There’s a story in the Bible about Jesus raising a man from the dead. The man’s name was Lazarus and he was one of Jesus’ good friends. When the moment came for the great miracle Jesus stood before the open tomb and, “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
We who believe the Bible is God’s Word accept this as a true story of actual events. It can also be seen as an illustration of what happens when we step out of the smothering embrace of the religious systems humans create to reach God and thus accept what God has done to reach us. When we reject the bewildering straightjacket of rules and regulations humans inevitably devise, and accept that Jesus paid the price, finished the work and welcomes us home He stands at the tomb of our self-help religion and says, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Once we’ve confessed with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believed in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead we’re made right with God. And though Jesus has ascended to heaven He didn’t leave us alone. Just before He left He said, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!” Embracing that and allowing the Spirit of Truth to guide us is the ideal for those who follow Christ.
Christ’s final command was to take this light to the world. Instead we built thousands of competing lamps betraying the unity of the Gospel and confusing unbelievers with our multiplicity of slightly different presentations. But then again it’s easier to make rules than it is to be sensitive to the Spirit of God. Laws and regulations can appear to bring order out of chaos relieving the pressure of walking by faith in a faithless world. But these endless rules cannot change us from the inside out. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: if we seek order and security from religion we’ll never find either one of them.
When following rules defines the state of our spiritual life we walk in constant fear of crossing the lines, of veering off even if it’s by mistake into the deception of sin. This fear of deception won’t keep us from deception. It’ll lead us into it. We’re called to walk in faith not in fear. So if we’re walking in fear we’ve already fallen for deception. The Bible tells us that the only way we can avoid falling for deception is to embrace the Spirit of Truth.
Think about it. When we open the blinds at night does darkness come rushing in? No. When we throw open the blinds light rushes out into the darkness. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t overcome it. If we’ll immerse ourselves in what God is calling us to, the unearned grace that flows from the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, we’ll find the order and security we long for.
Following God which is walking forward in the light can at first feel like walking backwards in the dark because we’re surrounded by and have been raised in a world that’s in revolt against its creator. We must dedicate ourselves to following the voice of the Spirit of Truth who lives within us. It’s vitally important that we learn to recognize His voice so we can recognize it out of all the voices in the world. When the whole of creation is shaking He’s the rock solid foundation giving us the security of our salvation.
Does this mean we should abandon all restraint and follow the voice in our head? First we must know whose voice we’re following, than we must acknowledge that God wrote us a book to explain it all from beginning to end. His voice will never contradict His Word and His Word shows us exactly how to live moment-by-moment.
Paul put it this way, “It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.”
Because we live in a fallen and evil world some laws and regulations must be imposed to maintain people’s safety to provide external order. However, rules and regulations must never be imposed to bring about spiritual purposes because only the Spirit can birth spirit.
The Bible is the operator’s manual for life on earth. In it God has shared with us the greatest wisdom and the deepest insights. In it we receive not only the instructions on how to live in this world but also how to be born-again as a glorious Spirit-birthed child of God. It’s not possible to put a price on God’s gift of His revelation. But even the Bible can be used to weave a web of soul-strangling regulations keeping us imprisoned in the law.
We must always remember the Bible was given to us to lead us to Christ not to take His place. The tyranny of the law seeks to confine us in a prison of our own making. But Christ stands at the door to our cell and says, “Loose him, and let him go.”
One last thing: Having a Bible we can understand really helps us to understand the Bible. In the New Testament where Christ quotes the Old Testament He quotes from the Septuagint, a translation in the common language of the day and not from the traditional Hebrew texts. The New Testament itself was written in the Koine dialect of Greek. This was the supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written by the people. I’m not trying to share a lecture on biblical languages. What I’m getting at is that Jesus and the Apostles used the language of the day so that everyone could understand what they were saying. They didn’t use the fifty cent words and nuanced meanings of the intellectuals or the technical jargon of theologians. They didn’t use a language that was no longer spoken or a dialect that was from another era.
Today there are many translations that render the Bible in the language we use every day at work, at the market, and at home without all the thees and thous which no longer form a part of our daily speech. I’m not saying don’t use a Bible with those words if that’s what suits you I’m just saying use a Bible you can easily understand. Personally my favorite is the Message but there are plenty of others. Find the one you’re comfortable with and let it speak the Words of God into your spirit and breathe the Spirit of God into your life.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens