Minggu, 06 September 2009
By Terry Somerville www.totalchange.org
What a contrast between law and grace!
The Old Testament ends with the book of Malachi. It is a prophetic statement of Israel’s inability to keep the law of God, the curses they experienced, and a call to faithfulness. Kingdom mindedness in the New Testament means we live as those under the grace of the cross and the wonders of God’s love.
Probably the best-known passage is Malachi 3:7-10. This is often preached concerning tithing. To contrast law and grace I’ve underlined and numbered the things that have significantly changed now that we are in Christ.
From the days of your fathers ye have turned aside from mine ordinances (1). and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith Jehovah of hosts. But ye say, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? yet ye rob me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with the curse(2); for ye rob me, even this whole nation. Bring ye the whole tithe into the store-house, that there may be food in my house (3), and prove me now herewith, saith Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven (4), and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:7-10
Jewish Religious Systems Replaced Grace
Between Malachi and Matthew amazing changes took place in Israel as the people became more religious, but not necessarily more faithful. By the time Jesus was born, Israel was transformed from a nation of chronic idol worshippers to being solidly monotheistic. New places of religious instruction called synagogues were now found throughout the land. The common people spoke Aramaic so Scribes and experts in the law appear on the scene, teaching from the original Hebrew language. Another new group, the Pharisees, developed a great body of religious tradition concerning application of the law to everyday life. We need to understand that even though these institutions of righteousness developed, the Lord gave no instruction to develop this religious system. It was a work of man designed to establish proper religious behavior in the nation.
Similar systems have found their way into the church as well adopting features such as the four I've highlighted in Malachi. Into this milieu of the religious establishment Jesus came preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. How different things are in Christ. Lets compare this new life of grace to the four points of law I've highlighted in Malachi 3.
1.CHRIST PROVIDES OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, NOT KEEPING ORDINANCES
"ye have turned aside from mine ordinances"
In the book of Malachi, the Israelites had turned aside from God’s laws and ordinances and they were being admonished to keep them once again. But the truth is that "no flesh can be justified by works of the law". For believers “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for everyone who believes.” Rom 10:4
We are not made righteous by any work. He is our righteousness.
• The law of God is written in our heart by the Holy Spirit. Heb 8:10
• We are called to the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:2
• And we have one new law, the law of love. Rom. 13:8 Gal. 5:12
WE ARE FREE FROM A LIFE OF ORDINANCES
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1-4
2. JESUS TOOK ALL THE CURSE. WE ARE NOW BLESSED
"Ye are cursed with the curse"
Here is a simple fact. Christians are redeemed from the curse, and blessed in Christ. The problem is that many continue to teach that Christians are cursed, usually for a failure to keep some law, such as the law of the tithe spoken of in this passage.
But we are strongly warned not to return to the law! “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?” Gal 3:3 Lets be clear about our redemption. It is complete! Let us not make void the cross of Christ! He took the entire curse from us.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone having been hanged on a tree”); so that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Jesus Christ, and that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith"
This means freedom from financial curses, generational curses, and witchcraft curses.
All curses. So how is it that these things seem to affect us? If we believe curses control our life, then we willingly submit again to a yoke of bondage. (Romans 6:16) rather than walking in newness of life.
Far beyond the removal of the curse, there is the great promise that we are blessed with all the fullness of Christ! We did not simply have our curses wiped out, On the contrary, all that Christ purchased is credited to my account! In Christ I am literally overloaded with blessings to pour out to others. These heavenly blessings are to be manifested through us on earth. “Thy Kingdom Come!” Healing and miracles, deliverance from devils, provisions, peace and life are ours to give to others. We are blessed to be a blessing even to the nations of the earth!
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" Eph 1:3
3.OUR BODIES ARE GOD'S HOUSE, NOT A BUILDING
"that there may be food in my house"
What a change from the days when a few select priests would minister in a physical building on our behalf. It is finished! Today, the Lord has determined that the house of God is not a building or organization. It is our physical bodies. Yet we still ask the Lord to fill a building the way He wants to fills us! What are we thinking? We are missing the greatest of blessings. Our own spirits are the Holy Place where the Lord dwells!
"Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body." 1 Co 6:19, 20
• We are the house of God, not a building or an organization. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in us, and is present all the time!
• We are a Royal Priesthood ministering to the Lord. We need no special training or permission
• We worship in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, not by regulations and ordinances.
We manifest the glory of the Lord in our bodies! The power of God is to be seen in us and ministered to a needy world by us.
"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers”. John 4:23
4.CHRIST OPENED THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN, THEY ARE NOT CLOSED
Many today are teaching that the heavens are normally closed to Christians. They say the heavens open only in a special move of God or obedience to the law of tithing spoken of in Malachi. The simple truth is, Christ already opened the windows of heaven to every Christian. This was His mission at the cross! The veil separating man from God was torn in two by God Himself! We now have unhindered access to the Father!
"Since then we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.... Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need". Heb. 14:14, 16
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are written in Heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel." Heb 12:22-24
We have been raised together with Christ. Col. 3:1 The very same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you! It doesn’t get more open than this! We have total access!
"...and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." Eph 2:6,7
WE ARE SEATED IN HEAVENLY PLACES
WE ARE ABOVE THE WINDOW!
Religion will always limit us to the level of our own performance and mans program. How great the plan of God is. It is TOTALLY GRACE. We are no longer limited by our religious ability. We no longer are confined to a geographical place and ancestral priesthood. We are the priesthood. We have been delivered from EVERY curse and now are blessed. Heaven is no longer closed by our sin and failures. We now have open heaven access to the Father, Jesus opened the way. How small our faith has been, but how great is His salvation!