Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mixing up the Mountains

When a pastor in a church tells his congregation that they are obligated, empowered, or enabled to keep God’s law he is mixing up the mountains. When the law was given at Mount Sinai there was such commotion due to the wrath of God that His friend Moses said “I tremble with fear.” That is what the law does is show the holiness of God and how we are unable to do this. It is not surprising when a religion such as Islam or some other of the world’s religion lean heavily upon the law. What is alarming is when a Christian Church does it. That has happened repeatedly down through the years and is what spawned attempts to reform. Now after 500 years we see the same thing happening. The limiting the nature of the law so that it appears to be manageable and something God is helping us do is quite fashionable and appeals to our inner brat.

Rick Warren said “Deeds not Creeds is the new reformation. The question is how is that different from what ailed the church so many years ago? Joel Osteen has a book out in which he explains how to “Become a Better You.” This will sell like hotcakes for who in his or her right minds do not want to improve. However, one does not need to be a Christian to improve behaviour. Self help books abound in the non religious sphere and have for years.

You will see on Sermon Audio examples of preachers who are caving in to this trend. These men are in traditions which historically told people how hopelessly lost are their condition and how Jesus answered the need for them. The law was put forth in all it’s crushing power. Jesus’ active obedience was proclaimed as how God looks upon anything a believer does as holy. And Jesus’ passive obedience on the cross was shown to pay for the inherited guilt we all have.

Hebrews 12: 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. ESV

The law says to “Be holy as God is Holy,” and “In the day you sin you will die.” We cannot by our means get God to save us, or once He has saved us, need Him or are able to get Him to love us more. One cannot play nice with the law. That is what caused all the lightening, shaking, smoke and commotion. That is what one will get when trying to manipulate God with behaviour. His people were just delivered out of slavery to a system of religion where gods were manipulated. Therefore a restatement of what is naturally in the heart of man was needed. Of course they said we will do it all. Not long after that the golden calf was erected and business as usual occurred.

On Mount Zion we have a peaceful and well pleased God. We have the same God of course with all the same requirements. The difference is not in God but what He has done for us. Let us not grieve Him by trying to manipulate Him with our behaviour. It will not go well with those who never repent from doing so.

Matthew 7: 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” ESV

Father, please protect us from self righteousness which turns our eyes off You and causes us to stray. When we do stray we trust Your promises to come get us. Holy Spirit, we beg you to crush us with Your law daily so we can repent and receive forgiveness. Jesus, thank you for your active obedience which fulfills the law for us and you passive obedience on the cross which paid for our sin. May you Name Holy God be evermore praised on earth and in highest heaven. Amen.

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