Monday, March 2, 2015

Condemnation: the Ministry of death

 All of this happened so that through His grace we would be accepted into God’s covenant family and appointed to be His heirs, full of the hope that comes from knowing you have eternal life. This is a faithful statement of what we believe. Titus 3:7-8 

 We've been in a new study looking at condemnation, conviction and repentance. We are currently studying condemnation. There is so much truth to what condemnation is and why it is so detrimental to growth in Christ. 

 Today, I want to go further into our study of condemnation. I want to reveal the difference between the ministry of the Spirit and righteousness and the ministry of condemnation and death.
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. Corinthians 3:7-9
 The ministry of death was written on stones. The ministry of death brings condemnation because it is the ministry of the "thou shalt nots". This ministry standards are absolute perfection. This standard being impossible to achieve only produces condemnation in its hearers. Why? Because we can never measure up. It is an unattainable state of being.

 This ministry can only produce shame and guilt and behavior modification. It's the shame and guilt of knowing we can never measure up. This ministry only reminds us of our failures, missteps and weaknesses. It drives us to try and please God by our performance. One Law minded minister asked what is so bad about behavior modification? Isn't that the goal? How foolish. 

 Behavior modification isn't true heart change. Modification is outward performance change. It is an empty outward showing of "good". It is all about keeping up a good image. This isn't the inside out change the Spirit produces, but an appearance of outward performance improvement . This is only achieved though sheer will power and fear of the opinions of others. Eventually the facade will show signs of weakening. These are they who appear to "fall away". 

 The ministry of the Spirit and righteousness is what produces genuine sons and daughters of God. I want you to see how Peter preached the gospel. So many attack grace saying Paul was the only one preaching grace and righteousness. The ministry of the Spirit and righteousness is the gospel message we are to proclaim. Paul and Peter and even James in fact did preach the same message. We are going to look at Acts 10:24-43. 

 I urge you to read this in context but I want to highlight what Peter proclaimed to these lost men. Did he minister do's and don'ts? Did he reveal their wickedness or their mistakes and failures? Not one time. 
25 As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you! Acts 10:25-26
 Firstly, Peter didn't approach these men as someone "better" than them or one to be looked upon as higher than them. He came to them in humility. The ministry of the Spirit isn't exalting ourselves but God alone.

28 Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. Acts 10:28 
 The ministry of the Spirit and righteousness reveals we don't follow traditions. We follow the Spirit, we don't look down at others either. 

34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right  Acts 10:34-35 
 The ministry of the Spirit is an open door for anyone to receive The Lord Jesus. God isn't closing the door on anyone or Nation to receive His love and grace.

36 This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Acts 10:36
 The ministry of the Spirit proclaims good news not sad news or bad news or mad news! God isn't disappointed with you, He isn't going to afflict you with evil, and God isn't so angry with you He can't stand the thought of you. Another amazing truth the ministry of the Spirit proclaims is peace with God.
 We have peace with God because of Jesus Christ. God isn't mad at anyone. He isn't holding their sin against them. He isn't sending storms or disaster to overtake them. Ministry proclaims peace. God isn't mad but madly in love with you. 

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him Acts 10:38
 The ministry of the Spirit proclaims God's too good to be true but true over the top, all the time goodness! The ministry proclaims His healing power and defeat of the power of darkness. 

39 “And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross Acts 10:39
The ministry of the Spirit and righteousness preaches the cross. It proclaims the finished work of the Cross of Christ. We need more preaching on the cross and not less. There was a shift many years ago in faith circles pushed by some ministries that we need not spend to much time preaching on the cross. We need more preaching on money. We need to go further. We need to grow up they said. Do we not realize the cross and its finished work applied to our lives is where true growth occurs? 

42 And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
 Jesus is the judge and not the Law and not religious traditions. The ministry of righteousness reveals if we receive Jesus we are judged not guilty and proclaimed the righteousness of God. 

43 He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” Acts 10:43
 Finally the ministry of the Spirit and righteousness proclaims the forgiveness of our sins. The ministry of condemnation continually reminds us of our sins. The ministry of the Spirit proclaims we are forgiven. When condemnation knocks upon our hearts and minds we can boldly respond I am forgiven. I am cleansed by the blood. 

 This is the ministry of righteousness. What Peter proclaimed is not a ministry of condemnation. The result of Peter's New Covenant preaching?
 44 Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message Acts 10:44
 The Spirit fell while this message was proclaimed. This is the confirmation that this is what we need to be preaching. 

 To summarize, Peter proclaimed a simple message of humility, truth not tradition, an open invitation, peace with God, His goodness and healing power, the cross and finished work and His judgment of righteousness upon all who believe and the complete forgiveness of our sins when we receive Him. 

This is what we need to be preaching to all. This is true ministry. This is the glorious ministry we are called to minister. I trust this message empowered your walk with the Lord and freed you from the lying voice of condemnation.

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