Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:10–11 (NIV84)

Listen to me very carefully.  Satan can’t stand the Gospel. He can’t stand the love and the forgiveness that is found at the cross of Jesus Christ. He especially can’t stand that it is offered freely. There is no cost. There are no conditions. God unilaterally and unconditionally loves us so much that He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins so that we would not have to. Done! Finished! Complete! And Satan can’t stand it!

He has to mess it up somehow. He can’t let that powerful of a message be let loose. So, what does He do? He adds on. He slowly begins to creep in requirements and conditions. It doesn’t matter what they are. They can even be good things. Let them be about the time we spend in daily devotions, or the amount we give to the church, or the number of times we attend church. All of these things are good things, but put in the wrong place in our lives we end up like legalistic Pharisees who justify themselves by the things they do, rather than what God has done.

Paul tells us that our Christian life should not be lived out of compulsion. Jesus Himself said that the sheep, when commended for caring for Jesus, said to themselves, “When did we see you hungry and feed you or naked and clothe you?” Our lives should be so focused on the cross and resurrection of Jesus that our transformed lives are lived out naturally and freely. Woe to the pastor or teacher who burdens the consciences of God’s people. Here the words of Peter one more time, Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Peace!

Pastor Tom

  1. February 21, 2012

    I have some questions about this devotion. I know that our salvation is based on grace alone. Salvation is the greatest gift given through Jesus death and resurrection. But, when it comes to shepherding are we to leave out all the commands about taking care of the least of these. I don’t think the pastor or teacher burdons the Christian… The Christian begins self evaluation and that is where the Holy Spirit can pull on your heart strings and show us how miserably we have been failing at being Jesus hands and feet, or Satan can fill us with lies that can sound very similar. We as Christians need to ask for discernment. I may have a harder time with this as a leader of a non-profit that reaches out to be the hands and feet and when I see Christians who can fill their time with everything but serving and flat out say they hate it, but they are just too busy. I want to scream, Wake up!!! You have received such an amazing gift and if you won’t share it and reach out to serve, who will? Sometimes I feel we live in such a self centered world that people need to be shaken to their cores. As long as the shaking points them to showing such thankfulness for what was done on the cross for them.

  2. February 21, 2012

    Amanda,

    Jesus dealt with the same issues with the Pharisees. They would tithe of their goods and claim to be meeting God’s will, while neglecting the care of the poor and the fatherless. A wake up call is indeed necessary. The key is, what do we use as the wake up tool. Your last sentence answers the original question. The wake up call must be rooted in the cross of Jesus Christ (the Gospel). God wants us doing all we do because we love Him. Our actions need to be rooted in gratitude for all He has done. If we use the law (rules and regulations) we will tend to wake people up out of guilt and shame rather than gratitude. We need to have the heart of Jesus.

  3. February 21, 2012

    Got it! I will continue to try and shake people then. 🙂

  4. February 21, 2012

    Christians encouraged through grace, with a reminder of the full extent of His love, (reminds me of John 13:1) will give over and above in every aspect of their life- financial, talents, time. Those encouraged through guilt will do the minimum, focusing on the bottom line and not completely comprehending why they give.

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