Friday, 22 June 2018

Law, Grace & Intimacy with God. ~ Ganeida

I have used a variety of different translations in order to convey the meaning of scripture in the most easily understood way possible & with the least confusion as to it's meaning.

Do not ever think that how you live your life doesn't matter.  Do not ever think that the sin in your life doesn't matter. Do not ever think that Grace excuses lawlessness.

Be warned by Paul: Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don't you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. [Romans 6:15~16 NLT] 

Paul tells us that the Law is good. [1Timothy 1:8] It is good because it shows us how to walk uprightly before God, those things to avoid & how to have the best relationship we can with God.

Everyone who sins is breaking God's law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 1 John 3:4 & we know that sin separates us from God but there is a promise when we do keep God's Law.

Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever! [Deuteronomy 5:29 NASB]

We are not to presume on the goodness & kindness of God for Jesus Himself was very clear: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ [Matthew 7:21~23 NKJ]

Well, you say to me, the Jews have had the Law for centuries & much good it has done them!  That is True, but what did Jesus tell them: "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] But Jesus also said of the scribes & Pharisees that they were *blind guides*. [Matthew 15:14]

 So there was a difference in  how the scribes & pharisees understood the Law & how Jesus understood the Law.

Paul, in discussing this issue with Timothy says: But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully...[1 Timothy 1:9] & here is the crux of the matter.  We can't ,as some teach, just throw away the entire Law because now we are under Grace.  We can't do that because Jesus Himself didn't but we are in all sorts of trouble if we understand the Law as the scribes & pharisees understood the Law: as a list of rules & regulations to be obeyed even when, as God observes sadly : ... "These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. [Isaiah 29: 13 NLT] & Jesus reaffirms this idea in Matthew 15:9: Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. [NLT]

The scribes & pharisees knew their scriptures.  They knew the whole of Torah [the first 5 books of the Old Testament] off by heart but they didn't know God & so they never applied the Law as it was meant to be applied ~ with Grace & Mercy  & the Everlasting Love of God. This is why Jesus ran into so much trouble with them.  Jesus understood how God meant the Law to be applied so he wasn't so much a stickler for outward things but He was a stickler for the heart of the matter. 

Of the Law itself Jesus said: ...“The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. [Mark 12:28~31 NASB] Or as Matthew so obligingly puts it for us...The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. [Matthew 22:40 NLT]

We have spoken about knowing God's Word over the last several weeks.  We have spoken about knowing the character of God & I began with those things because people tend to come unstuck on the *love thing*.  They will say things like: If God is love why...? or God is love so He wouldn't... or God loves me so it doesn't matter ~ all of which is untrue!  God is love, yes, but He is also Holy & righteous & just ~ which is why we all need Jesus so much!  The Grace of God gave us His son to deliver us from the dominion of sin!  The Grace of God enables us to actually say NO! to sin in our life.  The Grace of God provides a way back into relationship with God when we do sin. 

 Remember Paul says we are slaves to that which we obey.  Everyone on this earth falls into one of two kingdoms: the kingdom of Light [God's Kingdom] or the Kingdom of Darkness [satan's Kingdom] & we know to which we belong by that which governs us.  If we are ruled by the Holy Spirit in our lives we belong to Christ.  If we are governed by Lawlessness, that which is against God, then we belong to satan.  No~one gets to sit on the fence on this issue.  It is always one or the other. What we allow to govern us is the deciding factor.

Belief is not the deciding factor for one simple reason: You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. [James 2:19 NLT]  You can believe yet not be saved. It is how you believe that is important.  There is intellectual agreement that something is true but that does not lead to lasting change in a person's life.  It is the heart that is important; our spirit for Romans 10:9  ~ 10 says: 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 savedFor 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. 

Again & again in scripture everything comes back to our heart position.  God has a number of very important things to say about our hearts.

Jeremiah 24:7 I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart

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.

Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

True repentance brings true salvation & true salvation brings about the changes God desires in us because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, the One having been given to us. [Romans 5:5 NLT] There are two points I wish to make about this verse. The first is that the Holy Spirit has been given to us [a grace gift from God Himself] & part of His job is to lead us into all Truth [John 16:13] ~ that is the Truth about God. The second is that through the impartation of His Holy Spirit God shed's His own type of love abroad in our hearts; not love as the world understands it but love as God loves.  It is our hearts that must be changed.  Without this fundamental change all the rest of the New Testament becomes impossible for us. Notice that this change of heart is the work of God in us, something He does, not something we can do for ourselves!  Our job is to not resist the work God wants to do in us.

Throughout the gospels & the epistles there are instructions on how we are meant to live as Christ followers.  None of these instructions are new.  They are all there in the Old Testament.  What has changed is not only our ability to keep them but our heart attitude.  We do not keep them because we are told we must.  We keep them because we love the One who gave them & desire to please Him above all others.  Again & again in John 14 we hear Jesus say that those who love Him will keep His Word.  They will actively guard, protect, pay attention to, heed, observe practically, keep strictly, Jesus commandments.  If we love our sin more than we desire to keep God's instructions we don't really know God. James 4:4 [NASB] 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. 

When my boys were little I had a friend over one day with her little boy. For some time the children played close by but eventually they wandered outside & in a little while we realised it was much too quiet for comfort so we went to see what they were doing. What we saw was her car kangaroo hopping across the paddock!  The boys were all just 3 so none of them were big enough to drive the car on their own so one sat on the floor to work the peddles, one stood on the seat to steer & one changed the gears! 

That is a very good picture of how we operate when we lack intimacy with God.  We are immature & only see in part, can only operate in part  & *kangaroo hop* through our Christian walk  relying on outward things to govern us instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us, &  for many of us, whether because we have been badly instructed or because we have never learnt how, fail to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. We don't trust Him to lead us because we don't know how to tell His leading from all the other voices we hear.  We can't tell the difference because we don't know what the Word says.  The Holy Spirit & God's word will always be in agreement because God is never going to disagree with Himself. He is the Unchanging God.  He is the Eternal God.  He is the Living God. We can always trust Him but you cannot trust that which you do not know ~ & again this is not just intellectual agreement.  This is heart revelation. Hebrews 10:16 says "This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." [NLT]

God's moral standards have never changed.  They are the same yesterday, today & forever. Intimacy with God reveals to us how we are meant to live them out with love, grace, mercy & Truth, just as Jesus did.

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