to be loving. We must try to observe BOTH Commandments as best we can, with the power of the Holy Spirit to help us.
To Be Holy as YHWH Is Holy, Simplified
Since to be holy literally means TO SEPARATE OUT, to be Holy AS Yahweh Is Holy most literally means that we should separate things out in the SAME WAY and in the SAME manner which Yahweh separates. In other words, if Yahweh the Almighty Creator SEPARATES Himself from something, if our goal is to be holy as he is holy, (1 Peter 1:14-16), then we should likewise SEPARATE ourselves AWAY from the SAME things which Yahweh SEPARATES Himself. Moreover, if Yahweh the Almighty Creator, especially UNITES Himself to something, then if our goal is to be holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy, then we should likewise strive to purposely UNITE ourselves to the SAME things to which Yahweh UNITES Himself.Likewise, if Yahweh the Almighty Creator has taken special care to, “SEPARATE OUT,” something as uniquely belonging to Himself, then we should treat it reverently, treat what Yahweh has separated out for Himself as unique, important, and deserving of special respect, because Yahweh has singled out or separated something out as especially belonging to Himself. We should do the same. That is what it means to be Holy AS He Is Holy.For example, this is WHY Whole Testament believers are careful to UNITE ourselves to keeping the seventh day biblical Sabbath as holy and set apart, because Yahweh specifically made that Day HOLY and SEPARATED it out to Himself. Therefore, those of us who love Yahweh, regard and keep the seventh day Sabbath, because it is the very FIRST thing that Yahweh separated out and called special to Himself, (Genesis 2:1-3). Keeping Yahweh’s Sabbaths holy and set apart because our Heavenly Father does, is part of what identifies us as belonging to Yahweh, (Exodus 31:12-13; Ezekiel 20:12). Keeping YHWH’s Sabbaths Holy and Set Apart, is the same as making a faith declaration. It’s the same as boldly saying that you believe that YHWH Elohim IS the ONE and ONLY Almighty Creator, and that there is NO OTHER, so called, “god” which has any authority in your life except for YHWH Almighty ALONE. That’s WHY separating things out in the SAME WAY that Yahweh separates them out is so CRITICAL, because in these cases, what you honor, obey and celebrate identifies specifically WHICH “God” you truly BELIEVE to be the REAL and TRUE, “GOD.” When you keep the Sabbaths and Appointed Times of the Almighty Creator, you are then saying that you believe that it is YHWH Almighty Who made the heavens and the earth, and that as the Almighty Creator, you accept HIS AUTHORITY over your life, (Romans 6:14-16,19). Conversely, if you honor the festival days and customs belonging to the worship of, “other gods,” then whether you realize it or not, you are actually testifying that those, “other gods,” have the authority over your life. So, setting apart what YHWH set apart is making a public testimony about WHICH Elohim you truly believe to be the legitimate God in your life. From a spiritual warfare and identity point of view, that’s WHY making these special distinctions is so CRITICAL.Whole Testament believers also honor the biblical Feasts and Appointed Times of Yahweh, (Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16); for the SAME reason. YHWH has purposely UNITED Himself to those celebrations, so we who love and wish to obey Yahweh, also UNITE to those festivals and Appointed Times, and we SEPARATE them out as being special, because our Heavenly Father has set them apart, and called them holy, and He especially UNITES Himself with His people, during His Appointed Times. So then, those of us who wish to be UNITED with Yahweh, make it a special point to honor Yahweh’s especially Appointed Times and Festival Days. If you know that the Heavenly Father which you love is going to make a special effort to be with His Children at special celebrations, then you are going to want to UNITE yourself to those same celebrations which Yahweh called special and has separated out for Himself.
To Whom, or to What Does YHWH Clearly UNITE Himself?
