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August 31, 2021 12:00 am
Something comfortable about reducing the New Testament to a list of do's and don'ts. Why, because you already know at any given time where you stand and if you're not sure where you stand. Please somebody make up another rule. It removes anxiety but also removes wisdom and critical thinking and prayer for that matter, dependence on the Holy Spirit to help you choose the things that are best and godly over the things that are simply acceptable. Ladies and gentlemen. Christianity is not a last it is alive. Also need to balance guidelines man-made. One key to doing that well is to have a good understanding of grace. What we mean when we talk about God's grace.
In particular, what's the relationship between God's grace and God's law.
How does the believer relate to the law as a recipient of God's grace were going to explore all of this today. Welcome to this broadcast of wisdom for the heart with Stephen, Davey, Stephen is continuing through a series from Romans six called delivered from the kingdom of said today's message is entitled govern by grace. Paul says you are not under law but you are under grace. Can you imagine any more controversial statement than that one. I believe the correctly interpreting this phrase is so important to error here means to distort every area of your life to do it correctly means to inspire every aspect of life we got it interpreted so that we catch the same sense that Paul had when he celebrated this truth. You are no longer under law. You are now under grace validity me when to give you a few things quickly number 18 meant that we are not under the law's demands for God's approval. In other words salvation is by the grace of God right he's been teaching data delivering that truth now for many chapters is Artie told us there is none right is not one nobody can really keep the law in order to get into heaven, he told us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners, so we are no longer under the laws demands for God's approval. Secondly, we are not under the penalty, the eternal penalty of law. The wages of sin. That is the penalty for having broken the law is what yes but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 623 third were not under the dynamic of the law.
We are under the dynamic or the principle of grace while we live with in the law we are not motivated by the law.
In other words, while we are law abiding citizens, we find that the guiding principle and the motivation of our holy living is in the dynamic of God's redeeming one Jewish commentator that I enjoy reading.
He wrote something on the Jewish New Testament commentary believer said that Paul doesn't include the definite article before the word law you look in your text.
You can read that you are not under law.
You and say under the law. He goes on to say that Paul would be referring to, then that perversion of the law, which is legalism referring to legalism which is defined as the twisting of the law into a system of rules for earning God's praise, but I never trust thing that ever loving but I never communing with God, the giver of the law and I believe he is a fascinating point here that gives this thing a little bit clearer understanding force Paul has in fact been contrasting the efforts of mankind to win the approval of God and the futility of that effort with God's own free gift of grace. Salvation is not given to those who perfectly keep a list of rules. It is a relationship with a Redeemer, a person, the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in him through grace that gives meaning to what Jesus said that first century audience when he said to them, are you tired are you weary, are you heavy laden, that is, are you burned down, come to me and I will give you what rest, what was he talking about that you plan to take about three hours now he is talking about release from the burden the tiresome effort of the flesh to keep all of the observances in order and along with all the prohibitions in order to find their rest and assurance of God. Jesus had come to me mine is free. That's what you say is light and it's easy salvation, then, is not what you can do for God. It is what God has already done accomplished for you. You are not under then legalism's burden and the religions of the world create their systems of legalism and all of those things that you do if you ever hope to go to heaven you're not under that the believer who is identified with Jesus Christ is free. He has, by means that enjoys liberty and the dynamic of the life we know as grace, without a doubt one of the biggest challenges facing the believer is avoiding the extreme.
We have on the one hand, legalism, with his lists of do's and don'ts and and if you do those and you don't do those. You will have spirituality.
That's where it crosses the line of the wrong standards or convictions or dues or notes for your life.
But when you believe that doing those are not doing those produces true spirituality that legalism, the other extreme is licentiousness. These the people is for the list of they throw all do anything you want doesn't really matter. Both extremes are wrong and they are dangerous, so let me spend our time this morning with just simply contrasting legalism and grace as we can better grasp the joy that Paul had when he said we are longer under law but under grace to leave before things the contrast legalism law with grace. First, standard standard of legalism is external the standard of grace is internal. Legalism is is only interested in outward compliance grace is interested in an inward character law and the right use of law, by the way does its role and accomplishes its objective and and simply pointing out your failure to keep it right it cannot empower you to keep it they can just remind you when you have have never been stopped by state Highway Patrol.
