Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017 - 2018

Law, Grace, and

Relationship - 3

“... the people who know their God will

stand firm and prevail.”

(Daniel 11:32 Complete

Jewish Bible)

 

How Then do we Walk this Walk?

Levelling Our Path Proverbs 3:6 states: "In all your ways acknowledge him; then He will level your paths."  (Complete Jewish Bible) We all know this verse, but what does it mean to 'acknowledge' God? The Merriam- Webster Dictionary defines the word ‘acknowledge’ as follows: to say that you accept or do not deny the truth or existence of (something) to regard or describe (someone or something) as having or deserving a particular status to tell or show someone that something (such as a letter or message) has been received According to this source, the origin of the word means to say 'in agreement with',  knowledge - and saying without being in agreement, is to lie. As we begin to acknowledge God's presence in our every moment, with our hearts in agreement with the truth of His status, nature, and all His works, Proverbs 3:6 tells us that He will level our path.  As our hearts resonate with the genuine article of Who God is and that He is constantly with us in every situation, we will find our paths cleared of things that would cause us to stumble and fall. Over the past few weeks of writing these three posts, this has started to become a more regular experience in my life. There have been several occasions now when I have faced delicate situations in which someone could or would be offended or hurt if I did what I knew I needed to do. As I waited for wisdom from God, He seemed to deal with the situation behind the scenes so that when the time came for me to act, my response was not only accepted but embraced by hearts that had already been prepared, or situations were diffused as circumstances changed. God is faithful to His promises. The life to which God calls us, is not one that is focused on discerning between good and evil, or right and wrong. The life to which we are called, is a life of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, that flows from truth in the inner man.   The focus of righteousness is not sinlessness. Righteousness is a level path of faith in God - a faith that does not stumble but remains steady. Sinlessness is a maze of avoidance. Law vs Grace Legalism is not obedience. Legalism is a skew frame blurring our focus. Legalism is a focus on the letter of the law that obscures the Spirit of the law. When your vision is blurred, you cannot see clearly. With blurred vision, comes confusion. With confusion, comes deception. Discernment requires clear focus. In Paul's letters, he contrasts law and grace, and our minds tell us that grace is the opposite of law. When we do this, we run the risk of turning our back on anything appearing as law and, instead of walking in grace, we move towards lawlessness, doing what seems right in our sight. As we begin to walk in the Spirit, it is difficult to determine what is from self and what is from the Holy Spirit if we do not know God as He reveals Himself in His word. The Scripture which nourished the early church was the Old Testament, which included the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah. The Hebrew word 'Torah' means teaching, or instruction. What we refer to as the books of the Law, the Jews refer to as the books of instruction. What we refer to as the Ten Commandments, the Jews refer to as the Ten words. (It's easier to find the ten 'words' of instruction than ten clear, individual commandments in this list...) Transformation in Grace God's instructions, laws, commands, precepts, and principles are our plumb lines for measuring what flows from our hearts; they are the way of discerning what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not. But our focus is not here. Our focus is on the nature of God - who He really is. It is as we truly see Him as He is, so we become like Him. This transformation takes place by the Holy Spirit as our minds become saturated by the experiential knowledge of who He is, and this experiential knowledge begins to form the frames through which we view our daily experiences. Transformed behaviour flows from transformed frames. Transformed frames, flow from transformed beliefs. Transformed beliefs flow from a depth of understanding that is birthed through the experiential knowledge of the true nature of God Almighty. "Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  (Proverbs 9:10) Grace in Jesus Jesus overcame Satan by quoting the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Jesus did not negate the Torah. In fact, He actually said that He did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfil it.  The Greek word translated as 'fulfil' means to 'fill up'. So Jesus is not saying that He is the end of the Torah, as in 'forget about the Torah now', but rather that He is the fullness  of the Torah. Take time and meditate on this truth - Jesus is the fullness of the Torah. Keeping in mind that Jesus is the fullness of the Torah, substituting the word 'instruction' for 'Law', and remembering that Jesus said that the entire Torah could be summed up in ‘Love the Lord your God ... and love your neighbour...’, does your attitude towards the Torah begin to change? Jesus is the way to grace, and He is the embodiment of grace. Grace is not lawlessness, nor is it the opposite of legalism. Grace is a higher way of being; a way of being made possible only through faith in Jesus, the Messiah. In John 15: 10-15 Jesus speaks of the importance of obedience to His commands five times, and He stresses obedience as the condition to experience all He desires to give us. Fear of God and Legalism. What is your concept of God? What do you believe about Him, deep down, in the depths of your heart? A few years ago, I would have said that I believed He was a God of grace