Summary: How To Avoid Feeling Like You Have to Live By Man Made Standards (Rom. 8:12-14)
How To Avoid Feeling Like You Have to Live By Man Made Standards (Rom 8:12-14)
Illustration: In 1900, the Daughters of the American Revolution elected social reformer Jane Addams to honorary membership. But Addams’s antiwar stance during World War I and her insistence that even subversives had a right to trial by due process caused them to expel her. She commented that she had thought her election to the DAR was for life, but now knew it was for good behavior.
Today in the Word, March 26, 1993.
1. Have you ever chafed at the pressures to live up to certain human standards?
Paul teaches us in this passage that we are no longer under obligation to live by the flesh, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit. The apostle writes, "So then, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh (we are not obligated to our carnal nature) to live a life ruled by the standards set up by the dictates of the flesh." (Rom 8:12)
It is a liberating feeling to know that we are not bound by man-made customs and traditions. The Holy Spirit sets us free from our obligations to live by human dictates because we are now debtors to God.
Too many reactionaries choke the life out of Godly organizations because they are living more by human procedures, policies and customs instead of the leading of the Spirit. Paul knew that the Gnostics were people who loved to require the Gentiles to live according the Jewish laws, customs and traditions. Paul rejected this thinking when he wrote, "Formerly, when you did not know God you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you." (Gal. 4:8-11) The Spirit wants to free us from slavery to any custom, tradition or man-made procedure.
Chuck Swindoll wrote this about customs and traditions. "The longer I live the less I know. That sounds like 50% heresy...but it’s 100% honesty. In my younger years
I had a lot more answers than I do now. Things were absolutely black and
white, right or wrong, yes or no, in or out, but a lot of that is
beginning to change. The more I travel and read and wrestle and think
the less simplistic things seem. I now find myself uncomfortable with sweeping generalities...with neat little categories and well-defined classifications.
Take people, for example. They cannot be squeezed into pigeon holes.
People and situations are far more complex than most of us are willing
-Not all Episcopalians are liberal.
-Not all athletes are thickheaded.
-Not all Republicans are Christian good guys.
-Not all collegians are rebels.
-Not all artists are kooks.
-Not all movies are questionable.
-Not all questions are answerable.
-Not all verses are clear.
-Not all problems are easily solved.
-Not all deaths are explainable.
Maybe the list comes as a jolt. Great! Jolts are fine if they make you
think. We evangelicals are good at building rigid walls out of dogmatic
stones...cemented together by the mortar of tradition. We erect these
walls in systematic circles--then place within each our over-simplified,
ultra inflexible "position." Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life, Zondervan, 1983, p. 348
2. The Spirit of God teaches us not to be like rigid Pharisees in the following ways:
A. Beware of using rules, regulations and policies to instill the fear of men in others for manipulative reasons. It is easy for parents to fall into this trap with their children. The Pharisees used the law as a club to try to control other people for selfish reasons.
B. Beware of the Pharisaical fault finding tendency to criticize anyone who is not living by their standards. Jesus blessed diversity as He recognized that God made 18,800 ethnic groups and He wants all of them to mature by the power of the Spirit instead of by the flesh.
C. Beware of the Pharisaical tendency to view people as acceptable only if they keep the rules, regulations and customs of your club. The Spirit teaches us to be graciously accepting of others as Christ has accepted us. (Rom. 15:7)
D. Beware of finding your identity and security in traditions, customs and culture. The Pharisees based their view of others’ identity and worth on whether they lived up to every letter of the law. Resentment tends to grow around people who are legalistic.
E. Beware of becoming so microscopic in judging others that you fail to see God’s bigger frame of reference of love. The Pharisees found it much more convenient to judge people on the basis of their law instead of love. Learn how let God be the judge of everyone’s conduct, worth and statements.