Saturday, March 13, 2010

Victory in Jesus

This is the third and final post on Christian Liberty. I hope you have read the previous posts before tackling this one.

The reference we should turn our attention to is Romans 8:1, where the great apostle says there is no condemnation to those who don't walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. He goes on to speak disparagingly about the law of sin and death. In contrast he revels in the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Now I believe the law of sin and death Paul is speaking of here are the 10 Commandments. They have slain everyone of us, placing us under judgment. But through the Son of God, by His perfect life and sacrificial death, God has provided the victory we can have. The law of sin and death no longer should have mastery over us. Romans 8 is a chapter of the victorious life that is available to every Christian.

Too many Christians are convinced that they can never live above sin. Too many preachers hammer home this falsehood. But my reading of the Word of God tells me a different story. I look at Romans 7:13-25 and I see the picture of a wretched creature who is either unsaved or carnal - an autobiography of Paul's life before his unexpected encounter with the King. But all that changes when Paul begins Romans 8. Now we see a new walk and a new life - filled with the promise of victory over sin. And doesn't it make sense? After all, our mighty God is so much more powerful than all that Satan can throw at Him. And I, who before knowing God, had no ability to live outside the chains of sin, now have been set free from the dungeon of sin in which I was bound. I step into the splendor of His light, breathe fresh air, and walk in His love. He takes me by the hand and gently tells me, 'This the Way, walk in it. Love and serve Me all your days.' I have been liberated, I Am Free! (By the way, I love that song.)

So the new life in Jesus can be a life of victory over sin. Remember that sin is not necessarily what man says it is. Sin is the transgression of God's law. If I allow God to fill my mind with His light, I will see clearly what is right and wrong. He is willing to give me the ability and strength to overcome temptation. That promise is in I Cor. 10:13 - God will with the temptation make a way to escape. (Great verse to memorize.) The possibility of a truly victorious life over sin is made available to us. God is offering to us all we need to live like saints. Although this sounds simplistic, we need to be reminded that our Father wants us to live a life liberated from sin. I know this is radical thinking, but it's so Biblical! Don' be discouraged into thinking it cannot be done. We are only held back from the life that Paul describes by our own faithlessness. 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' Rom. 8:31

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sermon on the Mount

In Matt. 5-7 we have one of the most profound teachings ever uttered. This embodies the apostle Matthew's version of the Sermon on the Mount. Although in my last post I mentioned that as Christians we have liberty from ceremonial rules and traditions, we must be very careful to distinguish legalistic practices from holy living, and they are not necessarily similar.

First of all let us remember that God is the absolute ruler, bar none. Jesus Jewish title, Messiah, means Anointed One which signifies His role as King. We are His subjects. He reigns and we worship Him. We live under the authority of God. I know we are much more than servants. We are sons and daughters of a wonderful loving Father, but even here we have the authority idea coming through. If we are to live holy lives before God in world, there are things that we will have to forego.

I think that Matt. 5:39-42 are some of the hardest verses in the Bible. Here Jesus tells us to turn the cheek, give more than is required, and go the extra mile. This totally goes against the grain. Why would God expect this kind of doormat type of lifestyle from His children? Well, perhaps if we would live before the world the way God wants us to, we would see more conversions, we would see more revival. Instead of demanding more Christian Liberty, maybe we should concentrate on whether we are 'observing all things whatsoever I have commanded you.' We all want to be those who are blessed in the Beattitudes, we want to be salt and light, but the teachings of Jesus get pretty rough after that. I encourage you to read these chapters again.

The principles and rules that are laid out by His Majesty cannot be followed without a large amount of grace. As I allow God to work in my heart and ask Him to help me love Him with all my heart and to love others, placing them before me, slowly God works that work of grace in my life. He tells me in this situation and in that instance how He wants me to act and react. As I follow His advice, I live out the life that Jesus wants me to live, and it is a beautiful life, filled with light. I have a reason for living, the approving smile of my Master, and I worship the King with joy. However as I disagree with God, believing that I know better how to deal with others, my life is just that - mine. It is not beautiful, but full of pride, greed, and arrogance, and becomes hollow and without purpose. For the Christian to live for self is not only senseless, but often it is destructive.

I know there are some who say that the Sermon on the Mount is not for us today, but for a future time. I really don't think Jesus or the people He was speaking to had that idea. And then there are those bright-eyed idealists, bless their hearts, who think the Sermon should be practiced by the governments of the world, especially our government. I could not disagree more. The thought of a government trying to follow what Jesus gave as rules for His disciples is ludicrous. When Jesus came to establish a kingdom not of this world, He established it for His subjects, for those who, by faith look for a city whose builder and maker is God. Finally the Sermon on the Mount was and is not intended to followed and practiced by those who have not come to faith in the Son of God. Only after repenting of our sins and placing our eternal destiny in the Lamb of God can we take the step of liberty, no longer dominated by sin or Satan, but now free to follow Jesus.