Often times when men strive after Holiness and miss the mark they revert to a focus on the outward appearance. With so much attention focused on the outward appearance, it diverts attention away from what is lacking on the inside. If our eyes are on holiness and the outward appearance, they are not on Jesus. Ironically of course, the man whose eyes are on Jesus will be a man full of love and a man who will ever closer resemble the object of His affection.
Gal 2:4 But because of those false brothers stealing in, who stole in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus; they desiring to enslave us; Gal 2:5 to whom not even for an hour did we yield in subjection, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written among you crucified? Gal 3:2 This only I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing of faith? Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?
Holiness, Righteousness, Justification, sanctification. Beautiful words, theological terms. Each word meaning something different to many people. Whatever any of these words actually mean, the definition will never contradict Holy Scriptures, and while many of us have differing opinions on what they mean, we can all agree that if our definition violated a clear unambiguous Biblical teaching, then we would have to stand corrected. As you read this, I would like you to ask yourself this question, are you infallible? Have you arrived at a place where you have complete understanding of the Scriptures? Is it possible that you are still on the journey of discovery? Is there one more thing than you may not know about any of these subjects? Are you open to others who may disagree with your interpretation?
Whatever our positions on these subjects , I think we can all agree that the Apostle Paul was passionate, extremely passionate for the Gospel, for the mystery that was revealed to him. And when he comes upon Peter playing the hypocrite, not even for an hour could he let it stand. His passion was such that he rebuked him publicly. This is not to be underestimated, for who is Paul in comparison to Peter at this time? A not very well accepted former persecutor of the church. And who was Peter, was he not a founding member of the church on the way? And the men who came down from Jerusalem, the Judaisers, the legalists, were they not important men? How audacious of Paul, how brash, how brazen of him to publicly rebuke Peter. Could he not have taken him aside, was not Peter an elder? Should he not have been afforded the respect of Paul that rather than rebuke him publicly, should he not have taken him aside?
What was this incredible passion that motivated Paul to act in such a way? What was being violated that Paul took such drastic action against one of the foremost Apostles of the living God. Freedom itself was on the line for the Son of God had come to set us free, He delivered us from the bondage of the Law and here were men seeking to re-establish the Law in the lives of men and Paul was horrified. Paul does not hold back, he states it in the clearest possible terms. He calls the men from Jerusalem false brothers. He says that these men had come to spy on their liberty and sought to rob them of it and enslave them. Can I suggest that this is the strongest of charges from Paul, he was holding nothing back, not even for an hour. He risked everything by calling out the legalists, who sought to ensnare the recently freed people. So, we see two groups of people in the eyes of Paul. One group were free men, the other were still under bondage, enslaved. And not only were they still enslaved, they sought to enslave those who had found freedom, and they did it all in the name of God.
Now, can we see this today? What is the real danger to genuine Christians? Does the enemy of our souls not still seek to enslave us? From him who is the most chained entity, does he not seek, at his most basic level, to enslave the free? For those who are already enslaved require little attention from the enemy, he has them where he wants them. No, its the free men that he is after. And how does the father of all lies, the chief deceiver, go about his business? He does it with a mastery that has no equal. Now, would the father of lies, attempt to rob the freemen by convincing them that they could live any old way that they want? Would that be an effective strategy against the genuine man of God? The old heresy of antinomianism, a flagrant dis-regard for Gods commands, can that really be effective for those who genuinely know Him? Can I suggest that this scheme is only effective for keeping false professors, false professors. Those who genuinely know Jesus could never live such a life, never.
This would be enmity to the Spirit of God that burns in their hearts. Ironically they will be accused, by the accuser of the brothers, by the enslaver, that they are teaching that they have a license to sin. And Pauls response to that charge from the enemy is good enough to repeat God forbid. All who genuinely know Jesus have a heart to do what is right and ever want to please their heavenly Father. Ah ha , says the enemy, this is how I will enslave them. I will convince them that they have to establish their own righteousness, their own Justification, their own sanctification. I will keep their eyes on their sins, as it was under the Old Covenant, and this will keep their eyes off Jesus, the one who alone delivers men from their sins.