and love, and that He was good. Yet, when my life began to fall apart, my real beliefs surfaced In a way I could no longer deny them. Satan knew my real heart belief and went straight for the jugular, telling me that God had rejected me and cursed me. Now I was open to this because the real under-current belief of my concept of God, was that He was perfect in every way and could not tolerate sin. In His perfection, He required perfection from us and our struggle with sin angered Him. God’s wrath was slowly rising and would soon be unleashed upon the world, but judgement started with the Church first. God was not happy and I was a miserable failure in His sight. Yes there is grace, but God will not look lightly upon the apparent abuse of grace. These beliefs brought fear and distrust of God. If your heart's desire is for God, but you live from a frame of fearful terror of God, you will shape your life around law. You will have various rules and regulations around how to approach God, how to pray, how to order your life, etc. Yes, the Bible does teach about fearing God, but it also teaches about the Father-heart of God; that He is a refuge for His people. The Two Faces of Godly Fear.  If you continually walk in deliberate, prideful, self-focused, rebellion to God and His ways, then you have reason to tremble in fear. God treats pride and rebellion very seriously, for they sow virulent seeds of death, and they are rooted in the powers and principalities of darkness. If you choose to walk in pride and rebellion, you have made yourself an enemy of God. You have reason to fear, for God is a formidable and unbeatable foe to those who set themselves against Him. But there is always place for repentance... God always responds to repentance - even in someone as sinful as king Ahab. (See 1 Kings 21:27-29) But as you get to know the deep love God has for you, as you experience that love, desiring to know Him more and more intimately, then the 'fear of God' takes the form of deep respect and honour. Though I considered myself as one who walked in grace and not according to law, the Lord has recently shown me just how law-oriented my life has actually been! Walking according to law does not just apply to those who live according to the Old Testament laws, or those who turn the New Testament into a set of laws by which they judge themselves and/or others. Personal Relationship When the Lord broke into my life in a supernatural way, I developed an insatiable hunger and thirst for more of Him. Moving from a mainstream church to a Charismatic Church, I had to orient myself to a whole new language describing the way one relates to God, but these people were describing and demonstrating a relationship for which I longed. Over the years that followed, I drank in their every word and strived to apply it diligently, that I may also experience the reality of relationship that these people modelled. But though there was a measure of growth in some areas, the greater tone of my life became a deep frustration and a sense of either being rejected by God, or being completely retarded in my ability to engage in relationship with Him. I would attend as many conferences as I could, and grab hold of every teaching and practical 'exercise' of coming into the presence of God. Yet when I applied it at home, it would just come to nothing. As I cried out to God, asking Him why it was that I could not connect with Him, He began to teach me about personal relationship. Relationship is built on love, respect, and honour. The quality of the relationship depends on the quality of the interaction between the parties, and this depends upon the depth of understanding, empathy, and even sympathy, one to another. Intimacy of relationship is built on complete transparency and sharing of hearts within the framework of love, respect, honour, understanding, and empathy. But the interaction between two people is as unique as the two individuals themselves. There may be principles of communication that can enhance understanding and empathy, but the communication must be personal for it to be a 'relating'. True relating is about connection and sympathy; it involves a depth of understanding between two people. When a woman becomes engaged to her prospective husband, he does not sit down and write a list of requirements specifying how she is to behave, does he? And yet, there are laws governing marriage, relationship, and communication; laws and principles that protect each person, and the relationship as a whole, not so? A child is most free when he plays within the boundaries of his parents’ garden. When he steps out of the garden to play in the road, he is putting himself in the way of danger, but in the boundaries of the garden, he is safe. God's laws are the boundaries of life, within which we abide in Christ and the Life He came to give us.   Grace lifts our focus from the letter of the law to relationship. Grace opens the door to intimacy with God, and as you focus on deeper and deeper intimacy, your focus will determine your outcome – behaviour flowing from a heart that loves God, rests in His faithfulness, and longs for ever greater intimacy. Intimacy is not sex; intimacy is a vulnerable transparency between two people. Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him. (John 14:21 Emphasis mine) The Torah is not a set of harsh, stodgy, rigid, laws, but rather books of instruction, instructing us on what Kingdom Life looks like. It teaches us what true love looks like, about His faithfulness, and about our journey of grace. But most of all, the Torah teaches us about relationship with God - relationship that is made possible through the Messiah, of whom these Scriptures also prophesy.
Prev Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017 - 2018  

Law, Grace, and

Relationship - 3

“... the people who know their God

will stand firm and prevail.”

