October 21, 2011
Christians have gotten a bad rap in many circles. The term ‘one bad apple spoils the whole bunch’ is not true in this case, but it can certainly spoil the reputation. I’ve met many people who said that the Christians they knew were critical and judgmental. And that the churches they had been too just expected you to live a certain way, which they could not, therefore they were rejected and ostracized.
So those people wanted nothing to do with Christianity and its narrow-mindedness towards others. Convincing them that Christ meant for it to be differently was a difficult task. They wanted nothing to do with people like that.
We discussed last week in the post The Rules That Break Fellowship that there are only two ways to live as a Christian, under the law or by grace. You cannot do both. If you live by the law you must pay the penalty of the law which is death. If you live by grace you are free from living by the law and the penalty of the law.
Let me emphasize that the law is all laws made by man in an effort to get man to live a certain way. Living by those laws gives the appearance of righteousness. It may appear that a person living by the law is righteous on the outside, but the truth is that they are not transformed from the inside out.
Jesus gave us only two commands to live by under grace.
Mark 12:29-31 (click here to read in full context)
29) Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30) AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31) “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
If we submit ourselves to Father God to become transformed and we endeavor to keep these two commandments and are diligent to listen to and be led by the Holy Spirit then a byproduct of that relationship and lifestyle will naturally produce a genuine appearance of righteousness.
So you have the two living side by side, the tares (a close counterfeit) and the genuine wheat. On the one hand the person who lives by the law appearing to be righteous and the other who is transformed and really is righteous because of the blood of Christ and His grace. And from the outside they are nearly indistinguishable.
These who live by the law are strongly cautioned with a severe penalty in the end, to not cause those who are genuine in their faith and righteousness to stumble. To stumble? To cause us to stumble by falling from grace and into living by the law. Because to revert to living by the law when Christ died to free us from that law, is sin.
41) “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42) and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43) “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
This is when the sons of God will be revealed, as I wrote about in the post Orphans. The true children of God will be separated from the counterfeit, those appearing righteous on the outside and living by the law, but untransformed on the inside.
Consider this scripture passages:
II Timothy 3:5-13 (ellipse added for continuity, please read here in context)
…5) holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these… 7) always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth… so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith…12) Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13) But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
A form of godliness. Just what we have been discussing, appearing righteous on the outside, but no power (inner transformation). We are to AVOID these people.
Never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, even though it says they are always learning. Do you know someone who sits in church Sunday after Sunday, but they are not being transformed internally?
In regard to the faith. To live by the law requires no faith. It requires faith to trust in and rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us on a daily basis.
In Christ Jesus. A true believers righteousness does not come from living right, or by the law, but through Christ Jesus by grace.
Imposters. There are two types of people mentioned here, impostors (tares) and evil men, just as there are two types mentioned in Matthew 13:41 who will be cast into the lake of fire in the end.
Deceiving and being deceived. On Wednesday I mentioned that deception is:
Believing you’re doing the will of God while under complete control of the enemy.
People who genuinely believe they must live by the law to be right with God are deceived and attempt to force that deception on others. They teach it as the will of God.
I grew up believing that even though I was “saved by grace” I still had to “do right”. If we are saved by grace and are submitting ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis then we will be transformed and the natural outcome is doing right. If we attempt to do right under our own outward effort, that is living by the law.
We know what is right and we desire to do it. That is good. But if we are doing a right thing to be right with God, we are in error and we nullify grace.
So what about when we do wrong? Transformation takes time and during that time we are sure to do wrong things. But that is the beauty of grace. Living under grace frees us from the penalty of our wrong actions. We pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off, we thank God for His precious grace and move forward with earnestness to listen harder to the Holy Spirit and His leading.
No matter how much good we do, we will never live a perfect life. We are not called to be perfect, but to love. Remember the verses in the beginning? Mark 12:29-13. We are only commanded to love. Loving the Lord our God with all our heart puts us in the prime position to be led of the Holy Spirit.
So today please ask yourself these questions.
Are you mixing grace with the law?
Are you performing right acts out of fear of angering God?
Does the denomination you ascribe to demand you live by a set of rules or laws?
Do others see the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life?
Do you continually or frequently suffer from a feeling of guilt?
Do you seek to learn but find no revelation in your heart and soul of the truth?
Is it hard for you to read the bible because you have trouble understanding what it is saying?
Do you criticize others for not doing right?
Are you often pushing others to do right?