God’s Righteousness

anonymous religious hasidim jews during pray near western wall
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I was told once that Christians can be divided into three groups:  Modern-day Pharisees, Christian Eeyores, and lastly, the Grace Community.  And I was told that I was the modern-day Pharisee type.  A lot of you were as well.  You know, the really annoying, judgmental, legalistic type?

 

But, c’mon, unless you used to be an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, you were nothing like a Pharisee. Neither was I.

 

The Pharisees were hard-core religious zealots who devoted every minute of their lives to being righteous; they were sincere and serious. Their zeal was based on the Laws that God spoke to Moses.

 

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Romans 10:2

 

Not according to knowledge?

 

The apostle Paul goes on to explain in Romans 10 that their religious practices were “their own” attempts at righteousness, and had nothing to do with God’s.

 

Yes, God gave the Law to Moses, but He did not give it so that it would lead us to Him.  To a life of faith, of reality.  The Law was given to increase the knowledge of sin and to lead us to despair and to the feet of the Lord God. (Romans 5:20)

 

So, if you desire righteousness and holiness, your efforts at being ‘good’ will not succeed. The Bible is so clear.  Again and again we are told that, to be righteous in God’s eyes, you must have FAITH.  Before Jesus came, one had faith in God and the words He spoke to one’s heart.  After Jesus came, one puts their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection.  It is THAT that spells out the good news, the gospel; it is that that saves a soul from hell.

 

Paul calls the gospel “the word of faith.”  The gospel is “the word of faith” because it has to do with assenting to what God reveals to your heart, it is about saying yes, having faith, and telling God, “yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.”

 

The Christian life is a life of faith.  “From faith to faith,” as it is written.  We are saved through faith by grace, and then we grow to know Jesus through faith by grace.

 

Faith is the noun form of the verb “to believe.”  Faith is about trusting God.  It’s about        believing Him. You trust Him for salvation and you continue to trust Him every day afterwards.

 

. . . yet with most of us, there was a slight detour into “works.”  For me, it was a 15 year detour.  Although we were not as serious and sincere as the Pharisees, we church addicts were still nonetheless trying to establish our own righteousness based on “law.”  Our lives were guided by rules and principles and standards (not by the Lord.)

 

But God brought me back to Himself.  He asked me to quit church, to give up my religious idols. To surrender my pride to Him. He asked me to stop TRYING to be righteous.

 

It’s great news because anyone can do this; the gospel applies to anyone and everyone!    God’s idea of righteousness is attainable.

 

We don’t have to be modern-day Pharisees to be righteous in God’s eyes.  I’m still blown away by that!  So, thanks for listening. 🙂

 

“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

The Law of the Spirit of Life

Does an understanding of our freedom in Christ motivate us to sin?  I don’t think so.  I would argue that an understanding of our complete and total forgiveness motivates believers to receive something better:  our true purpose and meaning.

Personally, although I know that I have total freedom in Christ, that freedom doesn’t provoke me to sin; instead it encourages me to live according to the New Covenant with its new law:  the law of the Spirit of life.

The law of the Spirit of life!  Have you heard of it?  Paul mentions it in his letter to the Romans…

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1&2, NASB)

So what is the law of the Spirit of life?  As Romans 8 makes clear, it is the complete opposite of the law of sin and death, the Mosaic Law.  This means that believers should not be led by the commandments and laws of the Old Covenant (or any set of laws!)  Just let the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, lead you.

You know?  ‘Cause you are free! 😀

“It is for freedom that Christ Jesus has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

Paul the apostle is constantly encouraging us to live a life of freedom.  In his letter to the Colossians, he tells us that living a life according to a bunch of rules is not a REAL life.  It’s a fake, false life; a life in the shadows.

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths.  For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. (Colossians 2:17, NLT)

Interesting, huh!?  🤓 The religion of the Old Covenant was the shadow, “For these rules are only shadows of the reality.”  They were a shadow of things yet to come.  The life of faith in which we are governed by the law of the spirit of life is the reality that has come!

Paul says, “don’t let anyone condemn you.”  A logical warning, because we can’t escape religious people.  And for those Christians who still live in the shadow, condemning others is natural.  Why?  Because they themselves are governed by the law of sin and death.

You know what I am talking about, right!?  We all have regularly experienced condemnation from the Christians with whom we interact.

It was common for me to come home from work feeling “beat up” by condemnation during the five years that I worked at a large Christian K-12 homeschool enrichment program.  It was simply status quo for the ladies and teen girls that I interacted with; condemnation just sort of flows out of their mouths like a leaky faucet.

Why?  Well there is a reason.  It’s because they are still under “the law of sin and death.”  They are still under the Old Covenant, which means that they mistakenly think that God still holds their sins against them.  Living under this delusion makes them mean!

They do not intend to be mean . . . but they can’t help it.  On one hand, they are sweet and kind and friendly and were fun to work with, but on the other hand, condemnation flows out of them nonetheless.  (Usually during Staff Meetings when we are discussing “everyone else.”)

I am sharing this with you – not to bad-mouth homeschoolers — but to illustrate the point that most Christians are still under the law.  They need to be set free!

So then, how shall we live?  Well, we no longer live according to rules and regulations.  We allow the law of the Spirit of Life to guide us.  We no longer try to earn God’s favor by obeying the laws He gave to Moses.  Instead we believe the truth that HE was obedient to the law on our behalf, and then died for the forgiveness of all sin.

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.  (Matthew 5:17, NASB)

He fulfilled the Law, and then nailed it all to the cross. Obedience to the law has come to an end.

God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross. (Colossians 2:14, CEV)

The result of all of this is that we are SET FREE to live according to the Spirit!  The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of Sin and death.

So when you feel that someone is condemning you for not obeying some rule; for not keeping the Sabbath; for not being good enough or holy enough . . . for whatever standard that they feel you are not living up to . . . just remember Paul’s word to the Colossian church:  don’t let anyone condemn you.  And remember his words to the church in Rome:  there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

My site is called Mom for Freedom, because I just so happen to be a Mom who is FOR freedom.  I am pro-freedom.  I desperately want my brothers and sisters to be set free – set free to live a life of peace and rest, growing in grace and getting to know Jesus better with each passing year.

 

 

November 23, 2019  8:46 PM

 

Must faith be accompanied by works?

Forgive me, Father, I have sinned; it has been four months since my last blog post.

Just kidding!  . . . About the asking for forgiveness part.  Not kidding that it’s been four months since I’ve written anything here.  My personal life has been overwhelming and consuming and causing much anxiety — a ‘down-cast heart.’  I have simply not had the energy to blog.

But God is active and living and He is ever-present, dwelling in my innermost being, as I live through the storms of life.  Though the world may slay me, yet will I praise Him.

So, getting to the point, must faith be accompanied by works?  . . . Of course not!  We are saved by grace through faith, and we are sustained each and every day by His grace through our faith; through our trust in Him; our resting in the work He has already accomplished.

But what about the book of James?

But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:20, NASB)

Gee, thanks for the encouragement, brother James.

No, sorry.  He got that part wrong.  Faith is IT.  Sola fide.  We are justified by faith alone.

The five chapters of the book of James are filled with things we must do.  There is not one mention of the death or resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No mention of the divinity of Jesus.  No mention of our forgiveness or justification by faith.  James believes we are justified by works.

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24, NASB)

Did you know that the book of James was ABSENT from the first list of New Testament books known as the Muratorian Fragment.  James’ epistle was not confirmed as a book of the Bible, included in the canon of the New Testament, until the fourth century A.D.!  James was added to the Bible in AD 367, after the creation of Roman Catholicism!

Yet there is an excellent argument to be made concerning the fact that including the book of James in the Bible is important because it illustrates the differences between Paul and James, between a life of faith and a life of works. (Click here for a Bible Study by Living God Ministries on that topic.)

Sure James makes some good points, such as “if you stumble at one part of the Law of Moses, you are guilty of the entire thing.”  But, mainly, when I read the book of James, I think, “Man, he’s a raging legalist!”

I’m thankful that I have been set free from a life of works.  I am thankful to live a life of freedom in Christ Jesus; a life where I am free to walk in the Spirit, and live each day according to the Law of the Spirit of Life, and not according to the Law of Sin and death.

 

 

November 6, 2019  9:58 AM