(I didn’t cover every aspect in detail, but only the major UNDENIABLES)· YHWH clearly unites Himself to those who fear and reverence Him; (Deuteronomy 5:29; Proverbs 9:10-11; Proverbs 19:23; Psalm 25:12, 14, 140; Psalm 103:1-5, 13; Psalm 145:19; Psalm 147:11; Ecclesiastes 7:18; Jeremiah 32:40; Malachi 3:16; Luke 1:50; Acts 10:35).· YHWH clearly unites Himself to those who DO His Will; (Deuteronomy 7:9-11; Matthew 7:21; Matthew 12:48-50; John 12:49-50; 1 John 2:17).· YHWH is near to those who are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit, (Psalm 34:18-20).· YHWH Clearly Unites Himself to those who choose to be united to Him, and to honor His Ways, (Isaiah 56:1-7).· YHWH Clearly Unites Himself with those who choose to separate themselves from uncleanness, (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).· YHWH Clearly Unites Himself to those who are re-born of the Holy Spirit, and who KEEP His Commandments, (Ezekiel 11:19-20; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34; John 15:14-15).· YHWH is the Father to the fatherless and the Husband to the widow, (Isaiah 68:5-6).· YHWH Clearly Unites Himself to those who overcome, (Revelation 21:7).· The Bottom Line: We want and NEED for YHWH Almighty, through Messiah and through the Holy Spirit, to CHANGE and to TRANSFORM US, so that we become a people who will MATCH the characteristics, attitudes and behaviors to which YHWH CAN and will rightly UNITE Himself. We want Yahweh to CHANGE US, so that He can UNITE with us, and we can rightly be united with Him. In fact, that is the whole objective of Covenant Relationship.
From Whom or From What Does YHWH SEPARATE Himself?
· YHWH Separates Himself from all other gods, (who are actually false gods), (Exodus 20:3; Leviticus 26:30; Psalm 86:10; Psalm 96:4-5; Psalm 148:13; Nehemiah 9:6; Zephaniah 1:4; Ezekiel 6:3-4; Micah 5:13; Isaiah 45:5; Revelation 21:8).· YHWH Separates Himself from ALL Those Who Practice Lawlessness and sin, (Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 24:12-13; 1 John 3:4; John 8:34–35).· YHWH Separates Himself from the Things that Invoke His Wrath, (Romans 1:18-32; Ephesians 2:1-3; Ephesians 5:1-7; Romans 6:12–15,19).· YHWH Separates Himself from Those Who Live according to Their Sinful Nature, (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 8:5-8).· Yahweh separates himself from Those Who Practice Abominations, (Revelation 21:8). **I found no less than 59 specific things listed in Scripture which are declared to be an abomination or abominable in YHWH’s Sight throughout Scripture. I listed those individual things in the document called, “Specifically What Will Not Make It into Heaven According to Scripture?” Basically, if YHWH Almighty and Messiah, or the prophets, or the apostles have openly declared that certain attitudes desires or behaviors will not be allowed to inherit or remain in the Heavenly Kingdom, then obviously those are things from which Yahweh will SEPARATE Himself, and we should likewise separate ourselves from those same things as well.· YHWH Separates Himself from Those Who Fail to Overcome, (Revelation 21:8The Bottom Line: Scripture is very clear that sooner or later there is going to be a Great Separation, whether we like it or not. Yahweh Almighty is going to separate things out in His kingdom; the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the bad fish, the wise virgins who were prepared for the bridegroom, will be separated from the foolish virgins who were not prepared. Sooner or later a REAL SEPARATION will be made between those who truly belong to Yahweh and to Messiah, and those who do not. We will either practice making holy separations now; either we will practice separating ourselves ONTO Yahweh, by taking on the desires attitudes and behaviors to which Yahweh can UNITE Himself, or if we do not practice separating ourselves onto Yahweh, eventually YHWH will SEPARATE Himself from US; because Holiness will REQUIRE Him to make those separations. That’s why practicing holy separations now, is NOT optional.
