It’s No “Yoke”!

I’m sure most of you have heard the conversation that took place in one  home on a Sunday morning. It seems that Bob really didn’t feel like getting up  and going to church that day. After offering several “good” excuses to his wife  for why he shouldn’t have to get out of bed, he said, “Give me one really good  reason why I need to go,” to which his wife replied, “Because you are the  pastor!”

That may be an  amusing, ridiculous scene, but let me ask you: Why do you go to church? Why do  you read and study your Bible? Why do you tell others about how to have eternal  life in Christ? Why do you teach a Sunday School class?   Having  just retired after pastoring for nearly four decades, it is an interesting  feeling to just attend church with no specific responsibilities or obligations.  Why should we continue to attend church and  study our Bibles when we are  free now to do whatever we want to do?  Well, we do it for the same reason  the apostle Paul gave in II Cor. 5:14: “For the love of Christ  controls us, having concluded this that one died for all, therefore all  died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for  themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”    As a pastor, I was reimbursed financially, that is, I was “paid to be  good.” Now I have to “be good for nothing!”

What should be  our motive for serving Christ? Is it because we are under the Law and have to  work hard to obtain and stay in the favor of God?  Well, if that’s our  thinking, then we don’t understand what grace is all about. Paul wrote a letter  to the churches in Galatia (Asia minor) that he had established on a missionary  journey. After he had left, there were false teachers called “Judaizers” who had  entered the churches and were teaching that works were necessary for salvation  as well as sanctification.  They tried to convince the congregations that  Paul’s gospel was not correct and that he was not a genuine apostle. Paul’s  answer was to proclaim the doctrine of justification by faith plus nothing and  of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, not the Mosaic law.  All theologies  that teach salvation by faith plus human effort are forcefully negated by Paul’s  letter which is in our Bibles as the book of Galatians.  Paul wrote:  “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing  firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).   In his letter to the Ephesians and to the Romans, Paul made it very  clear that we are saved solely by grace (Eph. 2:8,9), justified by faith alone  (Ro. 5:1), and in his letter to the Galatians and  Colossians he emphasizes that we are to walk in the same manner, that  is by faith, in grace, not by works. To the Colossians he wrote: “As you  therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Col. 2:6).   He asked the Galatian believers this question: “You foolish  Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly  portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did  you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are  you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the  flesh?” (Gal. 3:1-3).

But, while we  have been set free from the law through faith in Jesus Christ, it does not mean  that we are now free to do just as we please, for we “have been bought  with a price” and are therefore to “glorify God” with  our whole being (I Cor. 6:20). We are not free to live for ourselves,  “but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf” (II Cor.  5:14).     In his letter to the Galatians, Paul  said, “For you were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your  freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal. 5:13).  Even  though, as believers, we are “new creations” in Christ (II Cor.  5:17), we still have our old sinful flesh which continues to be in rebellion  against God. So, as those set free from the bondage of sin by faith in the  death, burial and resurrection of Christ, we are no longer under penalty of sin  and through the indwelling Holy Spirit we can also be free from the power of sin  in our lives. The secret, Paul said is to “Walk by the Spirit, and you  will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  Peter  wrote: “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for  evil, but use it as bondslaves of God” (I Pet. 2:16).

As a “retired”  pastor, why do I still go to church, read my Bible, witness to friends, teach a  Bible study? Is it to stay in God’s favor? Is it to assure myself of a place in  heaven? No, it is because the love of Christ controls me. It is not because of a  “yoke of bondage” to the law of works. We were saved solely by the  grace of God and that is how we live the rest of our days here. It is not  because we’re working to keep God happy with us. It is because “the  love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who  was given to us” (Ro. 5:5).  We can be “good for nothing.” It is  “no yoke” that makes us be good. “The fruit of the Spirit (within us) is  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,  self-control; AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW” (Gal. 5:22,23). A  Spirit-controlled person needs no law to cause Him to live a righteous life,  because the motivation comes from within, not without.

Forever  His,

Pastor Dave

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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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