When we get a number here so I need to be careful what I say I've never been stopped by one. This is licensor I've been watching you and I know she came to a complete stop of this new stop signs in your neighborhood, which between you and me ridiculous anyway but I noticed that you stopped at those and I just want to pull you over and commend Minera been stopped by placement is setting I've been watching you and I get on the radar here and you can keep in the speed limit and I want to give you some gift certificates to the mall never had anyone not it is in the role of of law, the role of laws to stop you. When you exceed the speed limit and I give you a gift certificate to give you a summons whereupon you begin to sweat how much of my auto insurance rates getting right law deals with external compliance and it is the role of law and the more obedient we are to the role of law orderly. Our society will become, however, that is external this dynamic of spirituality living in Christ, has to do with this internal matter of the heart and that can never be picked up on radar. No one will ever see it.
They will see symptoms or evidences that the God sees the hard, you may keep the speed limit and be an absolutely on godly man, you may keep all of the rules and chew with your mouth closed and open doors for ladies instead of the right point in clock in and do your job and listen to the boss and do all that and be an absolute principle of grace start on the inside. You cannot be governed by grace. I will add and live in sin. Paul wrote in Titus to the grace of God has appeared, and it does two things that bring salvation, and it instructs us dog by grace, bringing us to salvation but there's a second part of that is, it instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live godly in this present age. Grace is this dynamic that lives within us by means of the Holy Spirit, by the way, the struggle between this principle of legalism and the principle of grace is not new controversy and confusion related to the Christian life and walking. What can you do what can't you do in any culture in any generation has always been a struggle. I think it began just as soon as the clouds sort of move back in covering the Lord Jesus Christ with runs away sent back to the father. One church father writing the second century was asked by a younger believer how to live a godly life. Listen to his answer that was recorded for us and preserved for sake colored closing remove everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Furthermore, no longer sleep on a soft pillow or taken one bad. If you are truly sincere about following Christ never shave your beard for a shave is an attempt to improve on the work of him who created how many of you got it looked in the mirror said I need to improve on. This created order that has become great disorder overnight.
All of us. Thank the Lord for that so funny because I can remember that those who believed that if you didn't initiate you were somehow not quite as spiritual.
Legalism always majors on minor external nonessential things of life. The standard for legalism is external compliance.
The standard for grace is internal character. Secondly, since the standard is external, it would only follow that the foundation for legalism's rules while the foundation for grace is a relationship. In other words, legalism is interested in what people do.
Grace is interested in who people are. Paul is Artie made it very clear in this chapter who we are. We are people who are eternally related to Jesus Christ by faith, we have been crucified in him and with him spiritually in the mind of God we have been buried with him by faith, we have been raised to walk in this new dynamic of living which now we hear from Paul. Is this dynamic of grace, he says, even so in verse 11. Consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. That's who you are. You maybe call the North Carolinian because you live in the state of North Carolina. You are called a Christian because you live in the state of Christ. Your citizenship ultimately is heaven legalism with the spawning of its religions.
To this day in a system of rules has violated the very principle of Christ's salvation, which is a relationship.
One of the reasons Paul wanted us to celebrate the truth of grace is the fact that God had related to us and relates to us now by means of grace by faith in his son had never thought about the fact that the throne of God is referred to in the Bible is the throne of grace, even though it is also and even terrifying. It is a throne called grace which means that every command that emanates from that throne is covered, wrapped, sealed with grace. That means that you can approach that throne with great boldness. Why because he's less than pure and holy and awesome know because you are related in Christ now as his son or his daughter. You have that relationship and you can go before that throne any time, and the truth is, the more like this one. Seated upon that throne, we become the more we will relate to people through the principle of grace, just as we do not stand before the throne of grace because of anything we've done to deserve it. So we also do not treat people simply because it's something they deserve it or something, though very comfortable about relating to people based upon what they do things that we can easily compare or observe it's easy to relate to people that way is there something comfortable about reducing the New Testament to a list of rules do's and don'ts. Why, because you already know at any given time where you stand and if you're not sure where you stand. Please somebody make up another rule. It removes anxiety but also removes wisdom and critical thinking and prayer for that matter, dependence on the Holy Spirit to help you choose the things that are best and godly over the things that are simply acceptable. Maybe the things that are good ladies and gentlemen. Christianity is not a last it is a life this dynamic of life is grace and grace will instruct you in holiness. Paul tells us grace will encourage you when you fail. Grace will demand your utmost diligence and discipline. Grace will remind you that there is a day approaching.
