Another legalistic group is the churchianity crowd.  Of course we are expected to gather together at least weekly with other fellow believers so that we may encourage one another, and there’s nothing wrong with going often if you find heartfelt enjoyment with being among other believers.  But for the churchianity people, church becomes a legalistic accomplishment, another control over the brownie points that legalists believe they are accumulating with God.  Everything is about church and attending church services and church functions while their hearts remain unchanged.  I’ve heard too many pastors say that the true measure of a Christian is the number of times you attend services.  They obviously thought with a legalistic mind that this was a good measure of what was going on inside a person’s heart.  But this is not what the Bible teaches.  Jesus taught that the way He knew his children and was able to distinguish them from those that pretended to be His was whether they rendered acts of service to those around them (Mat. 25, Isaiah 58).  If you live lives of service, then you will get the opportunities to witness, but you should prove yourself worthy of sharing His truth by first being an example of it, loving and submitting in service to those around us.  It is too easy to pretend to be a Christian by simply attending as many services as possible and reasoning to yourself that God must be pleased with you because you are supposedly in His house so many times.  Then you can avoid the weightier requirements of changing your heart, spending time with Him regularly, and submitting to Him every area of your life, especially in learning to love everyone around you with kindness and service.

Still another legalistic group is the teetotaler crowd, the behavior perfectionists who fall back on works done within their control and guided by the terms that they set instead of works led by God’s Spirit and imbued with His power.  There’s a humorous adage that I heard often when I was growing up:  “Don’t smoke, dip, or chew, and don’t date the girls that do.”  In this old saying, the focus is on the outward appearance, on the behaviors in which others may see you as a participant.  But God looks at morality very differently than the world does.  There are many habits or behaviors that you may indulge in that are not specifically prohibited in the Bible unless your participation in them causes harm to your body, harm to others, discouragement to others, or unless God has already confronted you about the habit.  Sometimes there are things that are fine for everyone else, but God confronts us about them because they have become a problem in our lives or our walk with Him.  So, you can’t always judge by one Christian to determine what is right for all Christians.  The flip side of this is that there are behaviors that God may allow in you but not in others.  Again, so long as the behavior is not specifically prohibited in the Bible, does not bring harm to others or to your witness to others, and so long as you have confessed the behavior to God and gotten guidance from him about the behavior.

I do not mean to disparage all rules here. There is a time and a place for rules.  They may set boundaries of behavior that keep us safe and holy.  But the rules are just guidelines that are supposed to drive you to the deeper truths underlying the rules.  One privilege enjoyed by many adults but constantly attacked by legalists is alcohol.  Alcohol is not expressly forbidden in the Bible.  Drinking to excess is discouraged, of course, and overindulging in alcohol, then abusing others or engaging in activity that is illegal would obviously be wrong.  There is a time and place for alcohol used in moderation.  It may even be a tool to help you in times of sorrow.  I do not subscribe to the legalistic argument that you shouldn’t indulge in alcohol at all and that it only gives you a temporary escape such that your sorrows will return in the morning.  Sometimes that’s specifically what you need, a momentary escape to be able to bear deep periods of sorrow.  I know that many soldiers returning from war have indescribable horrors that they relive in their daily lives and their dreams at night.  Sometimes, alcohol is an escape to them, giving momentary relief from the constant stress of their PTSD.  Sure there are many medications, but the efficacy of medication depends on the skill and wisdom of the doctor prescribing.  There are still way too few psychiatrists that are competent and that understand PTSD as I’ve found from my own experience.  And many of them are too full of themselves to be very helpful if you have persistent problems like severe PTSD as I have had.  Additionally, there are very few drugs that are of much help with PTSD in my experience.  It is not just the depression and the re-experiencing that are the problem.  It is also the adrenaline storms that keep you on edge, unable to sleep properly, and unable to relax for days on end.  Working with numerous psychiatrists, I have yet to find a drug that helps very much with the adrenaline except for alcohol. 


We finish on this topic tomorrow.

 


Comments

03/19/2016 6:43am

All the people are always need some encouragement so they can able to perform very well for their families and company. Companies always know about these important things in their life. They know about these important things because they have to get the best out of them.

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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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