Real Freedom in Christ

                When God gave the Israelites the famed “10 Commandments” He laid the groundwork for a special people; set apart from the lawlessness and immorality of a wicked culture. Most importantly He showed the people what He expected of them in their relationship to Him. During their journey with the Lord, of course, God continued to explain the ways to keep those commandments and even gave them commandments regarding their health and safety (don’t eat meat that can be dangerous, don’t touch dead bodies, cleansing directions, etc.). Living as God directed truly set the people apart and made their lives better.
                But then mankind began inserting their own wisdom and intellectual knowledge into the interpretation of those wonderful, life changing commands and by the time Jesus appeared on the scene the special Jewish relationship with God had become a religion of works and deeds: hundreds of laws and instructions that began to rob the people of a true relationship with God.
                Jesus taught a personal relationship with the Father that superseded the stifling man-made rules of Judaism. He taught them of a relationship by grace not laws. Though a dangerous time for His followers it was also a time of freedom and joy. But guess what? The “church” began doing exactly what the Jewish people had done: they instituted rules and regulations on how to “be obedient” to that freedom. The reformation began precisely because “church” had begun robbing the followers of Christ of a personal relationship with the Lord. It was simply a “say these words, pray this prayer, give this much money, and you’re good to go” religion. So, the Protestant movement began and the relationship aspect of Christianity was restored.
                My point is this: Let’s not go back to throwing away our wonderful freedom in Christ for a set of man-made rules that we think will determine our relationship with God. When we live a “rules” lifestyle it results in two distinct Christian lifestyles that rob us of a loving, fruitful “relationship with God”. One is the Pharisaic way of living where we determine all the things we can’t do and all the things we have to do, and we present that lifestyle to the Lord as our righteousness that allows Him to be proud of us and accept us. Basically, living by the law. The other is a hedonistic lifestyle where we determine all the things we can do and still consider ourselves a Christian. We end up living in the human nature and finding scripture, or lack of scripture, that seems to allow us to fulfill the desires of the flesh. Basically, living by the lust of our heart.
                So where is the middle ground upon which Christians are to live? What marks a true Christian lifestyle? Let’s start with the basic: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NIV). Add to that: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NIV). Then: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5 NIV). Follow that up with: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV). You may be surprised by how living out those scriptures will result in a lifestyle that wonderfully glorifies God as it frees you from a legalistic, binding way of life.
Say good things about your Savior and His Church on the Bluff.

Bro. Tony