God Is For Us

I'M A CHRISTIAN...NOW WHAT?

Chapter 10: Legalistic Behavior Scripturally Linked To Murder...Conviction: Only Half Of God's Plan For Us

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Hello, my name is Mark Diaz. Welcome to chapter 10 of the book ‘I’m A Christian…Now What?”

This work is copyrighted and not to be used for any commercial purpose but please share it freely with your friends. All Scriptures are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.

Chapter 10: Legalistic Behavior: Scripturally Linked To Murder…Condemnation: Only Half Of God’s Formula For Spiritual Success

In this chapter we will focus on legalistic behavior rather than define legalistic beliefs because it is the legalistic behavior that is so damaging to God’s little sheep. Since legalists love to distort the very purpose of conviction lets examine why conviction exists and how conviction is used for our personal Spiritual success.


Conviction is only half of God’s Formula for our personal, Spiritual success:

Legalists love to yell REPENT!!! YOU ARE CONVICTED!!! That is to say; “YOU SHOULD BE MORE LIKE CHRIST…MORE LIKE ME!!!

During my Homeless Missions Ministry I learned many valuable lessons that could not be learned at any seminary. One very important thing that I learned is that God has a way of getting His Work accomplished in spite of the abundance of the enemy’s presence and activity…even among some of the staff members at Rescue Missions and homeless shelters. And, in some cases, in spite of the legalistic behavior of some of the Christian clergy who are supposed to be ministering to these ‘broken since childhood’ souls.

In one instance I remember a Pastor who obviously had contempt for these men…these souls…these children of God’s. It was obvious that he did not ‘love his neighbor as he loved himself’ because he treated everyone with contempt and served up helping heapings of indignity (humiliating treatment) during his ‘sermons’. For obvious reasons we will not use his real name…let’s just refer to him as Edwin…a Spiritual bully.

At this particular Christian Mission, chapel attendance was mandatory every evening for the men who were staying there. Various Pastors would rotate so that each were there roughly once per month. I was blessed on occasion to deliver the message when one of the Pastors would have a conflict in their schedule.

I felt very sorry for a certain Pastor who would have to follow Edwin the next evening and have to clean up the Spiritual mess that Edwin had left from the night before…but this Pastor was an inspired man of God and God would move through him to get the job done.

Of course, a very common theme for the sermons was the Salvation message.

I will never forget the first time I heard Edwin speak.

He began with saying “You know fellas, my wife didn’t want me to come here tonight…she said it was too dangerous…most of you guys are drug addicts. Most of you are drunkards…been to prison or on your way there…you are either running from the law or are about to”.

I couldn’t believe my ears! I felt my blood begin to boil! It took all the prayer that I could muster to keep from interrupting the service and taking him to the prayer room for a word…but that was not my place…he was the human authority in the room at the moment…so I held my tongue and gave it all over to God.

After Edwin had managed to insult and demoralize every man in the room during his introduction, some 35 men, he began his ‘sermon’: “The reason you men are homeless is because God doesn’t love you. You have SINNED and need to REPENT!!! YOU ARE GOING TO HELL!!! You remind me of my neighbor!!! His voice was now in an angry, pseudo ‘whispering’ tone full of contempt and thinly veiled rage. He continued: “Her name is (he gave his neighbor’s first and last name) and she is as unrighteous as YOU! She will die a slow, painful death because she has HIDDEN SINS”!!! Please refer to John 8:7-11, James 2:8-13. These both are very telling Scriptures regarding this principle.

Well this man continued spewing his hateful diatribe for the 30 minutes allotted to him. We do pray that he will come to realize the damage that he has done and, in his position in the community, use his considerable gifts in a healing manner some day.

If God wanted to interrupt Edwin He certainly could have…He kept telling me to listen and learn what not to ever do…to never exhibit this type of hypocritical, harsh, legalistic behavior toward His little sheep...to never be a Spiritual bully.

God knew the heart conditions of every man in that room…and later, as it turned out, some of the men sought me out for Bible study because they knew that I would not treat them with that type of legalistic behavior. God allowed the enemy to operate so God could later use that to His advantage…and later the men who asked for Bible study began a voluntary study schedule that has endured…even after my departure from that Mission. Thank You Father!

