God Graciously Removed My Crown

Colossians 2 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Our biggest handicap is our sight.  We can’t see anything because our eyes get in the way of our vision.  You would assume that the bigger the object, the more clearly we see it; but this is not the case at all.  We actually see with principalities, ideas, ambitions and self determent wills.  The greater the desire the more we see of us! The more we have determined that we deserve, the broader our views.  Maybe that’s why Jesus blinded Paul?  We see this blindness as a great suffering but God says that it is the greatest act of love for a person consumed in their own glory.  We try to duplicate what Jesus did to Paul but we don’t possess the skill or graceful hand.  If it’s done wrong, we become worst than before.  We can’t get the pressure right; we tend to leave behind arrogance.  Only The Lord knows how to press the thorns just right.  I’m talking about is becoming self-aware in a way that produces beautiful humility. There is a Spirit led self-awareness that leads a person into the arms of Jesus but there is a man made awareness that leads to slavery.  As far as the world is concerned, the more self-aware the better.  The reason is because we believe  if we are obsessed with us, we will stop intruding in others’ affairs.  We live in a world that is centered on individualism due to the fact that it is seeking  freedom.  The freedom that the world is looking for is a freedom from authority and accountability.  We see authority and accountability as a set of rules.  Some of us would prefer anarchy were the government and its policies are no longer enforced.  Others would rather religions didn’t exist as they represent rules on the highest level. But maybe those two instances serve as a cover for what we really want which is to make our own rules.  If we could come up with our own rules for living and anybody would not put their rules on us we can have true freedom.  So we gather to ourselves, life coaches, certain “relevant” pastors, philosophers, gurus or whatever person or book that will help us come up with the rules or even give us the steps.

Matthew 23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

We forget that the Hebrews had over 600 ordinances or laws in addition to the ten commandments.  These 600 plus laws governed every aspect of live.  They included dietary laws, ceremonial laws, customs, financial affairs, the style of dress, hygiene, agricultural practices and any areas of life the dealt with governing day to day life.  Jesus spoke about how these law enslaved the people.  Most of these laws were not God given but created by men.  These men elevated their laws above God.  They did this to build themselves up as well as create control for their kingdoms, giving them “freedom”.  But how would we know if the rules are the right ones?  What example of freedom obtained by a person who followed the set of rules look like?  It would be the person who seemed to have everything like the celebrity movie star or the independent woman who has the career and the family.  It would be the guy who has time to fish all day and hunt whenever he wanted, plus he would be 100% self sufficient.  It would be the person who is always traveling and the drop of a hat.  It would be the person who’s life is basically a commercial, tv show, movie or a 4 minute pop song.  From the moment of birth we buy into to all of the promises of freedom.  From the moment we start our first job we begin putting a down payment on our freedom.  We leave our parents home with the hopes of creating our own rules because our rules will be better.  With our own rules we will be the masters of our own destiny.  This extreme focus on self-awareness or  “my truth” starts a deadly cycle of bondage that we become blind to.  Non-Christians and Christians alike fall victim to it seemingly seamlessly. We come to the point were it would take a divine act of God to knock us off our high horses.

