Led By the Spirit

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  (Galatians 5:18)

This is the answer to the question of the Law: walk in the Spirit. Led by God’s Spirit, we can walk in obedience to Him, doing exactly what He wants us to do.

When God showed me about redeeming the time, one thing that stood out to me was that in order to redeem the time, we must get direction from HIm. Only God knows what will happen tomorrow. Therefore, only He knows what the very best usage of our time is.

When we don’t listen to God and seek His direction, we will waste time. We cannot be led by the Spirit if we don’t listen to Him. Consequently, we end up doing things that have no eternal value. Many times, God will lead us to do the exact opposite of what seems logical. However, if we will follow Him, we will learn the logic of His direction. If we insist on doing our own thing, we never learn what He wanted to teach us and never accomplish what He wanted us to.

Live in the Spirit!

Vision

I have heard about “vision” and family vision and such. There is even an organization called “Vision Forum”. But what is “vision”?

One day I read in my Bible:

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

The opposite of having no vision is obedience to God! Obviously, we no longer keep the Law of Moses, but we still are to obey God’s commands in the New Testament. So the answer is not “developing a vision for your family” but learning obedience to God.

One other point: those who have no vision—who do not obey God—will perish.

The Law

In the church today, there is something that underlies so many disputes, discussions, deceit and divisions: the Law. Not the law of the land, but the Old Covenant. I have not found another teaching that is so pervasive in its scope and the places that it pops up. It worked its way into my beliefs.

God speaks very clearly about the Law in the New Testament. He says:

Luke 16:16-17 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

Acts 15:1-2,10-11, 19-29 And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. …10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. … 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well, Fare ye well.

Romans 7:1-4 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:16-21 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 3:24-25 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

So why do we think that we need to follow the Law? If only we knew! It sneaks into the smallest places and affects our lives. As i have surveyed the church, I have realized that there are many places where the Law sneaks into our thinking. Like:

  • A church building being “God’s House” (Referring back to the Temple and the Tabernacle of the Old Testament)
  • Going to this house to worship one day of the week.
  • Applying the “Sabbath day” to Sunday
  • Applying the rules about the Sabbath to Sunday
  • Tithing
  • Priests (pastors) who go to God for us and are the intermediaries between us and God.
  • Sanctioning divorce because the Law allowed divorce
  • Following dietary laws based on Old Covenant laws
  • Applying Israelite methods of romance to Christians today
  • Requiring beards
  • Using the Old Covenant as a basis for a doctrine or teaching instead of Jesus’ commands

There are other things that could be on this list. We must beware of “flat Bible” theology: holding that the Old and New Testaments carry equal weight in determining our doctrine and way of life. Most such teachers will not keep all the Old Law or the New Covenant. They pick and choose from each, making a mis-mash of teaching. Others pick out other commands from each section  while ignoring some commands. Is that what God wants?

No! God wants us to realize that we are dead to the law. We are not to go back to the Old Law and pull out things to do. Galatians 2:18 says:

For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

If we go back to the Law and try to resurrect certain things in it, we make ourselves transgressors. Nobody keeps the whole Law. They would have to offer sacrifices if they did so. But if we want to use part of the Law, we have to accept the whole thing. We are building again what we have destroyed. You can’t die to something, but bring part of it back to life.

God has brought over certain things from the Old Covenant into the New. For example, He brought over the last six of the Ten Commandments—but not the first four, as such. We are still commanded not to be idolaters and not to blaspheme and use filthy language. BUT—God never re-instituted the fourth commandment—“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”

God instituted things in the Old Covenant that were for the nation of Israel—a nation on earth that did not have a Savior. There were things that they did that were types for today.

Such is the Sabbath. In Colossians 2:16-17, God says:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

So the Sabbath day is a type. In Hebrews, God explains further:

Hebrews 4:1-5  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  2  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  3  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  4  For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.  5  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.

There is an argument that I saw one time: “God never said that we don’t need to keep the Sabbath.” No. God said that the whole Law of Moses no longer applies. That includes the Sabbath. If you want to observe the Sabbath, that’s fine (Col. 2:16). But God does not command us to observe it. Nor do we need to observe feast days, dietary laws, or other ceremonies.

This is so important if we want to have unity in the church. So much division comes from pulling commands out of the Old Testament and holding them up as things we must observe today.

For years, I would have agreed that we are no longer under the Law. I wrote an article called “The Guaranteed Christian Success Formula” in which I said:

No, we do not need to keep the Old Testament law.

At the same time, I had an article online that said that women who wear pants are an abomination to God, because Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” This is clearly part of the Old Covenant, but I said that we still needed to follow it because it said that women wearing pants was an abomination to God.

