the weblog of Alan Knox

Living in the Shadows

Posted by on May 24, 2010 in discipleship | 24 comments

Living in the Shadows

I grew up in the deep South in the 70’s and 80’s. We grew up going to church where ordained ministers would hold services on Sundays. Perhaps it was only me, but I saw this as holy men performing holy services on holy days in holy places.

As I’ve continued to study Scripture, I see that my understanding while I was growing up is much closer to the Old Testament than to the New Testament. But, what’s the problem with that? The Old Testament is Scripture too, right?

Yes, but when it comes to things like the temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices, the Sabbath, and other aspects of life as the people of God in the New Testament, the New Testament tells us that these things are shadows of reality, and not reality themselves.

In other words, these things were all intended to point to something else, something bigger, something better. In fact, all of these things point forward to Christ, who fulfilled the whole law and became the better temple, high priest, sacrifice, and Sabbath.

Given my background, it is easy to switch back to thinking that there are holy days on which holy men do holy things in holy places. But, when this begins to cloud my understanding, I live in the shadows and not the reality of Christ. In Christ, all of God’s children are holy people; every day is a holy day; all opportunities to serve are holy offerings; and any place we are is a holy place, because we are the temple in which God dwells.

When do we live in the shadows? When we find ourselves asking questions like these: Should you do that on Sunday? Is there an ordained minister available to do that? Should they be doing that in the church [building]? Why is that person preaching [or teaching, or baptizing, or serving the Lord’s Supper]?

These questions indicate a shift back into the shadowy thinking of the Old Testament. Today, in Christ, we have the realities available to us; we do not need the shadows.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-24-2010

    Excellent thoughts Alan, you might have earned a coveted “Best of the week” entry.

  2. 5-24-2010

    As a side note, I was at a traditional service this weekend and someone used the Levitcal priesthood as a justification for supporting pastors financially.

  3. 5-24-2010


    This is an excellent post. Thank you so much for putting this so clearly. It’s amazing how quickly we fall back into the OT way of thinking and doing things.

  4. 5-24-2010

    I also grew up in a world where Sunday was the Christian version of Sabbath, where any kind of “ministry” was done inside the confines of the church building, and where not forsaking assembling together meant being in that building every time the doors were open. If you wanted to “get right with God,” you did it at the “altar.”
    Even though I’ve left that behind, I still find myself stepping back into those shadows from time to time. The thing is, it’s so much more freeing and graceful to live in the light of the reality.

  5. 5-24-2010


    We can justify many things when we only take a part of Scripture without considering the whole – especially when that “part” is later explained and fulfilled.

    Eric and Fred,

    Well, our traditions are filled with “OT ways of thinking and doing things.” It is easy to fall back into those ways because they are comfortable and familiar.


  6. 5-24-2010

    Wonderful post! There is in grace, the ability to participate with those who are still in the OT understanding without causing problems. So the “fight” can end as folk embrace Christ as the end of the law – regardless of what form the worship seems to take.

    Although much of my teaching is to help us all see what the Bible really says and interpret it in light of the truth of Jesus Christ, I find when I slip over into “fight” mode (if you will), I have eliminated grace and begun to hold others to what I think is right – wait a minute isn’t that what we are working to correct. Oops!

    Doesn’t this all go in somewhat of a circle where what is really important is faith working through love?!

  7. 5-24-2010


    So right! We’re so busy listening to Moses that we cannot hear Jesus!

  8. 5-24-2010


    Thanks for teaching me on this issue this past week. I think I forget the magnitude and glory of Christ, who is the fulfillment of these you mentioned, all to often. My view of Christ needs to be bigger and better like the author of Hebrews stated.


  9. 5-25-2010


    “Doesn’t this all go in somewhat of a circle where what is really important is faith working through love?!” Yes!

    Aussie John,

    Moses had some very good things to say, but Jesus often fulfilled and explained them for those of us in Christ.


    I think you went beyond what you and I talked about… and it was a great teaching, brother!


  10. 5-19-2011

    So do not let anyone make rules for you about…

    10 You have a full and true life in Christ, who is ruler over all rulers and powers. 11 Also in Christ you had a different kind of circumcision, a circumcision not done by hands. It was through Christ’s circumcision, that is, his death, that you were made free from the power of your sinful self.12 When you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and you were raised up with him through your faith in God’s power that was shown when he raised Christ from the dead.13 When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins.14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.15 God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority. With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.16 So do not let anyone make rules for you about eating and drinking or about a religious feast, a New Moon Festival, or a Sabbath day.17 These things were like a shadow of what was to come. But what is true and real has come and is found in Christ.-Colossians 2:10-16

    they are only part of a human religion…

    20 Since you died with Christ and were made free from the ruling spirits of the world, why do you act as if you still belong to this world by following rules like these: 21 “Don’t handle this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t even touch that thing”? 22 These rules refer to earthly things that are gone as soon as they are used. They are only human commands and teachings. 23 They seem to be wise, but they are only part of a human religion. They make people pretend not to be proud and make them punish their bodies, but they do not really control the evil desires of the sinful self.-Colossians 2:20-23

  11. 5-19-2011

    16 So do not let anyone make rules for you about eating and drinking or about a religious feast, a New Moon Festival, or a Sabbath day.