Failing to Make Holy Separations Is a Sin
What many modern and postmodern Christians fail to realize is that failing to make genuine holy separations IS a SIN. It causes people to PROFANE YHWH, and it harms His reputation in the world, (that’s NOT good).As it is written: “Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26, NASB95)We see a secondary example of that in (Isaiah 5:20-24). We must define things the way that Abba YHWH defines them. Where Abba YHWH has clearly defined something to be GOOD, then we do not presume to call that EVIL. Likewise, if Abba YHWH has clearly defined something to be EVIL, then we must NOT presume to call that GOOD, which he defined to be evil. We must come into agreement with Abba Yahweh’s definition of things, or we CANNOT walk with Him, (see Amos 3:3
Being Overly Accepting of the Wrong Things Is Dangerous
On the one hand being overly accepting, and overly tolerant of things that Yahweh finds evil is exceedingly DANGEROUS. That’s because from our Heavenly Father’s perspective, if you approve, accept or honor things which Yahweh declares to be evil or abhorrent to Him, then from a His point of view, you would be EQUALLY GUILTY as someone who actually practiced those evil things, simply because you APPROVED of them. We have two clear examples of that precept in the New Testament. (See Romans 1:18-32; Revelation 18:4). That is partly why we are told is believers that we should avoid even the APPEARANCE of evil, (1 Thessalonians 5:22), because in part, we don’t even want to give the impression that we agree with or support something that YHWH says that He finds offensive or that He will reject. So it is critically important that we learn to embrace what YHWH Almighty says that He will embrace, and equally important that we learn to REJECT what YHWH says that He will REJECT.Example: We do not want to adapt ourselves to become friends with the sinful world, because if we strive to be a friend to the world, then we make ourselves an enemy to YHWH, (James 4:4).Example: We must separate ourselves from people, attitudes and deeds who practice such things as will NOT inherit the Everlasting Kingdom. We must NOT participate with them in their wicked deeds, (Ephesians 5:3-11).Example: There are certain people who exhibit attitudes desires and behaviors which Scripture explicitly warns us to AVOID. We need to take careful heed to avoid people which exhibit these types of lifestyles, because Scripture warns us to avoid these types of people for a reason: Lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1–5, NASB95) first it’s important to make sure that we are cooperating with YHWH as our Father and that we are not becoming one of these people ourselves, and second we need to make sure that we don’t keep company with people who have such attitudes and behaviors as a lifestyle, because bad company corrupts even good morals, (1 Corinthians 15:33).Example: Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep awayfrom every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, NASB95)Example: We are to mark and avoid those who cause unnecessary divisions and conflict within congregations. As it is written: “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17–18, NASB95) Example: We are to turn away from lazy busybodies so that they will be put to shame and hopefully repent, (2 Thessalonians 3:1-15).Example: We are to reject the fractious and divisive person after the first or second warning (Titus 3:10-11).Example: We are not to associate or even to eat with a person who claims to be a brother in YHWH and in Messiah, but yet is walking openly in immorality: As it is written: But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)Example: We are to reject people who reject the explicit Commandments of Yahweh or the teachings of Messiah. We are not to allow such people in our homes or even to give them blessed greeting, or we would be considered guilty of participating in their sins, (2 John 6-10). Remember if we come into agreement with anyone that shows contempt for the clear Word, and (I believe that this refers to either Torah, the teachings of Christ or explicit instructions of the New Testament), then if we agree with them, then we become partakers of their sins. That’s not good.
Overzealous Separating Is Also Wrong
· Don’t uproot the wheat with the tares: Failing to make holy separations is WRONG, but being OVERZEALOUS in making separations can do serious damage to the body of believers, and this is also WRONG, (Matthew 13:24-30). Sometimes being overzealous in making separations can cause you to separate from unclean things, (you can uproot the tares, but you can also accidentally uproot the good wheat at the same time), and do serious damage to the body of believers.· Make certain that you have a right spirit when making separations: Remember, even Messiah who was perfect rebuked Peter for wanting to call down fire upon those who did not receive Messiah’s message in Samaria. Messiah said that wanting to call down fire on these people, was of the WRONG spirit, (Luke 9:52-56).· Accept the repenting believers: We have one occasion where Paul actually wrote to the Corinthian church that they should restore a repentant brother into good standing within the Fellowship, so that he would not be exceedingly troubled with grief and sorrow, (2 Corinthians 2:6-7).· Don’t separate over Non-Biblical Requirements: Romans chapter 14 demonstrates that there were certain sects of Hebrew messianic believers who were accustomed to fasting from food during different days of the week, probably based on their past religious backgrounds. Since people were accustomed to treating rabbinical or religious traditions as if they were religious law, the group which was accustomed to fasting on Tuesdays for example would assume that others who did not fast on Tuesdays was unrighteous or unholy if they happened to fast on another day. Since there is NO Biblical Command REQUIRING people to fast on a specific day of the week, then brethren should not separate over any supposed violations, which are not truly biblical.· Don’t Separate over DEBATABLE Matters in Torah: When people are earnestly trying to obey the written Scriptures, but some things can be held open to interpretation, there can be honest disagreements. Things such as, by which calendar you judge the new moon? How does one pronounce the Sacred Name of YHWH? Specifically what types of things are or are not permissible to do on the Sabbath? These and other issues can be troubling to people who are just beginning to have their eyes opened to the idea that the Torah is still valid for modern believers. As long as people agree and are putting in effort toward obeying the written Scriptures, it is CRITICAL that we do not divide over DEBATABLE matters, (Titus 3:1-9).· Don’t separate from growing believers. Do these people believe in Yahweh? Do these people believe in Messiah? Do they take the written Scriptures seriously? Do they have an attitude where they are trying to honor Written Scriptural Commandments and imperatives? Are they trying to forsake the un-biblical traditions of men? Are they earnestly trying to separate themselves from the same things from which Yahweh separates Himself? When they realize from Scripture that they are doing wrong are they serious about repenting and correcting their faults and misbehaviors? If all these things are often true, then one should NOT separate from such a believerSo the key point is that if a person is repenting and trying to do right, then refusing to fellowship with that person is not good. When you judge and condemn such a growing brother or sister, then you risk coming under judgment yourself, because if you show no mercy, then no mercy shall be shown to you on the day of judgment, (Matthew 7:1-2; Matthew 18:31-35).
