This doesn’t happen often, I hope. A man heard me discussing prophecy in a coffee shop and came over to contradict what I was saying and to pronounce me a false prophet.
And I saw what can happen when self-justification is on the throne of one’s life, the desire to be right without ever being righteous, for righteousness is a struggle and a goal not a place to be enjoyed with pride of accomplishment.
To be right is not to be righteous
I had to be wrong to assure him he was right. There is no righteousness if you must place yourself beside another person to prove it. Only in comparison to Jesus to you ever justify yourself, and that is a waste of time. He is perfect; we are not. Don’t bother with that argument. It won’t fly.
This particular man was a Jewish believer in Jesus. He demanded that me and my friend obey the Torah in order to be true Christians. But he failed to see the difference between the Torah Law and the Law of Jesus. This argument occurred early in the infant church. They were called Judaizers, those who wanted the Jewish law obeyed in detail, not rely only on belief in the finished work of the cross.
Jesus said he fulfilled the law in Himself when He died on the cross. When we accept His salvation, we have automatically fulfilled the law through him. That frees us to be whatever God wants us to be in this life. Our life becomes one of obedience to Jesus, without regard to what the law might have at one point said.
We live by faith
I am free to go into a bar, which otherwise is not a great place for the believer, if God says there is someone there who needs Jesus. I do not endanger my salvation by being there; I am simply obeying my Lord. The legalist cannot see this because they confuse behavior with appearances.
That tells you immediately that his argument is not right. But he could not see it because self-righteousness blinds the eyes to truth. Behind all this is fear of course, fear that one is not right with God. The very act of self-justification tells us sin is right there, making itself known.
The moral law came before Moses
On top of that this man did not realize that the moral law predated Moses. Yes, Job, a book written long before the Torah made clear all men know by instinct that God has placed in them the moral law. Sex outside of marriage is well known to be verboten everywhere without any Jewish influence or Christian reminder. And those whose believe otherwise know they are lying.
Even a small child knows when he is sodomized that this is evil on the throne, even though he has no word to describe it because he is not old enough to have the language to match the act. He just knows he has been violated.
The legalist departed the coffee shop quite energized by his having corrected those poor Christian ladies, and proven himself a holy man of God. But what we saw was a man lost in his own self-absorption. I think we might see more of this in the future as we march toward the final days and the great catching away of the church, not many days hence and the deceived ones left behind.
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The Ministry of the Watchman – An observer on the wall sharing a report of what God is seeing and doing in the world at large and also in the congregations of His people. Cornelia Scott Cree, Watchman, Change Agent, Essayist.
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