F.M. Sciutto III

By His Free Grace Alone, To Be Treasured Alone, & For His Glory Alone

Posts Tagged ‘self-righteous

There’s a Point to the Law? – Part 1

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For the longest time, I thought the law was just a bunch rules given to the Jews that had to be followed until Jesus came, and then He replaced the law, which gave anyone the opportunity to become a part of God’s family if the trusted in Him. Obviously, I was young, wrong, and ignorant about the “whole of Scripture.” Throughout junior high and high school, I just ignored the law and anything Old Testament because I though it was, well, old, out-dated, and not “relevant” to our modern times. My ignorance was a result of my own laziness and lack of desire to dig deeper into God’s Word and study what the purpose of the law really was.

It is only by God’s grace that have I been shown the wondrous beauty of His Word and sovereign grace through discussions, sermons, and books by great men who continue to influence me.

So, now, to answer that question I swept under the rug for all those years: what is the point on the law?

In this first entry, I want to show why learning the “why” of the law is important in the first place, which is fairly easy. It is legalism. The misuse of God’s law by attempting to earn God’s favor by obeying His commandments instead of relying on Him through faith. Without understanding that we so often misuse the law to produce our own righteousness, we will continue relying on ourselves to do what only God can do.

In his sermon, “Why Then the Law?” John Piper discusses how “legalism is a greater menace to the church than alcoholism”:

“Alcoholics are in a tragic bondage. And we must do all we can to help. But legalism is more subtle and more pervasive and, in the end, more destructive. Satan clothes himself as an angel of light and makes the very commandments of God his base of operations. And the human heart is so inveterately proud and unsubmissive that it often uses religion and morality to express its rebellion. As Romans 10:3 says, “In seeking to establish their own righteousness, they would not submit to the righteousness of God.” The pursuit of righteousness can lead to perdition. So Galatians admonishes us: Know why the law was given and don’t be bewitched into pursuing it in a way that leads to death, but only in a way that leads to life.”

Legalism is rooted in the misunderstanding of the purpose of the law, which is why the Judaizers (Jewish professing “Christians”) in Paul’s letter to the Galatians are attempting to tell others they have to follow the Jewish laws after believing in Jesus in order to earn salvation. However, Paul responds by explaining to them God’s purpose of the law and how it correlates to Jesus’ coming to earth, living a sinless life, dying for our sin on the cross, and rising again, defeating death and sin in order for us to be counted as righteous before God. Now, that shows the love of God for us! A god who just gives rules for his creation to follow displays no love or real hope and, thereby, cannot be a just and holy god if he just accepts anyone who “tried hard enough” because he would be neither just nor holy.

Piper summarizes in his sermon the danger of misunderstanding the law by stating, “If we don’t understand why it was given, we can kill ourselves with it,” which echoes Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Living in legalism is living in bondage to sin because you are relying on self, instead of Christ’s righteousness, for salvation.

Hopefully, one can now see and understand the dangers of misusing the law that God has given His creation for their own righteousness by means of legalism. The following entry will then answer the question that Paul, too, asks: “why then the law?”

Written by sciuttfm

July 25, 2010 at 6:12 PM

The Slippery Slope of Legalism

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It has been a while since I have posted something original, but I have been busy with life, though I have a couple of drafts and ideas that need finished and developed.

Recently, I have been reading and getting destroyed by Paul’s letter to the Galatians. It amazes me (and even scares me a little) how quickly I shift into legalism and try to work for our own righteousness instead of resting, in faith, on what Jesus did. By relying on the law for our righteousness, we are cursed, but when we rely on Christ’s atonement for our sin, through faith, we are blessed with Christ’s righteousness and the Holy Spirit, who is God dwelling inside us, empowering us to be more Christlike.

John Piper has (again) pointed out a “major battle” that I struggle with it everyday:

“The major battle was the fight of faith. Did I really believe that when Jesus died, all my curse was lifted so that I could say with Scripture, “What can man do to me” (Hebrews 13:6; Romans 8:31–34)? Did I really believe that the death of Jesus is the pledge of God to withhold no good thing from those who trust him (Psalm 84:11; Romans 8:32)? Did I really believe all things would work together for my good (Romans 8:28)? Did I really trust the counsel of Christ when he said, “Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11)? This is the struggle of everyday Christian life, and it is your most important work every day: how to keep your day’s activities from becoming works of law, and how to live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you to redeem you from the curse of legalism.” (Christ Redeemed Us from the Curse of the Law: Galatians 3:1-14; April 10, 1983)

If I really believed what Christ accomplished for me on the Cross, why do I worry so much about my reputation and how people treat me? If Jesus is my everything, why do I seek comfort in this world when it will only leave me broken and crushed?