It’s a NARROW Path that Leads to Life
As in all things Biblical, NARROW is the path that leads to Life, and FEW are they who find it. WIDE and BROAD is the way that leads to DESTRUCTION, and MANY people will choose to go that way, (Matthew 7:13-14).The topic of holy separation falls into the exact same dynamic. The right path is extremely narrow. On the left side of the ditch, we have the problem of being overly permissive and solicitous where we don’t call out obvious sins and wicked misbehavior, because in our attempt to be loving we don’t want to make anyone feel bad, we don’t want to appear judgmental, we would rather avoid uncomfortable confrontations, so we are often tempted to allow OBVIOUS bad behavior to slide, (even sinful behavior that the Word CLEARLY CONDEMNS), and we comfort ourselves with the idea that we’re showing the person Grace. However, in doing that, we are often FAILING to uphold obvious Biblical Commandments and Righteous Godly Standards, and we are bringing YHWH’s Name into DISREPUTE, and other members of the body begin to not take repenting seriously, because they start thinking that sin is no big deal, since YHWH is so loving. So accepting sin and wickedness then becomes the, “New Normal,” within the body of believers, and people are then less empowered to be disciples which overcome, because they no longer see the necessity to be overcomers. In such cases, if we approve of sin and wickedness, then Yahweh Almighty considers us just as guilty as if we practiced that wickedness ourselves. So failing to uphold the Godly Standard is DANGEROUS on so many levels.On the other hand, then you have the right side of the ditch, which is the other extreme. These are the people that become SO overwhelmingly concerned with avoiding any potential uncleanness that they start tearing out the, Good Wheat, right along with the Bad Tares. In an effort to be holy and not allow any uncleanness, they accidentally tear up legitimate members of the body of believers. That is not good either.
My Food Conundrum
(A Personal Testimony)Anybody with any knowledge of me whatsoever will tell you that I am overcoming a lot in my life. I was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome; Cerebral Palsy, a host of learning disabilities and developmental delays. Add to that roughly 16 years of physical, sexual and psychological abuse in childhood, and you’re dealing with somebody who’s got some serious challenges to overcome. By His mercy and Grace, Abba YHWH through Messiah and the power of the Holy Spirit is helping me to gradually and progressively work through and overcome all of these things, blessed be His Name for evermore!Now I have been a devout believer and devout hard-working minister for about 25 years. The reason that it’s important to know this background is that for me, Christianity was not just a part of my life, it was my WHOLE life. All of my receiving and giving of love that I’d ever really known came from Christianity and the church. All of my talents, all of my energy, and with the exception of eating and sleeping, almost all of my exertions were entirely based on working in various fields of ministry for almost my whole working life, and many times it was without a paycheck. Sometimes, I even paid to work, because many times I was working on behalf of people who had much less than I did, even if I didn’t have that much. Honestly though, that rarely bothered me because Abba YAH was meeting my needs and other ways, and I was thoroughly pleased to be working for the Eternal Kingdom. About six years ago, my whole theology and everything I thought I knew, was literally turned upside down. Interestingly enough, it all started one Christmas… It all went something like this…We were in early December and the various ministries I was working with were preparing for their various Christmas programs. It started with a burning question that I had in my heart, and I couldn’t let it go. The question seemed to come out of nowhere, or perhaps it had been percolating in my subconscious for a long time without my paying attention to it, but now it was front and center in my consciousness, and I could not ignore it. The dialogue went something like this:Me: “Jesus, every Christmas we decorate the church, we have Christmas programs, we throw lots of parties and celebrations, and we say that it’s a birthday party for YOU, but it occurs to me that I have never really asked YOU, or I’ve never really found out, whether YOU truly LIKE, “YOUR,” Birthday Party”. Almost on the heels of that thought came another thought that I had never before truly contemplated. Me: “After all,” I said, “if somebody, “A Friend,” was throwing a birthday party for ME, and yet they chose all of the decorations in orange colors, because THEY liked orange, (which I can’t stand); if they chose all of THEIR favorite foods, and didn’t care what I like to eat; if they chose games and traditions which THEY enjoyed, but showed no interest in what I wanted, then would I feel loved and honored?” “The answer is obvious. If my friends used my birthday party as an excuse to indulge themselves, and they showed no interest in caring for the things that I truly liked, then I wouldn’t feel loved, honored and cared for at all. In fact, I would feel downright dishonored.” “I don’t want to do that to You Jesus.”Me: “Jesus, If I’m going to throw YOU a birthday party, then I want it to be about YOU, and the things that YOU like. I don’t want it to be just about what makes me feel good and happy, but about what makes YOU happy. Otherwise, it’s not really a birthday party for You. It’s just an excuse for self-indulgence disguised in religion.”Me: “Jesus, you know what we do from year to year to celebrate YOUR birthday.” “Do You LIKE and ENJOY Your birthday party? Is it something that makes You happy?” The answer I got wasn’t what I expected at all. I was expecting a yes or no answer, and perhaps some instructions on how I could fine-tune and re-focus our Christmas celebrations, but this is the answer I got instead:Messiah: “Beloved, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to do a thorough historical research of Christmas, it’s customs, its traditions, its decorations, and its traditional foods. From where did these traditions originate? Then compare those traditions and customs side by side with your Bible, and after you do that come back to Me, and we will talk again.”The long and short of it is, that I did what Messiah impressed on my heart to do. I did a thorough research on the history traditions and customs of Christmas. I compared them with my Bible, as He told me to do. Much to my horror and dismay, I soon discovered that from the BIBLICAL point of view, YHWH Almighty and Messiah find Christmas and its traditions to be both REPUGNANT and ABHORRENT. I soon learned that far from liking what we do at, “His Birthday party,” YHWH and Messiah actually HATES and DETESTS the way that traditional Christians try to celebrate HIS Birthday, every 25th of December. It would be the same as if you served me liver and kidney pie on my birthday, and then you told me that you love me. My natural response would be, if you really love me, then why are you force-feeding me stuff that makes me want to GAG and VOMIT?From that point on, I began to realize that if I had been deceived about the traditions of Christmas and how Yahweh and Messiah felt about those, then it occurred to me that maybe I should question and re-examine a lot of the other Christian traditions that I’ve been honoring for years. Was I unknowingly offending Yahweh and offending Messiah with any other traditions I was keeping? It was on the basis of those studies, along with the study of Christmas that I had done that I became a Whole Testament believer, (what son mistakenly call Hebrew Roots) which is really nothing more than first century biblical Christianity which the apostles observed.I started gradually observing the seventh day Biblical Sabbath.I started trying to learn to observe the biblical feasts and Appointed Times of YHWHI started gradually learning to respect and honor the WRITTEN Commandments of YHWH and Messiah, and progressively REJECTING the religious traditions and customs of MEN, whenever those traditions and commandments of men conflicted with any WRITTEN BIBLICAL COMMANDMENT of YHWH or Messiah. In other words, I was learning to worship Yahweh in Spirit and in Truth, and AVOID VAIN Worship.I started gradually learning and keeping more and more of the biblical commandments described in the Old Testament, as well as trying to honor and keep the biblical commandments of the New Testament. I was making some progress.However, there was one area where I was not gaining any victory at all in the beginning, and that was with the food laws. For the record, I now GLADLY eat biblically kosher, but it took a long time, (more than a year), for me to get there because I had a lot of Paul’s writings in the New Testament all twisted around in my head. Now, don’t get me wrong, I had made a lot of progress and in many areas I had learned to interpret most of Paul’s writings through first century messianic glasses, and not the fourth century Babylonian Christian focus; but when it came to 1 Timothy 4:1-5, I was STUCK.Look, I knew that I did not want to be a traditional lawless Christian, according to the Whole Testament of Scripture, (Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 13:41-42). I understood that I did NOT want to be CARNAL MINDED. I WANTED to be Holy Spirit minded, and to faithfully subject myself to the Law of YHWH, (Romans 3:31; Romans 8:5-8). I knew that I wanted to live under the grace of Elohim that Paul was TRULY teaching, (Titus 2:11-15), and I did not want to live in the LAWLESS grace that traditional Christianity was teaching today, but because I was clearly misunderstanding 1 Timothy 4:1-5, I was stuck. I could not bring myself to obey the food laws, because through my misunderstanding, I thoroughly believed that I would be denying the Messiah, if I tried to eat kosher. Now, the Heavenly Father brought me through that struggle, and I now GLADLY eat Biblically