Over the past several weeks I have, again, felt separate from God. This was a bit different, tho… I was feeling not only separate, but distracted, and confused as well. About the time I started feeling this way, a dear friend confronted me about my smoking habit. To some, smoking could be considered a sin, and for her, smoking was preventing me from becoming deeper with the Lord.
In her defense, she also had a smoking problem when she was a young Christian. She prayed and prayed, and felt as though God had told her that the only way to get rid of the habit was to be obedient and to quit. She struggled over it, and found strength in sermons, books, and friends to help her through. In the end, she had beat her habit, and what she had learned was that it was hard.. and she had done it on her own, all the while feeling as though God would not be satisfied with her until she was free of it.
In our study of Acts, both at church and my women’s bible study, there is a huge focus on a group commonly called the Judaizers. This was a group of Jews who professed to believe in what Jesus had done at the cross, but were unwilling to let go of the Jewish customs. They were trying to make the new Greek Christians conform to practicing these customs, saying that the only way to become a Christian was to first become a Jew. They believed that grace was not sufficient, and that you still needed to add these other things on to your faith to be ‘good’ in the eyes of the Lord, such as circumcision, sacrifices, etc.
It sounds weird to talk about circumcision, but this was a huge part of the Jewish culture. It represented being set apart for God, being a chosen people of God, given as a commandment from God, back in the time of Moses. It must have been, and still be, a huge hurtle for the Jews who believed that God chose them, and no others on this earth to be chosen for the glory of Heaven.
When Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, He hung in your place. He hung in my place. If you open your heart to Christ, and God saves you, Jesus has hung in place of you, for your sins.. everything bad you ever did, or will do. That single act of dying in our place was a sufficient sacrifice for all of our sins.. past, present, and future.. the end. Knowing that, if a person came to you and said, you still need to sacrifice a calf for your sin offering.. doesn’t that defeat the purpose of Christ? Isn’t that kind of like saying that what Christ did wasn’t enough?
Just as I was confused by my friend about forcing myself to quit smoking so I would be ‘right in the eyes of the Lord’, so were the new believers in the church at Galatia, when confronted by fellow Jews that thought they needed to first conform to the old covenants.
Paul writes to them in his letter:
Galatians 1:”6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
In effect, Paul is asking them why they are trying to add to what Christ has already done. God, being perfect, sent His son, Jesus, a part of Himself, to die on the cross for us, as THE ULTIMATE and perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins. Jesus spent His time on earth telling us about this, to confirm it for us, so there would be no question about it. “It is finished” – John 19:30 …. what does that mean to you?
2 Corinthians 12:”9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
God has shown me that if I put Him first, and focus on Him, then these things will be taken care of as He sees fit. In His time, not mine. For His glory, not mine. So I may boast that He has performed the work….not me.
My prayer is that each of you would examin what it is that you find a struggle, and give it over to God today. He knows that we hurt, and find it difficult to not be able to do these things on our own, and that is exactly why we can’t do it. The only way to beat whatever you are going thru is to let God beat it. Then, when you tell your friends how easy it was that you *quit smoking*, you can tell them that you didn’t do it at all.. God did it.. and what a testimony that is!!
Honestly.. we are not worthy to be the victors, but He is!