Shellfish, Mixed Fabrics, and Homosexuality: Picking and Choosing?

by Mike Riccardi
Eat More Pork

“Once again, a brilliant post of Jesse’s has stimulated a lot of discussion. Yesterday’s post, in which Jesse shared four thoughts regarding Chick-Fil-A Day, sparked a ton of discussion in the comment thread.

Among other issues, a couple of commenters listed a number of popular arguments for why homosexuality is reconcilable with Christianity. For today and tomorrow, I’d like to address a couple of those arguments that I encounter most often. My hope is that I might serve those who erroneously believe that faith in Jesus and His Word can be reconciled with attempts to legitimize homosexuality.

The objection I want to address today basically boils down to this: “There are plenty other commands in Scripture that Christians don’t follow today, like the prohibition against mixing fabrics (Lev 19:19) or eating shellfish (Lev 11:10–12) and pork (Lev 11:7–8). So why not one more?”

Unbiblical Reasoning

First, I just want to observe that this kind of reasoning is patently unbiblical. The argument concedes that the Bible does indeed condemn homosexuality. We’re not getting an argument from these folks on that. They’re just giving a reason for why we should ignore more of what the Bible clearly says. “We disobey God’s Word all over the place. Why should disobeying His commands against homosexuality be any different?”

If you find yourself thinking this way, I just want to plead with you to realize that this is just not the way a Christian thinks about God’s Word. Someone who loves God in the Person of Jesus Christ does not look for ways to legitimize their disobedience or to free themselves from what He’s actually said. The one who loves God loves His Word. The Word of God is thedelight of the child of God (see Psalm 119Job 23:12Jer 15:16). If God’s Word is something you feel you have to get around or escape, please examine whether you’re truly a Christian at all.

The Purpose of the Law

But aside from the fact that a Christian simply doesn’t reason this way, this objection fails to understand the purposes of the Mosaic Law, and how the Christian under the New Covenant is to relate to the Law given under the Sinaitic Covenant. This isn’t an easy theological issue, and so to some degree I understand the confusion over this issue. But Scripture gives a clear answer, so try to stick with me.

Law Scroll

To Set God’s People Apart

For one thing, these civil and ceremonial regulations functioned to set Israel apart from all the other nations. No other nation cared about eating animals that didn’t chew cud or wearing clothes woven with two different fabrics. No other nation let a perfectly good day of work (and profits) slip through their fingers by resting on Saturday. In all these restrictions, God’s design was for Israel—His people—to be different than all the nations. And He wanted them to be different from the nations because He was different than the gods of the nations.

But God’s people are no longer confined to a particular nation. They are no longer bound by physical, national, or even cultural boundaries (Eph 2:12). The Church is not a civil government or a theocracy, but a spiritual building (Eph 2:21–22). Because of that, we’re not set apart by obeying laws about fabrics, foods, lengths of beards, and days of rest, but by our moral purity and holiness. We are to come out from all moral impurity and uncleanness, and are to be separate, for the Holy God walks in our midst (2 Cor 6:14–7:1).

To Point God’s People to a Savior

So, one function of the Mosaic Law was to set God’s people—the nation of Israel—apart in tangible, physical ways in order to show His own uniqueness.

But the Law was also given to Israel for another purpose: to illustrate God’s standard of righteousness, to show how far short of that standard His people fall, and ultimately to point them to a Savior to provide that righteousness.

Under the Mosaic Covenant, a right relationship with God depended on compliance with all of what He had said. If someone broke God’s Law, that was sin, and sin demanded a punishment. God made a provision to punish His people’s sin in a substitute, and so the sacrificial system was instituted. The consistent bloody exercise of animal sacrifice was designed to make clear to Israel that God was infinitely holy and that He took sin seriously. Day after day, year after year, all of Israel would offer sacrifices for their sins. And one thing they were supposed to come away with after doing that was that they could not live the way God required. God was holy. And they were hopelessly unholy.

