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Truth, Error and the Law and the Spirit

The Letter of the Law Versus the Spirit of the Law

   At the hospital where I work, they have a committee called Spiritual Development, which runs a small column in the newsletter that comes out several times per month. Their column is called “Spiritually Speaking.” A recent entry was called “Life’s Recipe” and reads as follows:

Life’s Recipe
      1 cup of good thoughts
      1 cup of kind deeds
      1 cup of consideration for others 2 cups of sacrifice for others
      3 cups of forgiveness
      3 cups of well-beaten faults

   Mix above ingredients thoroughly. Add tears of joy, sorrow and sympathy for others. Flavor with little bits of love. Fold into daily life and bake well with the heat of human kindness. Serve with a big smile. - Author unknown

   The recipe for life is to be kind to others. Now that’s good advice for someone who wants to live the “good life,” doing what is morally correct. That’s wonderful. But, isn’t there something MISSING from the recipe? Perhaps the author of this recipe has overlooked the One Who GAVE us life? You know, the Creator!Or,maybetheauthorisnotreallyconcerned about Eternal Life. Perhaps what is missing is the hope in living a life, here, that gains an eternal existence with the Creator. Well, far be it from me to allow something to just lay where it’s at, fallow, without doing something to make it grow. So, I wrote another recipe, this one is “A Recipe for Eternal Life.”

Recipe For Eternal Life
      1 gallon of undiluted, in-depth Scriptural Study, untouched by human hands
      1 earnest of Holy Spirit
      1 circumcised root of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil
      A good measure, at least 10 cups of well-aged Obedience to the Word, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. (Luke 6:38).
      7 Tablespoons of Sweet Worshipful Convocation
      1⁄2 cup Prayer of Gratitude
      1⁄4 cup Spiritual Song
      1 Tablespoon Adversity
      1 wafer-thin slice of Fat-free, Dehydrated Sin- fulness
      2 cups of Faith in Yahweh, in the Name of Yahshua
      3 Heaping Tablespoons of Good Works
      1 teaspoon of sharing the Good News
      1 Tablespoon Understanding Others
      1 Tablespoon Accepting Others
      1 Tablespoon Forgiving Others
      2 Tablespoons Sacrifice for Others

   Add an earnest of Holy Spirit to a gallon of Scriptural Study and bring to a fervent boil, but, do not cover.
   Grate 1 teaspoon of the Root of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; add to mixture.
   Stir in Obedience to the Word in the 2 cups of Faith until thoroughly dissolved; let simmer all the live- long day; enjoy its fragrance. Add the Worship, Prayer and Song until mixture clari- fies.
   Lightly blend in the Good Works, the Good News, Understanding, Acceptance, Forgiveness and Sacrifice for others.
   Vigorously whip a Tablespoon of Adversity into the mixture until exhausted; remove from heat and let set, allowing the Worship, Prayer and Song to rise to the top.
   Take one thin slice of Fat-free, Dehydrated Sinfulness and pulverize with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder until unrecognizable. Consider how tempting and “original” it would be to add it to the mixture. But instead, smell it; if it stinks, then wash the mortar and pestle free of this substance with soap and water, and flush the sinfulness down the sink’s drain.
   Put the mixture in a glass dispenser designed to fit in your refrigerator. Chill.

   Drink it when thirsty. Enjoy alone or in the company of others. If prepared correctly, you will never run out – you will be able to drink it forever.

