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Posts Tagged ‘Old Covenant’

What would you tell someone who asked you what a Christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe, we must obey the ten commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we Christians are hung up on good works and doing things in our own effort to be pleasing to God. If we are not attending church we are backsliding or if we do not tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we feel we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

OldandNew

I think many Christian’s forget that Jesus died on the cross to fulfill the Old Covenant. He said “it is finished” meaning the old covenant had come to an end. We could not live up to the requirements of the law so Jesus did it for us.

I think the real answer to the question what must a Christian do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We do not have to do anything because God provided Grace through Christ. We have become the righteousness of God because after salvation, our fellowship with God has been restored. It is not based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We no longer have to try to keep the ten commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day and anywhere. Christ lives in us and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and guide. We do not need to look to others for guidance and knowledge. We do not have to tithe our money because the old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We do not have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to the Father and since He lives in us, we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many Christians today do not realize the freedom we have in Christ. They do not understand Grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We do not have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. We will still do good works but they are no longer done out of obligation, rule keeping or to earn our salvation. Good works will be a result of our love for God and for one another.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we feel we have not done enough for God. We feel we do not measure up because we cannot do something someone else does, or we cannot preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us the way we are for a reason. The Church is the people who make up the body of Christ and we are all equal and have equally important qualities that God can use. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under one leader, Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you are not pleasing to God because of something you do or something you do not do. Christ has provided Grace for all of us and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

Grace1a

We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop depending on others who we think are on a higher level than us or who we think are closer to God. God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit who is within us. We do not have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him or serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself and trust God. Let Him teach you, guide you and live through you day by day. We are new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the worldly ways and the rules and regulations of religion. Love God, love others and follow Him each and every day.

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Most of us who are Christians want to be known as followers of Christ. We want to be known as good Christian people, yet many of us seem to go about this in the wrong ways.

Many feel that if they can be a pastor, evangelist or missionary and tell others about the gospel message they will be known as good Christian people.

Others feel if they can give regularly to their church or to programs to help the poor and do good in society they will be known as good Christians.

Many will base their identity in Christ on their works and all the good things they can do to show that they are good Christians.

Others think they can show how good of a Christian they are by condemning those who are not Christians, by pointing out the mistakes of others or by standing their ground with those of different beliefs.

A-LoveOneAnother

The thing to remember is that we are saved by grace. It is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

The only way that Jesus says we are to be known as His disciples is by the love we have for God and for others. Jesus tells us to ‘believe on the one who God sent’ and ‘love others as you love yourself’ (1 John 3:23).

When we try mixing New Testament grace with Old Covenant law we get away from the true gospel of grace. We get caught up on works, doctrine and law rather than resting in the grace of Christ and loving others with the love of God.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus

Ephesians 2: 8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast.

We christians usually focus on pleasing God and living for Him by trying to obey the ten commandments and trying to do the right things.

We will go to church every time the doors are open, tithe our 10 percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we will look down and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we think is right to do as christians.

The truth is because of grace we do not have to be trying to keep the law at all. We do not have to try to do good works to earn our favor with God.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. Not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and good works, not Jesus and avoiding certain things. We are saved through faith in Christ and we no longer have to do any of these things to be a child of God. We have freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This freedom does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want. There are consequences in this world for doing things that are not good for us. As it says in 1 Corinthians 10, “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good but that of his neighbor”.

We have freedom from the Law because of the grace of God. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow any law.

Stop putting your faith in trying to follow all the rules and regulations of the old covenant law. Stop forcing the law on others thinking that will make them better people. Jesus fulfilled the old agreement and began a new agreement, an agreement of love and grace.

We no longer strive to please God through the law, but we do what pleases him because of love.

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Galatians 3:10-13: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”.

LawisaCurse

Today many Christian people seem to live in two worlds. Not only the spiritual world and the earthly world, but the Old Covenant and New Covenant world. The problem with the Old and New Covenant combination is that we already know we cannot live a perfect life and keep every law God gave. We are told that trying to following the Law is living under a curse.

The Law was given to the Jews, yet we can see that is was used as a tutor and guide to show us that on our own we cannot measure up. We cannot live a life acceptable to God and the perfection He desires in our own strength. Righteousness does not come through the Law, and if it did then Christ died needlessly. Jesus came into this world born under the Law, and He lived and taught it for the first 33 years of His life. When He died the Old Covenant came to an end because Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Old Covenant. When He rose from the grave the New Covenant began, which is a covenant of grace.

By accepting the grace He provided we can live a life pleasing to God by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We now have fellowship with God through Christ and we are now counted as holy and righteous in His sight because of His work. The Law is no longer needed for those saved by grace. We are free because Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. We now live under the New Covenant, one that is a free gift provided to us by Christ. We now live by Christ’s commands to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love others as ourselves.

