In our compartmentalized Christianity, we live like we're picking choiced fruit in the orchard—whatever catches your attention, whatever tickles your fancy, whatever tastes and feels good....whatever floats your boat. Pick & choose all you want, after all, God loves you and accepts you. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that there is something narcissistic, self-indulgent and irresponsible about that. You might say to me, "Cornelius, surely you're taking it a little too far, that's not popular, surely that's not going to go down well with people." Well, the last time I checked, none of the Bible heroes came to give us a popular teaching and to tickle our fancy bone.
John the Baptist: "Repent, for the kingdom of God is here."
Paul the apostle: Work out your salvation with fear & trembling."
Jesus our Lord: "Be holy as I am holy."
"Well, Cornelius, that sounds like a lot of law and no grace. Don't you know we're new covenant people? We are living in the Jesus/Grace era."
Yes, I'm glad you asked. The grace message is floating around like it is the latest Christian fad. Undoubtedly, the gospel is all grace, without which our faith will be impotent and meaningless. However, unbalanced and unscriptural grace that is self-serving and indulgent is not the biblical grace Jesus died on the cross for.
Romans 7:7 The Message
But I can hear you say, “If the law code was as bad as all that, it’s no better than sin itself.” That’s certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, “You shall not covet,” I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.
The essence and principle of law is to provide safety boundaries and to help you. It applies to every area of life, natural laws, judicial laws, as well as spiritual laws.
THE LAW IS SUPPOSED TO HELP YOU! The law pricks your conscience to the reality of sin, which leads you to righteous living. Yes, we live by grace but the law (principles of righteousnsess) points us to fulfilled grace living!
Colossians 1:10-11 (AMP)
10 That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition].
11 [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy...
It says to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, desiring to please Him; not walk worthy of yourself, fully pleasing yourself, desiring to please yourself.
Jesus told us to carry the cross, to embrace its message with dignity, and righteous living, not condemn and ridicule it with our self-seeking theologies and philosophies, and irresponsible lifestyle.
If we just read the news and start to take notice of what's going on around us, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, economic meltdown, racial and religious killings, terrorism, persecutions...if we care enough about what the Bible says, we would know that His return is not far from now. Before we get carried away with the image of Him splitting the skies and riding on the clouds, be reminded that He is also coming to judge the earth.
The glorious wedding banquet of eternity awaits. Jesus is coming back for a blameless, spotless, beautiful Bride, not a filthy, lascivious, immoral one. May I add, blameless, spotless, beautiful do not happen by default; it takes some guts, some downright buckled-down unwavering convictions and responsibility, lots of hard work, lots of heart work.
If you truly believe what you believe, then live and act like it. Period.
If you believe He is holy, then live it, don't just sing it.
If you believe He is the Healer, then don't just shout, twitch and roll around in church, take His power out there on the streets.
If you believe in love, then let it be responsible love. Enough of manipulation, self-serving motives disguised in love. And please, let it begin at home.
If the faith convictions in the secret chambers of your heart do not tally with the public places of your life, THEN YOU HAVE JUST NULLIFIED THE POWER OF YOUR FAITH AND CONVICTIONS. They are weak and powerless; not amounting to much.
James 1:21-27 (AMP)
21 So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.
22 BUT BE DOERS OF THE WORD [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;
24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.
25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, AND IS FAITHFUL TO IT AND PERSEVERES IN LOOKING INTO IT, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).
27 External religious worship religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.
Lastly, you can go to church your whole life and not know who you are in Him. Schizophrenic Christian...are you one? Selah.
For His sake,