None-the-less, this legalistic behavior, this Spiritual bullying was unwarranted and goes against every Godly principle Jesus taught. If we injure one of God’s little sheep it is we who are held accountable to God.

The following truths are a compilation of Scriptural knowledge:

“…thus says the Lord God: “Behold I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats…Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns and scattered them.

“For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand”

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! Says the Lord….I will attend to you for the evil of your doings”.

These Scriptures and one more kept running through my mind as this man prattled and murmured on:

“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things” (Ezekiel 34:11-22, Psalm 95:7, Mark 6:34, Jeremiah 23:1-2).

Most instances of legalistic behavior are much more subtle. The enemy loves drama when he can get away with it…but in most cases he operates in the minds of men in much more subtle, yet just as damaging ways.

Another typical example of this more subtle legalistic behavior occurred one day, less than a year ago. I was working at one of those ‘big box’ office supply stores as a department supervisor. One of the men (we will call him LT) who worked in my department professed to be a Christian. I had just come on board and was excited that one of the guys that I’d be working with was a Christian so I made it a point to make conversation with him during a lull in business.

We talked for a while and LT asked me what kind of Christian music I listen to. I replied that I like a lot of the old gospel classics…LT smiled at that…but when I added that I also enjoy a lot of the modern Christian rock music, his entire demeanor immediately changed.

His face scowled, he got an angry, condemnational look in his eyes, his body posture changed…he assumed an authoritative, ‘arms crossed’ condescending stance and actually pulled his glasses down the tip of his nose…to look down at me and replied with a sour, disgusted tone…very sharply LT said; “There is no such thing as Christian rock music”.

I knew what he was getting at but I wasn’t going to let the enemy that had slithered into this brother’s mind have the satisfaction of letting him think that I would become tense over the situation. So I pretended as if it had all gone over my head…and, at the same time, I gave this brother a graceful way out of what he had said and in the tone he had said it…so I naively replied: “Sure there is Christian Rock music…have you ever heard of Casting Crowns”?

He replied with an angry, red face…and looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head and barely containing himself managed to get the words out…(without having a stroke): ”That’s the devil’s music…people who listen to that music will go to hell”!

I was boiling inside but maintained an innocent, child-like inquisitive tone…a tone that reflected a ‘please teach me more’ attitude…an ‘I certainly would not want to offend God attitude’ (which happens to be the truth)…the tone one often hears from baby Christians, those eager and hungry to learn more…So I replied “really? What makes it the devil’s music? The lyrics are certainly Glorifying God…I don’t get it”.

He relaxed a bit and said “It isn’t the lyrics, Mark, it’s the instruments and the beat…you should NEVER use drums or electric guitars in worship music…it offends God”.

With the same humble demeanor I asked; “Really? Well what instruments are acceptable to God”?

LT really relaxed by then…and in a very patronizing, authoritative tone…as if any true Christian would already know the answer…he announced to me from his elevated position in ivory tower tones: “Well, electric guitars or drums should never be used…but pianos and flutes are o.k., you know Mark…instruments like that”. His complete demeanor had changed by then…LT was happy to help out someone who he assumed was a new Christian with his brand of ‘accurate Theology’…apparently I was back in his good graces and no longer was I in danger of loosing my salvation.

So I repeated the list of ‘approved’ musical instruments and said: “So never use electric guitars or drums…but pianos and flutes are o.k.”?

“Yes” he proudly confirmed.

I kindly replied in a contemplative tone: “Well what little I know about history…King David’s Chief Musician didn’t have electric guitars or pianos…but they certainly had drums and stringed instruments…hmmmmm…do you think that if they used drums, God forgave him for using drums”?

My co-worker huffed off in a barely contained rage, staring at me with extreme disdain…again…as if I had horns growing out of my head.

Folks lets examine what happened in that brief exchange: LT began with condemning someone…that is God’s Job alone (not good #1). He condemned with Theology that wasn’t even close to being accurate (not good # 2). He condemned someone (he assumed to be a new Christian) with inaccurate Theology and when his little plan failed, he became very prideful (not good #3).

His mind was not thinking God’s Thoughts…His legalistic behavior was not coming from God. He was dealing with someone he assumed was a baby Christian and if I had been a baby Christian I might have fallen for his dribble…and carried on his legacy instead of Christ’s Legacy.

