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The 5 Warning Signs of Legalism (Repost)

I’m continuing through the book of Galatians, studying Paul’s teaching on legalism.  Because many people have told me this post helped them in the past, I decided to include it in this series.  I hope this repost will be a blessing to you.

Many Christians are bound by legalism.  Are you one of them?  The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive.  You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs.  I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

Elevating works over position.  Do you worry about what you can do to please God?  The correct answer is – nothing!!  It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God.  Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less.  While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they’ll never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son. Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things. But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters.  As spiritual children, we learn servanthood.  It’s the training ground for our growth in Christ.  The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity.  The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world.  (Galatians 4:1-7)

Relying more on your confession than God’s grace. I believe in the confession of Scripture.  Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life.  Just as important is the reason we do it.  The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him.  But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need.  (II Peter 1:3)

Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ.  Scripture study is very important – it’s one of my passions.  I couldn’t live without it.  But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so.  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Christ that they pointed to.  It’s not enough just to know about Christ.  I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence.  (John 5:39-40)

Being confident more in the comparison with others than abiding in Christ.  Comparison is a deadly trap.  The problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me. It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else.  On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith.  I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life.  My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ.  (II Corinthians 10:12)

Questions: Have you battled with legalism?  How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Meditate on the Word of God

 

Journal 2Godly meditation upon the Word of God is one of the lost arts of the body of Christ. It’s one of the most powerful tools you could ever use in your study of God’s Word.

The Bible is a spiritual book. You can’t expect to use natural study methods to receive the supernatural revelation and knowledge God desires you to have.

There are always those Scriptures that, when read, seem to “jump out” at me. Through my meditation on the Word of God, I’ve gained insight into many of these portions of Scripture. I’ve found that I can use the tool of meditation to take me into the deep places of the Word of God. By meditating on the Word anyone can find the deeper truths of Scripture, and you’ll also come across some hidden gems that you never knew were there.

There are basically three levels to meditation. Each level revolves around an Old Testament Hebrew word. In this post I want to talk about the first.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

Meditation starts in our mind. The Hebrew word for this is Hagag. This word is used throughout the Old Testament and means to think about. That has got to be our starting point. We need to first think about the Word we’re studying. What does it mean? What did it mean to those to whom it was written? What does it mean to me?

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
Psalm 5:1

The word sighing, above, is the word Hagag. In both of the above verses David asks the Lord to consider his meditation. He wants the Lord to be pleased with what he thinks about. What a challenge!

One of the biggest battles we face is in our thought life. One of the side benefits to the discipline of meditation is that it starts to take our thoughts under control as we focus on God’s Word.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

We’re told that we’re to renew our minds. It’s through godly meditation that this is done. By thinking God’s thoughts, we’re “reprogramming our internal computers.” I believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote that we’re made clean by the washing with water through the Word.

This, then, is the first step, the starting point in our trip to supernatural revelation from Scripture. Before we can go any deeper, we must train our thoughts to focus upon the Word of God. We must begin to think about the Word. Only then are we ready for the next, deeper stage of meditation.

My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.     
Psalm 39:3

As I have just stated, this form of meditation just gets the ball rolling. It’s merely the starting place. It ignites the fire that will bring you further into the Word. Now you’re ready for the second level. I will talk about that in my next post.

Question: How often do you simply think about the Word of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Ministry, Spirit of Excellence, Word of God

 

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Power is Agreement with Christ #powerofGod

LightningMy last post talked about positioning yourself to flow in God’s power.  It all comes down to the truth that agreement with Christ is the place of power.  Do we always agree with Him?  Or do we make excuses?

“You can’t know God’s will for certain.”  “He may not want to heal.”  After all it can’t be our fault.  We feel there’s nothing wrong on our end so it must be God’s decision not to manifest His power.

In some cases we’re more like the Pharisees than we want to admit.  Jesus explained their problem to them.  I believe that it’s our problem as well.  We need to hear the Lord, and meditate on His words.

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:39-40

Many believers spend a great deal of time pursuing the study of Scripture.  There are radio and cable channels devoted to the study of the Word of God 24/7.

Just like Jesus said to the Pharisees, many of us think that by them we possess life and power.  We believe that if we just know the Word enough, it will increase our faith to the point where nothing will be impossible for us.

The Scripture is given to testify about Christ.  It was NOT given to grant us access to power or life.  Jesus Christ is the grand focus of the Word.  It’s IN HIM that we have power and life.

Our problem is that we refuse to go to Christ to have access to power and life.  Jesus said, “I have come that you would have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)  Power rests solely in Christ.  If we don’t abide in Christ, then we don’t have access to the power.

