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To follow up on the last article ‘The Law is a Curse’, I want to point out that we are no longer required to follow the law.

Romans 3:20-24 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

SavedbyGrace

To me this cannot make it any clearer that trying to keep the ten commandments, doing good works such as church attendance, prayer, bible reading, witnessing to others, helping the poor, tithing, taking part in communion or any other ‘good work’ you can think of, will make a difference in being declared righteous in God’s sight.

Just in the same sense avoiding things we consider wrong or bad does not make us any more righteous either. We are declared righteous by faith in Jesus, the gift of grace freely given by him.

The law only makes us conscious of sin and our need for Christ. Once we believe his righteousness is freely given by grace and the law is no longer needed and actually becomes a curse. Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” We know that none of us can keep every law that was given by God to the jews, of which there were 613 laws including the first ten which we call the ten commandments.

Good works are not wrong, in fact they will result out of love for God rather than out of obligation for earning his love. Yet because of the grace freely given by God we no longer need to worry about the laws and keeping them to earn the love of God and the forgiveness of sins he provided.

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Have you ever wondered when the Old Covenant ended and the New Covenant began? We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

For 33 years Jesus walked the earth living under the Old Covenant, which required following all its rules and regulations.

The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified. When He said ‘It is finished’, he was talking about the Law, the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection the New Covenant began and from then on we were no longer required to live under the Old Covenant Law.

OldandNew

The old agreement was basically a tutor. A way God used to show us that we were unable to live a perfect life on our own. It was a way to show us that we needed someone to save us from our sinful nature. Once Jesus came and lived a perfect life on earth, He became the perfect sacrifice that fulfilled the Law and freed us from our sinful nature (Matthew 5:17).

Now that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer required to try to live by the ten commandments and the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant (Galatians 5:1-6). So often we seem to forget that we now live by faith in Christ because of grace. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer just poor sinners saved by grace, although we were sinners and we are saved by grace. We are now the righteousness of God through Christ. God no longer calls us slaves, but He calls us Sons (John 15:15) and tells us we are seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). This is not to say that we should go out and do whatever we want, right or wrong (Galatians 5:13). We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but of course there are consequences if we choose things that God has warned us to stay away from for our own good.

Freedom in Christ

Today we choose to live a life pleasing to God because of love (Matthew 22:37-40). Godly love is the fulfillment of the Law (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:8 and 10, 1 John 3:23). We love God, we have been made righteous through Christ, and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who guides us, teaches us, and gives us strength. We do what is pleasing to God because of love for Him, not out of obligation or because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not fulfill anyway.

Enjoy your freedom in Christ, the freedom to love God and love others, but do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the flesh. (Galatians 5:13). Be guided by the love and strength of the Holy Spirit of Christ, who lives within us.

 

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I get so tired of reading posts online and following a string of replies that continues to blast the original post.

Do you notice how many times people get offended and feel they need to prove their point. It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between Christian and atheist,  one Christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions, about whether there is there a God or not, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get bent out of shape when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our point. We even fight over what Christmas designs are on a cup of coffee these days.

ProveGod

Proving Our Point

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual. This life is a life of faith and belief. As Christians, we can have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in his words.

And and the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right, we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

Love of the Spirit

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not totally right in someone else’s view. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK.

Show the Love of God

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and preach the gospel, the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just the way they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, yet that does not mean we have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance does not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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It has always amazed me how we Christians can be so argumentative. We just don’t know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is obviously based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we can’t agree and accept one another.

We argue and defend our doctrines and interpretations, and we get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when we partly agree, we feel the need to point out where we differ because we think that our way is right, and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that we are not going to agree on everything, and each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things, but we go too far when we let these differences separate us. We want to keep in our own particular group, which we usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and we do not want to associate with some of the others. This should not be, we can have our differences yet without separating ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In regard to spiritual things, we are all people of faith. Whether we are Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever label we place ourselves under, we all live by faith. That does not mean we are all followers of Christ, but we are all people of faith. We do not have to be afraid to associate with people who do not have a faith in God. We just may be the only view of God they get to see, and love and acceptance should be what they feel through the power of the Spirit within us.

Faiths

None of us can prove beyond a doubt that our way is right. People have faith there is a God, or there is not a God, faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith in reincarnation, faith there is no hell, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. We can’t prove any of it either way you look at it, yet we all seem to fight and argue amongst ourselves trying to defend our viewpoint.

No matter what we believe, how much we love God, or how much we are convinced there is or is not a spiritual side to life, we cannot prove our point, it is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith, not by sight. I am glad I have a faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from my sinful nature, and a God who has come to make His home within me, and that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I don’t think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit’s place to draw others to the Father, and convince others of their need of Christ. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be ready for God to show His love through me.

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It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:1-4

As followers of Christ, we have been set free. From what have we been set free? Is it circumcision? I personally think circumcision is a place-holder in this verse. It could be anything we use to try to earn our right standing with God.

