GraceKap

Legalistic Limbo: “Jesus Said to Keep the Law!”

“When Jesus is speaking to his disciples, it means he is also speaking to us.” This common misunderstanding has done more to misinterpret the gospel than almost anything else. The entire 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) is just one example that has caused believers to create inconsistent Christian doctrines built around a myriad of false assumptions.

When it comes to the SOTM and many of the teachings of Jesus, we should begin to look through a different set of lenses than what religion has handed down to us. During the SOTM, Jesus wasn’t providing a new Christian teaching for future generations by adding revised regulations and new twists that would make it even harder and more challenging than the existing commands that nobody had ever kept.

Jesus often ministered the old law as a way to help the Jewish people realize their hopeless position at trying to attain life or righteousness through this law of works. It was meant to bring them into anguish and despair so they could come to the end of themselves and believe in something new and better … the good news of simply trusting Jesus to get the job done where everyone else fell short.

Legalistic types from Church Incorporated fail to realize that the law which was provided to Israel through Moses was never meant for those of us Gentiles who were not Jewish. We were never invited into that testament. By tangling together two very different covenants into one—meaning the Old and the New—they have advocated that the old container of commandments is still in place and are meant to be applied as a guide for us to embrace and interact with in order to attain God’s acceptance and a higher level of sanctified morality. Here is a passage they like to tout from the Mount:

“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20 ESV).

“See!” The legal eagles will say we’re to continue the tradition of law keeping in order to avoid lawlessness. In reality, the way to avoid lawlessness is to be delivered from a law that requires it all be done perfectly and instead, be empowered from the Spirit in a covenant where sins will no longer be remembered by God or be counted against us. We’re not reconciled by law, but by grace.

So let’s expose the hypocrisy. Which commandments was Jesus referring to? This is where we have to stop spacing-off as if we were listening to a sermon from our weekly church building and begin to put on our spiritual thinking caps. Jesus was referring to the entire law package of 613 commandments, rules and statutes—from the least to the greatest. All of them—the whole ball of wax—from dietary guidelines to sacrificial and clothing requirements, plus everything in-between. All of them. And yet we’re barely familiar with a small fraction of them.

In other words, the Christian religion has done what God declared could not be allowed when it comes to that old law … we pick and choose which ones we think are applicable for us today. Jesus said if you’re going to live by that system, you’ll have to live by all of it. The Apostle Paul said if you try to abide by one command, you’ll be obligated to keep the entire bundle. James said if you’ve broken one, you’re guilty of having broken the entire law … because it was all one package deal. It all has to still be in place … or it all had to come to an end, but there is no in-between. Thankfully for all of us, it was brought to a conclusion with the death of Jesus—he became the end of the law for righteousness to all who would believe (see Romans 10:4).

When Jesus said not to relax a single commandment, he meant it … for those who were actually still under the law. To relax is also interpreted in English Bibles as: abolish, break, set aside. In the Greek, it means to loosen or dissolve. We may find it interesting Jesus ended up doing what they were told not to do. Here is what Paul said Jesus did to bring Jew and Gentile together:

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

The Greek word for broken down is the same word spoken in Matthew 5 when Jesus said not to relax, break, abolish or set aside any of the commandments. Yet, he did it because it was a barrier keeping Jews from righteousness and it left us Gentiles with no hope and without a covenant at all.

Jesus began overwhelming his Jewish audience in this sermon with the impossible standard of the Mosaic law in a way they had never heard it before, despite being familiar with the writings. He paused to summarize his teaching with this: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Good luck with that. The writer of Hebrews brings this revelation:

“For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God” (Hebrews 7:18-19).

Righteousness is the goal … the end game for all of humankind. That is, to be right with God or in a state or condition approved by God. Jesus told his disciples their righteousness would need to exceed that of the Pharisees who were seeking it through the works of the law and falling short of keeping it perfectly. The law was holy, righteous and good. Perfection is our requirement and yet the law could make nothing perfect because it was weak and useless—powerless to do so. The blood of Jesus has gifted us with what was needed.

A covenant of rules and requirements will cause sin to increase. Jesus came to redeem the Jews from this ministry of death, condemnation and bondage, while opening the gate to the rest of the world to experience life by believing in Him and what he fulfilled on our behalf.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

Religious Traps: The Ten Commandments

It’s a sad state of affairs when much of the corporate church universe has been so misinformed about the most basic and foundational elements of the gospel … and the infinite differences between law and grace. Having been duped and deceived for many years myself, my passion for the past 25 years has been to help people begin to experience a greater knowledge of the truth by exposing much of the hypocrisy within what I call the Bible blender. This is where the “Christian religion” ruthlessly mixes a combination of the Old Covenant law with New Covenant grace.

