Life, Not Rules (2:11-23)
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Life, Not Rules (2:11-23)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Don’t let rules scare you away from being a Christian. Being a Christian has something so much better for you than that! Jesus wants to give you abundant, thriving life for eternity. It actually has nothing to do about rules… check it out!

So maybe you are new to church or you've been around church for a little bit now and you think that Christianity and church is kind of all about rules, like there's all these things that we have to do. I have to show up to this place at a certain time and I have to do this type of thing and and go here and give that and and do this, and we're adding a whole bunch of stuff to your life. Maybe you've been around a church for a while and and that's what how you kind of picture Christianity. It's like all these things that you're adding into your life, onto your life, all these new set of standards, new stead of expectations, new set of rules that you try and follow so that you can achieve whatever it is you're trying to achieve. and to some degree, if that is the way that you think about Church and Christianity, you wouldn't necessarily be completely wrong. Certainly there are standards and expectations and and new ways of living that Jesus has given us and given us an example for and empowers us to live those things. So there's certainly some truth involved in that. But if we think about Christianity as rules, I think we're really missing the point, because what Jesus has come to do is he's come to give us life, not rules. He wants to give you a new life, and abundant, thriving life that he empowers you to live, not a new set of rules to live by. And so for some of you, you hear a statement like that and you're like, Oh, I don't I don't know if I like that very much, because you're what I like to call a rule keeper. You like rules, you feel safe and comfortable with rules because you're pretty good at keeping the rules. When you drive, you drive the speed limit and when you're trying to find a parking spot, you have, you know, a bunch of signs and you follow the directions and you park where you're supposed to park. I would probably put myself in the rule keeper category. In school, you are probably a really good student because you knew the rules, you knew how to get good grades, You knew what your teachers, teachers, expected of you and you did it. And at worked, you probably follow your boss's orders and you do the best job that you can do and life is life is pretty good. You're good at following the rules. And so when you hear that following Jesus isn't about following rules. It's like, what's it about them? Because I'm good at following rules and life is about rules and I feel comfortable and safe with my rules. But others of you, that doesn't describe your life at all. I like to call you a rule breaker. You are not good at following rules, even if you tried to follow them, and you don't even want to follow them. In school, you probably didn't get the greatest grades because you didn't weren't probably in class...

...very often. Your teacher of probably kicked you out to the curb and that wasn't something that you wanted to do. When you drive, you probably go above the speed limit and you've been caught for speeding a couple times and you've been caught for other things multiple times probably too, because rules just aren't your thing. That's that's not how you operate in this world and and there's pluses and minuses to being a rule keeper and a rule breaker. there. So there's some good things about not being a rule breaker and there's some bad things about it too. And there's some good things about being a rule keeper and there's some bad things about it too, but these are just kind of two general perspectives that we have as humans have on life, as we like to think in terms of rule breakers and rule keepers, and what Jesus offers us is something completely different. It's good news for both the rule keeper and the rule breaker. Jesus says it's not about the your ability to keep or break the rules. You can't keep enough rules to get right with God and you can't break enough rules to be too far from God. Jesus makes it all about himself and gives you new life, not about the rules. One of the illustrations that they use to describe salvation and Christianity and church sometimes is like anyone ever been swimming before? You ever been like stuck in the middle of the water not knowing how to get to the edge? Hopefully not, but maybe some of you might have experienced that feeling before. The illustration is you're in a pool and you're like struggling, you can't really swim that well. You're kind of flailing around and you want to get to safety, you want to get to the edge of the pool. And sure enough Jesus shows up at the edge of the pool and he looks out at you and you kind of are flailing around, you're swimming, you're fighting, you're trying to get to the edge and and Jesus kind of like crabs your arm and pulls you up onto safety. And so the images while you try as hard as you can to do as good as you can, to get as close to God as you can, and Jesus kind of scoops you up and takes care of the rest. or or you might be flailing around in the middle of the pool and Jesus like throws you a lifeline, you know, he meets you a little bit further in the process and kind of pulls you in, brings you up on shore and and you're good to go. And in those illustrations it's like our effort, our energy, is needed to get us somewhat closer to God, and then God, Jesus, you know, takes care of the rest and makes it all possible, makes your forgiveness as sin as possible, gives you eternal life, those types of things. But a better illustration or a better understanding of what Jesus actually does for us. It's a little starts, a little morbid, but it ends really well. So just hang in there with me. We're not like flailing around in the middle of the...