Jesus, help me to treasure You above all things and to see others as in desperate need for You.

Written by sciuttfm

July 19, 2010 at 12:49 AM

Missional Living

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Here’s an excerpt from Matt Chandler’s sermon, “What is Missional Living?”  I listened to it a few mornings ago on my way to UC and was shown how amazing the freedom in Christ we have is and how it gives us power to serve those whom He has given us.  Matt Chandler continues to encourage me in my faith in Christ, and I hope it encourages you as you go through your daily lives.  My prayer, especially for myself, is that I’ll live this way, intentionally showing Christ through everything I do and say.  If I am to claim to believe in the wondrous work that He has accomplished for me through His death on the cross and through His resurrection, then my life needs to show that He is my Prize, that He is my Treasure, that He is my All, that He is my Strength, and that He is my Lord and Savior.

“[….] Even in our area, you’ve got new movie theaters going up, you’ve got new shops going up, you’ve got a thousand different places you could spend your time, energy and money. But here’s the thing that’s just so disturbing to me. With all this stuff to do, why are we so bored?

“Can I tell you what’s killing us? The majority of us have compartmentalized our faith. And what I mean by that is church and Jesus and goodness and God exist when I’m around church and church things, but it has not bled over into my marriage, it has not bled over into my wallet, it has not bled over into my job, it has not bled over into my life, it has not bled over into how I see my neighborhood, it has not bled over into how I spend my coin, it has not bled over into how I treat my children, it has not bled over into how I see athletics, it has not bled over into what I spend my time doing.

“Most of us are unmoved by our faith because we’ve compartmentalized it into this little section and said, “I’ll be a good person,” and we’ll determine that by watching the news and go, “Oh, I haven’t mass killed anybody… Hey, I haven’t raped… I haven’t done that…” So we’ll compare against the darkness and go, “I’m not that bad of a person… I don’t cuss too much… I don’t watch inappropriate movies…”

“And so we’ll live in that really weird, boring, unchanging, unadventurous place where we’re neat Christian people going to a neat Christian church where none of the rest of our life is affected. And so that’s it, that’s Evangelicalism. […] “Jesus is great. He’s great… (on Sunday).”

“He’s not great because we love our money more than we love Him and His kingdom. And He’s not great because we love our kids’ chances of becoming professional athletes more than we love Him. So He’s great, but He’s great as long as He’s in where we want Him to be in. And that’s what makes us so powerless. Because few of us have been freed up to the slavery of trinkets and toys. I mean, we just play the same games as everybody else and just put Jesus’ name on the back end of it.

“If you’re a believer in here, be honest. Do you see your finances, do you see your wallet though the kingdom lens? Ask yourself, “How am I a minister of reconciliation? How do I use my money for reconciliation?”

“[….] Can I tell you how you engage culture? Quit seeing people as there to serve your existence, but rather see them as souls that God has created, loves and has invited in to the reconciliation. So this bleeds into everything we do.

“Do you know why you can’t get coffee here? Because I’d much rather you just pick it up on your way in where you know your barista’s name. Do you know why we don’t have a gym here for you? Because there’s three of them within a 12 mile radius. Go there. Do you know why we don’t have intramural sports here? Because I’d much rather you be right in the middle of a pagan world being a light of Christ. “Well Chandler, if you go to the gym and try to play on a basketball team, there’s a lot of potty mouths out there.” Yeah, I’ve been there. I know there are. I think you’ll be alright. I think you won’t catch that. “Well, I want to play ball in a godly environment.” Okay, be an agent of reconciliation. Be an ambassador of Christ and see what happens.

“We’ve been reconciled so we become agents of reconciliation. And that’s why I think so many of us are bored. There’s thrill that comes by being used by God. Don’t try to see this through the lenses of religion. Don’t go, “Oh, I had better do this or God gets angry.” No, you’ve been set free to do this. And once again, I always want to push freedom with you.

“Do you know how free it is to see your money not as yours, your house not as yours, your stuff not as yours, to be able to live in such a way that you’re open handed like that, to live in such a way that you see everything that you’ve been given as given to you not just for your own joy but for the mission and the kingdom of God in terms of reconciliation? [….]

Written by sciuttfm

May 27, 2010 at 12:58 AM