Sanctification

Laying down the law

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It is probably inevitable that the idea of propriety is so strongly ingrained in the psyche of the Afrikaner.  We traditionally grow up in an environment where rules and obedience are made very important.

So I was wondering: do we really experience, or even acknowledge, true freedom in our walk with God? Of course, in his discourse in Galatians, Paul is referring to the Old Testament Law, but it seems that in today’s Christian life, any expectation can become a law, whether openly or subtly enforced.

The power of expectation and propriety can dishearten a Christ-follower who wants to please God: how to talk, how to behave, what to do and what not to do, etc.  Sometimes so many structures are put in place in the church community that it may hinder people from the joyful experience of freedom in serving and following God, in response to His overwhelming love.

Of course order is important, and without structure very little is accomplished.  But what is the motivation behind these rules or the structure – to enable, or to control? In the church family, maybe we should stop laying down the law, and start letting go of the law.

The law has its place, it is not void of meaning. It confirms to us that we are sinful, that we cannot save ourselves, and that we desperately need a Saviour (Gal 3:10-11).  “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24).

Each believer is at their own place of spiritual growth, becoming more and more like Jesus.  We are all on the same road, following God, and should love and encourage one another, not restrict and control each other. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Gal 5:14).

I am learning about this freedom.  “Kancane kancane” (little by little) I am starting to understand my own freedom in Christ bought with His precious blood, and it becomes easier to practice grace and love towards others.

Gal 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”.

by Lise Oosthuizen

Anger, sense and a restoration project…

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Do you ever envy other people?  I do.  

Now I know that envy isn’t what my Father wants from me but not all envy is that bad.  

I sometimes wish I could be the guy in the line at Home Affairs/Bank/Traffic licensing office…who isn’t getting riled at the inefficiency or the seeming absence of any commitment to serve others – I envy that guy who’s just calmly sitting there even seemingly enjoying the time away from tasks!

I sometimes wish I could be the guy of the squash who is playing top squash but just seems to be having fun and isn’t affected by dodgy referring calls – I envy that guy sometimes.

Scripture is so life-giving and practical.  Just yesterday I read again that;

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11 ESV 

Now although I am who God’s made me and that includes all my physical, mental & personality attributes, Scripture also teaches me that who God made as Gareth – was tainted, marred by the Fall.  I am created in His image but that image needs restoring/re-moulding which is what happens daily as I listen to God through Scripture and obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

So when I say I am envious of someone else’s calmness in certain settings I am not expressing dissatisfaction with who God made me but rather dissatisfaction at the particular effect of sin in my life.  I see something of the image of God in that other person (regardless of whether they are a believer or unbelievers) and it draws me into the Holy Spirit inspired restoration God wants to do in me!

Hence, when I read this verse it doesn’t condemn me but calls me into what I know the Father wants to be in me by in terms of restoration.  As I read and listened to the Holy Spirit these were my personal reflections from this passage:

Anger that is ‘in-the-moment’ is bad sense because:

1) Anger clouds my vision  

2)Anger predisposes me to making rash assumptions regarding motives, meaning…

3)Anger makes me the focal centre rather than making God and others the focal centre

4) Anger is a slippery slope towards me sinning even when I have been sinned against

So how can I apply this to my life?  

Step 1: Identify the emotion (anger) early, report it to yourself

Step 2: Pause, count to three (seriously do it Gareth)

Step 3: Consider – What is making me feel this way? Have I misunderstood? Is God’s perspective and the other person’s perspective being valued by me? Is this worthy of godly anger?

Step 4: Is this something I can overlook?  After all to do so would be to my benefit. Or is it necessary confront but doing so slowly and in love, full of grace and truth?

For me, being quick to anger has been one of the old sin patterns God has been remounting me in making me more like the most incredible man who ever lived – Jesus.

As a son of God, I want to be like my Father who time and time again is described as follows; 

“…you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.” (Jonah 4:2)

Father, today I want to be more like you, I want to identify, pause, consider & overlook where that is truly possible or confront in love full of grace and truth where necessary. Amen.


Lazarus – a picture of the saved yet stuck believer (John 11:44)

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When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
 
Lazarus here reminds me of salvation, he is raised to new life but comes out looking more like an Egyptian mummy than a person!  He is still bound up, unable to move, see or talk freely…  Jesus doesn’t just raise him to new life though, Jesus says to those watching on in amazement, unbind him, and let him go.

This for me is a picture of the total salvation that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.  It would have been ridiculous for Lazarus, having been given new life to keep his grave clothes on!  Yes he has been given new life but he needs those things taken off to really allow him to enjoy his new life.

Lazarus is a picture here for me of someone who is saved yet stuck.  Stuck with the things that weigh us down, the things that hinder us and the sin that entangles us (Hebrews 12:1-2),  restricting our freedom in Christ.  Jesus’ concern is for Lazarus to be totally free (Luke 4:18-19) and so he said to…
Interestingly Jesus does not tell Lazarus to unbind himself.  I presume that’s because he was so wrapped up that he couldn’t help himself free.  So Jesus tells those around Lazarus to unbind him and to let him go, let him be truly free.
We need others to help us walk into our own freedom in Christ, Jesus raises us from the grave of sin and shame, Jesus gives new life and Jesus’ desire is for us to walk in total freedom – and yet we need others to unbind us so that we can enter into our freedom that is in Christ.
  1. In what ways am I saved but stuck?
  2. Do I have grave clothes still restricting my freedom that was given to me in Christ?
  3. Who in my life right now has Jesus said to me; “Unbind them and let them go”?
  4. How do we unbind people (get them unstuck)?