If My People: Reconsidering 2 Chronicles 7:14

The following verse from the Bible is often quoted as a directive for people from the current generation of today.  But let’s consider the context of the passage, along with the context of the gospel.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Religion has taught that the target audience here is pointing to believers belonging to any nation, but look through the entire chapter (and the previous chapter) and begin to see where this was clearly addressing “my people” who were in a covenant with God at that time—referring to the nation of Israel.

We’re told to pray, seek God, and turn from sinning so that we will be forgiven, and our land will be healed.  In other words, according to covenant clashers, forgiveness and blessings for us would be based upon certain conditions.  Some might say, “If it was meant for Israel, it’s good enough for us.”  That would be fine and dandy—if there had only been one covenant.  The passage continues:

“Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time” (2 Chronicles 7:15-16).

The context in this chapter centers around prayer being heard from the temple that was just constructed.  God said his ears would hear the prayer being made in that place and he declared it would be a house of sacrifice.  Solomon dedicated the temple with a sacrificial offering of 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep (gulp!).  This has nothing to do with those today who are under a New Covenant established upon better promises.  God proceeded to tell Solomon to do according to all that he commanded, including the keeping of his statutes and rules from the law that came through Moses.  Turning aside from any of the commandments would result in the need to be seeking the face of God and His forgiveness all over again.  That’s just how it was in the Old Covenant.

“Religious” repentance is often linked to 2 Chronicles 7:14, and I agree that we should repent. The way to do this is by changing our thinking and seeing the Scriptures through a new set of lenses, because under a better covenant established upon better promises, forgiveness and blessings for us did not arrive by seeking God’s face through prayer or improving our behavior to a higher standard through works of the law; nor did it come by sacrificing animals, but rather through Jesus Christ and his shed blood.  Under the first covenant, the Jews would continuously seek forgiveness that was temporary, but now we no longer need to seek the face of God at the temple in the hopes that He will hear us from heaven.

Today, we do not seek an “elusive” God, nor do we have to petition Him for his love, acceptance and forgiveness.  Why?  With the final sacrifice of Christ, the temple veil was torn in two from top to bottom and he abides in us by the life of his Spirit.  Thanks to the blood of Christ which brought forgiveness once, for all, we’re not under the first covenant as Israel once was.   Therefore, God is no longer repeatedly forgiving the sins of people in a new covenant where He remembers sins no more (see Hebrews 8 & 10).  We simply believe He did enough to deal with it.  He has now located us in a place of permanent refuge—in Him.

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You Will Know Them By Their Fruits

Jesus made the statement: “You will know them by their fruits.”  It’s often used by people today as being able to recognize Christians who are producing good fruit in their daily lives.  However, in the context from which Jesus was speaking, we’ll see he was referring to false prophets, and warning of their deceptions.  They would appear outwardly as one of us, dressed in the clothing that look like all the other sheep, but they were really identified as wolves at heart.

He said they would be known by their fruits.  This isn’t in reference to being able to spot the good guys, but rather to weed out the bad apples who strive to be justified by their own works.  There is good fruit and bad fruit, depending on which tree it is coming from.  Jesus continues with this:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Jesus has been addressing the subject of false prophets, people found guilty of bragging about all of the good things they did in his name, but would refuse to enter through the narrow gate of Christ alone.  Notice they were boasting about some really impressive activities, yet Jesus said that “on that day” he would declare that he never knew them.  The reason he never knew them is because they never stopped trusting in themselves.  You will know them by their fruits; this is in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit which is not triggered by our good works but by God who produces his fruit through us.

This can be connected to the hypocrites Jesus spoke of in the middle of the sermon at the beginning of the sixth chapter of Matthew.  While working to establish their own righteousness, their main focus was on the externals, to be seen by others.  It’s the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the tree of life.  For us who are in Christ, we should recognize we can’t perform in a way that will add one jot or tittle to what Jesus did.  You’ve already been perfected!  Regardless of how hard we strive, you and I are not the producer of good fruit.  We simply rely upon him and his life in us, and by grace we bear the fruit that the Spirit produces through us.  Thank God, we have nothing left to boast.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Purchase Here On Amazon

A License to Sin?

Those who are bound with religious bondage can’t get past their concern that “too much grace talk” will give people license to sin.  As often as that phrase is heard in church circles, it may surprise you that there is no reference in Scripture when it comes to such a license.  That’s because it doesn’t exist.  It has been imagined and made-up by those who are living from a mindset of legalism, where they emphasize our works and lifestyle is what maintains right standing with God.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12 ).

It’s hard to fathom why people who call themselves Christians would ever get the idea that an excess of grace is a problem.  A license gives you the right or permission to do something.  Grace will never advocate or promote doing what is wrong.  When grace appeared, it was really Christ who was manifested; He is grace!  Grace cannot be defined apart from the person of Jesus Christ.  To suggest you can have too much emphasis on grace is to suggest you can have too much of Jesus.  It’s not the law of works and good morals, but it is grace that leads us to salvation and inspires the desire for godly living.

Grace inspires something more significant than duty or obligation. It inspires love which motivates a sincere desire to contribute for the good, and the giving of ourselves. The fear that grace gives too much freedom to make wrong choices is a false accusation and a myth. We are free to make right and wrong choices, but don’t blame grace (Jesus) just because someone got carried away by their own lust and fleshly thinking.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Purchase Here On Amazon

The Grace Guarantee

Grace is often defined as unmerited favor or receiving what we don’t deserve.  While that may be true, the depth and origin of grace goes much deeper.  The source of grace is found only in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is the very essence of grace and the reality is that grace can’t be found outside of Jesus. He is grace personified.

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

When grace appeared, it was Jesus who appeared.  The Living Word became flesh and dwelt among the people of earth.  Grace was manifested to appear for all to see, making salvation available to the world.  The surprising contrast is found when we begin to compare law to grace.  Whereas the law came through Moses, grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. Don’t skim over this, it’s a cornerstone of the gospel.

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Our justification and righteousness comes as a gift by faith in Christ, apart from the works of the law (see Romans 3:21-28).  The law that came through Moses was part of the first covenant God made with the Israelites.  Those of us who are Gentiles and not part of the Jewish race were not invited into that covenant.  The law required the Jewish people to keep all 613 commands and statutes perfectly without fail. However, nobody ever made it across the finish line.  This is because the law was not given to improve behavior or make one acceptable to God.  It was given to show that nobody could do it.  In other words, it was guaranteed to fail.  In order to solve this dilemma, a new covenant would be needed to replace the previous one.  Enter Jesus Christ into the picture.

Since he could swear by no one greater, God would solve the problem by making a covenant with himself.  This agreement is not like the first one nor does it involve you or me, but this time it would be an arrangement between Father and Son.  Human inconsistency would not be able to mess up or fail in this covenant because the entire testament would hinge on one Person—Jesus Christ.  We were brought into the covenant by being placed into Christ, so instead of God relating to us through our good or bad deeds, it is now based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.

As found in Hebrews 7:22 (NASB): “…Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.”

This is an everlasting covenant secured by the blood that was shed for all of mankind where God would remember sins no more.  It’s not about you and me. It’s the grace guarantee.

For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee Purchase Here On Amazon