1 Peter 2:16, 2 Timothy 3:5
Many modern Christians have traded in legalism for spiritualism. The legalist emphasizes what you do externally. The spiritualist emphasizes your motivations, thoughts, and feelings that occur internally. Christians however, are supposed to focus on the inner and outer life.
The way to avoid legalism in Christianity is not to abandon good deeds in exchange for good motives. The way to avoid legalism in Christianity is to have good deeds with good motives, to obey God’s law out of a relational love for him.
Why are Old Testament laws so harsh? Why does God seem so mean in the Old Testament and nice in the New Testament? Why does God kill so many people in the Old Testament? Why is God angry in the Old Testament and then merciful in the New Testament? Why Does God punish people like homosexuals in the Old Testament? Why does God command Israel to kill other nations and take their lands? Why is the Old Testament so violent? How can the God of the Old Testament be same as the God in the New Testament?
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6
Skeptics and Christians alike often find it difficult to reconcile how God is presented in the Old Testament compared to the New Testament. With a quick read it seems the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament. Thus, it is no surprise that many ask questions like, “Why are Old Testament laws so harsh?” “Why does God seem so mean in the Old Testament?” “Why does God seem so different in the Old Testament?” Or “Why is the Old Testament so full of violence when Jesus seems so peaceful?”
1 Kings 8:17-19
Expectations and desires are such a beautiful and yet dangerous part of life. To have a dream, let alone seeing it fulfilled, creates a feeling in your heart that is essential for a meaningful life. To have desires is to have a heart that is alive. If you feel nothing, hope for nothing, never have a dream, it probably means you have lost your heart and passion for life. But how do we maintain joy when we have unmet expectations, for as the Bible says in Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Colossians 2:16-17, 23
In Jesus’ time on earth, one of his main battles with the Pharisees revolved around the Sabbath, which was supposed to be a time of resting from working. The Jews were governed by the laws of the Torah, and there it explicitly states not to work on the Sabbath.
Jesus could have just gone along with what they wanted as a way of keeping the peace, but he didn’t. Jesus clearly had an equally strong conviction about how the Sabbath rest should be viewed. He wanted to show people that the Sabbath is important not so much because we are to rest from our work, but more so because we must rest in God. So what’s the importance of resting in God?
Matthew 6:22-23, Luke 13:8-9
To live is to be constantly taking in and putting out. We breathe and then exhale. We see and then react. We hear and then process. We eat and then . . . well you know. Life is a constant journey of movement. Spiritually speaking, this is true as well. We are never just standing still. We are either moving closer to the Lord or backsliding (Romans 6:19, 2 Peter 1:8-9).
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. – Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)
Luke 22:70-71, Luke 23:1-3
Early on in my marriage, I learned it is all too easy to masquerade an accusation as a question. With a harsh tone and a rushed demeanor, the question “Where are my keys?” was really the accusation, “You put my keys somewhere they don’t belong!” With a harsh tone and furrowed brow, the question “Are you mad at me?” was really the accusation, “You have no right to be mad at me!”
Obviously this was not helpful to our marriage. Things only got better when I realized “asking” a question with a negative spirit is the same thing as accusing. I knew better than to just accuse my wife of doing something wrong, but subconsciously it felt more acceptable to phrase my accusation as a question.
In reality, though, the difference between asking and accusing lies not in the phrasing but in the motivation.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.-Luke 6:40
“This water taste funny,” I said to my father-in-law as we sat in his mother’s house.
“Oh yeah, don’t drink tap water here. It’s got too much sulfur in it. I mean, it’s okay if you want to, but if you drink too much you’ll just go blind and grow a third nipple.”
A classic response from the notorious prankster in the family. His next words stuck with me though, “Yeah, growing up I always thought the water tasted weird when I would visit other places. It was only when I moved away and came back to visit that I began to realize the bad water was actually here.”