The slippery slope often begins with what we refer to as The Ten Commandments. Religion tells us that although the law can’t save us, “some of it” is still in effect for people to try to live by for spiritual and moral health and to reduce their sin count in order to bring a progressive sanctification (setting apart, holiness). They’ll reason since those commands were carved in stone, they were never meant to be erased or tossed aside. And we’ll hear all kinds of “verses” out of context that will suck people into this vacuum as though the cross never happened. Like salvation, sanctification is also a gift received by what Jesus did for us, we have nothing to boast within ourselves. And don’t let others fool you into thinking the TEN were separate from the rest of the law. They were called the tablets of the covenant … and Scripture is clear it’s not talking about the New Covenant.

Oh, by the way, you might have missed the news that the entire law was written in stone … not just the TEN. Yes, God engraved the TEN at Mt. Sinai, and Moses took down the rest of the law, but God would later require the Israelites to write the entire law on large stone tablets, which He provided for them before they entered the promised land (see Deuteronomy 27). That’s every jot and tittle that would be engraved or written upon stone tablets. Let’s point out just a few of the glaring inconsistencies about the church’s approach to this law and commandments controversy.

The law was part of something called the first covenant or the Old Covenant. The TEN were part of a package which included 603 other laws, commands, rules and statutes from that covenant that Israel agreed to abide by … it was not forced upon them after they were delivered from Egypt. They could’ve declined the offer by saying the demands were too difficult and impossible (because they were). But pride and arrogance took center stage when they declared they would do it—all of it—and that it would result in righteousness and sanctification for them (but it didn’t). This was a covenant exclusive to Israel. The other 99% of the Gentile world had no such covenant with God … we non-Jewish people were never brought into this covenant—we were outsiders who weren’t even looking in.

God declared this package of rules from the law—including the TEN—were never to be broken up. Nobody could ever add or take away from this law package. Contrary to what you’ve heard, the law wasn’t broken up and separated into different categories. The package was not known as the laws, but the law—it was all together in the same bundle. The problem or the curse of this law was that if you broke one (1) single statute, you were guilty of having broken the entire package … because the laws within the law were very interconnected and there was a domino effect when sin occurred. This resulted in everyone falling short and a doer of the law has never been found, thereby leaving the people in a place of hopelessness and despair, in a need of a Savior who could deliver them from such a bondage.

Today, church incorporated has been cherry-picking a few of the commands from the Old package—while leaving most of it off the to-do list—exposing their hypocrisy when God said it had to be all or nothing. They’ll even argue that Jesus said the law will not pass away until heaven and earth passes away (Matthew 5:17-19). Actually, a closer look will show that what Jesus said to these Jewish people who were still under the curse of that law … was that not one dot or stroke of the law will pass away until all is fulfilled. The takeaway from this passage is that if you want to apply any Old law or command, you would be required to implement every single one of them—bloody sacrificial statutes included … not to mention, you would have to do it perfectly (Matthew 5:48). But Jesus did fulfill the law on our behalf (Romans 8:1-4). He became “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

Legalistic, hyper-works folks will sound the heresy alarm that we’re giving the green light to go ahead and sin and that it doesn’t matter. That’s simply the result of filtering grace through a self-righteous, works-based mindset which exposes the myths and fables they have been indoctrinated with and hasn’t rightly divided the Word of truth. We now live by the Spirit, not the letter from a written code which caused sin to increase. There isn’t a single law or command from the Old way which could bring life or righteousness—not one. The law is indeed holy, righteous and good but it was against us and contrary to us with its perfect standard that was powerless to provide what we needed.

We have no relationship with the law. It is not what is written on our hearts but instead, we’ve been given a new law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus which is based upon faith in Him, in what He has already done, and in Him living through us. Christ in you, that’s our hope of glory. It’s His grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness.

In Christ, we now abide in a New Covenant that is far better than the Old Covenant. Here are a few references below about the law (including the TEN) and what you may have missed in Sunday school class:

  • The law was a yoke of bondage the Jews were unable to bear, and the church in Jerusalem agreed with the apostles not to thrust it upon the Gentiles (Acts 15:10).
  • We are justified and made righteous by faith, apart from the law (Romans 3:21, 28).
  • The law came not to reduce sin, but to increase sin (Romans 5:20).
  • We are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14).
  • We are dead to the law and freed from the law (Romans 7:4, 6).
  • Sinful passions are aroused by the law and will bear fruit for death (Romans 7:5).
  • The commandment resulted in more sinning, not less. But apart from the law sin is dead (Romans 7: 7-10).
  • Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death to serve in the newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6, 8:2).
  • Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe (Romans 10:4).
  • The power or strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).
  • The law, including the TEN written on stone, is described as the ministry of death and condemnation … and no longer has glory at all (2 Corinthians 3:7-11).
  • Pursuing the law of works is walking in the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
  • The law is not based upon faith (Galatians 3:12).
  • Christ came to redeem from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10-13).
  • No law is able to provide us with life or righteousness (Galatians 3:21-22).
  • The law was a tutor to point people to a Savior, but now that faith has come, we are no longer under the tutor (Galatians 3:24-25).
  • The TEN given on Mt. Sinai gave birth to bondage or slavery (Galatians 3:24).
  • Abiding by any of the law leads to falling from grace (Galatians 5:3-4).
  • If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).
  • The law does not produce the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • Christ broke down the dividing wall—the law of commandments (Ephesians 2:14-16).
  • The law was nailed to the cross (Colossians 3:13-14).
  • The law is not made for the righteous in Christ (1 Timothy 1:5-9).
  • If the old law is still in place, Jesus is not a legitimate High Priest (Hebrews 7:12-14).
  • The former commandment (law) was set aside (annulled, abolished) because it was weak and useless (Hebrews 7:18-19).
  • Because it’s a package deal, whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it (Galatians 5:3; James 2:10).