(Daniel 11:32

Complete Jewish Bible)

 

How Then do we Walk this Walk?

Levelling Our Path Proverbs 3:6 states: "In all your ways acknowledge him; then He will level your paths."  (Complete Jewish Bible) We all know this verse, but what does it mean to 'acknowledge' God? The Merriam- Webster Dictionary defines the word acknowledge’ as follows: to say that you accept or do not deny the truth or existence of (something) to regard or describe (someone or something) as having or deserving a particular status to tell or show someone that something (such as a letter or message) has been received According to this source, the origin of the word means to say 'in agreement with',  knowledge - and saying without being in agreement, is to lie. As we begin to acknowledge God's presence in our every moment, with our hearts in agreement with the truth of His status, nature, and all His works, Proverbs 3:6 tells us that He will level our path.  As our hearts resonate with the genuine article of Who God is and that He is constantly with us in every situation, we will find our paths cleared of things that would cause us to stumble and fall. Over the past few weeks of writing these three posts, this has started to become a more regular experience in my life. There have been several occasions now when I have faced delicate situations in which someone could or would be offended or hurt if I did what I knew I needed to do. As I waited for wisdom from God, He seemed to deal with the situation behind the scenes so that when the time came for me to act, my response was not only accepted but embraced by hearts that had already been prepared, or situations were diffused as circumstances changed. God is faithful to His promises. The life to which God calls us, is not one that is focused on discerning between good and evil, or right and wrong. The life to which we are called, is a life of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, that flows from truth in the inner man.   The focus of righteousness is not sinlessness. Righteousness is a level path of faith in God - a faith that does not stumble but remains steady. Sinlessness is a maze of avoidance. Law vs Grace Legalism is not obedience. Legalism is a skew frame blurring our focus. Legalism is a focus on the letter of the law that obscures the Spirit of the law. When your vision is blurred, you cannot see clearly. With blurred vision, comes confusion. With confusion, comes deception. Discernment requires clear focus. In Paul's letters, he contrasts law and grace, and our minds tell us that grace is the opposite of law. When we do this, we run the risk of turning our back on anything appearing as law and, instead of walking in grace, we move towards lawlessness, doing what seems right in our sight. As we begin to walk in the Spirit, it is difficult to determine what is from self and what is from the Holy Spirit if we do not know God as He reveals Himself in His word. The Scripture which nourished the early church was the Old Testament, which included the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah. The Hebrew word 'Torah' means teaching, or instruction. What we refer to as the books of the Law, the Jews refer to as the books of instruction. What we refer to as the Ten Commandments, the Jews refer to as the Ten words. (It's easier to find the ten 'words' of instruction than ten clear, individual commandments in this list...) Transformation in Grace God's instructions, laws, commands, precepts, and principles are our plumb lines for measuring what flows from our hearts; they are the way of discerning what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not. But our focus is not here. Our focus is on the nature of God - who He really is. It is as we truly see Him as He is, so we become like Him. This transformation takes place by the Holy Spirit as our minds become saturated by the experiential knowledge of who He is, and this experiential knowledge begins to form the frames through which we view our daily experiences. Transformed behaviour flows from transformed frames. Transformed frames, flow from transformed beliefs. Transformed beliefs flow from a depth of understanding that is birthed through the experiential knowledge of the true nature of God Almighty. "Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  (Proverbs 9:10) Grace in Jesus Jesus overcame Satan by quoting the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Jesus did not negate the Torah. In fact, He actually said that He did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfil it.  The Greek word translated as 'fulfil' means to 'fill up'. So Jesus is not saying that He is the end of the Torah, as in 'forget about the Torah now', but rather that He is the fullness of the Torah. Take time and meditate on this truth - Jesus is the fullness of the Torah. Keeping in mind that Jesus is the fullness of the Torah, substituting the word 'instruction' for 'Law', and remembering that Jesus said that the entire Torah could be summed up in ‘Love the Lord your God ... and love your neighbour...’, does your attitude towards the Torah begin to change? Jesus is the way to grace, and He is the embodiment of grace. Grace is not lawlessness, nor is it the opposite of legalism. Grace is a higher way of being; a way of being made possible only through faith in Jesus, the Messiah. In John 15: 10-15 Jesus speaks of the importance of obedience to His commands five times, and He stresses obedience as the condition to experience all He desires to give us. Fear of God and Legalism. What is your concept of God? What do you believe about Him, deep down, in the depths of your heart? A few years ago, I would have said that I believed He was a God of grace and love, and that He was good. Yet, when