Living By Faith or Living By the Law, Which?

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Gal.3:10-14 NIV

If you believe that the Bible commands you to live by the Law, then you will have lots of trouble reconciling what Paul is saying in these verses. (Paul is specific here when he speaks of the Law; he calls it “the Book of the Law”). Perhaps, you have convinced yourself that Paul means something different from what he plainly says. On the other hand, there is no shortage of individuals who are willing to twist Scripture to make it say what they believe. Beware of those who do that.

 

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Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is light

 

 

Paul is clear that the righteous will live by faith. These are not Paul’s own words. He is quoting this from Habakkuk 2:4. In verse 12 of Galatians 3, he informs us that the Law requires action and no faith. We have three facts from Paul, 1) The righteous will live by faith and 2) the Law does not require its adherents to have faith and 3) The Law cannot justify anyone. How then can the righteous live by the Law without violating the command to live by faith?

Those who try to keep the Law inevitably come under a curse because they are unable to keep it entirely. Jesus redeemed us from the curse so that by faith we may receive the promise of the Spirit. Why return to that from which we have been redeemed? Christ came and redeemed us from sin, and he tells us not to live in sin any longer (Rom.6:2,15). When God redeems us from anything, his instruction to us always is that we should not return to it.

 

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The law is a difficult yoke to bear

 

Trying to live by both The Law and faith is like living in two opposite states. Living in such a way is to live in opposition to God’s revealed purpose for us. Claiming to live by both faith and the law is an exercise in futility. From my experience, of trying to live by both faith and Law, I found that the Law took precedence and faith went out the door. (I lived by Sabbath and Holy day regulations, clean and unclean meats and tithing. At one time, the church (cult) I attended advocated that those who were into farming should rest their land every seven years; that farmers should not plant crops of a similar family in the same field and that members should not wear clothing of mixed fabric). The result was, I ended up living purely by the Law, and far from grace as Paul warned against (Gal.5:4).

When a person’s life is rooted in Law based living, every action, thought, word, intention, motive, and attitude the person has is directed toward seeing that the Law is not violated. There is much zeal for the Law. He reads the Law into every verse of the Bible where it is not present. Every conversational topic soon shifts to a discussion that seeks to confirm the Law as the guiding light to that person. In other words, the Law becomes ubiquitous; it becomes the master, the god that they worship more than the Law-giver.

 

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The letter kills

 

Those who advocate Law based living seem to have an unclear understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Most of these persons believe that the Holy Spirit is a power and not a person. For them, the concept of the Trinity is unbiblical and at worst pagan. Instead of having faith and the promised Holy Spirit, they are dependant on the Law and have ended up being under a curse (Gal.3:10).

Trying to live by both the Law and faith is an impossible task. It is a task that brings no joy, peace or salvation. Law based living is man’s way of trying to please God. All human religions earn good standing with their god through legalistic rituals. Christianity is different. Christians ought to have good works, but those actions are not the means of securing favour with God. Christians depend on Christ’s finished work on the cross, his faith and grace and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is not that Christians are lawless, but Christ has redeemed us from the Law and its curses. Let us live by faith.


I hope you enjoyed this article and that it has been of some spiritual benefit to you. I would appreciate hearing from you. So please feel free to leave your comments. Just remember to allow your comments to reflect Jesus Christ as he makes his abode in you.

 

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King Solomon Started Well, but Allowed Disobedience to Derail Him: A Lesson For Us.

Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba.  As a child, Solomon had the advantage of a godly upbringing. His father, whom the Bible refers to as “a man after God’s own heart” gave his son a good example to follow.  He was privileged to be chosen by God to succeed his father to the throne of Israel.  God gave him the task of building the first temple.  Solomon got the opportunity to exceed his father King David in his loyalty and faithfulness to God, but he allowed persistent disobedience and stubborn refusal to repent to separate him from God .

Solomon asks for wisdom

The early part of Solomon’s reign demonstrated that he had a desire to follow his father’s godly example. Immediately after his inauguration, the young king recognised that the task of leading a nation was beyond his abilities.  In humility, he admitted his need for wisdom and understanding in handling the difficulties the people would bring for his council. No doubt, he saw his father praying to God in times of need, so he asked God for the necessary prudence and empathy that would make him a successful leader.

God was impressed that this young king was thinking of the needs of his people rather than his selfish desires, so God gave him the wisdom he asked for but added personal riches as a bonus (1Kings 3:7-11). Continue reading

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Jewish Fall Festivals and their Meanings

Fall is the time of the year when Jewish people and an increasing number of Christians celebrate some special days. The Jews commemorate these festivals as part of their culture which is rooted in their history of release from Egyptian slavery, their journey through the desert, their settlement in Canaan and their religious and agricultural rituals enjoined to them by the Mosaic law. Christians who celebrate these festivals do so for a variety of reasons. Some think that commemorating these is compulsory and a refusal to keep them is a violation of God’s command. Others want to show solidarity with modern Israel as “the people of God” hence the celebrations.

The majority of Christians who celebrate the Jewish festivals as well as those who do not observe them believe that these Old Testament feasts were all part of the Old Covenant agreement that Jesus came to fulfil. Consequently, it is common knowledge among them, that the meaning of these festivals is made clear in the life, mission, sacrifice, resurrection and present work of the triune God.

Interpretations of the meaning of these festivals vary from group to group and from person to person. One group, in particular, have long held traditions and interpretations that bear no resemblance to Scripture.

The writer, in this article, presents his thoughts concerning the meanings of the Jewish fall festivals described in Lev.23:23-44 namely, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles. He is not saying that his ideas are final or even entirely correct. All he is asking is that you read with wisdom, open-mindedness, and discernment. Continue reading

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Encountering Jesus: An Experience That Changed Bartimaeus And Can Do the Same for You.