...pool. Okay, like we're dead on the bottom of the pool. We're unconscious, unresponsive. It's there's no hope right. We're dead at the bottom of the pool. and Jesus shows up on the edge of the pool and he sees us down there and out of love and his heart and compassion for us, he jumps into the pool and he scoops us up and he swims up to the top and he puts us on the deck and he he leans over us and he just breathes life into us and we come back to life. Were revived, and that's really the image of what Jesus has done for every single person who has put their faith and trust in him as his as your Lord and Savior. He has given you new life. You were dead, but God has made you alive, and the Apostle Paul and Colossians thirteen says it this way. You were dead because of your sins and because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. You were dead, but Jesus made you alive. That is the Gospel, that is the good news. That is what Jesus offers to you and to me. It's not a set of rules that you have to follow. It's a you get a new life, a new way of thinking, a soul that is regenerated and restored and renewed and a new way of looking at everything in living your life completely different. So we're going to look at this section and Colossians chapter two. So if you have your Bible, turn there with me, and if you don't have a Bible, that's all right. We would love to give you a free Bible before you leave today. Just stopped in the new here area on your way out and we have send you home with a Free Bible. And if you don't have your Bible with you, you can always read the words on the screen behind me as well. So follow along as we look about this, this idea of rules and in life in Collossians chapter two. We're going to read a bunch of verses here, and let me just say before I get reading these verses, we're going to read eleven to the end of the chapter, which is a lot of verses. So what that means we're going to talk about these same verses next week as well, part two of the series. And next week we're going to have, and you'll see it in as we read, we're going to have an interactive response element to the service. There will be a woulden cross up here somewhere and you will have the opportunity to take your record of wrongdoing and nail it to the Cross and leave it there, because that's what we're going to read. That's what Jesus did, so we're going to give you or Jesus did for us. So I'm going to give you the opportunity to respond in that way next weeks. They don't want to miss next week. All right, everyone ready? Say...

...you're ready. And classims, chapter two. There we go, cool Collossians to eleven. When you came to Christ, you were circumcised, but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision, the cutting way of your sinful nature, for you were buried with Christ when you were baptized, and with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all your sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. So, application don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating a certain holy days or new Moon, new moon ceremonies or Sabbath, for these rules are only shadows of that reality to come. In Christ himself is that reality. So don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on Pious Self denial or the worship of angels, saying that they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud and they are not connected to Christ. That the head of the body, for he holds the whole body together, with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it. You have dined with Christ and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as don't handle, don't taste, don't touch. Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self denial and severe bodily discipline, but they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires. Lots and lots of stuff in there and we'll take some time to walk through some of those things, but Paul starts where we all want to start this morning, with circumcision. Yay. This, I think, is the first time in connect US churches history that we have talked about circumcision. And if you study the Bible long enough or read the Bible long enough, you cannot avoid it. It is all over the place. So why is this a thing? Right? Yes, they are referring to a male medical procedure. You know, where there's a cutting away. That is that is what it is, circumcision. It was given to a pretty famous guy named Abraham as a...

...sign of a promise that God gave to this man. God showed up in his world and was like, Hey, I'm going to bless you, you're going to have a land, you're going to have a people and you're going to be a blessing to the entire world. It was a promise that God gave to Abraham and Abraham had to do nothing to agree to the promise or keep the promised. God was just like you. This is what's happening. The problem was Abraham was old, he didn't have any kids. You know, there wasn't much hope for him, it seemed like. But this was a promise that God made and God was going to keep it. So the sign of this promise was Abraham was circumcised. He was ninety nine years old when he was circumcised, and you can read about that in genesis, chapter seventeen. This idea of circumcision then continued into the law, into the Covenant, the promise that God made with Israel. And so the thing was that every male baby, on their eight day when they were born, would have this procedure a done, and it was just a part of setting them apart their nation, apart, the Jewish nation, apart from the other nations around them by this physical surgery procedure of circumcision. So then later, as time would go on, Christians and Non Jewish people right became Christians, followers of Jesus, and so there was this issue of circumcision, and that's why we run into it in the New Testament a couple times, because they had to figure out, what do you do? Is this still a thing or is this not a thing? We've been doing this for thousands of years. Is this still important as a not important? And it became a divisive issue because literally, I mean you like, you either are circumcised or you're not, like you can't go halfway right, you either are or you're not. So you have to decide, is this going to be a thing or is this not going to be a thing? And what Jesus does and what Collossians, what Paul does, is he writes. Collossians does, is he's saying that there's a bigger thing going on in this world and in this particular issue than just the physical procedure itself. And by the time in the Old Testament, in the prophets, they're talking about circumcision being a spiritual thing. There's this spiritual element that, as Paul alludes to, hear there is a cutting away of a sinful nature. That's what Jesus really wants to do for us. It doesn't, you know, no physical thing that you can do is going to make any difference. Really it's a real internal heart change, a mental change, a soul change, a real thing that you can't just fake, you can't just do just for the sake of doing it like it's a real thing, a transformational thing that Jesus wants to do in your life. He wants to cut away that sinful nature. Now, last week we talked about how there is this flesh, the world, the enemy, that is trying to capture us with these empty philosophies and these high sounding nonsense. They're trying...

