As an off shoot of the Core Group for our church plant (The Christ Collective), several of the ladies in the group and their friends get together for a “Cooking Club.” They read a book, then met to collectively cook dinner, hang out and drink wine. Sometimes they get around to discussing the book and sometimes not. I think the book is just an excuse.
The guys in the group felt left out, so we started to get together too. We meet every other Wednesday night to discuss Scripture and how we might become the men, the husbands and the fathers Christ wants us to be. Since we have started to meet we have been reading through the books of Acts at pretty quick clip (6 chapters at a time). For this week’s meeting we are working through Acts 13-18.
This morning I was reading chapter 13 and noticed a few things I have not seen before (I love exposing the depth of God’s word, even if it is to myself). One of those is when Barnabas and Paul start off on their first missionary journey. When their journey takes them to Antioch Pisdia (not Antioch of Syria) they are invited by the synagogue leaders to offer a word of exhortation/encouragement to the Jews and those who feared God that were present. Here is some of Paul’s encouragement:
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him (Jesus)
forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things,
from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Look again at what Paul says. His encouragement is forgiveness. Its freedom. Its good news. Its GOSPEL!
- Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus there is forgiveness of sin.
- Through Jesus there is freedom from the predisposition to sin.
- None of this was possible through strict adherence to legal guidelines.
What this tells me is that to fully embrace the forginvess of Jesus and the freedom he offers, we need to move past “sin management,” as Dallas Willard calls it. We need to move past the need to take protective measure to separate us from the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1) In Christ there is no need for baby gates, car seats, or electrical plug covers. Our sin is forgiven and it no longer controls us. We no longer have a natural tendency to act contrary to the will of God. It is the mature Christ follower who can move past the need for barriers to temptation and sin.
Accountability groups and programs, confessionals, steering clear of tempting situations, etc., are not needed for the mature believer. They wisely and maturely live according to God’s will modeling their life after Jesus. This is not throwing caution to the wind, unneeded recklessness or license, but who needs protection from something that is not a threat? A cage is not needed for a toothless, clawless and emasculated tiger nor is a jail needed for an definitively defeated foe. If we are free, why enslave ourselves and undo what Christ has done? A new law will not accomplish what Paul tells us the old law could not do. Any legalistic structure enslaves and limits freedom, even those of our own making. Only through Jesus is there freedom that is actually free. If we fully comprehend the good news of Jesus, then we are free.
But here is the rub, I don’t think we fully comprehend it. I know I don’t. I can’t seem to fathom what it is to be really forgiven and free. Its such a foreign concept to me. And because of this I feel lost and insecure in God’s grace and power. So, acknowledging baby gates, car seat and outlet plugs are a good and responsible safeguards against danger, I also acknowledge there are times when accountable groups and programs, confessionals and steering clear of tempting situations allow those of use who are immature to grow to maturity and out live their usefulness. But is this not the ideal or the end goal. Ultimately, the best preventative measure against sin is freedom in Jesus.
As a result, we are no longer to be children,
tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine,
by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
but speaking the truth in love,
we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