I was reading someone's post on Facebook about how she doesn't celebrate Christmas because of its pagan roots, listing many historical facts about the Roman celebration of Saturnalia and how the Roman church 'Christianized' the pagan celebration as her justification for not celebrating Christ's birth. I thought, 'Okay, that's her choice, and what she does is unto the Lord and He receives her, so I will too.'
But shortly after she posted her New Year's resolutions to lose weight, renew her relationship with her adult son once estranged, and various resolutions to spend more time with the Lord and in prayer, and so on.
I so wanted to write a reply telling her the history of New Year's resolutions; How the ancient Babylonians started the practice with each new year by making sacrifices to, and promising the gods they would repay debts from the previous year and return anything borrowed, believing they would gain the favor of the gods for the coming year.
The Romans also made New Year's resolutions by making sacrifices and promises to Janus, the 2 faced god with one face looking to the past and one to the future, promising to be a better person in the coming year. Early Christians 'Christianized' the Roman practice, using the New Year to reflect on past mistakes and promising the Lord to do better in the coming year.
It struck me how selective a religious person is in what they believe:, Picking and choosing what they want to obey and ignoring what they want to ignore. I didn't say anything to her because I've found most selectively religious people have the mind-set of "Don't confuse me with facts, my mind is already made up."
I've been talking about Christ in us, asking what more do we want and what more could God do?
We either go fully into the grace of Christ in us the hope of glory, or we settle into a double-minded spiritual life focused on external efforts to please God while mentally assenting to the fact Christ is in us, without knowing or walking in the reality of that fact.
External rules - Paul compares keeping the Jewish law versus the grace of Christ in us:
"Now we know the law is good, if a man use it lawfully, knowing this, the law was not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient..." I Timothy 1:8-9
"Do not be carried about by all kinds of strange teachings, for it is a good thing the heart is established with grace." Hebrews 13:9
The law is external, and it can be used for good as Paul said. It is made for the unrighteous, not you and I who are in Christ. It is good to be used for discerning right and wrong, to show a person what sin is and that they have sinned, but it wasn't made for you and I.
The heart is established with grace, not by external observations because simply, Christ, the embodiment of grace itself, is in us. Therefore our hearts are established with grace, not external things.
"For the grace of God that offers salvation to all people has been revealed to all, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Titus 2:11-14
Grace teaches us how to live godly lives, it isn't a license to live ungodly lives
The law doesn't teach, it commands. Grace teaches and empowers us to live for God. Think that through - why does grace teach us to deny sin and how to walk in righteousness? Because the Person of Grace, Christ, lives in us, walking with us through each point of decision, teaching us along the way and pointing out opportunities to do right. Grace is empowerment to live holy lives.
"Let no one judge you on food or drink, or in respect of a holy day or of Sabbath days, for those are shadows of something to come. But the body is of Christ." Colossians 2:16-17
Other versions clarify 'the body is of Christ' by translating it "the reality however, is found in Christ" and "...they have only symbolic value; but the substance (the reality of what is foreshadowed) belongs to Christ."
Why did God give the Old Testament law?
"Now we know that whatever the law of Moses says, it speaks to those under the law, so that the excuses of every mouth may be silenced from protesting and that all the world may be held accountable to God and subject to His judgement." Romans 3:19
The law came that the world could know sin and know they are sinners and accountable to God - up until Moses God had never defined what was sin and what wasn't sin. As mentioned earlier, it wasn't made for the righteous, but for sinners, and can be used to define sin. Paul says it yet again:
"Why then the law? What was its purpose? It was added after Abraham, to reveal to people their guilt because of transgressions (that is, to make people conscious of the sinfulness of sin)...Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a system of law (could) have been given which could impart life, then righteousness (right standing with God) would actually have been based on law." Galatians 3:19-22
In other words - The law came to show people what sin was, and that they are sinful, and if God could have given 1 law to obey that would have given Life, He would have - but external rules and regulations can't change the human spirit, that's why Jesus was needed, to legally make a way for our human spirits to be recreated by God that we may live forever with Him. Let me make this statement and think about it:
If all that happened at the cross was your sins were forgiven, you would still go to hell.
Why? Because the only spirits in heaven are those created by God's Spirit who are in right standing with Him - whether angelic or human. Therefore your 'ticket' to heaven is the born again human spirit. Our born again spirit is what enables us to go to heaven and live and thrive in the direct presence of the Father God.
Fortunately, the provision by the cross for forgiveness and being born again in our spirit is one.
Can we add to Christ in us?
"For in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision (anything of importance) nor uncircumcision, but only a new creation (which is the result of a new birth) - a spiritual transformation - a new nature in Christ Jesus. Peace and mercy be upon all those who walk by this rule (who discipline and conduct themselves according to this rule)..." Galatians 6:15-16 Amplified
Obscures our view from the important
Paul said 'peace and mercy' is upon those who discipline their lives and conduct themselves by that rule - what matters is a person being born again. Don't we want peace? Don't we want mercy? Then drop the focus on rules and regulations and what you think they should or shouldn't do to please God, and find joy in a person (in spite of themselves sometimes) in that they are born again and will in fact make it to heaven. We need to stop trying to be each other's Holy Spirit and know that if God accepts them, then in the end we must too. You can pick and choose your friends, but you have to love your family. Arghh...lol
Several people observed a man who was driving his car and following his dashboard GPS so closely he drove right across train tracks in spite of flashing lights and in between the down and locked gates, and didn't see the train that hit him. Today's detailed electronics that pinpoint every point of interest, every restaurant, every landmark, is very often unnecessary detail that obscures our main objective. That's what religion does.
A person can be so eager to please God they become focused on 'do this' or 'don't do that', forgetting that Christ lives in them and He is our main objective. He would love just to spend time with us in the midst of normal life, where we are, just as we are, for Christ in us IS the point.
I've run out of room, next week 'Christian witchcraft' versus Christ in us.
Until then, blessings,