Two Branches from the Same Tree

Galatians 2:4-6 ESV

“Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.”

Law vs. Grace

I find that one of the most confusing subjects in the New Testament is the subject of the Law vs. Grace. For, the word “law” is used in the New Testament to describe the liturgical, ceremonial, and purification laws, under the Old Covenant, and the word “law” is also used to describe the commandments of God (of Jesus Christ) to us under the New Covenant.

[Rom 2:13; Rom 3:20-31; Rom 6:14-19; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 2:16-21; Gal 3:2-5, 21; Gal 5:4, 14; Gal 6:2; Eph 2:15; Phil 3:9; etc.]

So, even though it is clear, if you read the New Testament in context, that the continuation of “the law” which the apostles spoke against is with regard to the liturgical (ritualistic, ceremonial) laws of the Old Covenant, still many are taking these teachings out of context to try to prove that we don’t have to obey God at all now that we are under grace.

Or some people are teaching that we still have to obey the Old Covenant laws. They are usually modern-day Judaizers who are trying to convince believers in Jesus that they need to be more like the Jews and that they need to obey the old laws and ceremonies, etc. And then some people are making up their own legalistic requirements for Christians to follow.

Legalism

If someone is trying to convince you that you have to obey all the old ceremonial, liturgical and purification laws of the Old Covenant, don’t listen to him. Jesus Christ did away with those when he suffered and died for us on the cross so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin, and so we could be free to be slaves of him and of his righteousness (Rom 6 and 8).

If someone is trying to convince you that you have to go to a building called “church” every Sunday (or twice on Sunday) and/or every midweek day, and that you have to give a certain amount of money to this “church,” or that you have to dress in a certain way (other than just asking for modesty), then don’t listen to him. The New Covenant Scriptures do not require these.

Test what people are telling you that the Scriptures teach or don’t teach (that includes me), and don’t just believe it because someone says it or because he tries to put you on a guilt-trip. Check out all Scriptures in context, too, for many false teachings stem from Scriptures taken out of context and misinterpreted and misapplied.

Just know that there is a lot being taught in “churches” today that is antibiblical, either on the side of legalism or on the side of liberalism. Either one will lead you astray if you decide to follow what humans are teaching you without first checking to see if the Bible actually teaches that, or not. So, check it out against the truth of God’s word before you follow it.

Libertinism

I believe this is the biggest threat to Christianity today, for many more people are being swayed in this direction than who are being swayed toward legalism. And at its foundation is a willful and purposeful misconstruing of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the full intent of misleading and deceiving and manipulating naïve minds.

Many of these manipulators of the Scriptures, thus, focus on the Scriptures which teach against us following the Old Covenant liturgical laws, and they deceive naïve minds and fleshly hearts by teaching them that God’s grace frees them from having to obey the Lord, and from having to repent of their sins, and from having to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

But the Scriptures teach against this, too.

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).

So, again, we need to be those who are testing what we hear against the Scriptures (in their context). And we need to know that the Apostle Paul’s teaching was not teaching lawlessness, i.e., that we are free from having to obey our Lord’s commandments (New Covenant). In fact, he taught that if we do not do what the Lord says that we will not inherit eternal life.

The Truth of The Gospel

20210406_190943Both legalism and libertinism (liberalism) come from the same “tree.” They are two ends of the same teeter-totter, i.e., they are both of the flesh and minds of humans, and they are not of God nor are they consistent with the teachings of Scripture in the New Testament. Both stem from taking Scriptures out of context and misconstruing them to mean something else.

So, what is the truth? The truth is that Jesus did remove the Old Covenant liturgical requirements for believers in Jesus Christ, which the Jews of the Old Covenant were required to follow. But the truth is, too, that he did not remove God’s moral laws, and some of them, in fact, he redefined (expanded) to make them even stronger than they were before.

The truth is that if we want to have salvation from sin and eternal life with God, by faith in Jesus Christ, we must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect or that we must never sin, but the New Testament teaches that we must walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

For, it teaches that if we say we have fellowship with God, or that we know God, and that we are in relationship with him, but we walk (in conduct, in practice) according to our flesh, in sin, and not according to the Spirit, that we will die in our sins. We will not have eternal life with God no matter what we confess with our lips. For lip service only produces no fruit.

We still have to obey God’s commandments to us, just not the liturgical ones from the Old Covenant, but those summarized into two: To love God with your whole being and to love your neighbors as yourself. For, if we genuinely follow these, we will submit to the Lordship of Christ, we will obey his teachings, and we will leave our lifestyles of sin behind us.

But the only way we can live in freedom from slavery to sin and as slaves of God and of his righteousness is because of what Jesus did for us on that cross, by faith in him, and in the power of God’s Spirit now living and at work within our hearts, changing us and conforming us to the likeness of Jesus Christ. So, to God be all the glory. Amen!

Please read and know these Scriptures and obey the Lord in them:

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 6:44; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15, 21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8]

Here I Am, Lord

By Daniel L. Schutte

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them –
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night
I will go, Lord
If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart

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