Earlier this week I was listening to a Duane Sheriff from Victory Life Church in Durant, Oklahoma. He is doing a series entitled Made Free From the Law. Below are the three parts so far. Yesterday I listened to Part 3. I’ve been studying the word of God a long time. I’d say I have a pretty good handle on the issues of salvation, grace and God’s love. I love the presence of God and believe that the gifts are for today. I believe that healing and miracles, visions and other spiritual experiences are available to our generation just as they were to the first century believers. At the same time I know that I have been prone to legalism, at least to a point.
Being judgmental and critical isn’t an attribute of God. It isn’t a fruit of the Spirit. But I could be incredibly judgmental. I judged myself much more harshly than I did others, but I still judged. I sized people up, so to speak. And I interacted with them based on my assessment. If I didn’t deem someone as being very spiritual I didn’t want anything to do with them. While I didn’t expect the world to behave as Christians, I did expect Christians to behave a certain way. In my mind, unbelievers were not subjected to the scrutiny of the Scriptures but you can bet every believer was. The sad thing is that I didn’t even know I was doing it until God confronted me.
In the unconditional love of God through the pervasive persuasion of the Holy Spirit my soul was pricked. I was cut to the quick. I was humbled in the presence of God and in my heart I was grieved and repented. But that didn’t prevent me from doing it again, and again. I’d like to think that once God exposes something it is gone forever in one magical wave of His hand. Sometimes that is the case. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we have to take dominion over our own souls one step at a time. And for me that was the case.
Romans 8:1-2 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the powera of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
One thing I know as a recovering pharisee, God loves pharisees as much as He loves everybody else. Being free from the power of sin and the curse of the Law is what our salvation is all about. I believe God is merciful and loving. I believe that both the Old Testament as well as the New shows the love of God and His great mercy toward humanity. I believe that there is much to be gained through a solid understanding of salvation, grace and the freedom which is ours in Christ Jesus. As a former legalist/pharisee I used to live according to a standard which was impossible to maintain. I lived in a self imposed prison of performance and cycles of guilt and shame. I have been set free from that old life. I am no longer chained to the demands of performing to gain the approval of God. I am saved by grace, through faith.
Ephesians 1:3-14 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
When I was still bound by legalism it was impossible for me to break free from the cycle of guilt and shame. I was always conscious of sin and the punishment for sin. Christ removed the punishment for sin and all future punishment for sin through the sacrifice He made on the cross. I believed that truth and my salvation was based on that truth. But I didn’t live that truth in my daily life. It took a long time for me to get established in the truth of what Christ did on the cross. I was saved, baptized in the Spirit and living for Christ, but I was still bound in my thinking. I was in bondage to the mindset that I somehow had to re-earn God’s approval every day. It’s wrong thinking. I didn’t even realize that was in there until God in His great love for me exposed it. And ever since then He has been rooting out every trace of that wrong thinking.
One thing I do to help keep myself on the right track and not get entangled again with a yoke of slavery is to listen to messages which preach God’s grace and forgiveness. I’ve been saved for over fifty years and YES, I still need to hear messages of grace and forgiveness. Why? Because everything in this world would try to dictate a message of shame and performance. So, as an effort to counteract the message of the god of this age I flood my mind with the truth of God’s love and what Jesus did on the cross.