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Thou Shalt Not

“Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does He do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust Him to do them in you?” 
Galatians 3:5 (The Message)

Thou shalt not do this! Thou shalt not do that! Thou shall do this, but shall not do that! Is being a good Christian and church member a “to do list” and a “not to do list”? I was really working hard to not break any of the rules, and I had no joy.

I grew up in a very legalistic church and began to think that God sat on His throne in heaven keeping score and waiting to thwack me on the head every time I committed a man-made “thou shalt not.” The first time I went to a movie theatre and saw “Sound of Music” I just knew the Lord was going to strike me dead. Keeping all the rules and fearfully serving a punitive God was tiring me out and turning me off. Finally, I started studying God’s Word for myself.

WOW! I was on a spiritual freedom-from-bondage train, and I have never looked back.

Religion became relationship. The angst of following man-made extra rules was gone, and joy in service to my loving Savior began ruling my life. I began practicing like the noble Bereans in everything I heard from preachers, teachers, videos, or printed materials.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures everyday to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

The Bible is very explicit about what God’s Laws are and what pleases Him. Rather than accepting everything I hear out of the mouths of humans as truth, I check it against what God’s Word says. If it does not match up, I disregard it.

One of my favorite theologians, A.W. Tozer, said, “I am a Bible Christian and if an archangel with a wing spread as broad as a constellation shining like the sun were to come offer me some new truth, I’d ask him for a reference. If he could not show me where it is found in the Bible, I would bow him out and say I’m awfully sorry, you don’t bring any reference with you.”

Nothing will keep a Christian more immature than trying to keep a list.

Claudia Jackson

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