|Living by the Spirit of God instead of the Law|
Is there a right or wrong in biblical Christianity? Perhaps, Christianity was never meant to be a religion, by which we mean having a set of detailed prescription of do’s and don’ts that defines most other religion. We have the Old Testament which in addition to giving us a historical narrative of creation, and the nature and characteristic of God, and His plans for the coming of the Messiah, is prescriptive in the Jewish Laws and moral codes. Yet, the Old Testament remains a stepping stone for the New Testament where Jesus was portrayed as very much against those who pushed for strict adherence to the restrictive and prescriptive Jewish legal codes.
Two thousand years later, much of Christianity is still based on a prescriptive type of religious faith. Such prescription provides certainty and makes Christianity “simpler” to follow and to “Just Follow the Law”. However, Christianity can never be prescriptive, covering all context and motivations. Secondly prescriptive based religion did not work very well, resulting in idol worship of other gods by the Jews, ill treatment of outcasts and the weak, and in the destruction of Jerusalem and their exile to Babylon. There was also a gap of 400 years, where God was seemingly silent despite the feasts, the religious ceremonies/rituals and the worship being re-started, and the temple being rebuilt. However, they could never return to the glory days of King David, for the Ark of the Covenant was forever lost in the annals of history. It was an empty Temple in Jerusalem waiting for a cosmic shift when Jesus came into the scene, so is our religion if it is Law based.
Jesus offered a huge paradigm shift from the works of the law, to the simplicity of having faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, believing in His death and resurrection that we are a new creation in Christ through His grace and mercy. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus reigns in the lives of the believer, writing His Word into our soft hearts so that we move and act by revelation of the Spirit of God. Yet, the Law never passed away, being fundamentally the requirement for judgment for our sins, for which Jesus fulfilled at the Cross.
Biblical Christianity is therefore a performance or outcome based religion, where there are very few set rules, and an incredible flexibility of what we can and cannot do. Yet, the ownership and duty of care to achieve results lie with the individual Christian. Previously, we could not be faulted if we simply obey the law even though the result was causing great harm. Could we fault the Pharisees for killing Jesus when clearly they were following the Law against blasphemy? We may have followed the letter of the law but not the Spirit of the law, which is much more difficult.
Many Christians looked for certainty in fixed laws in the bible in an ever changing world because of fear of judgment that they are sinning against God, yet biblical Christianity has emerged from the Jewish faith was not based on the letter of the law, but by the Holy Spirit behind the Law. There are few absolutes in Christianity which are:-
a) Believing by Faith through grace, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of Sins.
b) The promise of the Holy Spirit, to guide and empower us to continue the ministry of Christ here on earth. In essence, Jesus never left us because His Spirit is with us.
c) The coming back of Jesus Christ, whereby Christians will be re-united back to God.
(Acts 21:25 NKJV) "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality."
We frequently quote the Ten Commandments, but because it doesn’t mention any prohibition against Gays, we further quote Lev 18 as a clobber verse. But, we don’t follow the rest of Leviticus, do we? The reason why, we have fallen back on the Jewish laws, is because there were no prescribed laws for Christians. Performance or outcome based religion is so much more difficult because it has very few rules and laws. We are reminded that at the Council of Jerusalem in AD50 where it was debated between Paul and Peter as to whether Gentile Christians need abide by all the Jewish laws, set the following basic requirements:-
a) Not to eat food offered to idols, ie we are not to partake in city wide religious celebrations where foods are offered to the gods to protect the city.
b) From eating food with blood, because, blood represents life.
c) Abstaining from sexual immorality, because the Gentiles from Corinth were infamous for their temple female prostitutes in the worship of their city goddess.
(Mark 16:15-18 KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Christianity becomes a relationship with Christ, a journey of faith, a walk with God, to extend His Kingdom on earth. Christianity becomes a living faith. We will be judged on how we have followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to do the works of the ministry that He had ordained for us individually that as a whole, the Gospel will be preached, and mankind set-free.
The anti-gay movement in the Charismatic and Evangelical Christianity for the last 50 years, has left a trail of incredible harm, with the battle now reaching a peak where we are now insisting that Gays be criminalized and even put to death in some countries. The problem with the law is that, when we insist on it, we ourselves shall be judged by it without God’s Grace and Mercy, the harm caused returned a hundred fold. If we were too slow to repent, the law may send us to our Babylonian exile.
Let us therefore we mindful of following Christ instead of the law, and be led by the Spirit of God, to do good and not cause harm. Then, others will see the light of God’s love and grace in us, that they may come to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The Law is based on fear of judgment whilst following Jesus is based on God’s love, grace and mercy with the assurance of salvation in Christ, walking and abiding by the Holy Spirit.