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

You Are Not Identified by What You Do

For the first 23 years of my Christian life, I was exposed to “swallow a camel ministries.” Dr. Reverend preached Bible verses for me to follow so I could work at becoming what I had not yet attained. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone … the well-intentioned Rev was everywhere. This approach towards trying to help believers reach a far-off destination places them onto a treadmill while spitting into the wind. It’s a backwards approach, working from the outside in and leaves people with elements of fear and uncertainty. “Where do I really stand with God? Am I doing enough? How can I be sure?”

The gospel of grace revealed that in Him we are a new creation. We don’t work or strive to become what we are not; we live from who He has already created us to be. We’re not gradually becoming more His child, more righteous, holy, forgiven, perfect, sanctified, blameless, delivered, redeemed, cleansed, complete, accepted, anointed … and the list goes on.

Instead, we run this race by starting at the finish line. It’s a place of rest and this destination is known as Jesus—the author and finisher of faith which has been gifted to us—who did everything necessary for us to inherit and receive God’s divine nature as children. Our confidence is in He who began a good work in us and He who will be faithful to complete it because we are partakers of grace, filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ (Philippians 1). Not by a fleshly attempt which works towards establishing a new and improved identity. That was the Old Covenant way.

All of those years of “trying to be a good Christian” through my spiritual efforts and behavior modifications only led to frustration. My confidence was based upon whether I felt as though I was living admirably enough for God to smile down on me. How did this so craftily change from a gift obtained by believing in God’s faithfulness through grace … to suddenly being dependent on my faithfulness to God? It’s a work of the enemy, and unfortunately, it often seeps in through religious Bible teaching. The devil tried twisting the Scripture when approaching Jesus as a man walking the earth … so don’t think for a minute that you’ll be exempt from such tactics. Even scholarly theology such as “the now and the not yet” is just carnal minded thinking which dilutes the truth of the power of the blood of Jesus, shed once, for all.

Ask most church-goers if they are righteous and they’ll be reluctant to say yes. Why? Because they are basing it upon what they do instead of what Christ did through a finished work of the cross. They may have never been told who they are as a righteous child of God, and yet, this is the foundation of the gospel (see Romans 1:16-17). It’s not our righteousness—it’s His—but it has been gifted to us. As a believer in Christ, you are right with God … all the time. Now we can throw out the religious rules list and stone tablet commandments in order to live by something very different and more glorious … the life of the Spirit of God who dwells in us.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

The Grace Escape From Religious Bondage

There are thousands of religions to choose from and new ones are always forthcoming. But they aren’t really new at all because they keep revolving around the same basic design: What must we do to become more acceptable, forgiven and pleasing to God.

For each question asked, there are usually thousands of different answers representing each brand of belief … and unfortunately the Christian religion is no exception. After all, just look at the huge number of church denominations which came into existence largely due to anger, disputes, dissensions and factions—which are defined as works of the flesh in Galatians chapter five. The system as a whole is often nothing more than social clubs requiring preexisting conditions in order to join their government approved and tax-exempt earthly institution, filled with legal precedent and human tradition.

Inside of these walls we’ll find the self-righteous piously sitting in “pews” that smell like filthy rags (the Greek word for that is P-U). On the flip side, there are the dismayed parishioners who live in fear that they will perish. Even the baptized will feel as if they are drowning in being able to live up to whatever required standard is being presented to them. Yet they always seem to fall short and will feel the need for another do-over as they seek to reassure themselves.

Religion says: Do your best to obey the stone tablet commandments.

The gospel: Jesus did what the law could not do and He fulfilled it for you (Romans 8).

Religion says: We need the glory of those written commandments to help reduce sin.

The gospel: The Mosaic ministry caused sin to increase and no longer has any glory at all as it ended and was replaced with a more glorious ministry of the Spirit (Romans 5; 2 Corinthians 3).

Religion says: We need certain laws and rules to guide us and show us how to live.

The gospel: The Holy Spirit is our guide and His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness (John 16; Galatians 5; Titus 2).

Religion says: Salvation is a gift. On the other hand, Jesus taught us to obey all of the commandments in order to inherit eternal life.

The gospel: Although the law was holy and good, it was weak, useless and powerless. Jesus became the end of the law for righteousness to all who would believe (Romans 8, Romans 10; Hebrews 7).

Religion says: You’re forgiven for your sins … unless you commit another sin.

