Proclaiming a Message of Good News and Hope to our generation!

Month: December 2013

Does anybody really know what time it is?

In the late 1960’s a Rock band by the name of Chicago had a hit song containing this line, “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care about time?”

For people in many countries in the world, today’s date, December 31, marks the end of a year. Midnight at the end of this day is recognized as the beginning of the new year, 2016. There will be various traditional gatherings where people like to “bring in the New Year together.” Here in the U.S. the first day of the year is a national holiday and many businesses and institutions will be closed. So I guess people to really care somewhat about time.

Robert Lamm, the author of the song by Chicago seemed to be asking a deeper question. Listen to these lines:

“People runnin’ everywhere
Don’t know where to go
Don’t know where I am
Can’t see past the next step
Don’t have time to think past the last mile
Have no time to look around
Just run around, run around and think why …..”

Times and seasons are really important to us. Maybe the actual date on the calendar isn’t as important as our need to stop and reflect on the passing of time, what we have done and intend to do with the time that has been given unto us. A Biblical Psalm that is attributed to the great prophet Moses brings this request to God:

He says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12).

Those who love and worship their Father and Creator God have the potential of receiving valuable wisdom from Him concerning the time they have been given on this earth. They need not run everywhere, not knowing where to go, or where they are. They can, to some degree actually see past the next step, for their steps are directed by the Lord. They can look back and see His Hand upon their lives. And because they know a glorious future in Him awaits them, they can fully live in the present.

For over two thousand years now, Christians have been looking for a great event in the history of the world. This event has to do with the culmination of all that God has been planning and bringing forth from the beginning of time. It has to do with the full, final and complete revelation of Jesus Christ to all of humanity. We have searched the prophecies of the Bible with great enthusiasm to determine just when He will appear, and what will actually transpire at that time. The many divergent interpretations of these prophecies from the most devout and dedicated scholars from various times and backgrounds can be confusing. Lately I have come to the understanding that God Himself has hidden some of the details from us for some good reason, which we will eventually learn.

At the same time, I believe that He plans to make more of these details known to this generation. We must have open hearts and minds to hear from Him, and be diligent as were the wise Orientals who followed His star to Bethlehem. Certainly we can become too preoccupied with “the signs of the times,” or the “end times.” But Jesus Himself complained to the people of His day for being unaware of the significance of they day they were in. They should have observed the signs pointing to His arrival and of His Kingdom breaking forth upon the scene.

Where is our country heading? What is God doing among His people? Are we following Him or are we hoping He will endorse the plans we have made? Is the Church of Jesus Christ becoming too inwardly focused? Do we have a vision for His greater purpose which can give more meaning to our everyday challenges and activities? Or is it all about me? My needs. My happiness?

Some of the most powerful words ever spoken will lead us all to the true happiness that God desires for every one of us.

Luke 9:23-25:

“And he (Jesus) said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”

In our day we are seeing an intense and deliberate attack on the very Word of God that can make us aware of the times in which we live. Those who hold His Word in their hearts will be able to discern between all the confusing voices and to detect His Voice above them all. They will know how to prepare themselves for the immediate future as well as for eternity. Unlike the “blind leading the blind,” they see a bright and glorious path set before them.

Proverbs 4:14-18:

“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.

But the path of the just is as the shining light , that Shines more and more unto the perfect day.”

Impending doom is a reality for those who walk in darkness, and reject the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But there is always hope that the fire that He has lit within our hearts will continue to grow and glow out into the darkness of this fallen world. Let us pray with Paul the apostle that the eyes of our understanding will be opened to a greater vision of Him and His purpose for His Church. (Ephesians 1:16-22). This will no doubt inspire us to see beyond ourselves and to participate in His great love for all.

Lord, help us to accurately discern the signs of these times. Give us a greater zeal in our hearts for Your Heart, Your desire for Your people and all of humanity. Help us to truly know what time it is in your redemptive calendar, and to respond accordingly.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Call

Two thousand years ago the world was very different than it is today. And yet, the heart conditions of that time can still be found in many these days. Jesus of Nazareth exposed these heart conditions by demonstrating to the world what a perfectly pure heart looks like. Not only that, but He presented a challenge to all of us. He insisted that we can embrace that same purity for our own hearts and lives!

Notice that I used the word “embrace.” This is not about an achievement. It is about devotion. Not just devotion to a cause or principle, but to a person. The true disciples of Jesus who continued with Him did so because they were drawn to His remarkable goodness and love. They wanted what He had. They were willing to let go of their former goals and aspirations in favor of His agenda. By following Him they were impacted by His uniqueness. They were being changed simply by their association with Him!