So, if the enslaver desires to enslave and rob the children of God of their freedom, how does he go about this, how would his emissarys put this operation into practice. Well, it has to be subtle. And, since Satan is the father of lies and is a deceiver, and has been from the beginning, he will use deception. As a personal example, I have no artistic ability. I can draw stick men and thats about it. If I were to try and forge a $10 note, the results would be comical. Now, if a master forger tries to do the same thing, then we have a very serious situation. For the closer the forgery is to the genuine bill, then the greater the danger is. If these bills are passed of as genuine, it undermines the whole currency. That is why every government around the world pays such close attention to this issue. As it is with the forgery of currency, so it is with the counterfeiting of the message of freedom. The false message has to very closely align itself with the true message, the closer it can do this, then the greater the effectiveness and damage to the genuine.
Given that truth, it is possible that two men can preach almost the exact same message on Righteousness, one will enslave, the other will liberate. And not liberate to walk in a flagrant dis-regard of Gods commands, which is the straw man argument of the enslaver, but liberate to walk in the beauty and the holiness of God.
Joh 8:36 Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
Rom 6:18 Then being made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.
Rom 6:22 But now, being made free from sin, and having become slaves to God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not again be held with the yoke of bondage.
1Pe 2:15 For such is the will of God, doing good to silence the ignorance of foolish men;
1Pe 2:16 as free, and not having freedom as a cover of evil, but as servants of God.
What is this body of death that the Apostle Paul talked about? These words are found in Pauls impassioned argument on the reign of the law, which dooms the unregenerate man to continuous disappointment and convinces him of the terrible power of indwelling sin. In ancient times, in some cases, if one committed murder, the actual dead corpse was chained to the guilty one. This was a torture that led to a horrendous death. Can you imagine, chained to a rotting corpse? And yet, this is perfect imagery for the Holy Spirit to use. If the old man is dead, and if we are forgiven, justified before the throne of Grace, then we walk in freedom, freedom from the curse of the Law. If we do not reckon the old man to be dead then we carry him with us, he is chained to us, even although he is dead and the putrid smell of the rotting corpse of the dead man will gets worse and worse. It will take enormous self-effort to drag this corpse around. It is a very sad thing to see with your spiritual eyes, men dragging corpses around with them. It is one thing to have a dead body chained to you, it is quite another to voluntarily drag a corpse around with you when the Son of God Himself has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Men are so determined to do it themselves that when a man is saved, that is not the end. He now has to be broken, he has to know that everyone of his efforts will lead to nothing but defeat. It may take one year, it may take fifty years, but every genuine follower of Christ will be broken and when the brokenness comes and total surrender comes, then, and only then do they realize that it is all God and none of them. We are the recipients of mercy and grace, not of wages. And the irony of course is that the man who discovers this, who simply kneels at the feet of Jesus, is the man who is who is transformed and changed daily into the image of Christ.
Its not by might, nor by power, nor is it by our striving nor is it by our efforts, its by our brokenness and its by our surrender and it is by nothing else. This is the righteous man, this is the Holy man
Gods work, its all His work and it is His good pleasure to do it.
So one man preaches the message of righteousness from a prison cell, the other preaches the message of righteousness from freedom. One preaches from Oh wretched man that I am, the other preaches from There is therefore now no condemnation. One will enslave the other will liberate. One is focused on sin and condemnation, the other is focused on Jesus. One accuses others of having a license to sin, the other speaks of Jesus. One tells others how bad they are, the other speaks of Jesus. One tells others how Holy he is , the other tells people how Holy Jesus is. One tells people how much he has suffered, the other tells people how much his Jesus suffered. One tells people about the outward appearance, the other tells people that Jesus looks at the inner man. One preaches the sermon of righteousness with the human power of guilt, the other speaks of Christs righteousness and the Spirit of conviction works.
One judges all according to his own standard, the other says look to Jesus. One tells people to cast their eyes upon their sin, the other tells people to cast their eyes upon Jesus. One proclaims himself a prophet, the other says he is simply a voice crying in the wilderness. One stands and proclaims God, I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even like this tax collector, I fast twice on the Sabbath and I tithe all that I possess, the other thanks God for His mercy and bows his head low and considers others more highly than he considers himself. One thought himself righteous because of his actions, because of his works, the other knew that he stood justified before God because of Jesus. One cries who will deliver me from this body of death? the other cries Worthy is the Lamb that was slain.