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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

In our day and time do we still follow the Law of the Old Covenant? When does the Old Covenant end and the New Covenant begin?

We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

For the thirty-three years that Jesus walked the earth he was still under the Old Covenant, which required following all its rules and regulations.

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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 we are no longer required to live under the Law and the ways of the Old Covenant.

The old agreement was basically a tutor, a way God used to show humans that we were unable to live a perfect life on our own. It was a way to show us that we needed someone to do for us what we were unable to do. Once Jesus came and lived a perfect life on earth he was able to be the sacrifice that fulfilled the Law and save each of 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 because of grace we now live by faith in Christ. 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). 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 whether we think it is right or wrong (Galatians 5:13). We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but we should follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We can go our own way and make choices apart from the Spirit, but there are consequences for our bad choices.

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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 we choose to do so because we love Him, not out of obligation or because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not live up to anyway.

Rejoice in the fact that we no longer have to strive to fulfill the Law that no one could completely follow and obey. Be thankful for the grace provided through Christ and live each day showing the love of God to everyone along the way.

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Most of us Christians seem to be the same in regard to those with whom we associate. We tend to find others who are like us. I think that is one reason we have so many different denominations in the organized church. We cannot agree on doctrine, interpretation of the Bible and many other subjects, so we tend to congregate together with people who most think the same as we do. And usually, once we find like-minded friends, we get comfortable in those groups and would prefer no new people want to join.

My wife and I had this happen a couple of times with one particular fellowship. Several home groups had been organized over time and when we came along, as new people in the “church”, we thought it would be good to get involved. My wife called the home group leaders of two different groups to get information, and both times she heard a voice on the other end of the phone that very obviously was not thrilled that someone new wanted to come into their group. Needless to say, we did not join either group.

It is sad that we Christians, who should be known for our love for one another, still pick and choose who we want in our group. We only want to be friends with those who feel and think like us.

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Even among organized churches, we see separation. You can have a Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian church on 3 out of 4 corners, and people go in and out of their respective denomination and never smile or wave at someone going into the other. Normally we would not think of merging together as one in Christ because those across the street think differently than we do (and I know there are a few exceptions). For those of us who are outside the walls of the institutional church, we can meet together with a few others at a restaurant on a Wednesday night, and as the Pentecostal people start coming in after service, all we want to do is look at them strange and make sly remarks. Where is the love and acceptance in that? And this is among fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This is not even mentioning how we treat those who do not know God or who do not even believe God exists.

I really think that being more Christ-like may not mean being more holy, or closer to being perfect, it may mean hanging out with people who are a lot less perfect. Jesus was known for associating with people who the religious crowd had no interest. They were the people who never dreamed of being called a friend of God, or attending the local fellowship, or even getting a smile from someone. They were the outcasts, those that religious people did not want to associate with or even have a conversation.

I’ve noticed most people tend to focus more on being like someone else they know and admire, rather than being more like Christ. I think it is easier to be more like a friend because deep down we feel we can measure up, or it is possible to achieve being like another person. We can see the mistakes and shortcomings in others, and we usually feel we are just as good as they are…or better.

That fact is, it is easier being like another person. We feel we are unable to attain being like Jesus. In our own strength, that is so true. The good thing is, Christ does not expect us to live in our own strength. He said it is not good for man (human, both men and women) to be alone. For this reason, he provided a help-mate for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to be our strength, teacher, comforter and guide. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of Christ within us, we can be more like Jesus as we learn to love and accept everyone.

So many times, we want to be more like Mike, or Jim or William because they are people we admire and want to be like, mainly because they think a lot like us and do things we would want to do.

Of course being like Jesus would mean we would love and accept people most Christians want to avoid and stay away from, just as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. We want to pass by on the other side of the street rather than show love and compassion to one of ‘those’ people.

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Jesus said to love our neighbor. We agree with that as long as our neighbor is like Mike, or Jim or William. The bad thing is that if our neighbor is a person we consider an outcast of society, or someone who is involved in things we think are wrong, we do not want anything to do with them. Yet Jesus did not say love your neighbor if they think like you, are pleasant to be around, are Christians of the same denomination. No, our neighbor is everyone we come in contact with throughout our day, no matter who they are, what their lifestyle or belief and no matter what others think of them.

Our job is not to condemn others and point out their sins and mistakes. Our life is to be like Christ, loving others, accepting others and letting them see the love the Father has for them, knowing that we were no different. God loved us, and died for us while we were yet sinners.

Why is it that after accepting God’s love and forgiveness for ourselves, we do not want to offer the same to our fellow human beings?

By the power and love of the Holy Spirit within us, we can hang out with people we never dreamed we would on our own. The love of Christ can work through us, helping us accept others and love them just the way they are. That does not mean we have to participate in everything they do, we do not have to agree with their lifestyle, but we can love them and accept them as they are, knowing that Christ did the same thing, and still does through us.

A good article by Ronnie McBrayer with a different look on this subject can be read here:
http://ronniemcbrayer.net/2015/08/24/tea-and-apple-pies/

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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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Hell fire and brimstone, eternal damnation…..which sin is going to cause this for you? None of them! There is not one sin that will send you to hell. We have all sinned and we have all fallen short of the glory of God. But God made a way for the sinful nature to be destroyed. God made a way we could be forgiven. No, it isn’t the 10 Commandments. It isn’t in doing at all. The only thing that will cause an eternal separation from God is rejecting Jesus and the sacrifice He made by dying for us and our sinful nature.