You will stand before that great throne and every motive will be explored in every word idle word exposed in every sinful thought exposed and rewards will be dispensed based on those things in our lives that were profitable versus unprofitable for his glory well is a list of rules may not produce true spirituality or holiness than what are some guidelines. Let me give you some very quickly. Some guidelines related to this issue of legalism versus grace number one if the Scriptures warn against something, don't play around with it simple enough. If the Scriptures warn against it, don't play around with it. Paul wrote in the context of a man with a woman who was in his wife. It is good that a man touch nonalignment your play around with that. He just wanted taken at its face value plus and put away from you. Lying and greed. How much of that we can play around with and manage rather than refuse if the Scriptures warning us of the play around with the secondly the Scriptures forbid it. Don't try to justify. Be careful if you hear yourself saying something related to something that is questionable or perhaps as close to the edges. You can get, or maybe even something that would be considered sinful and you know it is.
But be careful when you hear yourself say something like well and I am under grace, God is a God of grace being under grace does not mean the grace will justify impurity or lack of discipline or tolerance of greed or anger or lust or any number of things. Remember the beginning of this chapter.
Also, can we continue in sin that were related to God through Christ.
May it never be. We want to be distinctive followers of God with the Scriptures forbid something, don't try to justify the third, if the Scriptures don't say nothing about it.
Don't assume it is right or wrong as it occurred to you yet of the Bible doesn't say a lot about a lot of things, when it be nice if it said more principles are given that are certainly timeless and profitable but a lot of specific things are never addressed. Grace means that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and the teacher the Holy Spirit living within you with the word of God which is timeless and profitable for every activity of life teaching you to find the best things in teaching you the wrong things to avoid interesting as it relates to church itself.
Even this worship service.
How many opinions there can be about what's right what's wrong even of the Scriptures are silent. I have had over the years a number of comments directed to me either through mail or email, or even anonymous mail giving opinions, criticism or disapproval with I just thought this past week about what that could be and I came up with a real short list things like not reciting the Lord's prayer. At some point in our service by giving a traditional altar call that wearing a robe when I preach actually got that a couple times not holding worship services on Sunday night, not crossing myself before and after praying that having a steeple, and a cross on top of her building allowing drums on the stage singing courses written in the last century singing those courses with guitars having too many courses worship services that have too many hymns. It's interesting when I get those to the same week always fascinating and it happened several times for reading Scripture during the worship services for having guest speakers were not independent Baptist for not printing an order of service for not preceding the service with a prelude for not concluding the service with a doxology and a great I love this job. By the way I want to know versus come attach because basically the Bible is silent on so much of that which is good because of the fourth point of the Bible is truly silent about it.
Don't try to use the Bible to prove your point.
There are other principles we want time to get into will dive deeper when we get to Romans chapter 14 repoll deals with questionable thing so far this morning we learned that the standard for legalism is an external standard of grace or for grace is internal. The foundation for legalism's rules. The foundation for grace is a relationship with me give you another. The objective of legalism is conformity.
The objective of grace is transformation. Legalism finds great comfort in the fact that other people do the same thing you do or don't do. The truth is we all have a lot of that are at least a little bit of it in us beginning to show up very early in our years about when we had 11 or 12 or 13, and something we referred to in that for that generation is peer pressure. Legalism is sort of a sanctified and grown-up version of peer pressure where everybody is supposed to do the same thing in look-alike and talk alike.
Do all the same thing. It's much more dangerous. However, because it has attached to it. The name of God. Anytime you attach God's name to something it now becomes a anger issue. The trouble is, since legalism is based on external things. It's possible for us to conform on the outside without ever being transformed on the inside. One author wrote wrote it this way conforming to boundary markers. Too often, substitutes for transformation.
He says the church I grew up and had its boundary markers like this one, people could be proud or resentful or gossip if they were ever caught smoking they would be told to leave smoking then became a boundary marker. By the way, not endorsing smoking so save your email on this point. Okay, he goes on as I was growing up having a quiet time, became one of those boundary markers.