Folks there are professed Christians out there who will look down their noses and treat you like a second class Christian and deem you a sinner for all kinds of prideful reasons. Such as if you read the ‘wrong’ version of the Bible (not their version). If you drink coffee some will snub you…even disfellowship you…condemn you…many will condemn you if you don’t belong to their brand of Christianity.

As stated in the beginning of this chapter, we are not going to get into legalistic beliefs in this study…rather we are going to focus on legalist behavior…because it is the behavior that is so damaging to the Body of Christ…His Bride…His little sheep.

Remember, our model, Jesus had compassion for the people not disdain.

LT snubbed me for the rest of my three month assignment at that store…he refused to even speak to me…and I was his supervisor at work…just imagine how he would have treated his neighbor…someone with no authority in his life…hmmmmm.

Legalists love to yell REPENT!!! YOU ARE CONVICTED!!! That is to say; “YOU SHOULD BE MORE LIKE CHRIST…MORE LIKE ME!!! Legalists are Spiritual bullies.

Conviction is only half of God’s Formula for our personal Spiritual success. What is the other half of God’s Formula for our personal Spiritual success?

Learning and then growing is the next crucial ingredient in God’s Formula for our personal, Spiritual success…and the success of, growthful health of, the entire Body of Christ (His Bride)….our brothers and sisters all over the world…of all Christian denominations.

(John 6:43-45) Jesus speaking…”Do not murmur among yourselves. (44) No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him “and I will raise him up at the last day”. (45) It is written in the prophets, ‘And they all shall be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me”.

Side Note: Notice the verbiage…“and I will raise him up at the last day”. This is talking about a great influx of believers just before Christ returns…just as many of the people of Egypt began worshipping God after the tenth plague was delivered to the land and just prior to God’s people were delivered from Egypt. More on this in subsequent chapters.

Back to the main point: Also notice the verbiage: “No one can come to Me unless Father DRAWS him”.

To draw is to ‘entice’…or ‘attract’…in a very real sense it is the Godly version of the word ‘seduce’.

Remember, the enemy is the one who ‘seduces’…as in the example of Eve. There are 7 occurrences in the New King James Bible which use the word ‘seduce’…each instance gives the word ‘seduce’ very bad connotations (Rev. 2:20, 2nd Chronicles 33:9, Proverbs 7:21, Numbers 25:18, 2nd Kings 21:9, Ezekiel 13:10) .

The word ‘seduce’ is always used in a pejorative sense in God’s Word.

The Godly sense of the word seduce is the word draw as the above Scripture states that God draws us by enticing us with His ultimate Love and Wisdom…His Divine Authority…His Protection from the enemy. He is the only One qualified for His Job. This has been the point that He has been making to people from the time of Adam and Eve (Chapter 2 Mankind’s History With God…God’s Ultimate Patience).

The following truths are a compilation of Scriptural knowledge:

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.

“…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…’.

“…there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God”.

“But it is good for me to draw near to God, I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works”…(God’s works)… (James 4:7-8, Hebrews 10:22, Hebrews 7:19 and Psalm 73:28).

God is the Ultimate, Wise, Loving Parent. He draws those who are paying attention with the promise of eternal life with Him…and His Protection and blessings to those who are most faithful. Please refer to chapters 5 and 6 of this book and prayerfully study all of the Scriptural References.

Notice the third thought in the above Scripture: ‘And they all shall be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me”.

It is up to us to learn from God. Convictions exist to serve the learning process and the growing process during this time of His Grace because we must first learn from our convictions in order to grow.

Again, the following truths are a compilation of Scriptural knowledge:

“I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn your righteous judgments”.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning”.

“…….though He (Jesus) was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Notice even the perfect man…the only begotten Son of God learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Psalm 119:7, Romans 15:4 and Hebrews 5:8).

During this time of God’s Grace ‘conviction’ only exists to serve ‘learning’…because we humans tend to learn best from our mistakes…(our convictions). Learning is a Spiritually Growthful process. We are all ‘works in progress’…God knows that. He wants all people to gain salvation through the New Covenant…through Christ. It is the Holy Spirit (God on earth in Spiritual form) Who sees to it that both conviction and rewards are instituted.

It is the learning part that gets us to the growing part…and we first have to know and understand our convictions (those things that displease God) in order to learn and practice and perfect (become mature, grow) in those things that please Him (John 16:5-11).

