Focus: Whose rules?
2 Timothy 2:4-5 (NIV) No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.
At the end of a school year, students are tired of being tested. Yet, without the tests there would be no real way to tell if a student is qualified to be promoted to the next level. Standards have been established for the purpose of determining whether a student has comprehended the lesson material. It’s not up to the student to decide if he’s ready to pass a year of studies–and tests are not optional. The student has to prove proficiency by showing up and taking the tests that will provide evidence of his competence.
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When a student desires a degree in a particular field, there will be a list of requirements. In order to earn a diploma, the student must complete all of the courses required. They can’t look at the list and decide whether all of the classes are convenient or interesting–they have to comply, or they don’t get the credit.
You can pay a lot of money to attend a college that has no accreditations. You might think because you paid all that money and spent four years or more studying a subject that you will be qualified as a professional when you graduate. But, if employers in the field you have chosen only recognize accredited schools–you won’t get a job. These are facts you have to face.
In the school of life, things work the same way. You can’t say you want to go to heaven and then live like you’re headed for hell…anymore than you could become a medical doctor after studying fashion design. The Bible says we should study to show ourselves approved unto God. Yet, how many of us would like to write our own ten commandments–or adopt easier standards according to modern theology.
Today’s message of cheap grace fits pretty well with the easy credit, fast food mentality of our culture. Our society has become so lenient and tolerant that black and white have turned to gray. We write our own rules and then wonder why we don’t have the blessing of God. All of this has resulted, because few people believe God is who He says He is anymore. They want to believe God loves them so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for them so that they could ignore the ten commandments–live however they want, and not perish, but have everlasting life.
The Bible goes on to say that those who live in the last days would turn their ears from the truth and follow after teachers who have a form of godliness, but deny the true power of God. One way we deny the power of God is not taking Him—or His Word seriously. The God who was Holy in the old days is still Holy today…and He still expects His people to live Holy lives.
A popular approach in counseling helps people excuse their behavior by putting the blame on parents or other adults who failed them in their childhood. There is nowhere in scripture that anyone is given permission to dishonor their parents…period. When Noah was drunk and his sons dishonored him–they were judged.
Blaming others or using excuses for our own failures doesn’t fix anything. Taking responsibility for our own shortcomings and confessing our faults to God is where forgiveness and healing begins. Blessing comes when we honor and abide by the rules. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)”.
I didn’t have perfect parents, but I never thought it was my right to judge them. I can’t imagine the blessing I would have lost if I had chosen to exclude them from my life and the lives of my children. Give your gripes to God and honor your parents. God will honor you.
As student of the Word of God—our faith is often put to a test. You might be faced with circumstances that challenge you and cause you to feel defensive. In desperation, you might start to rationalize and ‘write your own rules’. Think about what those areas are. We all have them. Ask yourself whether you are denying the power of God by trying to take charge and become your own judge—or whether you are willing to truly submit to God in obedience to His Word. If there are limits as to how far you are willing to go—ask yourself why. Ask yourself what needs to change for you to be able to obey God without justifying your point of view.
Declaration: I will find new strength by honoring God with my obedience. I will stop making excuses as to why I don’t have to be accountable to the Word of God. I will study and learn God’s Word so I can pass the test.
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