Open Eyes Toward Jesus

thX9AGTWJF

       The religious leaders that Jesus encountered had been blinded by the law and the man-made religion that stemmed from it. The leaders created variations that profited them as leaders and at the same time kept the people blind to the purpose of the law, the message of the Torah, and the revelations of God through His prophets. It all pointed to the coming Messiah. When He stood in the midst of these leaders they were blind to their God in plain sight. They could not see that He was a fulfillment of prophesy and a fulfillment of the undefiled law. Let’s look at what Jesus says when He confronts these men and then take another step at what else can steal our sight. Knowledge of who Jesus is will help us to recognize Him with open eyes.

39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39)

       Jesus is not referring to His judgement here. Think about how this applied to the religious judgement of the Jewish Leaders through the law. Jesus wanted the people to see the heart of God, and He wanted to fulfill the law (with love) that had separated the people from God. The purpose of Christ was to open our eyes to mercy through love and close them toward the judgement and condemnation of the law.

40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:40-41)

       The Pharisee were so lost in the religion they had created through faulty human interpretation of the law that they were too blind to see the author standing in front of them. The author and perfecter of our faith came to give a 3 year, one man ‘panel discussion’ about Himself (The Word) and they couldn’t let go of the picture they made in exchange for the real thing. When we look past Jesus and try to rely on religion, the residue of sin (guilt) remains because human effort cannot remove it. Only the blood of Christ is capable of removing the stains that sin has left on us.

 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)

 All who came before me are thieves and robbers,…10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:8,10)

       We have all seen John 10:10 above used to refer to satan but it refers to a much larger group of things to which the devil belongs. Jesus says two versus prior that all who came before Him are thieves and robbers. Not only before Him in time but before we accepted Him for our salvation. It refers to false prophets, man-made religious ideas, false teachers, and even the law itself when compared to the Messiah. Anything other than Jesus: steals the opportunity to know God in personal relationship, kills the indescribable joy that only comes from Jesus, and destroys the freedom that comes from the promise of eternal life in the presence of God. While this definitely describes the deceiver it also points at anything that fills the empty place in your heart designed for Jesus. It could be people, beliefs, material things, or even sin that we haven’t put down at the foot of the cross. Jesus is the source of the abundant life we seek and anything less is robbing us of our sight and the full potential found in Christ.

Accused But Never Defeated

Dore-THE-WOMAN-TAKEN-IN-ADULTERY

In the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verses 2-11 we find a story we all know about the woman caught in adultery. This story has so many things in common with the way people treat each other even now. Let’s look at the story, broken down with comments, and please recognize the way Jesus not only defeated the manipulation but also reflected the love of God into the circumstance to reveal yet again how love triumphs over law, always.

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

       Those who were not caught up in a selfish pursuit to condemn what would render their service to the law futile (Pharisee) were eager to drink from the living well. Those who were lost in their posturing, worldly religious position, and misguided interpretation of the Word were looking to discredit the Savior at any cost.

 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.

       There are many issues to take note of here. Where is the man caught in the act with her? Where is her husband who would have taken part in catching her in the act because nobody else would have been more aware of the situation? Also take note of the way they address Jesus: “Teacher” or “Master” in the King James Version. They are trying to find fault in Him and they address Him in a way that allows them to discredit Him from that very position, as if to mock Him and His teachings all together.

 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

       They are using the sin of the woman to try and condemn a sinless man. They are also using the law to condemn the love of God that Jesus came to express. The law is being used against the fulfillment of the law (Jesus). It’s not her sin they are worried about, they are trying to condemn Jesus at her expense and for their selfish purpose.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.

       Jesus doesn’t give His attention to the accusation. He doesn’t feed into their plans to derail His teaching. In fact, His lack of attention makes them pour more emotion into their purpose. Jesus in His perfect wisdom brought them to a point where one statement would send them into retreat. He let their ignorance, selfishness, pride and emotion drive them into a place where they would expose themselves when the perfect nature of God was reflected into the situation. They had no foundation when the love of God washed over the situation.

 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

       Look at how the accusers left: Oldest to youngest, leaders to followers, high stature to low stature. I see the elevated men leading the younger men into this confrontation. The Pharisee that have their worldly position and authority at stake are followed by the mislead men to who they are teaching the law. This is a common problem where people blindly follow fallible leaders and never seek God on their own to form the relationship that allows God to grow in them. They are blind to a truth that they have never been exposed to.

 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:2-11)

       Now we see the perfect love of God triumph over the law. We see the fulfillment of the law through Jesus break through the constraints of religion. We see the light of our Savior break through the darkness of accusation and condemnation.

      Let yourself stand there and be in that moment. Watch Jesus write on the ground. What is the Spirit telling you He wrote? Think about that. See the love of God defeat the law. See Jesus triumph over religion. See hearts changed and not condemned. Take note of God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, God’s love, and the salvation found in His Son.

Sin In The Eyes of The Law

thIBC4AONU

         If Adam’s disobedience was the match that started the deadly fire that we call sin. The law was the dry forest that allowed the fire to run wild, consuming people in their fallen nature like trees in their flammable nature. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20) God then provided His only begotten Son as a rain storm of His Grace to extinguish the fire of sin. just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21) The transgression of Adam, which created in all of us a fallen nature leading to death, was redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus who knew no sin. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

        To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:13-14) The law could not conquer sin because death was still the result. Even perfect adherence to God’s law resulted in the same death that existed before law established and magnified sin and the fallenness of man. God had to come to earth in the flesh to redeem us from the disobedience of Adam and disobedience of man in turning away from God’s law. Jesus had to fulfill the requirements of the law to set us free from the penalty of death. The law given through Moses was fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

 

Adam-Moses: No Law, No Spirit   (People turn away from God)

The world was held under the rule of death. All humanity fell into the depravity of sin with no way to know God as His name was lost through generations. It fell into such disarray that God flooded the world that showed no promise of redemption.