But when we started studying the Law and its relationship to us as Christians, we saw that there were only four commands in the Law that we need to keep, spelled out in Acts 15: “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication”. Our guide in life is the New Testament, and you cannot argue from the New Testament alone that women must not wear pants.

The Law is still with us for us to refer to, to help us understand the New Testament. But we must not go back and try to keep the Law. We are dead to it through Christ.

God is Not a Conservative

Having been a “conservative” for a number of years, this is something that was difficult for me to learn. Actually, God didn’t give me the above phrase until recently; however, He has taught us much about conservatism over the past few years.

I was born in the Mennonite church. We went to a somewhat conservative church that my dad had been a part of since just a little boy. God led us out of that church, so we began attending another Mennonite church nearby. This church was more conservative than our previous church. Eventually, God led us to leave that church as well, and to worship at home. As we studied His plan for the Church and the Christian life, we found that many things that we had held to be true for so long were not true.

Conservatism is seen, by conservatives, as truth. “Liberals” are people who have rejected truth. The above has a definite element of truth to it. In most cases, the liberal element of the church ignores portions of Scripture that they don’t want to follow, and pretty well believe that almost anything goes.

Unfortunately, the truth is that most conservatives don’t keep all of Jesus’ commands themselves. On top of that, they add to His commands with some of their own commands to help you keep the commands that they believe in.

Let’s take headcoverings for example. God is clear, in 1 Corinthians 11, that a Christian woman should cover her head while praying or prophesying. This is one command that the conservative Mennonite church keeps. But that’s not where it stops. The next step is: “Let’s define what length of hair a woman should have. Our women should keep their hair at natural length.” But God didn’t say that. He said it is a glory for a woman to have long hair. Natural length is great. But He didn’t say that a woman with waist-long hair couldn’t trim off some to keep her hair manageable. He just said that long hair is a glory.

The next step: “Let’s define what sort of covering the ladies should wear.” This leads to some wild human commands. Some churches require a useless loop of string attached to the headcovering. Others only require that the ladies wear the Mennonite cap style covering. Both go back to age-old traditions. The result is women who look like they come from about a hundred years ago—or simply just a different culture. It is bondage.

Why do churches require things like stringed coverings? Because they have observed that many times, whenever churches no longer require strings, eventually the ladies no longer wear any sort of headcovering. Their response is, “We’d better not remove our requirement because of what it will lead to!”

God spoke about this in Colossians 2:20-23:

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,  21  (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  22  Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?  23  Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

God is saying here that we are not to try to follow Him by instituting commandments and doctrines of men. He says that they appear to be good and wise. However, He says, “Why are ye subject to them?” He says that they will perish with the use of them.

In chapter 3, God gives us the answer:

Colossians 3:1-7  If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  2  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  3  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  4  When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.  5  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:  6  For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:  7  In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

In other words, instead of instituting commandments and doctrines of men, and following the commandments and doctrines of conservatives around us, we need to focus on the commandments in the New Testament. We need to focus on Jesus and doing His will. We need to lay aside the weights of sins that are mentioned in the above passage.

Jesus knew what commands were necessary for the Church whenever He wrote the New Testament. He knew that we did not need to have specific styles of headcoverings, specific styles of dress or any of the other embellishments that are imposed by conservatives. If He was going to judge me for driving a gray vehicle instead of a black one, or judge me for wearing a plaid shirt instead of a solid-color one, He would have told me.

So, to come full circle: God is not a conservative. God is God. He says what is truth. There is only one God and one truth. There are not multiple variations of the truth. As long as we insist on certain interpretations or additions to His Word, we will not be able to follow Him fully.

A “liberal” is someone who doesn’t obey all of God’s commands. A conservative is someone who also probably does not keep all of God’s commands, either, but adds to the ones that they do keep.

In Isaiah 29:13-14, we read:

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:  14  Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

This goes along with the previous post about the fear of the Lord. Too many people try to teach the fear of the Lord with the commandments of men. The result is that people don’t fear the Lord; they fear the preacher.

One other place that conservatives may run to for extra doctrines: the Law of Moses.

Wisdom and the Fear of the Lord

One very neglected command comes from Ephesians 5:15-17:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Notice something here: God commands us to be wise in both verses 15 and 17. Wisdom is not an optional thing. It is necessary to obey God.

Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, according to Proverbs 9:10. It is something that God gives to us.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  (James 1:5)

So if we must have the fear of the Lord to get wisdom, what is the fear of the Lord? Modern teaching calls it “reverence and respect” or something of that nature. What a wimp-out. God uses the word “fear” for a reason.

