16. Self-reliance or God-reliance

“New Days” Meditations 16: Self-reliance or God-reliance

Isa 43:18,19“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!

We have taken the subject of forgetting the past into the realm of the way many have lived rules-based lives and in the previous study considered how we can do this to win acceptance and approval, as we see it.

Now we need one more hit at this subject of legalistic teaching, a thing to be put behind us. Why? Well, apart from the things we’ve already considered, because it makes us rely upon ourselves and our own efforts – and they so often fall short. Three points here.

First, it is exhausting having to constantly try to keep the rules, to constantly try to win acceptance and approval, it just brings an inner weariness that we come to accept as normal but is not supposed to be in the believer.

Second, apart from being unclear exactly what the rules or expectations are, as we saw in the previous study, it is often impossible to know when we have actually attained the required standard. I have witnessed the style of law-preaching that asks impossible questions of the congregation. e.g. “How much do you love God?” or “How committed are you?” Silly questions because you can’t give a definitive answer.

Third, not knowing ‘you have arrived’ or knowing you have earned the required acceptance or approval by attaining a certain standard, means that there is always this underlying – just below the surface – sense of failure and with failure, guilt.

These sorts of things were at the root of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. The Message version puts it most eloquently: Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?” (Gal 3) and goes on about God’s work, “does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? i.e. trust in your own efforts, or trust in Christ’s work and the leading of the Spirit. The alternative? To be filled with the Spirit so we may become open to being enabled, changed, and gifted by the Spirit. This means to live and serve the Lord with all of His glorious enabling in a new supernatural dimension, a new world of inspiration and vision and hope where the blind are enabled to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. Spiritualize that if you will but it still spells supernatural transformation. That, for most of us, although the New Testament norm, will be a ‘new thing’. 

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