The gospel: You have been forgiven forever, by the blood of Jesus, shed once for all (Colossians 2; Ephesians 4; Hebrews 8-10).

Religion says: You’re saved by grace but are sanctified and made holy by behavior improvements.

The gospel: You’ve already been declared as holy and sanctified through the finished work of Jesus and we boast of nothing in ourselves (1 Corinthians 1; 1 Corinthians 6; Hebrews 10).

Religion says: The Holy Spirit is always with you, but He also comes and goes frequently.

The gospel: The work upon you is finished. He never leaves. He lives in you. He works in you. His anointing abides in you. (Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 3; Philippians 2; 2 Timothy 1; 1 John 2:27).

Religion says: We are identified as sinners and it’s now about what we do to work at becoming more like Jesus.

The gospel: As Jesus is, so now also are we in this world … having received an inheritance and were gifted with His righteousness as partakers of the divine nature. (Ephesians 1; Colossians 1; 1 Peter 1; 2 Peter 1; 1 John 4).

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

When Sermons Become Snares: The Sabbath

What do you get when you mix Old Covenant law and commandments with New Covenant grace? The Apostle Paul had some choice words for this, which varies by Bible translation. He referred to it as fruitless discussion— empty words—meaningless conversation (see 1 Timothy 1:5-7). He was addressing those who had swerved and turned aside from a pure heart of love and a sincere faith, while desiring to become teachers of the Mosaic law … “even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”

Unfortunately, this is the basis for most church sermons today. Mix in a little Jesus and a few New Testament verses out of context and people won’t even realize the pieces don’t fit the picture puzzle they are trying to create. There are many examples on the broad road of sermons that erroneously try mixing various Jewish commandments into the message of the gospel, but let’s look at just one sample as we take a rest stop on the subject of the Sabbath.

The weekly Sabbath was always from 6 p.m. Friday evening until 6 p.m. Saturday evening (it has never been on Sunday). The Sabbath was considered as a day of rest to be set aside (sanctified) and treated as holy. It was a commandment given to the Jewish people within the law which came through Moses. It wasn’t given to Gentiles born outside of the Jewish race, and (thankfully) it was never meant to be applied or followed in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ—we aren’t called to keep any of that law which could only result in death, increased sin, and condemnation—in other words, falling short of the requirement.

Today’s proponents of a Sabbath observance will encourage some sort of recognition of this day in our lives but they will vastly vary on how it should be applied. Why is this? Because they are making it up as they go. As with any old covenant law, the rules and guidelines are hand-picked and constantly changing. These “covenant clashers” are clueless as to why the sabbaths were given to Israel under the law. Yes, I said sabbaths (plural). If you think this was simply a weekly observance, you’d better dig deeper into the Mosaic law … and don’t forget to integrate the new moon into it. An Internet search on that topic alone will make your head spin.

The Sabbath sermons will entice and lure you into something that looks and sounds like rest, and you may find yourself saying, “Oh, how I needed to hear this message!” But when you decide to take a bite to see what it tastes like, you’ll discover a hook that is nothing more than a modernized version of an impossible, obsolete covenant which originated from a law that was weak and useless, unable to provide the rest or life that a person is seeking (Galatians 3:21 & Hebrews 7:18). The list of rules found within this type of dubious, doctrinal mixture of the old and new covenants always fluctuates from one brand of religion to the next. Oh sure, they’ll quote the Bible verses to fit their theology until the cows come home (including “red letter” verses), but they miss the context of the gospel and the power of the finished work of the cross of Jesus.

“Remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Religion loves to spew out the headlines when it comes to the articles of law and commandments. But your sermon forgot to tell you there were something like 39 other commandments, rules and statutes attached to that one. The specifics from the law they are advocating for you to follow are mainly left to your imagination. They’ll tell you to “surrender” every area of your life … but you’ll spend years in misery trying to figure out what that means and how to do it … without ever achieving that plateau.

The Jews couldn’t find rest by trying to abide by any of that law … including the Sabbath … which had requirements leading to the exact opposite of what was advertised. The preparation for the sabbaths alone was exhausting … not to mention the pressure of making sure they didn’t cross a line on that special day which could end up getting them stoned to death for something as simple as picking-up sticks (Numbers 15:32-36). The true sabbath commandments were as hard as stone, they didn’t bend with graceful flexibility.

Here’s where we should be:

“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).

The entire law was a shadow, Christ is the substance! Come out from among the shadows and into the light. Your rest is found in Jesus Christ, not through observing a day that is set apart here and there with your own made-up rules. You (you!) have been set apart—sanctified—in Him! He did it for you!

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10).

This isn’t a billboard for advertising a specific Sabbath day, it’s a revelation of entering true, spiritual rest by faith for those Jewish people (Hebrews) who had formerly been under a system of works. They could now rest from trying to attain righteousness by the works of the law.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus was speaking to Jewish people burdened by a religious system unable to provide them with rest. There is no spiritual or emotional rest in abiding by the Jewish Sabbath or a modernized version of it. That commandment (like all the others from that law) was meant to point those people to something new and better—Jesus Christ and the glorious ministry of his Spirit. It results in pure love, a good conscience and a sincere faith. Hey, we can all use some regular intervals of physical downtime and recreation, but our true peace and rest is eternally found in the Person of Jesus Christ—every minute of each day, regardless of what we’re doing. Jesus Christ is your life and He has become your Sabbath.

