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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Living Faith Rather Than Legalism

Each day I understand prevenient grace more completely. God first sought me or I would never have sought Him. I did not do Him a favor by pledging Him my life. I received His amazing grace. He gave it to me by faith. He gave me the faith when I needed it. I accepted this faith and live by faith.

That's why I am so perplexed by those who want to live by legalism. They want a religion which allows them to feel accepted because of their works. Their works do not need to be encumbered with a relationship with God. They treat God as an idol by whom they make sacrifices. They pray to Him as if He never responds. They are cold in their worship because it is just another work to please their "stone" god.

My life is not like that. I know that I will never be justified by my works. I am not accepted because of them. I have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus because I have identified with Him. There is no work on my part in doing so.

The life I live is one of a continued identification with my Lord. I listen and obey. I do not know all the days of my life but place those days in the hands of the One who does. I walk with Him and hear Him speak to me. My actions are changed because of my continued walk with Him. I cannot be with Him and come away unchanged.

That doesn't mean that every conversation is pleasant. Sometimes I am brought under deep conviction that I have done something wrong. I have to admit that I didn't just make a mistake; I sinned. I feel the pain of that sin and am sorry that I committed it. I repent.

Sometimes we say that we will make things right but that really doesn't ever happen. I can't unring the bell. I can't unsay the words I have said. I can't un-sin what I have done. Therefore, I really can't pay for the sin. I can't make it go away by myself. I must have His forgiveness. Again, I am amazed by this grace.

Legalism realizes sin as an intellectual exercise. The law has been violated. It is like realizing that a wrong answer has been given on a math exam. Correction requires writing in the right answer. It does not require engaging any other person. The answer was wrong and now the answer is right. So, how is that done? Unfortunately, it can't be. How many faithful days will erase one unfaithful one? Even giving double the money back will not erase the theft.

We simply cannot make things right. We depend upon the grace of others to forgive us of what we have done. Only the offended party can "make things right." That requires a living relationship. That can only be found in a living faith when we have sinned against God.

Then, each day we see God before us. He has been where we are. Each day we see God with us. He never leaves our sides. Each day we see Him in the future. He is making provision for us before we even know we need provision. Each day we live by faith.

I cannot imagine wanting to live by legalism when I can have a living faith.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

3 comments:

Anthony Chia said...

The 3-lives verse

Gal 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is what I have come to call as the 3-lives verse. People have preached about it in their own way, but essentially, to be me, it is this:

Existing life to be given up
When we identify with Christ on His crucifixion, we are saying we give up our existing life, the “old man” life or the “old creation” life. And so, this life has also been termed as the “relinquished life”, for we are saying we relinquish our life, as we identify with Jesus’ relinquish of His life for us. Jesus relinquished His life because He loved us and because of our fallen “old creation” life ( … “the Son of God (the Lord}, loved me and gave Himself for me” ).

The life that we are to let go, is a wretched life; a life driven by self-gratification; a life where the desires of self, dominate. This life is where the spirit (of man) is weak, the soul is darkened and weak, and the flesh (fallen) dominates. This “old man” life’s will is given to the desires of the flesh; ending up what the “old man” does is to listen to, and do according to the desires of the flesh. This life is a life already condemned to Hell or damned, from the Fall.

His life the way to go
Christ Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection provided the way that we can be lifted from the damnation. The Damnation means that we are going to be eternally separated from God, who would be in Heaven, and us, Hell (after we die; if still unregenerate). Christ is NOT just the means, but the way; He exemplified the way, of how life is to be lived.

Take on the life of Christ Jesus
When we identify with Him, after understanding what He did by the works on the Cross, we are saying, we are abandoning our old way or the “old man” life, to take up His way or life. In other words, we are saying we want to exchange our life with His life. And so, relinquishing a life, our “old man” or “old creation” life, we latch on to an “exchanged life”. What is this exchanged life? It is the life of Christ. If we continue with our old way, it will continue to bring us to Hell, if we go with the way or life Christ, it should lead us to Heaven, where God dwells. So, the life or way of Christ must be very different from the way of our old-self.

Life of Christ Jesus – to please God
We have already talked how our “old man” life is like, how it is self-gratification driven, giving in to the desires of the (fallen) flesh. So, the life or way of Christ must be very different. Indeed, it is different. Yes, we said Jesus Christ exemplified it for us. In what way? The key is this: Christ’s motivation of life is NOT to self-gratify, but to please God. And so, throughout His life, He said and did what He said, i.e. He would do only the will of the Father God.