Because of this, in Galatians 3 Paul calls the Law a tutor or a schoolmaster.

But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith (Gal 3:22–24).

So the Law was designed to teach Israel that they could never meet God’s standard of holiness themselves, and that they needed to look outside of themselves—to Him—for the gracious provision of that righteousness. And God provided that righteousness in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Law was designed to point to Him!

That’s why when Jesus shows up, He can declare that all foods are clean (Mark 7:19) work on the Sabbath (Luke 6:25). It’s why God’s people no longer have to offer sacrifices in a temple—why when Jesus was crucified the veil of the temple was torn in two (Matt 27:51): because in Jesus, something greater than the temple is here (Matt 12:8)! A Better CovenantAccess to God would no longer be mediated by the regulations of the Mosaic Covenant, but by those of the New Covenant (Jer 31:31–34Luke 22:20), whose mediator is Christ Himself (Heb 9:15).

That’s also why the Book of Hebrews declares that the Mosaic Covenant has been made “obsolete” (Heb 8:13): because the purpose for which that Covenant was given—namely, to set Israel apart and to point them to a need for a Savior—is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the point of the dietary laws. God’s people are no longer set apart by not mixing fabrics, they are set apart by being united to Jesus by faith.

No Longer Under a Tutor

So, the reason that Christians don’t have a problem mixing fabrics or eating pork is notbecause we’re picking and choosing which biblical commands we follow. Neither were the commands culturally conditioned. Rather, they were covenantally conditioned. It’s actually because those commands, which belonged to the Mosaic Covenant, have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Mediator of a new and better covenant. We actually obey the commands of the Law not by carrying them out ourselves, but by looking to Jesus as their fulfillment and trusting Him to provide the righteousness that was the goal of those commands. That’s why Paul says in that same passage in Galatians 3:

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor (Gal 3:24–25).

We are no longer under that Law which functioned for us as a tutor! To attempt to keep the dietary laws and other aspects of ceremonial worship would actually be to deny that Jesus’ righteous life and substitutionary sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to achieve God’s righteousness on our behalf. So when Christians exercise their freedom to mix fabrics or to eat shellfish and pork, we are not breaking the Mosaic Law. Rather, we are living obediently in light of its fulfillment in Christ (cf. Matt 5:17).

Why Homosexuality is Different

However, the commandments against homosexuality do not belong to the ceremonial or civil stipulations of an obsolete covenant from a bygone era. Yes, a prohibition of homosexuality is given in Leviticus 18:22. But that prohibition is repeated in the New Testament—God’s revelation for those living under the New Covenant.

  • Romans 1:26–27 – For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • 1 Timothy 1:9–10 – …those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…

Whereas the New Testament declares the fulfillment (and thus the end) of certain civil and ceremonial laws of the Mosaic Covenant, these New Covenant Scriptures only reaffirm the Old Testament prohibition against homosexuality. This shows us that such a prohibition wasn’t applicable only to national Israel, but is also binding upon the New Testament people of God. According to God’s own Word to His people, you cannot be in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ while living an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle.

You Can Be Washed

But you certainly can be restored to a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ by repenting from the sin of homosexuality. 1 Corinthians 6:11 says that some in the Corinthian church were homosexuals (cf. 1 Cor 6:10–11). “But,” Paul says, “you were washed.” They had been cleansed! Their sins were forgiven, not by pretending it wasn’t sin but by owning it andconfessing it as sin, and by turning from it—forsaking it as something that dishonors God—and by trusting in Christ’s righteousness alone for acceptance with God. My prayer is that those of you reading this would be washed by the blood of the Lamb shed for the forgiveness of sins.”

-Mike Riccardi,

The Driving Force of You (Prayer) Life

by Mike Riccardi

“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. …”
– Matthew 6:9 –

This first petition of “the Lord’s Prayer” (probably better termed “The Disciple’s Prayer”) is first by design. This premier petition that God’s name be glorified acts a controlling grid through which Jesus’ disciples are to pray. Everything we ask for in prayer and everything we do in our lives is to be asked for and done so thatGod would be glorified—so that the beauty of His manifold perfections would be magnified for all to see.