...to capture US and bring us into living a life that God's never intended for us to live. And so when God promotes something and says you two will come together and be united everything, our flesh, the enemy, the world, is trying to capture you, pull you away from that and to try to divide you. And then what God says should never come together, should not be together, the world, the flesh, the enemy, is saying it's okay, you could come together, you can be joined together, it's all right. When God says there should be responsibility, we respond. When our flesh and in the world and the enemies trying to get us to blame everybody for everything. So you see this this rhythm where God sets up something, God sets the standard, God sets the expectation. It says this is where true life, thriving life, is really found, and our flash or sinful nature, the world, the enemy, is trying to capture us and to pull us away and and Jesus is saying that you need to be cut off from that, cut off from that, draw from that pole. To live that way. You have an abundant, thriving life that Jesus wants to give you over here. So live over here, don't get captured, let that stuff get put away. So that's what Jesus wants to do with this picture of circumcision. Let's go to another picture that Paul gives with baptism. You were buried with Christ when you were baptized and with him you were raised in new life because you trusted the mighty power of God who raised Christ from the dead. So we're going to have a baptism service, hopefully in the coming weeks. There's still details to be determined, but if you want to join in on that, you want to be baptized, let me know. We'd love to include you in on that. But let me just say in this in this illustration here, and this is true, like literally anyone could get baptized. You know that? Anyone? I mean you don't you have to be a Christian. You could go on the water, you could dounke you, pull you up out of the water and there you go, you did it. Wow, great. But see, that's not what Jesus wants for you. It's not just a physical I kept the rules, I did the thing, kind of thing. Jesus wants a real internal transformation to happen in your life, and that's why, with this visual a baptism, of going in water, coming up out of the water, it's actually a picture of what happens in your life when you trust in Jesus. You were dead to your sin and you're raised to new life. The baptism and water symbolized of being baptized in the spirit. You can't fake that. You can't fake God showing up in your life, being born into his family, being empowered by the Holy Spirit to live this amazing, abundant, thriving life that God wants to offer you. Like you can't fake that. That's a real thing.

But you you can certainly fake. Getting in a tank of water and going under and coming back up like that's a physical I'm following the rules type thing. But what Jesus offers is something completely different. And so what is the application of some of these truths? Right? Jeus wants to offer us this life. That's not rules, it's really life. Well, Paul offers us this. So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain Holy Days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbath. Will come back to that in a second. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. and Christ himself is that reality. These rules, like the Sabbath, like the holy days, like these things that the Jews celebrated in their calendar. They had lots of important festivals and ceremonies that God gave them for them and it, you know, over evolved around the moon's calendar and those types of things, and it's like what about those? Do we keep celebrating them? Are they important? And what Paul is saying here is that those things were just a shadow of the reality that is Christ. Christ himself is that reality. So Sabbath days, anyone know what a Sabbath is? It's a rest day of rest. Guess who was the first person to take a Sabbath Day? God was. He worked for six days, you created the world and on the seventh day he rested. And so this was something that he gave us humans as a pattern of how to live our life. If you want to live a thriving, abundant life, then take a day off, set it aside for God, for yourself, for rest. You need rest, and so this was a part of creation ever since the beginning. But it also was a huge part of the law that God gave Israel. He said, for six days you work and on the seventh day you rest. So when Jesus shows up on the Sabbath Day, it's like Jesus starts to do stuff that kind of men esses with the general understanding of what the Sabbath Day was supposed to be. So what? Why did he do that? Well, because at this point in time, in the first century, when Jesus lived, there were some people and the rule keepers, the keepers of the law. You might know them as the Pharisees. They had studied the scriptures, they had understood you know, as much as they could about what God was trying to tell them about the Sabbath Day. And so what they did was they created like thirty nine categories of laws to go on top of the law that God had already given them, because they wanted to be sure that they were following the rules. We have...