The fear of the Lord is realizing that God will judge sin and that we will be held accountable for everything we do. Not only that, God even reserves the right to send us to Hell for disobeying Him. That is serious. He warns us:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(Galatians 5:19-21)

Do you do anything in those lists? Do you commit adultery? Do you steal? Are you a homosexual? Are you covetous? Do you get drunk? If so, you will not go to Heaven. God tells us this twice: such people shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. He warns us, “Do not be deceived!” Many people are deceived about this. They believe that as long as they have said the sinner’s prayer and become a Christian, they are safe. They won’t go to Hell, no matter what they do.

What effect does that have? It removes people’s fear of God. They don’t see any reason to obey Him—the worst that might happen is that they lose some blessings. They have been brainwashed by pastors who are not true shepherds and do not tell the truth to their congregations. Why? They themselves are brainwashed by their seminary professors, who were brainwashed by their teachers. They have all sorts of ways to explain why God doesn’t mean what He says.

So now we come full circle. What would be the effect of removing the fear of God? A lack of wisdom, because:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10)

If you do not have wisdom, you will not be able to obey God’s command at the beginning of this post. You will not be able to redeem the time, because you will not have the wisdom to do so. You will not be able to walk “circumspectly” (meaning to walk in a straight line) because you do not have the wisdom to know the best way to walk.

If you don’t have wisdom, cry out to God for wisdom. Seek for it as for silver, and search for it as for hidden treasure. Make it a top priority to get wisdom. It is not something beyond your grasp. God wants you to have wisdom. If you come to Him in faith, not doubting that He will give you wisdom, and ask Him for it, He will give you wisdom. This does not mean that he will just dump it into your head and you will suddenly have all the wisdom you need. As you follow God’s leading, He will give you wisdom.

You see, wisdom is linked with following God’s will in your life:

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  (Ephesians 5:17)

This verse is just like many verses in Proverbs: it gives us a contrast. The opposite, it says, of being unwise is understanding what God’s will is. This is the ultimate way to redeem the time. God is the source of all wisdom. He knows the very best way to redeem the time. He knows the best way for you to spend each waking moment. Ask Him to show you how to do that. Sometimes, He knows that the best way to redeem the time is not what is seemingly the best usage of our time. Maybe it’s not His will for you to be involved in a big ministry, but to train your family to serve Him with all their hearts, and it will be your children who take the baton and make a huge impact for Him. This is just one example. Maybe He does want you to be involved in a big ministry. If so, that is how you should redeem the time.

I am an example that the above works. For some time, I have asked God for wisdom, but I still lacked wisdom. I still did foolish things that were stupid and time-consuming, if not downright dangerous. Recently, however, as I have intensified my search for wisdom, God has been teaching me about wisdom. He led me to read from the book of Proverbs each morning, asking Him to give me wisdom and to teach me about wisdom. It has been amazing what He has taught me as I have sought wisdom. I have not arrived, nor will I ever have enough wisdom. I must always seek more wisdom, and seek counsel that will give me wisdom.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.  (Proverbs 9:9)

This verse was so helpful and encouraging to me. I realized that you could be wise and yet still able to learn even more wisdom. In other words, I could be a wise man, even if I still needed to learn more.

God grant you wisdom to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God!

A Radical for Jesus

Are you doing what Jesus wants you to do? Are you sure? How would you know?

Jesus has told us how to live in His Word. It is the standard for our lives. His commands in the New Testament are the standard by which He will judge us.

Sadly, many Christians don’t do what Jesus tells them to do. They have many reasons for disobeying Him, but the bottom line is, disobedience is disobedience. The Bible tells us over and over that we will be judged by our works.

Revelation 20:12-15  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

We see that you will be judged by your works, whether you are in the book of life or not. Even if your name is in the book of life, God will still judge you according to what you have done. There may be eternal consequences for sin, even if you are in the Book of Life. The Book of Life is not the only criteria on Judgment Day. “The books were opened”, says Revelation 20:12.

How do you know if your works are acceptable to God? His commands in the New Testament. If you are a Christian, God will not judge you by the Old Covenant—the Law of Moses. You are dead to that law (Romans 7:4). God is going to judge you based on the commandments that He has set forth for us in the New Testament.

Many “Christians”, sadly, call this “legalism”. They don’t believe that you really need to obey Jesus’ commandments.

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21-24  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.  22  Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?  23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  24  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

John 15:9-10  As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  10  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

1 John 2:3-5  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  5  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

All of the above is in the Bible for us to read. The question is, will you follow it? Will you obey Jesus? Will you do what He tells you to do, or will you be a goat and do your own thing?

Some will call this radical. That’s okay. Jesus was a radical. He tells us to do radical things, like love our enemies, remain married to your spouse, love Him more than anything or anyone and not to lay up treasure on earth. That is what makes us radicals for Jesus—when we obey the radical things He tells us to do.

Will you be a radical?