The age-old argument about the validity of the Old Testament laws versus the “freedom” we have in Christ can be confusing. Not only for new believers or unbelievers, but also for those raised in the church. The Bible warns that even the very elite will become deceived. The closer we get to the “end of time”, the harder it can be for Christians to discern where the line is drawn.
Evil is evil; and at no point in our lives should we make excuses for it. The Old Testament commandments were put into place because we as humans could not live rightly. We had to have written laws that we could read, see, and meditate on. Written laws with consequences which were written out to be plainly read and understood. God was drawing us in and away from our evil human nature.
Imagine a sheep dog keeping a flock of sheep – herding them in a safe circle away from the wolves. The commandments were the sheep dog, sin the wolves, and we the sheep.
When Jesus came he freed us from the curse of the law. We no longer had to be reined in by written commandments and we no longer had to sacrifice animals or follow intricate and lengthy instructions. But did this freedom come without rules? Of course not! Now we had something that the Israelites of old never could. The very reason they needed the commandments were the very reason we didn’t! We had the Holy Spirit living in us. The power that guided Jesus to a life without sin was now, irrefutably, in us.
We became slaves to the law no longer, we were suddenly transformed into new creations – leaving the sin nature behind, and able to live a life lead by the Spirit. So, are the commandments moot now? The answer is no. It now becomes even deeper than just actions; we are now living in the Spirit and so are held to a higher standard of living because of it. The Israelites weren’t expected to live according to all the commands, which is why sin offerings were made – we, however, are expected to live by the commands of God.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20
As Christians we have a standard to spread sound doctrine and encourage the church. Paul warns about teaching a “different gospel…that is no gospel at all” (Gal 1:6). Sin is sin, and we need to be very careful that we aren’t sugar coating it, making excuses for it, or rooting for it. We live in an age where the “bad guy” is glorified – because of his/her troubled past they become the one we root for because they are misunderstood. It is good for us to understand the cause of evil, but we should never root for it.
Jesus gave his life and became sin so that we wouldn’t have to live under the power of evil. He pleaded guilty to child molestation, rape, murder, theft, drunkenness, homosexuality, and sexual perversion; he took all of that upon himself so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price. How can we sit back and watch people commit the sins that He died for, and not only that but partake in them ourselves and make excuses for it?
What would be a giant victory for Hell; the illusion that Christians can live like the world but not suffer the same consequences? Willful and habitual sin is a lifestyle of sin – this kind of numbness to the conviction of the Holy Spirit is dangerous.
“And nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it (the holy city, new Jerusalem ), but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Do not be deceived. Search yourself and see if there is any fault in you.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21-23
Repent, do a 180, and follow Christ. Sanctify means to be free from sin; don’t do evil! Perhaps it is time that we take sin seriously. When we stop worrying about trivial things, and get serious about living righteously, maybe then we’ll see the climate change in our culture. When we are full of Spirit and Truth and Love. This may not be the most popular subject, but why is that? Because we don’t want to offend people? Because we want to live in comfort? When you gave your life to Christ and pledged your life to him, you lost the right to make excuses for sin.
Paul says that if anything were to cause his brother to stumble he simply won’t do it. It all boils down to your heart. The Old Testament commandment said, ‘Do not commit adultery’, but Jesus said to look upon a woman (or man) with lust was committing adultery in your heart. Jesus makes in plain in Matthew 5 that it goes deeper than just the action; we are now judged on the motives of the heart. ‘Do not murder’ now becomes, if you are angry with your brother/sister you’ve committed murder in your heart.
When you get discouraged read Romans 8! Live a life led by the Spirit and see how full your life can be. Jesus says that “If you love me you will obey my commands.” We all make mistakes, sure! But to truly love God and CHASE after his character, you will find that the line he drew becomes clearer and clearer and grows into a mighty wall that you no longer have the desire to scale. If you’re focusing on LOVE then you naturally live in love.
It’s easy: love God, love one another.