Hundreds of years before, God rescued the descendants of Jacob from slavery in Egypt and established a covenant with them. They were to observe His moral and civil laws and participate in a number of rituals that both honored Him and atoned for their imperfect observance of His laws. Some kept His laws to the letter, but not in sincerity. Others failed miserably but were forgiven and continued to trust in Him.

In the fullness of time, Jesus came to fulfill all that God had planned in calling Abraham, establishing the nation of Israel, and the righteousness that the law could only foreshadow. The laws of any society attempt to protect the citizens from one another. This new society, the Kingdom of God, would have a higher standard, a higher law, one that deals with the root problems of every community. The human heart, from which all conflict arises, must be transformed by the power of the King!

When Jesus presented this impossible and unrealistic standard, one would have expected a wholesale rejection of it. Many of course, did reject it in the end. Even so, all knew that He was right, as we all do today. If they would only have been more patient, they would have eventually understood the beauty of His plan. He did not come to destroy our hope for peace with God and contentment in this life. He came to bring in the Kingdom of God. That meant sharing His righteousness and holiness with us, and at the same time taking our guilt and sin upon Himself at the Cross.

We today must not also misunderstand Him. With a clearer understanding we will not be so inclined as some to water down His teachings to be less radical. He knows our weakness, but also how to empower us. It is for us to embrace Him, His teachings, His perfection, His holiness, His greatness. As we trust in Him, He will give the grace to accomplish the impossible!

Diluted Christianity is so revolting. The half-hearted Christian is a sad person indeed. Trust me, I have been there! The abundant life that Christ promised can be experienced, but only if we make the conscious decision to patiently trust in Him and His work in our lives. Total surrender to Him might seem at first frightening, but oh what a sweet surrender it is! It is to abandon fear, failure, compromise, cowardice and folly.

Again, it is not about an achievement. It is about a commitment. It is an answer to a call. The highest power in this universe is calling us unto Himself. Everything, including our sin that stood between us and Him has been dealt with on the Cross. Once we accept this we can know a freedom which we never knew existed, and a sense of nobility and integrity that only identification with Him can bring. With that freedom we can demonstrate to this world what this heavenly society truly looks like. We can live in the Kingdom of heaven now, and become that city set on a hill which cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14-16).

His is a Kingdom that cannot be shaken nor destroyed.(Hebrews 12:28). It is advancing at this very moment. We are called to join in this forward movement that cannot fail! Will we settle for a comfortable religion that we have designed to make us feel good about ourselves, or will we answer to this glorious call from God? His is a long-term strategy. It will not be finalized tomorrow. But every moment, every day has its own struggles and its own victories.

Every time we choose God’s ways over the ways of the world, a victory is won. Every time we seek to please Him, rather than ourselves, and risk displeasing the majority, we experience more of the Christ life. We find fellowship with Him in His sufferings, as well as in His joy! Faith is knowing Who Jesus truly is and who we are in Him. Our pleasure is His pleasure! We are happier when we patiently love and forgive one another, when we seek for the good of others over our own, for His glory.

The people who answer to this call are known by various names. They are the Church, which in the original New Testament Greek, means “the called out.” (1 Peter 2:9) They are the brothers and sisters of Christ (Romans 8:29). They are members of His Body, joined together in the Spirit to carry out His purpose in the earth. (Ephesians 1:22-23, 3:10-11, 4:12, 5:30, 1 Corinthians 12:27).

The metaphor of the Church as His body indicates a closeness and connectedness, as does the picture of it as His family. Another portrays His people as an army, crashing down the gates of hell! (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 6:10-13, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). This army must stand under its Commander and Chief, Jesus Christ, and fight this spiritual battle as a unit. As we look at the great diversity among Christians today, we acknowledge again the seeming impossibility of this ideal. Those things that are impossible with men are still possible with God! (Mark 10:27). Not only that, but it is impossible for Him to fail! (1 Corinthians 13:8).

He is calling forth from our hearts a willingness, an optimism, a desire to answer to this higher calling. What will be our response? Perhaps the greatest and most effective Christian who ever lived, Paul the apostle, has penned the most inspiring words along these lines:

Phil 3:12-14:

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” NASU

Peace on Earth

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:10-14:)

In ancient times (when I was in elementary school), we were taught a few words in various languages. Usually the first words in another language had to do with greetings. First we would learn to say “hello,” in Spanish, German, etc., and then “good-bye.” In some languages, the same word was used for both hello and good-bye. This was the case in the Hebrew language. People would greet one another with the same word, “Shalom” as when parting.

