by Neil Anderson
You are not under law, but under grace
In His ministry, Jesus often violated the traditional instructions surrounding the observance of the Sabbath because they were a clear distortion of God’s commandment. A common practice, born out of a desire to protect a known law or principle, is to establish additional rules to keep us from breaking the laws or violating the principles. We establish fences around the laws, but within a short time the fences become laws.
For instance, we are not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14, 15). To ensure that this doesn’t happen, we sometimes build a fence around the law by establishing additional rules such as, “You can’t associate with or date a non-Christian.” That may be advisable in some cases, but don’t make it a law. Some have gone to the extreme by requiring that their children never associate with non-Christians. This makes the Great Commission a formidable task!
Here’s another example. A common practice in many churches, left over from the Prohibition era, is to require total abstinence from alcohol. Again, that may be wise in many cases, but the Bible instructs against strong drink and drunkenness and teaches us to do all things in moderation. The major biblical concern is not the alcohol, but whether we’re being a stumbling block to a weaker brother. Total abstinence may actually keep some from the medicine they need or it may be detrimental when relating to a weaker brother.
The point is that we can easily distort the true Word of God by adding our own traditional practices and making them equal with the original intent of God. We may need to stand against Pharisaic practices as the Lord did–before we find ourselves in bondage to man-made traditions.
Prayer: Dear Father, make me sensitive to the spirit of Your law and nonjudgmental toward others no matter what their practices may be. Help me preserve the unity of the Spirit.