Spirit instead of law
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This week I want to start off with some verses from God’s word, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”” John 8:31-47
In these verses, Jesus is talking to the Jews, God’s chosen people. See the Jews had their promised Messiah right there in their midst, but missed Him because they had made following God ritualistic. They made the law something that was above God, they made it all about works. So often we try to do that today, just like in the early church we say to become a Christian is to believe in Jesus and do some rituals or rules in order to be saved or stay saved. No matter what you stack with Jesus, it is always only in faith that we are justified, no works under law will save us, because then it becomes about us and not God (Galatians 2:16). See Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it, (Matthew 5:17-20) because all of us have sinned and we are all slaves to sin and death from our first breath (Romans 3:23, John 8:34). None of us could live a sinless life, only Jesus has lived a sinless life and laid down His life so that we all could live with Him forever. We so often get into the cycle of going to church because we always have or because we feel obligated. We should not attend church because we always have or for any reason that is not to worship God and learn about Him. Because if we are religious then we will die the second death, the only thing that can keep us from dying the second death is believing in Jesus (Revelation 2:11). I think that if Jesus were still here He would not be hanging around the religious, because just like then, I think that so many of us do not know Jesus or do not know Him well enough to even recognize Him if He showed up in person. I think He would avoid churches as much as He avoided the synagogues back then and would instead hang around the lost and the sinners. See, some of us in America have some of the same problems that they had then, we let the media and pastors dictate what we think of Jesus, instead of going to the source of truth, the Bible and learning about Jesus for ourselves. If Jesus walked into some churches, He would be kicked out of church for not wearing a suit or be chased out by the church for criticizing their traditions.
I heard several people say that they were Christians because they go to church or their parents or grandparents were Christians. To quote Billy Sunday, sitting in church makes you as Christian, just as much as sitting in a garage makes you a car. In fact, I think that there are some Christians that never attend what we would call a church, that are closer to God than some people will ever get. The same can be said for believing, you were born a Christian because your parents or grandparents were, not true, it is a choice we all have to make for ourselves. There is no inheriting our faith in Jesus. Each of us can be trained up in the way of the Lord and given the opportunity to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but it all comes back to you having to choose. Romans 10:9 says, “because, 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 saved.” If you would like to come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, believe that He died on the cross for your sins, and confess Him as Lord of your life.
The Jews who Jesus was talking to in the verses above think that if they can just keep the law that they will be able to be admitted into Heaven, but Jesus is standing right there in front of them telling them that the law was made to be fulfilled by Him. It was impossible for any mere man to fulfill the law, but yet we still want to keep the law as a means to salvation, as well as Jesus or as an either or situation. But Jesus makes it clear that there is only one way to Heaven in John 3:3 He says that, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” See our first birth we are born into sin and death and our second birth we are born into God’s forever family, where we start our eternities with Him. In fulfilling the law He did not abolish the law, but rather showed that in our own strength that there was no way for us to be made whole. By keeping the whole law and fulfilling every prophecy, including the prophecy of His resurrection, by this He showed He was the Son of God and that we could be grafted into the family of God. In coming back Jesus fulfilled all the law, including the ten commandments. We should no longer live under the law, but live in the spirit (Galation 5:18). Jesus said that the greatest commandments were to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). The people that were most incited by Jesus were the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were the religious elites of the time and who would eventually plan his death, because they thought they knew the law better than the one who wrote it. Jesus showed them sign after sign, but the majority of the religious elite thought it was all tricks. When God shows up in some of our churches, I think some of us would be mad if our services ran two minutes over or were rearranged. This is kind of how the religious leaders felt, they were mad because He was challenging their traditions that they thought were part of the law.
So, this week, If you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, make it a priority to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today. Because, it is the most important decision you will ever make in your life. Think also about the fact that getting into a cycle of just going to church, praying, and reading your Bible just because you feel like you should or to check off a religious checklist is not the goal. We have bought into the world’s philosophy of keeping our faith inside the church, instead of being the church no matter where we are. We all get into the cycle of figuring out how to keep it from becoming just a task. Remember, we should not read our Bible or pray because we think we should, but because we are seeking God with all our hearts.