Years later I learned that Shalom meant “peace,” and realized that originally it was more than a greeting, but actually a blessing. “Shalom” means a bit more than “have a good day.” I guess you could say it means more like “have a good life!” Peace in Hebrew thought had to do with an overall state of well-being.

In America we think of peace-time verses war-time. We also think in terms of tranquility of mind. The angels here were promising the coming of the King of the Kingdom of God. He was one who would introduce to the world the same righteousness, peace and joy that has resided with God in heaven from all eternity. This peace would first come in the revelation of His life as a man among us.

Since Adam and Eve fell into sin, war and conflict has persisted in the earth. The people of God in the First Century knew of His promise to bring peace, but most failed to see the Divine Plan. The effects of the Fall must first be reversed before any lasting peace can come. A forced peace through a military victory would only be temporary. Jesus would engage in a different kind of warfare, against evil itself. He would triumph over evil with good.

Peace on earth begins with peace with God. The very forces of evil in this earth unknowingly cooperated with God in His plan when they plotted Christ’s execution. Through His death the world was reconciled to God!. Satan lost his ancient and primary accusation against the virtue and love of God. No longer could he suggest that God was holding back from us to protect His own interests, for the Father would offer His only Son in payment for all of our failures. He could give no more. He gave of Himself. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 2 Corinthians 5:19, John 3:16).

Jesus not only took our sins upon Himself at the Cross. By His resurrection His very righteousness was transferred to our account – if we believe in and place our trust in Him.

Romans 4:24-5:2:

“But for us also, to whom it (righteousness) shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

In the early chapters of the book of Acts, we begin to see the Kingdom of God come more fully into view. After witnessing His ascension to the heavenly throne, His disciples waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit, according to His command. His peace was among them to the extent that they came to a deep level of unity, during which the Holy Spirit filled them and transformed them all into flaming witnesses of His power and glory! (Acts 2:1-4)

Since that time there have been many ups and downs in the life of His Church. As Jesus taught in many parables, the Kingdom of God would sometimes advance in great measure, in other times the progress would be slow and gradual. There was much resistance, both from fallen humanity and the devil who in the beginning deceived the human race. When believers don the armor provided for them by God, they stand strong and united together in love. When they forget His weapons, they become divided and weak. At the time Jesus left His mission in the hands of imperfect humans, he must have known how often we would drop the ball. Thank God the final victory belongs to Him alone!

His peace is always with us, but we are also to become peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9). As we progress from childhood to spiritual adulthood, we grow in wisdom and discernment. We learn to exercise the power we possess in Christ to prevail against the very gates of hell!

There is power and authority in the peace of God.

Colossians 3:12-16:

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” NASB

In the presence of the King, His holy, redeemed people become living proof that He has already begun His reign in the earth. Right living, peaceful and joyful fellowship are signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit within them and among them. (Romans 14:17) They fully understand this work in progress. They know that it is not all about them, for God has this whole world in mind. Creation itself is groaning in labor pains to see that which God plans to do in and through His people, His Church, the Body of Christ. (Romans 8:18-22).

The Lordship of Christ is tangibly manifested in the patience and compassion His children have for one another and the world. These and other fruits of the Spirit bear witness to the King of the Kingdom of God, Who already rules in the hearts of His own. Satan’s kingdom is doomed! Sometimes it is difficult to see that the reign of Christ has already begun. That is where faith and spiritual vision comes in. Consider the first Christian martyr, young Stephen, who in his last minutes of life saw the heaven opened and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56). Paul prayed for the church that we too would have the eyes of our understanding opened to see Christ so enthroned. (Ephesians 1:15-23).

A church equipped with such a view of Christ can rise above the struggles of everyday life. From this position of victory in Him we can go forward in His eternal plan and see His rule extended over all the earth. He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25). Even now there is not one square inch of this universe that He does not already possess, but here we are talking about the culmination of all that has been planned by God from the beginning. There will be genuine peace on this earth, and it is coming through the Prince of Peace!

Since Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, the world has never been the same. Great changes took place immediately, but even greater things came as Jesus began manifesting the power of the Kingdom of God to save, heal, and deliver humanity from sin and death. The world began changing as people began to come into contact with their King. His Kingdom did not come as many were expecting. It is still coming in a manner many do not expect. What a great mystery! And yet how real His presence and the presence of His Kingdom truly is!