   When I’m not finding fault with articles in the local newspaper, I’m busy working as a Social Worker at a local hospital which is a foren- sic, psychiatric facility. Its function is to rehabilitate individuals who have engaged in serious, unlawful behaviour of which a court of law has determined that they cannot be held responsible for their behaviour due to the degree of mental disability or defect from which they suffered at the time of the crime – and from which they continue to suffer.
   Part of my work involves facilitating two therapeutic groups on my ward, the Basic Thinking Errors Group and the Problem-Solving Group. It wasn’t until September 2, 2005, that I realized that the hospital’s mission and purpose is, in a sense, a reflection of Yahweh’s Plan of Salvation, though on a much smaller, human scale. This minor revelation came to me while facilitating a group made up of the thirteen clients whose cases I manage. On this date, I had not prepared a topic for discussion, but I felt somehow inspired to give the “big picture” to these men about why they were here.
   Before I continue, let me explain that earlier in the week, during a meeting in which the entire ward meets to discuss changes in procedure and so on, one new client asked the most frequently asked question of all the questions ever asked by clients at the hospital, “How do I get out of here?” Another client answered, “By keeping out of trouble; don’t act aggressively and do what you are told.” Then, another client refuted this answer with a profane remark. It dawned on me that I now had what we call a “teaching moment”; and I said to the disgruntled man, “You’re right! Keeping out of trouble, not acting aggressively and doing what you are told IS NOT how you get out of here, is it?!” The ward was silent (because it seemed to contradict what they had been taught since their admission, namely, that “If you do everything we ask of you, you will be discharged or transferred to a less restrictive environment.”). I asked the entire ward, “How many of you know someone who says they have done everything they have been asked to do; they appear to have met their Criteria for Discharge written in their Individualized Treatment Plans; they’ve been free of physical and verbal aggression for years; they attend all their classes; they are at Level 6 or 7 while most clients struggle to achieve and keep their Level 3; and they are STILL here on this ward – and the Treatment Team is not willing to submit a request for their transfer to a less-restrictive setting?” All their hands shot up. At that moment, our time ran out for the group, and the RN was setting up to pass out medications. So, the group ended on an unresolved note, until my smaller group met on September 2.
   In that group, (getting back to my story) I recounted the discussion above. Additionally, I reiterated a previous presentation to them in my Basic Thinking Errors Group about the opposite of Error, which is Truth. Then, I asked them, “Is it TRUE that DOING all that is expected of you – abiding by the ward rules, attending and participating in all of your groups, and avoiding all inappropriate behaviour – will get you out of here? They all answered, “No!” Then, I took a risk. I asked, “Then, does it look to you like we are LYING to you?” They all said, “Yes!”
   Ah! I had brought them to yet another teaching moment. “No,” I said, “we are not lying to you. But, there IS a thinking error present here. Can anyone see it?” Silence. So, I explained, “The laws, statutes, regulations, policies, procedures, ordinances and ward rules are written for those who are not willing to refrain from hurting others. You are here at this hospital because you disobeyed the law, and you are here to ‘change your behavior.’ Now, we’ve talked about why we act the way we do. Right?” They said, “We act out of our feelings.” “Right,” I said. “And where do our feelings come from?” They replied, “From our thoughts.” “And, where do our thoughts come from?” Silence. I reiterated the answer to them. “Our thoughts, perceptions and beliefs come out of our life’s experiences. When a child is molested by a parent who is an alcoholic or drug addict; when he is abandoned, beaten, neglected and otherwise treated like trash; what does that child THINK about himself? He thinks, ‘I’m no good, there’s something wrong with me, it’s all my fault, I don’t have any control over my body, the people who love me the most are the ones who can hurt me the most and I’ll never be free.’” Then, I asked, “And, what did YOU feel when these things happened to you? You felt afraid, powerless, guilty, ashamed, disconnected and betrayed. These feelings turned into anger. You grew up and acted these feelings out toward others. You committed the crimes that got you here. You acted out the Thinking Errors that you learned in your early life and which still exist within you today. Your peers, those who have moved on to a lesser restrictive environment, have changed their behavior, not by simply obeying the rules; they have changed ... their THINKING. They have come to the conclusion that ‘I am important to others,’ ‘I AM in control of myself,’ ‘my caretakers will not hurt me,’ and ‘there is nothing to be afraid of.’ Their behaviour reflects what they have changed in their hearts. In other words, they don’t NEED the law – rules and regulations, and policies and procedures – to control their behaviour; they ARE a law unto themselves. In other words, the law is in their hearts.”