my life began to fall apart, my real beliefs surfaced In a way I could no longer deny them. Satan knew my real heart belief and went straight for the jugular, telling me that God had rejected me and cursed me. Now I was open to this because the real under- current belief of my concept of God, was that He was perfect in every way and could not tolerate sin. In His perfection, He required perfection from us and our struggle with sin angered Him. God’s wrath was slowly rising and would soon be unleashed upon the world, but judgement started with the Church first. God was not happy and I was a miserable failure in His sight. Yes there is grace, but God will not look lightly upon the apparent abuse of grace. These beliefs brought fear and distrust of God. If your heart's desire is for God, but you live from a frame of fearful terror of God, you will shape your life around law. You will have various rules and regulations around how to approach God, how to pray, how to order your life, etc. Yes, the Bible does teach about fearing God, but it also teaches about the Father-heart of God; that He is a refuge for His people. The Two Faces of Godly Fear.  If you continually walk in deliberate, prideful, self- focused, rebellion to God and His ways, then you have reason to tremble in fear. God treats pride and rebellion very seriously, for they sow virulent seeds of death, and they are rooted in the powers and principalities of darkness. If you choose to walk in pride and rebellion, you have made yourself an enemy of God. You have reason to fear, for God is a formidable and unbeatable foe to those who set themselves against Him. But there is always place for repentance... God always responds to repentance - even in someone as sinful as king Ahab. (See 1 Kings 21:27-29) But as you get to know the deep love God has for you, as you experience that love, desiring to know Him more and more intimately, then the 'fear of God' takes the form of deep respect and honour. Though I considered myself as one who walked in grace and not according to law, the Lord has recently shown me just how law-oriented my life has actually been! Walking according to law does not just apply to those who live according to the Old Testament laws, or those who turn the New Testament into a set of laws by which they judge themselves and/or others. Personal Relationship When the Lord broke into my life in a supernatural way, I developed an insatiable hunger and thirst for more of Him. Moving from a mainstream church to a Charismatic Church, I had to orient myself to a whole new language describing the way one relates to God, but these people were describing and demonstrating a relationship for which I longed. Over the years that followed, I drank in their every word and strived to apply it diligently, that I may also experience the reality of relationship that these people modelled. But though there was a measure of growth in some areas, the greater tone of my life became a deep frustration and a sense of either being rejected by God, or being completely retarded in my ability to engage in relationship with Him. I would attend as many conferences as I could, and grab hold of every teaching and practical 'exercise' of coming into the presence of God. Yet when I applied it at home, it would just come to nothing. As I cried out to God, asking Him why it was that I could not connect with Him, He began to teach me about personal relationship. Relationship is built on love, respect, and honour. The quality of the relationship depends on the quality of the interaction between the parties, and this depends upon the depth of understanding, empathy, and even sympathy, one to another. Intimacy of relationship is built on complete transparency and sharing of hearts within the framework of love, respect, honour, understanding, and empathy. But the interaction between two people is as unique as the two individuals themselves. There may be principles of communication that can enhance understanding and empathy, but the communication must be personal for it to be a 'relating'. True relating is about connection and sympathy; it involves a depth of understanding between two people. When a woman becomes engaged to her prospective husband, he does not sit down and write a list of requirements specifying how she is to behave, does he? And yet, there are laws governing marriage, relationship, and communication; laws and principles that protect each person, and the relationship as a whole, not so? A child is most free when he plays within the boundaries of his parents’ garden. When he steps out of the garden to play in the road, he is putting himself in the way of danger, but in the boundaries of the garden, he is safe. God's laws are the boundaries of life, within which we abide in Christ and the Life He came to give us.   Grace lifts our focus from the letter of the law to relationship. Grace opens the door to intimacy with God, and as you focus on deeper and deeper intimacy, your focus will determine your outcome – behaviour flowing from a heart that loves God, rests in His faithfulness, and longs for ever greater intimacy. Intimacy is not sex; intimacy is a vulnerable transparency between two people. Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him. (John 14:21 Emphasis mine) The Torah is not a set of harsh, stodgy, rigid, laws, but rather books of instruction, instructing us on what Kingdom Life looks like. It teaches us what true love looks like, about His faithfulness, and about our journey of grace. But most of all, the Torah teaches us about relationship with God - relationship that is made possible through the Messiah, of whom these Scriptures also prophesy.
Focus    on Purpose
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Prev Next