Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Are you playing God?

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Christ came to set us free but what exactly is the believer liberated from?

Freedom from guilt.

Jesus says in John 12:47 that He came into the world not to judge it but to save it. The apostle Paul writes,

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." Romans 8.1-4

Taking God's place!
Sadly many believers don't realise this truth and instead of walking in God's mercy and grace, they live a life of self-condemnation and self-righteousness! This comes about when believers usurp God's judgement seat and condemn themselves and others when they do not measure up to their own standard of perfection or righteousness. In their minds they still think that they have to attain perfection to be acceptable to God and so they try their best to live a righteous life. When they sin they condemn themselves until they have confessed their sin to be able to consider themselves to be righteous once again.
Who is on the Judgement Seat?
The problem with this mind-set is that the believer determines when he is righteous and when he is not. With the same usurped authority to condemn himself, the believer then considers himself righteous once he has confessed his sin or is living a righteous life according to his own standard. Those who have taken a seat on God's judgement seat try to live up to their own standard of perfection and expect others to do the same. They are burdened by a yoke of slavery to their own legal system - the very thing Jesus came to set us free from!

God's mercy

A woman was caught in adultery and was brought before Jesus by her accusers. Jesus' response was to say to the accusers (those who had placed themselves on God's judgement seat),

"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7

"At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 'No one, sir,' she said. 'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'"

The One who was without sin had every right to judge the woman and condemn her but he did not (see John 8:7)! Jesus set her free by extending mercy and grace to her.

The pride of self-righteousness
The believer who condemns himself and others will also exalt himself in his pride. Many believers think that self-condemnation is humility but fail to realise that it is our pride that usurps God's right to condemn when we condemn ourselves and consequently exalt ourselves!
Paul writes, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God." 1 Cor. 4:4,5

Depending on Christ
In other words, the believer cannot declare himself innocent just because he is not conscious of sin. Our righteousness is dependent on Christ's righteousness since it is in Him that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us!

What are some of the indicators that the believer is walking in slavery?

  • Sin-consciousness rather than grace-consciousness (Heb. 10:1-10; Gal. 5:4)
  • Feelings of guilt rather than blamelessness (Col. 1:22)
  • Experiencing condemnation rather than freedom (Rom. 8)
  • Pride (depending on self) rather than humility (depending on Christ's righteousness)
  • Judgemental toward self and others rather than loving, accepting and forgiving of oneself and others (Rom. 2:1-4)
  • Legalistic toward self and others rather than gracious toward self and others
  • Slave to self-created standards rather than living in the freedom of sonship
  • Tendency to feel the need to confess sin before feeling able to "enter into God's presence" (however, see Heb. 4:16; 10:19-22)

The purpose of judgement in this life is to keep us on the right track but not to condemn us. 1 Cor. 11:32

Christ is our Righteousness

It is our dependence on the grace we receive in Christ that sets us free from guilt and condemnation.

"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" 1 Cor, 2:30,31

Let's not play God and usurp His judgement seat! In humility receive and depend on the grace of God that has been revealed in Christ. Walk in the freedom of the sons of God! Don't allow the devil to accuse you and tempt you to condemn yourself when God has declared you blameless in Christ! It is for freedom that Christ has set you free!


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What is truth?

"'What is truth?' Pilate asked." John 18:38

In an age when we are swamped with information and different "truths" it is no wonder that man has resorted to the principle of tolerance that permits all "truths" to co-exist. Tolerance is an illusion that pretends there are no absolutes. The fallacy of tolerance is exposed when one asks, "Do the tolerant tolerate intolerance?" Tolerance has become the world's absolute and it has raised its ugly head against the Truth. The world is increasingly deceived into thinking that there is no right and wrong and that truth is merely subjective - what is true for me need not be true for you.

Pilate's question was his response to the words of Jesus,

"You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." John 18:37

Anyone could stand up and announce that they have the absolute truth. In fact, many do today, whether it be the many religions, philosophies, ideas or scientific theories available to choose from. Amongst all the truths that are presented, which one is the truth? How can we know which of all the truths is really the truth?

They say, "The proof is in the pudding!"

The Truth

Jesus came not only to testify to the truth, but made the amazing claim that He Himself is the Truth.

"I am the way and the truth and the life." John 14:6

Jesus, as the Truth always spoke the truth. He emphasised that what He taught was the truth when he repeatedly said, "Truly, truly I say to you.." before teaching the truth. Everything Jesus said was true.

Truth is immutable

If something is true, it cannot change. Absolute truth must be immutable or else it is not an absolute truth. Ideas change, theories change, religions change, philosophies change but the Truth does not change. Truth continues forever and can never be put to death. We can try and cover it up or ignore it but it will always exist!

The proof

So what proof did Jesus give for us to believe He is the Truth and that what He taught is the truth?

Jesus spoke the truth when he claimed he would die and rise again.

"He said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.'” Mark 9:31

Jesus, the Truth, died, was buried and rose again just as He had predicted. Jesus' resurrection is proof that He is the Truth and that what He taught is the truth! Those who believe in Jesus, believe in the Truth and live according to the truth. God's people are those who are set apart by the truth - who live in Him and live according to Him.

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." John 17:16,17

The world cannot ignore that the Truth could not be buried. Philosophers, religious teachers, scientists etc have all died but only Jesus died and rose again forever. The Truth is alive and He rules and reigns. Believe in Him and believe Him and you will be sanctified by the Truth.

"The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1 John 2:17

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." Col. 2:8