This is the highest request we could ever attain to make of God, for it is this which is His own most foundational and most ultimate commitment. He Himself has stated that He does all He does with a chief regard for the glory of His own name.

  • Isaiah 42:8 – I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another.
  • Isaiah 43:7 – Everyone…whom I have created for My glory.
  • Isaiah 43:25 – I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake.
  • Isaiah 48:11 – For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.
  • Ezekiel 36:22-23 – It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.…I will vindicate the holiness of My great name.
  • Ephesians 1:11-12 – …according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

And He has given us the same command: to glorify Him—to make much of Him—in all that we do. Every way in which we conduct our lives must be controlled by the desire for God’s name to be hallowed by all people, for His glory to be magnified in the sight of all creation.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
  • 1 Peter 4:11 – Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus Himself prayed this way:

  • John 12:28 – As He acknowledges that His soul has become troubled as He contemplates His work to be completed on the cross, the request He makes to God for the comfort of His soul is: “Father, glorify Your name.”
  • John 17:1 – As He began to pray concerning His crucifixion, He opened with these words: “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.”

 

And so a great cloud of witnesses counsels us on what this instruction means for our prayer lives:

  • R. C. Sproul: “He is teaching us to ask that God’s name would be regarded as sacred, that it would be treated with reverence, and that it would be seen as holy. We must see this if we are to pray according to the pattern Jesus set for us.”
  •  John Piper: “We pray for ourselves and for other followers of Jesus and for the world that we would reverence and cherish the name of God above things. This is the first function of prayer — to pray that people would pursue the glory of God.”
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “It means a burning desire that the whole world may bow down before God in adoration, in reverence, in praise, in worship, in honour and in thanksgiving. Is that our supreme desire? Is that the thing that is always uppermost in our minds whenever we pray to God? I would remind you again that it should be so whatever our circumstances.”

Is that your supreme desire? Is that the thing uppermost in your affections, in whatever you do? May God grant that it would be so.

This first petition of the Disciple’s Prayer teaches us that we must re-orient all our thinking and all our desires to be entirely in tune with God’s glory. As a disciple of Christ, I want to follow Him. I want to think like He thought, and be concerned about what He was concerned about. And, as He makes evident both by His example and by giving priority to this first petition, Jesus was concerned about glorifying the Father.

Therefore, the desire for the name of God to be glorified in the sight of all people must drive all of our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. This includes our prayer lives.”

-Mike Riccardi, http://thecripplegate.com/the-driving-force-of-your-prayer-life/

A Sample Prayer Plan

A Sample Prayer Plan -Mike Riccardi
Full article here: http://thecripplegate.com/a-sample-prayer-plan/

Wake up: 5:30 am
Time: Daily, 6:00 am to 7:00 am
Place: Kitchen Table

6:00-6:05 – Drawing Near & Confession

  • Come before your Father in the name of Jesus Christ, on the basis of the work He’s done in the Gospel.
  • Acknowledge your dependence upon the Holy Spirit even in your prayers (Rom 8:26–27). Ask for His help in the coming hour.
  • Pray that the Father would receive this time as worship from a heart gladdened by His glorious grace.
  • Confess your sin in light of God’s holiness. Ask for forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s shed blood on the Cross (Matt 6:12Heb 10:19–23).

6:05-6:10 – Praise & Thanksgiving

Spend time simply delighting in all that God is for you in Christ. Meditate on the beauty of His manifold perfections and His wondrous deeds throughout the ages. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name (Ps 96:7–9), and honor Him as God by giving thanks to Him (Rom 1:21) for all His good and perfect gifts (Jas 1:17).