God is the ultimate wise, loving Parent. Be patient with yourself…He is…stay in the race…obey the rules of the race and give it time…God’s Time.

Any parent who ever gave their child a bicycle knows that child will, at some point, fall down and get scraped…that is how we humans learn.

A parent can only instruct so much…give guidance and teaching to a certain point. At some point a child has to be alone with what they have been instructed and then practice hands on…that is how we humans learn and grow.

That is what conviction is all about...learning and then growing.

Conviction points out our mistakes…it scrapes our conscience. It hurts to be scraped so we do something different in order to avoid falling down. At some point, hopefully, we figure out that we cannot continue to do the same things over and over again and expect a different result (Please refer to Chapter 1, Talking To God).

In 100% of the times that I have scraped my conscience it is because I ignored guidance that was clearly in the Instruction Manual…The Scriptures…God’s Love letter to us…our only Authority…God’s Word.

Conviction is only half of God’s formula for our personal Spiritual success as Christians. Conviction is when we are made aware of our shortcomings and are ready to learn.

Conviction is that ‘Spiritual scrape’ that we feel in our conscience that tells us that we have displeased Father in some way. That is how we humans learn…God knows that.

So what do we do when we ‘scrape’ ourselves? We cease whatever activity that got us there…we repent and pray for God’s Wisdom…He is always more than happy to give us His advice…all we have to do is ask…and then listen…and then learn…we are to ask for His wisdom, His Will, His advice in all matters…to ‘walk’ in the Spirit…this gives us ‘God’s Full Armor of Protection’.

It is the listening part that is most difficult for us humans…without listening, we cannot learn…without learning…we cannot grow.

In Hebrews 12:25 it points out the importance of actually listening to God: “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For they did not escape who refused to hear Him (Jesus) on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven…”

Luke 8:19; Jesus speaking: “My mother and my brother are these who hear the word of God and do it”.

Mary certainly listened to God and so did James…Jesus brother…eventually. Mary, of course, listened to God right away and received the honor and blessing of being Jesus’ mother. And James, after eventually listening to God, became a leader of the church in Jerusalem. James apparently was not steadfast in his beliefs during Jesus’ Ministry but after Jesus was resurrected James became a strong believer. James eventually listened to God…he was drawn to God and became steadfast in his belief in Christ (Acts 12:17, 15:13-21, 21:18, Galatians 1:19, 2:9-12, John 7:3-5, Acts 1:13-14).

Conviction is a very personal thing between a human and God. Each individual is the only one who truly knows what is in their mind, heart and soul …except God, of course.

That is why God is the only Authority and no human or any human institution or any of God’s other creations are The Authority…or even come close.

Legalists love to preach ‘conviction’ but they leave out the most important parts…the ‘learning’ part…the ‘growing’ part…the ‘gentle’ part, the ‘loving each other part”.

Legalists love to hear themselves yell; ’REPENT!!!’ Then they drool over the sound of their whips cracking trying to scare ‘hell’ out of people when all they are doing is scaring ‘God’ out of people...injuring God’s little sheep and ‘de-churching’ them in the process.

The legalists should be feeling the weight of the planks in their own eyes instead of the weight of the whips in their hands…one cannot remove the splinter in his brother’s eye with a whip and chain. All they are accomplishing is the enemy’s work by keeping so many away from God’s House of worship…they are injuring God’s little sheep in the process…very bad plan.

The healthy way for a human to feel that they have accomplished something is to actually accomplish something. The ‘buzz word’ that has been floating around is ‘self esteem’. To truly feel self esteem one must actually do something…like grow…in knowledge, works, faith, love and every other activity that is productive in God’s Work.

There are people in the Body of Christ who love to step on others because it somehow makes them feel ‘elevated’, ‘righteous’ and ‘pure’…these are ‘wolves who seek to devour’…they are listening to the enemy’s voice…they are not listening to and learning from God.

The fact is that they are practicing self-righteousness and pride…self-idolatry…self-worship through the enemy…he who is the opposite of God.

That kind of ‘power’ does not come from our Wise and Loving God…and there are only two powers…God and the enemy…if it isn’t coming from God…it is coming from the enemy. Please prayerfully refer to Chapter Four; ‘I Hate God…To know Him Is To Love Him’ for Scriptural references and deeper understanding.

