1JN 2:5-6 ESV
but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Yes, Christ walks in truth.
No, I am not perfect. Anyone that says that they do not sin may not be examining themselves deeply enough, because we are not perfected works while we are still in the flesh.
Yes, I obey God’s commandments.
Yes, I know that it is critically important to obey His commandments.
No, I do not see this Grace of Jesus Christ as a get out of hell free card that we put in our back pocket as a freedom to continue in our old, sinful lives. This graces frees us FROM sin, it isn’t meant to free us so that we can continue our sin.
Yes, I see and understand what Jesus meant by explaining that all the commandments and the words of the prophets hangs on love. Because if someone makes the law an idol (like the Pharisees did) and does not have love, they do not have Christ abiding within them.
Yes, the law is meant for those in lawlessness. But if we are in Christ, if we have the love of Christ in us, and we walk in the Spirit of love, doesn’t scripture tell us that He will overcome, that He is our advocate, that He is our guide, that He is for us, not against us?
So the question is not just are we obedient, because even the wolves can feign obedience to get near the sheep. Isn’t it made so clear in the example of the Pharisees that exacting obedience to the law without the greater things of mercy and forgiveness falls short of the righteousness that God seeks in our lives.
We do not claim to know His grace and believe and be alive with Christ in us if we are still controlled by the flesh.
Neither do we obey the spirit and intent of the Word of God if we obey the letter of the law, but do not have love, mercy, and forgiveness.
There are many religious people standing in ditches on either side of this narrow path. On one side, they are crying out, “Use this Grace and continue in your sins”. On the other side, they are crying out, “Use this Law to condemn and judge and accuse others”.
But this narrow path –
The Holy Spirit convicts me of sin in my own life, it teaches and guides me, and I know a repentant heart, and I despise the sin and imperfections in my own life – and I see them taken prisoner as this temple is swept clean for His presence and dwelling. I see my fellow man of flesh and blood, and I have mercy and forgiveness towards him, because I know the battle and refinement that is taking place within him as well.
If I begin to think that I am a completed work, that “I have arrived”, Oh, the pride that comes before a fall!
So in knowing that we believers are each in various states of forgiveness and redemption within the hands of the Lord – isn’t it clearly evident why encouragement, why loving and gentle correction, why mercy and love and forgiveness is what lifts up – isn’t it clear that these fruits of the Holy Spirit are the tools (even the weapons) that we use in this spiritual battle if we are children of God, with Christ abiding in us?
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
And isn’t it clear that the weapons of the enemy are those things that rise from a hardened heart, those things that tear down, those things that are rotten, stinking death from the mouths of empty tombs?
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Yes, idolatry, quarreling, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissention, division and envy are in that list.
And so many “warnings” are spent these days picking and choosing messages that audiences want to hear – condemning and attacking those things that are safe to talk about by pointing the finger at others outside their own little group, instead of tackling those things that need to be cleaned up in the life of the messenger, and in the lives of their flock.
Yes, it pains me, seeing so many choosing which ditch to stand in with so many others, pointing the finger at those in the other ditch and mocking and laughing at them for being in a ditch – even judging and accusing and condemning each other – instead of working together in love to walk this narrow path, to get out of the ditch, and to lift others up onto the path, not tear them down and drag them into the ditch.
I love you, friends. Let’s climb out of the ditch today. Let’s know grace and mercy and forgiveness and repentance and truth and love.