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Religion and sacrifice, worship and service, seem to get confused.

We are in the spirit, and walk in the light, so when we worship it is in spirit and in truth, as Jesus said it would be. Out of our relationship to Him come our “acts” of worship.

We are the worshipers that the Father seeks.

Out of our worship come our expressions of true religion, such as seeing to the fatherless and widows, and keeping ourselves from the influence of the world’s ways (which just may only mean the ways of the law/Jewish system – and by extension pagan rites/ways – but necessarily worldly culture/technology, etc.)

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

This is an exhortation from James not to let the world’s religious ideas influence our spiritual walk, not as a command to be pure and/or to please God.

God is pleased with Jesus and He is pleased with us.

It is not a moral choice. It is living in the kingdom way, and comes from grace. Christ lives it through us and we live it in Him. It is the divine dance – perichoresis (peri-circle resis-dance). This term was used by the early church to describe the Trinity; we are part of it in Christ.

The agnostics of apostolic times said that flesh was evil – Paul countered this by saying we are good and acceptable to God in our flesh – for we are redeemed. The Jews were only used to offering dead animals on the altar, to be burnt up – Paul countered this by saying that there are no more acceptable animal offerings. Jesus’ offering was once and for all. We then live through faith in the Son of God.

Because God’s ways are not like the religious world’s ways, and because He loves and favors us, we are lined up with His program.

Paul says it is reasonable to be workers with Him, to learn His ways, to get a right mind in this, and to prove/show what His will is here on earth.

His work is supernatural and when we are joined with Him, we become His point of contact with the world, bringing His grace for salvation and healing.

This is important, because we frustrate grace when we try to do anything “for” God, thinking we are being “spiritual”, or becoming “more spiritual”. We are to walk in the faith that all we do is in Him and for Him. This is reasonable.

If we seriously think we can ever surrender our ALL to God, we don’t understand why Jesus died!

The NASB says: Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

J. P. Green’s Literal Translation says: 12:1 Therefore, brothers, I call on you through the compassions of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.

The Greek actually says that he (Paul) invites them to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is their logical service.

The word, spiritual, is not in the text!

The NASB (and a few others) get that from the word for service, which can mean ritual service in the temple. I know, it’s a stretch, but that’s what you come up with when you don’t recognize what worshiping in spirit and truth means.

These things matter. A bad translation can mess us up. It can have us running around, thinking we are worshiping God by offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, when this is not true at all.

We are already acceptable, and our worship is in spirit and truth, not in any sort of sacrifice.

No more sacrifice remains. Even alluding to presenting ourselves as a sacrifice is repugnant. It treads on the work of Jesus. Pure religion is not sacrifice, according to God. It is service to others. Get with His program.

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This is excellent! Andre van der Merwe is the speaker.

http://www.newcovenantgrace.com/wp-content/uploads/When-did-the-Old-Testament-End-20min-3.4MB.mp3

This is by Don and Wendy Franciso. I post this because it is always my aim to speak in love, even when I speak against something.

Is the saying, that we should love the sinner but hate their sin, scriptural?

Do you know who said it? It was Mahatma Gandhi. Does that make it wrong? Not really, unless you think it was God who said it. Gandhi also said he loved our Christ but not our Christians. Hard to argue with that!

In my Christian life, which covers about 36 years, I have seen divorce viewed as the “unforgiveable sin”, then homosexuality, with abortion thrown in for good measure. Of course, the “unforgiveable” sin is none of these.

How did Jesus deal with “sinners”?

Luke 18:9-14: (Easy To Read Version)9 There were some people that thought that they were very good. These people acted like they were better than other people. Jesus used this story to teach them: 10 “One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the temple to pray. 11 The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men that steal, cheat, or do the sin of adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. 12 {I am good;} I fast twice a week, and I give one-tenth of everything I earn!’

13 “The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. The tax collector felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a *sinner!’ 14 I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than other people, was not right with God. Every person that makes himself important will be made humble. But the person that makes himself humble will be made important.” *(the word translated “sinner” can also mean tax collector.)

Well, seems like Jesus was a bit harder on the Pharisee than on the tax collector. He said the tax collector was justified. Maybe it’s not the actions, but the attitude of repentance that justifies….do you think?

39 The Pharisee that asked Jesus to come to his house saw this. He thought to himself, “If this man (Jesus) were a prophet, he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner!”……  47 I tell you that her many sins are forgiven. This is clear, because she showed great love. But the person that feels only a little need to be forgiven will feel only a little love when he is forgiven.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The people sitting at the table began to think to themselves, “Who does this man (Jesus) think he is? How can he forgive sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Because you believed, you are saved {from your sins}. Go in peace.”

Jesus did not accuse the woman taken in adultery. He did not judge the woman at the well who had been married a few times and was not married to the man she was living with.

If this is Jesus’ example, who are we to judge a “sinner”? Who are we to say we love someone but hate what they are doing? It all seems to be one and the same to Jesus. It is western, classical, thought that separates who we are and what we do. Jesus saw people as an integrated whole, and treated them as such.

