April 30th 2014
I just began preaching through the book of Galatians this past Sunday Morning. Paul’s primary concern was how some were distorting the gospel via the law. As I often do, in order to gain a richer understanding on a given subject, I look at contrasts. In this case I contrasted legalism (which Paul deals with in Galatians) with lawlessness (which he deals with in other letters). Through study, meditation and prayer I am learning that I have a disposition to both. Legalism and lawlessness are something we all struggle with. For example, there are times I know God wants me to forgive someone yet my heart is not really “into” it. Say for instance, someone makes me mad, I mean really angry. What they did was wrong, it hurt and I can’t believe they don’t see the damage done to me. Well, should I go ahead and forgive them, even though my heart is not “into” it? Or should I hold onto my anger? I realize to forgive, when my heart is not “into” it, turns out to be nothing but a mere act of outward obedience (a formalized tone, a legalistic gesture). On the other hand, if I don’t follow through, it’s living in disobedience (a lawless life). Either way, living a life of legalism or a life of lawlessness, God is not pleased. So, what path do I walk down?
Neither! God tells us to walk by faith in Christ! This means, our motives are different. We are no longer driven by law nor are we driven by lawlessness, but by faith in God’s love for us, namely Jesus Christ! Look, we all know the Law demands that I forgive. Jesus Himself says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” But, because He says “If you love me” we know God requires more than just the words, “I forgive you.” He wants me to be genuine and sincere from the heart. So how do I walk? By faith! In other words, by faith I pray a prayer of confession, (being transparent before God that even though my heart is not “into” it I am not condemned because of Christ) and then by faith I go and forgive (trusting and desiring for God to change my heart in the process). In this way, neither legalism nor lawlessness has their way, only living by faith in Christ.
So, instead of approaching God through the Law, approach Him through His Son. In this way you will neither live a life of legalism nor a life of lawlessness, but a life in love with God.
January 14th 2013
In John Piper’s book “God is the Gospel: Meditation on God’s love as the gift of Himself” he pierces the heart with the following question…
“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—
is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the
friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and
all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties
you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no
human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with
heaven, if Christ were not there?”
How appropriate is this question for our day? Enveloped in a consumer driven culture where total depravity is downplayed and the call to repentance all but lost being satisfied without God is a real danger.
For instance, if all we think about when we think about Heaven are the streets of gold, the mansions and having no more sickness and no more tears then does it not reason that we have not preached the true gospel of Jesus Christ? Moreover, is not receiving Jesus as Savior and not Lord equivalent to wanting the benefits of heaven without its King?
As wonderful as the gifts of salvation are, may they never rise up within our hearts and take the place of God Himself.