RSS

Tag Archives: self-righteous

Planting in the Spirit

Planting in the Spirit

I’ve been taking a few posts to talk about setting our minds on the things of the spirit. Paul told us that was the key to overcoming the desires of the flesh.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

I ended the last post by showing that our New Covenant ministry brings life and righteousness. That is, if we minister this life-giving covenant correctly. How exactly does it bring bring about God’s righteousness in us?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

It comes by spending intimate time with the Holy Spirit. It’s by the Spirit that we’re transformed. That’s the point I’ve been consistently trying to make. Our strength and will-power have nothing to do with it.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Galatians 5:16-18

Don’t turn this around like so many self-righteous believers do.

“If you can stop gratifying the flesh, you will be walking in the spirit.”

Absolutely not!!! The Pharisees were not anywhere near walking in the spirit. Yet, they had an almost perfect track record in regards to outward sin.

Legalism is not the answer. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount don’t change you. It’s living by the spirit that brings righteousness.

According to this verse, if you “spirit-walk” you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. What is this spirit-walk? Obviously it doesn’t involve my flesh or my mind.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:14

Do you really hear what this verse says? When my spirit prays, my mind bears no fruit. And, for sure, my flesh bears no fruit.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

The Bible is clear; you reap what you sow. Actually, the original Greek does not have the words, please, in it. It tells us that if you sow to your flesh, you reap destruction from your flesh.

If, on the other hand, you sow to your spirit, you reap eternal, perpetual life.

How do I reap perpetual life? By sowing into my spirit. I believe that’s talking about prayer in the spirit. It’s my spirit praying and bringing me into God’s presence. That’s how I sow into my spirit.

This is made abundantly clear if you read Galatians 5:19-23. In that passage you can clearly see the difference between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. I believe that prayer in the spirit is the key to seeing this fruit in our lives.

Question: How much of the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

“I’m Only Human”

“I’m Only Human”

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church.  He’s speaking about those who think that following religious rules makes them better than others.

In my last post we saw that there’s an advantage to being religious.  At least you have access to the Scripture.  So, you have a foundation to eventually build your faith on.

Paul now talks about some arguments people have who think that their good works will save them.

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say?  That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us?  (I am using a human argument.)  Certainly not!  If that were so, how could God judge the world?  Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?”  Why not say — as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say — “Let us do evil that good may result”?  Their condemnation is deserved.

Romans 3:5-8

This is the problem with looking merely at good works.  We can’t judge by outward appearances.  It leads us to some wrong conclusions.

“I’m only human, so I’m not perfect.  That should bring out God’s perfection even clearer.  So, I shouldn’t be corrected when I do wrong.”  That’s a human argument that flies against the teaching of Scripture.

I’ve heard it said in many different forms, but it all comes down to the same theme.

“What do you expect, I’m not Jesus.”

“Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

“It doesn’t matter as long as you try your best.  God can’t judge you for that.”

“If I were God…”

All of these are based upon human logic and the desire to justify ourselves.  In reality, they fail to take into account the power of the Holy Spirit who wants to work in us.

The fact is that God is going to judge everyone based upon His righteousness.  It has nothing to do with what we, as human beings, think about as fair.

If we’re in Christ, then we receive the “not guilty” verdict because of His righteousness, not ours.  Without Christ, no matter how many good works we’ve accumulated, we’re condemned.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Even as believers we’ll be judged on our obedience.  That’s how our rewards, or lack thereof, will be determined.

That brings us to the second half of the above passage.  It’s the old saying that the ends justify the means.

It doesn’t matter how I accomplish it, as long as I get the right results.  Paul is clear.  That kind of thinking is condemned by the Lord.

I’ve seen this tactic used in many different ways throughout my years as a believer.  I’ve seen churches that have used prostitutes to attract the unsaved to hear the Gospel.  Others promised a big bank account if you come to Christ.

Paul goes through all of this because he’s trying to make a point.  There is an advantage to being religious – you have a basic understanding of who God is.  The problem is, what you do with this knowledge.

The important thing is to follow through on everything that the Bible teaches us.  We need the whole revelation of the Lord. 

Then we’ll rest upon the salvation that’s only found in the name of Jesus Christ.  After that, we’ll submit to the working of the Holy Spirit in us to perfect true righteousness and holiness in us.

Question: How has the Lord changed you since you accepted Him as your Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 30, 2020 in Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Religion is the Problem

Religion is the Problem

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. As we do so, we’re beginning to understand the problem of religion without a relationship with Christ.

Paul now asks some important questions for those who are self-righteous.

…you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?  You who preach against stealing, do you steal?  You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?  You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?

Romans 2:21-23

Remember what I mean by self-righteous religious people.  I’m talking about those who have developed a set of rules that they think makes them better than everyone else.

One of the biggest problems is that these folks have a double standard.  They understand the weakness and imperfection of their own humanity.  So they judge themselves based upon their intentions.  They want to do the right things.

But when it comes to others they have a different way of seeing things.  They’ll judge you based upon what they see you do, regardless of your intentions.

That’s why Paul starts with a question about their desire to teach others.  Do you teach the same standard to yourself that you hold up for others?  Do you sin internally, while publically judging others for the same type of outward sin?

Religion gives the false impression that God grades on a curve.  They think that as long as my good works outweigh my bad works, I’m okay in God’s eyes.  Unfortunately, they forget one simple spiritual truth.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.”  If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

James 2:10-11

This is a major principle of the law.  It only takes one sin to makes you a sinner.  You only need to break one law to become a lawbreaker.  That’s why we all need the Savior.