Folks, there is another tier of legalistic behavior that many of us see regularly. And although what we are about to recognize may not have the same immediate devastating affects as the first two examples of legalistic behavior, the cumulative affect can pile up over time and cause great discord in the Body of Christ.

Here is a third example of legalistic behavior and this is perhaps the most common form of legalistic behavior…and from it spawns gossip and slander (Proverbs 26:20, 1st Timothy 3:11, 1st Timothy 5:13, Proverbs 18:18).

Bear in mind that this principal of Christian behavior is broken, probably, millions of times per day around the world. It rears its ugly head in a variety of ways…but the principle is the same:

There was a sister in chat one day at a Christian internet site. A brother, half way around the world, happened to mention that he was on break, at work, hoping to connect with his Christian friends in Canada.

The sister, known for this kind of behavior, baited him with the question; “Does your employer know that you are on the internet”?

The brother said that he alone was responsible to his employer and to his own clear conscience and he thanked her if, in the future, she would mind her own business. Well the sister would not let it drop. She began to preach to him and the others in the chat room that the brother must be hiding something…well you all can guess where it went from there.

The brother said something like “My conscience is clear and how dare you infer that my ethics are less than impeccable…he reminded her that he is an adult, that he wouldn’t do anything to cause a bad Christian witness, he wouldn’t do anything to embarrass himself at work or jeopardize his job…Well it only digressed from there in very negative ways.

This sister who is known to be a gossip wouldn’t let it go. By the time the brother’s work break was over she had accused him of unchristian conduct…that he was mean and it was all his fault for being on the internet while at work.

After the brother logged off she continued her murmuring and had many of the ones who logged on after he left convinced that this man was a Spiritual perpetrator and a bully and should be banned from the web site.

Gossip and slander folks…it always begins in the mind…the enemy slithered in and this sister listened to him…legalistic behavior that certainly does not please Father God. And if she would have minded her own business and not have been a busybody…none of it would have occurred.

The following is a compilation of quotes from three Scriptures (1st Thess. 4:11, 2nd Thess. 3:11, and 1st Peter 4:15:

“We urge you brethren…that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business…”. “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner…but are busybodies”. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, an evil doer or as a busybody in other people’s business”.

Wow…Peter had some strong words for busybodies: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, an evil doer or as a busybody in other people’s business”.

Peter placed busybodies in the company of murderers and other evil doers…not my words, folks…the Apostle Peter wrote this. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, an evil doer or as a busybody in other people’s business”.

Legalistic behavior…she wanted to take him to task for something that was not only untrue…but from the very beginning it was none of her business (also refer to Proverbs 26:20, 1st Timothy 3:11, 1st Timothy 5:13, Proverbs 18:8).

At this point we need to emphasize that there are times when, out of love and in an attempt to preserve the Spiritual cleanliness of the Body of Christ, loving, gentle admonishments are in order within the congregation…these admonishments are to be given gently and lovingly with the complete intent of gaining a brother back as in the example of the prodigal son:

Recently a young brother wrote a piece about judgment regarding Christians and our relationship with one another. In this piece the young man wrote:

"Who is a mere human to judge the deeds of another or the words or even the thoughts? Are we not taught that we are not to judge not even our selves, for that is left to God and Him alone for He alone holds the knowledge and right for such deeds?”

Brother Charles Burwell responded eloquently and lovingly to this misguided young man.…Charles hit the nail on the head regarding a very timely subject. This is what Charles wrote:

“I agree with much of what you're saying but I must ask you for clarification on one of your points: I'm not sure where you get the idea that we are not to judge ourselves or others.

While it is true that we cannot judge a person’s thoughts or motives we are certainly required to judge the actions of others as well as our own…especially our own.

I Corinthians 11:31 says: “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”

Paul speaking of communion in I Corinthians 11:28-29 "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. “BUT LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats or drinks in an *unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body". Clearly we ARE to examine (judge ourselves).

*Editor’s Note: In other words, we are not to commune with God unless first we have confessed to Him our convictions through Christ. It is the acknowledgement of our sins and asking for forgiveness…with a truly contrite heart condition…that we are open to learning God’s Wisdom, His Will and His Advice. In this way we can be counted worthy.………………

Charles Burwell continues: 1st Corinthians 5:11-13 "For now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler (verbally abusive person), or a drunkard, or an extortioner - NOT EVEN TO EAT WITH SUCH A PERSON For what have I to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person"..