If someone asked me about my spiritual life I would immediately think, have I been having a regular quiet time. My initial thought was not am I growing in my relationship to Jesus Christ and more loving toward other people, but that I clock in this morning to listen to this profound statement is summarized summarizes boundary markers change from culture to culture, but the dynamic remains the same. If Christians do not experience authentic transformation then their Christianity will retreat within their boundary markers that masquerade as evidence of a changed life. The objective of legalism is conformity and it basically retreats within itself and all those that have decided to conform on every issue. The same way would be a surprise to you to know that in the early church. It was great controversy. The vision and angst and frustration and anger over the posture of prayer in A.D. to 20 in public prayer. I should add true tooling and a well-known church father was asked and he finally set down some guidelines to try to put it to bed.
He said this, if you lift your hands toward heaven. When you pray, you do not need to wash them every time since they are spiritually claim it is wrong to sit when conversing with God in prayer. You should never kneel in prayer on Easter because that was the day when Jesus Christ arose, you can just see the confusion mounting another famous third century church father Clement of Alexandria said you should always pray with your eyes open toward heaven, and if he's right.
I have worked my four kids. Close your eyes were praying your head, like that know you gotta open your eyes toward heaven to really pray other church fathers taught the prayer was more spiritual. If you stretched out your arms horizontally in the cross position as you prayed in order to mimic the crucified all these views, but confusion and animated seems silly that they arrested Jeff to remember that in that context to those generations. They had not and in a in a too distant past, remembered Temple error worship where everything was done through the mediator priest. Now they can in this New Testament dispensation approach God personally. They can confess their sin personally and privately deny why you need only a laydown yard on your face. These standing with up in great confusion abounded. Because of this, until finally the Council of Nicaea after 100 years of this debate. Finally, stated this. This was their rule that congregational prayer in the church should always be offered standing up, which again missed the point. It promoted this principle of conformity, rather than the principle of grace, which is transformation and a transform heart can find a suitable posture in prayer in any number of postures you might have your eyes open toward heaven. You might have them close they might be blurred with tears your hands might be raised. They might be at your side, you might be walking and praying it might be watching the sunset and praying you might be in your study or in some prayer closet, praying in the dark.
The point is not how you look when you pray, it is that you pray there are more contrast. But I want to just well I got time for one more year. The fruit of legalism's fear, the fruit of Grace's fellowship try to wrap it up with this fear. Mount Sinai did not bring liberty did it brought law. It brought civility, not saintliness.
Another mountain would be the host for that and that would be bound The cross of Jesus Christ released us from the spirit of fear and gave it was called with the potential that spirit of adoption which is fellowship with the father's legal sons and daughters with all the rights and benefits of a legal son or daughter.
The inspiration for the Christian's life. The inspiration for Christian living holy obedient living is not fear that God will zap you if you cross the line. It is gratitude because of what God did in loving us while we were yet sinners cross work Jesus Christ approved the cross also brings fellowship with one another through Jesus Christ's only say this way. Legalism brings fear which produces only more guilt, grace brings fellowship which produces only greater grant I read this past week, the evidence of grace in a man's life. This doesn't really fit the sermon on the stuff it in right here at this point, wrap it up.
You member Paul stated in first Thessalonians that the grace produces gratitude will Matthew Henry, a famous commentator who wrote in the early 18 the mid-1800s wrote his Matthew Henry commentary.
Some of you have volume show the work of God's transformation of his life which produce gratitude even in difficult circumstances which is the amazing point of Paul's life. He wondered how could he ever live with such joy with what he experienced. It was the transformation of his heart. Through this principle of grace. Matthew Henry was robbed in the entry in his diary that evening is very insightful and very convicting read it.
He said this quote let me be thankful. He wrote first because I have never been robbed. Second, because although he took my money, he did not take my life.
Third, because although he took all I possess. It wasn't very much and forth.
I'm thankful because it was I who was robbed not rocked. No wonder Paul could endure incredibly difficult things with joy because grace was his overriding principle of life so that he could say it calls us with him to exult you will no longer bound and motivated by the principle of law. You are now under the dynamic your under the standard foundation fellowship governing principle of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I hope this time in God's word is deep and your understanding and appreciation of the marvelous grace God has given you. Thanks for joining us today here on wisdom for the hearts. This is the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey Stephen is the pastor of the shepherd's church in Cary, North Carolina. If you haven't already, I encourage you to install our app to your phone so that you can quickly and easily access all of our Bible-based resources.
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