How do we live in the empowerment of grace while surrounded by a religious world that would like to externally control us by their rules? I closed last week talking about when God came into personal relationship with Abraham it made all religious formulas obsolete.
Perfect in the law yet they knew they didn't have Life
The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus asking, "Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?" in Matthew 19: 16.
He told the Lord he kept all the law since a youth, yet realized obeying those rules had not brought him eternal life.
The Jewish leader Nicodemus came to Jesus by night in John 3, seeking the same eternal life. Peter acknowledged when others turned away, that Jesus had eternal life, in John 6:68. Paul stated in Philippians 3: 4-8 before he knew the Lord he too was perfect in the law, yet needed Christ.
These men realized that obeying the Law of Moses did not bring them eternal life. All the law did was point out sin and provide a way to temporarily remove sin between a person and God in this life; it had little to do with eternal life. How sad it is today that some Christians believe that obeying the Mosaic law will assure them a place in heaven, when in fact the law makes nothing perfect and therefore cannot give eternal life. As already covered, Paul said if there could have been a law that would have granted eternal life, God would have given it. (Galatians 3:21)
Grace is harder than the law
I have shared how the law was divided into 3 categories: Worship, dietary/sanitary, and moral. Those 613 laws are not impossible to follow, for the Rich Young Ruler and the apostle Paul both stated they were blameless in the Law. They weren't perfect people, but when they missed God they made the appropriate sacrifices or offerings, and were restored.
But now we have the living Christ in our spirit. In Hebrews 9: 16-17 the writer says a testament (a Last Will and Testament) is not put in force unless the one who made the Will dies. His point is that when Jesus died it caused His Will to be put in force, but then He was raised from the dead by the Father so that He might become the Executor of His own estate. An Executor oversees the Will to make sure the wishes of the one who made it is enforced. That is one reason we have Christ in us - He died to put it into effect, and rose to oversee its execution from within us. Think of that. From within us He oversees the execution of His Testament - His Will.
That is much more difficult for us than merely obeying 613 rules. Now God Himself lives in us to oversee our lives from the inside. Under the law I could steal from my neighbor, get caught, apologize and make sacrifice to God, and be clean before God, all while still hating my neighbor and continuing to hold resentment against him.
In grace I cannot hate my neighbor in my heart because Christ is in there too - so He deals with me about my love walk. He is observing and weighing out the content and motives of my heart, and deals with me to forgive and walk in love.
The law measures outward performance; grace measures the heart. That's why grace is harder than the law.
'Liberal Christians' and grace
As already shared, Paul said in Romans 3:31 we confirm the law when we walk with the Lord, because the law shows righteous living - we don't steal, lie, covet, but instead are honest, accountable for our lives, generous with others, and so on. The law provides the moral structure by which we live, while led by the Perfect One inside us who leads us on how to walk in that righteousness.
The law of Moses was purposely vague, for there is no way a mere 613 rules could be applied to every situation of every person who has ever or would ever live. Even by the time of Jesus the religious leaders had added their own 800 or so rules on top of the law of Moses, trying to remove any ambiguity.
The vagueness was done on purpose by God so that man would have to actually walk with God to know how to apply the law in any given situation. But that vagueness gave rise to different streams of Judaism who interpreted the vagueness one way or the other. This happened with Christians, for the denominations are largely due to either the vagueness of the law or the desire to emphasize one truth over other truths. The Baptists water baptize the whole person, the Methodists (at their founding) had a 'method' of waiting on God, the Lutherans follow Martin Luther and the Presbyterians are run by the presbytery (council of old men), and on it goes. The charismatics call their churches anything from 'grace' to 'living water' to 'life' or 'glory' or whatever other element they wish to emphasize.
But life requires actually knowing God, walking with God, to understand how to apply His moral law in life.
If a Christian does not retain the moral framework the law describes, they are not using the law wisely. So a Christian can love the Lord, yet choose to ignore the part of God's moral law concerning for instance male-female/male-male, and female/female relationships, even believing modern views that are clearly in contrast to the law. Yet they love the Lord. They often react out of hurt or protection for the hurting, not able to reconcile God's absolutes with their love for that person or persons who are dealing with those issues. So they love God but disagree with the moral law He gave.
The focus is on the Father AND the Lord
In I John 1:3 the apostle wrote that he was writing that they may have fellowship with him, "and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ."
There are no prayers in the New Testament to Jesus. From the Lord's prayers to the Acts 4: 24-30 prayer after being threatened by the religious leaders, to Paul's prayers in Ephesians 1:17-20 and 3: 14-19, they are all to the Father. When we are told to come boldly to the throne in Hebrews 4:16, if you read the context, it is to the Father. It is the Father the apostle John sees in the whole of The Revelation 4, and to whom in 5:7 the Lamb that had been slain comes to 'take the book out of the right hand of Him who sits on the throne.'
If you want to walk empowered in the grace of the Father which was enabled through the work of Jesus, then talk to the Father. Ask of Him. Even Jesus said in John 16:23 in the days after He is taken away, "You will ask me nothing, but you will ask the Father in my name."
It is very simple - drop all religious exercise, and spend that time you would go through your formulas in giving thanks to the Father. Talk to the Father, find reasons to be thankful, directing worship to Him. He is the source of all good things. Thank Him for the sunrise, for the clouds, for the heat, for the cold, for the favor at the store, for the safe walk, safe trip, for guiding your footsteps. For letting you see the deer that crossed your path, for letting you see the pretty bird, for letting you see the silly squirrel and his antics. Give thanks, learn to shift your attention down into your spirit, for that is where you will find Him.
He isn't always verbal, but He is present in a most powerful way if you learn to turn your mind to focus to your spirit, and you can fellowship with the Father there - and the Lord too. And you can learn to distinguish between the voice of the Father or the Lord as the Holy Spirit communicates what He receives from them. (John 16:12-13, I Corinthians 2: 9-12).
Stop being religious, and just walk with the Father and Lord. The focus is on the Father, as Jesus' focus was, who said He only spoke and taught what He had seen and heard the Father do or say first. (John 5: 19, 30). May we live our lives like that. It is a life-long process, but if you seek Him directly and not through religious gymnastics, but directly, your heart to His heart, it will open a whole new realm. You'll find yourself surrounded by religious people while you walk quietly on, hand in hand so to speak, with the Lord and our Father. Amen. New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org