Sunday was a unique service at Good News. We spent the day studying the Scriptures together. Over the last couple of years, a new wave of false teaching has been creeping into the Evangelical Christian world. The teaching is that Jesus Christ is the sacrifice for our sins that gives us salvation but in order to experience true salvation, people must keep certain aspects of the Jewish Law. Because of this teaching, many people have stopped eating pork, not necessarily for health related reasons but as a critical point for salvation. Also, debates have sprung up about which day is the best day to celebrate the Lord’s day, Saturday or Sunday. In other words, which day should church services be held on? In order to clear up these false teachings and end much of the debate, as well as to protect the members of our church, Pastor Vasile decided to dedicate the day to studying the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Galatian churches. This same false teaching was a problem during the 1st Century and Paul had to address the issue. I would like to share some of the main conclusions from what we learned. It was amazing to spend and entire Sunday dedicated to studying the Scriptures as a church family.
People who have never experienced the new birth that Jesus Christ talks about in John 3, live life controlled by the desires of their sin nature. In order to calm their conscience, people like to be told a list of rules and regulations that they needed perform in order to please God. This is not pleasing to God, it is just a ploy to calm the conscience so that the sin nature can stay in control. Once a person has been born again, he still lives in a body that is tied to the sin nature and the person’s sin nature wants to reassert its control, on a daily basis and in order to do this, it has to entice the person to sin, giving in to that sin nature once again. So, from both sides of the coin religions that teach rules and regulations are very appealing. The rules and regulations are dangerous because if you have not been born again then you will never be transformed keeping them and you will never develop a personal relationship with God. You will deceive yourself, thinking that all is right with you and God when in reality all is not well because you are a slave to sin and your sin nature. If you have been born again and end up being deceived by rules and regulations then you stop working on building your relationship with God and end up enslaving yourself once again to the flesh. This will be manifested in your attitude and actions.
Here is a simple list of the attitude and actions of the flesh.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5)
The deeds of the flesh are clearly seen:
- Adultery (sexual immorality, sex outside of marriage, sex with a married person who is not your spouse)
- Fornication (any form of sexual relations outside of marriage, both physical and mental, included pornography and sexual fantasies)
- Uncleanness (in a moral sense, a result of sexual immorality)
- Lustfulness (desiring to have what is not yours, what belongs to someone else)
- Idolatry (placing anything else above your relationship with God)
- Sorcery (witchcraft, horoscope, communicating with the dead or with spirits)
- Jealousy (anger toward others because they have what you want, you either want them to lose it or you want to take it from them)
- Rivalry (I raise myself up by putting you down)
- Division (small groups that bicker and fight with other small groups)
- Heresies (not totally believing the Word of God, believing something contrary to the Word of God)
- Drunkennesses (intoxicated from any form of drug)
- Reveling (nocturnal carousing, going from party to party, living a party lifestyle)
What does this look like practically?
I live in a country where the majority of people claim to be Orthodox Christians. If you ask them what makes them a Christians then you get answers like:
- my parents are Christians
- my country is a Christian nation
- I was baptized in the church
- I fast according to the Orthodox calendar
- I keep the holy traditions
When confronted with their lifestyle and what the Bible teaches about true children of God, their answer is:
- if that is the case then no one is going to heaven
- I understand what the Bible says but . . .
- I am still a Christian and going to heaven even though I do not live according to the Bible. That is what the priests are for.
In other words, the people understand that they are not living up to the standard and instead of seeking to know what to do, the answer is, we have our rules and regulations, our traditions and they are enough for us.
Does any of this sound familiar? Do you see this in the people around you? Are you like this? What do you need to do? And what should you tell those who live like this?
- Be born again
- Join a Bible teaching church
- Serve in the ministries of the church
- Be discipled and learn how to make disciples