Daily Thoughts : April 17th


Acts 15:1    Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved."


It seems there is always someone who is not happy with the way we live our lives, who is always wanting to raise the bar of achievement for us. Having been a Christian for many years I have watched this in my own life and the lives of others. The trouble is that if we are in a position of responsibility – a parent, a teacher or a pastor etc.– we want to encourage those for whom we are responsible and it is too easy to cross the line from grace to law, from Spirit-life to legalism.

That's what these men who arrived in Antioch were doing. They were Jews who had become Christians, but they still had the ideas from the Old Testament dominating them; new believers, they said, should take on board the requirements for a relationship with God as the old people of God had. In this case it was circumcision. Do this and you can be saved. Don't do it and you can't be saved.


This is the add-on mentality of religion. “Oh no, your justification by faith alone is too simple. Surely we need to DO things to please God, not merely believe.” It is man-centred religion; it wants to put the means of salvation well and truly in our laps. Well actually I can't save me, only Jesus can! I can, with his help, come to a place of belief and of surrender, but to declare me forgiven, cleansed of my sins, adopted as God's child, is what he alone can do – and does! Thus I am saved as I believe and he declares it done. Always distinguish between doing good to try to impress God and doing good that naturally flows out of your love for Him and a response to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The first is self-centred and the second is God-centred.


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