2/13/2000 11:00 AM
Are you men and women of principle, or just keepers of lists? Salvation is writing the principles of God on the heart; religion is living to a list created by men (catechism, creeds, codes of conduct, etc). You can never please God by trying to live by adhering to a list. Why?
Inadequacies of lists:
1) A list of commands won't change the heart and give power over sin and the flesh.
2) A list of commands is always incomplete and can never answer all the situations and circumstances.
List #1 - The 10 commands (incomplete, inadequate and powerless)
This list in itself was not able to make this young man perfect. Jesus says, "If thou wilt be perfect..." Just obeying the list left him sorrowful. The commands are examples of deeper principles.
The principle behind the commands was "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." It will cover every situation and circumstance. If you're simply living by the 10 commandments you will fail to please God and miss opportunities to show love to others.
List #2 - The Works of the Flesh
If this is your creed of donts, you will not live without the works of the flesh and you will fail to please God. The list is incomplete ("... and such like..."). These are examples of works of the flesh.
1 John 2:15, 16
The principle behind the list is this "Love not the world, the desires of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." If things are of the world, it's a work of the flesh. If you have the principle working in your heart, you won't need lists. A list isn't what's needed. You need the love of God and his principles in your heart. A list will always be incomplete.
List #3 - The Standards
1 Timothy 2:8-10
Standards - the outward appearance. You need something greater than a list of do's and donts. You need the "why" of the lists; the principles. Modest apparel, not vulgar, no gold, jewelry etc. Using this as a checklist, you will fail to please God. The list is incomplete - these are examples of what holy living is. You could do all these things and still appear to be ungodly.
1 Thessalonians 5:22
The principle - "Abstain from all the appearance of evil." If the love of the world, pride and evil passion is not in your heart, why do you want it to appear that it is there? This is the guiding principle. When you live the principle, you're automatically obeying the list.
1 Peter 1:14, 15
"Be ye holy in all manner of conduct." This principle transcends every situation. "Is this being holy?" Principles are applicable in ever culture. Are we exporting our lists, or righteous principles? Righteous principles will transcend every culture and custom, and keep us pure and holy.
List #4 - The Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22, 23
"Against such there is no law" - This is not a complete list, but gives examples of what the fruit of the spirit is like - faithfulness, compassion, justice, mercy, etc. are also fruits of the Spirit. Bear the list and the others also.
The principle: "For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth." It transcends all situations and circumstances. You will display all that is good, righteous and true. This is produced by the influence of the Spirit - not a list committed to memory.
Contrast of the working of the Old and New Testaments
The Old Testament was a memorized list of commands, lengthy and complex. Acts and not principles were dealt with. The Old testament was inadequate for all situations, because it didn't change the heart and couldn't be kept. The New Testament is universal principles, a heart change that makes it livable. Guard against this phenomenon - administering the New Testament in the manner of the old. People trusting these commands as a formula to heaven. Salvation is the way to heaven, a changed heart with the principles engraved within. Do you have an old covenant religion or a new covenant?
2 Corinthians 3:3
Write it in the heart, not with ink from man, but by the Spirit of God. Have the righteousness of the law implanted in the heart.