How close to the line can you come without sinning.
Maybe you have asked this question before in your life. If you’ve been living your Christian life by a set of do’s and don’ts, chances are you have missed the point of a relationship that Jesus came to bring about.
When God gave the Israelites the ten commandments, it was after a period that they had spent with Him in the desert building trust. God did some amazing things in setting a slave nation of Israelites free, and all to show who He was and that He would do what He said.
Then came the rules.
The ten commandments and the numerous laws that proceeded them were a line in the sand. God made a nation out of a group of people who had been in slavery and had never been a nation. These rules were to set them apart from the surrounding nations. These were social and civil laws. Laws that had a condition. The condition hinged on ‘If you keep these laws, I’ll bless you’. If you don’t keep these (which I know you won’t) things won’t go well for you.
It was the classic Adam and Eve promise once again. Don’t touch the fruit and it’ll be grand, you can stay here in paradise and I’ll make everything peachy. But they didn’t, the Israelites couldn’t and what do you know even we today make the same mistakes despite the promises God makes towards us. That’s the problem with a fallen nature, it’s fallen.
When we read of the pharisees in the time of Jesus, it’s easy to stand back and see them as the baddies, the imperial forces of darkness that Jesus constantly had bad words for. Yes, they were corrupt, but not all. The pharisees took it upon themselves to hold true to the ‘rules’ that God had set out. In fact, they made more rules to ensure that people wouldn’t break the rules accidentally. The problem was they became so good at this that it became nothing about God and all about the structure of the ‘rule keeping’.
Nicodemus was a pharisee who’s heart asked questions about Jesus. He looked at what he did. Healings, miracles, insightful bold teaching. There was something different about Jesus. So, in the middle of a dark night he made his way secretly to Jesus to ask Him some important questions. In the darkness Nicodemus sought the Light.
John chapter three describes for us the scene that unfolds between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus asks a question around the lines of ‘we know you’re from God, but who are you?’ Jesus reply must have seemed out of the blue because Jesus addressed the question that is in Nicodemus heart, ‘I need to connect with my heavenly Father, and you seem to be doing that’. Jesus comes out with the answer to his hearts actual question. ‘If you want to connect with God you need to be born again spiritually. Without being born again you’re spiritually dead, and you can’t connect to God’. John 3:3-6.
Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion. Jesus came to bring life to us Spiritually so we could connect with the Father.
Nicodemus must have wondered about the strange use of the Exodus reference Jesus used when he talked about the staff with a snake on it that when raised up in the camp and the Israelites looked upon it were healed from the terrible snake bites (Numbers 21:8). In Johns account Jesus then puts himself in the place of the staff and says; “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up; so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life”. John 3:14-15
What a strange reference to use! Nicodemus though had no idea what was coming or that indeed Jesus was to be betrayed and at the request of his Pharisee brethren, Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross and hoisted up.
Sometimes we all can slip back into the role of religious and not relationship. Religious is easy, it’s almost our human default. Religious is measurable, we know what rules we are keeping and ones we aren’t. Religious is Comparable, at least I’m not as bad as them. Jesus didn’t call us to be religious but to live with Him in relationship. Even as a Pharisee Jesus recognised Nicodemus deeper need for connection with God.
Are there areas in your life that you lean more towards a rule keeper than a relationship with God?
Bring that to Him today and ask for the Light to shine in and bring freedom.