Galatians 3:2-4
2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Legalism Seeks to Nullify Faith

The law is a static force, which is good in itself, but serves only to show man his weakness outside of God. The law in and of itself doesn’t stand as our salvation, but rather our condemnation. Instead, it is faith that is the dynamic force in union with the Spirit of God that produces life changing events and substance. ‘Without faith we know that it is impossible to please God.’
Most of us aren’t steeped in Judaism, but we might be surprised how much we try to please and earn God’s favor by our works rather than by our faith. We allow others to impound us or we put ourselves under bondage, rituals, ceremonial and dietary restrictions, the keeping of days and numerous other legal restrictions that allow us to feel somehow more superior and holy than those that do not observe and keep such things. The Word plainly tells us that righteousness is not of the law. Galatians 3:21-24 says, “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” The Law then was but an instrument and a tool to prepare us for Christ, who is our righteousness by faith. The Law was not an end in itself. Verses 26-29 goes on to say, “26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Our position in God is not about who we are, where we came from, what sex we are or what race or background we come from. Our position in God is “Sonship” through faith in Jesus Christ. Our position is in Christ and He in us. It is out of this position that we will move into our full inheritance in Christ. This is why we must put on Christ by faith and no longer live out of the mentality of our natural minds that perceive us as separate and away from God. We are united with Him and it is our faith that lays hold of this truth and lives it out to produce victory and overcoming in our lives. This is the place we must learn to abide; the place of living out of His Spirit and His Life. This is the truth that declares we are the seed of Abraham and heirs according to promise. It is no longer the identification with the flesh and our goodness. That is legalism. It is our identification with “Christ in us” that will set us free and lead us into the expression of righteousness and justification that is by faith alone and no longer by works. Our works will be the fruit and expression of our faith and no longer the means of obtaining our goodness and righteousness.

Blessings,
#kent

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Yoked Oxen and Wild Asses

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

As the New Covenant Church began after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ there were many struggles for men and women to come into the truth of the grace and freedom that is in Christ Jesus. There are still many parallels of that in the Church today. On one side you have what we will call the “yoked oxen”. These are the religious ones who have grown up in the religious atmosphere of denomination and religious structure. Most have grounding in the basic truths of God’s Word, but they have been so long under the yoke of the routine of religion it is hard for them to have the vision of how God is expanding beyond the perimeters of their individual camps of truth and revelation. In many ways they have become similar to the Jews of Israel. “Bless God, we are God’s chosen and our way is the right way. It was good enough for my ancestors and it is good enough for me.” It is the mentality that wants to put God in the box of our religious way of thinking and they struggle to see beyond that.
On the other hand we have what we will call “the wild asses”. These are those much like the Gentiles outside of Judaism that have little or no roots in religious background or the Christian religion. They have lived life free and wild before the Holy Spirit drew them to Himself and they came into knowledge of Him. They may not have the reverence and respect for the time honored traditional values that the “yoked oxen” have. They often have no clue of the proper etiquette and decorum of worship and reverencing God. But the “Wild Asses,” on the other hand, come with a certain freedom from the tradition and teachings of men. Their souls are like virgin soil for the gospel to be planted into. There is this wall of religion and rebellion that exist between the two camps as they often have conflict in dealing with one another. This was that middle wall of partition that separated the Jew and Gentile of old and a prejudice that still exist today. The scripture says Christ is our peace that has made us both one. As these two cultures come together in the atmosphere of true Christian fellowship, worship and relationship it is often hard for them to relate with one another. What we sometimes forget is that each brings to the table something that the other needs to balance them both. The wild ones need the structure and discipline, the reverence and respect that accompany the fear of God. The yoked ones need the freedom from inhibitions, liturgical thinking and expression that the wild ones bring. It is coming out of a box and culture for both sides that, together, the two may become one new man in Christ.
If missionaries from America go to foreign countries trying to impose their cultural thinking and ways as they preach the gospel they are often very much rejected and resisted. If they go and are willing to lay down their preconceived cultural ideas and reach out to the people from their cultural understanding and perspective they are often better understood and received because the people from that culture can relate with them.
What are we saying? God is bringing people into body from every nation, tribe and tongue, from every background and culture. We all have to come out of our cultural boxes and shells if we are to relate with one another in Christ. The cross of Jesus and the love of God are the common ground upon which we meet. Our focus must be much less on that of judging others and conforming them to our particular ideology of Christianity and more focused on how do we build each other up in love. If I can be more focused on meeting your need than I am on fixing your problem, the problem may well get resolved as I meet the need.
I once worked with a young man who was very open to hear about the Lord, but was from a different religious background than myself. I had my book and I was going to set him straight on why his religious background was wrong. Before I talked with him, I felt I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Just speak the truth in love and the truth will set him free.” It is each one of us opening up our hearts and minds to what the Spirit wants to teach us that will set us free. He will lead us into all truth if we will abide in relationship with Him and remain obedient to His leading. He will break down the middle wall of partition and make the “yoked oxen” and the “wild asses” one man in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