When we say we love the sinner, but hate the sin, we are really judging that person by what he does. It fools no one but the one speaking. That is not love. That is judgment. They don’t mix. Jesus didn’t do it. His harsh words were directed at the hypocritical religious leaders. Mercy triumphs over judgment, love covers a multitude of sins, and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.

If we don’t get this, we don’t get why Jesus died.

All the emphasis on sin is not productive. It turns away many that need to hear the gospel of grace and freedom, but those who love them and are closed to Jesus because of all the condemnation. And it turns away any number of those you label as sinners. You know, that’s not the way to present Jesus!

The goodness of God leads to repentance.

I personally have stopped debating over things like abortion or homosexuality (but I have only begun to speak out). Jesus didn’t address either one.

Grace alone would compel acceptance without judgment. How do we know sin but by the law? And we are dead to the law.

Will not the God of all the earth do right? Can we stop judging others and just let them be who they are called to be in Christ? If gay Christians, for instance, make you uncomfortable, then just shut the church door. There are churches where the doors are open, without hypocrisy. But don’t patronize people for whom Christ died by saying you love them, and only hate their “sin”.

Don’t tell them you love them, even though they are naughty children. You are telling them they don’t measure up – that they are lacking in some way. It is not true. Besides, we are all naughty children – we shouldn’t throw stones.

We are all accepted in Jesus. None measure up against any standard. In Him we are perfect, but not in any measure we can devise.

Stop trying to free those who are already free.  Such nonsense!

Stop talking grace, and then putting people back under religious rules that you wouldn’t be able to follow yourself, like the Pharisees did.

I understand that this is a hard post to read. I didn’t come to this view overnight. It took a few years of study. To those who vehemently disagree, I say I would have too. I was in that place too,  about 15 years ago. Loving friends and a most loving God have revealed what is hidden to much of the church, and has been for centuries.

But love wins. God has already won it. He will win it for you, too, it you let Him.

Instead of getting disturbed,  go and heal the sick and raise the dead and set the captives free. Show the love of Christ to the world. Let the One who always does right work it out.

Food for thought: ‎”A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James

When Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed was all that is needed to cast a mountain into the sea, He was not talking about natural faith which we all have. He was talking about the kind that comes from God. He often told the disciples that they had little faith. And that some, who tended to be Gentiles, had great faith.

The God kind of faith believes God, and that is what pleases God.

The faith He was talking about is so powerful it can move a mountain, but they didn’t have that kind of faith. He wasn’t telling them that if they only had a little they could do big things. He was telling them what the God kind of faith was.

Mark 11:21 And remembering, Peter said to Him, Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered. 22 And answering, Jesus said to them, Have faith of God. 23 For truly I say to you, Whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and be thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be to him, whatever he says.(Green’s Literal Translation)

Please notice that the literal translation of verse 22 above says to have faith of God, not in God (vs 22). The word for God, theou/theos, is the modifier of the noun, belief/faith, pistos. This could indicate having either faith that comes from God, or faith directed toward God, or both, like love. We only love His way because He loved us first and put it in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

In other passages, the faith of God is in the sense of His faithfulness to do something. That is, we can trust Him to do it. Pistos means trust, as to be persuaded of His trustworthiness. This is faith toward God, or the God kind of faith.

Paul talks about having all faith and references Jesus’ statement: 1Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all (any, every, the whole) faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

The word for “all,” used in this passage, means “any, every, the whole”.

This indicates that we may not have “all” but that we possibly could.

He goes on to say that we only know part of the whole in this life, but one day we will see Him face to ­face and will then know the whole. Until then we have to renew our minds in order to walk in faith.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is the good and pleasing and perfect will of God. (Green’s)

We prove (test or approve) the will of God by believing and acting on the gospel of the kingdom. The kingdom comes with power, not by the words of men. It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The renewed mind is one that understands what the kingdom is like.

It is only observable through the actions of its members. We prove the will of God when we see this, and then go and demonstrate it by healing the sick, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and loving one another.

Having faith toward God and in Jesus is the faith of God – the God kind of faith.

By it we are made righteous and saved, laying hold of what God provided by His grace. By it we exercise all authority over sickness, bondage of evil, and even death. It is not the world’s kind of faith. It is the God kind, eternal and true. People put their faith in many things and many gods, but that faith is futile. Only the faith of God operates in the kingdom.

In other words, we can’t have faith in just anything. The world, and yes sadly even Christianity, has programs, and motivational speakers, and spiritual leaders that are blind. You can motivate yourself and believe you are great, attracting money or love, or that you will please God. It may even seem to work for a while. But it is not the kingdom, which is eternal and leads to life.

The end of all that other stuff is death, because it is faith in what you can do. Doing doesn’t make it so. Doing doesn’t make it real. Just because you believe a thing doesn’t make it so.

It must be so – before you believe it!

What is so is that Jesus has rescued us from the need to please or perform, and has given the kingdom into our hands. Have faith in this.

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