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Legalism is a Dead End

Legalism is a Dead End

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is talking to His disciples and the crowds about the kingdom of God.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

In the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, a new focus has emerged. The Law and the Prophets were the main points of religious teaching until that time. Now there’s an emphasis on the kingdom of God.

The religious leaders are not too happy about this. They could get around some of the Law of Moses. They were experts in the loopholes allowing them to do as they pleased, all the while keeping the facade of holiness.

The kingdom of God is about relationship with God. It’s not about a set of rules made by men. The Law is a set of unchanging commands.

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”

Luke 16:17 NIV

The Law of Moses is unchanging and impersonal. It doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t make any exceptions because of your situations, weaknesses, or what you happen to be going through at the moment.

The Law doesn’t have the power to help you. It doesn’t give you any support to live an overcoming life. It’s just there to point out the sin that you’re wrestling with on a daily basis.

Jesus gives the Pharisees an example.

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 NIV

This seems to be a random verse, stuck in here for no reason. But, there’s a truth that Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees. The Law doesn’t care about your situation.

At one point the Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned Him about the issue of divorce. I covered this a while back as we were going through the Gospel of Mark. The details are in Mark 10:1-12.

The religious leaders enjoyed this “divorce loophole”. The Law allowed for a husband to give his wife a certificate of divorce. That was the Law. What was God’s view?

That was clear throughout Scripture.

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 2:16 NIV

That’s the difference between serving God by following the rules and life in the kingdom. We all want to know the rules. Rules are easier than maintaining a relationship.

There are Christians who live this way. They’ve boiled Christianity down to a set of man-made rules. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, go to church, give your tithes, etc. They follow the rules, then live for themselves the rest of the time.

A relationship with God is harder to maintain. In any relationship there’s shared responsibility. I have to find out what my partner likes or doesn’t like. My goal is to live in such a way that we grow together.

That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It’s not about rules. I must seek what pleases God and what displeases Him. I need to allow His Holy Spirit to work in me. I must hear Him, trust Him, and obey Him.

This is why many marriages break down. They don’t cultivate relationship. They think that as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to do (following the rules), then the marriage is strong. They realize too late that when the relationship breaks down, the marriage soon follows.

Don’t turn your Christian walk into a set of rules. Legalism is a dead-end street full of frustration and guilt. Cultivate a strong relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. That’s the key to fulfillment.

Question: How strong is your relationship with Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Relationships, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Fear Without Fear

Fear Without Fear

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is teaching His disciples in chapter 12. We now come to a very interesting portion of Scripture. In this section we’re going to see two important aspects of fear.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Luke 12:4-5 NIV

The first thing we need to understand is the fear of the Lord. This is the foundation of a mature walk with God. We know from Scripture that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

I’ve heard people teach about the fear of the Lord in the past. Sometimes they’re a little off base when they say that this kind of fear is only a healthy respect. I choose to differ.

The word for fear in this verse is the Greek word from which we get the word phobia. It’s talking about actual fear, but you need to understand how it works.

This kind means a fear that changes your actions. Because you know the possible outcomes, you change what you’re doing. That’s the fear of the Lord.

I know that there will be a final Judgment Seat. There’s a lot at stake. Jesus says that if found guilty, I could be thrown into hell – literally, the lake of fire.

But, I know how I’ll be judged, and I know how to come through with an innocent verdict. The only way to freedom is through the payment made by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Since I know this, it changes what I do. I accept His Lordship over my life. I strive to please Him. This is the fear of the Lord. It’s more than respect; it’s a change of lifestyle.

Having said that, there’s another part to this fear. Look at what Jesus says immediately following this thought.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Luke 12:6-7 NIV

Having talked about judgment and hell, Jesus wants to make things clear to His disciples. Knowing all of this, should I constantly be living under the fear of hell? Absolutely not!

I’ve come to Christ and declared Him as Lord of my life. Now my future is secure in Him. My fear of the future should be gone.