...to follow the rules. God gave us these rules and we have to follow the rules. We have to be good at following the rules, and the Sabbath Day was one of these. What does it mean to rest? How do you define that? You know and guess what they attempted to because if if being right with God, of going to heaven, of Heaven, your sins forgiven was a result of how good you were keeping the rules, you need to define the rules. You have to go to the very minutia of whatever it is that you're looking at and you have to follow it to a T. so, how much work can you do on the Sabbath Day? Does walking constitute as work? How many steps can you take? Well, they answered that question for you. Is Pushing a button considered work? They said yes. So if you were to travel to Israel today, where they still try and follow some of these laws, if you were to go into a high rise building, you know, that has more than one floor and has an elevator. Said elevator would stop at every single floor so that you wouldn't have to press a button and so that you wouldn't have to break the Sabbath. Thirteen floors or whatever right you get on. Go Up Stop, go up stop, go up stop. You know, seven floor comes out. You go off the elevator. They're trying to follow the rules because if rules are how you make yourself right with God, you have to follow them. You got no other choice. You have to define every little thing. And so when Jesus shows up, it's like it's not about pressing a button or not, it's not about walking so many steps or not, it's about me. That's what Jesus is saying and he's trying to get the Pharisees, trying to get the people to understand that it's not about the rules. Jesus is coming to give you something better than that. So one of the passages that Jesus does that you can find in Matthew, Chapter Twelve, and I encourage you to turn there with me as we look at this this passage. It says that at about that time Jesus was walking through some grain fields on the Sabbath Day. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them, but some pharisees saw them do it and protested. So Jesus, like he intentionally got on the Pharisees nerves about this particular issue because he was trying to teach them like there was a reason that they were walking through the grain fields on this day and they got hungry, so they were eating, you know, the food that was in there, and the Pharisees saw them do it and they protested. So why did they get mad? Where that? What rule were they breaking? Were they stealing from the field that's not their field? No, God gave rules to the farmers where they weren't supposed to harvest the outer edges of the field, which is pretty amazing because it was designed. God had instituted it for whoever needed...

...to eat could eat from their field. And how different do we live today, where we got to keep everything nicely wrapped in a box, keep it rounded off, keep control count of absolutely everything, and God's like just leave it, it'll be fine, I'll take care of it. That's like an abundance mentality. There will always be enough. You don't have to keep track of every little thing. Right, there's always more. God will provide, he will show up and then at the end of the day and you'll have food for everybody. It will be fine, I'll take care of all of this. This is a generous way of living and God had set that up, but the Pharisees saw them and he protested. So picture yourself in the grain field. Where are the Pharisees? That they see Jesus and there's disciples doing this, or they like hiding, you know, in the corn maze, you know, behind the corn stock, and they're like peeking out, like where are you? Like I see you, you know, like how how crazy do you have to be to catch somebody, whether or not they're harvesting grain? Like how, like weird in your brain do you have to be to be following that the these people around through the field? Are they doing it? Are They not doing it? All? We're going to catch them today. It's going to be a good day. You know, like like there's something that goes crazy in your mind when you try to live your life on all these little rules. And that's what the Pharisees we're doing and they protested and he said look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvest and grain on the Sabbath. It wasn't illegal to eat on the Sabbath, it was illegal to harvest on the Sabbath. Now what law were they breaking? Were they breaking God's law? No, God never said that. They were breaking the Pharisees Law. One of their envelopes around the law because they needed to shield what it meant to really break the you know, break the law on the Sabbath as far as the eating of the grain goes, so you could eat. But if they were harvesting, now, harvesting in a field with your hands, you know you're just taking the husk off the colonel. You know you're just doing this. This, I guess, was too much for them and so they got mad and tried to capture, you know, the disciples and Jesus for for doing this, breaking the law, breaking the rules, and Jesus is trying to show them, look, it's not your rules, your rules aren't important. What's important is me, Jesus is saying, and you need to trust me, not your ability to keep the rules. I have fulfilled the rules. I'm the reality, I'm the true thing, the real thing, the thing that will really give you life. These rules are not working. They don't do that. And so, Jesus...

