RSS

Category Archives: Legalism

Patiently Complaining?

In my last post we saw what James taught about the Second Coming of the Lord. It will require us to be patient. At this point it’s taken about 2000 years for the fulfillment.

But there is still more to learn about patience.

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
James 5:9

James tells us to wait patiently without grumbling. Now, that word grumbling was a colloquial term that meant to sigh, to murmur or to say something inaudibly.

It’s just like when someone gets you mad and you speak under your breath.

“I don’t know about that person … I don’t want to do it his way … who does he think he is.”

Many of us act that way, but the Word says that we shouldn’t get caught up in that type of attitude. We shouldn’t be grumbling and complaining about one another.

Why not? “Because the Judge is at the door.” We enjoy the ability we have of always judging everybody else and then walking away.   We’ve always got something to say about somebody.

I know that in my own life it’s so much easier to give myself the benefit of the doubt. But when someone else does something I don’t like – they have no excuse. It may be human nature to see things in that way, but it’s not Christ-like.

Be careful, because the Lord sees everything, and He’s the One who’ll make the final, righteous judgment on the case.

Jesus, especially in these Last Days, wants us to walk in unity of spirit. And so He wants us to be careful not to be found grumbling and judging each other because we know that the real Judge is at the door. We’ve got to be found doing the work that He’s called us to do and not mistreating one another.

There’s one more aspect of patience that James deals with.

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:10-11

Especially in these last days, we need to be patient in the face of suffering. Please understand, that word suffering literally means suffering evil. It about the patience we need to be salt in our current evil society.

I have to understand that unsaved people are going to do evil. It’s all a part of their human nature passed down through their DNA. It’s not my place to judge them or tell them what they’re doing is wrong.

I must be praying for them. While God is at work, I need to be patient with them. Then, as I live openly for Christ, I expect the Holy Spirit to convict them and open their heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t take any character to gripe and complain about everything that people are doing wrong in our society. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit wait patiently for an opportunity to be a true witness for Christ.

The fact is that people don’t get saved because you tell them how bad and sinful they are. They seek salvation when they see how good and loving the Savior is. The key is that the only place they’re going to see Christ’s goodness is in us.

Question: When have you had to be patient in the face of evil?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Legalism, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Relationship Over Rules

RulesIn my last post I talked about the fact that the Bible isn’t meant to be a rule book. The Old Testament law teaches us that a set of rules could never bring us closer to God.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15

This verse makes it abundantly clear that on the cross, Christ cancelled – obliterated, blotted out – the rule book. God no longer wants us to follow Him by rule, but by the Spirit.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56

This verse tells me that all of Satan’s so called power comes from the law. His only mode of attack is to enforce the law. That’s the power of his weaponry.

This verse also shows the basis of how Christ could disarm the demonic forces. On the cross, Christ obliterated the power source of the enemy. Satan’s kingdom is now an army of unloaded guns.

The only power they have is the power we give them, by subjecting ourselves, once again, to the law. That’s the trouble with our human nature. We all want rules. We’d rather someone tell us, “do this”, than to spend time with the Father and seek His will.

The verse we looked at in my last post showed us that following the apostles teaching as a rule opens us up to the sin of pride. Paul said that’s why they were talking arrogantly against one another. Pride is the sin that caused the devil to fall from the place he was created for.

Don’t let subjection to the law ruin your walk with God. The tendency of using the Bible as a rule-book causes many divisions and problems in the Body of Christ.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

Using the Bible as a rule book causes most of the arguments we see between believers. We get so passionate about our own pet rules. It’s all talked about in this verse.

Believers argue about what Christians can or cannot eat and drink. There are controversies over whether or not to celebrate Christmas; or whether to worship God on Saturday or Sunday. None of these issues have any place under the New Covenant.

The reality is that God wants a relationship with His children. He’s not looking for robots. The Lord wants us to seek time with Him so that He can teach us to follow Him.

I realize that I’ve had to deal with this subject very quickly here. But I’m sure I’ll get back to it again in future posts.

Question: What divisions have you seen in the church over what the “rules” are?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Legalism, Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Temple or Marketplace?

Fake MoneyThere were a number of things that Jesus was passionate about in His ministry. Do we have a passion for those same things? Or do we spend our energy on things that aren’t important?

At the start of Jesus’ ministry He went to Jerusalem for the Passover. He had an interesting encounter with some men in the Temple area.

In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:14-16

I’ve heard some pretty animated discussions about this passage. People use it to teach about the evils of having a church fair or flea market. I’ve heard others say it’s a sin to have a church bookstore.

Through all of this I think that they’re missing the whole point of what Jesus is saying. We need to understand what was really going on. It was all about greed on the part of the priests.

There were some provisions in the law to make it easier for the people to tithe. If I lived far away from Jerusalem, I could sell the sheep I was bringing for a tithe. Then I travel to Jerusalem with the money, and buy more sheep when I get there. In that way it was less of a burden on the people.

Unfortunately, religion changed all that. The priests made a rule that you could only buy specially inspected animals at the Temple for an inflated price.

On top of that, you could only use specially minted Temple coins to buy these animals. These coins were purchased from the money-changers at a high rate of exchange.

The result was – if I started at home with 100 sheep as a tithe; by the time I was through with this process I might only be able to afford 50 to offer at the Temple. So the priests and salespeople were getting rich while the people and God were being robbed. Jesus was reacting to the thievery that He was witnessing.

But the real question is; how does this apply to us? In the above Scripture Jesus said to take this stuff out of the Temple area. More importantly, My Father’s house is not an emporium.

So, religious people get hung up about church flea markets or fairs. First of all – a church building is not my Father’s house. Right now – I am my Father’s house and you are too. We are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

The bottom line for them – and us – is greed. It’s about what your house is based upon. Are you an emporium – a marketplace? Is your life revolving around stuff?

Are you truly the house of God – a place of worship? Can people see by your life that your whole being is devoted to the worship of the Lord? Do all the parts of your life revolve around Him?

Everything starts with an attitude – what’s ours?

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:17

Do you hear what the Holy Spirit spoke to the Apostles about this matter? Zeal for YOUR HOUSE will CONSUME ME. Our zeal to be a place of worship should consume all that we are. Think about that in relation to our lives.

John the Baptist said, “I must decrease – He must increase.” This should be the attitude of all believers. I am not all about the temporary, material things of this world. I must maintain the integrity of the living temple where God reigns supreme.

Question: What are some things you do to keep your Temple a place of worship?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 11, 2016 in Legalism, Ministry, Revival, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Abel – Acceptable Offerings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I look at Cain and his unacceptable offering, it’s not really complete unless we understand why Abel’s offering was accepted. After all, why would Cain kill Abel if he was really mad at God?

The truth is that there’s an offering that’s acceptable to God. The question is; what makes it acceptable?

But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering…
Genesis 4:4

Some say that God accepted Abel because he brought a blood offering, but that’s not the real reason. We must also remember that God called for many offering of firstfruits from the Israelites. So there’s no law that says God only accepts blood offerings.

You need to understand the times that Cain and Able lived in to see the issue. In talking about Abel’s birth, the Bible says…

Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:2

Why was Abel a shepherd of flocks? I ask that because God did not give mankind permission to eat meat until after the flood.

When Adam and Eve sinned and were removed from the garden, God did something interesting.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21

In order to cover their sin and nakedness, God slaughtered an innocent animal before them. He showed them the way to sacrifice a sin offering.

Abel was the shepherd of the flock. That means that Abel was the priest designated by God to offer sacrifices and offerings. Even the Lord Jesus referred to Abel as the first prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

Because Abel was God’s chosen priest, he was the only one who could offer sacrifices before God acceptably. Protocol dictated that Cain bring his offering to Abel in order for God to accept it.

Remember in my last post we saw that God told Cain, “If you do what is right, you will be accepted.” It wasn’t what Cain offered that was wrong; it was how he offered it.

This was going to require humility on Cain’s part. That’s always the catch, even for us. We offer a lot of things to God – Worship, praise, tithes, offerings, prayers, etc. In all of this we must humble ourselves before God.

I must realize that what I give isn’t acceptable simply because I’m bringing it. I’m only accepted because I’m in Christ. He’s our great High Priest.

We can’t boast in what we offer. It’s not about us. It’s about the One who makes us acceptable to God.

Question: How do you show your humility before God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Four Mistakes that can Kill Worship

Heart CellEvery weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church. They think that they’re worshipping God. Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them. Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside. Most people get all cleaned up and looking their best for church. That’s just normal. You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside. As we live and interact in the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it. Over time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time in the presence of Christ. That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, and not living them. You may not want to hear this, but every service, churches are filled with liars. How can I say that? Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious that silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

The whole time we’re thinking about what’s for dinner. We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him. Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true. To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God. Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay. We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day, because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God? The Father wants us to get to know Him personally. He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian is not just a choice to do good things. It’s a living relationship with a holy God. Worship is not a chore to complete. We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself. This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make. Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth. It’s all His. It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact. I am His. My greatest act of worship is to, willing, give myself to Him. Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer. Enter into a lifestyle of worship. True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship? Have you ever had to deal with these issues in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The New Testament Sabbath

churchesI’m posting about how to rest in the Lord and in His finished work. We can see the negative example of Israel from Scripture.

It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
Hebrews 4:6

These are sobering words. I notice that he writes that some, and not all will enter this rest. The verse says that those who didn’t, missed out because of disobedience. The actual Greek word there is apeitheia. This is where we get the English word apathy from.

This means that they did not enter in because of obstinate and rebellious disbelief. It’s made sadder by the fact that these very people had the Good News preached to them. This means that we have to be all the more careful to not miss this rest.

Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Hebrews 4:7

I believe that this is the key to the whole issue. If you hear His voice, don’t become hard hearted. Here we are 2000 years later and He’s still calling to His people. “Enter My rest.” If you hear this call, don’t get stubborn about it.

That’s why I think that it’s foolish to argue about what day of the week is the “day of rest.” The Scripture clearly calls it today – whatever day today is.

The Word of God plainly tells us that a cease from work is not the same as resting in God. For that matter, attending church is not the same as resting in God. I can’t say it any clearer than to tell you point blank that Israel observed the Sabbath but still DID NOT ENTER GOD’S REST.

In the Old Testament the Sabbath looks forward to what Jesus was going to accomplish for us. Any concept or truth from the Old Covenant must pass through the filter of the cross. Only then can you understand the true implications for the New Covenant believer.

The Sabbath is now applied to everyday under grace. The simple fact is that if you believe that Sunday (or Saturday) is the only day when you can have a church service, and that all believers need to worship together, you have a problem. If those two statements are true, then it’s not God’s will for firefighters, police, EMT’s, nurses, or others who have to work those days, to be saved.

We argue and fight about the most foolish things in the body of Christ. Israel obeyed the law of the Sabbath. Yet the Scripture clearly says that Israel never entered into God’s rest. Yet, we hold them up as the example for keeping the Sabbath.

The important thing we need to ask ourselves is not what day of the week we worship God, but are we entering into His rest? Will you enter into God’s rest TODAY?

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
Hebrews 4:8

The problem Israel faced is that Joshua only brought about a military victory. He was not able to bring the nation into true rest. That’s why God is so serious about our entering in.

More than anyone else, Christians should be entering the rest that God has provided for them. Not just on weekends, but 24/7. Anything less and you’re missing a big part of the blessing that was given us at the cross.

Question: How often are you intentional about entering God’s rest?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,