A type of movie that I enjoy watching is the organized crime (mafia) movie.  I find it interesting that many of these crime bosses are deeply religious.  They go to confession and give a great deal of money to their church.

They think that they’re okay.  Their good works outweigh the bad.  Religion lulls them into a false sense of security.

That’s why religion is the problem.  It gives the world a bad view of Jesus Christ and Christianity.

As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Romans 2:24

The word, blasphemed, means to vilify or speak bad about.  The actual statement Paul makes is that God’s name is vilified through you.

Who is it that’s actually profaning the name of God?  It’s the holier-than-thou religious people that the world is watching.  They say, “These people think they’re better than us simply because they go to church.”

People in the world aren’t stupid.  They see the double standard.  They see the hypocrisy.  It causes them to write off true Christianity.

As much as we’re able, we need to live for Christ according to Scriptural principles.  That’s what Paul is leading up to in this letter.  Be a true follower of Christ in this world.

Question: How do you stay clean from the hypocrisy of religion?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 20, 2020 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Form of Religion

The Form of Religion

In my last post we started looking at Paul’s view of religious people.  We saw that it’s foolish to rest on a set of rules rather than the work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul continues…

…if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth…

Romans 2:19-20

Remember, when talking about religious people, I’m referring to those who choose religion over relationship with Christ.  They’ve convinced themselves about a number of things.

They see their lifestyle as superior to those around them.  They view others as blind, in the dark, mindless, and infantile.  On the other hand they view themselves as a guide, a light, an instructor, and a teacher.

That’s the unfortunate attitude of legalism.  By constantly judging the lives of others, you have a huge blind spot concerning your own walk.

Let me say this to all the godly teachers reading this.  There’s nothing wrong with being called to teach or guide others into the truth.  It’s all about your attitude.

My calling is to be a pastor and teacher in the body of Christ.  But, I’ve learned over the years that there’s a fine line that I have to walk.

My job is to help people to know and understand God’s Word.  I endeavor to show how the Scripture applies to your life.

That’s as far as it goes.  I have to realize that I cannot change anybody’s life.  It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to do that.  If anyone is blessed, it’s because of the Lord working in their life through the Word.

I might be the one you see speaking or writing.  But, I want it to be the Spirit teaching and guiding you.  Like I said, it’s all about the attitude.

However, I think there’s an important point that we miss in the above passage.  It has to do with the words that were used in translation.

When Paul says, you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, it gives the wrong impression.  The word, embodiment, is actually a word that means a form or appearance.  Following a set of rules only appears to be a logical way to serve God.

Unfortunately, we’re told that it’s not the best way.  In talking about what people would be like in the last days, Paul makes this comment about them.

…having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.

2 Timothy 3:5

Simply following a set of religious rules is a form without the substance.  These rules are like a jail cell.  Can we say that a car thief has changed just because he’s in jail?  Absolutely not!  It’s just that there are no cars available for him to steal.

It’s the same with a set of rules.  As long as my will-power is intact, it appears that I’ve changed.  However, when opportunity and weakness get the better of me, I show what’s really on the inside.  I need the true change that only comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in me.

Don’t allow empty religion to get the better of you.  Spend some time becoming more intimate with the Lord through His Holy Spirit.

Question: how do you overcome the temptation to be religious?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My Testimony – Battling Pride

1 Peter 5:5-6
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

I am so thankful to God that I was raised in a Christian home.  Because of that, I was able to accept the Gospel message at an early age.  (See my previous “Testimony” post)  That being said, there is a truth that all those in my condition need to learn.  Just because I grew up going to church doesn’t mean that I had no use for the life transforming power of God in me.

I need Christ to work on me the same as everybody else – maybe even more so, because my problems were below the surface.  Let me explain…

From my earliest memories, I was attending Sunday School at my church.  I was also at church whenever the doors were open.  That’s how my parents operated.  Speaking of my parents, they were the type that always made sure that I had learned my “memory verse” for the week – BEFORE Sunday.  There was only one other person in my class who had to do that.  The rest just waited for him or me to go first, and then they repeated what we said.

I loved learning the Bible and soaked it in like a sponge.  Ultimately, I became very knowledgeable in the Word of God.  And that’s where it started to go downhill.  When a question was asked by the teacher, I always knew the answer and raised my hand.  Sometimes the teacher would call on me and I would receive the satisfaction of being correct.

Of course, teachers didn’t want the same person answering all the questions.  So I was the one who jumped around with my hand up going, “Ou – ou – ou.  Call on me.  I know it.”  When I saw that didn’t work, I resorted to yelling out the answer without the teacher calling on me.  Needless to say, the teacher’s reaction didn’t boost my ego as I had intended.

Then it struck me.  I came up with a new strategy.  I never raised my hand again.  I let all the other students answer the questions UNTIL there was a question that no one could answer.  Only then would I raise my hand and invariably give the right answer.  I became the class expert.  The one they went to at the last resort.

Without me ever knowing, the sin of pride had taken root in me.  The same sin that caused Satan to fall had now taken over my life.  That’s where it started, but I have had to battle it ever since.  Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit that gives me victory over it today.  It’s the sin that will always pop up when I least expect it.  I need the Savior’s power as a constant part of my life.  I cannot be who I am without Him.

Just because I grew up in church doesn’t make me invulnerable to sin.  I need the power of the Holy Spirit just like anyone else.  I can truly say that without His hand on me, I would never have made it to where I am today.  Thank You, Jesus, for your life-changing power!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,