Anyone who truly knows and believes in Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords can see and experience Kingdom Life now, and their anticipation for the future of our world as stated by the angels in Luke 2:14 empowers them even more. While this future may at times seem very far away, they can know and possess a certainty that their participation in His purpose is not in vain.

Micah 4:3:
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.

NASB

Heavenly Father,

In our immaturity we, your children have made so little progress in demonstrating your peace to this earth. Give us the faith to trust in you more, and to follow your every lead in this great cause. This is your universe, and it is your Kingdom, your power, and your glory that we desire to see revealed. Thank you for allowing us a small part in your glorious and loving plan.

In the Name of our wonderful Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

A New and Living Way, continued

The apostle John, in his account of the life of Jesus, made an interesting statement:

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

So here we are, making another attempt to write about a person who is beyond description, and about His accomplishments all of which no individual can fathom! The best we can do is to bear witness and attempt to tell others what He means to us and what He has done for us personally. There was once a blind man who at first was not sure of the identity of Jesus. He could be certain however of one thing: before he met Jesus he was blind — afterward he could see! (John 9:25). So whether we can tell it perfectly or not, we are compelled to describe Him and His work in our lives as best as we can!

Likewise there have been many attempts to explain the change that takes place in the life of an individual who trusts in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. There are also many efforts to understand what happens when believers struggle against their past lives for longer than is to be expected. In fact, we have many lines in the New Testament that deal with problems in the life of the believing community. So for myself, I see this as a worthwhile endeavor.

A better understanding of the Bible, the historical background and the way people thought in those days can help us to more fully understand the teachings of Christ and His apostles. It is the Holy Spirit most of all Who illuminates our understanding of the Scriptures, but even He prompts us to probe deeper for a mature understanding of these events. The fact that the Bible incorporates so much history in its message to us should also indicate that these facts are there for a good reason.

In Acts chapter 17, we find a group of lazy Jews who rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ as explained by Paul without even considering the Scriptures on the matter. They immediately opposed him and his associates, forcing them to go to another city. In the synagogue at Berea the people were not so lazy and quick to form an opinion against the Lord.

Luke tells us in Acts 17:11-12 that:

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”

So while I believe in the simplicity of the Gospel to transform the lives of people of all ages, walks of life and levels of education, it is a noble thing indeed to search out the depths of His wisdom, to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus our Lord. This wisdom with not only equip us to better serve Him, but to help us encourage those who still struggle in their walk with Him.

Our day is a day of quick fixes and clich├ęs. Paul foresaw a time when many would flock to those who tell them what they want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Our political leaders know that is the way to gain power, and too often our church leaders do as well. Paul pleaded with the church in Ephesis to examine his life and teachings, not on the basis of how good they made them feel, but on the basis of how honest and truthful they were. (Acts 20:18-27).

He also urged the young Timothy towards diligence and accurate handing of the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15). In 2 Timothy 3:12-17 his charge to the young minister could encourage us equally today.

“But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (NASU)

Today we must keep in mind that our New Testament was just at that time being written. The inspired scriptures that Timothy knew from childhood, which can give wisdom that leads to salvation and equipment for every good work were the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians refer to them as the Old Testament, in reference to the Old Covenant. The New Testament is so titled to emphasize the reality of the New Covenant established by Christ.

Why do you suppose that Paul placed such a high value to knowing the contents of the Old Testament and the teachings of the Old Covenant? Here is a question that is answered in many and often disparate ways. First let me say that I do not believe anyone is more excited and committed to the New Covenant than I am. My very existence is wholly dependent upon the grace of Christ as revealed therein. I do believe that our zeal for the New Covenant has led to some confusion on this question. Only recently I have found the need to take a closer look at these issues.

To fully understand the reason for Paul’s words both here and elsewhere will take some time and effort. I would prefer a quick and easy answer myself. To do that I would have to either erase or ignore large portions of Paul’s letters to his fellow Christians. No, all of his statements must be considered if we are to grasp the weight of his instructions and the depth of the convictions standing behind them. Above all we should heed his direct instructions to Timothy as applicable to all would-be leaders in the church. We all need to know what God has said to the people of ancient times and how His words to them could help us please Him today.

The New Testament itself cannot be fully understood without the background of the events and prophecies of the Old Testament that came before. Consider another statement that Paul made concerning the Hebrew scriptures. After quoting from the Old Testament, he says:

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)NASU

For hundreds of years, believers have known the truth of this statement. Not in theory, but in practice. Some of the words were difficult to understand, yet they were revered and trusted just the same. Many could not explain the finer points relating to the old and new covenants, the law and grace, Israel and the Church. But somehow they lived and died unto the glory of God and left us a marvelous legacy of faith through their love for Christ and His Written Word.

