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The rule-keepers (Pharisees) of Christ’s day had a hard time with Him because there was always a conflict between their rules and His behavior. And it was hard to pin Him down because He—seemingly—kept changing the rules.
Right when you thought you had Him figured out, He would do something that appeared to contradict your expectations for Him. For a rule-loving culture, Christ was counter-cultural. His life was under the influence of the Spirit rather than a black and white code of conduct of the legalists (Mark 1:12).
The Spirit-led life cuts against the grain of rule-bound hearts because the Pneumatically-led person is submitting to the authority and directives of Someone else (Ephesians 5:18, 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
The reason for the radicality of Jesus was because of His God-centered and Spirit-illuminated approach to life, which made Him appear to be out-of-step with everyone else—especially with the religious people. His call on our lives is other-worldly—a call that begins with a cross (Luke 14:27, 33). And just when you become comfortable with how things are, it feels as though the Lord is stirring the nest again (Deuteronomy 32:11; 1 Kings 17:7-16).
You cannot mature in Christ if you are unwilling to flex, and that was the problem with the Pharisees: they were not willing to grasp the “theological concept of walking in the Spirit,” and because of their stubbornness, they missed out on a wonderful life.
The Pharisees were too self-determined and self-reliant to yield to anyone else. Thus, they had to live by a prescribed set of rules. On the contrary, Christ chose to walk in the Spirit, and the irony is that He never sinned, something their rule-based life could never accomplish.
A right heart attitude will create the right behaviors, while all the rules in the world will not create a right heart. Christ had a gospel-saturated, gospel-motivated, and gospel-empowered heart! And that made all the difference in the world.
Religion like Jesus
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
The text begins with a clear and refreshing statement of Christ’s will for our lives. Sometimes we get bogged down in a quandary about God’s will. And often we worry about decisions which are simply not a great issue with God (where to go to school, what job to take, where to live, etc.).
We need to orient our lives on the clear statements of Scripture regarding God’s will. And here is one: “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” Christ’s will for you is that you enjoy freedom. Where you go to school, what job you do, where you live, etc., are not nearly so crucial as whether you stand fast in freedom. If they were, the Bible would have commanded those things as clearly as it here commands freedom. But it doesn’t.
So your enjoyment of freedom is much more important to God than many of the day-to-day decisions that fill us with so much concern. A good test of your priorities in life would be whether you are just as concerned about the command to enjoy your freedom as you are about other pressing decisions in your life.
It is a clear and unqualified command: “Stand fast and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” This is the will of God for you: your freedom. Uncompromising, unrelenting, indomitable freedom. For this, Christ died. For this, he rose. For this, he sent his Spirit. There is nothing he wills with more intensity under the glory of his own name than this: your freedom. – John Piper, For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free
What Piper is saying is a critical thought regarding how we should live. Because Christ was free, He was not bound to expected traditions. He did not sin, and He did not conform, which released Christ to be open to pick and choose how He wanted to live as long as His choices were under the influence of the Spirit and informed by God’s Word.
You are just as free as Jesus was free (John 8:36). You can pick and choose how you want to live as long as you are under the illuminating and empowering influence of the Spirit of God.
But the Christian responds, “Can I do anything that I want to do?”
Parenting with Structure and Support
How Are You Training?
Now, let’s apply this to parenting: What are you training your children to do?
What Do You Hope?
What are you looking for from your children as far as how they are in their day-to-day deportment?
If your children are growing in (1) affection for Christ, (2) a desire to honor people, especially their parents, (3) gentle spirits, and (4) grateful attitudes, you’re on the right path. (This list is not exhaustive.)
If your children are learning the rules of Christianity, but inwardly are not gentle, kind, conscientious, and maturing with discretion, it’s imperative that you reconsider how you are parenting them.
Training behaviors into your children will work while they are young, but when they become adults, it’s imperative that Christ is the Shepherd of their hearts rather than the rules that you parented into them.