Sunday, 28 May 2017

What sort of Spirit is in You? ~ Ganeida

We have discussed sin: what it is, its repercussions, & what we need to do about it.  In Acts 2:38 we see that there is a promise attached to repentance.  Remember the definition of repentance is to completely stop following the ways of the world & our own desires & to begin following God & His ways. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When we repent & turn to God we receive the Holy Spirit. Many Christians say they believe in the Holy Spirit since the Apostle’s Creed endorses Him as part of the Godhead:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…
I believe in the Holy Spirit….

But many are woefully ignorant of who He is, what He does & His role in our salvation.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Paul understood that a person who has repented of their sin & turned to God is immediately engaged in warfare for James 4:4 clearly states: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Thus the opposite is also true.  When you choose God you become an enemy of the world, of its values, of its interests, & of its pleasures & the world will persecute you. No~one can overcome the world in their own strength.  

Satan is cunning but not very original.  He uses the same 3 hooks over & over again: For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. [1 John 2:16]

Knowing our weakness our Heavenly Father made provision for us; He provided us with His very own Spirit so that we could know the very heart & mind of God Himself.

The Apostle Peter demonstrated very clearly the day the Holy Spirit was first given that He was given for a purpose for Jesus had said: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere ~ in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8

That word power is dunamis.  It is the root of our English word dynamite, so this power both Jesus & Paul speak of is dynamite power, the sort of explosive nuclear power that raised Jesus from the dead because Jesus promised "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.

The first reason the Holy Spirit is given to God’s people is to make us brave. We need to be brave. Most people are terrified of public speaking.  To stand in full view of strangers & talk about anything at all is terrifying.  It is even scary to speak publicly to friends & family but we are called to testify & we can’t do that if we are silent. Nor can we defeat satan for Revelation 12:11 says: And they have defeated him [satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

The second reason that God gave us His spirit is that He loves His creation ~ all of it! He loves you & he loves me.  He loves our muslim neighbour & the drug dealer on the corner. He loves the adulterer & the liar, the murderer & the sex worker.  He does not love the sin people practice.  He hates our sin so much He had to cover it with the blood of His only son but that blood will do us no good if we reject Jesus Christ. Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. [Ephesians 5:6]

Without the Holy Spirit we will mistake condoning sin as love, rather than loving people while refusing to condone their sins but Romans 5:5 tells us: And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

There is a natural love common to all mankind: love of spouse, love of family, love of friends, love of country but supernatural love is different. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. [Matthew 5:44~45]

Jesus is the ultimate example of how to love your enemies but the same spirit that was in Jesus resides in His followers & I will give you one example. 

You may have heard of Maximillian Kolbe.  Kolbe was a Polish monk imprisoned in Auschwitz during WWII. In July 1941 3 prisoners escaped from the camp so the camp commander decided to choose 10 to die by starvation in an underground bunker. One of the men chosen cried out, “My wife! My children!” 

Kolbe offered to take his place, someone he didn’t even know, giving him a chance at surviving the war to be reunited with his family. This is the testimony of one of the Poles, Bruno Borgowiec, who was assigned to look after the cell the condemned men were in:
'The ten condemned to death went through terrible days. From the underground cell in which they were shut up there continually arose the echo of prayers and canticles. The man in-charge of emptying the buckets of urine found them always empty. Thirst drove the prisoners to drink the contents. Since they had grown very weak, prayers were now only whispered. At every inspection, when almost all the others were now lying on the floor, Father Kolbe was seen kneeling or standing in the centre as he looked cheerfully in the face of the SS men.
Father Kolbe never asked for anything and did not complain, rather he encouraged the others, saying that the fugitive might be found and then they would all be freed. One of the SS guards remarked: this priest is really a great man. We have never seen anyone like him.
Scripture calls on us to rise above the evil done to us.  The Holy Spirit enables us to do that. This never makes wrong right.  It does not ever condone that which God calls sin but it does enable us to differentiate between the sin & the person. Bear in mind the Greek word for witness is the same word for matyr: martus. Thus our love is a setting aside of ourselves for others, just as Christ did.

