Every once and a while you\’ll hear a preacher complaining about the fact the parishioners can\’t remember his sermon. Somehow, we presume from their commentary on the this subject that if we remembered what they said, then perhaps we wouldn\’t have so many problems.
Never one to let a sleeping dog lie, then I\’ll provide my two cents on the subject.
First, those of us who would fret over whether or not someone remembers what we\’ve taught or preached are in a place of pride.
Seriously. Just admit it now and get over it. Dress it up in all of the humble platitudes you care to create, but it\’s still pride. False humility is still false: it\’s still pride. If we actually cared for someone\’s well being, then we wouldn\’t mind that people didn\’t remember our sermons. We\’d simply find another Logos of God to plant in their soul.
So, here\’s the meat:
Recall is not the measurement of impact. Recall is the measurement of memorization.
When we use recall of Biblical precepts and principles as the driving forces of our responses to everyday pressures, then we are close to practicing legalism.
That being said:
Is there anything wrong with learning precepts and principles?
Is there anything wrong with leaning on them when all else fails?
But occasionaly leaning on them is not what I\’m talking about. I\’m specifically addressing the driving forces of who we are and how we respond. There are some of us who believe the measurement of spirituality is quantified in the amount of scripture you learn and the skill you demonstrate in applying said scripture to your life. In my opinion, that\’s just about as close to legalism as you can get.
But is applying scripture to your life wrong?
But if learning and applying the scriptures were all it was about, then the Pharisees would have rocked Jesus\’s boat. Rather He said,
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
You see, it\’s imperative that you know the spirit speaking the Word to you. Scripture spoken by Satan is not truth:
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. (Luke 4:9-13)
So the suggestion he made to Jesus, to just go ahead and throw yourself off the temple and the context of scripture in which he couched it, was not truth, it was a lie.
In the same context, Jesus said:
‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
The problem is that the average preacher will tell you that \”every word\” refers to the Bible. But that\’s incorrect. The context is \”every word that proceeds out of\” the mouth of God. That word \”proceeds,\” is active, present tense.
For if Abraham had only listened to what God said (past tense), then his son would have died. Consider also that we are to honor our father and mother, but on the other hand, if we don\’t hate them then we can\’t follow after Jesus. Which is it? Honor or hate? If you don\’t understand the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, you\’ll remain confused. Living by the spirit and applying the scriptures as He directs, is the key.
The point is that we must learn to live in the spirit.
Therefore, we can observe living the Christian Life in two ways
- Memorizing the precepts and principles as best as possible so that we will know what to do when a given pressure of life occurs.
- Being changed (impacted) by the Word of Life so that when pressures arise, we naturally respond in the Spirit without having to recall or think about the corresponding principle or precept.
In other words, in example (1) we do witnessing, while in example (2), we are the witness.
In the first example, we\’re living in legalism, the Old Man attaining to a prescribed standard of behavior. We\’re orphans working to gain an identity and approval.
In the second example, we\’re becoming Christ like, a New Creature, overcoming through the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. We\’re Sons/Daughters (we have an identity) working out the Father\’s mission with authority.
So then, obeying for it\’s own sake is not wrong. It can put us on the right path, but it can stunt us like a Pharisee.
The point is that there\’s a better way: it\’s called becoming Christ Like, living/walking in the Spirit.
In any circumstance, we will either respond in the flesh, respond from principle or respond from Spirit.
You want to be in the grouping of the later two, always moving towards the Spirit.