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Stand for Right Division

By: Scott Morton

2 Timothy 1:13-14

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [14] That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

We have the time of year where individuals make all sorts of plans for what they are going to do. These come in the form of what are known as New Year's resolutions. These resolutions are some elaborate plans people come up with, such as 'I am going to quit smoking', or 'I am going to go the gym every day and I will lose 20 pounds'. These plans are always for some major change that is planned to transform someone's life over the course of the new year.

These resolutions do not always work out as planned for individuals. While the intentions are good, there is poor follow through on these plans. While someone may follow this resolution for a couple of days, or even a couple of weeks, they have usually gone back on whatever it is they decided to do by the end of January.

People have also come up with some things they feel individuals should gather together and stand for or against. In Buffalo, NY, we have had a movement which started recently called Stand Against Bullying. This followed the suicide of a young man following the bullying he received while in school. Other individuals have come up with things such as Stand with Israel, a plan to speak with our leaders to insure the United States is standing with their ally in the Middle East.

While these causes are good things to do, we are instructed, as members of the Body of Christ, to stand for something much more important. The text referenced above is making a reference to holding fast to the form of sound words. This instruction is speaking of us keeping close the doctrine taught to us in the epistles of Romans through Philemon, as this is the doctrine we need to understand today.

The Bible can appear to be a very confusing book to some individuals. They look at all of the information contained in it and seem to not be able to make sense of what is being spoken of in different passages. Some state the Bible appears to contradict itself, as it will give one set of instructions in one passage and then will state something else in a different passage. This can be confusing to many, especially if they do not understand the instructions we have been given on how to study the Bible:

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The Apostle Paul instructs us in this passage on why it is important to study the Bible. He states we need to study the Bible, if we want to be approved of by God. This is not something that should be taken mildly. Even though we have a guarantee of our salvation because we have believed the gospel given to us (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we also are to be motivated to do things pleasing to God. The demonstration of love for us is the motivation for us to do the good works we should do, which would include the studying of God�s Word. This has to be included, as this is the only way we would know what we are supposed to be doing, according to the plan of God.

This passage also explains how we are supposed to study the Bible. It introduces a concept known as right division, which was something that had already been demonstrated in the past (which will be explained later in this article). The Apostle Paul states this is how we are to understand the Bible, which means we will know what passages are speaking directly to us, as these will be the passages we should apply to our lives.

These divisions are to be right, which would mean to be correct and honest. This passage does not give the reader permission to decide which passages they want to apply to their lives, because they are their favorites. The decision of what portions of Scripture apply to us can only be explained by God. We have to understand the divisions He has set up, which will allow us to be able to understand the doctrine.

A common attack on this is the thought of all the Bible is for us (2 Timothy 3:16-17), so we have to be able to apply all of the passages to our lives. This is an impossible task, which is why everyone has been able to understand there have been divisions of doctrine in the past. One area to point this out is the diet an individual should have. The Bible does explain this in several passages. Let�s look at all of these passages and see if we can apply them all to us:

Genesis 1:26-30

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [27] So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. [28] And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. [29] And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. [30] And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Here at the time of creation, the instruction was that all of man and every living creature were to have plants as their diet. This would mean everyone would be a vegetarian. If there had been no changes in the Word of God, every single one of us would be still be a vegetarian at this time.

Genesis 9:1-5

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. [2] And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. [3] Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. [4] But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. [5] And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

This passages shows a major change from what was written in Genesis 1. After the flood, God gives some commands for Noah ad everyone else to follow. One of these commands is related to the diet they are to have. According to this passage, animal life has been added to the diet. This included the things in the sea, the air, and on land. They are being added to the plant life that was given as food back in the Garden of Eden.

From just these two passages, it is clear that we cannot follow all of the commands of God. It is impossible for an individual to be a vegetarian and also to eat meat at the same time. An individual has to make a decision as to which passage they are going to follow. The confusion only continues when the next passage is introduced:

Leviticus 11

And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, [2] Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. [3] Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. [4] Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. [5] And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. [6] And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. [7] And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. [8] Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. [9] These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. [10] And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: [11] They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. [12] Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. [13] And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, [14] And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; [15] Every raven after his kind; [16] And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, [17] And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, [18] And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, [19] And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. [20] All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. [21] Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; [22] Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. [23] But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. [24] And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even. [25] And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. [26] The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean. [27] And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. [28] And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you. [29] These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, [30}And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole. [31] These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even. [32] And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed. [33] And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it. [34] Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean. [35] And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you. [36] Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean. [37] And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean. [38] But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you. [39] And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even. [40] And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. [41] And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. [42] Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. [43] Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. [44] For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. [45] For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. [46] This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: [47] To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

This long passage from the book of Leviticus lays out the animals that are okay for a follower of God to eat (the clean animals) and those animals which are forbidden to be consumed (the unclean animals). This list includes many things people today consume on a regular basis. For those who like to eat bacon or ham, these are forbidden, as verse 7 indicates the swine (pig) is unclean. If you like to eat things such as crab, lobster, or catfish, these are also forbidden by verses 9 through 11 of this passage.

If I try to apply these three passages to my life, I am being told to be a vegetarian only, I am being told I can eat anything, and I am being told there are certain animals I am forbidden to eat. These passages all appear to be contradictory and cannot be followed at the same time. The Apostle Paul adds one more verse into this:

1 Timothy 4:4-5

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

This passage appears to go back to what was said in Genesis 9. All animals are allowed to be eaten, according to the Apostle Paul. There is a qualification put on this. These things are allowed to be eaten, as long as they are received with thanksgiving. This is because they are sanctified (set apart) by the Word of God and prayer.

Now that these four passages have been examined, it is obvious an individual is not able to follow all four of these passages at the exact same time. The believer must make a choice on which passage they are going to follow if they are going to please God. This is where the concept of right division comes in. Since it is painfully obvious we cannot follow all four of these passages, there have to be some rules followed on how we determine which passage is the correct one to follow today. Every person who studies the Bible follows the principle of dividing the Bible, as they can only follow one of these. It is clear there has to be an understanding of which passage needs to be followed, which can only be done if the division is done right.

Looking at these passages, it is clear to see what is going on. In Genesis 1, God is dealing with man in perfection before the fall. This passage could not apply to me today, as this is not the condition I live in. The passage from Genesis 9 shows God dealing with all of mankind. He has set up some rules for man to follow, which get replaced when God starts to deal with only one nation. As God deals with the nation of Israel, He sets up a series of covenants for them to follow. One of these is the Mosaic Covenant, which is also known as the Law. The Law governed all aspects of a believer�s life, which included diet. This is why the passage in Leviticus 11 is written.

Lastly, there is the passage written by the Apostle Paul. His ministry, as laid out in the epistles he wrote (Romans through Philemon), deals with the Gentiles. Israel has been set aside (Romans 9-11) and God is dealing with all of man. These books lay out the doctrine for a believer to follow today.

This one example here shows the importance of following the principle of right division. It allows a believer to understand what is said in the Bible and to be able to apply passages properly to their lives. The only thing that can come from not following what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:15 is confusion.

The study articles that will be written over the course of this year will be following the issues of standing for right division. Each article will be labeled (SFRD) in order to indicate that it is following this principle.

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