If you are going to experience the joy of your freedom in Christ, you have to decide whether you will please God or people.
We desire to be the new lawgivers without realizing that other people will soon replace us with the laws we created like the Pharisees did to God.  In our efforts to be king in order to get the respect of others, they will respect the rules not the Ruler. The freedom we seek, we try to get but earning and making others earn our approval and vice a versa. Jesus says; “come, drink and thirst no more”. This is grace, giving freely to the undeserving.  Sin  insist on earning because the flesh thinks equality is something to be gained.  Earning suggests I have some of value to offer God thus putting us on equal ground.  Grace pulls the world for under us. Grace brings us to our knees while lifting us out of the pig pen.  We have nothing of value to bargain with, only sin.  Jesus only offers healing and forgiveness.  Jesus doesn’t expect us to have the power to empty ourselves of what enslaves us but He overcomes that old slave master with grace.  The Gospel shows us that we have been freed, if we walk in the Spirit; faith moves feet away from chains. The movement back is lack of faith in the promises of the Gospel.  Preachers that preach “do this or that” are like drug dealers.  They know that the high you get won’t last, making sure you come back.  It is pure selfishness to give “10 steps to happiness” when joy can be had because Jesus climbed up to Calvary once and for all.  So the grace God gives scares them, afraid it would put them out of business.  Sound like the Pharisees share the same problem.  Does it bother you that we can enjoy hearing a sermon without mention of Jesus; when a “Spirit Led” man of God preaches and the Spirit’s job is to point to Christ and the man keeps pointing to us?  True freedom can only be found in unconditional one way love but just the thought of love as a way of solving our problems seems childish. We say love can’t pay the bills but God says, it sure did cancel your record of sinful debt.  You never know how far reaching the Gospel is until you stop fighting against grace.
“14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
When Jesus went to the cross he carried with him everything. All of our attempts to justify ourselves.  All of our attempts to free ourselves.  All of our attempts to make something of ourselves, trying to make our lives matter.  All of our efforts to obtain freedom by building our kingdoms.  All of our manipulation of others to build ourselves up and saving our legacies.  All of the conflicts we started trying to get people to do what we want so that we would feel important.  All of the exhausting effort of creating rules, living by our rules, making others live by our rules so that we would feel free from the supreme rules.  Jesus freed us from being  bullies because he disarmed us and all of the earthly governments as well as ultra religious authorities.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection shamed all of our efforts.  It wasn’t just that he exposed the try meaning of the law God gave as well as exposing our falsehood of trying to keep it.  It wasn’t just that he exposed our hearts’ wicked motives.  Jesus triumphed over them in his own being, in himself alone.  Jesus crushes the bondage and slavery of all of our man made laws and traditions by first rightfully placing God’s law above all.  Then Jesus placed the Heavenly Father above the law.  Next Jesus placed us under it all while commanding us to keep it, thus “be holy as your Father in heaven is holy”.  This is meant to crush us because just as the brazen serpent, we must look to it in faith to be saved from our own sinfulness.  Jesus knows that it is impossible with man to be holy but with God all things are possible.  It is by grace through faith that we are made righteous, are justified and are being made into the holy image of the Son.  Jesus triumphs over it by saying, we can’t hope to do it so I will do it for you.  We are infants and our father said to us; in order to live come to me but an infant can’t move.  So the father said; I will give you faith to believe in me because of grace and I will carry you unto myself.  Now look how silly we are trying to earn life that is impossible to reach without Jesus Christ.  But we don’t believe it because grace is to good to be true.  To trust in grace is to give up control and we just can’t believe that the gospel  goes that far into every area of our lives.
Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” referring to things that all perish as they are used—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Matthews 23 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a]wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.
We have a tendency to do a lot of charitable things and to give a lot of time and money.  We tend to gravitate to doing moral things and socially right things.  We tend to go with the flow of the world in order to look right and tolerate to others.  We tend to be silent and nod at the movement of culture because we want to seem loving and non-judgmental towards those who think differently.  The world is geared towards coexisting to the point of changing everything in order to not offend.  Since the majority is doing this, it naturally seems right and very spiritual to the human eye.  We say that we are not religious but that’s what is going on.  We see this as being rule free for freedom’s sake but it is actually just more rules and standards to keep. It is all just another check list or a falsehood to keep up with. Making sure before certain people and communities we perform to their liking or rules. We give them our freedom for their kingdom and others give us their for ours. No one is ever who they truly are, flaws and all. But through Christ we have died to these things yet we hold on to them because they appear to be wise, relevant, progressive and positive for everyone.  Yet at the root, this relevance prompts more kingdom building, more bondage, more slavery, more yokes and more sin because they do not come from faith in God but faith in man saving himself.
Ultimately what we fear about grace is it’s ability to destroy our kingdoms.  Grace removes a person’s codependency on human wisdom.  Grace dismantles man made thrones.  God has graciously removed our crowns of self-awareness, self-sufficiency, self-justification, self-reliance and pride for a new crown of adoption.  This crown I lovingly lay at His feet with a heart filled with joy and freedom of not having to be  the lawgiver who is incapable of keeping his own laws.  All done before the throne of grace.

Faith is the act of our soul that turns away from our own insufficiency to the free and all-sufficient resources of God. Faith focuses on the freedom of God to dispense grace to the unworthy. It banks on the bounty of God.

John Piper
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