6:10-6:20 – God-Centered Petitions

  • Pray for God’s name to be glorified above all things by all peoples (Matt 6:9).
  • Pray for His kingdom to increase through the ministry of the Church (Matt 6:10a).
  • Pray for His kingdom to come in its fullness (Matt 6:10aRev 22:20). That is, pray for His second coming and the establishment of His consummated reign upon the earth.
  • Pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10b); namely, without hesitation and full of joyful zeal.

6:20-6:30 – Personal Petitions

  • Pray for growth in grace and godliness (2Pet 3:18). Be specific with your particular needs for growth.
  • Battlein prayer against specific sins. Engage in the work of mortification (Rom 8:12–13).
  • Pray for opportunities of personal ministry, that your light would shine before men to the glory of your Father (Matt 5:16).
  • Pray for God to provide (and to continue to provide) for your daily necessities (Matt 6:11): for food, shelter, employment, etc.
  • Pray for freedom from temptation (Matt 6:13), and, when temptation comes, strength to endure it without falling (1Cor 10:12–13).
  • Pray for the strength to persevere and endure in trials (Jas 1:2–4), whether they be present or future, or both.

 6:30-6:40 – Intercessory Prayer

During this time, pray for the requests of particular circles of friends and family. This may involve keeping a prayer list and referring to it as you’re praying. Pray for different circles on different days. For example, on a 5-day cycle:

  • On Mondays, pray for particular requests from your immediate and extended family.
  • On Tuesdays, pray for the requests of those in your small group Bible study.
  • On Wednesdays, pray for your pastors and elders, as well as the missionaries your church supports. (You might pick a different missionary family or two each week and cycle through.) Pray also for pastors, elders, and missionaries you know outside of your own church.
  • On Thursdays, pray for the requests of those whom you interact with at your job. What a great way to both minister and witness to those at your job!
  • On Fridays, pray for other friends outside of the aforementioned circles, as well as specifically for the salvation of unbelievers you know.

 6:40-6:55 – Meditation

Choose a passage of Scripture to meditate on and pray through. This should be regular. That is, don’t just pick a random passage every day. You might choose to meditate on the main text and the supplemental texts of your pastor’s sermon from the previous Sunday. That would be a great way to be an expositional listener. You might also do a Psalm per day. You could also pick 8 verses of Psalm 119 per day, as that’s broken up very nicely. For example,

Really pray these texts into your soul. This is not reading merely for exposure or content. This is reading to see and know and worship God. This should be different than your daily Bible reading, and should be a small enough passage that you can pray through it in 15 minutes.

6:55-7:00 – Summarize

  • Thank God for the time spent with Him and for His gracious revelation of Himself in His Word.
  • Express your trust in Him to grant the things you’ve prayed for according to His sovereign, wise, and good will, and according to the glory of His name.
  • Pray again for strength and grace to glorify Him and serve people in His name throughout your day.

One thing I have asked from Yahweh, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of Yahweh
And to meditate in His temple.
 Psalm 27:4 

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
 John 14:13 

Ask and you will receive,
so that your joy may be made full. 
 John 16:24 

-Mike Riccardi, 09-30-11,

Herding the Elephants

“This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.” -Thabiti Anyabwile

“Thanks for the herding. Now lets hope there’s no more breeding and that the issue becomes extinct.” -Clint Archer, response to Riccardi’s synopsis

For a great synopsis of the Elephant Room debacle, check out Mike Riccardi’s post at the Cripplegate.

http://thecripplegate.com/herding-the-elephants/

The Leading of the Spirit

“Have you ever heard somebody say that the Spirit “led” them to do something? Or something like, “I felt led to” do such and such? I’ve heard those kinds of statements. I’ve said those kinds of things, too. But what do people mean when they say that? And, more importantly, is that a Biblical way of understanding and speaking about the Spirit’s ministry among believers?…”

Mike Riccardi addresses an often misused phrase at http://thecripplegate.com/the-spirit-led-me-to/