My friend, I think that you may be associating ’judging’ with 'condemning.' Condemning is something only God can do. We do not have the authority to condemn however we have the responsibility to judge ourselves and others. For example:

Gal. 6: 1 - Brethren, if a man be overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."

Before any one can restore someone they must have first judged their action to have been a trespass. Then they 'who are spiritual' must restore him in the 'spirit of gentleness'.

Also in James 5:19-20 "Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sin."……………………………

Since James said 'any one among you who wanders from the truth’ he is obviously talking about a believer. And then James states that by doing this he ‘will save a soul from death '. However he must have first been judged to have wandered from the truth.

Editor’s Note: Please note that this guidance to ‘NOT EVEN EAT WITH SUCH A PERSON’ is not meant for petty bickering (legalistic doctrine) that might occur. This is reserved for serious matters such as sexual immorality, covetousness, idolatry, a reviler, drunkard, extortioner etc. As noted above in 1st Corinthians 5:11-13 above.………..…….

Charles continues: Jesus emphasized this point in Matt 7:1-5. My point from this section of Scripture is that Jesus condemned the one who judged hypocritically then in verse 5 He says: “Hypocrite, FIRST remove the plank from your own eye, and THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”………………………..

As I mentioned when we have FIRST examined ourselves THEN we will be fit to help another with their problem. But we cannot help a brother (as we are expected to from the scriptures in Galatians and James) unless we have first judged him to have a problem. And I mean 'judged' him, not ‘condemned' him. Jesus did not condemn judging, or the apostle Paul, James, John, Peter and the rest would have lived under Jesus' condemnation.

Paul even went so far as to tell the leaders of the church in Corinth to put two people out of the church who he judged (verse 3) to be blatantly immoral. (I Corinthians 5:1-5).……

Then there are those who have the 'discernment of the spirit' who get 'special insight' (for lack of a better term) like the apostle Peter had in Acts 5:1-10 when he discerned by the Holy Spirit that Ananias and Sapphira had lied to the Holy Spirit.………………………

The scripture also states in 2 Tim. 3:16 - 17 " All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."…………………………………………………………………………..

My friend, we are required to judge and discern but we are forbidden to condemn. We are to judge sin first in our own hearts and lives and then in others, but only with the intent to restore them to a right relationship with God. The Scripture in Matt. 7:1-5 does not forbid judgment it forbids condemnation. Jesus said in Matt. 7:2 “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you".……………………………………………………………………………………...

If we 'judge' someone by the Scripture we should (as I certainly do) expect to be judged by the Scripture. There is no other standard to judge except by the Scriptures…because that is what God will be judging everyone by. Then when we have judged there to be an 'error' we are duty bound to approach the person in a 'spirit of meekness' to try to help them get back to the Scriptural way’. Notice I said the Scriptural way and NOT our way...................................................................................................................................

It's like the watchman in Ezekiel 3::21; “If you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul”............................…………………………………………..

We have a responsibility before God to look out for our own soul and then the souls of those with whom God brings us into contact.………………………………………

We do not (or should I say, should not) judge anyone with the intent of condemnation, but with the purpose of warning or restoration. This is the example Jesus left for us and the one that He applies to us.……………………………………………………………..

I pray that I have offended no one with my words but I feel that I have provided Scripture to support my positions. I would not attempt to restore a person if I felt that in any way I was not in line with the word of God.………………………………………………………

I also pray that I would never confront ( for lack of a better word ) with an attitude that was not dominated by the Grace and Mercy that Christ had, does now have and will continue to show me, until I see Him face to face.…………………………………………

God bless you all as you seek to serve Him.

*Editor’s Note: Thank you so much Brother Burwell. Well put! Scripturally accurate and I must admit…where it comes to the gentle admonishment part…I have much to learn…thank you for bringing me and hopefully the rest of us closer to our own convictions. God’s love and my brotherly love…Mark.

Brother Charles Burwell has been a tremendous blessing in my life and in the lives of many.

