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THE MINISTRY OF DEATH
There are none so blind as the religious. The lost have a better chance of seeing God and a better chance of understanding his word than do the religious. They have a better chance because when you have no tradition to begin with; it's hard to be entrenched in one. The longer one is steeped in tradition, the harder it is to come out of it. However, the truth sets us free. And the Holy Spirit is the only one that can reveal truth. God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud. The reason God resists the proud is because the proud resist him. They resist the Holy Spirit's attempts, to want to reveal truth.
Jesus tried to reveal truth to the Pharisees and Sadducees. Because of tradition they couldn't even understand their own scriptures. Jesus told them that their scriptures testified about him. He told them that they did not have the love of God in their hearts (John 5:42). All they cared about was getting praise from man. They were so offended at what he said to them, that it infuriated them to the point of making a plan to kill him (Matt. 12:14). Yea, these are some of the things that describe the religious.
Who are the religious of today? One verse taken out of Galatians can be used to define who are the religious of today. Gal. 5:4 says: 'You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.' The Pharisees and Sadducees back then bragged that they were the disciples of Moses (John 9:28). This meant that they were justifying themselves before God by being law keepers. However, in truth, because Jesus plainly told them that they have not the love of God in their hearts, that would obviously mean that they were alienated from God. They had not fallen away from grace because grace had not yet been instituted (even though grace was standing right in front of them). Grace would be instituted at the death of Jesus when the New Covenant would go into effect (Heb. 9:15-17).
For us today, we too like the Pharisees and Sadducees who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ. And if you are trying to be justified by law, and are realizing that you are not able to, but you keep trying anyway; this will explain why you too have not the love of God in your hearts. In fact you find yourself getting as mad as hornets just like the Pharisees and Sadducees did. For us grace has been established. When you fall from something, you have to fall to something. For us to fall from grace means we have to fall to the law. And this is so because we are trying to justify ourselves by law. It's either grace or law. There is no mixing of the two. You can't put new wine into old wineskins without ruining both (Matt. 9:17).
Christians who think that their Christianity is about not sinning, are usually the ones that have the hardest time understanding that God is not dealing with us on the issue of our sins anymore (Heb. 9:24-28; 10:16-17). This would mean that their whole foundation would be destroyed. Their whole foundation being how well they have always performed. Notice that their foundation is not Christ, even though all the time they will say it is. And if you think it's hard for a Christian, think how hard it would be for a pastor of a church. In his mind he would have no credibilty with his congregation. Therefore it is practically impossible for them to come to understand. But, the things that are impossible with man, are possible with God. Again, God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud. In order to receive the understanding of the grace of God; it has to come through the avenue of humility. The issue with the Christian and the pastor is their self-pride. This self-pride is much much bigger than you realize. In fact, it is only after God has put you through extreme measures, measures that only he knows how far he can go with you, that you realize just how big your pride was. And if you don't think that you have big self-pride, then you are blind to it.
Christians who want to still hold onto the law, are going to argue, and they always do, that the law talked about in Galatians is not referring to the Ten Commandments. If that is the case, then let's go discover what the ministy of death is. 11 Cor. 3:7 says: 'Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory........' And then verse nine says: 'If the ministry that condems men is glorious.......' If as a Christian, I can't figure out that what's being referred to here is the Ten Commandments, then I need to go back and start over again with Christianity 101. The Apostle Paul in these scriptures is comparing the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant is the law and the New Covenant is the grace of God. One is more glorious than the other. One glory is fading and the other lasts. The point here is that the Ten Commandments' purpose was meant to be a ministry of death. Other scriptures where law and death go hand in hand are: Gal. 2:19-21; Rom. 7:4-6; 7:11; Rom. 8:2. Read them all. Notice what 11 Cor. 3:6 says: 'He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant...not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.'
It tells us in 1 Tim. 1:8-10 'that the law is good if one uses it properly.' It goes on to say 'that the law is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers...and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel.' The law is not made for the righteous because they used the law properly to do its work so they could attain righteousness. Not their own righteousness but the righteousness of Christ. The law did its work in their lives by revealing their problem....sin (Rom. 3:20; 7:7); and because the wages of sin is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23), they were lead (Gal. 3:24-25) to Christ who could raise them from the dead to give them what they needed most....life. Now that they have received the life of Christ, he has become the end of the law for them (Rom. 10:4). What's left is to walk in the newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
It is at this point where the religious Christian misses the boat. Instead of trusting the new life that now lives in them they go on trusting themselves and their ability to still keep the law. And of course, it certainly doesn't help when your church encourages this by not teaching you what it means to walk in the newness of life. For the religious Christian to trust himself and his ability to still keep the law, is using the law improperly. And to use the law improperly is to be kept under the power of sin; because 'the power of sin is the law' (1 Cor. 15:56). And because you are kept under the power of sin; sin now becomes your master (Rom. 6:14). You lawkeepers aren't going to admit to anyone that this is what is going on inside because that would mean your Christianity is a lie. I mean you really can't even be thankful for Jesus doing anything for you, when he hasn't done anything for you, because you do everything for you. Take a second and try to imagine not having to live this way, and being set free from this overwhelming burden, and what that must feel like. Trust me the experience is like being born again, again.
I leave you with two scriptures. One is taken from Galatians. The book of Galatians was written with the specific purpose of addressing religious Christians. who had begun with the Spirit, but then went back to putting themselves under the law (Gal. 3:1-13). Another book that addresses religious Christians or Gentile Christians who want to act like Jews, is the book of Hebrews. Gal. 5:1 says: 'It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.' Matt. 11:28-30 says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
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