...says. Haven't you read the Scriptures of what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the House of God and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat? Jesus said, there is a man that you revere and love in the Bible that you've memorized, that did something similar to this, and it was okay for him. So why can't it be okay for us? And so look in First Samuel, Chapter Twenty one. It says this is what Jesus was referring to. David went to the town of Knob to see AMMI, like, the priest Alema like trembled when he saw him. Why are you alone, he asked, why is no one with you? The king has sent me on a private matter, David said. He told me not to tell anyone why I'm here and I've told my men where to meet me later. That whole thing that David just said to the priest was a complete why? The reason he showed up at the temple was because he was running from the king who was trying to kill him. He didn't tell the priest that Saul was throwing spears at him. He was playing music, you know, and he was going to be so dave is going to be the future king. Saul new that he's trying to kill him. David is running away, taking all his people with them. He needs some food. He's hungry. Where's some food? While there's some in the temple. They have these twelve loaves that they put before God in the temple. They're holly, they're set apart, you know, they're specific for a particular reason. And David goes in there and he makes up a story to get some food, and Jesus is referring to that guy as an example of why they're doing what they're doing on this day in the grain fields. So let me just say if you have ever lied about anything, God still got a lot for you in your life. If you can use David as an example of somebody that God uses is as a man that they said was after God's own heart, then certainly for you you can be forgiven of whatever you've lied about. God can use your life for whatever he wants to do with it. You haven't made too many wrong choices that God can't use. You haven't gone so far away from God that you can't turn back to him in this very moment. If you can do it for David, he can do it for you. The story continues. You know what is there to eat, and David said, give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have. We don't have any regular bread, the priest replied, but there is some holy bread, and since there is no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread, the bread of the presence that was placed before the Lord and the Tabernacle had been just replaced that day with fresh bread. That's the story Jesus is referring to when he's telling the Pharisees. Look, David did it, this guy in the Bible did it, so it should be okay for us to. We're not breaking God's law, we're breaking your law. It's not about the rules, it's about Jesus offering us life in this...

...the point that Jesus is making, and this is the point in Matthew Twelve, that matthew summarizes what Jesus says. I tell you there is one here who is even greater than the temple, but you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of the scripture. I want to show mercy, not off for sacrifices. Translation for our sermon today, it's not about what you do on the outside, how good you follow the rules. It's not about whether you've been circumcised or if you've been baptized. It's not about that. He wants you to show mercy. He wants it to be an inward, real change in your heart and your soul, in your mind that changes the way that you live. This is a real thing that Jesus offers us. And then Jesus concludes with these words, for the son of man is Lord even over the Sabbath. Jesus is in charge of the rules. He made the rules. The rules are designed to show us who God is. And so many of us, maybe you this morning, you're realizing that you live your life based on rules. What can you do? What you can't do? Maybe you've turned even attending church or Christianity into how can you follow these rules so that you can be made right with God. I got to do the right thing so that God likes me and gives me good stuff and loves me. And I got to do the right things so that God can look at me and I can go to heaven one day. And I got to follow the rules. And if you've thought that or are thinking some version of that, I want to tell you today that there is so much better news than that. It is so much better than that. Jesus doesn't want you to follow the rules. He wants you to trust in him. And when you do, when you stop trusted in rules and you trust in Jesus, your life is completely different. You live with an entirely different perspective on the world. Your soul is entirely different place to live, a life and abundant, thriving life that God intended for you to live, when you just rest and trust in what Jesus has done for you and not what you can do to earn something with God. So that's part one of our sermon series within a series today as we review these things next week, and we'll do that cool cross illustration, because your record of wrong every wrong choice, every rule you've ever broken was paid for by Jesus on the Cross, and that's where it is, so live in freedom. That's what I want for you today. Would you take a moment to stand with me as we...

...close in a word of prayer. Lord Jesus, I thank you for the opportunity we have today to open your word and to see that it's about knowing you, Jesus, in a relational, personal way. You are God, you are Lord over the Sabbath, these rules and God, even the good things in life we sometimes take and twist and distort to make them what we want them to be, to hold ourself captive in these things. And God, I just pray that we would trust you, and you alone, for what you have done for us, specifically on the cross, paying the penalty for our sin, rising again to give us new life, like you have done that for us, and that changes everything. That changes the way that we live, but changes the way we interact with people. It changes our hearts, the way that we look at this world. So, Lord, help us to do that, help us to not live in a world of right and wrong and this or that, or this thing and that thing, this thing's better, I should go here, I should do that. I wonder how many steps can have? Can I press it? It just gets crazy. Lord, help us to rest in what you've done, Jesus, and we believe that you will make it clear to us what step to take, what action to take, as we follow you and rest in you and Jesus. Name Amen.

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