There are some dangerous pretensions (or arguments) that I have had to overcome in my walk with the Lord. The Bible tells us that we wage against dark powers, against the devil, against the spiritual forces of evil. We are taught and reminded in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” The pretensions that have come at times to bombard my mind; and the minds of other Christians everywhere in the Church are:
1. Trying Harder Means I Will Be Spiritually Prideful. “If I make a harder effort to be in perfect standing with the Lord, then I’ll probably look down on others in a pious or ‘I’m-super-righteous’ attitude.” That is a total lie. The deception that being righteous automatically equals being proud is backward and false. When I look at God the Father, Himself, I see the most upright, creative, good, and just God. But He is such a gentleman that not even He will force Himself or His will upon a person. If He were truly proud and arrogant, He would not let us make our own choices so we could learn like children the consequences of our choice. He is similar to us in that. He is humble enough to ask us to seek Him, ask Him to be our Lord, and dwell in our spirits. So also, we see that Jesus, who was as meek and mild as a Lamb; and yet was so righteous, blameless, and without sin. The Almighty Lord Jesus, the same one, who is to come on the clouds with a holy army of angels, and cast down the dragon into the pit, and rid the Earth of sin once and for all. He is the very same Lord who came to Jairus’ daughter and healed her, and then mildly asked everyone to keep the healing a secret. That doesn’t sound so proud to me. We learn humility probably best by being humiliated (for Christ), but it can be learned! If there is a righteousness of God to seek in an area of life, then we are commanded to seek it, hunger after it, and thirst after it.
Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” that verse was written for sooooo much more than our first belief in Jesus as Lord. When we are first justified, saved from Hell and sin by Jesus’ sacrifice for us, that is our first decision towards righteousness; but now Jesus is telling us to take our sustenance from His righteousness. If we are hungering and thirsting in our spirits, like our bodies do in the natural, it sounds to me like our spirits have to be kept alive through a diet of righteousness, not a one-time deal, but daily rationing. All of this making the Christian life much LESS boring.
2. Well…Nobody’s Perfect. This in regards to a person blowing it, or failing, or falling short of the mark. That’s a nice thought and all, and does have an appropriate place sometimes; but I’ve wondered just how many times this “tolerance” idea has been used as an excuse to excuse oneself from obeying what they know to be right, producing apathy, complacency, etc. Yes, it is true, no matter how “good” we are doing with the Lord, at the end of the day we all still need Jesus’ blood to cover us, just the same to get into Heaven. But we are also judged according to our deeds on Judgment Day, and in this life too. “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).
Luke 23:41: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Hebrews 9:27: “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
This concept is stated many times in the Old AND New Testaments.
Revelation 20:12: “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
If the thought ever remained, “Oh, it’s okay to sin, because God is just going to forgive me automatically,” we’ve already lost the battle in the fight against sin. If we continue on that path, we will also lose our souls. Jesus combats that way of thinking when He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). In another place, 2 Corinthians 7:1, we are encouraged to develop holiness: “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” There are many other Scriptures about becoming perfect and the process of perfection in Christ. Many are the passages that speak to us about having a whole lot of righteousness, not of ourselves, but of our good works. Our robes are to be without spot, our hearts fervent, and our motives correct. Sadly, many are thinking at this late hour in the church, that grace is a license for sin, that grace is a means to lawlessness. Paul said that those who felt so deserved fully their own condemnation. Grace should always lead us into righteousness.
Titus 2:11-14: “The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”
In Matthew 7:21, the Lord says, “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.” When an antinomian (anti-law) notion sets in, which can often occur if we aren’t vigilant, we may think we can purposely disobey God’s laws. This is not the intention of heart that Jesus died for! Jesus died for the removal of our sins; a daily removal. If we are so bold to think that God is too forgiving to care, God scoffs at us. If the Son of God is willing to forgive, and of course He is, it would be safe to say that God honors true repentance. Hebrews 6 speaks of a falling away where we can become hardened, and can’t come back to repentance; it is impossible for those “who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss, they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace” (Heb. 6:6). It is good to desire to always be able to come back to repentance! If we go from having Christ in our hearts to excusing, justifying, or even condoning our sins, we can become darkened in our consciences, and have a self-righteousness that is much more rude and vicious than a non-Christian. You’ll see that in practicing Pharisees.
So, where the understanding may be that “we are not under law any longer” is present in Christian circles, we are still not excused from obeying the law that is to be written on our hearts. “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness” (Romans 2:15). Our sins will be revealed to our consciences over time for our subjective convictions. The rules of the New Testament for holy living are still obligations to us by the Spirit; and also the teachings of Jesus should be what a Jesus follower are bound to. The concept of “not being under the law” anymore, because of the blood Jesus, as best as I can tell, applies to ceremonial laws from the Old Testament, and the traditions of men that don’t come from God.
Hebrews 8:13: “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”
Colossians 2:14: “Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.”
Jesus does INDEED do away with all that as He becomes our full salvation!
All of this is given to us for edification, exhortation (rebuking), comfort, and encouragement. We MUST be strong like our Lord was strong. We MUST brace ourselves and fight like soldiers, because the world will see the difference. Then they will see the light. As we proclaim the name of Jesus and walk uprightly, some will be saved! Finally:
Hebrews 12:2: “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”