From time to time the Old Testament has been misunderstood and misapplied by Christians with disastrous results. Jesus proved that even the Israelites of His day had done so. Paul, a former Pharisee who met the risen Christ developed a keen sense in this area. After having been steeped in legalism for many years, he was liberated by the life of Christ in a very dramatic way. This might explain why he was more sensitive to the problem than his fellow apostles in Jerusalem.

When Christians were tempted to revert to trusting their own good works, Paul responded with strong and intense words. In the past, his status as a law-abiding Pharisee was no comfort to his soul. In fact his hate-filled heart brought him in direct conflict with the very God he sought to please. That heart was softened by the love, mercy and grace of God in Christ, making him a champion of the Good News of Jesus Christ and one of His greatest missionaries. It would be difficult to find a person whose life was more impacted by a revelation of the glory and grace of Jesus Christ!

Paul could communicate to gentiles the same message that Jesus brought to the Jews, in an extremely efficient way. No one could be justified before God by their own good works. Only by trusting in the righteous, holy sacrifice of Christ can our sins be forgiven and removed. By His grace we are saved and have peace with God!

The Battlefield of the mind

Satan can afflict the Christian in two basic ways. One is to appeal to the desires of our flesh. The other is to deceive us into thinking that the Cross of Christ is insufficient to fully redeem us. Then we might foolishly try to earn favor with God by performing some form of ritual or service, when that favor has already been offered in Christ.

Some of these ideas come from our church traditions, and so we rail against their customs and teachings. Lately I have come to realize that the problem goes much deeper than that. Even the least religiously minded operate on false assumptions about God and our situation with Him. The concept of right and wrong is built into our very nature. When we do the right thing we instinctively feel good about ourselves. When we participate in evil we sense the reality of our guilt. In the first instance we are tempted to a level of self-righteousness and become judgmental of others. In the second we might try to ignore our guilt or cover it ourselves like our ancient ancestors Adam and Eve, who thought fig leaves would cover their shame.

The world is full of attempts to balance our sins and errors with positive actions. Both spiritual and natural death is always the result.

Even in the Old Covenant there were those who understood the problem. Hebrews chapter eleven lists a huge number of individuals, both men and women whose trust and confidence in their Lord and Savior brought them salvation and peace with God. Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and others called us back to that kind of faith, and showed us that the Old Covenant system of animal sacrifices only pointed to the full and final sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect, spotless Lamb of God offered for us.

Rom 11:33-36:

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor? Or who has first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

There are groups of Christians who are fascinated with Jewish traditions and their significance. Some even observe the Sabbath Day and avoid non- kosher foods. I have no quarrel with them, unless they begin teaching that these practices are their means for right standing with God. At the same time a number of Christian groups have developed another standard that is nowhere found in the teachings of Christ or His apostles. They might even have a life style that is more profitable than my own. However, if they teach that all Christians are bound by their standard, and that theirs is the only way to heaven, I will declare this to be heresy, and an affront to the Finished Work of Christ on the Cross!

But who am I to judge? Well, only one who also has the Spirit and Word of God, and charged by Him to preach the word, be instant in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking and exhorting with all long suffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2).

The Curse of the Law

Paul’s negative comments on God’s covenant with Israel under Moses is not at all in conflict with his exhortations to study the Old Testament. He carefully presented the fact that the New Covenant had come and that the Old was fulfilled in Christ. His harsh and bold statements were necessary to move people from the Old to the New.

“So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” (Romans 7:12-14 NASB)

His argument was to convince us that the problem is not with the law, or even religion. The problem is in us. It is in the weakness of our fallen nature. It is in our determination to justify ourselves and our actions. When ever we attempt to establish our own righteousness, we show our ignorance of the righteousness of God. Those who surrender to Christ have submitted to the righteousness of God so His righteousness can be fulfilled in them! (Romans 10:3-4, 8:4).

It is truly a wonderful day for those who receive Christ as their righteousness. They can have peace with God, be filled with His Spirit, which illuminates their minds to understand and obey His Word. They can love His law because He gave it out of love. Those who seek by their own ability to justify themselves by the law will find it has become a curse to them.

Our pure, holy, and loving Savior deserves only our love, devotion, praise, honor and obedience. Instead He received hatred, spite, abuse, beatings and a humiliating death on the Cross. The very thought of this injustice sickens my heart. And yet, my greatest hope, joy and freedom is the result of His willingness to die for me, receiving my curse upon Himself.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-18) NASB

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