  12. 5-19-2011


    Yes, Colossians is a great letter to dispel the legalism of rules and regulations and to point people toward freedom in Christ.


  13. 3-23-2012

    I read your comments with a keen interst of two points, one a bit of comedy to make a point. If a light bulb was called a dark sucker instead as it draws out all darkness, and when it burns out, it is because it is full of all the darkness it can hold, is that why we should call light bulbs “darksuckers”. The shadows of any light candle or light bulb truly does illuminates around all corners with a similar light, reflecting us to our path.

    We as Christians are all ordained into the faith of sharing are we not? The process of ordaining is a religious conventions by the higher authority that often attempt to set up rules of who is to be chosen. I came to the realization as I went through Seminary for four years that the essential component is how you bring others to faith, not the who can bring a person to faith? The real gift is where you can sit any any location and share the faith of scripture in both the entire Bible and make someone feel they are learning and growing in belief, like a wine maker, who tends the vine with the same care and attention to ensure the yield of the vine is at full capability.

    My role in my life is to be that tendering soul, who is willing and ready to enhance the vine as It grows naturally, not the wine maker who often discards the branch beacuse they want the vine to go in a certain direction only for their own purpose or intent.

    Come to me all who are heavy labour, and I will refresh you,is much more appropriate in our calling to share the works of Christ in daily living.

  14. 3-23-2012


    You said, “My role in my life is to be that tendering soul, who is willing and ready to enhance the vine as It grows naturally, not the wine maker who often discards the branch beacuse they want the vine to go in a certain direction only for their own purpose or intent.” I like that comparison and contrast.


  15. 7-17-2012

    Well said.

    So, what is your take on the idea of Messianic Synagogues? I know a guy (interestingly, he is a Puerto Rican born black man) who wears the prayer tassels, celebrates the holidays, eats kosher (which is really not a bad way to eat, honestly) and the whole nine yards. He is a good man and loves the Lord and I mean no disrespect. However, is this not a life of “living in the shadows”?

  16. 7-18-2012


    I don’t know much about Messianic Synagogues. I suppose my take would depend on why they do the things you mention.


  17. 9-24-2012

    Alan. Ive known a mennonite fellowship that lived very much
    under the OT shadow, and they were happy, spiritually minded
    & fruit producing believers. And we all know many that
    live unfruitful & unspiritual lives on churches enlightened
    by further revelation. Jesus weighs our maturity based on what
    we do with the truth we know, and not what we don’t know.
    I think we need to qualify this lest we be found finger

  18. 9-25-2012


    Like I answered to John above, the health and vitality of such a group would depend on why they were doing certain things or holding on to certain things.


  19. 3-28-2013

    So you’re okay with “healthy” and “vital” Judaizers?

  20. 3-28-2013


    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your question.


  21. 4-2-2013

    Speaking of OT shadows:

    What is Messianic Christianity but a glorification of the Jewish race by pseudo-Christian Judaizers who have made the Christ a partner in racist hatred, terrorism, murder, ethnic cleansing, and decades of war crimes, even soiling the Gospel with the blood of fellow Christians. Is this what we should expect to find in those who put no confidence in the flesh? Who claim to be in Him in Whom there is neither Jew nor Greek?

    Why are we even speaking of Messianics? How does this differ in meaning from Christian? Do we get some special credit by Jew-ing up the language? The Medium stayed in tune with the Message of Christianity by moving from the dialect of a small knot of Middle Eastern hillbillies to an international lingua franca. Is that something we are now trying to *correct*?

    Jesus stood up to the pretensions of the Jews. If they’re not, they’re not standing with Him.

    Claude, a brother

  22. 4-2-2013


    I’ve known several Jewish Christians over the last few years, and many of them referred to themselves as Messianic. But, none of them resemble the description that you gave. They are all trusting completely on the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

    However, your description did remind me of the Jewish Christians in Acts 15 who argued with Paul, Barnabas, and others that circumcision was necessary for salvation. It has always been interesting to me that Luke calls these Jewish Christians “believers.”


  23. 4-3-2013

    Paul called them false brethren.

    Not all Jewish Christians are Judaiziers. Paul comes to mind. But he was willing to criticize – and openly confront – Peter for far less than the overt racism of many modern Judaizers. Paul was right to recognize the danger of tolerating the leaven of Hebrew racism. But sin hardens and half a century of carrying water for war criminals has left America’s Evangelicals with a false gospel that is at odds with the Gospel of God Who shows no partiality.

    Again, what is the point of Messianic? Why call themselves rabbi and jabber in Hebrish? Why Hebrew names and not Serbian names or Korean names? Is there a point here other than racism? Looks like they’re trying to rebuild the wall of separation destroyed in the Christ. Could there be anything more fleshly than such racist self-love?

    Claude, a brother

  24. 4-3-2013


    What kind of Jewish Christians were Luke describing in Acts 15 when he called them believers?

    Again, I’ve never met a Jewish (Messianic) Christian who resembles your description. However, I would think it would be normal for Korean Christians to use the Korean language, Serbian Christians to use Serbian languages, and Jewish Christians to use Hebrew… or any other language that they would like to use.

    I agree that if someone or some group is attempting to build a new separation between us and Christ, then that would be very troubling.

    I haven’t really figured out how this line of discussion relates to this post though…



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