Goodbye Lord Putrid!

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In our house, we have a trash container that we keep in the garage. It’s on loan to us from the local trash service. I have a problem with this trash container though — it stinks!

Here is what happens, we cut up meats when we’re cooking and throw away the trimmings… raw chicken skin, bones and fat, beef parts, fish, etc. And over the course of a week, that stuff starts to put off a really disgusting smell. Add on top of that the fact that we have two animals, a cat and dog. In our community, it’s expected of us that we pick up the dog doo and dispose of it ourselves.

So we have this trash container that smells like rotten kitchen scraps and dog crap. And it’s conveniently situated inside our garage. How nice. Hail Lord Putrid.

What am I really writing about? Something boring – the old Greek word: skybalon.

Skybalon means “kitchen scraps, garbage, refuse, excrement, manure, crap”. It’s a rotten word — full of stink. Skybalon is the kind of stuff that stinks so much it makes you turn away as you feel your stomach heave uncontrollably. Skybalon makes you heave…. upchuck… earl… blow chunks… puke.

Nice topic, I know.

But here’s what I’m really, really talking about: The apostle Paul used this word in his letter to the Philippians (see quote below). In paraphrase, he said, “There are people who go around talking about how good they are, about how they follow all the rules perfectly, but I do that too! In fact I’m better than all those people”. Then he goes on to explain how he’s better, by his conformance to the laws of Moses, his nationality, his tribe, his sect, his zeal and finally, his righteousness under the old covenant Mosaic system: he was blameless!

Then he dropped the Skybalon bomb.

Referring back to his righteousness (blamelessness) under the law. He said, “Ya know, whatever good those things did for me, I consider it as not belonging to me anymore”. Then he continued, “Ya know, I’ll even go a step farther and say ‘Not only does it not belong to me anymore, but I consider that stuff as Skybalon in comparison so that I may gain Christ.

In other words, Paul said that stuff made him want to puke. He said it was all crap.

Goodbye Lord Putrid!

But what was it that Paul gained in knowing Christ Jesus as Lord? He continued, “that I am found in Him not having a righteousness of my own derived from Law but that which is through faith in Christ. He even repeats that last clause, “the righteousness (remember, this means ‘blamelessness before God’) that comes from God on the basis of faith”. And then he goes on, “that I may know Him and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings, being conformed to his death, so that I may get to the resurrection.

Paul was in dire circumstances and he believed his life was nearing its end, that he would soon be martyred for his faith. He was ready for this and welcomed it because death meant only one thing for him — resurrection! He could not get to the resurrection through obedience to legal commands. He could only get to it via a foreign, alien righteousness that didn’t come from himself… he needed God’s gift of righteousness that is given in faith to those who are united with the Father in Christ – to those who know Jesus.

Not religion. But knowing our Savior. Religion is skybalon.

—-

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish (skybalon) so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:2–11, NASB95)

The Real New Covenant

On one side of the Cross:

“I am a dumb beast, scarcely a man, without a man’s powers of understanding; I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to knowledge of the Most Holy One. Who has ever gone up to heaven and come down again? Who has cupped the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has bound up the waters in the fold of his garment? Who has fixed all the boundaries of the earth? What is his name or his son’s name? Surely you know!” (Proverbs 30:2–4 REB)

And on the other side:

“Of righteousness attained through the law Moses writes, ‘Anyone who keeps it shall have life by it.’ But the righteousness that comes by faith says, ‘Do not say to yourself, “Who can go up to heaven?”’ (that is, to bring Christ down) ‘or, “Who can go down to the abyss?”’ (to bring Christ up from the dead). And what does it say next? ‘The word is near you: it is on your lips and in your heart’; and that means the word of faith which we proclaim. If the confession ‘Jesus is Lord’ is on your lips, and the faith that God raised him from the dead is in your heart, you will find salvation. For faith in the heart leads to righteousness, and confession on the lips leads to salvation.
Scripture says, ‘No one who has faith in him will be put to shame’:”
(Romans 10:5–11 REB)

Friends, if we want to make sense of the bible, we have to divide the scriptures at the new covenant. And we have to do that the way God does it — at the cross! Religionists don’t want to make a division between the old and the new, they want it all to be the same for all people everywhere at all times. But God says “NO” to that: “When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.” (Hebrews 8:13a NASB).

Other religionists divide in the wrong place — at the birth of Christ. The birth did not accomplish the new covenant, “For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.”(Hebrews 9:17)

The effect of dividing in the wrong place is to make a “new old covenant”… not a new one with righteousness based on faith, but rather a NEW OLD COVENANT, with new works and new rules that we have to keep in order to be good with God.

Don’t settle for NEW OLD! It’s an oxymoron! It’ll drive you crazy.

You’ll end up needing medication — since one day the preacher will tell you that you’re forgiven, and the next day he’ll tell you that you’re forgiven “only if you forgive others”!

The REAL NEW COVENANT starts from the cross, and its effects are discovered over a period of 30+ years in the book of Acts (no one was even preaching to Gentiles until Acts 10, and then only to the “righteous, God-fearing, Jewish WannaBe Gentiles).
The REAL NEW COVENANT is good news, and it’s the place to go to hear the kindness of God that leads to repentance!

In summary:

1) THE OLD COVENANT = WRATH
“for the Law brings about wrath,” (Romans 4:15a)

2) THE NEW OLD COVENANT = SCHIZOPHRENIA
“Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined (Matthew 9:17)

3) THE REAL NEW COVENANT = freedom from the power and penalty of sin into the inexpressible joy of the love of God in Christ.
“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No onefor God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?”
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Romans 8:29–35, 37-39 NLT)