Not the Outward, but the Inward

Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

The church is not so unlike the Jewish nation before us. We have taken the principles of the kingdom of heaven and have fashioned them into laws and burdens that are placed on the backs of men. So many of our denominations have taken a revelation and a truth, dug their foundations and built their denominations and that is where they have staid. God is not stagnant. He is an ever-moving river of truth. He is continually unfolding and unveiling His plan before us. His truth is all there in His Word, but the revelation of that truth has not been fully manifested. It is a progressive thing. One of the chief kingdom principles is never think that you have it all and never be content to build your faith and religion on present day truth. That is not to say it isn’t truth, but it may be only a facet and part of the whole.
From the early days of Christianity men have done what the religious leaders of old did with Judaism. They try and make our faith a mandate of rules and regulations. Men still try and dictate and control by taste not, touch not and eat not. If Christ taught us anything He taught us to change the outward there must be a change inwardly. Jesus once told the Pharisees, “ It is not what goes into a man’s belly that defiles him, it is what comes out.” Jesus knew that unless the condition of the heart is changed no amount of rules and regulations will really change men. They may try to act correctly outwardly, but inwardly they are still the same. The kingdom of heaven in us begins with a heart change. It must change from the desire for earthly enrichment and expression to the desire for the Spirit of God to have expression through us. No longer my will, but Your will be done. What we find is that when we really get in step and in sync with God’s heart and the Holy Spirit, we have set out on a God adventure and there is no telling where it may take us. It is exciting and it is ever fresh and new. The neat thing is we are not struggling to control it, but we have relinquished control to the Holy Spirit. Now our chief desire and ambition is to flow in harmony and obedience to Him. It is no longer about religion telling us we have to do this and we can’t do that. The law that governs us lives within our hearts and we know that our obedience to Him leads to heightened relationship and fellowship. We have found that our faith is not of the ceremonial outward protocol, it is righteouness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Instead of ceremony we celebrate who and what we are in Christ and all that He is becoming in us. Perhaps that would explain why there is such a large movement away from traditional religion and more of a move toward non-denominationalism. The kingdom of heaven is not about the organization it is about the organism in which the Holy Spirit is released and free to move in and through His body according to His will and purpose and not the dictates of men and their programs. Where the Holy Spirit is free to move is where you will find that it will be as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:20, “For the kingdom of God [is] not in word, but in power.” Isn’t that what we desire and seek today? We have heard countless words, but God we want to behold your power. We want to see the kingdom manifested in the lives and affairs of men. This is what we press into as we seek the deeper experience of the kingdom of heaven. We want to find the lover of our soul, our King. We want to find the place of intimacy and relationship with Him where we have true communion and dialog with His presence.
May our hearts become inflamed with an everlasting passion for our Christ and His coming as well as His manifest kingdom. When we are consumed in our love for Him, the things of this world become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Righteousness then becomes a state of who we are by association and relationship with Him who is righteous rather than something we seek to achieve through outward efforts and works. The kingdom of heaven in you is allowing and giving place to Christ being all that He desires to be in you. Allow the kingdom to flood into every part and fiber of your being and your life. As He is in you, so will you be in this world.

Blessings,
kent

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