Radical Surgery

How can a man be in the right before God?

–Job 9:2

Some years ago, a pastor from another state called me to ask for advice. Some people in his church had begun to study the Old Testament intensively, and they became convinced that the church needed to follow the regulations and rituals of the Old Testament law. I thought, How unbelievable that a group of Christians, who have been freed from the regulations and rituals of the Old Testament law, would voluntarily place themselves under those restrictions!

Then I remembered Solomon’s words: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). This pastor was experiencing the same thing the Christians in Colossae experienced two thousand years ago. Some people in the Colossian church were saying, “Jesus Christ is important, but He’s not enough. You also need to follow the rituals and regulations of the Old Testament law to be right with God.” In Colossians 2, Paul reminded us that only Jesus Christ can set us free from the power and the consequences of sin.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul identified four heresies that had invaded the Colossian church. These heresies all said Christ is not sufficient, so people need something else to be saved. Last week, we looked at the first heresy: human philosophy. Philosophy based on man-made wisdom is utterly bankrupt to meet our real needs.

Paul then confronted a second heresy in the Colossian church: legalism, which is the attempt to gain God’s approval through rituals and regulations. The Jewish Christians in Colossae were telling the Gentile Christians to be circumcised and follow the Old Testament law to be saved.

You may think that sounds ridiculous, but there’s a large segment of the church today that believes Jesus is important but not sufficient for our salvation. Some people, for example, believe we also need to observe certain rituals, such as baptism, the sacraments, going to the priest, or attending the right church. Other people believe we need to keep certain man-made regulations regarding our behavior or habits.

It is Christ alone who makes us right before God. Rituals and regulations deal only with our external behaviors–they do nothing to change our hearts. What we all desperately need is a renovation of our hearts. Only Christ can perform that kind of radical surgery.

***

Today’s devotion is adapted from “Radical Surgery” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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