1 Peter 2:20-25
20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
22 ‘He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ 25 For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
How to be accepted by God
“The Ten Commandments” (based on Deuteronomes 5: 7-21):
1. Worship only God.
2. Don’t make idols.
3. Do not use the name of the Lord for unimportant matters.
4. Respect the holy days.
5. Respect father and mother.
6. Don’t kill.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t lie.
10. Don’t covet others’ things.
Brothers, we were already used to the comfort of using the internet to keep in touch with people who are far away from us. Today we are experiencing a new reality that is the use of the internet in an intense way to keep in touch also with people close to us.
This situation affects each of us differently: some are calm, as they feel good being able to make video calls with everyone who wants to communicate; others are distressed because they miss being together physically. What I want to say here, is that the technology we use is good for these two groups mentioned, because the principle is the same: to keep in touch, to know news of the people we love.
But there is a third group: the group of those who take advantage of this technology to commit crimes, to spread inappropriate content, to offend people without being exposed (fake news). The technology is, however, the same, but its results are quite different.
What does this have to do with “the ten commandments” that we read at the beginning? Let’s think together: the Jews in the Old Testament did not have in their hands a Bible with the gospels written in simple form, nor the letters that explain many passages to us in the light of what our Master and Savior Jesus taught. They had “the law of Moses”.
If we think of the law of Moses as an instrument, as well as the technology in the current example, we will see that this law can be used for both good and evil. Just for now, remember that the law helped the Israelites to survive in the desert (used for good) and was also used to condemn Jesus to the crucifixion (used for evil).
Today we are going to see a little more about the theme “how to be accepted by God” and this does not depend on the “ten commandments” or on doing human works.
Brothers, last week we heard a very interesting comparison brought by deaconess Mahitee: the Christian’s pacemaker. The pacemaker is used to give rhythm to the heart when it does not work properly on its own. In this sense, the “ten commandments” serve as a stepping stone for the Christian’s heart. These rules give us direction on what we should and shouldn’t do to make God rejoice with us. However, you need to know that if we need this set of tips, it means that our Christian heart is not working properly on its own.
So we can say that following the “ten commandments” or following the law of Moses is good, but it is not enough to be accepted by God, because while we need these rules, our hearts are not aligned with God.
Romans 3: 21-22
21But now God has already shown that the means by which he accepts people has nothing to do with the law. The Law of Moses and the Prophets bear witness to the following: 22 God accepts people through their faith in Jesus Christ. That’s how he treats everyone who believes, because there is no difference between people. Now that we got here, I want to deal with you with a trap used by some to confuse us:
In Romans chapter 3, Paul deals with the validity of the law of Moses and the concept of faith introduced by jesus. Brothers, let’s read together two important verses for this issue:
30God is one and will accept Jews on the basis of their faith and will also accept non-Jews through their faith.
John 14: 6
6Jesus replied: I am the way, the truth and the life; no one can reach the Father except through me.
If Jews will be accepted by God according to their faith, this can be confusing if we think that the fulfillment of Jewish law (the law of Moses) is sufficient for the salvation of the Jew.
Remembering that the Jews do not believe that Jesus is the messiah, this is contrary to what Jesus himself said in John 14: 6.
Which one is correct?This answer is found in Genesis 15: 6 where it is stated that “Abraham believed in God, so God accepted him”.
This is the key point: God has always accepted men for their faith in God. He gave the Jews the laws as a guide, but the Jews, ultimately forgetting the faith, were left with the laws alone, and that is wrong! The Jews who remain in this concept will be judged by God, who will evaluate each one’s heart.
Laws are a valid and important guide, but without faith, it is impossible to please God! (Hebrews 11: 6)
The law was given to men so that they could see that they were sinners, that is, as it is impossible to follow the law 100% of the time, it is clear that humanity is not able to save itself by obeying the law.
This is explained through the sacrifices required by God in the old testament. The sacrifices served for the Israelites to obtain forgiveness for having broken the law. Now, if all Israelites were to present the sacrifice, then it is because they all disobeyed the law at some point.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross asks for forgiveness
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross asks for forgiveness for all our sins so that we can receive the spirit of God in us.
It is this spirit of God in us that shows us that we are sinners through our conscience and, therefore, we must repent and accept Jesus as our savior.
Therefore, with the coming of Christ, the law is no longer necessary to show us sins.
A second trap we need to address today: the concept that doing good to people is enough to please God.
Romans 10: 2-4
1My brethren, I desire with all my heart that my own people will be saved. And I ask God on their behalf because I am a witness that they are very dedicated to God. But their dedication is not based on true knowledge, because they do not know the way God accepts people and so they have tried to achieve this in their own way. They rejected God’s way of accepting people. 4For with Christ, the law has come to an end, and so it is those who believe that are accepted by God.
Simply doing good thinking that it pleases God is wrong. God does want us to do good, but not to be saved, but because we really believe in Christ and love our neighbor.
One last verse:
Romans 11: 6
6 This choice is based on God’s grace and not on what they did. Because, if God’s choice was based on what people do, then his grace would not be true grace.
If salvation were by our works, then Jesus Christ would have no value.
I want to send a message to you: brothers, there are much deeper concepts about our salvation. A preaching like this should be understood as a summary and not as the complete message. Thank God we have the opportunity to conduct weekly Bible studies with Pastor Romualdo who has brought these concepts to us. I take this opportunity to reinforce the invitation that Andy placed in the group for anyone who wants to join us.
Lord God, thank you for giving us another opportunity to study Jesus’ teachings. Thank you for accepting us for our faith, for the Lord knows our limitations. Amen!