Folks, God does not follow people around with a big club in His hand just waiting to knock someone over the head with it. He does not move that way. He does not beat people into submission to love Him. Quite the contrary…He gave us free will so that we choose our own path to either be with Him or against Him. It would not be fulfilling for Him if he had to beat us into submission…that would not be love…this is exactly the point of the New Covenant and this period of Grace prior to Him closing the door.

Let’s take the simple analogy of a child learning to ride a bicycle: The parent gives as many pointers and instructions as possible before the child finds himself alone on those two wheels. At some point the child will fall down and scrape himself.

When this happens, a healthy, loving parent does not run over to the embarrassed and scraped child and start ranting and raving on the child…embarrassing them even more…destroying their confidence and instilling even more fear into them. The healthy, loving parent will comfort the child and let them know that the only person who never fails is the one who does nothing at all…the one who doesn’t even try.

The healthy, loving parent will teach the child to build on failure…to learn from it and most importantly to grow Spiritually out of failure…our God is the Ultimate Wise, Loving Parent.

He wants us to see Him as a person. It is our responsibility to get to know His personality…what makes Him smile, what makes Him laugh, what makes Him frown, what makes Him grumpy, what makes Him down right angry…what are His Dreams for us as individuals…one thing is for certain: His Dreams for us are much grander than any human can possibly imagine.

I can speak with authority on ‘legalism’ because until age 20 (37 years ago) I was a legalist. I was raised in one of those self-righteous households that believed in order to have God’s Love one must be perfect…and this particular cult religion loved to beat people over the head with the Bible.

Even now, as God leads me regarding what to write, every chapter has convicted me in some way…we don’t say the sinner’s prayer once in a lifetime…we say it daily…sometimes hourly…any time and every time we feel convicted by that voice in our conscience…God’s Voice keeping us on track (Chapter 1, Talking To God). If your conscience is ‘seared over’ pray to God for healing and restoration…it is in His Will that we do so…just refer to King David…a man after God’s Own Heart…or the Apostle Paul.

In order to be successful as Christians we have to learn and grow from our convictions. In order to learn and grow we must pay close attention to what He is trying to tell us…its all in the instruction manual.

The legalists who go around clubbing people over the head with the Bible yelling REPENT!!! are not only missing the point of God’s Grace but are distracting others from the very purpose for this time of God’s Grace.

By clubbing people over the head with God’s Word legalists are injuring those children of God (His Little sheep) and making them afraid to learn to ride the bicycle…Legalistic behavior destroy confidence to reach for success in doing God’s Work.

“Mark, there is so much hypocrisy in the world that I have to put up with as it is, why would I go to a place with four walls (a church) just to be exposed to MORE of it?!”

Folks I can’t count how many times I have heard that in this ministry…especially among the homeless…those who have been broken since childhood…mainly broken by bad religion…and condemnational Priests, Pastors and others in authority in their lives…those who do this are trying to usurp God’s Authority…those who would pridefully place their selves in place of God…just as Lucifer (satan) did in the beginning. Please refer to chapter 4 of this book and prayerfully study each of the Scriptural references.

It is the ‘learning’ part of the Spiritual growth process that makes Father smile…not the ‘conviction’ part.

Like any parent He rejoices in our growth. He is a Positive God…not a negative God…the enemy is the negative god.

Like any parent He rejoices in our growth. Also like any parent it saddens Him when we misstep…and it is true that if we grieve Him enough He might eventually throw up His Hands and say something like “O.K. do it your way…you are an adult…you have to learn…go ahead and abandon Me…ignore My instructions…listen to the enemy and let Me know how that works out for you. I will be close by in case you want to come back to Me”.

Our God is not a petty, negative God. He is a generous, forgiving God. He is not a small minded Parent…He does not think small…He did not create a tiny universe…and we are created in His Image…His attributes are our attributes, perfected.

Jesus gave us the example of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) for very good reason. The prodigal son had squandered his inheritance but later learned from his mistakes and returned home to his father’s house…he was greeted with a feast!

And interestingly, his legalistic brother who wanted the Prodigal Son punished and was jealous of the feast being prepared by the father, was admonished by their father and basically told to celebrate his brother’s figurative Spiritual resurrection (Luke 15: 31-32).

Just as we are treated by Father God today.

Amen.

Well…that concludes chapter 10 of the book, “I’m A Christian…Now What?”

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Until next time God Bless you and remember to hate what God hates and love what He loves…hate the sin but love the sinner.

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