kosher, with virtually no difficulty at all. At the time though, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I wanted to love and obey YHWH, my Heavenly Father, but I didn’t want to risk accidentally denying the Messiah. I wanted to honor BOTH correctly. But how do I do it?!I said all of that to say this. It took more than a year for me to work through the Scriptures, to pray through, and to resolve this internal conflict, before I could successfully eat kosher without fear, And where I KNEW that I was being biblical, and that I was both safe with YHWH Almighty and with Messiah. I was very open about my struggle with my fellow Whole Testament fellowship of believers. I flat out told them, “If YHWH Almighty really wants me to eat kosher, then YHWH is going to have to CONVINCE me, and He is going to have to reconcile 1 Timothy 4:1-5 in my head, because I cannot do this unless I am SURE that BOTH YHWH and Messiah are going to be happy with me, PERIOD. I mean I was like doubting Thomas about this thing. If I’m going to do this, I have to be Biblically CONVINCED that it’s right. Now, if I brought food to fellowship it was always kosher, (because I respected them, and I did not want to make anyone else stumble), but I had to be CONVINCED, or I wasn’t going to do it, when I ate at home.”Here is the CRITICAL point. If people in the Noblesville fellowship wanted to get, “Separation Happy,” they could have decided to kick me out of fellowship, simply because I was not eating kosher at home for a year. After all, eating unclean animals IS an ABOMINATION to YHWH, (Isaiah 66:17), there is no getting around that fact. However, if they had chosen to pull the separation trigger too early, they would’ve taken an already traumatized child of YHWH, who loved YHWH, who loved Messiah, who was being biblically obedient, and who was making huge progress in a number of other areas, and that decision would’ve literally DESTROYED me if they had acted that way; all because I could not reconcile obeying the Biblical food laws with 1 Timothy 4:1-5. Instead Terry and Karen Wright, Tony and Leslie Addis, and Mike and Gina Potts were AMAZING. They stuck by me. They prayed for me. They gingerly showed me Scripture, and they trusted YHWH to gradually open my eyes, to reveal the truth to me, and they continued watching me grow in other areas of my life. They basically used the Acts 15 method. They saw that I was making progress in obeying in several key areas, and they decided that I would grow into obeying the rest of Torah as I went along and continued growing. In other words, they did it RIGHT. If it was not for their patience, I would not be where I am today in the faith. I am a stronger healthier and better functioning believer now, because they were patient, and because they were not too hasty to pull the separation trigger.
How Can We Grow to Love our Enemies, If We Don’t even know how to love our friends Yet?
Yes, yes, yes! We must be serious about making holy separations when we have specific and undeniable biblical Commandments instructing us to separate, but when you have a fellow believer who is actively trying to obey the written Scriptures, but they are simply not connecting the dots as you think they should, that is NOT a legitimate reason to break fellowship with someone. We must be serious about holy separation, but we must also be serious about not causing a believing brother to fall in our zeal to be holy. As I said, the way that leads to life is a very narrow path here.As it is written: “… Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6, NASB95)We must make certain that in our zeal to Biblically separate ourselves from unclean things, we do not cause a brother or sister to fall who might otherwise succeed, if we had just been a little more patient. The ultimate goal of holy separation is to help bring unruly brethren to REPENTANCE and RESTORATION, it’s NOT intended to be used as a theological WEAPON to prove how much superior we are to everyone else. · Yes, I absolutely believe that believers must learn and obey Torah.· At the same time, part of obeying Torah REQUIRES that I obey the words and teachings of Messiah also, (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). By definition then, when one ignores or violates the teachings of Messiah, we are also breaking Torah, whether we like it or not.· Messiah clearly taught us that our aim or our goal was to become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, and that to do that we must learn to LOVE our ENEMIES, (Matthew 5:43-48).· I tell you the truth, as I look at some of the posts on various blogs, the vicious, nasty, belittling and condescending Facebook comments, and some believers attitudes and behaviors in various midrash and open forums, and it’s becoming clear to me that many of us do NOT even know how to LOVE our FRIENDS, (people who are trying to obey his we are), YET; let alone are we growing into believers who are learning how to love our enemies.Thank You for your kind attention and ConsiderationBrother Robert Michel Lankford