The Book of Mark tells the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus who had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. The story, recorded in the tenth chapter, verses 46-52, gives us some insight into the details of this narrative. This particular day, Bartimaeus sat by the roadside as was his daily routine, begging for money and food. He had no idea that he was about to have an encounter with Jesus that would forever change the course of his life for the better.

Bartimaeus settled himself in a comfortable position in preparation for another day of begging. Suddenly he began to hear a faint, unusual sound in the distance. At first, he was puzzled as to what he was hearing. The sound drew nearer, and he began to recognise that it was a crowd of people coming his way. At the same time, he detected the footsteps of a person who was passing close to him. He stopped the person to inquire about the commotion that was approaching. The person informed him that Jesus and many followers were travelling in that direction. Continue reading

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Created for Good Works

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepares in advance for us to do” Eph.2:10 NIV

Called to Good Works

Most followers of Jesus Christ understand that our efforts or good works do not save us.  Instead, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Our salvation is a gift from God (Eph.2:8).  However, we understand that we are created to do good works.

The Bible contains instruction for the Christian concerning the role of good works in the life of the Christian.

James tells us that faith and good works go together.  Our sterling actions point to the fact that we have faith in Jesus Christ Jas.2:14-18).

Paul, in Gal.6:10 encourages the Galatian brothers to practise doing good to everyone as the opportunity presents itself.

The Apostle Peter says that we should use our God-given gifts to serve others (1Pet.4:8-11).

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God Takes Care of His Children

And why  do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed  like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more cloth you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Mat.6:28-31

 

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It was the summer of 1967 when I was sitting in a classroom with other students who were aspiring to be teachers. The lecturers were preparing us for the task of imparting knowledge, skills, values and attitudes into the students who would come under our tutelage. Surprisingly, the first philosopher and educator they exposed us to, was Jesus of Nazareth. I will always remember how our tutors pointed to a particular teaching method that Jesus frequently used, that is, he regularly took his listeners from the known to the unknown. That principle remains a pillar on which effective instruction stands to this day.

Don’t Worry – Trust God
When Jesus wanted to teach his followers that they could trust the heavenly Father to take care of them, he drew their attention to two familiar scenes in nature. He talked about the birds and the wildflowers. Jesus reminded his audience about specific facts concerning flowers and birds, and then he brought them to appreciate how much God cares for us. Continue reading

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Hannah: A Woman Whose Life can Inspire Us In Rough Times

646011554The first chapter of the first book of Samuel opens with the story of Hannah.  Hannah was an ordinary woman of her day, married to a man who had another wife.  The name of her husband was Elkanah and the second wife was Peninnah.  Peninnah had sons and daughters, but Hannah had no children.  Whenever Elkanah took his wives and children to Shiloh for worship, Peninnah would take the opportunity to harass Hannah concerning the fact that she was unable to bear children.  On those occasions, Hannah would become depressed and overcome with crying and loss of appetite.  Although Hannah was childless, Elkanah loved her and hated to see her unhappy.  He tried to comfort her by expressing his love to her both verbally and by giving her double portions of the provisions he would provide Peninnah. Nothing Elkanah did could console Hannah as long as Peninnah made fun of her inability to have children (1Sam.1:1-8). Continue reading

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Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not

The people of God have in every era, had to affirm that Jesus is Lord. The evil forces of this world have long waged war against God’s people for their insistence that Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. Christians have endured slaughter, death by wild beasts, horrific torture, confiscation of possessions, beatings, stonings, the exile from their country of birth and all other kinds of inhumane treatment because they refused to deny the name of Jesus.

Thousands of years ago, God allowed the nation of Judah to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar took the most intelligent Jewish men to Babylon to train for positions in his kingdom. He selected four notable men, who proved to be extremely valuable to his administration. These were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Dan. 1:1-6). Continue reading

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Paul’s Prayer For The Philippians

When we pray for our Christian brothers and sisters what do we ask God for on their behalf? Too often we are concerned that they prosper, have good health, and live a fulfilling life. God wants all of that for his children but above all of that, he urges us to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt.6:33). King Solomon, who, early in his reign as king of Israel, realised that his greatest need was for the acquisition of wisdom and understanding if he was to be successful in leading his people (2Chron.1:10). Instead of asking God to make him rich, he asked for wisdom. Paul, in his prayer for the Philippians followed a similar line of thought as did Solomon.

Paul in this prayer focused on spiritual things. Paul knew that the thing we cannot see are eternal and so he concentrated on those things that will last through eternity.

“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Phil.1:9-11

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Searching For Living Water?

Millions of people everywhere have long felt that something was missing from their lives. In pursuit of that elusive “something” many like King Solomon have sought to find that missing ingredient to life in music, art, pleasure, travel, work and other endeavours. Surprisingly, the achievements gained from these various pursuits have not satisfied that missing element in their lives. So life for the majority has become an endless but vain quest to find living water that will satisfy their weary souls.

Jesus in one of his trips from Judea to Galilee had to pass through Samaria. The journey was a long one, and the sun was probably warm that day. About noon that day he decided to take a rest near a well while his disciples went to a nearby village to purchase some food. While Jesus was there all alone, a Samaritan came to the well to fetch water for her household. Jesus politely asked her to give him a drink of water. She was surprised that a request like this had come from a Jew. Her recollection of Jews was that they had no regard for Samaritans. Jews regarded themselves as peculiar and looked on others as being inferior to them. Putting that difference aside, the woman would have given Jesus the water, but he had nothing with which to draw the water (John 4:1-9). Continue reading

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