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Yesterday, we quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book “Life Together.”  Bonhoeffer also showed how such alienation and isolation from the body will result in a critical spirit and accusations against the body of Christ:

“When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament.  But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God.  Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief.  Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren.”

The deceiver is clever.  Just as the serpent was able to persuade Eve, so the enemy will persuade a man by luring him away from the body.  Once that man is separated, the thoughts then begin to run rampant.  Suddenly, as an outsider, the man “sees things” he hadn’t seen before.  This, indeed, is true, for how he is viewing the body from a different perspective.  He is viewing the body as an outsider.  This, however, is not what Christ intended.  Christ called no person out of the world to be an outsider, or loner.  Christ called us out of the world and into a community.  As Paul wrote “God sets the members in the body, every one of them, as it pleases him.”  God does not set us where we desire to be set; he sets us where it pleases him.  For a person to complain and accuse the body is akin to that person telling God that God did not know what he was doing when he placed that person in the body.  The person may as well tell God “my way is a better way!”  God indeed is building his perfect church, the bride of Christ, from imperfect people. What we, as kingdom citizens must do, is conform to God’s perfect, eternal image, rather than expect that God will conform to our imperfect, temporal, jaded image.

backwards bicycleIf you watched the video that was included with yesterday’s devotional, you saw some powerful truths wonderfully illustrated with the backwards bike.  One of those truths that was conveyed is that our minds become more rigid the older we get.  That truth reminded me of this passage:

Rom. 7:15 For that which I do, I know not. For what I would do, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law, that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.

19 For the good that I would do, I do not; but the evil which I would not do, that I do.

20 Now if I do that which I would not do, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

I realized what Paul was saying here.  The old man, the old way of thinking, was still very much alive and working within him.  “But wait, Ron! Didn’t Paul also say that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation, and that old things have passed away?”  Yes, he did.  But think back to one of the first truths Destin discovered in yesterday’s video: knowledge does not equal understanding.  Just because I have knowledge of something, doesn’t mean I have successfully applied it.  Reciting Bible passages doesn’t change me; applying the passages to my life changes me.  Remember when Destin said that it took him eight months to ride a backwards bike?  He stated that it took him so long because he practiced only five minutes a day.  Now, watch this response to Destin’s video by this 17 year old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEXr9VpU1SI
This young man learned faster because he put more time into it each day.  He practiced for hours instead of minutes.
So what does this mean for us?  The first thing we must ask ourselves is how much time are we committing to learning and practicing the truths in the Bible on a daily basis?  Five minutes?  One hour?  Four hours?  How much time are you allowing yourself to learn more truths about the kingdom of God?  Once a week?  Twice a week?  The less time you commit, the longer it will take you to change.  

Law-ScrollPsalms 147:19 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel.  20 He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the Lord.

Three short sentences that tell us everything we need to know about our relationship to the law of Moses.  It is a simple, yet hard truth – if you are uncircumcised, meaning you are a Gentile, you were never under the law of Moses.  Simply put, the law of Moses never applied to you.  You were not circumcised on the eighth day; you didn’t observe the Sabbath; you didn’t follow the dietary laws.  Many times, I will hear Gentile Christians say “we are no longer under the law.”  I respond by asking “when were you ever under the law?”  One of the reasons that many in Christianity struggle with the Old Testament is because they don’t understand that the law was given exclusively to Israel.  No other nation received the instructions and statutes of God.  Paul made this truth very clear in his letter to the Ephesians:
Eph. 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
This is a hard truth – we were without hope and without God.  God did not declare Gentiles to be holy.  The only nation of people God declared to be holy in the earth was Israel.  Imagine for a moment that you ask a farmer what it is like to be a horse.  The farmer can explain to you what a horse is, and tell you many of the attributes of a horse.  What the farmer cannot do is tell you what life is like as a horse, because the farmer is not a horse.  Likewise, while a Gentile can explain many aspects of the law of Moses to others, one thing that a Gentile will not be able to do is explain what life is like under the law of Moses because the Gentile is not a Jew.

TOMORROW: What is the law, and what purpose does it serve to a Gentile