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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.

itisfinished

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.

christisendoflaw

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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I had a conversation several years ago with a friend and we got on the subject of Jesus and how he showed the love of God to the world. I told him I had a simple analogy to explain why Jesus came to our world, but my friend told me it was pretty silly. I got to thinking maybe he was right, but the thought keeps coming to mind every now and then so here is my silly thought.

When I was young I would watch my mom enjoy the birds. She had bird feeders and bird baths and she always kept food and water ready for them. She enjoyed watching the birds fly down and eat and clean themselves in the bird bath.

I know she would have loved to go out back and sit with the birds, but every time she went out they would fly away and not come down for food and water.

I thought, if only she could become a bird for a few days she could relate to them and they would not be afraid because she would be like one of them.

birds

That got me to thinking about God. We have always been told about the wrath of God and that makes many people afraid of him. I believe the bible was inspired by God but it was written by men and my personal thought is that men added a lot of their own interpretations and thoughts making God look like a mean, revengeful being.

If only God could come to earth as a man and relate to us in a way we could understand and accept. He could spend some time with us and let us know that he loves us and wants fellowship with us.

To me that is a simple story but explains Jesus and why he came to earth. Jesus was God in human form. He came to show us that God is not a mean, revengeful being just waiting to smash us to bits. God watches us as we go about our daily lives just wanting to spend time with us and enjoy our company.

Yet because we have been told that God is mean, hateful, condemning and judgmental we are afraid of Him. We run and stay away because we have been told wrong things about him.

Truth is that God is love and Jesus came to show us that truth. As we read about the life of Jesus in the gospels we see a person who was loving, kind, accepting and who generally cared for people. Jesus said he who has seen me has seen the Father. By Jesus example we can be assured that God loves us and wants fellowship with us.

When we come to know that God loves us, we can know that he has our best interest in mind. We no longer have to be afraid of messing up and have the judgment of God fall upon us. The old covenant law no longer binds us to the ‘do this/do not do that’ performance mentality. When we know God loves us and we love him no law or rules are needed. Love naturally does what no law can do, which is love one another and be pleasing to the one we love.

The more I think about it, I notice that birds seem to be mentioned several times in the bible such as Matthew 6:26, 8:20, 10:29 and 13:32 and in Luke 12:24 talking about how they are valued, cared and provided for by God. Maybe there is something to this analogy of us and the birds.

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For those of you who have left the institutional church you will probably relate to what I am saying.

After being out of organized religion for nearly three years now, some of the traditional and normal terms of the christianese language really bother me. I guess it should not do so because I certainly understand why people say them and I used to say them myself at one time or another. Even after being away from the traditional church for three years some of the terms of speech are still hard to quit saying.

christianese

Now days my wife and I see things a little differently. This is my viewpoint and I certainly do not mean to say it is wrong to use certain terms or that I am right and everyone else is wrong. It is just one of those things that make me cringe when I hear certain terms.

Such as ‘this is the Lord’s day’ when people talk about Sunday. Many Christians use the term the Lord’s Day when talking about the Sabbath or the day of rest. To them it is the day we go to church and worship God. Personally, I believe every day is the Lord’s Day as the Bible says in Psalms 118:24 this is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. It does not mention a particular day.

Or the term ‘we are on our way to the house of God’, like God lives in a house. People are talking about going to church but God does not live in buildings or houses, He lives in us. Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you? (I Corinthians 6:19)

We will hear people talk about ‘the Word of God’ and know they are talking about the Bible. I think the Word of God is a person, not a book. The Bible talks about God and it leads us to Jesus but the Bible is a book written by men who were inspired by God but not controlled by God. The Word of God who is living, all powerful, inerrant and perfect, sharper than any two-edged sword is Jesus. As the Bible states in John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

We mention God as a male Father, yet God really is not male or female. God is spirit and I believe has both male and female attributes. I certainly do not think there is anything wrong with saying Father or Him or Her, but it is a mindset we have that God is a man with all the attributes of a male. We picture God as a huge blank-faced man sitting up in heaven looking down on us, but God is spirit, God is everywhere and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Pastors will talk about special services by telling the people to be sure and come tonight because ‘God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on those who are here’. That one gets me because God lives within us and is everywhere so how is He going to show up up now and then at special times and places? And didn’t the Spirit come upon humans on the day of Pentecost? Why would he fall upon us again when he is already living within us?

god is here

I realize a lot of the time we use these terms out of habit even when our beliefs and interpretations have changed. We seem to be so indoctrinated by the teaching of the institutional church and the denominations we grew up in that these terms just come out. I know this is probably a minor thing and whether we use such terms or not we are talking about the same God and we all love God. Yet I wonder if by using these terms are we reacting to a mindset of old covenant thinking rather than the new covenant day of grace.

My wife and I are certainly finding out that when leaving the institutional church and the many traditions, doctrines, interpretations and terms of speech we were taught over the years, it is much harder to break free from the institutional way of thinking than it is physically leaving the building.

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