The third attribute given is sōphronismos, variously translated as self~control, a sound mind, discipline, sound judgement, wise discretion, sobriety, prudence.  I like *a sound mind* because it includes all of these things. 1 Corinthians 14:33 informs us that God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God's holy people.

The Holy Spirit brings order & clarity.  The Hebrew understanding of peace is not merely an absence of conflict. It includes the concept of wellness, wholeness, serenity, joy. This is why we find the Apostle Paul standing up to his waist in the filthy sewerage of a Roman prison cell writing to the Philippian Church about the Joy of the Lord.

Scripture tells us that satan is a liar, & the father of lies [John 8:44] ,that he blinds the minds of unbelievers [2 Corinthians 3:8], that he prowls about like a roaring lion seeking whom He might devour [1 Peter 5:8] but that the Truth will set us free [John 8:32],  That God’s word is Truth [John 17:17] & that He whom the son sets free is free indeed. [John 8:36].

The Truth brings order out of chaos.  It allows for our minds to be unclouded by falsity for Jesus promised that And when He [that is the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:8

Without the conviction of the Holy Spirit we are not convinced of our sin & so long as we remain in that condition our minds are blinded, we are deceived, confused & ultimately we will perish without a saviour. A sound mind is a clear mind.  It recognises the Truth & the Truth sets us free.

Isaiah saw clearly the end result of an unsound mind. What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold. Isaiah 5:20~22

We live in the world where we see all around us the end results of those who are confused about right & wrong: Manchester; London; Paris; Jakarta. We hear the voices of those who are wise in their own eyes declaring foolishness, denying what is obvious.  We see the results of too much alcohol, drugs & partying in the violence in our homes & families & there is nothing of peace, little of joy.

Yet Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. [Hebrews 13:8] If Jesus does not change then His Spirit, the Spirit He sent to us, does not change.  He is absolutely consistent.  He still leads us in courage, in love & with a sound mind.

What of you, my friends?  Do you know God’s Holy Spirit?  Do you have His courage, His love, His order, His peace in your life? If not, do you want to know Him? Be lead of Him, be led on the path that shows you how to walk in joy, victory, & the peace that passes all understanding?  It is possible.  Romans 10:13 says: For "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

A Word from Sister Carol.

It came as no surprise when Pastor first broached the subject of
sharing the bringing of the word to our Sunday Prayer & Praise meeting @ Harvest Family Church, as our dear sister & preacher, Rabqa, is in Townsville *shining her light for a season* upon her much loved children & grandchildren.

I already had an inkling from the Holy Spirit that this could be the next step in my walk with Christ, here in His church on this island, but readily admit I was unsure if I had indeed been gifted by the Holy Spirit in this area of service.  However I am committed to trusting in, & obeying, what the Lord asks of me.  I was aware there would be attack from satan.  In fact I had already been subject to an attack on my physical health & strength with a persistent flu virus combined with the need to digest the blessing of my Dear sister's, Denise, acceptance of her call home to Jesus.

Most can relate to these times as part of life's journey.  However as a Christian I *stand on the Word* & firmly believe that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. [1 John 4:4]
Still, when I started to put together a paragraph or two, that niggling, treacherous, malicious voice would be there, questioning, accusing, living up to his title as the great accuser!

  • Are you really ready enough for this?  After all, you're not a teacher.
  • Where are your qualifications? What college have you attended?
As often as I would demand, Get thee behind me satan! he just didn't seem to get the message ~ or so I thought.

In truth it was I who was missing the obvious.  Why hadn't I put on my armour?

Some may be wondering , What armour am I speaking of?

I reread a passage from a study we did of author & evangelist, Perry Stone's book: There's a Crack in Your Armour, Perry writes: Anyone who is a Christian is also a soldier ~a concept I, myself, am not unfamiliar  with as I was raised by parents who loved God, & served & worshiped as 3rd generation *Christian Soldiers* within the Salvation Army.

Perry goes on to state: In the book of Ephesians, written by the apostle Paul,who was very familiar with Roman soldiers, Roman guards, their military training, equipment & methods of battle. Perry describes the book of Ephesians as being divided into 3 sections, the 1st section  being Ephesians chapters 1~3, relating to the work of God in the life of a Christian.  The second deals with the walk of the Christian, described in chapters 4~5 followed by the 3rd which is  the warfare of the Christian in chapter 6.

Verses 10~18 says: Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord & in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh & blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armour of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, & having done all, stand.

Paul goes on to describe this armour.

Stand, therefore, having girded your waist with truth... girded refering to what we would know as a girdle or wide belt made from strong leather...having put on the breastplate of righteousness...The Oxford Dictionary gives us a challenging insight  into the values attributed to the word which is a verb ~ or as my grade 3 English teacher taught us an *action* or *doing* word.

wise, moral, just, virtuous, upstanding, upright, good, honest, ethical, honourable, fair, reputable, of good reputation, trustworthy, justified, appropriate, worthy, fitting & apt~ a list only obtainable by the Lord's grace.

That mocking voice of satan laughs: Do you think you have all these attributes? then that still small voice deep in my soul says: He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. Get thee behind me satan!

Paul goes on to say: And having shod your feet  with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith with which  you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one & take the helmet of salvation  & the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer & supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance & supplication. [pleading humbly]

One of the greatest battles in history was fought by a simple shepherd boy named David. King Saul was anointed by God & God was very generous to Saul.  The Lord had told Saul to destroy King Agag & all he owned but Saul disobeyed God.  He took king Agag alive & his people he totally destroyed with the sword. Saul & the army spared Agag & the best of his sheep & cattle, the fat calves & lambs ~ everything that was good, these they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised & weak they destroyed.  Because of his sins of deceit & rebellion the Lord eventually rejected Saul as King.

The Lord sent Samuel to  Jesse of Bethlehem for He had chosen his youngest son, David, to be anointed as future king.  The Lord does not look at the things that people look at.  People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. [1 Samuel 16:7]

Since the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul an evil spirit had been sent to torment him.  David, who was a shepherd, calmed his sheep in times of stress by playing his lyre.  Now he eased the pain in Saul's heart with music.  Saul like him very much.  As David played his lyre Saul would feel better & the evil spirit would leave him.  God, who is merciful, showed mercy on Saul in his hours of despair despite the depth & horror of his sins.

How blessed are we in this age of Christianity that the gentle hand of Jesus can lead & direct us through His Holy spirit & will ease our heart, body, mind & spirit, renewing us with this reminder found in Romans 12:21: Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good & How beautiful on the mountain are the feet  of those who bring the good news, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, Your God reigns. Isaiah 5:7

The word of God to Jeremiah when he was sent to the Potter's House was: Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does? declares the Lord.  Like clay in the hand of the Potter, so are you in my hand.

Jesus came to this world & paid for our sins on the cross @ Calvary so that we too, as Gentiles, are included in God's promise of eternal life: Whoever has the son, has life; whoever does not have the son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:12

Prayer: Heavenly Father, for what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people ~ all you deem worthy through the love of your son, Jesus, & I will hope in your name for your name is Good. Amen.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Humble Yourself Under the Mighty Hand of God.~ Ganeida

Last week we spoke about why being good isn’t good enough, the role of God’s law in establishing critea for what is good, it’s purpose in showing us God’s standard, our inability to meet that standard & our need for a saviour. Sin is anything against God’s Law & since no~one has ever been able to keep God’s Law He sent His son, not only to keep His Law but to show us how it’s done!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, establishes that the penalty for our sin is death. The grace of God is that He bore our sin that we might be free from the penalty of our sin.

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Homologeō means to speak in accordance, to agree with ~ in this sense to agree with God that we have sinned & we fall short of His glorious standard.

Unconfessed sin has consequences.
·      Psalm 32:3~4For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
·      Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercyProverbs 28:13

·      Psalm 66:18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

·      James 1:14~15 teaches us that Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

·      It affects our ability to recognise & repent of wrong actions & thoughts causing us to be “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” 2 Timothy 4:2 or “because of the hardness of their heart (have) become callous.” Ephesians 4:18-19.

Without a true understanding of sin & our complicity with it, it is impossible to move to a position of lasting change.

In John 3:1~21 we have the record of Jesus explaining to Nicodemus the new birth & God’s requirements for entering the Kingdom. “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit…”

According to Jesus salvation does not come through a prayer prayed. Salvation comes through baptism in water & the Holy Spirit, one for the remission of sins, the other for power to walk as sons of God. Belief is always followed by action.

When the heart becomes convinced [if you believe in your heart that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead] there will be a corresponding action, public confession [If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord] ~ You will be saved.

Salvation is an ongoing process which goes by the fancy name of sanctification. This is what Paul speaks of in Philippians 2:12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.

As Paul instructs Timothy [2Tim2:15] Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Salvation is a work of God’s grace & our works cannot save us but there should be a correlation between what we believe & our actions.  

The early church fathers understood this. Clement stated A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he does not really believe God. To claim to trust God while refusing to obey Him is a contradiction.

Yet we saw last week it is absolutely impossible for anyone to do what God requires unless there is a deep & fundamental change in that person’s nature. This is what it means to be baptised in the Spirit. This is what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus he must be born not only of water but also of the Spirit & what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the *new creation*.
Being baptised in the Spirit does not mean you must speak in tongues, or fall in the Spirit, or handle poisonous snakes. It does mean that having agreed with God that you are a sinner you can begin to walk in the Spirit ~ & all walking in the Spirit means is that you are enabled & empowered to do that to which God has called you.

Walking in the Spirit, working out your salvation, is a partnership between you & God.  He leads, you follow. And it begins in the mind. Romans 12:2 says Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The first & major battleground is the mind & many people lose the battle before they even realise they are engaged in warfare. Genesis 3:1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?"

Eve lost the battle before she even touched the fruit.  Doubt was planted in her mind & it led to disobedience. Paul elaborates in 2 Corinthians10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

Everything we read & see & hear needs to be considered in the light of God’s absolute Truth:   the theory of evolution, secular humanism, existentialism, the cults, the occult, other religions.They may hold some truth ~ which is the great deception of satan, but they are never The Truth. You cannot have Christ & the world.  You have to choose ~ & your choice holds eternal consequences ~ yet there are none so blind as those who refuse to see for
  Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4

The early Christians used 3 methods to establish new believers in the Faith:
·      Sound teaching
·      Righteous example
·      The Transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

And they identified 3 distinguishing marks of the faithful
·      Separation from the world [John 15:18`19]
·      Unconditional love [John 13:34~35]
·      Obedient trust [John 14:1, 21]

Sound teaching gives us the truth, example shows us that it can be done, & the Holy Spirit empowers us For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:5:17 Ezekiel foretold it in Ezekiel 36:26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.

From Passover to Pentecost there is a period of time called *Counting the Omer.* Counting the Omer is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah.  Jesus, as the living Torah, the Word of God, chose Shavu’ot, or Pentecost, for the releasing of the Holy Spirit upon the world & His impact was immediate. Jesus continued in John 16:7 And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:…
And He did!  On that very first Pentecost the Peter who had so cravenly denied even knowing Christ, terrified he too would end up on a Cross, who stayed away from the crucifixion of Christ & hid in an upper room, suddenly emerges into the busy Jerusalem streets celebrating Shavu’ot & proclaims the gospel with such boldness & conviction that 3000 people believe on the spot!

Such is the power of the Holy Spirit in a man’s life that one of the *Sons of thunder* who once asked: ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ became known as *the Disciple of Love.* 

The great Christian apologist, G.K Chesterton once said: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

The difficulty lies in our pride. James 4:10 says: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you & Romans 10:3 says For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
The sin of pride will prevent you from admitting your sin, admitting there is a God, admitting there is an absolute Truth, admitting your need of the Holy Spirit, admitting your wrong thinking but to the Humble God gives favour. Proverbs 3:34

Christianity was never meant to be a *to Do* list.  It was meant to restore a right relationship between God & mankind so that we could enjoy God’s presence, benefit from His goodness & grace, & enjoy Him forever.

James 4:8 encourages us to: Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:6~7

Humble yourself & let the Holy Spirit show you how to walk in Love, victory & power.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

So You Think You're a Good Person? ~ Ganeida

The title of today’s message is: So You Think You’re a Good Person?

It’s interesting, isn’t it?  We all basically think we are good people.  Last week a couple lost custody of 2 of their children over videos they posted on~line *pranking* the kids but, hey, *We’re not bad people.*  In other words they basically think they are good people.

People do wrong things yet still consider themselves to be good people.  Decent people.  We compare ourselves to others & conclude we’re not doing so badly in the *decent human being* stakes. What I want to look @ today is why being good isn’t good enough & what Jesus taught us about being good.
If I asked you to define the meaning of *good* I suspect most of us would be a little vague so we will start with a definition.

The usual Hebrew word for *good* is tov & it means: good, beautiful, to function as it was designed to function. In the beginning everything was tov. It was beautiful.  It functioned as it was meant to. The Greek word agathos carries pretty much the same meaning Good, Goodly, Goodness describing that which, being "good" in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used. [Vines] Connotations of virtue, honour, morality are inherent in the idea of functionality.
We could stop right there & acknowledge no~one always *functions as they were designed to function* all the time because this is a fallen world.

In the 3 synoptic gospels the story is related of a young man who approaches Jesus & calls him *Good Master.* Jesus responds "Why do you call me good?... Only God is truly good”.[Mark 10:18]

It is an interesting story because this young man thought he was a good person. He kept the Torah.  He kept the 10 commandments. I’m quite sure he was expecting Jesus to pat him on the back & say something along the lines of: Well done thou good & faithful servant; enter into the kingdom. But Jesus doesn’t. He looks @ him with love & esteem & tells him he lacks one thing.  He needs to sell his riches & follow Jesus. The young man is shocked, appalled ~ stygnazō. Jesus does not tell him he hasn’t kept the Torah; He says, in essence, it is not enough!

Now this man’s riches were not his problem per se.  However they were preventing him from following Jesus & thus became a stumbling block to him. His problem was self~righteousness.

We must understand that goodness from God’s point of view does not consist of doing all the right things but of being the right thing, of functioning in the way we were created to function.

If I asked anyone: Are you a good person? I’m pretty sure most people would answer, Yes, then give me a list of things they do that they think are morally good:  I donate to charity; I help my neighbour; I haven’t robbed any banks lately; I look after my family. Christians might add: I tithe; I help out at church; I pray…Yet it is not enough.  It will never be enough. Romans 3:23 says: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.

God gave us a standard, the reason for it & the reason why it was insufficient.

Galatians 3:19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.
The number one reason God gave people His Law was so that we would understand that we have sinned, how we have sinned & consequentially our need of salvation.

See if you believe that you’re a good person you have no need of a saviour.  If you have no need of a saviour you have no need of Jesus Christ. If you have no need of Jesus you cannot enter into the Kingdom.

Romans 3:20 ~ For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

According to Paul the Law is good ~ Romans 7:1
But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

The problem is not with the law; it is with us.  Put as simply as possible we think of the Law in negative terms:  Thou shalt not… & when we think like that we believe the law has been designed specifically to steal our pleasures, to rob us of happiness, to curb our freedoms when the Law was designed for the exact opposite purpose.  By showing us how sinful we really are; our selfishness, our greed, our hostility, our lack of love etc it shows us what we lack in order to be happy, successful, able to fully enjoy our pleasures & operate in freedom.

I will give you a really practical illustration.  One of the 10 commandments is Thou shalt not bear false witness…False witness is lying about your neighbour. Proverbs 6:16~19 elaborates: There are six things that the LORD strongly dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Lying displeases God & yet 60% of adults can’t have a 10 minute conversation without lying at least once! [University of Massachusetts, 2002]

What’s more Jesus said: "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. [Matthew 5:17~18]

The Law continues to be valid because men still need to understand their sinfulness in God’s sight.  If there is no absolute right or wrong, if there is no moral law, there is nothing to prevent anyone from doing whatever they like whenever they like.  I don’t know about you, but I should not like to live in a world like that.
If you have ever been stolen from, if you have ever been betrayed, if you have ever suffered from gossip & slander you know it is the most awful, gut wrenching feeling.

What’s more it is absolutely impossible to keep God’s Law.  The Jews have been attempting it since God gave Moses the 10 commandments & still James said: For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws.[2:10]

The Law shows us the impossibility of us being able to keep God’s law. There are literally hundreds of Laws in the Old Testament making it difficult to remember every one, let alone keep them all, but God, knowing the people He made, was prepared to let them try & they still got it wrong. So do we.  The reason is simple.  The essence of the law, according to Jesus Matthew 22:39~40Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first & greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’… All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”…

The law is about our relationships with God & with people.  It is about how we treat others & in essence is to do with the state of our heart rather that what we do or don’t do. Human relationships are messy.  Often our relationship with God is messy too.

The Good News is we don’t have to keep the Law.  We don’t have to be perfect. There is only one thing we have to do & for many people it is the hardest thing ever because it involves our pride, our sense that we are *good people*, moral people, that we don’t need someone telling us what’s right & wrong or how to behave.

God disagrees with us ~ ALL are sinners; ALL fall short of the glory of God. ALL are in need of salvation. Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. [Romans 3:19] And knowing this God sent His son.

“Show them how it’s done, son…”

Jesus not only kept the law, He kept the heart intent of the law.  That is, He fulfilled the law perfectly according to God’s intentions & purposes so when satan wanted to accuse Him he could find no sin in Him.  Free of sin Himself Jesus became the only perfect & acceptable sacrifice.  He took our place.  He bore our sins & our punishment that we should not have too but He did not simply give us a free pass into heaven. Matthew 3:2 From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Jesus taught repentance. What is repentance? The Greek word metanoia means to change one’s mind, resulting in changed actions. What it is not is intellectual acquiesce.  It is not just saying, Oh, well, I believe in God… That will not save you from the wrath of God or the judgement of God because
even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. James 2:19

Romans 10:9~10 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

The Holy Spirit comes into your life with this confession & it is He who enables us to then live as we are meant to live. Paul says something quite wonderful in Philippians 3:8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.

When we are sinners, relying on our own righteousness, our own sense that we are good people, we feel no need for a saviour.  We may think Christians are mad, weak, deluded.  We may laugh at them or dislike what they say & what they believe but Oh! How different it all looks from the other side!

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes ~ the Jew first and also the Gentile. 

And this little word save, sozo in the Greek, means more than just to rescue from judgement.  It embodies to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health, make whole [Strongs] ~ in the same sense that shalom, peace, is more than an absence of conflict. Sozo allows one to enter into the abundant life Jesus promised. 

It is through His Holy Spirit that Jesus imparts His righteousness, His goodness, & it is the only way for us to become the people that we like to think we are.