   To you, the reader, can you see how the understanding of the Law of Yahweh can be applied to real life? Now, I have no idea whether or not any of my clients understood what I was saying to them. It may be that Yahweh was speaking more to me, out of my own mouth, to help me understand His Plan of Salvation and to edify His Law in my heart. I think I understand the connection between the Law and Love, for it seems to me that it is the Love of the Father, that is, His love for us, and our reciprocal love toward Him that guarantees our obedience to His Law. He gave us His Law as a guide so we would know what it means to obey His Law. His Law IS righteousness. It is the Law of Love, for when we love Him, we will do His will. We are THEN “not under the Law,” because the Law is within us.
   What is the opposite of Truth? Error. Can the Law be in Error? No. Why not? Because, the Law defines Truth. What is the Spirit of the Law? The Spirit of the Law is the knowledge of the depth, breadth and height of the relationship between us and the Father that assures us that we are “good enough,” that we are “in control of our thoughts, feelings and behavior,” that “there is nothing to be afraid of in this world,” and that “we have all that we need.” Understanding this, we are filled with the Spirit of Yahweh, the Spirit which grants us a sense of worth, personal power (or initiative), security and satisfaction.
   Why is this important? Because the ones who break the Law are the ones who do not have this Set-Apart Spirit. Breaking the Law is how the world obtains the illusion of worth, power, satisfaction, connectedness and security, because of the failure to understand our TRUE relationship with the Creator, the Almighty, Yahweh. Yahshua said, “If you LOVE Me, obey My Commandments”; meaning “obey My Words”; “obey My Law.” Law-breakers are attempting to gain a sense of worth through public attention or adoration; they are attempting to gain power by controlling others; connectedness through sexual exploits; security by threatening or hurting others; and they are attempting to obtain satisfaction through the acquisition of material possessions. These are the ones for whom the Law is written.
   We oppose the Law ONLY when we feel worthless, powerless, afraid, humiliated, betrayed and disconnected. The Law, you see, from the vantage point of our fleshly bodies, is a THREAT to our worth; because it, alone, has value – it, alone, is truth. The Law is a threat to our power, because it seeks to control our behaviour. It is a threat to our security, because it demands consequences for disobedience. It is a threat to our satisfaction, because it is not designed to please the flesh ... to bring us happiness. In fact, the letter of the Law is death, even though it was given to us to find LIFE. The Law of Sin and Death means, “If you SIN you DIE!” It is a threat to our innocence, because it bears testimony to our wrong-doing. The Law is a threat to our fleshly courage – it seeks to bring us to shame for the inherent sinful nature into which we were born. That’s why it is in our BROKENNESS, when we “fall upon the Rock,” that we are in a place to receive the Word of Yahweh; that is, when we seek Him and His forgiveness. Because, we realize that we are dead without His mercy and longsuffering. HE died for OUR sins. When does the “burden” of obedience to the Law become light? When does it become an easy yoke? The answer is, when we come to understand the gift that we have been offered, that is, eternal life with the Father.
   When we are FILLED, abundantly, with the Love of the Father, we do not NEED to “find” alterna- tive ways to obtain peace; we ARE innocent; we ARE powerful, satisfied, secure and worthy. For, He makes it so, not us. He is our Provider. He is our Strength. He is our Protector. He is our Innocence. In Him is where we find our worth.
   The other day, my wife and I watched a movie called “Jeremiah.” It was fairly well done, the acting was good enough. However, while speaking one of his prophesies, and using a quote from Scripture, Jeremiah was heard to say, “I will make a new covenant with you, one that I will write on your hearts.” I came up out of my chair and said something like, “Oh, come on! You could at least quote what it SAYS!” I was upset at the lie that was being promulgated. Yahweh did not say He would write a covenant upon our hearts. He said He would write His Law upon our hearts!
"The time is coming," declares Yahweh, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares Yahweh. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares Yahweh. "I will put My Law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their Elohim, and they will be My people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh,' because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares Yahweh. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more," Jeremiah 31:31-34.
   Yahweh is the Elohim of Love. His Spirit breathed life into existence. His Word was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. His Word, His Law, was made manifest in His Son, Who appeared to us in the flesh, so we could see; so that our blindness could be taken away. A Spirit-filled life is one in which the Law of Yahweh is made manifest. Yahshua is the embodiment of Yahweh’s Law, placed in the mind and written on the heart. Knowing the Law is knowing Yahweh.
   May we sacrifice our moral frailty, our flesh, to the consuming fire, to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and may we choose, this day, to serve Yahweh, according to His will. HalleluYah!

-Elder John Fisher (deceased)

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