Take a permanent breather.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

God is No Longer in the Forgiveness Business

Take another look at the title of this article. What was your first reactionary thought? Someone who has been duped by traditional, legalistic or mixed-covenant doctrines might go into a panic, while someone else begins to scream accusations of heresy.

Here is what a predominately law-based Christianity has neglected to tell you: There is no longer the need for God to keep extending another act of forgiveness to each individual over and over again. One who has realized the plenitude of grace and truth found through Jesus Christ will recognize this as the very foundation upon which the good news gospel is built. God already did everything for us through the work of Jesus Christ—a finished work. It’s called faith.

Religious entrepreneurs have developed a product we’ll call “frequent forgiveness” that hungry people are craving, and unfortunately, business is booming. Hallowed church institutions have messaged a hollowed gospel, building their business upon the premise that forgiveness from God is something that people need to keep seeking more of throughout their entire lives.

The religious “covenant” being made with you through a typical church membership states in no uncertain terms you are still identified as a sinner with an evil heart who needs to keep chasing after more and more of God’s forgiveness whenever you make a mistake, commit a sinful action, or have a tainted thought. Other than “the moment” when you confess to God you’ve committed another act of spiritual treason, you’ll never be quite sure exactly where you stand with God at any given time.

It’s hardly a prescription for acquiring blessed assurance. But it has ensured Church Incorporated of repeated patronage from “customers” who feel the need to keep coming back for more of something they think has been used up or dissolved. Sadly, they remain uninformed as believers in Christ that they have been made the righteousness of God and have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13, 3:13; 1 John 2:12).

Priests under the Mosaic law were always standing as they prepared to issue a temporary atonement of forgiveness which required repeated blood sacrifices. But Jesus shed his blood by offering one (1) sacrifice and then sat down! See the contrast? A priest doesn’t sit when he is getting ready to extend another act of forgiveness. If that were to occur, more blood would have to be spilled. He isn’t shedding any more blood! (see Hebrews 9:25-26).

“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).

God was reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Therefore, the message is simple … God did all that was necessary in reconciling the world to himself, therefore, be reconciled to God. Confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead. Trust in the completed work He did on your behalf (Romans 8:3-4).

Blending a combination of the Old and New Covenants together usually gets our thinking mixed-up and turned inside out. I find myself constantly untangling many confusing doctrines and mindsets I was taught over the years, but let’s not get this backwards. For example, consider this possibility: God didn’t forgive you when you chose to believe—because there is no blood involved with that—it’s actually the other way around.

Although it may have surpassed our understanding at the time, we chose to believe once our heart realized God has already chosen to forgive unconditionally through one bloody sacrifice, thereby receiving the gift already offered and resulting in salvation, bringing God’s life and righteousness within us.

With the Old Covenant set aside and out of the way, and the New Covenant now established, the message from the traveling apostles to the Jews was to proclaim the forgiveness of sins:

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

Ka-boom! Jewish minds were being blown. Proclaiming forgiveness as already completed? Simply believing in the work of Jesus brings eternal life and freedom? This was new, this was different and better, lighter and easier. But for many people then and now, it just sounds too good to be true.

To be clear, this is not meant to declare a universal salvation. Although we often identify them together, forgiveness and salvation are not synonymous. Forgiveness will not benefit us if we are still dead in the sinful state of Adam which we once inherited. We receive the forgiveness that brought redemption by believing in the Son in order to have spiritual life.

Both believers and unbelievers struggle with sin (verb) in this fallen world. The difference between these two groups of people isn’t a question of who is forgiven, but who has been made alive and who continues to abide in spiritual death. Don’t remain in a state of unbelief—a sinful condition— where you will be judged according to your deeds (John 8:24). God has so graciously offered his very life that will empower you. Live that life and rest in him.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

Written on Our Hearts

I had been a Christian believer for 23 years before I had the message of grace radically permeate my entire being and begin to change the way I had been seeing the Scriptures. It was both exciting and shocking as I began to wonder how I could have missed seeing so much and why I never heard some of these foundational truths about the gospel within the church walls.

Much of what we’ve been taught inside the Christian religion is based upon false assumptions. One of these misleading tenets which becomes a repetitious talking point is that God has written His laws upon our heart. It’s a true statement, but the misunderstanding comes with inaccurately concluding that it was referring to the commandments from the Old Covenant—such as “the Ten Commandments” or whatever rules and statutes we selectively choose from a very long list. Picking and choosing which Old Testament laws should be applied to the message of Jesus is commonplace in denominational Christianity—albeit a common mistake.

