Lest Ye Be Judged…
    Fighting an uphill battle? You might be a Christian… One of the hardest things about being a professed Christian is that the world will judge you based on the standard God no longer condemns you for. Some of you are judging me right now for ending a sentence with a preposition! The second hardest (in the flesh) is fighting against old patterns and habits you’ve been steeped in for many years. After all – “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” doesn’t just refer to the good stuff we’re taught, right?

     I believe we will be held accountable and rewarded (or ineligible for reward) for what we have done or left undone (2ee 2Cor. 5.10), we are no longer condemned for our sin because we are no longer sinners, but saints – saved by the grace of God. In fact, we are referred to as saints over 60 times in the New Testament. This does not mean we no longer sin, but that the outstanding theme of our life is not one of sin, rather of sanctification. This is a big bible word for “being transformed into the likeness of Jesus”.

     Those outside of Christ often look in and pick out our hypocrisy. What’s funny to me is not only are they judging us for being “judgmental”, but they’ve also overlooked the fact that we worship an omniscient God whose Spirit informs and reminds us when we’ve done wrong. We are hypocrites, but not intentionally. We will struggle with things we don’t want to do because our flesh has programmed us to do them. Though our “old” man is dead, our new creation still walks in his grave clothes and God is transforming the outer parts of our inner self, while the old, dead self, tries to get us to worship smaller, rival gods like “my agenda”, “my stuff”, etc., etc.

     Everyone of us who has ever “walked in the footsteps of the faith of our Father, Abraham” and has confessed with their mouth that Christ is Lord and believed in their heart that God raised Him from the dead is now a new creation that is being sanctified until the Lord returns or calls them home. This means our life will be difficult in many cases, because we’re fighting a war on five fronts – against an enemy who accuses us (Satan: “accuser”), flesh that follows us and reminds us of who we used to be, a world system that manufactures a worldview counterfeit to God’s truth, and believers in Christ who may lead us astray from time to time and unbelievers in Christ who will condemn us where God does not.

Are we still together?

     Today, I saw one of those warm, fuzzy videos about some college kids who did the right thing. They’re softball players who didn’t have to do what they did. But, watch what they did, think about this scripture

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

and try this at home. Remember – there’s a reason why there’s no law against these things.

Do You Naturally “Crucify the Flesh”?
    When there is no law against doing something, do you naturally tend to do “the right thing”? I don’t. Yeah, I drive on the right side of the road most of the time. I know, “it’s not safe to do otherwise”. (Self serving, aren’t I?) In the natural, forgiveness is not what I’m bent on when someone wrongs me. I just watched my 11 month old boy standing himself up, reaching for a colorful toy that caught his eye, and his 2-1/2 year old sister shoved him out of the way (rather forcefully, I might add, to her own ignorance and my chagrin) and thought – “outside of Christ, we are all entirely self-serving!” Do you naturally tend toward “patience/forbearance”? When there’s no law nor threat of retaliation/punishment, do you suspend your own agenda because you know it’s the right thing?

     If you do, scripture teaches that you are witnessing God’s thumbprint of justice and righteousness on your life. There is within our spiritual DNA a meter that knows the truth of what is right and wrong – just read through Romans, chapter 1. The great news is, we’re free. The hard news is, we’re free. What will you use your freedom to do? Much of the same that you did when a slave to sin? Or, will you do something remarkable? Will you reach out in your sin, reach past your natural proclivities, surrender to the perfect law that gives life and call on the indwelling Spirit and power of God to keep your hands to yourself, keep your eyes off that page, leave that cash in the till, swallow those carefully sharpened words, reach across the aisle in earnest to do a thing that might hurt you in the short term, yet reward you in eternity?

     Tall order. But, Jesus promised a helper – parakletos – “one who comes along side as an advocate/helper” who can aid us in this fight.

     My prayer for all of us today (in and out of Christ):
May the Lord draw you to Himself and show you the truth of who He is, how great He is, how He loves you so much He would send Himself to receive punishment for you and die in your place, and how truly depraved you and I are apart from Him. May you know in every cell of your being that you and I do not need saving from what we do, rather from who we are outside of His grace.

     It’s not what we do, but who we are – nothing without Christ, with Him, saved and being perfected. It’s not what we do, but what we let Him do through us that makes the greatest impact. What are we to do when there is no law against love, peace, joy, kindness, etc? Let God do the walking, the talking, the living, the breathing for you and watch the fruit of your spirit.

Try this at home. It works.