Now I need to concentrate on the grace, goodness, and love of the Lord. His knowledge of me and my situations are deeper than I could ever imagine. Even though I may feel neglected at times, I’m never out of His thoughts. God is always working on my behalf.

Along with this, I need to cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord. But, I’m not talking about fear of judgment and hell. It has a different focus.

I saw a documentary once about diamond cutters. One in particular paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a huge uncut diamond. He believed that if he cut it just right, the cut diamonds would be worth millions of dollars.

What he did surprised me. He didn’t just start cutting. He spent the next year studying the diamond and making notes. He didn’t want to ruin the diamond with a wrong cut.

That’s a great view of the fear of the Lord. I don’t fear judgment and hell. But, my relationship with God is so valuable to me, I don’t want to mess it up. I want it to become more valuable each day.

My relationship with Christ is like an uncut diamond. I don’t see the final outcome yet. God knows what I can become. So, I want to follow His plan as closely as possible each step of the way.

This is what the fear of the Lord is all about. It can be the greatest blessing of your life. Cultivate it more and more each day.

Question: How do you see the fear of the Lord changing your actions?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Jesus – Our Example

Jesus – Our Example

I’m continuing to go through the Gospel of Luke. In this book we’re seeing the pattern of life that the Lord lived out. Throughout His ministry the disciples were able to watch and then imitate the Lord’s lifestyle.

They saw the Lord, and how He walked, for months at a time. I need to ask; how can I follow that same example in my life? If I can understand how He lived and ministered, then I can start to implement that into my walk. What is it about Jesus that made the difference?

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Luke 10:22 NIV

Without a doubt, the defining characteristic of Jesus’ life on earth was His relationship with the Father.

That’s the key – relationship with the Father. It’s not just knowing about the Father. Jesus knew who the Father is. He had an intimate relationship with the Father. It’s from this relationship that everything else flowed.

Jesus described the power of this relationship on many occasions.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19 NIV

It wasn’t a matter of deciding what to do at the moment. The Lord didn’t see a sick person and, at that point, pray and hope that the Father would heal them. Jesus knew what He was going to do BEFORE He got into the situation.

This was because He had already seen the Father doing the work. He spent time with the Father in the Spirit so that He was prepared for what was to come. But it wasn’t just the work that needed to be done.

“For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
John 12:49-50 NIV

This is an amazing statement. Not only did His words come from the Father. But the very way in which He presented those words was orchestrated by the Father.

He didn’t attend seminary (although there’s nothing wrong with studying). He didn’t sit down and craft a good sounding sermon. The content and the delivery were learned in the presence of God. That’s why it was acknowledged that no one ever spoke like Jesus did.

It’s clear from the Gospels that the pattern of Jesus’ life was first of all, being in an intimate relationship with the Father. Then, watch what the Father is doing and listen to what He is saying. Finally, do and say exactly what you saw and heard.

This is the pattern that was handed down to the Apostles.

Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Luke 10:23-24 NIV

The disciples were given a great gift. They were able to live with the Messiah. They could watch Him and listen to Him on a daily basis. Through this, they could learn how to live according to the same pattern.

We’re blessed as well. We have the writings of these men as our guide. We can walk by the Lord’s example if we’re willing to read His Word and spend time with the Holy Spirit.

Question: How would the church look if we all followed this pattern?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Spiritual Childhood

Our Spiritual Childhood

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. For the last few posts I’ve been laying a foundation of side issues that needed to be explained in order to go further.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15

This verse is why I felt the need to explain the concept of a progressive parent-child relationship. It tells us that we’re not a slave to fear, which is what we experience living under the law. Instead, when we’re saved, we received the Spirit of adoption.

It’s by that Spirit, that we cry Abba, Father. You have to understand that Abba is what a little child called his Father. It’s the Aramaic equivalent to our word, daddy.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 4:6

This verse confirms the truth that it’s the Holy Spirit who cries out “Abba, Father” from within us. This tells me that it’s only in the spirit that we cry “Daddy Father”.

The fact is, that we’ve received adoption in Christ – the standing of a son. We have to understand that adoption is merely the paperwork. It’s not the completed work. That’s where Paul is taking us to in this letter.

