Posts Tagged With: Pharisees

“Old Men Will Dream”, Am I Getting Old?

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.” – Joel 2:28

Does this mean I’m getting old? I had a couple of dreams recently I thought were worth preserving for posterity:

Last night I dreamed that I was preaching on forgiveness. I shared that Jesus told us to:

“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4 NLT

I shared that if Jesus asks us to forgive like this then surely he forgives like this… and more. Check out this Scripture:

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.  – Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

forgiveThis is not exactly referring to 490 times but to God’s eternal complete forgiveness.

This has been my lifeline. I trust the forgiveness of God. And then, I extend this forgiveness of God to others.

Today as I was driving I began thinking of a dear friend of mine who is living in sin, running from God. I prayed, “On behalf of Jesus I forgive _____ of all their sins.”

“Blasphemous! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Sound familiar? The Pharisees said this of Jesus when He performed that incredible miracle of forgiving the paralytic’s sins! (Oh yea, and then he healed him… yawn… j/k!)

Well, the answer to that question is: Yes! Only God can forgive sins AND ALSO anyone else that he gives the authority to forgive sins. Jesus said this to his disciples:

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:21-23 NLT

So this means if you are a disciple of Jesus who has received the Holy Spirit you have the power to forgive others sins.

You may be someone who needs to start following Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit before you too can possess this awesome power.

DREAM NUMBER TWO

“Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,  and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:25-26 NIV & NLT

Scripture says that when we refuse to repent and oppose the truth we are taken captive by the enemy to do his will. This actually happened in my dream because I was guilty of a sin!

In my dream (and reality of course) I had super powers (as every believer does) and Satan was using me to destroy things, blast open doors, wreak havoc, cause general mayhem, chaos, and ruin.

Of course I was disturbed by what was happening. At one point Satan stopped and said, “Let me pause for a moment to laugh maniacally… Bwa hahaha!”

it-is-worse-when-you-dont-repent_mobileAt this point I came to my senses and yelled, “I repent!”

The invisible chains that the devil held me with broke off of me and I fought him off… quite easily actually. He was scared of me!

I saw the truth of James 4:7 in a whole new light:

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

This dream really spoke to me about the power of just being in right standing with God. Not a difficult thing by any means, we just get to (and absolutely must) repent of all our sins! No problemo!

Happy repenting everyone! Go and save the world my superhero friends!

Here is some context from James 4 & Psalm 51 that will help with the repenting:

“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy? But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” James 4:4-10 NLT

Psalm 51:

“Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me—
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.”

Categories: Dreams, Forgive | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Fool’s Gold – A look into legalism – Part 2

by Daniel Lovett on Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 9:04pm

(This was originally titled “Legalism – Just another form of rejecting Christ?” which in retrospect was a terrible title! Who would want to read that? I really am trying to get to the good news here, but sometimes you have to wade through some bad news to get to it… or rather, perhaps to fully appreciate it. I would appreciate your feedback and would be delighted to have a discussion about this topic. Please share your thoughts.)

Fool’s Gold

Legalism. Self-righteousness. You could call it a “religious spirit” or a “spirit of religion”. Many today simply refer to it as “religion”. Jesus warned his disciples, calling it, “the leaven of the Pharisees”.

Paul refers to it in Romans 10:13:

“For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.” NLT

In a recent facebook status I posted, “It is my belief that legalism is and always has been the single greatest threat to the Christian faith. It is just another form of rejecting Christ.”

This blog post is elaborating on that premise. I also believe that this is a problem that is rampant in the church (and in the heart of every man) and needs to be addressed.

Paul writes the letter to the Galatians warning people of the false “gospel” of trying to attain righteousness by working for it. This is really no Gospel (or good news) at all. He writes:

“I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.”

~ Galatians 2: 19-20 The Message

Did you notice that Paul says, “my ego is no longer central”? That’s what self-righteousness does. It makes it “all about me”.

Some of the marks, results, and warning signs of self-righteousness or legalism include:

  • Judgment – Harsh judgment of yourself and others becomes the modus operandi.
  • Perfectionism – Because you are desperate to avoid the harsh judgment of others.
  • Pride – Legalism is based in Pride. Legalism says, “I can make it on my own, I don’t need you Jesus.” (Though as someone who read this pointed out to me, many use legalism as a form to try to please or win God’s favor, to earn his grace, and are, in all sincerity, trying to please Christ by their own efforts. This reminds me of a verse from Eugene Petersons paraphrase, the Message, “Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:2)
  • Hypocrisy – Since you have no freedom to be yourself, you have to pose, pretend and hide.
  • Separation & Division – Paul confronts Peter to his face in front of everyone for his hypocrisy when he separated himself from the Gentile believers to save face with his Jewish friends from Jerusalem. Galatians 2 ( Hear a sermon about this that really blessed me here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/adullam-vineyard-podcast/id376094976)
  • Fear & Bullying – Peter caved to his fear of the disapproval and scowls of his Jewish friends. People are kept in line by fear of disapproval – perhaps of another Christian friend, perhaps even by a pastor.
  • Lack of Freedom – Galatians 5:1 “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” NLT
  • Insecurity – You are always second guessing where you stand with God if it is dependent on your performance.
  • Condemnation – Because without Christ, condemnation is all you have left. If we insist on standing in our own righteousness, in effect, we reject the righteousness God provides and so are doomed.
  • Depression – If you are under condemnation, you will certainly feel depression as well. That’s not to say that the saints of God don’t also from time to time experience forms of depression.

Also, it is very encouraging that nothing need be permanent. If you’re on the wrong road, you can choose to turn around and find the right one.

You wouldn’t believe how much of the Bible is written just to correct this fatal error on the part of humanity. I am sure that this self-righteousness or legalism is in the heart of every man. C.S. Lewis refers to it as the “diabolical” pride of man. We just noted above how it was in Peter (see Galatians 2) – and this was after Pentecost. Jesus truly was the only exception, the only one immune to this hellish depraved disease of self-righteousness.

And now, I’m going to bring this whole discussion way closer to home. I am a recovering legalist. If I am an expert in anything, this would be it. I could write the book on legalism.  For the last few years, Jesus has been opening my eyes to it and I now have a whole new clarity about what has plagued me for so long.

I could identify with the whole ego thing that Paul mentioned. I was the center of my “Christian” faith. It was all about me. I experienced that list of things I mentioned earlier. I judged myself and others and I assumed that everyone judged me as well.  I experienced seven long years of severe depression as I experienced the results of being alienated from Christ.

Galatians 5:4 “For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.”

There is a great deal more that I can and will write about in upcoming editions. But for now please pray with me:

“Jesus, please set us free from our self-righteous ways, we need you to be our righteousness and so we trust you to be our righteousness and we thank you that you areour righteousness. Thank you for keeping your beautiful and holy law of love on our behalf, thank you for taking away our condemnation for breaking your law when you died on the cross.

“Please teach us and lead us to the place of freedom that Paul found where he could say: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless.” NIV

“Thank you that because of your sacrifice, we don’t have to earn your grace or perform our way into your favor. May the grace of God become everything to us, and let us live free, for you came to set us free.” Amen

Categories: Exposing Self-Righteous Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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