A prophecy about the New Covenant is announced in Jeremiah 31:33 where he states in part, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” The writer of Hebrews looks back on this passage from Jeremiah in Hebrews 8:10: “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts.”

Notice the bold highlights. Did the New Testament writer misquote Jeremiah with the word laws instead of law? That would be an obvious typo and considered unacceptable … something to be corrected. But it wasn’t changed for a reason. In fact, it was repeated in the tenth chapter of Hebrews.

Jeremiah and the Israelites would have only been familiar with something known as the Law (singular). Although it was made up of over 600 commands and statutes, they were all bundled together in the same package and absolutely nothing could be added to it or taken away from it (see Deuteronomy 4:2 & 12:32). Therefore, they did not refer to it as the laws but the Law. Like many New Testament writings from Paul and other apostles, the writer of Hebrews was revealing something not previously seen or understood.

Notice what the Hebrews writer stated leading up to this in chapter 7 and the first part of chapter 8:

  1. A new High Priest meant a “change” of law (a removal and replacement). Jesus became High Priest and this occurred “after the law.”
  2. The former commandment was set aside because it was weak and useless.
  3. God required perfection through the law, yet the law made nothing perfect.
  4. Jesus is the guarantee of a better covenant. The first covenant depended upon the people where fault was found (no guarantee).
  5. A better covenant has been established upon better promises.
  6. If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to seek a second.

Notice in Hebrews 8:9 that the New Covenant would not be like the first one when God took the Israelites out of Egypt. Did you catch that? A covenant that is very different and unlike the first one. An arrangement where sins would no longer be remembered by God nor counted against us … yes, nothing like the first covenant where the law was given to bring a reminder of sins, leaving the people in the bondage of a sin consciousness.

Why would God write something on our hearts that brings a reminder of sins followed by condemnation, when He said sins would be remembered no more and that we are no longer under that ministry of condemnation?

Why would God write something on our hearts that the Apostle Paul explained was the ministry of death and condemnation? Although it was holy, righteous and good, it brought death instead of life.

Why would God write something on our hearts that did not reduce sin, but caused sin to increase? The law was not of faith … Jesus became the end of the law for all that believe … people under the law of Moses were redeemed from the curse of the law and were set free from the law.

Why would God write Old Covenant laws on our hearts after grace and truth have been revealed and realized through Jesus Christ? The truth is—He hasn’t.

The New Covenant “laws” now contained within our hearts and minds are reflected upon in the writings of the apostles … such as the law of faith, the law of liberty, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2), and love—which is the fulfillment of the law. The Holy Spirit within us brings a reminder of the gift of God’s righteousness, empowering us to gracefully bear His fruit apart from the law (see Romans 3:21 and Galatians 5:18 & 5:22-23). Jesus is the fulfillment of the old law given to Israel. He is the New Covenant and we’ve been invited to abide in Him as He abides in us. It’s the difference between the law of the Spirit of life compared to the law of sin and death. Choose life. It’s better.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

You Are Not the Light of the World

Church denominations have done a lousy job at helping believers in Christ to understand their identity in Him. There are few Christians sitting among the Sunday pews who have been taught they have become the righteousness of God. Instead they identify themselves as sinners. They have failed to understand the new nature which has been gifted in exchange for the old.

If believers could just begin living from the awareness that they have been made into a new creation and are already identified as saints who have favor with God and are spiritually alive, holy, perfected, justified, sanctified, cleansed, anointed, reconciled … if only we could see this truth within ourselves—victorious living would be abundantly manifested. These attributes are not earned through our efforts, they came through the blood of Jesus and were born of God within us. Sadly, well-meaning wolves have taken the good news gospel and turned it into the Christian religion—a self-improvement program they call “repentance.”

However, there are several seemingly positive identifiers religion will cloak upon Christians … but unfortunately, they are taken out of context and it leaves believers in a state of confusion or misunderstanding. While a works-based religion will ignore the identity of God’s righteousness mentioned above, one of the false ID’s they use to describe believers is that we are “the light of the world.” I’ve even heard a very popular teacher of grace make this statement.

I’m not sure why it seems so easy to turn the Scriptures inside out and to get many of these things a bit backwards, but some of it has to do with missing the context of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant inside all of those Bible books, chapters and verses. The only time the Bible refers to people as being the “light of the world” is when Jesus used the phrase during the Sermon on the Mount:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV).

During this entire sermon in chapters 5-7 from the book of Matthew, Jesus was speaking to Jewish people who were under the law of Moses … not to future Christians who would have no relationship with the Mosaic law. There are many references in the books of the Law about lamps, lights and lampstands. Since the Old Covenant began, Israel had been a light in a world of darkness, but it was more like a lighthouse in a far-off distance that the rest of the world (Gentiles) were not invited into (see Ephesians 2:11-13).

As Jesus stated, that light was based upon their works—not upon the work of Christ and His grace. It was a light that could easily be hidden even within their own house (the house of Israel). The Jews under the law were also identified as the salt of the earth (through what was known as a “covenant of salt”), but the salt lost its taste and could not be restored because the people failed the covenant by their inability to keep the works of the law. It would have to be thrown out—the covenant … not the people.

