Do you know how much GOD loves you?
Do you know you are free to make any choices you want?
Do you know, really know, GOD is sovereign over everything?
How big is GOD?
Do you get anxious? Concerned you might fail? Do you fear making a mistake in GOD’s eyes or offending someone else?
How much do you trust GOD? How much do you trust yourself in Him? How much do you leave your life in His almighty hands? How much do you know it’s okay if you can’t say honestly, “I know, I believe, I trust!” to all those questions.
How much do you dwell in the peace of GOD’s Shalom, confident in His saving grace? Do you know that: The bigger your GOD, the more you will relax!?
TODAY, my point is to get us to realise just how absolutely incredibly HUGE Yehovah GOD is, and how powerful, and that He leaves nothing to chance! And next we are to recognise we are saved to walk in freedom not religion (which has a peculiar and persistent way of trying to trick us).
- Let’s look at GOD’s law to help us to see how BIG He is:
“Oh, how I love your Law… Precepts… Statutes…”
Matthew 12:1-2 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!””
The Sabbath is very important to GOD, just as His day of rest is important for us. But GOD is bigger than our understanding of Sabbath rest and is bigger than our interpretation of scripture. We can get very bogged down or hemmed in by what we think GOD intends when really, we can explore and learn by study and intimacy with GOD, what he really means in His word.
Matthew 12:11-14 “Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.”
The Pharisees perceived that Jesus was breaking the law and encouraging others to do so. It infuriated them. Led by a pharisaic — a religious – spirit, they sought to yoke others.
The Pharisees had put GOD into a box, calling the box the Law. All Jews were meant to adhere to the Law and failure meant condemnation and sacrifice. And yet, GOD knew there would be failure to keep the Law which is why He gave them the sacrifice so that they could repent and move forward from condemnation and sin. In an even greater way, through faith in Jesus, because of His death and resurrection for our sin, we are saved from the sacrifices of the former Law and know we are saved to eternal life.
A religious spirit says Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t sufficient, but we must earn our salvation. This is completely contrary to the Gospel message which Jesus personified.
Salvation by grace or by works?
Although we are free in Christ, do we do the same as the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus on earth, putting heavy burdens of shame upon ourselves and our brothers and sisters? Do we condemn people (rather than their sin) or do we encourage one another to overcome? Is our GOD big enough to forgive anything when repent?
GOD is sovereign. His ways are not necessarily our ways and His understanding is not necessarily our understanding (Isaiah 55). This outlook has been lacking in many religious people throughout history, which is likely why a large contingent of people are not interested in Christianity today. Indian leader Mahatma Ghandi said something like, ‘The teachings of Jesus are good but it is the Christians that I can’t accept.’
Know the Word to distinguish GOD’s heart
IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE WORD — not so we can break it but so we can know our freedoms in Christ. When we know “all things are permissible but not all things are helpful” and follow His Spirit, trust Him, and know He’s sovereign, we can rest in Him. We strive to ‘be perfect’ as He is perfect, and when we err, we repent and move forward.
Resting v Relaxing
Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”
Allowing GOD to be BIG means we can rest in His will and purposes, trusting Him to reveal His path. As we surrender and rest, He leads us. GOD’s rest is walking in obedience whereas relaxing is “idle hands” which has negative consequences.
There is no need or room to be anxious when we rest in Him!
Free from Religion
Let us also not be religious or heavy-handed or pharisaic like some of our predecessors but rather let us practice the Law of love: “Love the LORD your GOD… and your neighbour…” It is what Jesus said and what he lived.
And yet there is a standard, isn’t there. Jesus said of the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you… Go and sin no more.”
How did Jesus make that proclamation of forgiveness and commandment of changed behaviour? GOD was not kept in a box. GOD is and was — for Jesus —completely sovereign. He was righteous. Jesus followed Him, was intimate with Him in prayer, so much so that he did nothing that was not from the voice of His Father. Therefore, Jesus could step forward knowing the Law but using it for its intended purpose: not to lay heavy burdens but to guide towards righteousness.
2. Let’s look at GOD’s Word to see how BIG He is:
Born again, Bible believing followers of Jesus believe GOD’s word is accurate, complete, and any action of belief needs to be in line with the Word.
BUT do you know we don’t have to put that Bible Word first. WHAT?!!?
GOD comes first. That’s how big He is. Even Jesus doesn’t know when he’s returning, only the Father knows… That’s because even the word doesn’t stretch as far as GOD does.
Living in this knowledge we have Shalom. Denying it keeps GOD in a box, making us fearful and vulnerable. The flesh convinces us that our choices, activities and behaviours influence the ultimate outcome. This thinking is like mixing linen with wool. The Hebrews were told not to do that…. nor to put new wine in old wine skins… remember that? (Matthew 9:17)
3. So, what do I mean by “taking GOD out of the box”? :
WE NEED A PARADIGM SHIFT
When we think we’ve got an issue sorted and clear in our minds, it’s so often a sign we probably don’t. The issue will arise again one day, for us to recognise: “Oh, I thought I understood, but now I see more clearly.”
Saul — who later became known as Paul — was a pharisee and had his Creator in a box. He was certain he was doing GOD’s will in destroying the followers of the upstart rabbi Yeshua. The Pharisees were the leaders of the faith at the time of Jesus, but they didn’t see the Messiah coming! They needed a paradigm shift, which is exactly what Paul experienced when on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9)
4. So, how do we live?:
We have freedom!
Is it total abandon? We have freedom but not licence. “Do we sin so grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1)
We also don’t want others to stumble. Rather than to tempt others, we put aside our freedom on occasion for the sake of others.
When we look at loving GOD and one another, we look not to get the most out of our freedom but rather, in caring for the spiritual wellbeing of one another, we measure our actions, showing self control and restraint, not because of law but out of love for others.
In this way, GOD is outside of the box we may have put Him in, and likewise we discover our place outside of a box, free to be alive.
So, let us be free to live, love and learn… that we might become more and more like our Saviour and role model, Yeshua – Jesus the Christ, lamb of GOD, risen one.
Shalom and Every blessing to you as you navigate through life by the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in all who have given their lives to Jesus.
4 replies on “Taking GOD out of the box: freedom v religion?”
Amen dear Sarah. I need those reminders of the freedom, yet not license, I have in Christ. Much love to you.
It is something we all need reminding of, from time to time:)
Lots of love,
UNLIMITED GRACE ! It took me 25 years to appreciate what this feels like and every time the Feasts of the Lord comes around, I really do appreciate it even more…Without Yeshua at the centre of your Thoughts, Feelings, Behaviour..its like not plugging your microwave in and touching the button, only to find when it pings, the food is still cold…i.e Religion…We can rest in obedience to the King of Kings 24/7 x 365 x 100 being guided by the Holy Spirit whilst being kept on track by the Father…..He is a Big G-d…Massive…Bless you Sarah
Yes, this is the most important season for the world: Messiah came, died and rose again. With this the world is saved in the manner in which it chooses. Choose life that we may have it more abundantly! Sounds like you experience that profoundly. Bless you, Cliff!