Friday, November 30, 2012

The Law of Attraction

I stated in the previous article that legalism will become more & more prevalent as we draw closer to the return of Jesus Christ.  The law holds certain attractions to the natural man, for it has all the outward appearance of being righteous.  Even those who deny Jesus Christ gather themselves under a law: "Do what thou wilt".  So when we first turn from the world to God, it can feel normal to place ourselves under the law.

However, if we do not recognize the deceptions of legalism, then we may walk blindly in religious bondage - thinking that we are serving the Lord - yet never coming into the fullness of the salvation of the Lord Jesus.

So I asked the Lord, "What is the attraction of the law, leading people to turn to it instead of to Christ?"

Penance

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Galatians 3:2-3 

"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42
penance: voluntary self-punishment to atone for a sin or crime; an imposed penitential discipline.
A failure to comprehend the broadness of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is one reason people lean to the law.   While Scripture says, "Only believe.", somehow that just doesn't seem enough.  As a result, we create extra requirements of what we must do to obtain salvation - whether it is placing burdens on ourselves or doing good works as some type of retribution.  We falsely believe that there is something we must do in the flesh to be saved.  It becomes "Jesus and keeping the Sabbath day...Jesus and not eating certain foods...Jesus and wearing certain clothes...Jesus and only using Hebrew names, etc." While those activities are not evil, anything that is added to salvation corrupts the faith by which it is obtained.

There is nothing we can do to pay for the debt of our sin; we cannot make even one minute contribution towards that payment.  Jesus is the atonement for the sin of the whole world, and the work He completed on Calvary is finished. All that Jesus requires is that we receive His sacrifice and find our rest in Him.  At that point, it will not be you working, but Christ in you working (Galatians 2:20).

Predictability

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:8
predictability: consistent repetition of a state, course of action, behavior, or the like, making it possible to know in advance what to expect
Some cling to the law because it is predictable.  It is a comfortable list of Dos and Don'ts which never change.  Do these things to please God and stay clear of those things to avoid sin.  It keeps God - and our relationship with Him - in a nice little box that is easy to manage because we know what to expect.

I once heard a person say, "How would we know what sin is if we didn't have the law?"  I'll tell you how: by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will teach you, convict you, guide you, encourage you, and transform you into the image of Christ.  We need the Holy Spirit because both sin and righteousness are bigger than the dictates of the law.

You can be blameless in the law, and still be a sinner (Luke 1:6; Philippians 3:6; I John 5:7).  You can follow the law, and still not attain God's righteousness (Romans 9:30-31; 10:3; Galatians 2:21, 3:21).  Simply put, the law is not the standard for sin nor for righteousness.

God calls us to live after the Spirit so that we will have the mind of Christ.  Instead of following a list of rules, we have to be attentive to the voice of God and follow Him moment by moment...even into the unknown.  If we do so, things become quite unpredictable.   We become like the wind as God uses us to do as He pleases.

Persecution

"As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.  For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh." Galatians 6:12-13
persecution: persistent oppression, annoyance, or harassment for the holding of a belief or opinion.
Why do some gravitate to the law and try to place you in the same bondage?  Because they don't want to suffer for the cross of Christ. Really look at that text.  Those who try to bring you under the law do so with the intent of "constraining" you, and they don't even keep the law themselves (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10)!  These are not my words, but the words of God. 

The cross of Christ brings suffering because it calls us to deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).  It means we can no longer be the master of our own domains.  It requires that we are no longer in control, no longer living for ourselves (II Corinthians 5:15).  Yet this is a price many are not willing to pay.

When the rich man approached Jesus about how to gain eternal life in Matthew Chapter 19, Jesus told him to keep the commandments.  When he professed that he had, Jesus says, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."  The man then departed from Jesus, being unwilling to forsake all for Christ.  If we are not willing to lay down our lives as a living sacrifice to God, then we will turn to the law as a [inadequate] substitute.

Pride

"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." Philippians 3:9

"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Romans 10:2-4
pride: a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct;  pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.
The Scripture is clear that the law engenders self-righteousness.  It makes man proud and boastful about his own perceived accomplishments, thinking more highly of himself in comparison to others (Isaiah 64:6; Luke 18:10-14).  Convinced of our own right standing, we become blinded to the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 3:13-16).  We can live like a hellion all week, but make it all better [we think] by giving to the poor or going to Church.

Let's face it, it can feel good to think that of "good deeds" and all we are doing "for the Lord", as if these things somehow offset our sins.  In fact, the law - through pride - can make us very comfortable in our sin because the law revives sin by feeding the flesh (Romans 6:14, 7:5-11, 8:3-4; Galatians 6:13; Ephesians 2:15).  The more we place ourselves under the law, the more sin will increase because the whole purpose of the law is to reveal to us our guilt and the need for Christ (Romans 3:19; Galatians 3:22-25).  As long as we think that we can please God in our own merit, we will never fully turn to Jesus.

Perfection

"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God." Hebrews 7:19
perfect: (adj.) conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type; (v.) to bring to completion or maturity; to finish.
God is perfecting His people, and this cannot be accomplished by the law - only by the Spirit (Romans 7:6; Galatians 3:2-3, 5:18).  It is a battle between the Spirit and the flesh; and one only lives at the expense of the other. 

All of the law's attractiveness boils down to one thing: the flesh wants to live...and it doesn't care how that life is expressed.  The law gives life to the flesh because it is based in what you can do with your own human effort and willpower (Romans 3:20, 7:9-11).  Do anything, only don't crucify the flesh so that your Spirit may live.  Keep that old man alive in legalistic religious performance which has a show of godliness, but denies the power thereof because the Holy Spirit is that power (Micah 3:8; Luke 1:35, 24:49; Romans 15:19; Acts 1:8, 8:19)!  It is the Holy Spirit which transforms us into the image of Jesus and enables us to live as He lived (II Corinthians 3:18). 

So what do you do if you have been bound by law and religious performance?  Repent, turn your whole heart to Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit so that you may live.

"But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." II Corinthians 3:15-17

Notice, you are not lawless as you are led by the Spirit, but you will be governed by the law of liberty (James 1:25, 2:12).  Such is the law of Christ, having been set free from all bondage by the word of truth so that we can walk in liberty, showing love to one another (Galatians 5:13-14).

"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." I Timothy 1:5

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2

2 comments:

  1. Great post, thanks for sharing!

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  2. Obedience and legalism are not the same. Jesus said if you love me, then obey me. The bible does command us to walk in obedience. For example, the bible commands us to flee from fornication. It's not legalism to obey that command. The bible speaks of a sin unto death. The bible speaks of worldliness and friendship with the world and says to do such thing makes us an enemy of God. The bible is speaking to Chrsitians, not the world. It's not legalism to tell the Church to be Christ like. That's not following the law. You don't do these things to be saved, but if you're saved you will do them. One cannot lose salvation, but it can be forfeited. Judah was an apostle and lost it all. Some argue that Judah was never saved. Impossible, because no unsaved person could ever be a disciple or apostle. That fact that he was means he was saved at some point. There is no Christianity apart from obedience.

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