Relationship, Not Rules
In this sermon on legalism, we are reminded through the restoration of Peter, that holiness is about intimate relationship with Jesus, not rule-keeping.
A life of rules?
Our sermon on legalism asks: Do you ever get the impression that holiness is all about the rules? Even today, we are tempted to see The Salvation Army soldier’s covenant as a set of rules to keep.
Jesus embraced rule-breakers
But here’s what I see in Jesus’ life: He preached to ordinary people who had enough trouble making ends meet that they didn’t have enough time or energy to pursue the laws of holy living demanded by their Jewish religion.
Holiness isn’t about the rules
I’m not suggesting that living out our Christian life in a dedicated and disciplined way isn’t good for us. But it is a real temptation to reduce holy living to a set of rules. So what is holiness?
Jesus reinstates Peter
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’
16 Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’
17 The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you?’) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’
22 Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ 23 Because of this, the rumour spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Holiness and Life with Jesus is about Relationship
John 21:15 ESV
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Jesus’ conversation with Peter tells us holiness is an intimate relationship. What concerns Jesus the most is their relationship: “Do you love me?” Jesus simply wants to affirm Peter’s love and commitment.
Spend More Time with Jesus
Matthew 28:20 ESV
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Our holiness, our holy living, our discipline, is nothing without a true love for God. Intimacy is the point of holiness.
3 Blessèd Lord, to see thee truly,
Then to tell as I have seen,
This shall rule my life supremely,
This shall be the sacred gleam.
Sealed again is all the sealing,
Pledged again my willing heart,
First to know thee, then to serve thee,
Then to see thee as thou art.
In the secret of thy presence,
In the hiding of thy power,
Let me love thee, let me serve thee,
Every consecrated hour.
Albert Orsborn (1886-1967)
Salvation Army Song Book Number 766
As we conclude this sermon on legalism, we are reminded that like Peter, you and I are called first of all to be with Jesus. Holiness is first of all intimacy with our Lord.
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