Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is This It? Part 5

We again continued in our “Is This It?” series. What we looked at this week was the next important lesson that must be learned in the wilderness to equip us for Promised Land living. We have to learn to live within God’s boundaries.   I know you thought we were one of those “living by grace” churches (and we are), but grace does not eliminate the Law. It merely ensures that we are no longer justified before God by our ability to keep all the rules.

In Exodus 20, about 90 days after leaving Egypt, God begins giving Moses the Law for His people to live by. This starts with the 10 Commandments. The first three directly relate to our relationship with God. The fourth is about keeping the Sabbath (entering His rest), and the remaining six instruct us on our relationship with others.   

We can line this pattern up with Jesus’ response in Matthew 22:36-40 when He is asked which is the greatest commandment in the Law. He says that the most important thing is to love God with all your heart (commandments 1-3) and follows up by  saying the second command is like the first – to love others (commands 5-10).  You see, in the Old Testament, without the cross, man needed a list (a long one at that) of rules to tell him how to love God and love others. Now, we have the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. All we need to do now is to love God and love others.

 But there is a reason God brings the rules and boundaries to His people then and wants us to live in them (the two Jesus mentioned) still today. He does this to differentiate us from the world – to set us apart. If you live by loving God and loving others, you will stand out in this world quickly. In John 13:35, Jesus says that the world will know we are His disciples not by our squeaky-clean image and living by all the rules, but by our lifestyle of loving God and loving others.  1 Peter 2:9 says that we are supposed to be a peculiar people. That doesn’t mean we’re supposed to be weird and fruity. It means we live by love. Look around the world today. Living by love is quite a peculiar thing indeed.

 In all of this there is also a trap that the enemy likes to set. He likes us to, in our desire to do what is right and see others do so as well, get us to create our own rules. Jesus fulfilled ALL of the Mosaic Law, but had no regard for the man-made rules. When the religious leaders confronted Him about His disciples not properly washing their hands, He pointed out that it is the inside that needs to be cleaned. The hand washing rules were man’s rules.  I am not talking about the rules of the land or rules of the road when I say man-made rules. I mean things like how long your hair can be, how long a skirt must be, who can come into your church, etc… These are rules we’ve come up with to try and “help” people be more “holy.” They are oppressive and miss the point. Love God! We don’t need a list to tell us how to do it. Love others without a list of rules. Let the Holy Spirit lead you, and others, to truth.



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