Just to see where Paul is leading us to…

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Romans 8:19

Paul wants us to go from the adoption paperwork to become the revealed sons of God. This means that we’re all adopted sons, but not all of us are revealed sons. We need to go through the Holy Spirit’s training program in order to progress to this point.

The next couple of verses reinforce this truth.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

Because of our salvation, the Holy Spirit and our spirit jointly agree that we are God’s little children. Verse 17 says that if we’re His little children, then we’re also co-heirs with Christ. That also means that we’re co-sufferers with Him so we can share in His glory.

So, we’re adopted as infant sons of God. We start out as “baby Christians”. What does that mean?

I Corinthians 3:1 tells us that infants are still worldly. According to Galatians 4:3, they’re still in slavery to the principles of the world. Ephesians 4:14 says that infants are tossed back and forth by winds of teaching. Hebrews 5:13 explains that these believers are not acquainted with the teaching of righteousness.

What I’ve found is that many Christians in our generation are in this condition. Paul is calling for us to progress in our walk. We need to be moving on to maturity.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many who teach this progressive relationship between us and the Father. We need to be submitting to the Holy Spirit and His training program for us.

We can’t just assume that because we’ve been given the position of righteousness, then we’re automatically walking in righteousness. It’s the same with holiness and other concepts of Scripture.

Make it your goal to move on to maturity, if you’re not already there. In my next post, I’m going to explain what it means to be mature in Christ. That way we can see how far we need to go down this road.

Question: At what level do you see yourself in Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2021 in Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

In my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we’ve been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We’re placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We’ve also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes when we fail to understand that there’s a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It’s the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk. That’s what Paul is dealing with throughout the book of Romans. This is why I feel the importance of understanding this book.

It’s because of this that I had to clarify the concepts of adoption, sonship, spiritual position, and daily walk. Knowing these foundational issues are crucial as we go forward with the Apostle Paul’s teaching.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Death

Spiritual Death

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. We left off talking about how the law puts a spotlight on sin. Here’s the verse we were looking at.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Romans 7:13

In my last post, I said that when death came to Adam and Eve, it caused them to lose their relationship with God. I want to talk about that in a little more detail.

Remember, Adam was perfect before he fell into sin. That means that he functioned perfectly according to God’s plan for him. What does that mean?

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

John 4:24

This is something that Jesus said to the woman He met with at a well. A question we don’t usually ask is; did Adam worship God perfectly? I believe that he did. Adam and Eve worshiped God in spirit and in truth before they lost their perfect state.

If they worshiped with the spirit, that means that they didn’t have to use physical words. They talked and communed with God on His level. That’s what God created them for.

Does Scripture bear this out? I believe that it does. Look at what happened immediately after they sinned.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:8-10

This is the very first time a sound is ever mentioned in the Bible. This is the first time they hear God with their physical ears. That’s why they were so afraid.

Now sin had a spotlight, and serving God was by rules and the law. Right and wrong was now the rule of righteousness. In that sense they died – they lost their spiritual relationship with God.

This is the relationship that’s restored in Christ.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10

That’s the life we received in Christ. He renewed our relationship with God in the spirit. That brings us back to where we left off in Romans, chapter 7.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Romans 7:14

Paul is now explaining to us a new concept. He’s telling us that the law exists spiritually. We have to realize that there’s a spiritual law.

Yes, Adam served God in the spirit. But spiritual laws work differently than physical laws.

Paul wants to make it clear that even though there’s a spiritual law, he’s talking about the carnal, fleshly law. It’s because of this law that we’re sold into slavery to sin.

Wait a minute! What about Christians? In my next post we’ll see how this principle plays out in the lives of believers. It’s an important concept for us to understand.

Question: How do you cultivate your spiritual relationship with God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel, Worship

 

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The Spotlight on Sin

The Spotlight on Sin

As we go through the book of Romans, we’ve been talking about how the law brings death into our lives. This happens even though God created it as a good thing. Paul continues with this thought.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

Romans 7:11

According to this verse, sin used the commandment as a starting point. Then it deceived me, just like the serpent in the garden of Eden. As a result, it put me to death.

That’s why it’s so important not to “enforce” the letter of the law.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6

That’s because the letter gives power to sin and brings death into our lives.

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers…

1 Timothy 1:8-9

The good news is that we are righteous in Christ. This tells me that the law is not for us! The law is for the unrighteous. I shouldn’t need a set of rules to keep me in line with God’s plan for me.

Paul continues with this thought.

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Romans 7:12

The fact is that the law is holy, set apart to God. Also, the commands that it contains are holy, righteous, and good. There’s nothing wrong with the law on a moral level. What’s wrong, is how sin twists the law in order to kill us.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Romans 7:13

We need to understand that Paul is being very specific here. He asks; did the good law become death to me? The answer is, absolutely not! What the law did, was to throw a spotlight on sin so that it could be seen for what it was.

As a result, it put on a show for me, to attract my attention. The goal was to make sin look utterly sinful.

Why did God do this? The answer is simply that He didn’t. It was Adam who turned on the spotlight when he ate the fruit. That’s why, immediately, before God did anything, he hid from God.

That’s because it caused death to Adam’s soul. Specifically, a rift in communication between him and God.

This is the chasm that needed to be crossed. That’s why true salvation can only be found in Christ Jesus. He’s the bridge that brings us back into an intimate relationship with God the Father.

In my next post, I’ll look at this subject of relationship with God in more detail.

Question: What negative results of the law have you experienced?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Grey Areas

How do you handle issues that the Bible doesn’t speak about?  Usually, these activities create controversy in the church.  Many believers argue about things like gambling, tattoos, drinking alcohol, or buying lottery tickets.

In Paul’s day, the issue was about buying meat that had been sacrificed at a pagan temple.  It was the best meat in the marketplace.  But there were many who said that it was a sin to eat it.

In chapters 8 through 10 of his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle gives some guiding principles.

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1 Corinthians 8:4-6

I find this to be an amazing passage of Scripture.  Here you have a former Pharisee looking at the issue and not immediately saying, “It’s a sin, don’t do it.”

Instead, Paul takes a step back and looks at it in logical terms.  What’s an idol?  It’s nothing at all.  A statue made of metal or wood.  It has no power or ability to do anything.

I think that our problem in dealing with these “hot button” activities is that we get emotionally invested in our conclusions.  We have a definite opinion about whether something is sin or not.  Usually, that’s the case even though the Bible is silent about it.

There are many activities that God clearly defines as sin.  There are lists in the Bible that tell us what God hates and instructs us not to participate.  There’s no question – these things are not God’s will for us.

The problem comes about in these grey areas.  Many of these activities existed since the times of the Patriarchs.  Yet the Lord chose not to speak about them.  If that’s the case, then why do we get so worked up about them?

We need to take a lesson from Paul.  Step back, get rid of the emotional attachments, and look at it from a purely Biblical perspective.  He starts at the bottom line.  Idols are nothing, God is everything.

In all areas of life, we have to look at our relationship with God as the overriding factor.  Everything that I do should revolve around Christ.  We seem to forget that sometimes.

With Paul, that’s the starting point.  We begin with a desire to please Christ.  It’s not about proving that I’m right.

So often, when it comes to these grey areas, it’s a matter of checking our motives.  In many cases, I’ve been approached by Christian teens asking if a certain activity was a sin.  They were trying to get me to override their parents.

“Pastor Nick says that it’s not a sin, so why won’t you let me do it?”

In those cases, I bring it around to the true issue.  It’s always a sin to disrespect your parents.  As long as you’re under their authority, you need to abide by their decisions, even if you think that they’re wrong.

Usually, it’s not as simple as asking if something is a sin.  There are many things in life that are not a sin, but they are also not God’s will for me to take part in.  I have to consider that as well.

Our walk with God is the top priority.  We should be trying, with all of our heart, to please the Lord in all that we do.  That’s the start of a pure walk with God.

Question: What are some special limits that God has placed upon your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2019 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Relationship Over Rules

RulesIn my last post I talked about the fact that the Bible isn’t meant to be a rule book. The Old Testament law teaches us that a set of rules could never bring us closer to God.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15

This verse makes it abundantly clear that on the cross, Christ cancelled – obliterated, blotted out – the rule book. God no longer wants us to follow Him by rule, but by the Spirit.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56

This verse tells me that all of Satan’s so called power comes from the law. His only mode of attack is to enforce the law. That’s the power of his weaponry.

This verse also shows the basis of how Christ could disarm the demonic forces. On the cross, Christ obliterated the power source of the enemy. Satan’s kingdom is now an army of unloaded guns.

The only power they have is the power we give them, by subjecting ourselves, once again, to the law. That’s the trouble with our human nature. We all want rules. We’d rather someone tell us, “do this”, than to spend time with the Father and seek His will.

The verse we looked at in my last post showed us that following the apostles teaching as a rule opens us up to the sin of pride. Paul said that’s why they were talking arrogantly against one another. Pride is the sin that caused the devil to fall from the place he was created for.

Don’t let subjection to the law ruin your walk with God. The tendency of using the Bible as a rule-book causes many divisions and problems in the Body of Christ.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

Using the Bible as a rule book causes most of the arguments we see between believers. We get so passionate about our own pet rules. It’s all talked about in this verse.

Believers argue about what Christians can or cannot eat and drink. There are controversies over whether or not to celebrate Christmas; or whether to worship God on Saturday or Sunday. None of these issues have any place under the New Covenant.

The reality is that God wants a relationship with His children. He’s not looking for robots. The Lord wants us to seek time with Him so that He can teach us to follow Him.

I realize that I’ve had to deal with this subject very quickly here. But I’m sure I’ll get back to it again in future posts.

Question: What divisions have you seen in the church over what the “rules” are?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Legalism, Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Relationship – But on Whose Terms?

AloneWe understand from Scripture that even though Adam started out well, he soon fell from grace into sin. Along with him, the whole human race was plunged into darkness. This required a change in the way God related to His creation. It was only restored through the work of Christ on the cross.

At this point in history it’s up to us to understand how God wants us to relate to Him. Then, we must attain to the walk with God that He desires. I want to talk about the heart of the matter. A good example is found in the book of Genesis. There we see two brothers, Cain and Abel.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.
Genesis 4:3-4a

What we see here, are two young men who both want a relationship with God. Both wanted to worship God, and both brought an offering.

The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:4b-5

Not many people know the significance of this statement. They think that the issue was as simple as God wanting a blood sacrifice. That would be true if this were a sacrifice of atonement. It’s clear from the verse that this was a firstfruits sacrifice, more like a tithe.

The Law of Moses tells us that offerings of fruits, vegetables and grain were always acceptable to God. There was more going on in this passage. The truth is that it’s all about ministry.

God taught Adam how to cover their nakedness, and their sin, through animal sacrifice (Genesis 3:21). At this point in history God had not allowed man to eat meat yet, that only happened after the flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 9:3).

That means that the only reason for Abel to raise livestock was for clothing and sacrifice. According to Jesus, Abel was the first prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

This gives us great insight into the truth of these verses. Abel was the prophet-priest of his day. It wasn’t about the type of sacrifice, but who was offering it. For Cain to have been accepted, he would have had to go to Abel, for him to offer it on Cain’s behalf. That would have brought about the relationship with God that Cain desired.

What Cain needed to learn was that our relationship with God is on His terms, not ours. I don’t get to dictate to God how the relationship will progress or how it will be cultivated.

The above verse says that Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. How many Christians find themselves in this position? Their emotions all stirred up. There face is sad and angry. All because God is not responding as they think that He should.

I believe the answer is simple. The problem is not with God, it’s with us. We are the ones who need a greater understanding of who God is and how we are to relate to Him.

I want to take a few posts to talk about this issue – how we are to relate to God on His terms.

Question: What do you do to approach God on His terms?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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