The Blessed Change

June 13, 2013
by Anton Stander

It fell to my lot to grow up near a church which we attended on a regular basis. All my siblings and I went from the beginners' department to the Bible class by passing the Scripture examinations. I had three teachers in the Bible class, but they were strongly of a pietistic persuasion. Their Bible teaching was very thorough and their dedication perfect. However, it was tacitly expected that we were all naturally destined for either the mission field or the ministry. Our every activity was monitored to make sure that we were not getting in with the wrong crowd. Hardly any activity was not carefully scrutinized for possible worldliness.

As well-meaning as these teachers were, their attitude bordered on the kind of legalism that the apostle Paul battled among the early Jewish Christians:

Galatians 2:16 – Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law. (NLT)

In the Old Testament, the separation between man and God was kept in place by an array of Levitical laws and ordinances. The various offerings made to God were spelled out in strict detail. No one except the high priest had access to the Holy of Holies, and even that was restricted to only once a year. For the ordinary person, direct access to God was not possible.

Leviticus 16:2 – The Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother he must not come at all times into the Holy of Holies within the veil before the mercy seat upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat." (AMP)

But the moment Jesus died on Calvary, the blessed change came about.

Matthew 27:50-51a – And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (NKJV)

The old law was done away with; sacrifice was no longer necessary, for Jesus had paid the supreme sacrifice. All the things hidden behind the veil were now open to view. God's mercy seat and God's glory shone out. Man was granted free access to God at any time, not only at seasonal ceremonies. There would be no more shedding of blood, for Jesus had shed His own for the world. The gates of paradise were open to all who believe that "Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18 NKJV)

But even today, we still find Christians who, in their zeal to please God, are making illegal for Christians many activities that they in their wisdom deem sinful: dancing, going to the movies, and drinking alcoholic drinks, for example. That is called legalism. Back in the early fifties, my sister gave up her graduation prom and special prom dress because dancing was worldly, and people who danced were sinners. Such sentiments are still prevalent today. We hear people say, "You can't be a Christian if you keep painting your face with lipstick." "Christians do not go to church in slacks." "If you want to please God, you will give up eating meat …" and so on. And all the time, Jesus is saying, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." His invitation has no restrictions because He is meek and lowly of heart and all He wants is to give us rest for our souls, so that we can worship His Father.

Prayer: Thank You, heavenly Father, for Your Word that assures us that through Jesus' sacrifice alone, we "have access by one Spirit to the Father", and we "are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:18-19 NKJV). Amen.

About the author:

Anton Stander
(deceased)

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you Anton.


    Very thought provoking Anton.


    Very good reminder. God Bless you.


    A thought provoking devotion that I hope will be ample replies and ideas.


    Thank you so much for today’s daily … much appreciated. My sins are forgiven.


    Thank-you Anton for this devotional, well written and so very accurate. Blessings on your day today.


    Good one, Anton!
    Thanks for writing to us.


    Anton, this is very good. It’s good to let people know this as you said. Thank you. Continue to share wit us this great message.


    Very well put Anton!
    Blessings
    (BC)


    Dear Anton,
    A great message of redemption through His blood. Praise God.
    Praying for you and your family.


    Thank you for these words that need to be taught, preached and lived by NOW and FOREVER! Nothing a person can do will bring “Blessed Assurance”.
    God has provided, through Jesus Christ, ALL to believe in, live by, and pass on as you have done today.


    I’m glad to see someone addressing this legalistic, judgmental attitude that some ‘Christians’ hold. They must have a joyless life as they set up their own rules for true believers.
    Praise the Lord that we have FREEDOM in Christ to be the people God wants us to be, and do what He tells us to do.
    Blessings!


    This message is very wise and very true. Tho I did not grow up in a Christian home and married a back slidden man who grew up in a home directed by devout Christian mother. My husband grew up without a Dad. My Dad, Mom, and brother all became Christian in their dying. I have been a Christian for over 30 years.
    If we are willing to be used there is no limit to how He will use us. He is the potter and we are the clay.


    Anton,
    My favorite is
    “He who smokes now, shall surely smoke in the hereafter!” 🙂
    Keep up the writing!
    (Texas)


    Wonderful! How often we forget what it means to help people come to FAITH and not to obedience to different sets of rules. I love the way you explain it. I love that its really true. I love that The Lord makes everything else follow when we aim ourselves at Him. Obedience and love become our heart’s desire rather than a yoke or burden on our shoulders.
    Blessings on you.


    Thank you, Anton Stander,
    I especially liked your prayer.
    If it “might cause my brother or sister to sin,” I can choose to give up alcoholic beverages, for instance.
    I taught Adult Upgrading Education, and later volunteered at a home for Women Addicts. We who worked there were happy to identify with the addicts in order to help them to leave harmful habits behind.
    I pray that God will continue to bless you.


    Dear Anton,
    Thank you for bringing to light this important topic in the church; many believers are unfairly judged by their fellow Christians because of legalistic attitudes. Your devotional brought to mind Paul’s analogy in Galatians 4:21-31. Praise God, we are free to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, not by our own works, but through our Lord’s precious sacrifice once and for all!
    Keep on writing!
    Blessings.

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