It Is By Grace

It is by grace we are accepted, and when we try to do anything….keep the law or do good works, we are putting trust in our work and not the work of Christ.

It we do not trust in the grace of God, the only thing we have left is to keep the Law, and we have to keep the whole Law. Obviously, we cannot do that, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

So why is this verse saying we have fallen from grace? What have we done to do so? It is by trying to keep the Law, trying to live by the Old Covenant and rejecting the grace Jesus provided.

The Old and the New

In today’s church it seems, at least for me, that the mingling of the Old and New Covenant is taught. We are told we are saved by grace, but we mature in the faith and live pleasing to God by keeping the Law. This just should not be. The above verse tells us that this is the way we fall from grace.

free from lawWe are free from the Law, we are free from the punishment for our old sin nature (still consequences sometimes, but not punishment), and we are free from trying to measure up by keeping rules and laws.

Jesus has already done all the work that needs to be done. We can now rest in the grace He provided. Good works will follow because of our love for him, not due to an obligation to measure up and earn his forgiveness.

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Kindness is something you don’t find much in our world today.

The Bible speaks about kindness many times. Kindness is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22.

The dictionary says kindness is being considerate, or helpful. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone treated each other with kindness?

It usually doesn’t take a lot to be kind. Sometimes I think we make it to hard, when something so simple and easy as a genuine smile can brighten someone’s day. Being polite and kind to others can sometimes be just what they need to make their day. Holding the door for someone, letting them go ahead of you in line, smiling and saying hello, you never know.

The little, everyday things we can do to show others kindness can be a seed planted in their lives that will one day grow and help lead them to Christ.

These days it seems we even have a hard time with Christians treating each other with kindness. We want to fight and argue over our views and interpretations and forget that as Christians, we all have the common ground of faith in Christ.

A friend of mine recently talked about relationships and how they seem to come to an end. He said it was based on what the relationship was about. If it is based on some thing or activity, once we get tired of that particular thing and move on, all the relationships based on that activity usually come to an end. Only the common ground of faith in Christ and His grace is what doesn’t change and the one thing that can hold together a friendship.

Let’s see if we can make a point to do one act of kindness each day. You never know where it may lead.

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Christianity can mean a couple different things, and it depends on what meaning we are using as to how I feel about it.

If, when talking about being a Christian, we mean we are following Christ, acting like Christ and living like Christ, I am all in for being a Christian.

Usually these days when being a Christian is mentioned, it’s more about the religion of Christianity. Just like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and a host of others, Christianity is a religion made up by men, and it is divided up into many various denominations. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not start the Christian religion.

Here in the United States we are so proud to say that America is a Christian nation. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that idea. America is a country made up of many religions and beliefs. Fortunately in this country we are not forced to be a part of any religion or belief. We have many freedoms that are not found in other places, and I am thankful for that fact. We are free to choose what we want to believe, who we want to follow and we have the right to express that without fear of punishment.

Following Christ is not about a religion. I actually think it is better sometimes not to even use the word Christian because of all the religious thoughts and ideas it brings up. Religion is a man-made, organized system that divides more than anything. We separate into groups that meet in buildings on set days and at set times, saying we welcome anyone, yet only want those who feel the same way we do in beliefs and interpretations.

It bothers me to see so many who profess to be Christians, those who believe in God and Jesus and spreading His love to others, who argue and fight with those who think differently. We are supposed to be known for our love for others and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, it seems a lot of Christians are more interested in defending their personal views and thoughts, getting mad and arguing amongst themselves while those outside of faith in Christ are looking at them and wondering why they need to have Christ in their lives.

Now, talking about Christianity in the sense that we are following Christ, living like Him and treating others like Jesus treated people, this is an entirely different thing. As mentioned in Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by the people of Antioch, because they saw the disciples acting so much like Christ. To me, this is the true meaning of a Christian.

True Christianity is a community of people who act like Christ and let him love through them. It is a daily life-style and is not separated into normal living and religious living. It is not specifically following set doctrines, or following rules of do’s and don’ts.  It is not meeting in a building once a week listening to one person talk, singing a few songs, shaking hands and going home. It is not a system of leaders who are on a higher level than others. It is daily life, following the leading of the Spirit, meeting with those we come in contact with along our daily routine, showing Christ’s love, eating together, laughing and crying together, accepting one another, talking and discussing our thoughts and views. Those who have gifts of leadership lead by example, lead as equals, and lead by a servant spirit to encourage and build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

As followers of Christ, we are to love others, accept others, and treat others with compassion, respect and love. We do not have to agree with everyone, just accept them. We can agree to disagree and love people just as they are. Everyone does not have to be just like us and they do not have to believe like us. They should be able to be themselves and we as Christ followers should be OK with it.

It’s time to stop being a Christian in the sense of religion, and focus on Jesus and let Him live through us. After all, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, God lives within us. There is no reason why we cannot love and accept others just like Christ loves and accepts everyone.

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