Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him,
if you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;
and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
LEGALISM OR HYPOCRISY?
FREEDOM: THE PROMISE IN THE VERSE ABOVE … How can I follow Christ and still do all of the things I want to do? Well if you become transformed by a renewed mind: your values, desires, feeling, priorities, friends, and goals and plans will surely change. This is the dilemma we are faced with when we decide to follow Christ as our Lord and Savior.
I wanted to pause here in the middle my previous post on Core Values … lest some might be concerned that I am in danger of falling into legalism. Whenever we work at becoming disciplined, we are in danger of becoming legalistic.
So what is the better way … hypocrisy? That is the path often taken by many professing Christians.
Being transformed is being faithful to the one who died on the cross for me. I choose neither legalism or hypocrisy …
I chose Christ … eternally; just as he chose me. It is finished.
And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:15
This is not a new dilemma as Paul clarifies here: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:1-2
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15
Don't be confused here. Salvation and discipleship are two different questions. One is about being born again, and the other is about growing in the Spirit. Although many try, no man has ever been good enough to be saved on his own. Our eternal justification comes as a result of Christ's death on the cross for us, not on the basis of our works or good deeds. But we are born again to do good works. This is why Christ came to earth. This salvation is by His grace, it is a free gift ... there is nothing we can do to increase or improve it ... and we can never lose it.
Jesus said "it is finished" on the cross, and He meant it. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. His sacrifice for us is the anchor of our soul. We are heirs to his promise and it is impossible for Him to lie. Our sins past, present, and future were forgiven the day we received Him as our eternal Savior.
The freedom Jesus promises above ... comes to those who believe on Him, and those who continue in His Word. These are conditions. Then, you are His disciples and then you have His freedom. What freedom, you ask ... the freedom to know the eternal Truth. And to be His Ambassador and minister of reconciliation. What could possibly be more valuable than that. The Creator of all things has given each of us a mission. Teaching or living otherwise is hypocrisy. And I am afraid this hypocrisy includes many of today’s most widely followed religions and Christian leaders.
Are millions of committed believers worldwide following false or heretical teachers? You tell me. Many would say; "we are not to question our church." The Truth is to the contrary. We are encouraged to be Bereans and to test our teachers by the Truth. Have you carefully considered the doctrines being taught in your church?
I have visited supposedly the biggest and most successful churches in the world. Are they really leading their followers in the way of Christ, or in the ways of men? Every Christian and every church should be asking this question continually.
Would Christ praise your church? Then you should be on your knees with thanksgiving daily. If not, then you should be on your knees praying for direction from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. We should be both challenging and encouraging our leaders.
Okay now, back to Core Values. How do we become transformed by the renewing of our minds without becoming legalistic? First, Jesus teaches us we must all be born again. I realize this sounds elementary to some, but it is the first step. I'll never forget the woman named Terry who had been faithfully attending her church for over thirty years who asked me; "why hasn't my church ever explained this to me?" as I read the Words of Jesus where He explains to Nicodemus that we must be born again.
Next, please note ... all those with other beliefs, religions, philosophies, and corruptions of Christianity are lost for eternity without Christ … condemned to hell.
We cannot mix these other beliefs with Christianity without being a hypocrite and promoting false religion. Men's ideas have no bearing on the eternal Truth. We can understand it, but we can never alter it. This is Truth ... stop twisting the truth. Does this bother you?
Why do you think Americans are so confused ... lies and manipulations have become commonplace. Men's opinions are accepted in place of God's Word and guide one's life. Here is an example: recently a Christian told me; "I don't know how you can be a Christian without believing the teachings of environmentalism."
And our politicians seldom seem to stop to utter the truth. They just make it up.
Oops … I know some of you will say (including some who are Christians) that I am being legalistic and judgmental, that I lack tolerance.
Well, can you please explain these words of Christ to me.
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said to him, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said to you; you must be born again.” John 3:1-7
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18
Now Jesus was speaking here to a religious leader of His chosen people, and he is telling him that he knows nothing about spiritual things. He is lost. The blind leading the blind. Where does that leave those who are not Jews, and those following other gods? How can Christians stand on this Truth, and then in the next moment reject it? Now, do you still think my statement is judgmental? Well no ... you might say? Jesus says; “we must be born again, and that he that believes not is condemned already” and therefore ... I am not being judgmental … right?
Then why is this not being taught in many churches? I could give you ten pathetic examples of world renowned Christians trying to blend in with the teachings of the world and be tolerant. This Truth was the first thing Jesus told the first religious leader that came to Him for counsel. Well these words are not politically correct. We need to be tolerant, you say? But I ask you; “is it “loving our neighbor” to not tell him the truth ... to smile and say nothing, as he accepts teachings that lead to hell? Is it “loving our neighbor” to not question another’s false religion? Is it "loving our neighbors" to give a man food or medical care without explaining the gospel because we don't want to make waves? Is it “loving our neighbor” to not confront heresy or false teachings ... and to sit quietly in church and allow others to be led astray, by Christian pastors?
Is it loving our neighbors to remain silent as a million babies a year are legally murdered in America? Why don't Christians have as much compassion for unborn babies as PETA has for chickens or pigs?
How can one become free if he is a slave to the teachings of the Bible you might ask? Isn't this a form of bondage? A slave to a life of sin is never free. True freedom is a victory over one’s pride and lusts … the ability to Abide Above here and now provides victory over all things through Christ who gives us strength.
Those who accept Christ and then go on about their lives ignoring God’s revealed Truth are hypocrites, and a disgrace the cause of Christ. Merely attending a church on Sunday will not change this reality.
Responsibleness is a key to freedom. Legalism is trying to hold others accountable to your beliefs. Legalism is strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than the Spirit. God's way of love is different than legalism.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:8-10
When we are eternally in heaven with Christ, there will be no evil, no sin, and no lies … there will only be life, truth, goodness, peace, joy, and love. We also are told that for the remainder of our life here on earth that the love of Christ is to control us; we are new; that the old ways have passed away, and new ways have come; we are to be ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation; “He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.
That’s too hard for me you say? No problem, Jesus has an answer for that challenge too.
If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. John 15:15-17
You are free to choose … who will be the god of your life; you or Christ? True freedom is a victory over one’s pride and lusts … the ability to Abide Above here and now. He provides the victory --- I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
often contradict the wisdom of the world. Since we have been programmed by the world ... we have come to accept these worldly ideas as truth ... but when we consider God’s perspective ... we come to understand ... "the Lord's ways are not our ways"
Don't just read these writings ... meditate and pray over God's Word ... Listen to the Holy Spirit ... and be transformed by renewing your mind. He who died on our behalf wants you to ... allow the love of Christ to control you ... so that you might become ... the righteousness of God in Him.
Be an Ambassador of Christ ... with a ministry of reconciliation. Share God's eternal Truth and Love ... with everyone He brings into your path.