Moses-Christ: Law, No Spirit   (People turn away from God and the law)

God gave Moses laws that would guide His people to be set apart and to keep God their focus. The laws were protection from their fallen nature and a way to keep God and His faithfulness at the center of their lives. They turned away even when God gave them direction and guidance.

Christ-Eternity: Spirit, No Law     (God comes to find His people)

The death and resurrection of our Savior gave us access to the Holy Spirit which writes the law upon our hearts. The love we are commanded to give to God and to our neighbors fulfills the requirements of moral law. As we walk in the newness of life and obedience to God we are not subject to the death penalty of sin.

Changed By The Spirit

th82NQEVVN

                Many people who come to know Jesus as their Savior feel that once they’ve accepted Him, they have reached a point of completion. In terms of salvation their faith has brought them into relationship and reconciliation with God. It is sad when they stop at that point and miss out on the opportunity to submit to God and let Him take control of the life He created for a specific purpose, greater than they can imagine. They don’t acknowledge the new life given to them through Jesus. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Reconciliation to God through faith in Jesus tears down the house we’ve built for ourselves with the fleshly materials of this world and allows the construction of a Spirit based house on the foundation of our Savior. The problem arises when we try to build that new life in our own power. For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. (Galatians 2:18-19) We must rely on the Holy Spirit of God to bring lasting change to our lives. We fall victim to legalism and religion when we try to do God’s work for Him. As we dwell in this world we only have access to worldly materials to build ourselves. It’s important that we let God sanctify our new hearts and draw us out of the slavery to this sinful world. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? (Galatians 4:9) The laws that guided people in the Old Testament to rely and focus on God are just shadows of what we have in the light of Jesus Christ. I’m not referring to the moral laws that Christ fulfills in His call for us to love God and our neighbors. I refer to the sacramental and ritual laws that kept eyes and dependence on God until His chosen could be reconciled through faith in His Son. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24) Don’t fall backward into trying to work for God. Humble yourself to His will and what He wants to do in your heart. Let His infinite power create lasting change, and let that power fight these battles to completion. Live by the Spirit and let your works honor God because of His love, not to attain the love you already have. Let God do the work in your heart and your life that you are unable to accomplish because we were designed to live in reliance on our Creator through faith and love for our Savior. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)

Lesser is the Law

thHP1R05FS

        God offers grace to fulfill a need most deny exists. He values what we need over the law. Laws were made to honor God and glorify His provision. Sinful man used that law to turn on each other with judgement that belongs to God, not them. Man used the law to glorify themselves and gain power. They used the law to become god-like. The law, designed to keep our focus on God was used by sinful man to create further sin and fallenness. The law draws us away from God. The laws were created for our good, but our fallen nature caused us to miss sight of the source of all good. If we focus on a love based relationship with the Father through the Son, we follow a path lit by His glory. We become in tuned with a walk that is greater than the law. The law won’t change your heart of stone. Loving God will give you a heart that doesn’t need rules. Morality will be written on your heart. The law is a shadow of what God desires. He wants your heart. God became flesh so that you could see an example of holy. He left Heaven to come alongside His beloved creation and show His desire for us. Man wasn’t created to obey laws, they were created to glorify God.

 

Old Testament Law vs New Testament Love

image

                We find the 10 Commandments given to Moses (Exodus 20) fulfilled and overshadowed by the 2 Commandments of Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:37-40). God says that those who fear and love God will obey His commands. Obeying the law was impossible in the flesh, through fear. The entire Old Testament proves that. Obeying the commands of God is only possible with the Holy Spirit, through love. The OT gives us the law of sin and death, Jesus gives us the law of spirit and life. (Romans 8:2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. The OT tells us what is right while Jesus and the Holy Spirit equip us to do it. The OT law gives us condemnation, Jesus gives us grace and mercy. (John 1:17)  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. OT law isolates people from one another in sin, love brings us together. The law is made weak by flesh, love is made strong by the spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

                “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.”      -Josh McDowell

Love Over Law

untitled(1)

(Matthew 22:37-40) “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The commandment to love God covers the first 6 commandments given to Moses in Exodus. Love your neighbor covers the final 4. (Romans 13:8-10) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The love found from God and through the Holy Spirit removes the need for the laws given in the Old Testament. Jesus came to earth to bring about a new covenant that is not under the law. The new covenant involves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in believers. The maturing of the spirit leads us to the ultimate goal of unconditional and perfect love found in 2 Peter 1:5-7. Love is culmination of the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Christ had to remove the law to allow room for love to flourish. The law creates judgement, love creates mercy. (James 2:13) Mercy triumphs over judgment. God is love. The Holy Spirit makes unconditional love possible in our sinful human form. The presence of perfect love does not allow sin or temptation to exist. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s people makes the Old Testament law obsolete. The presence of love fills the voids of that law and proves how incomplete it was without the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin made evident in the law. Once we realize our need for a savior because adherence to the law is impossible, we can let go of its hold on us and live in God’s love, through Christ as we reflect that love back to God and to our neighbors.

 (Galatians 5:22-23) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(2 Peter 1:5-7)  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.