And what if the rules change? — which the Enemy also does, just to mix it up a little. When I was a girl I grew up devoutly religious. There were rules for everything. We were told that eating “meat” on Friday was a mortal sin. I never questioned why God would make such a rule. It was a rule. So, I never ate meat on Fridays for fear of going to hell when I died.
When I became a young adult, that law was changed. It was no longer a “sin” to eat meat on Fridays, but my mind did not make the jump without an explanation. “Did all the people who ate meat on Friday and died before the rule changed, get let out of Hell?
I use this illustration, not to point a finger at any particular “denomination” (notice how close that word “denomination” is to “demonization”), but to point out how senseless and manipulative the devil has made serving God. He continually uses our desire for God to catch us on his hook of guilt so he can fry us up like little fish whose only “crime or sin” is that they were “looking for lunch”. How is that fair?
And do you not think that God knows of such plots against the innocent when His says in His own word, “If my heart condemns me, God is greater than my heart and knows all things”. So if the Devil can get me to go along with him to believe and judge myself as bad, God still has the final word. He is good and will not judge us according to the Devil’s made up charges against us, but according to the things He knows to be true of us.
So, what are the real deal breakers with God? What is the bottom line in what is God looking for in His relationship with His Children? If we are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbors and our enemies, as ourselves, we all know the answer is love.
The whole story of our struggle with sin and the battle between the Law and the death of His Son is really all about us, our freedom, needs for protection, deliverance, and redemption. So, from God’s point of view, everything He does is for us. From our point of view, our life is best lives when it is all about Him.
And just in case we still think we can “be perfect” on our own, the Bible re-emphasizes the impossibility of keeping the Law by telling us that if we have offended in one point of the Law, we have offended in all points. “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them,” (Gal.3:10). Cursed is a pretty strong word. Not only are we not perfected by the things we are “doing”, we are “cursed”. Wow!! Either God is super unreasonable or we are missing an important point here.
So either we do all the Law or we do something else. It has already been proven that we cannot keep the Law perfectly and that keeping the Law perfectly does not make anyone perfect. Being bound by the constraints of the Law without understanding the real purpose behind the Law will be “futile” and “frustrating”, neither of which are fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We have all been raised being handed a certain list of rules, “do’s and don’ts. Some of them are needful for our initial safety but Jesus told us that the end result, the fruit of a thing determines its merit. And since there are only two kingdoms, sorting out a matter becomes elementary. Is the fruit of what we are doing from “Heaven” or “Hell”?
Beware of the Devil’s twist on the matter of sorting things out. The “end does not justifies the means”, because, at all points along the way, “love” must be our motive and an unbiased referee of everything we do. Jesus tells us that we can know something “by its fruit”. If Jesus tells us we will be able to discern the true matter of something, not by its appearance, but by its fruit, we do well to become fruit inspectors.
That makes the bottom line clearer. If all our reasons for doing anything can be reduced to either “faith” (love) or “fear”, check out your reasons for “doing Christmas”. If the fruit of your celebrating the birth of Christ is stressful and exhausting, maybe you are missing the point of His coming or doing it wrong. That does not mean Christmas is bad, but if your reason for celebrating it is fear and not faith, no matter how lovely it turns out it will not turn out well.
On the other hand, some things are innately sinful, wicked, dedicated to evil. Is Christmas one of them? Was Jeremiah warning against decorating Christmas Trees in Jeremiah 10:1-4 & 8? “Do not learn the ways of the Gentiles; for the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts down a tree from the forest, …they decorate it with silver and gold;” Or was he talking about setting up an idol? “A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.”
We are to have no idols or put anything before or between us and the God of Heaven and Earth, including the Law He gave us to protect and preserve His people until the fullness of time, when our Savior would come. (Technically this was the sin of the Pharisees). In Jeremiah 10, the decoration of the tree with silver and gold, was for the purpose of making it into an idol. Is your Christmas tree an idol?
Does our commemorating the birth of the baby Jesus by retelling His story to our children, and singing Silent Night and Handel’s Messiah have anything to do with works of darkness or worshiping demons? The bottom line is, would Jesus sit with you under the lights of your twinkling Christmas tree or would He get offended and leave the room?
In Scripture, there are some things that CANNOT be compromised or mixed, like Law and Grace. In everyday matters, however, our motive to love one another becomes the stronger determiner of what is acceptable in the sight of God than what was done or how it turned out.
We do not live in a sterile, sinless world where everything sorts out neatly into black and white, naughty and nice. First of all, everything we do, eat, and live in is a mixture of truth and error including this very country we call home and hold dear. Our food is GMO’d. Our mortgages are held by corrupt banking systems. Our country was founded by both Pilgrims and pagans. Both sides of the battle are represented at every point along the way and in every event.
So what is our life but the extension of His? And if there is no way for us to live a perfect life in the pursuit of holiness in the middle of a mud puddle, we must come again, face to face with the mercy and grace of God and in daily need of His forgiveness. There is no line that defines the limits of His love or a safe and holy position for us to take in many of these matters outside of the will and protection of our Lord and His Holy Spirit.
And though most of us would agree with this statement, the Enemy would raise his question, “What is the will of God?” (to be continued)