Monday, July 09, 2007

Leading Us Away From Sin

One of the sermon topics the elders at the Storm Lake Church of Christ have requested that I preach on is morality. Now I am a little hesitant to do this. Why? It is not because I think the issue of morality of little importance because I am very aware of the negative consequences of sin for both the Church family and the individual.

My reluctance has to do with a prevalent attitude in the Church that morality equals holiness. If we do the right things and avoid the wrong things then we will be the type of people Jesus desires that we be. This type of thinking has at least two problems with it. First when we fail to live up to the rules and regulations we are instructed to live by: read your Bible, go to "church", and the various "thou shall nots" we begin to second guess our salvation, or the very least that we have what it takes to do what God has called us to do. This has been a huge obstacle in my life as I have tried to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. I kept on blowing it because I couldn't live up to all the expectations that were placed on me. At one point it got so bad that I was ready to give up, not because I lost my faith, but because there was no way I could be the person the law told me I had to be.

The second problem we run into when we equate holiness with morality is that we become very judgmental during those brief moments when we have disciplined our lives to live out those expectations placed on us. We will judge our brothers and sisters in Christ because they are not as disciplined as we are. We will judge those living outside of God's will because of the sin that is so obvious in their lives. The sad result of being legalistic judges is that we don't take the time to help the people that are truly in need. All we offer them is a longer set of rules, regulations, and expectations that they cannot possibly live up to. I have been there too. There have been times in my life when I was quick to condemn people because they didn't believe what I believed and didn't live like I lived. They were sinners passing time before they got what they deserved: hell.

Thank God that He sees things differently! Holiness is not about morality, but about being different from the world around us. The reality is that there are moral people out there who have never surrendered their lives to Christ Jesus. They do just as much good as many Christian people, and yet they are not saved. Remember two realities: everyone has sinned and good works cannot overcome the sin in our lives. Christianity is not about making us moral, but it is about making us holy. We are to be set apart for God's purposes and to live differently from the world around us.

How is this possible? It isn't possible by following the Law! It is only possible by following Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote
{19}Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary. {20} Now an intermediary is not for one party alone, but God is one. {21} Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. {22} But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given - because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ - to those who believe. {23}Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. {24} Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. {25} But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. {26} For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. {27} For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28} There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female - for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. {29} And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galataians 3:19-29; NET)

The way God wants us to live is not found in obeying the law, because we are incapable of perfect obedience, but in trusting Jesus. The question we will always ask if our main concern is morality is: what can I do and still be considered good? The law draws a line and says that if we cross that line then we are bad. This is why the Jews added so much to the Law God had given them through Moses. They wanted to obey the Law as best they could and so they wanted to make the line as clear as possible.

When we follow Jesus our great concern isn't what we can get away with, but where Jesus is leading us. Our question is: Lord, where are you leading me today? This is what makes us different from the rest of the world. This mindset that our lives are not our own, for us to live how we choose, but they belong to Jesus and He will guide them. This is so much bigger than mere morality, it is a life change that affects every aspect of our lives. It is not just a change of behavior, but a change of heart and mind and attitude.

When we trust Jesus by following where He leads sin starts to have a less have a hold on us. Why? Well, when we are living by the Law and concerned with morality, our focus is always on what we shouldn't be doing. But when we are following Jesus He will lead us to places where we can live out the new nature the God is creating in us. Rather than worrying about what we can get away with we can instead through ourselves into the wonderful life God created us to live. Jesus will lead us away from sin and death to righteousness and life.

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

I'm so glad you had some time to blog.. this topic has definitely come up a lot in our conversations, hasn't it? The problem with morality is that we always feel we have to grovel our way back to God when we've messed up.. and God is telling us that we are already holy and complete.. we just need to get our eyes off of ourselves and on to Jesus.

Your ponderings are amazing.

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