The very Scriptures that we recite, confess, and memorize are telling us who Christ is and what He’s done.  This should cause us to run to Him.  Instead, we embrace the Word and think that it will give us power.  It’s so much easier to live for ourselves and quote promises, then to abide in Christ.  That requires spiritual effort, and we like to look for the shortcuts.

This is the instant generation.  We want everything now without any waiting.  By constantly using our credit cards we will give away our future for a momentary pleasure.  We have to have everything now.

Well, this is something that’s impossible to get instantly.  It requires the work of an intimate relationship with God.  Power flows from Christ to us if we’ll do what it takes to position ourselves to receive it.  It’s time for the church to wake up and view relationship with Christ as the priority of the hour.

Question: Are you willing to wait in God’s presence rather than seek for instant success?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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The Importance of a Word from God

ChristIn my last post I talked about how Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (and us) for using the Scripture superstitiously.  In effect, Jesus told them, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess healing.  Yet you refuse to come to Me, the Healer.”

The Lord could say the same thing to us, these days.  “You think that by Scripture you will possess prosperity, yet you refuse to come to Me, the Provider.”

Please understand what I’m saying.  The Holy Spirit can speak a Word of healing to me through the Scripture, but He’s not limited to this avenue.  All that I need for life and godliness is found in Christ.

I will never obtain God’s blessing through my works – not even through intensive study and memorizing of the Bible.  Healing will come by the Word of God – no matter how God chooses to send it to me.

We need to hear a Word from God.  That Word will only come from time spent in His presence.  When I study the Bible instead of cultivating intimacy with the Lord, I’m going to lose out.  That’s the very problem that the Pharisees had.

…and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior…
Titus 1:3

In this passage, Paul tells Titus that the Word of God is made visible by the command of God.  It is God’s Word made manifest in God’s time.  That’s why time spent with the Lord is so important.  I need to be quiet and listening to hear His voice.  Hearing from God is actually the greatest theme of the New Testament.  It’s the foundation for everything we need in our walk with God.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

This is one of the greatest misunderstandings that we have in looking back to the early church.  We think that they were just like us.  On the contrary, they knew the importance of seeking a Word from God.  They spent time in His presence listening for His voice.

What I’m saying is this – the study of Scripture and hearing from God are not replacements for each other.  We need both, in order to have an abundant life in the Lord.  In our generation, the study of Scripture has been elevated out of proportion to listening for God’s voice.  That’s why my message is so strong for the church to spend time listening to God.

Question: Have you ever been guilty of seeking blessings from Scripture rather than Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2013 in Revival, Word of God

 

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Scripture and the Word of God

Bible 2I have been posting about the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.  I’ve probably said some things that have caused you to question my beliefs.  In today’s post you’ll see that what I believe is firmly rooted in the teaching of Christ, Himself.

At one point the Pharisees were trying to come up with a reason to kill Jesus.  They were upset that He healed people on the Sabbath and called God “Father,” among other things.  It’s important to see how the Lord handled these men.  Remember, these were people who dedicated their lives to the study and memorization of Scripture.

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:37-40

Notice how the Lord’s words to the Pharisees resemble His words to Satan when He was tempted.  He first tells them that they have not heard from God nor seen God.  He then told them that God’s Word did not live in them.  Wait a minute – they had the Scripture memorized – yet God’s Word did not have a place in their lives.

Jesus then makes a statement that we need to pay particular attention to.  He admits that those around Him diligently study the Scripture.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Why does it sound more like an indictment when the Lord says it?

Because it all depends upon why you’re studying the Scripture.  They were approaching it with the wrong reasoning.  Listen carefully to the words of Christ.  He said that they diligently study the Scriptures because they think that by the Scripture they possess life.

Jesus is clear.  You cannot possess life in Scripture.  You can only possess life in Christ.  It doesn’t matter how hard you study or how many verses you have memorized, according to Jesus, you will not find Life in the Scripture.

You may get mad at me for saying it – but that will not change the truth.  How we handle the Scriptures these days borders on superstition.  So many of us believe that the Bible is going to give us what we want.

I have heard it preached (I preached it, myself, before I understood the truth) that if you want something from God, “just find a Scripture that supports it and stand upon it.”  That’s not what the Bible is for.

Christ came that we might live the abundant life.  That life will only be found in Him.  There are many aspects of the abundant life that the above truth could apply to.  Think of how we do things in the church today.  Christ could be speaking directly to us.

Question: How have you seen the Bible used superstitiously?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Word of God

 

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