The bottom line:

Nowhere else in New Covenant writings are we identified as the light of the world. That’s because Jesus wasn’t speaking about you and me when He made the statement … and that’s because the light of the world is Jesus Christ Himself. This is communicated over and over in the New Testament and you can view the list of just a few passages below for your own study. You and I abide in the light of Christ, we are sons of light, and we are light “in the Lord.” We may reflect the light, but He is identified as the light—not us. There is no pressure on you to work at shining “your” light. Thank God, Jesus is the light of the world. Reflect His light as the Spirit of God works in and through you.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

 

Shedding light on the light of the world:

John 1:4-5: Jesus is the light.

John 1:6-9: John the Baptist was not identified as the light (nor are we).

John 8:12 & 9:5: Jesus declared He was the light of the world.

John 12:35-36 & 12:46: Jesus is the light.

Ephesians 5:8: We are light in the Lord (it’s His light, we’re in Him).

Colossians 1:12: Inheritance as saints in Light.

1 Thessalonians 5:5: Sons of light.

1 Peter 2:9: Called from darkness into His marvelous light.

1 John 2:10: We abide in the light (of Christ).

Psalm 27:1: The Lord is our light and our salvation.

Your Sins Are Not “Covered” by the Blood of Jesus

One of the keys to success in business is to provide a product or service that results in people wanting more.  In other words, repeat business.  The religious business—within what I refer to as Church Incorporated—has used this approach ruthlessly when it comes to forgiveness from God.  Sinful actions aren’t exactly in short supply, and even those calling themselves Christian believers are habitually seeking additional assurance as to where they stand with God in order to ensure they are truly forgiven for whatever sins, shortcomings and failures they’ve committed.

The religious business has ensured themselves of repeat “customers” who have been convinced they need to constantly be seeking a renewed forgiveness from God.  People look for new ways towards establishing self-improvement, more dedication, trying harder, tithing, another sin confession, another water baptism, and serving more at the church building—all while attempting to commit to rules and commandments they can’t begin to consistently keep.

Those who consider themselves to be in charge of this forgiveness business might tell their clientele the blood of Jesus has covered their sins … until they commit another sin.  Any wrong thought or action will require the seeking of yet another renewed forgiveness from God.  Sound familiar in your own life?  You’re not alone.  This is the same hopeless and burdensome path the Israelites were traveling within the Mosaic Law under the Old Covenant.  It’s why they needed a Savior.

The Jews performed daily animal sacrifices which brought a temporary forgiveness.  The blood of the animals would provide an atonement—which means a covering—but it could not permanently remove the sins … the stain of sin was still there.  The people could not rest in forgiveness under that covenant, which served only to bring a reminder of sins, while leaving them in a state of a sin consciousness resulting in a chronic state of guilt and condemnation.  This system was not the ultimate will of God.  It was never what He desired, but it was merely a shadow of the real solution.

The solution to the problem?  Jesus came to do the will of God by offering a sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  A very different, better and brand-new covenant would replace the Old, where He would take away the first covenant in order to establish a second covenant (see Hebrews 10:1-10).  The result would be the forgiveness of sins for the world … all of them … past, present, and future.  The shedding of His blood would not cover sins, but take them away, once for all.  I repeat, once for all.

The work was finished with the issue of sin coming between God and man ever again.  How do we know?  Jesus did what no other priest under the law could ever do … He sat down.  The work was never done for priests under the first covenant, because there was always the need to seek another act of forgiveness from God for any sins that occurred since the last sacrifice.  Unlike us today, they were unable to rest in a forgiveness that wasn’t going to last any longer than the next time they fell short of perfection.

God has done all He is going to do about forgiveness of sins.  If this not true, then the cross didn’t work.  The writer of Hebrews concluded this: “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:18).  When forgiveness is complete, the offerings stop.  God is not “offering” more forgiveness than what has already been given at the cross.  If more forgiveness for sins is still required, Jesus would need to offer Himself again and again—just like the Old Covenant high priest would do under the law (Hebrews 9:24-26).  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness that can be provided.  Jesus isn’t shedding any more blood!  Yes!  Woo hoo!

Is Jesus described as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of believers?  No, the sins of the world! (John 1:29).  He has extended mercy and forgiveness for sins, not just for us as believers, but the entire world (1 John 2:2).  God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting trespasses against them (1 Corinthians 5:19).

This doesn’t mean everyone is saved.  It doesn’t mean everyone has been made the righteousness of God.  It doesn’t mean people weren’t born into sin as it was inherited through Adam.  God’s act of forgiveness and reconciliation through Christ will not benefit the individual if they remain spiritually dead.  “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).