“No” to self-gratifying life; “Yes” to God-pleasing life
And so, when the apostle Paul said in that Gal 2:20 verse, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”, it meant he would no longer live a self-gratifying life but a God-pleasing life, just as Christ Jesus did, when He walked on earth.

In Scripture, God said that He was well-pleased with Christ Jesus. God the Father was well-pleased because how Jesus lived; He lived always to do the will of the Father. And so, the exchanged life that we take on, is the life where we lived for God. Because He died for us, Christ Jesus was no more living in the flesh or body; we are saying we are letting Christ to continue to live on, through us. But how exactly is Christ to live through you and I?

How Christ lives through us; How?
The model God shown us in Scripture is we are Christ’s disciples, He, our Master. Before this, there was the one Christ Jesus in the flesh or body (He living as Son of Man), now, He lives distributedly and compositely, in the many flesh or body of us, believers.

cont...

Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

He is away and He is still with us. Jesus was prophesied as the Emmanuel – the “God with us”. And he came and was with the people; He died crucified and was resurrected, and in that sense, He went away; but yet He is still with us, through His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit are the same; everything of the Father is of the Son, including the Spirit).

Jesus is no longer in the flesh or in the body, in His own, but we still are, for we are still alive (we identified with Him in crucifixion, but we are NOT dead and resurrected yet). We have said that we say, we let go of our “old man” or “old creation” life (making it the relinquished life), and take up Christ’s life, like an exchange, and so, this life we take on, is called the exchanged life, by some. Elsewhere we read in Scripture, that when we enter into salvation, we become a new creation, the old has passed away. So, the exchanged life is also the new creation life.

Christ is NOT present with us in the flesh (NOT physically present)
We know we are the one, living in the flesh or body; are still living in the flesh or body, and we really are NOT having Christ Jesus in person, in front of us, unlike those disciples who lived during Jesus’ time, who had that when He walked with them as a man, we have to grapple with 2 issues:

One, because we say we let Christ lives through us, like a master lives through his disciples, one thing that should constantly be on our mind is “What will Jesus do (or will NOT do) in this situation?” For that, automatically, it means, we need to get to know Christ Jesus; if you don’t know Him, how can you begin to imagine what He will do?

We need to go by faith and trust
Two, we need to live in faith in Him, Christ Jesus. Some, therefore, say that the new creation life or the exchanged life is also a “trusting life”. We need to live in faith in Him, and in what He said He is – the Truth, the Way and the Life. It is really we need to have faith in Him, Christ Jesus; otherwise, we will live a fearful and struggling life, and in the extreme, we may end up dropping the new creation life and picking back up the “old creation” life.

The above, I believe is NOT that difficult to understand; but the question is how we can be victoriously living out that manifesto (as given in Gal 2:20). How do we have or grow that faith and trust, that will enable us to persevere through all circumstances and times, NOT giving up hope on the life of pleasing God. How do we go about this? What are the issues we need to consider and sort out, and walk or live out?

First, understand that God loves you, and His love for you is love unto righteousness (that you be righteous).

Second, He wants a relation with you; you cannot have a relation without giving of your time and attention to God.

Third, He wants you to make it to Heaven to live with Him; otherwise His Son, Jesus, came in vain!

Fourth, He wants you to work with Him; He wants to lead you, even through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23).

Fifth, there is the “His part” and there is the “your part”; don’t just bask in grace. Salvation is both justification and sanctification. There is the Eph 2:8-9, and there is the Eph 2:10; don’t just stop at vv8 & 9.

Sixth, get to know Him more and more; love Him more and more, and learn to trust Him more and more. Lordship is NOT blind, and love is NOT blind.

Seventh, Have the fear of the Lord – hate evil (Pro 8:13); for it is only so, that you will have godly wisdom. God is holy; He hates evil. If you want NOT to be holy and righteous, what business do you have to get to Heaven?!

cont...

Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

Legalism? It does NOT feature; but obey you must, for Jesus said that those who love Him are the ones who obey His commands (John 14:15), and those who obey His commands are the ones who love Him (John 14:21a). Do you need to follow the Lord? Yes. Obey you must, for how else do you follow another if you do NOT obey him. How can He be your Master, you, His disciple, if you obey NOT and follow NOT Him?! Finally, how can He live through you, without you being His true disciple? So, be true in your discipleship with the Lord.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions