Luke 5:37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.
Nothing kills a person’s spiritual life, faster than Legalism. Without fail, the moment a person takes their eyes off of what Jesus Christ has already done, and turns their focus on themselves and others, they have entered the realm of Legalism. And the once free gifts that God has given to them, are no longer past tense, but somehow in their future and merited not by faith, but by their good works.
There is a very simple formula that the Bible provides to identify an old covenant teaching. The pattern is found in the book of Deuteronomy 28. It always starts with Man’s Actions.
Deuteronomy 28:1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth.
This passages is immediately followed by a list of God’s responses to our actions described in the previous Chapters. (Deuteronomy 28:2-14)
Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God…
Lastly, there is the repercussions for not doing Man’s part in the first place, it is the passage that describes God’s response to our failure to do the things prescribed.
Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.
And there you have it, the formula for understanding the Old Covenant, is revealed. Any teaching that follows this pattern, “If you do something good, then God will do something good, But if you do something bad, then God will not do anything good for you.” The Good that God does, is no longer a matter of Grace, rather it is reduced to a reward for our actions. In the old Covenant God always responds to Man.
The old covenant teachings are endless. They always sound super spiritual and practical, but it is what the Bible describes as falling from Grace. You are no longer depending on the Finished work of what Jesus has done, instead, it’s depending on us, to make God do something good for us.
This pattern is found in teachings like this:
If you do your part, the God will do his part.
If you read your bible everyday, then God will keep you from falling away.
If you go to Church every Sunday, God will protect you.
If you keep praying God, then God will Bless you.
If you confess your Sins, then God will Forgive you.
If you stop sinning, then God will accept you.
If you obey, then God will pour out abundance upon your life.
It also sounds like this:
God is not going to bless you, don’t do your part.
God is not going to keep you from falling away, if you don’t read your bible
God is not going to protect you, if you don’t go to Church.
God is not going to bless you, if you don’t pray.
God is not going to forgive you, if you don’t confess your Sins.
God will not accept you, as long as you keep sinning.
God will not bless you, if you don’t obey.
The pattern is always the same, but these are two sides of the same Old Covenant, based entire on what we do, to get God to respond to us. These teachings are constantly mixed into the churches, and make the Grace of God, that has the power to manifest freedom, joy and peace, of no effect. We cannot do anything to make God do something, that he says he has already done in the New Covenant.
In my next post, I will examine what is the pattern of New Covenant teachings.
The Confusing Cocktail of Law & Grace – Rob Rufus
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