When one confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and believes in their heart God has raised Him from the dead, they receive Life—the life of God abiding in them as a new creation in Christ Jesus.  In Him, the believer is no longer identified as a sinner born in the image of Adam, but as a child of God receiving an inheritance through a will (covenant) that was established by God Himself (because He could swear by no one greater).  This isn’t about seeking forgiveness from God, it’s about receiving what has already been finished.  It results in salvation and a new identity for you as the righteousness of God in Him (see Romans 10:9-13).  One confession.  “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).

It’s time to rest easy in Him and the forgiveness God has already gifted.  No one walking this earth should ever have to wonder if they are forgiven by God for each and every mistake that has been made.  It’s really very simple … we receive and benefit from this gift by simply believing in Jesus Christ.  Believing that what He already did was more than enough. Since all have fallen short of perfection, the only thing that can keep you from eternal life and getting to know Him is unbelief.

The gospel is not about your dedication to God, but His dedication to you.  It’s not about you giving your life to Him, but Him giving His life to you.  Let’s stop selling the blood of Jesus at a discount by continuing to grow in the grace and knowledge of the truth— the truth of Jesus—and the power of the cross and resurrection.  Grace will empower us to live in a way that reflects the light of Jesus Christ.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.

Now available in paperback or eBook for Kindle.  Find It Here On Amazon

The New Covenant In A Nutshell

It’s hard to fathom that the majority of us have never (or seldom) heard a teaching in church about the New Covenant and what it means for us today. How is it possible that so many have glossed over such a foundational truth within the Scriptures? Frequently, ministers are teaching what was handed down to them—erroneously mixing portions of the Old Covenant and New Covenant together, while others will try to persuade you the New Covenant hasn’t even begun. Don’t be overwhelmed with theologians who specialize in complicating something that is meant to be simple enough for a child to understand.

Below are just a few vital keys to begin unlocking what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us by establishing a new and everlasting covenant. Understanding this foundational truth will help align our thinking correctly when reading the Bible. This is a small sampling of headlines as it relates to separating the Old Covenant from the New.

For further Bible references and more details on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, look for this book available only on Amazon in paperback or eBook for Kindle:

“Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee” (by Michael C. Kapler).

Find It Here On Amazon

  1. The Old Covenant containing the Mosaic Law was provided to the nation of Israel, not to us Gentiles born outside of the Jewish race (over 99% of the world). That law consisted of a package containing 613 commandments, rules and statutes, including the “Ten Commandments” (the tablets of the covenant).

 

  1. God did not establish the law to aid Israel towards living an improved moral lifestyle, but rather it was given to show them they could not live up to the required standard it demanded. Sin was not reduced under the commands, it increased. But where sin increased (under the Old), grace abounded much more (under the New).

 

  1. The New Covenant did not begin with the birth of Jesus, but rather after His death. Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law. His ministry on earth was primarily aimed only at the Jewish people who were under that law while the Old Covenant was still in place. When Jesus told them to repent, this meant they would need a change of mind and begin to think differently. In other words, the Jews would need to stop seeking righteousness through the works of the law because the law was not of faith. He came to redeem them from the curse of the law—meaning to purchase away from a ransom.

 

  1. Jesus would often elevate and magnify the law and commandments … not to encourage the Jews to try harder at keeping it, but to show them their inability do it. They would always fall short of the requirement—which was to do all of it perfectly. They needed a Savior who could bring them into a state or condition of perfection with one sacrifice.

 

  1. The Old Covenant came to an end and was replaced with a New Covenant, where both Jews and Gentiles would be invited and brought together as one. The law itself states that parts of the law could never be eliminated while other parts kept—nothing could be removed or added. The entire package would either need to remain in place … or all of it would have to be brought to an end.

 

  1. The New Covenant was not made with you or me, but rather God established it with Himself—between Father and Son—because He could swear by no one greater. Therefore, it can’t fail because Jesus is the guarantee of this better covenant. He is now the mediator of a New Covenant which has brought the day of salvation, and it has been established upon better promises. We now live in that day. The Old was weak and useless, and has become obsolete.

 

  1. Under the Old, Jewish people would unsuccessfully seek to establish their own righteousness by giving it their best effort to keep the law of works which came through Moses. The only one to succeed was Jesus. Now under the New, the righteousness of God is gifted to us by faith, apart from the works of the law.

 

  1. No law within the Law is able to impart life. The commandments written in stone brought bondage and are referred to by the Apostle Paul as the ministry of death and condemnation. That’s why all of it came to an end and was replaced by the permanent and more glorious ministry of the Spirit. His life abiding within will allow us to bear His fruit, free from law.

 

  1. Since God declared the New Covenant would not be like the Old, there cannot be two very different covenants in place at the same time. “He takes away the first in order to establish the second” (covenant).

 

  1. The Old brought a reminder of sins, resulting in condemnation and a sin consciousness. Many sacrifices brought only a temporary covering of sin. Under the New, one sacrifice has removed and taken away sin once and for all, where God remembers sins no more, and is not counting our trespasses against us.

 

Good News: In Christ, you are now declared righteous, holy, redeemed, justified, forgiven & sanctified!

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).

 

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43).

 

“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39)

 

“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’ ” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

 

“…But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).