So, does God love the one going to hell just as much as the one going to heaven? Absolutely yes. God is love and He loves each and every one of us. He sent His Son to die for all of us because we are all sinners. He provided the way for our salvation because He loves us and we were completely unable to provide salvation for ourselves. Obviously not everyone is going to heaven just because God loves them. It is our choice now to accept that gift or not. Unfortunately many people do not accept it, but God still loves them all the way to hell.

In regard to being perfect and righteous in God’s sight, this is the basic theme of the New Covenant (Colossians 1:22 NASB). When Jesus lived on this earth, He lived under the Old Covenant and He became the only person who lived under the law and lived a totally perfect life. Because of this, He became the perfect sacrifice that was required to fulfill the law and take our sins to the cross. When Jesus said ‘it is finished’, He was saying the old covenant was fulfilled and our sin problem can be taken care of.

When we accept, believe and confess Him as Savior, our old sinful nature is crucified and buried and we are then raised up as new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Obviously that doesn’t mean we are perfect and righteous on our own. We still have a mind that needs to be renewed daily, and we have a body that is made from the earth, but our inner spirit man is now a new creation and no longer has the sinful nature.

Spiritually speaking, when God looks at us He sees Christ’s blood covering and cleansing us of all sins. Romans 6:5-7 says ‘For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin’.

Galatians 3:27 states ‘For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ’, and I Corinthians 3:16 tells us ‘Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you’? The Spirit of God isn’t going to dwell in unrighteousness. God no longer lives in a building like in the Old Testament, but now lives in us, His Church.

In Colossians 3:3 we are told ‘For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God’. Spiritually speaking, our inner spirit has been made perfect, not by our works, not by obeying the 10 commandments, not by following the Law, but by Christ taking our sin nature to the cross. It is by Him giving us the gift of a new nature and putting His righteousness in us. Ephesians 2:6 says ‘and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’. Spiritually speaking, we are seated at the right hand of the Father. Ephesians 1:20 ‘which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places’.

‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ 2 Corinthians 5:21. Obviously all this is spiritually speaking. While we are here on earth in our natural bodies, we still deal with temptation and sin because of our minds and our natural bodies. The good thing is our spirit within, spiritually speaking, has been renewed and we now have become righteous and holy in God’s sight because of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14). What a fantastic gift of grace that Jesus has provided for us. Our part is to accept this great gift and take up our cross and daily follow Him.

We all know the physically, we live in this word in physical bodies and with minds that need to be renewed. But spiritually, our inner man was made new when we accepted Christ’s gift of grace through the cross. Our sinful nature, our sins past, present and future, were crucified with Christ and buried with Him. When He rose from the grave, it symbolizes us rising from a sinful nature to a new creature in Christ, holy and acceptable because of His grace (Ephesians 1:4).

We need to focus our thinking on this spiritual fact that we are now holy and righteous in God’s sight, we are seated with Christ in heaven at the right hand of the Father. We should fix our minds on things above and put our trust and hope in Christ who has purchased our salvation and given us the gift of grace.

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Ever wonder why people are so quick to condemn others? Especially when it comes to areas where they don’t have a problem. They want to point out the mistakes we’ve made mainly because it makes them feel better about themselves. More than likely they haven’t made that particular mistake, so condemning you makes them feel better about other areas of their life.

What about the spiritually self-righteous who feel they are better than everyone else. They think they’ve lived a life of good works, church attendance and not being involved in specific actions that are ‘wrong’. This makes them feel better and able to tell other people how bad they are.

Seems everyone forgets that we all have messed up, we all have failed in one point or another and none of us are worthy of salvation. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Thankfully through Christ and the free gift He provided by living a perfect life, fulfilling the Old Testament Law, and by His death being the sacrifice for us, we can be forgiven of our sins and be made the righteousness of God.

We really need to stop arguing and pointing out mistakes of others. It is not our job to condemn people, nor is it our job to convert people. We are called to love others as we love ourselves, and it doesn’t say only Christians, or only those who agree with us. Everyone has the right to be themselves. We are to be ready to love them and allow the Holy Spirit to use us when He wants, but it is His job to work in their lives to lead them to the Father. God loves us no matter what. There is nothing we can do to cause Him to love us more, and nothing we can do to cause Him to love us less.

People are all the same, they want to be loved and accepted. That is our job as Christians, to love and accept them for who they are and the way they are. No one is better than anyone else, it’s just that those who accept Christ and have their sins forgiven are seen by God as righteous because of Christ. There is nothing any of us can do to make anyone worthy of that gift.

We should not be going around looking down on anyone, condemning anyone, or thinking more highly of ourselves. Only by accepting grace through Christ, the free gift of God, can anyone be considered any different from anyone else, and that difference is being forgiven for all our sin, past, present and future.

If you are saved by grace, next time someone wants to point out a mistake or remind you of your past and says, “what would Jesus say about that”, just tell them that He would say…”you have been cleansed by my blood, you are perfect and righteous in my sight”.

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Roman 6:10 – For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God….

Most of us ask for forgiveness at least once a day. Is it really necessary?

When Christ died, He died to sin ONCE for all. Jesus doesn’t die daily, He doesn’t need to come back and die once a year for our sins. Jesus died once and it was for our sins past, present and future. In God’s eyes, we are now righteous and seated in heavenly places with Christ.

Unfortunately we will continue to sin, but we don’t need to continually ask for forgiveness because we are already forgiven. What we should do is tell God we are sorry that we messed up and thank Him for the forgiveness He provided us through Christ.

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